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Zoom plans to exclude free calls from end-to-end encryption

Technology | The Guardian

Privacy advocates are concerned, saying basic security shouldn’t be a paid feature left open for the possibility of working with law enforcement

Zoom, the popular video conferencing platform, has announced it will provide end-to-end encryption after facing a litany of privacy and security concerns – but only to users who pay for it.

Eric Yuan, the company’s CEO, raised alarm among privacy advocates on Wednesday by saying Zoom planned to exclude free calls from end-to-end encryption so as to leave open the possibility of working with law enforcement.

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June 3rd 2020, 9:40 pm

Snap to stop promoting Trump's content in a move that adds pressure to Facebook

Technology | The Guardian

The president’s account can remain on the platform, but will not be promoted in its Discover feature

Citing a commitment not to “amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice”, Snap said Wednesday that it will no longer promote Donald Trump’s posts to users who do not already follow him, increasing pressure on Facebook over its stance on the president’s violent rhetoric. 

“We are not currently promoting the president’s content on Snapchat’s Discover platform,” a spokesperson for Snap said in a statement, referring to a section of the social media app where users can see content from news outlets, professional publishers, and public figures.

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June 3rd 2020, 4:36 pm

Embarrassing teenage posts on Facebook? Now you can delete them

Technology | The Guardian

Firm that said privacy no longer a ‘social norm’ rolls out tool to delete or archive

Facebook users no longer need to worry about their teenage posts coming back to haunt them in later life, thanks to a new tool for deleting hundreds or thousands of posts at once.

The “manage activity” feature, available now on Facebook’s mobile apps, lets users search for and remove posts from a particular time, mentioning a particular person, or within a range of dates. 

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June 3rd 2020, 12:30 pm

Facebook and Microsoft muscle in on Zoom video-call boom

Technology | The Guardian

Google also aims to be part of rise in teleconferencing during coronavirus crisis

Zoom may be booming as the global coronavirus lockdown moves work and social life to cyberspace but deep-pocketed rivals including Microsoft, Google and Facebook are taking aim as video conferencing becomes a staple of daily life.

On Tuesday, Zoom, which has been catapulted from a relatively unknown video service to a household name during the coronavirus pandemic, reported first-quarter results that were impressive on almost every measure.

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June 3rd 2020, 7:43 am

Zoom booms as teleconferencing company profits from coronavirus crisis

Technology | The Guardian

The teleconferencing company made $27m in the first quarter and expects sales to double despite security and privacy fears

Coronavirus latest updates

The teleconferencing company Zoom has seen a massive increase in profits and has doubled its annual sales forecast, driven by a surge in users as more people work from home and connect with friends online during the coronavirus crisis. 

The once-obscure Zoom Video Communications, which has rapidly emerged as the latest Silicon Valley gold mine, released financial results on Tuesday showing the astronomical growth that has turned it into a stock market star.

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June 2nd 2020, 8:22 pm

Mark Zuckerberg defends decision to allow Trump to threaten violence on Facebook

Technology | The Guardian

CEO says decision was ‘tough’ but ‘thorough’ as company faces harsh criticism and public dissent from employees

Mark Zuckerberg is standing by his decision to allow Donald Trump to threaten violence against George Floyd protesters on the platform despite harsh criticism from civil rights leaders and public dissent from his own employees, including a public resignation.

In a video conference with staff on Tuesday, Zuckerberg said that his decision to not remove Trump’s warning on social media on Friday that “when the looting starts the shooting start” was “tough” but “pretty thorough”, the New York Times reported. The company usually holds an all-staff meeting on Thursdays, but the session was moved up to address growing discontent among employees, hundreds of whom staged a “walkout” on Monday by requesting time off.

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June 2nd 2020, 7:50 pm

US senator: Huawei 5G is like Soviets building west's submarines

Technology | The Guardian

Tom Cotton tells MPs the US will review intelligence sharing if firm’s kit is used

A Republican senator told MPs that using Huawei kit in 5G phone networks would be akin to allowing Russia to build submarines for western nations during the cold war, in a tense hearing that saw him clash with opposition MPs.

Tom Cotton, who represents Arkansas, said he had geopolitical and technical objections to Huawei and claimed that, if hacked, its equipment could track the movements of key parts for F35 fighter jets.

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June 2nd 2020, 5:06 pm

Grindr dating app removes ethnicity filter to support Black Lives Matter

Technology | The Guardian

Controversial feature will not be part of app’s next release following accusations of hypocrisy

Grindr is removing an “ethnicity filter” from its dating app as part of its support for the Black Lives Matter movement, the company announced on Monday.

The controversial feature, limited to those who stump up £12.99 a month for the premium version of the app, allows users to sort search results based on reported ethnicity, height, weight and other characteristics.

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June 2nd 2020, 11:15 am

Web wizard or net newbie? Take our quiz to see how much you know about the internet

Technology | The Guardian

Test your knowledge of the online world – and discover how easy it is to launch a website for your business

When did the world’s first website launch?

1991

1992

1997

What does SEO stand for?

Super easy online

Search engine optimisation

Seek emails only

What proportion of UK businesses have a website?

48%

64%

82%

What is the No 1 reason that small businesses don’t set up a website?

They don’t have a computer

They don’t think it’s necessary

They don’t know how to do it or how to assess its effectiveness

By what name is the system that finds and classifies websites commonly known?

Spider

Ferret

Gopher

On average, by how much could a website increase your revenue?

£82

£827

£8,272

Why would you use alt text on your website images?

To make your website more accessible

To make your website easier to find in search engines

Both

In website terms, what is a hamburger?

Like a cookie, but bigger

Any fast food website

An expandable icon

7 and above.

Webmaster: your online skills are fully loaded and ready to go! All you need now is a website of your very own.

5 and above.

Smart cookie: if life were a search engine, you’d rank pretty high. Why not get yourself a website and put those skills to the test in real life? Check out GoDaddy.

0 and above.

Spinning wheel of doom: Bill Gates, you ain’t – but the good news is that you don’t have to be. With the right support, anyone can create a website for their small business or side hustle. Check out GoDaddy to find simple website templates today.

3 and above.

Bit of a browser: you have a passing knowledge of websites but could do with some pointers. Time to tap into some web expertise. Check out GoDaddy to sharpen up your skills with free web marketing tools.

GoDaddy launched the #OpenWeStand initiative offering a number of free tools, widgets, resources and blogposts at OpenWeStand.org to help small businesses keep their digital doors open while their physical doors are closed. Over 50 companies have joined the cause, including Slack, Salesforce, PayPal, and more

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June 2nd 2020, 7:14 am

Mark Zuckerberg criticised by civil rights leaders over Donald Trump Facebook post

Technology | The Guardian

Activists say Facebook boss’s decision to leave ‘shooting threat’ up sets dangerous precedent

Civil rights leaders have criticised Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to take no action against a Facebook post from Donald Trump appearing to threaten to start shooting “looters”, after a Monday night meeting with the company’s executives ended in acrimony.

“We are disappointed and stunned by Mark’s incomprehensible explanations for allowing the Trump posts to remain up,” Vanita Gupta, Sherrilyn Ifill and Rashad Robison said in a statement. “He did not demonstrate understanding of historic or modern-day voter suppression and he refuses to acknowledge how Facebook is facilitating Trump’s call for violence against protesters.

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June 2nd 2020, 7:14 am

AI firm that worked with Vote Leave wins new coronavirus contract

Technology | The Guardian

Deal may allow Faculty, linked to senior Tory figures, to analyse social media data, utility bills and credit ratings

An artificial intelligence firm hired to work on the Vote Leave campaign may analyse social media data, utility bills and credit rating scores as part of a £400,000 contract to help the government deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The company, Faculty, was awarded the contract by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government last month. However the full details of its work for the government are unknown because the published version of the contract was partly redacted.

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June 2nd 2020, 3:28 am

NBN should consider buying fibre networks from Telstra, Labor says

Technology | The Guardian

The company recently announced it had raised an extra $4.1bn to be used for ‘strategic’ investments

The government-owned National Broadband Network should consider buying fibre networks from Telstra and other fibre operators across Australia covering up to 300,000 homes, Labor has said.

Last month, NBN Co announced it had managed to raise an extra $4.1bn in private debt facility, pushing the total debt to be taken on by the company to $55bn.

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June 1st 2020, 1:51 pm

Cutting edge: Japanese paper art inspires a non-slip shoe

Technology | The Guardian

Scientists use kirigami techniques to create a sole with pop-up, high-friction spikes

The Japanese art of paper cutting and folding, or kirigami, has led to mind-bending 3D structures from 2D sheets, including spectacular pop-up designs. But now researchers have been getting to grips with the technique for a very down-to-earth reason: creating non-slip shoes.

Scientists have revealed they have developed a kirigami-inspired sole, where tiny spikes pop up from its surface as the shoe is bent during walking. The team found the spikes enhance grip, which could help prevent potentially fatal falls.

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June 1st 2020, 1:21 pm

On the run: lack of sport drives fans to madcap world of marble racing

Technology | The Guardian

Lockdown has been good for Jelle’s Marble Runs, with more than 1m YouTube subscribers

“Can’t believe I watched this all the way to the end,” Gary Lineker tweeted early into Britain’s coronavirus crisis. “The lack of live sport is clearly getting to me.” He attached a 2-minute YouTube video in which a handful of marbles career down a twisting channel dug into sand, accompanied by a breathless commentary: “Marbles in the blocks … and they’re off!”

Once an unseen figure sets the marbles loose, there is no human interaction in the race, the positions of the coloured competitors decided purely by chance and the chicanes of the course. The early lead is taken by a light blue marble called Comet, until an unlucky collision knocks it back to fourth place. “And now Comet, just like that, fights back to the lead,” roars the commentary. The marble goes on to finish with an emphatic win. 

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June 1st 2020, 12:03 pm

Facebook workers rebel over Mark Zuckerberg's refusal to act against Trump

Technology | The Guardian

Employees make rare display of dissent after site left up post that was hidden by Twitter

Facebook employees are staging a rebellion over Mark Zuckerberg’s refusal to act against Donald Trump, taking to social media to express their dissatisfaction with their boss in a rare display of dissent from within the company.

Disagreement came from employees at all levels of the company, including some senior staff. Particular criticism was levelled at Zuckerberg’s personal decision to leave up the Facebook version of a tweet sent by Trump in which the president appeared to encourage police to shoot rioters. By contrast, Twitter hid the message behind a warning.

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June 1st 2020, 7:46 am

When there’s an app that can save lives, there will be no need to download it out of a sense of duty

Technology | The Guardian

The NHS test and trace app fails on several counts; no wonder ministers are resorting to peer pressure to encourage uptake

The NHS Covid-19 alert app will be available nationwide in June. It’s voluntary, so those of us with smartphones must decide: should we download the app?

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, thinks we should, claiming that we would be “doing our duty and helping to save lives”.

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June 1st 2020, 4:42 am

Apple 13in MacBook Pro review 2020: going out on a high?

Technology | The Guardian

Apple perfects its current laptop design, with great power, battery life and now an excellent keyboard

The 2020 13in MacBook Pro is the last of Apple’s laptops to get its new and improved keyboard, banishing various issues to the rear view mirror and essentially perfecting this current design.

Despite both sharing the same name, the 2020 13in MacBook Pro is split into two lines: a cheaper version starting at £1,299 with two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports and older eighth-generation Intel chips; and a more powerful version starting at £1,799 with four USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports and the latest 10th-generation Intel chips.

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June 1st 2020, 2:28 am

The five: robots helping to tackle coronavirus

Technology | The Guardian

Automatons have been chipping in with the effort to beat Covid, from disinfecting hospitals to delivering groceries

Singapore park-goers have been reminded of their social distancing obligations by Boston Dynamics’ yellow “dog”. The robot hound is equipped with numerous cameras and sensors, which it can use to detect transgressors and broadcast pre-recorded warnings. The authorities have reassured locals it is not a quadruped data-collection device.

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May 31st 2020, 12:52 am

Twitter taking on Trump's lies? About time too | John Naughton

Technology | The Guardian

The platform’s moves to counter the president’s disinformation may be too little, too late, but it’s something

In addition to washing your hands while singing the first two verses of The Internationale, it might be a good time also to clean out your Twitter feed. According to a recent report of a research study by Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems, about 45% of the false narratives about Covid-19 on Twitter are sent by bots.

The study examined more than 100 false Covid narratives (including the 5G conspiracy theories) pushed in over 200m tweets since January. If you’re a reader of this newspaper, the likelihood is that you never saw any of these. But that’s because you are – like me – cheerfully encased in your own filter bubble. I write with feeling on this matter, because on the morning after the Brexit referendum I went through the list of about 800 people whom I follow on Twitter, and I could not locate a single one who seemed to have been in favour of Brexit in the run-up to the vote. The shock felt by them after the vote was palpable. But it was also a salutary reminder that anyone who uses social media lives in a digital echo chamber.

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May 30th 2020, 11:31 am

Microsoft sacks journalists to replace them with robots

Technology | The Guardian

Users of the homepages of the MSN website and Edge browser will now see news stories generated by AI

Dozens of journalists have been sacked after Microsoft decided to replace them with artificial intelligence software.

Staff who maintain the news homepages on Microsoft’s MSN website and its Edge browser – used by millions of Britons every day – have been told that they will be no longer be required because robots can now do their jobs.

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May 30th 2020, 3:54 am

Facebook declines to take action against Trump statements

Technology | The Guardian

Twitter responded to the president’s post, which suggested violence against protesters, by hiding it behind a warning label

As Twitter for the second time in a single week took unprecedented action against a tweet by Donald Trump, Facebook declined to take any enforcement action against the president’s statements.

Trump’s threatening statement on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on Thursday night, “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” echoed a racist 1960s police chief known for ordering patrols of black neighborhoods with shotguns and dogs. It was widely interpreted as a threat and potential incitement to violence against residents of the Twin Cities who have erupted in protest against the alleged police killing of George Floyd, a black man who begged for his life as a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.

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May 29th 2020, 10:33 pm

Twitter hides Donald Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence'

Technology | The Guardian

Warning on ‘when looting starts, shooting starts’ post risks further escalation of row between firm and president

Twitter has hidden one of Donald Trump’s tweets behind a warning that it “glorifies violence”, further escalating the social media company’s row with the US president.

The US president’s tweet, posted on Thursday night Washington time, warned people in Minneapolis protesting against the killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer that he would send the military to intervene if there was “any difficulty”.

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May 29th 2020, 4:54 am

The Chaser goes viral with provocative post mocking Zuckerberg’s position on Facebook factchecking

Technology | The Guardian

Australian comedy team’s deliberately untrue post has been viewed by 1.2 million people in less than 12 hours

An Australian satirical news site crashed on Friday after it went viral for mocking Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s refusal to fact-check social media with a deliberately provocative post.

Related: Elizabeth Warren trolls Facebook with 'false' Zuckerberg ad

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May 29th 2020, 4:06 am

Work From Home song peaks again as listening alters under lockdown

Technology | The Guardian

Spotify data reveals shift in habits as office workers choose home-themed playlists

Work from Home, the bouncy lead single from the American girl group Fifth Harmony’s second album, has taken on a second life since its 2016 release, when it peaked at number two in the UK singles chart.

In the first month of lockdown, according to data from Spotify, the song has become a clear beneficiary of the shift in people’s listening habits as white-collar workers and schoolchildren were sent home around the world.

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May 29th 2020, 2:51 am

Why Twitter should ban Donald Trump | Julia Carrie Wong

Technology | The Guardian

Trump’s executive order on social media would undermine free speech – and probably go nowhere – but it’s an effective distraction. Still, Trump’s abuse of Twitter means it’s time to close his account. Here’s why:

More than 100,000 people in the United States have died of Covid-19, more than any other nation in the world. The figure is probably an undercount.

More than 1.7 million people in the US have had confirmed cases of Covid-19, more than any other nation in the world. The figure is almost certainly an undercount.

The US federal government completely botched the rollout of testing for the coronavirus at the beginning of the pandemic, and continues to lag in providing adequate testing for its populace.

Related: As 100,000 die, the virus lays bare America's brutal fault lines – race, gender, poverty and broken politics

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May 28th 2020, 3:59 pm

Zuckerberg says Facebook won't be 'arbiters of truth' after Trump threat

Technology | The Guardian

President announced plan to strip social media companies of liability protections after Twitter factchecked his tweets

Two years after admitting under political pressure that Facebook must do more to prevent disinformation campaigns on its platform, founder Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News on Thursday that the company should step away from regulating online speech.

Related: Trump expected to sign executive order in bid to target Twitter and Facebook

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May 28th 2020, 12:00 pm

Donald Trump's move against Twitter factchecking could backfire

Technology | The Guardian

President’s planned weakening of social media law may not have effect he thinks it will

Donald Trump’s apparent plans to punish Twitter for appending a factcheck to his claims that mail-in ballots would be “substantially fraudulent” could reshape the web – but not necessarily in the ways he or his supporters intend.

Trump’s expected avenue of attack focuses on section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That law underpins much of how the internet is regulated in the United States, by effectively creating the hybrid publisher/platform model that has become the norm for social media companies worldwide.

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May 28th 2020, 8:55 am

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music review: a runner’s best friend

Technology | The Guardian

Practically every running stat, great battery life, offline Spotify and comprehensive health-tracking in a small and light sports watch

The Forerunner 245 is Garmin’s excellent performance running watch and sets a new benchmark against which the competition should be measured.

Two versions are available: one which can download music and one which cannot at a recommended retail price of £299.99 or £249.99 respectively. It came out in April 2019 to replace the popular Forerunner 235.

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May 28th 2020, 3:38 am

Canada court ruling clears way for US extradition of Huawei executive

Technology | The Guardian

Decision says Meng Wanzhou’s alleged actions in the US would be considered a crime in Canada, a key condition for extradition

A Canadian judge has dealt a major blow to a senior Huawei executive’s attempts to evade extradition to the United States, ruling that the high profile case against Meng Wanzhou can proceed.

British Columbia Supreme court justice Heather Holmes ruled on Wednesday that the alleged actions of Meng would be considered a crime in Canada – a key condition for extradition to proceed.

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May 27th 2020, 4:20 pm

Computer chess: how the ancient game revolutionised AI

Technology | The Guardian

Chess-playing computers were designed to entertain people who could not find an opponent. In the end, they transformed computing as we know it

When legendary chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov found himself beaten by IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer, it was seen as a seminal moment in the evolution of artificial intelligence.

It was New York, 1997 and for the first time ever a computer had beaten a world champion under tournament conditions. This was the culmination of a journey in which the first stirrings of what we now call artificial intelligence and machine learning were born. A road trodden by war heroes and student researchers alike, whose singular desire to create a program that could beat the very best in the world would shape an entire science.

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May 27th 2020, 8:25 am

5G fires: Australian mobile companies work with police to prevent arson attacks

Technology | The Guardian

Police investigate whether fire at a telecommunications tower at Cranbourne West in Melbourne was suspicious

Australian mobile companies are seeking to head off any outbreak of anti-5G arson attacks on telecommunications infrastructure, stating they are working with police to keep an eye out for potential incidents.

Victoria police announced on Friday an investigation had commenced into a fire at a telecommunications tower at Cranbourne West in Melbourne’s outer suburbs.

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May 27th 2020, 12:19 am

YouTube investigates automatic deletion of comments criticising China Communist party

Technology | The Guardian

Video platform blames deletion of criticisms on an error in its automated systems

YouTube is investigating the apparently automatic removal of comments critical of the Chinese Communist party amid complaints of censorship.

The company said the filtering appeared to be “an error” amid a greater reliance on automated systems during the coronavirus pandemic because its human reviewers have been sent home.

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May 26th 2020, 10:50 pm

US local news programs air segments on Amazon penned by company's PR team

Technology | The Guardian

At least 11 stations present story offering ‘glimpse inside’ Amazon, after company apparently sent material to reporters

Nearly a dozen local US TV channels aired segments about Amazon that included footage and a script produced by the retailer’s public relations team.

The segments, which according to the news outlet Courier appeared on at least 11 local news stations, praised Amazon’s response to the coronavirus pandemic ahead of the company’s shareholder meeting on Wednesday. The meeting takes place following weeks of controversy over the company’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis. Amazon has been accused of denying workers sick leave, failing to provide adequate protection in warehouses, and retaliating against workers who speak out against these conditions.

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May 26th 2020, 10:03 pm

First iPhone jailbreak in four years released

Technology | The Guardian

Newly discovered vulnerability allows users to bypass limitations built in by Apple

A newly discovered vulnerability in iPhones allows users to bypass Apple’s built-in limitations – known as “jailbreaking” – for the first time in four years.

The release of a functional jailbreak for iOS 13.5, the latest version of the iPhone operating system, represents a breakthrough for the small community of users who rely on jailbreaks for everything from serious security research to simply running games and software that Apple does not allow on iPhones.

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May 26th 2020, 11:43 am

Elon Musk and Grimes change baby's name: 'Roman numerals look better'

Technology | The Guardian

Tech entrepreneur and musician have changed their child’s name from X Æ A-12 to X Æ A-Xii, without much explanation

Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and his partner Grimes have changed the unusual and largely unpronounceable name of their firstborn child. But anyone hoping that X Æ A-12 might be replaced by something a little more conventional, is going to be disappointed.

In an Instagram post on Sunday, singer Grimes confirmed that the baby formerly known as X Æ A-12, would now be known as “X Æ A-Xii.”

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May 25th 2020, 9:46 am

Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch first astronauts from US soil since 2011

Technology | The Guardian

Falcon 9 rocket to make history as billionaire seeks to commercialise space travel

Elon Musk’s SpaceX company hopes to make history on Wednesday by launching the first astronauts into space from US soil in nine years, as the billionaire takes the next step in his dream to commercialise space travel.

Donald Trump will be among the spectators at Kennedy space centre in Florida to witness the launch, which has been given the green light despite the coronavirus lockdown.

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May 25th 2020, 9:17 am

Pizzas in the post: Shopify challenges Amazon for slice of lockdown trade

Technology | The Guardian

Firms becoming more inventive to survive, and increasing numbers turning to the e-commerce platform

When the lockdown forced the Pizza Pilgrims chain to close, the company came up with an unusual solution to stay in business.

The company, with restaurants in London and Oxford and run by brothers Thom and James Elliot – who started out selling Neapolitan pizza from the back of a converted Piaggio Ape van – hit on the novel idea of posting pizza kits to customers.

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May 25th 2020, 9:17 am

Cyber security review may lead to Huawei loss of UK 5G deal

Technology | The Guardian

Government climbdown after US bans on Chinese telecoms group and pressure to strip its tech from UK networks

The National Cyber Security Agency in the UK is expected to conclude that US sanctions against Huawei will make it impossible to use the Chinese company’s technology as planned for 5G networks.

The emergency review, announced Sunday, is designed to pave the way for Downing Street to push for the total elimination of Huawei equipment in British phone networks by 2023 and quell a Conservative backbench revolt.

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May 24th 2020, 2:50 pm

Hacking attacks on home workers see huge rise during lockdown

Technology | The Guardian

Cybercriminals are exploiting fears and chaos caused by coronavirus, says security firm

Hackers have launched a wave of cyber attacks trying to exploit British people working from home, as the coronavirus lockdown forces people to use often unfamiliar computer systems.

The proportion of attacks targeting home workers increased from 12% of malicious email traffic before the UK’s lockdown began in March to more than 60% six weeks later, according to to data from cyber security company Darktrace provided to the Guardian.

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May 24th 2020, 8:47 am

How did the Covidsafe app go from being vital to almost irrelevant?

Technology | The Guardian

The PM told Australians in April the contact tracing app was key to getting back to normal but just one person has been identified using its data

It was sold as the key to unlocking restrictions – like sunscreen to protect Australians from Covid-19 – but as the country begins to open up, the role of the Covidsafe app in the recovery seems to have dropped to marginal at best.

“This is an important protection for a Covid-safe Australia,” the prime minister, Scott Morrison, said in late April. “I would liken it to the fact that if you want to go outside when the sun is shining, you have got to put sunscreen on.”

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May 23rd 2020, 4:25 pm

How the 'Plandemic' conspiracy theory took hold

Technology | The Guardian

To have one viral sensation, Oscar Wilde might have said, is unfortunate. But to have two smacks of carelessness. And that’s what we have. The first is Covid-19, about which much printer’s ink has already been spilled. The second is Plandemic, a 26-minute “documentary” video featuring Dr Judy Mikovits, a former research scientist and inveterate conspiracy theorist who blames the coronavirus outbreak on big pharma, Bill Gates and the World Health Organization. She also claims that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (which is headed by Dr Anthony Fauci) buried her research showing vaccines weaken people’s immune systems and made them more vulnerable to Covid-19. Just to round off the accusations, Mikovits claims that wearing masks is dangerous because it “literally activates your own virus”. And, if proof were needed that the pharma-Gates-scientific-elite cabal were out to get her, the leading journal Science in 2011 retracted a paper by her on a supposed link between a retrovirus and chronic fatigue syndrome that it had accepted in 2009.

The video went online on 4 May when its maker, Mikki Willis, a hitherto little-known film producer, posted it to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and a separate website set up to share the video. For three days it built up a head of steam on Facebook pages dedicated to conspiracy theories, many of which linked to the video on YouTube. By 11 May it had been viewed more than 8m times on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and had generated countless other posts on websites and social media. Later that day YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook took down the video, and in theory it disappeared from the internet – only of course it hadn’t, in the time-honoured way of subversive material in the networked world. The cognitive pathogen had escaped into the wild and was spreading virally.

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May 23rd 2020, 11:52 am

Russian hacking attack on Bundestag damaged trust, says Merkel

Technology | The Guardian

Chancellor says she was pained to learn outcome of inquiry pinning blame on Fancy Bear

Angela Merkel has said Russian hacking attacks on the Bundestag in which her emails were seized harmed efforts to build a trusting relationship with Moscow.

Merkel told the German parliament on Wednesday that she had been pained to learn of the 2015 hack and the perpetrator.

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May 23rd 2020, 6:19 am

Lockdown laptops: affordable options for those stuck at home

Technology | The Guardian

With a full return to work and social life still some way off, you may need a new computer

With a full return to work, school and spending time with family in real life rather than on a video call still not in sight, you may have finally decided that it is worth buying a new laptop. If you want an affordable computer there are lots to choose from, including Chromebooks and Windows 10 PCs.

Really cheap Chromebooks are often better than the equivalent Windows machines because Chrome OS is a lighter, low-maintenance operating system built around Google’s Chrome browser, web and Android apps. Just check how long the machine will receive updates from Google before you buy.

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May 23rd 2020, 6:19 am

Boris Johnson forced to reduce Huawei’s role in UK’s 5G networks

Technology | The Guardian

PM set to shrink Chinese firm’s involvement to zero by 2023 after caving to backbench pressure

Boris Johnson has been forced to cave into to Conservative backbench rebels opposed to the presence of Huawei in 5G networks and has drawn up plans to reduce the Chinese company’s involvement to zero by 2023.

The prime minister’s retreat is designed to stave off what could have been an embarrassing defeat when his existing proposal to reduce Huawei to a 35% market share was to be voted on in the Commons.

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May 22nd 2020, 6:51 pm

Amazon threatened with closure of Wisconsin campus over coronavirus

Technology | The Guardian

Health officials in south-eastern Wisconsin have warned Amazon that if they don’t fully cooperate with state testing and tracing efforts, its Kenosha campus located 40 miles south of Milwaukee could be shut down. The announcement comes as at least 20 workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at two facilities.

Related: Amazon workers walk out over lack of protective gear amid coronavirus

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May 22nd 2020, 6:21 pm

Fraud, fine food and old tights | Brief letters

Technology | The Guardian

EasyJet hack | Johnson’s U-turn | Tights | Albino pheasants | Favourite restaurants

Your article (EasyJet hacking attack: are you affected and what should you do?, 19 May) on dealing with a suspicious phone call about fraudulent transactions suggests: “End the call and then phone the bank or card company back to check it was legitimate.” What is missing is the fact that fraudsters can “spoof” the dial tone, hold on to the line and pretend to be the bank. The correct procedure is firstly to phone a friend, who the fraudsters cannot imitate, to check the line is actually clear.
Geoff Thomas
Merthyr Tudful

• Only the Guardian and one other paper put Johnson’s U-turn on the front page (Johnson forced to drop NHS surcharge for migrant health workers, 21 May). All those owned by Tory-funding billionaires published distraction. They couldn’t have avoided that this happened not from a change of heart but for political expediency.
Tony Vinicombe
Shoreham, West Sussex

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May 22nd 2020, 12:28 pm

Puzzled men become internet sensation with sudoku channel

Technology | The Guardian

Lockdown fixture for millions turns sudoku into world’s most popular spectator sport

When Simon Anthony quit his lucrative but miserable job at a London investment bank to solve sudoku puzzles on YouTube, it looked like a bit of a leap. His early posts had done well to gain 100 views. Perhaps he had overestimated the demand for long videos of a 46-year-old man putting numbers in a grid from his spare room in Surrey.

A year later, Anthony is one half of an unlikely viral sensation: Cracking the Cryptic, the channel he runs with his old friend Mark Goodliffe, has become a lockdown fixture for millions. Much to the puzzlement of both men, they have turned sudoku into what right now might be the world’s most popular spectator sport.

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May 22nd 2020, 9:55 am

EasyJet reveals cyber-attack exposed 9m customers' details

Technology | The Guardian

Airline apologises after credit card details of about 2,200 passengers were stolen
Q&A: are you affected and what should you do?

EasyJet has revealed that the personal information of 9 million customers was accessed in a “highly sophisticated” cyber-attack on the airline.

The company said on Tuesday that email addresses and travel details were accessed and it would contact the customers affected.

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May 22nd 2020, 7:24 am

Mark Zuckerberg says half of Facebook’s staff to work from home within 10 years – video

Technology | The Guardian

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he expects 50% of the company’s employees to work from home over the next five to 10 years. The social media giant will embrace remote work, even after coronavirus restrictions end, with Facebook limiting offices to 25% capacity when workers return in July.

The company has 48,000 employees in 70 offices around the world

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May 22nd 2020, 5:50 am

How a robotic dog is herding sheep in New Zealand – video

Technology | The Guardian

A herd of New Zealand sheep are being watched over by a robotic dog called Spot. The New Zealand software company Rocos is training the Boston Dynamics-designed robot to work on farms to help 'relieve the strain of worker shortages, and create precision in farming’. Another Boston Dynamics robot is also undergoing testing in Singapore, reminding members of the public to maintain physical distancing in a public park

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May 22nd 2020, 5:50 am

Facebook expects half of employees to work remotely over next 5-10 years

Technology | The Guardian

Mark Zuckerberg said the company will permanently embrace remote work even after lockdowns lift

Facebook will permanently embrace remote work even after coronavirus lockdowns ease, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees on Thursday, accelerating the tech sector’s geographic diversification away from its home in Silicon Valley.

Zuckerberg said the world’s largest social network would start “aggressively opening up remote hiring”, expecting that about half its workforce would work remotely over the next five to 10 years.

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May 21st 2020, 5:00 pm

Can trolling ever be charming – or are 'good' trolls still a complete nuisance?

Technology | The Guardian

The famed poster CartoonsHateHer has become a viral star for her ‘good’ trolling, but not everyone finds her creations funny

The benevolent troll-queen of the internet prefers to remain anonymous, but here’s what we know: the 30-year-old US-based cartoonist and internet personality who goes by the alias CartoonsHateHer (let’s call her CHH for short) has, over the years, published hundreds of posts to online forums like Reddit under various alternate identities.

These posts have often gone viral – thanks largely to CHH’s masterly navigation of the line between absurdity and believability. Essentially, she pretends to be someone else online – for the lols.

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May 21st 2020, 7:38 am

Dyson's UK staff revolt against order to return to work

Technology | The Guardian

Engineering firm cancels order for staff to return to the office after employee mutiny

The engineering firm Dyson told staff who were able to work from home to return to the office this week, in apparent contravention of government advice, then cancelled the plan after a mutiny among dismayed employees, the Guardian understands.

Government guidelines state that people should “work from home, if you can”, with employers told to make every possible effort to allow staff to do so.

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May 21st 2020, 6:37 am

Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Windows 10's MacBook Pro rival

Technology | The Guardian

Slim and powerful laptop with excellent keyboard and trackpad is hindered by a few small flaws

The 2020 MateBook X Pro takes a winning design and upgrades the chips to Intel’s latest for a powerful and surprisingly good-value machine.

The new MateBook X Pro starts at £1,299, and fits a pretty large 13.9in screen in the size of a laptop body that would traditionally fit only a 13in screen.

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May 21st 2020, 2:48 am

'It started as joke': the animal Zoom calls delighting a locked-down public

Technology | The Guardian

From throwing an alpaca party to adding a goat to a work call, video calling is providing a financial lifeline for businesses

While the rest of the world has been in lockdown, the goats of Cronkshaw Fold farm in Lancashire have never been busier. In the past few weeks they’ve been to a rave in Berlin and a birthday party in New Zealand, while Mary goes to church services every Sunday – all virtually, of course.

They’re one of an increasing variety of animal breeds people can now book to join their Zoom meetings, whether it’s to break the tedium of a work conference call or to surprise someone on their birthday.

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May 21st 2020, 1:17 am

The Zoom boom: how video-calling became a blessing – and a curse

Technology | The Guardian

Video calls have become part of daily life since the pandemic hit, helping the locked-down, especially elderly and disabled people, keep in touch. But there are downsides

Just before lockdown, 29-year-old Ala Uddin became ill with coronavirus-related symptoms and had to self-isolate in his London flat. “For 23 days I was relying on video calls,” he says. “I hardly used them before, but now it was the only way I could see anyone and communicate with my housemate, even though we were living in rooms next to each other.” Uddin was also regularly video-calling his parents and siblings in York, as well as family members in Bangladesh, all of whom were checking in to make sure he was coping. “Without video calls I don’t know how I could have got through that time,” he says.

Since the pandemic hit, Zoom, FaceTime, Houseparty, Microsoft Teams and all manner of other video-calling apps have become so engrained in our lives. As one of the only safe ways to communicate, it’s hard to imagine living without them. None of these have taken off quite like Zoom. At the end of December, the app reported a maximum of 10 million daily users. By March, 200 million people were on it each day to work, socialise, view lessons and lectures, sing in choirs, attend church, birthday parties and weddings, meet new babies, say final words to dying family members and observe Ramadan and Easter. So embedded are these apps in all parts of life now that when Zoom went down last weekend, it made headlines around the world and even halted the Downing Street press conference.

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May 21st 2020, 1:17 am

Apple and Google release phone app to notify users of coronavirus exposure

Technology | The Guardian

Technology will detect when an app user has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus

Apple and Google have released long-awaited smartphone technology to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus.

Related: Apple and Google team up in bid to use smartphones to track coronavirus spread

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May 20th 2020, 7:15 pm

Apple whistleblower goes public over 'lack of action'

Technology | The Guardian

Thomas le Bonniec says firm violating rights and continues massive collection of data

A former Apple contractor who helped blow the whistle on the company’s programme to listen to users’ Siri recordings has decided to go public, in protest at the lack of action taken as a result of the disclosures.

In a letter announcing his decision, sent to all European data protection regulators, Thomas le Bonniec said: “It is worrying that Apple (and undoubtedly not just Apple) keeps ignoring and violating fundamental rights and continues their massive collection of data.

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May 20th 2020, 12:19 am

Facebook launches shopping feature as pandemic pushes businesses online

Technology | The Guardian

Businesses will be able to sell to customers through Shops, potentially posing a challenge to commerce rivals such as Amazon

Facebook announced Tuesday it is launching Shops, a service that will allow businesses to display and sell products on its platforms.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, is positioning Shops as a tool for small businesses, many of which have had to close their doors and move online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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May 19th 2020, 5:44 pm

Covid-19's unlikely victim: new emojis

Technology | The Guardian

The pandemic has forced the Unicode Consortium to delay new emojis in 2021 – but remixes of existing ones could be on their way

Covid-19 has taken so much from us, but now it’s come for our emojis too.

Related: Coronavirus US live: Trump claims to take hydroxychloroquine and threatens to withdraw US from WHO

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May 19th 2020, 10:09 am

Surface Go 2 review: Microsoft’s smaller, cheaper Windows 10 tablet

Technology | The Guardian

New model squeezes bigger screen in same body, for an excellent, affordable ultraportable PC

The Surface Go 2 is Microsoft’s second iteration of its low-cost, smaller tablet computer and continues to prove that cheap Windows PCs don’t have to be terrible.

The Surface Go 2 starts at £399, but for that you don’t get the £100 Type Cover keyboard, which is a must-have. That places the Surface Go 2 in the low-end PC bracket and makes it Microsoft’s cheapest current PC, the Surface Pro 7, by £300.

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May 19th 2020, 2:17 am

Streaming executive behind Disney+ to become new TikTok CEO

Technology | The Guardian

Walt Disney Co’s top streaming executive, Kevin Mayer, will leave the entertainment and theme parks giant to become the chief executive officer of TikTok, the popular video app owned by China’s ByteDance, the companies said on Monday.

Mayer led the successful launch of the Disney+ streaming service in November but in February was passed over as Disney’s new chief executive.

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May 18th 2020, 8:46 pm

UK Covid-19 briefing hit by Zoom technical issues

Technology | The Guardian

Journalists forced to submit written questions after outages of video conferencing platform

Users of the video conferencing platform Zoom reported outages on Sunday, with many unable to host or join meetings.

The website DownDetector said thousands of people were having issues with the service, and the UK appeared to have been particularly badly affected. Users began reporting issues with the app from 9am BST.

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May 17th 2020, 1:51 pm

Facebook's ‘oversight board’ is proof that it wants to be regulated – by itself | John Naughton

Technology | The Guardian

The latest attempt by the social media giant to act as a sovereign power is breathtaking in its sheer effrontery

Here we go again. Facebook, a tech company that suffers from the delusion that it’s a nation state, has had another go at pretending that it is one. Originally, you will recall, it was going to create a global currency called Libra and in effect become shadow banker to the world. Strangely, a world that normally seems hypnotised by Facebook turned out to be distinctly unimpressed by that idea; after all, who would trust Facebook with money? So the project is effectively evaporating into something that looks a bit like PayPal, which is not quite what Facebook’s supreme leader, Mark Zuckerberg, had in mind.

Nothing daunted, though, Zuck has had another hubristic idea. On the grounds that Facebook is the world’s largest information-exchange autocracy (population 2.6 billion) he thinks that it should have its own supreme court. (Yes, that’s the expression he originally used: later, wiser councils – possibly a guy called Nick Clegg – persuaded him that that might be just a tad presumptuous.) So it’s now just an “oversight board for content decisions”, complete with its own charter and a 40-strong board of big shots who will, it seems, have the power “to reverse Facebook’s decisions about whether to allow or remove certain posts on the platform”. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? But it looks rather less so when you realise what it will actually be doing. It’s actually a board for locking the stable door after the horses have bolted. Let us call the Facebook oversight board by its initials: FOB.

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May 17th 2020, 4:44 am

'People still need to laugh': how lipsyncing spoofs saved lockdown

Technology | The Guardian

From a drunk Donald Trump to storytime with Boris Johnson, women are skewering the absurdity of Covid-19 life

In the TikTok videos going viral across social media, the voices are familiar: a rambling presidential whine, or a patronising prime minister. But the people apparently speaking are altogether – and hilariously – different.

In uncannily calibrated lipsyncs, Donald Trump is shown as a hectoring schoolteacher or drunken clubgoer, while Boris Johnson reads a bedtime story to a petulant Theresa May.

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May 16th 2020, 1:06 am

Millions risk being locked out of Covid-19 contact tracing app

Technology | The Guardian

Many people in Britain lack internet access and sufficient tech skills, charities warn MPs

Ten million people in the UK risk being locked out of the Covid-19 contact-tracing app because of a “digital divide”, putting potential constraints on their ability to access work and safeguard their health, a parliamentary committee has heard.

Almost 2m households in the UK do not have any internet access, Helen Milner, the chief executive of Good Things Foundation, a digital inclusion charity, told the culture, media and sport committee.

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May 15th 2020, 12:00 pm

Google Australia paid $133m in tax in 2019 in major victory for ATO

Technology | The Guardian

Tech giant’s tax turnaround follows a government campaign to force multinationals to pay more tax

Google’s Australian arm paid $133m to the Taxation Office last year as it caught up with back taxes.

The company, one of the ATO’s most high-profile targets in a campaign to get tech giants to pay tax in Australia, declared a profit before tax of $134m in 2019, down from $156m the previous year.

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May 14th 2020, 5:02 am

Beats Powerbeats review: Apple's cheaper Bluetooth fitness earbuds

Technology | The Guardian

Long battery life, comfortable and secure ear hooks and great sound for exercising

Apple’s revamped Powerbeats Bluetooth workout earphones take what was great from the firm’s true wireless earbuds and add a cable, longer battery life and cheaper price.

The new £129.95 Powerbeats replace the older, more expensive Powerbeats 3, with redesigned ear hooks, cable guides and Apple’s H1 chip, which simplifies Bluetooth connectivity and gives them all the AirPods-like features Apple’s headphones have with iPhones.

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May 14th 2020, 2:19 am

Addison Lee and Uber to install partition screens in cabs

Technology | The Guardian

Minicab firms aim to increase coronavirus protections after data shows drivers are one of the groups most at risk

Addison Lee and Uber are to install partition screens in vehicles to protect staff and passengers from infection with coronavirus, after new data earlier this week revealed that male taxi drivers and chauffeurs are among those at highest risk of death from the disease.

London’s largest private hire car operator, Addison Lee, claims to be the first in the industry to make the move, announcing that it would be fitting screens to all 4,000 vehicles in its fleet at a likely cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

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May 13th 2020, 7:59 pm

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 review: the best smartwatch for Android

Technology | The Guardian

Great screen, performance, battery life and health tracking – but held back by small niggles

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active 2 may not run Android, but it is the best Android-compatible smartwatch available.

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 starts at £269, costing £289 as reviewed here, and is the firm’s 10th smartwatch. Samsung has been making smartwatches since 2013 and it shows – the Galaxy Watch Active 2 is the most polished this side of the Apple Watch Series 5.

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May 13th 2020, 2:14 am

Elon Musk v public health: a timeline of the Tesla factory standoff

Technology | The Guardian

The billionaire has defied shelter-in-place orders and styled himself as an anti-lockdown hero. This is how we got here

On Monday 11 May, Elon Musk attempted to fashion himself into a hero of the anti-public-health movement when he dared authorities to arrest him for restarting production at Tesla’s northern California car plant, in defiance of the local shelter-in-place order. Neither Musk nor anyone else has been arrested, but his action has placed state and local officials in the difficult situation of figuring out whether and how to enforce coronavirus restrictions against a litigious billionaire who is also a major employer.

On Tuesday, his cause gained the support of another hot-headed executive with an overactive Twitter account: Donald Trump. “California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW,” the president tweeted Tuesday morning. “It can be done Fast & Safely!”

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May 13th 2020, 1:13 am

Australian public's confidence in 5G 'shaken' by misinformation campaign

Technology | The Guardian

Federal parliamentary committee examining rollout says fears over network are being exploited, particularly on social media

Public confidence in the planned 5G network has been significantly undermined by a strong misinformation campaign, an Australian parliamentary committee has admitted.

The House of Representatives committee was established last year to examine the plans for 5G networks in Australia, currently under construction by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, but the committee received hundreds of submissions from members of the public and groups concerned about perceived health issues associated with 5G networks.

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May 12th 2020, 11:55 pm

Facebook to pay $52m for failing to protect moderators from 'horrors' of graphic content

Technology | The Guardian

Each worker will get $1,000, more if they were diagnosed with a disorder as a result of the material they viewed

Facebook has agreed to pay a settlement of $52m in a court case alleging the company failed to protect workers tasked with moderating disturbing content from the grave mental health impacts of the job.

As part of the settlement, which was announced Tuesday, moderators will get a minimum of $1,000 each from Facebook with the potential for additional compensation if they have been diagnosed with mental health disorders, including PTSD.

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May 12th 2020, 9:58 pm

Twitter announces employees will be allowed to work from home ‘forever’

Technology | The Guardian

The company said those who want to return to the office won’t likely do so until at least September and reopening will be ‘careful’

Twitter will allow its employees to work from home “forever”, chief executive officer Jack Dorsey said in a company-wide email Tuesday.

A spokesperson from Twitter confirmed the decision to the Guardian, saying the company was “one of the first companies to go to a work-from-home model” due to Covid-19, but does not anticipate being one of the first to return to its offices.

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May 12th 2020, 6:40 pm

Tesla workers’ unemployment may be suspended if they don't return, emails show

Technology | The Guardian

Those who stay home ‘will be on unpaid leave’, email says, as employees say company is using ‘threatening tactics’

Workers at Tesla have been told their unemployment benefits may be suspended if they refuse to return to work during the coronavirus pandemic, according to emails seen by the Guardian.

The news comes as Tesla’s founder, Elon Musk, moves forward with the reopening of Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, in defiance of a local stay-at-home order.

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May 12th 2020, 1:56 pm

Elon Musk reopens California Tesla factory in defiance of lockdown order

Technology | The Guardian

CEO announces electric carmaker will begin production on Monday after company sues county over Covid-19 restrictions

Elon Musk announced on Twitter that Tesla would resume production at its northern California factory on Monday afternoon, in defiance of a local public health order designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules,” the billionaire CEO tweeted. “I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

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May 11th 2020, 5:52 pm

'F*ck Elon Musk': Democrat rebukes magnate over threat to move Tesla HQ out of California

Technology | The Guardian

Carmaker sues authorities and threatens to move factory to Texas or Nevada over coronavirus restrictions

After Elon Musk sued local authorities in California and threatened to move Tesla’s HQ to Texas or Nevada, over attempts to contain the coronavirus outbreak, one Democratic state politician had a blunt message for the electronic car magnate: “F*ck Elon Musk.”

Related: Coronavirus has Elon Musk acting like just another used car salesman

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May 10th 2020, 10:59 am

Elon Musk threatens to move Tesla HQ out of California over Covid-19 restrictions

Technology | The Guardian

Tesla sues state authorities over lockdown after Fremont factory stopped from reopening

Tesla is suing local authorities in California as the electric carmaker pushes to reopen its factory there and chief executive Elon Musk threatens to move the company’s headquarters to Texas or Nevada.

Musk has been pushing to reopen Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory after Alameda County’s health department said the carmaker must not reopen because local lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus remain in effect.

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May 10th 2020, 7:28 am

If we want better conditions for Amazon staff we need to be patient…

Technology | The Guardian

The tech giant has often been accused of mistreating workers, but our desire for instant gratification is part of the problem

Tim Bray resigned as an Amazon vice-president last week. “Who he?” I hear you say. And why is this news significant? Answers: first, Bray is an ubergeek who’s an alumnus of many of the outfits in tech’s hall of fame (including DEC, Sun Microsystems, the OED project at the University of Waterloo, Google’s Android team and, eventually, Amazon Web Services); and second, he resigned on an issue of principle – something as rare as hen’s teeth in the tech industry.

In his blog, he wrote: “I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19.” It was an expensive decision. Bray said the decision to resign would probably cost him more than a million dollars in salary and shares, and that he regretted leaving a job he enjoyed, working with good colleagues. “So I’m pretty blue.”

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May 9th 2020, 11:11 am

20 apps to up your skills

Technology | The Guardian

Want something to show for the weeks you have spent in lockdown? These apps will help you achieve your aims

In early April, one bullish American consultant suggested on Twitter that if people didn’t emerge from coronavirus quarantine having learned a new skill, gained more knowledge or having started something they’d been putting off, then “you didn’t ever lack the time, you lacked the discipline”.

As the tweet was widely shared, it met mockery and anger in equal measure, as people noted that home schooling, financial worries, stress and/or illness are making this period anything but a delightful self-improvement holiday.

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May 9th 2020, 11:11 am

Airbnb slump means Europe's cities can return to residents, say officials

Technology | The Guardian

Cities like Barcelona want to use crisis to allow people to rent properties at decent rates

Airbnb has revolutionised travel and since it was founded in 2008 hundreds of thousands of property owners have used the holiday accommodation platform to make ends meet, make a living and, in some cases, make a killing.

But while hosts, as they are known, are wringing their hands over the collapse of the travel industry and their loss of income, many city authorities are rubbing theirs at the prospect of thousands of holiday lets returning to the traditional rental market. Cities complain that the highly profitable holiday lets have driven up rents and forced out residents with the knock-on effect that local businesses no longer have a community to serve.

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May 9th 2020, 4:07 am

Uber, Lyft and Airbnb cut thousands of jobs as pandemic batters Silicon Valley

Technology | The Guardian

Juul, Yelp and hundreds of startups among tech firms cutting jobs while Amazon and Zoom see huge boosts

The economic fallout from the coronavirus has come to Silicon Valley, with major tech firms announcing layoffs in recent weeks.

On Wednesday, Uber became the latest company to announce cuts, revealing in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission that it will lay off 3,700 workers – roughly 14% of its global workforce.

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May 8th 2020, 6:13 am

How Covid-19 contact tracing can help beat the pandemic

Technology | The Guardian

If the UK government wants to start easing the country's lockdown restrictions, it needs to get contact tracing right. But what does that mean? What would successful contact tracing even look like? Josh Toussaint-Strauss tries to find out with a little help from Christophe Fraser, an Oxford professor and infectious disease epidemiologist, and Alex Hern, the Guardian's UK technology editor


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May 8th 2020, 4:58 am

UK may ditch NHS contact-tracing app for Apple and Google model

Technology | The Guardian

MPs and rights groups have warned lack of data protection could make UK app illegal

The government has left open the prospect of ditching its own contact-tracing app in favour of the “decentralised” model favoured by Apple and Google after it was revealed that a feasibility study into such a change is underway.

After repeated warnings that the UK will be an outlier if it insists on using its own centralised app rather than relying on Google and Apple’s technology, rights groups and MPs said on Thursday that the lack of privacy and data protections could mean that the app would be illegal.

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May 7th 2020, 4:17 pm

Artists find fans and creative outlet as they flock towards crowdfunding sites

Technology | The Guardian

Coronavirus crisis has forced musicians and others to adapt, says founder of platform

Musicians, artists and writers have turned to crowdfunding sites to make up for lost opportunities in lockdown, and their audiences have followed them, leading to a rise in contributions through platforms such as Patreon.

Since mid-March more than 70,000 extra creators have joined Patreon, which allows fans to give monthly payments to artists in exchange for exclusive content or simply out of a desire to support someone whose work they appreciate.

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May 7th 2020, 3:05 pm

Tony Morgan obituary

Technology | The Guardian

My friend and colleague Tony Morgan, who has died aged 83 after contracting Covid-19, was one of the heroes of the early days of computers. As a computer engineer from the late 1950s, he was responsible for the installation of the pioneering Leo computers worldwide, including for the GPO (now BT) for telephone billing. After a 38-year career he remained an active member of the Leo Heritage Project, using his unrivalled knowledge to identify the company’s artefacts.

Born in Kenton, near Harrow, Middlesex, to William Morgan, an architect, and Millie (nee Ferguson), Tony went to Harrow County grammar school and, after getting four A-levels, did his national service with the RAF, where he was trained as an air-radar fitter.

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May 7th 2020, 2:19 pm

Google affiliate Sidewalk Labs abruptly abandons Toronto smart city project

Technology | The Guardian

Sidewalk Labs’ CEO said unpredictabilities stemming from pandemic meant project was no longer feasible

Google’s affiliate Sidewalk Labs has abruptly abandoned its vision to transform Toronto’s waterfront into one of the world’s first “smart cities”.

In a statement released on Thursday, Sidewalk Labs’ CEO, Dan Doctoroff, said that sustained unpredictabilities stemming from the coronavirus pandemic meant that the project was no longer feasible.

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May 7th 2020, 12:49 pm

Uber banks on two-wheeled future with $170m stake in Lime scooter rental firm

Technology | The Guardian

Uber made a $170m bet on Thursday that as the coronavirus pandemic upends its business, two wheels may be better than four.

Related: Invasion of the electric scooter: can our cities cope?

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May 7th 2020, 12:34 pm

UK contact-tracing app could fall foul of privacy law, government told

Technology | The Guardian

More protections needed before coronavirus app fully launched, says human rights committee

The NHS contact-tracing app must not be rolled out across the UK until the government has increased privacy and data protections, an influential parliamentary committee has said.

The joint committee on human rights said on Thursday it had “significant concerns” that must be addressed before it was expanded.

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May 7th 2020, 7:18 am

Will Facebook's new oversight board be a radical shift or a reputational shield?

Technology | The Guardian

The panel has the potential to reshape how Facebook shapes the world and possibly introduce a new era of social media governance

A new era of social media governance began Wednesday, when the first 20 members of Facebook’s long awaited oversight board were announced. The international panel of free expression advocates, journalists, a former prime minister, a Nobel laureate, and law professors will have final say over certain content moderation decisions for the world’s largest social media platform, independent of Facebook’s executives and staff.

This limited transfer of power to an independent entity represents something of a sea change for a company that has since its founding been under the tight control of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is chairman of the board and controls a majority of the company’s voting shares.

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May 7th 2020, 6:18 am

Revealed: Amazon told workers paid sick leave law doesn't cover warehouses

Technology | The Guardian

California workers say the company is pressuring sick employees to show up – and flouting a California law meant to protect them from Covid-19

Amazon workers in southern California’s industrial heartland say the company’s policies are forcing sick employees to work and that warehouses are refusing to comply with a state paid sick leave law meant to prevent Covid-19 outbreaks.

In the Inland Empire region outside Los Angeles, Amazon workers told the Guardian they fear losing their jobs if they are ill and stay home. At least four Amazon warehouses in the region have recorded Covid-19 cases.

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May 7th 2020, 6:18 am

Sonos launches new Arc soundbar with Dolby Atmos

Technology | The Guardian

Wireless speaker firm revamps top TV audio line, plus Sonos 5 speakers and gen 3 Sub

The wireless home-audio specialist Sonos is launching the first of its next-generation speakers with a new Dolby Atmos voice-controlled soundbar called Arc.

Arc replaces the firm’s popular Playbar and Playbase as its top-end TV sound system, re-engineered to provide a wider, more powerful sound and built on the new S2 software platform, which is due to roll out to existing speakers soon.

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May 6th 2020, 4:17 pm

Critical mass of Android users crucial for NHS contact-tracing app

Technology | The Guardian

Experts say NHS relying on ‘Android herd immunity’ to overcome Apple-related issues

The NHS’s contact-tracing app will fail unless sufficient numbers of Android phone users sign up, experts who have examined its trial use on the Isle of Wight have said.

They say NHSX, the digital arm of the health service, is relying on an “Android herd immunity” strategy to overcome shortcomings in the app. A critical mass of Android users will be required to ensure iPhone owners remain covered by the app’s contact-tracing ability. If not enough Android users are in any given community, iPhones will eventually stop broadcasting the signals required for the app to work.

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May 6th 2020, 3:06 pm

Facebook judges, journalists and politicians on free speech panel

Technology | The Guardian

New independent board, which includes ex-Guardian editor, will rule on freedom of expression issues

Facebook has announced the members of its new oversight board, an international committee of judges, journalists and academics who will help steer the company’s policy on freedom of expression.

Among the 20 board members who have agreed to help set policy for the social network are Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the former prime minster of Denmark, the Nobel Peace laureate Tawakkol Karman and Alan Rusbridger, the former Guardian editor-in-chief.

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May 6th 2020, 1:32 pm

Airbnb to make a quarter of its global workforce redundant

Technology | The Guardian

Staff losing jobs receive email within hours of co-founder outlining plans in blogpost

Airbnb has set out plans to make 1,900 staff redundant, about a quarter of its global workforce, as it forecast revenues in 2020 would be half the $4.8bn (£3.9bn) generated in 2019.

Brian Chesky, its chief executive and co-founder, described coronavirus as “the most harrowing crisis of our lifetime”. He told staff: “We don’t know exactly when travel will return. When travel does return, it will look different.”

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May 6th 2020, 9:26 am

Microsoft launches faster Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2

Technology | The Guardian

Windows-maker updates top and cheapest PCs, plus new noise cancelling headphones

Microsoft is launching a revamped line of its most powerful and cheapest Windows 10 PCs, the Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2, as it adjusts to continue operations during the pandemic.

The new products, announced by blog post rather than an event, are Microsoft’s premium computers competing directly with the likes of Apple and Dell, but with more novel designs.

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May 6th 2020, 9:26 am

Hostile states trying to steal coronavirus research, says UK agency

Technology | The Guardian

Experts say Russia, Iran and China likely to be behind cyber-attacks on universities

Hostile states are attempting to hack British universities and scientific facilities to steal research related to Covid-19, including vaccine development, cybersecurity experts have warned.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the proportion of such targeted cyber-attacks had increased, branding the criminal activity “reprehensible”.

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May 6th 2020, 3:39 am

UK racing to improve contact-tracing app's privacy safeguards

Technology | The Guardian

Worries public will not use app after security specialists and MPs raise concerns

NHS officials are racing to introduce greater privacy safeguards for the contact-tracing app at the centre of the government’s lockdown exit strategy amid mounting concern from security experts, MPs and users.

Whitehall sources conceded to the Guardian that they were “two steps behind in public engagement” because the app – which tracks everyone a user has met and warns them to self-isolate when the user reports Covid-19 symptoms – has had to be developed at high speed.

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May 5th 2020, 4:03 pm

Amazon is cracking down on protesters and organizing, workers say

Technology | The Guardian

At least six workers who have participated in protests or advocated for safer conditions have been fired during the pandemic

Amazon’s revenues topped $33m an hour in the first three months of the year as the coronavirus pandemic locked down large parts of the world. The sales boost has handed Amazon the biggest dilemma of its 25-year life: how to deal with a growing chorus of critics within the company. So far its reaction has only made matters worse.

Last week an Amazon vice-president, Tim Bray, resigned in protest at what he called the company’s “chickenshit” decision to fire colleagues in the company’s warehouse division who had highlighted safety issues. “Remaining an Amazon VP would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised,” wrote Bray.

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May 5th 2020, 1:47 pm

Amazon executive resigns over company’s ‘chickenshit’ firings of employee activists

Technology | The Guardian

Tim Bray’s departure comes as company faces increased scrutiny and employee activism around its Covid-19 response

Tim Bray, a top engineer and vice-president at Amazon, announced on Monday he is resigning “in dismay” over the company’s firing of employee activists who criticized working conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bray’s resignation comes as Amazon faces increased scrutiny and employee activism surrounding its internal response to coronavirus. Amazon workers on Friday participated in a nationwide sick-out to protest working conditions and inadequate safety protections.

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May 4th 2020, 5:26 pm
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