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Updated 2018-11-21 06:16
European lawmakers ask Amazon to stop selling Soviet-themed merchandise
Does Apple's sales slump mean the firm has finally peaked?
The company’s $1tn valuation has fallen 20% and fewer people are buying its iPhonesAt the start of October Apple was on top of the world. The company had hit a record-breaking valuation of $1tn (£770bn), just released its fastest – and most expensive – iPhone and its chief executive, Tim Cook, was hammering rival Facebook over yet another privacy scandal.Two months on and the shine appears to have worn off the largest company in the world. Its valuation has fallen by nearly 20%. This is partly because key suppliers have issued their own profit warnings, suggesting fewer people are buying the company’s phones than expected. Continue reading...
Gaming as a force for good: Chips with Everything podcast
Jordan Erica Webber meets the academics disproving the unsociable gamer stereotype and discovers how one game is helping scientists learn more about dementiaVideo games are one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world, but they also get a lot of hate. Violence, antisocial behaviour, loneliness – these are just some of the things that people blame on games.So what does the research say? Well, according to some academics, video games can be a force for good. Continue reading...
Amazon and high street chains kick off Black Friday early
Britons are expected to spend more than £10bn during November discount eventBlack Friday 2018: all the best UK deals and offersAmazon has fired the starting gun on Black Friday, the US tradition that has become a near-fortnight long £10bn shopping extravaganza in the UK.The web giant has been joined by other high street street names, including Argos and Currys PC World, in making an early start to the bargain shopping event on Friday 23 November. Continue reading...
Zuckerberg: I didn't know of Facebook ties to firm that attacked George Soros
CEO says he learned about relationship with PR company after it was reported in New York TimesMark Zuckerberg defended his leadership of Facebook on Thursday, claiming ignorance of the company’s relationship with a political consultancy that used an antisemitic narrative to undermine critics.“Look, I learned about this reading in the New York Times yesterday,” a defensive Zuckerberg said on a conference call with reporters that was ostensibly about Facebook’s content moderation practices. “As soon as I learned about this, I talked to our team and we’re no longer working with this firm.” Continue reading...
How Republican firm's plan to defend Facebook by attacking rivals backfired
Revelation that Definers had used George Soros as a target to defend Facebook unleashed an immediate storm of protestIt was a beguilingly simple idea. Take the tricks learned by political campaign managers on how to boost your candidate’s standing while ruthlessly undermining that of rivals, and apply it lucratively to the corporate world.That was the thinking that led two top Republican operatives – Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, and Joe Pounder, former senior adviser to Marco Rubio in the 2016 White House race – to set up a Virginia-based partnership called Definers Public Affairs. Continue reading...
New York City to Amazon: drop dead
In Queens, opponents of second HQ say building plans bypass elected officials, will rip off taxpayers and harm neighborhoodPoliticians and advocates gathered in Queens on Wednesday to denounce a multibillion-dollar plan to bring a new Amazon headquarters to New York. One city councilman called the move “an assault on our democracy”.Related: 'It's obscene and wrong': Amazon HQ2 gets typically warm New York welcome Continue reading...
Red Dead Redemption 2: calls to ban violence against women in games are too simplistic | Van Badham
How violence is punished or rewarded is part of the challenge of playing, and always has beenTen minutes into the game’s snow-whipped, western world of weary cowboys, disintegrating crime gangs and staggering audiovisual design, Red Dead Redemption 2 had me in its thrall.Rockstar’s latest blockbuster game is so captivating, and its powers of visual, narrative and interactive stimulation so habit-forming, that criticism of the potential the game allows for violence against women – an allowance being taken advantage of with glee by some users – has registered with sharpness proportional to its own extraordinary detail. Continue reading...
Facebook delays identity checks on UK political advertisers
Exclusive: social network says it is improving process to stop abuse of disclaimer systemFacebook is delaying its plans to require British political advertisers to verify their identity, the Guardian can reveal, after a spate of failures on the part of the company to vet disclosers in the UK and US.The social network will bring in the requirement “in the next month”, it says, pushing back the initial deadline of Wednesday 7 November. Continue reading...
Amazon to split second headquarters into two locations – report
Company will divide its workforce with 25,000 workers in each of two cities, Wall Street Journal saysAmazon is planning to split its second headquarters evenly between two locations rather than picking one city, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing a person familiar with the matter.The retailer previously announced a planned investment of $5bn and 50,000 jobs for the second headquarters. Continue reading...
Martin Amis on Space Invaders: how games criticism was born
Long since out of print, the novelist’s 1982 guide to the nascent gaming scene is a vivid snapshot of a long-lost world – and is about to be republishedFor decades, Martin Amis’s Invasion of the Space Invaders: An Addict’s Guide to Battle Tactics, Big Scores and the Best Machines – part anthropological survey of New York’s arcade scene in the early 80s, part video game tips book – has remained one of the great literary curios of the 20th century. First published in 1982, it has long been out of print; even frayed and spent copies command stratospheric prices on the second-hand market.Despite accusations to the contrary, Amis maintains that he has never disowned the book, which stands awkwardly apart from his novels, screenplays, memoirs and other non-fiction. Still, while preparing this week’s unexpected reissue, the publishers Jonathan Cape discovered that the original files of Invasion of the Space Invaders had been unlovingly lost; the book had to be scanned in and rebuilt, pixel-by-pixel. In doing so, a picture of a lost era emerges, along with a valuable snapshot of early critical thinking about video games. Continue reading...
Red Dead Redemption 2 was created by an industry in dire need of reform
Controversy surrounding the masterpiece has highlighted developers’ working conditions. The time for change has comeLast Friday, Rockstar Games released its turn-of-the-century American opus Red Dead Redemption 2, a stubbornly slow-paced and absurdly detailed triumph that has expanded the boundaries of what is possible in a virtual world. And yet many questioned whether people should buy it.In an interview with New York published ahead of the game’s release, Rockstar’s co-founder Dan Houser made an ill-judged comment: “We were working 100-hour weeks several times in 2018.” The games industry is infamous for its demanding work culture – developers often boast about their hours – and in another year Houser’s remark might have passed without comment. But 2018 has marked a turning point, because high-profile studio closures and a number of stories in the games press have shone a light on working conditions that prioritise long hours over employees’ welfare. The idea that games have a human cost has settled in the minds of players. We must hope this is the first significant step towards reform. Continue reading...
Get a grip: are smartphones ruining our hands?
A surgery professor says students are arriving at medical school without the hand strength and skill to perform basic medical tasksProf Roger Kneebone, a professor of surgical education at Imperial College London, has said students are arriving at medical school without the required manual dexterity to perform simple, necessary surgical tasks such as sewing up patients after operations.His comments, made as part of a campaign by the Edge Foundation to get more creativity into the UK school curriculum, are the latest to question whether modern lifestyles are affecting people’s ability to use their hands. Continue reading...
OnePlus 6T: cut-price flagship launches with in-screen fingerprint sensor
Updated Android smartphone shrinks screen notch, offering cutting-edge technology for lessOnePlus is putting a stake in the ground with its latest smartphone, saying cutting-edge technology doesn’t need to cost the best part of £1,000.The new OnePlus 6T, which starts at £499, has an all-screen design and large 6.41in FHD+ OLED display, but this time shrinks the notch at the top to a more bearable tiny teardrop shape, slims the chin at the bottom of the screen and fits a fingerprint scanner directly into the screen. Continue reading...
VW Touareg: ‘A heady mix of brains and brawn’ | Martin Love
Smooth and swanky, VW’s luxurious new Touareg is an old-school charmerVolkswagen Touareg
‘Would robot sex count as infidelity? Technically no…’
Kate Devlin, computer scientist and sex-tech expert, talks about teledildonics, the possible futures of human relationships and the intersection of AI and sexDr Kate Devlin is a computer scientist at Kings College London whose work includes delving into the overlap between sex, intimacy and technology as well as human-computer and human-robot interactions. She has organised two sex-tech hackathons, and has recently written a book about sex robots called Turned On.The idea of coupling up with a robot seems to have gathered pace in recent years, but sex toys have been around for a while. When did they first crop up? And did they spark the same concern and outrage as the idea of sex robots has unleashed?
Uber and other rideshare company drivers ripped off, assaulted and racially abused
Transport Workers Union survey finds one in 10 drivers physically assaulted on the job and 6% sexually assaultedDrivers for Uber and other rideshare companies are being ripped off, assaulted, threatened and racially abused, a new survey reveals.The survey of 1,100 drivers released on Wednesday says more than 60% reported earning below the average hourly $16 rate, before costs such as fuel, insurance and car maintenance. There were also 969 reports of harassment and assault. Continue reading...
Tony Turvey obituary
My father, Tony Turvey, who has died aged 76, was a textile technologist and for many years managed mills for the textiles company Courtaulds.In the late 1970s he set up his own business in textile wallcoverings, developing the “woolly wall”, a wallpaper with vertical pieces of twisted fleece stuck to it so that no paper showed. This was frequently spotted on TV backdrops for shows such as Parkinson and the Nine O’Clock News, as well as in swanky hotels. He designed and made the huge, complex machine for its production. Later he created a vandal-proof glass, using a resin he had developed, which he sold to many councils and companies for use in bus shelters. Continue reading...
Pict warriors and balloon-headed clowns: the 11 best games on Xbox One
From the thrills of Forza Horizon and cartoon antics of Cuphead to the horrors of Hellblade, here are the Xbox One games everyone should playExplore an astonishingly beautiful re-creation of Britain in an impressive roster of cars, taking in everything from rally racing in the Lake District to street races in a wintry Edinburgh. The ultimate driving game on Xbox One (or anywhere).
Can-Am Ryker: 'A hell of a lot of trike for your money'
Dirtch the denim and crystal tips, this is a trike that’s brilliant fun and is set to break the trend barrierCan-Am Ryker
Facebook removes hundreds of US political pages for 'inauthentic activity'
Some accounts were fake or ad farms pretending to be forums for political debate, company saysWith less than one month left before the midterm elections, Facebook has announced it has removed 559 politically oriented pages and 251 accounts, all of American origin, for consistently breaking its rules against “spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior”.The pages removed span the political spectrum. Continue reading...
Unmanned: a video game about the unseen horror of drone warfare
Most war games focus on dramatic on-the-ground heroics, but Unmanned illuminates the effects of drone warfare from a pilot’s perspectiveAccording to mainstream video games, modern warfare is all about cyborg arms, laser shields and jarheads blowing up baddies under the guidance of recognisable character actors. However, the frenetic antics of the Call of Duty series and its ilk are behind the times. The drone pilot protagonist of 2012’s free indie game Unmanned is a more accurate representation of a modern soldier: a man who plays video games with his son every weekend, and who has also killed countless foreigners from a grey-walled cubicle in Nevada.You play an American warrior, square of jaw and beefy of build, who works from an office out in the desert. A click of his mouse sends tons of missile plummeting from anonymous drone planes with an eerie blank space where you’d expect to see a cockpit. Beneath his grainy monitor’s crosshairs, the insurgents-planting-IED pixels are indistinguishable from the children-playing-catch pixels. He is death from above by day and suburban family man by night. Continue reading...
The Guardian view on Russia and hacking: time to tackle our vulnerabilities | Editorial
The disrupted cyber-attack on the chemical weapons watchdog and allegations of a sophisticated Chinese hardware hack have highlighted the dangersThe farcical aspects of the attempted Russian cyber-attack reported by the UK and the Netherlands on Thursday must be satisfying to those who counter such efforts, and are superficially amusing to any observer. It is unlikely that Vladimir Putin has relished seeing the incompetence of the GRU, the military intelligence agency, exposed so thoroughly. His mood may not have improved on learning that it seems to have inadvertently identified more than 300 agents in its cyber division.But there is very little to laugh about here. The target was the international chemical weapons watchdog, which was investigating the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia – which led to the death of a British citizen – and a chemical weapons attack in Syria. The Netherlands believes the suspects had also targeted the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which found it was hit by a Russian military missile; 298 people died. The evidence of how far Russia will go in both the online and physical realm mounts, while its denials – it dismissed the latest allegations as “spy mania” – become less and less convincing. The sloppiness that characterised the Netherlands mission was perhaps born of arrogance and the sense that implausible denials are in themselves part of the pattern of destabilisation – sending the message that truth does not matter and that the GRU cannot be stopped. Continue reading...
String of own goals by Russian spies exposes a strange sloppiness
The secretive, daring GRU seems to have lost its way in the age of internet searchIt must go down as one of the most embarrassing months ever for Russia’s military intelligence.In the 30 days since Theresa May revealed the cover identities of the Salisbury poison suspects, the secretive GRU (now GU) has been publicly exposed by rival intelligence agencies and online sleuths, with an assist from Russia’s own president. Continue reading...
Facebook faces $1.6bn fine and formal investigation over massive data breach
Irish data regulator could penalize the social network after hack of nearly 50m accountsThe Irish Data Protection Commission has opened a formal investigation into a data breach that affected nearly 50m Facebook accounts, which could result in a fine of up to $1.63bn.The breach, which was discovered by Facebook engineers on Tuesday 24 September, gave hackers the ability to take over users’ accounts. It was patched on Thursday, the company said. Continue reading...
Elon Musk and Tesla to pay $40m to settle SEC case over tweets
Facebook says nearly 50m users compromised in huge security breach
Attack gave hackers ability to take over accounts in what is believed to be largest breach in Facebook’s history
Google's prototype Chinese search engine links searches to phone numbers
The feature on the secret prototype, Dragonfly, would put Chinese citizens at increased risk of government repressionGoogle’s secret prototype search engine for China reportedly links users’ mobile phone numbers to what search terms they’ve used.This feature would allow the Chinese government to simply associate searches with individuals, thereby putting Chinese citizens at increased risk of government repression if they search for topics that their government deems politically sensitive, according to the Intercept. Continue reading...
Amazon investigates claims staff are leaking data for bribes
Employees are offering confidential information to sellers, according to reportAmazon is investigating claims that employees have taken bribes for leaking confidential sales information, particularly in China, as it battles to stamp out fake reviews and other seller scams.Employees are offering internal data, via intermediaries, to independent merchants selling their products on the site to help them increase their sales in return for payments, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing sellers, brokers and people familiar with internal investigations. Continue reading...
Yuval Noah Harari: the myth of freedom
Governments and corporations will soon know you better than you know yourself. Belief in the idea of ‘free will’ has become dangerousShould scholars serve the truth, even at the cost of social harmony? Should you expose a fiction even if that fiction sustains the social order? In writing my latest book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, I had to struggle with this dilemma with regard to liberalism.On the one hand, I believe that the liberal story is flawed, that it does not tell the truth about humanity, and that in order to survive and flourish in the 21st century we need to go beyond it. On the other hand, at present the liberal story is still fundamental to the functioning of the global order. What’s more, liberalism is now attacked by religious and nationalist fanatics who believe in nostalgic fantasies that are far more dangerous and harmful. Continue reading...
Destiny's creators made the game less addictive – and players rebelled
What’s the difference between a game that’s compulsive and one that’s merely fun? After an attempt to cut game time, Destiny 2: Forsaken lets players decideOnline sci-fi shooter Destiny, released in 2014, had a strange effect on some of its players. Unlike World of Warcraft, or most other games that people play every day, it didn’t have hundreds of hours’ worth of different planets to visit, enemies to defeat or characters to get to know. You could play through the entirety of Destiny’s story in 10 hours; beyond that, it offered only a small selection of daily “strike” missions and an arena to challenge other players in shootouts. Yet people played for hours every day. A significant portion of players spent a thousand hours or more with the game over two or three years, as recorded by the ironically titled WastedOnDestiny.com.Aside from the draw of spending time with friends, this compulsive factor stemmed from Destiny’s loot system. Sure, you’d be playing the exact same missions, strikes and raids, in the same places, shooting the same enemies. But every time you did, there was a small chance you’d get lucky and score a covetable weapon or piece of armour. Continue reading...
Apple shows off three new iPhones and smartwatch to detect heart problems
Tech giant unveils new gadgets at California bash, including biggest iPhone yet and Apple Watch with range of health features
Apple launches iPhone XS, XS Max and XR – as it happened
iPhone XS has much-improved camera and bigger battery – and price tag – while Apple Watch Series 4 focuses on heart-rate and health
VidCon Australia, where YouTube celebrities and fans bank on their luck
The Melbourne iteration of the world’s biggest online video conference unites ‘creators’ with their ‘community’ for a flurry of pep talks, panels and star-studded performances“I was such a good salesperson, and now I just sell myself!”
Donut County review – a dastardly raccoon plot to take over a town
iPhone, PC, Mac, PS4; Ben Esposito/Annapurna Interactive
Dyson to expand Wiltshire facility to boost electric-car tests
Tech company invests £200m in Hullavington site to double vehicle-testing capacitySir James Dyson, the billionaire inventor and Brexit backer, has unveiled expansion plans to accommodate more than 2,000 workers at his Wiltshire research facility, more than doubling capacity for electric-vehicle testing.Coming despite severe warnings over lost jobs and investment from no-deal Brexit, his technology company is spending about £200m to expand the testing facility on a former second world war airfield at Hullavington, near Malmesbury in the west of England. Continue reading...
Stalemate for Logan Paul and KSI in hyped YouTube boxing match
Rematch already arranged after fight between vlogging stars declared a draw after six roundsThe boxing match between YouTubers KSI and Logan Paul was set to be, at least according to the hype, “the biggest event in internet history”. But in the end, it may have all been the prequel to another event, as the main fight ended in a draw in front of 20,000 people at the Manchester Arena.
Nokia 8110 4G review: a nostalgia trip too far
The original was made famous by The Matrix, and some might want to drop this reboot out of the nearest window tooThe new Nokia 8110 4G is the latest nostalgia trip from HMD Global, but is it more than just a remake of that “banana phone” from the Matrix?HMD had a hit on its hands with the new Nokia 3310 from last year, which was a surprisingly charming dumbphone that cost slightly more than other basic Nokias because of the name. Continue reading...
Why US elections remain 'dangerously vulnerable' to cyber-attacks
Officials have been slow to update machines and secure data – and the political climate could hurt voter confidenceSixteen months ago, Marilyn Marks was just another political junkie watching a high-profile congressional election on her laptop when she saw something she found abnormal and alarming.The date was 18 April 2017, and the election was in Georgia’s sixth congressional district, where the Democrats were hoping to pull off an upset victory against a crowded Republican field in the wake of Tom Price’s (short-lived) elevation to the Trump cabinet as health and human services secretary. Continue reading...
Why YouTubers are feeling the burn
From fashionistas to popular scientists, YouTube’s top video stars are crumbling under the relentless pressure of producing new content for the siteWhen Lucy Moon sat down with her therapist to discuss why she was feeling so low, she was on top of the world. A burgeoning career as a YouTuber was in mid-bloom: her subscriber count – an important metric on the site, and a sign of a creator’s popularity – was booming, and offers of work and brand tie-ins were rolling in. But all was not well. She wasn’t happy. The workload was rising; the pressure to be perfect in front of the camera was crushing. And the therapist was shocked.“She was like: ‘I cannot believe you think this is normal, to be running this kind of operation for the first time with no career support,’” says Moon, a 23-year-old beauty-and-lifestyle YouTuber with more than 319,000 subscribers. “I meet so many YouTubers who say that.” Continue reading...
Hacked satellite systems could launch microwave-like attacks, expert warns
At Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, researcher says theoretical threat to ships, planes and military is ‘no longer theoretical’The satellite communications that ships, planes and the military use to connect to the internet are vulnerable to hackers that, in the worst-case scenario, could carry out “cyber-physical attacks”, turning satellite antennas into weapons that operate, essentially, like microwave ovens.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defends failure to ban Alex Jones
Jack Dorsey refuses to follow Apple, Facebook and YouTube in banning Jones, saying he will be guided by principles rather than pressureTwitter founder Jack Dorsey has defended his company’s decision to continue publishing the controversial tweets of the American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, saying Jones’s content “hasn’t violated our rules”.Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify have all banned Jones’ from their platforms, saying he promoted hate speech and violence, but Twitter had allowed Jones to continue posting on the platform. Dorsey said the company was committed to promoting “a healthy conversational environment” – which included Jones.
Fortnite is coming to Android phones – but not through Google Play
Epic Games bypasses the app store to offer its hugely successful online shooting game via its websiteOnline shooting game Fortnite: Battle Royale will be available on Android phones this month, but it will not be available on the Google Play store, the official app store for Android devices. Instead, developer Epic Games will make the game available for download via a dedicated installer on its website, avoiding the 30% revenue share that Google would get to host the title on its Play store.
Have smartphones killed the art of conversation?
So we’ve gone off voice calls yet spend hours glued to our phones. But it’s simply that the rules of conversation have been redrawn in the age of WhatsApp, Snapchat and emojisNews of the un-newsy kind this week, fresh from an Ofcom study designed to confirm a belief in our worst selves: we are a nation addicted to smartphones but are repelled by the idea of making or taking voice calls.Is this the death of conversation? Not quite, but it’s certainly more than a blip in the cultural history of communication: in 2017, for the first time, the number of voice calls – remember, those things you did with your actual voice on your actual phone – fell in the UK. Meanwhile, internet addiction keeps growing, presumably because we haven’t quite worked out what to do with all those hours we’re saving on talking. Continue reading...
Accidents at Amazon: workers left to suffer after warehouse injuries
Guardian investigation reveals numerous cases of Amazon workers being treated in ways that leave them homeless, unable to work or bereft of income after workplace accidentsVickie Shannon Allen, 49, started working at Amazon as a counter in a fulfillment warehouse at Haslet, Texas, in May 2017. At first, like many employees, Allen was excited by the idea of working for one of the fastest growing corporations in the world. That feeling dissipated quickly after a few months.Related: Amazon posts record $2.5bn profit fueled by ad and cloud businesses Continue reading...
Trump calls Washington Post ‘expensive lobbyist', reigniting war with Bezos
President tweeted that the newspaper had ‘gone crazy’ against him and claimed it lobbies on behalf of the Bezos-owned AmazonDonald Trump has renewed his attacks on the world’s richest man and his arch nemesis, Jeff Bezos, railing against the Bezos-owned Washington Post and Amazon, the original source of the entrepreneur’s $150bn fortune.Related: Why does Trump hate Jeff Bezos: is it about power or money? Continue reading...
Tesla shares drop after embarrassing memo leaks
Shares dropped almost 5% after the automaker was reported to have asked US suppliers for refunds, unnerving some investorsTesla took another financial hit on Monday, with shares in the company dropping almost 5% after the electric automaker was reported to have asked some US suppliers to return payments to the money-losing company.The disclosure was contained in a memo sent last week by a global supply manager and obtained by the Wall Street Journal. In it, the manager described the payments as essential to Tesla’s operation. Continue reading...
Facebook's plan to kill dangerous fake news is ambitious – and perhaps impossible
New policy to tackle content that could fuel violence may be well-meaning, but the complexity of the task is mind-bogglingFacebook has been grappling with its role in spreading false news and disinformation for a few years, but a spate of mob violence in India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar have spurred the social network into a knee-jerk policy change.Until now, Facebook has dealt with disinformation by making it less prominent in people’s news feeds. This week, the company announced it would start to delete inaccurate or misleading information created or shared “with the purpose of contributing to or exacerbating violence or physical harm”. Continue reading...
Elon Musk calls British diver in Thai cave rescue 'pedo' in baseless attack
Accusation directed on Twitter at Vern Unsworth, who called Tesla CEO’s offer of ‘mini-sub’ to help rescuers a ‘PR stunt’
Defunct Jawbone fitness trackers kept selling after app closure, says Which
When Jawbone liquidated its assets, its wristbands became useless without companion appFitness trackers made by the defunct wearables company Jawbone were still on sale at Amazon, Selfridges and Groupon more than a month after they were rendered useless by the closure of a companion app, according to research by the consumer magazine Which.The Jawbone UP2, first released in 2015, is a wrist-worn fitness tracker. It connects to iOS and Android phones through Bluetooth, and uploads its data to a companion app, also branded UP. But in 2017, after a run of bad financial results, the company liquidated its assets, and earlier this year it disabled the app entirely. Continue reading...
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