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Pornography, violence and JG Ballard: High Rise, the 1970s' internet

The film High Rise is set in the 1970s and based on JG Ballard’s 1975 book. That’s roughly two decades before Tim Berners-Lee would “create” the web. Heck, you were lucky then to have a colour TV, never mind a phone in your house. Yet, High Rise provides a vision of what was to come: the internet community. That is, an …
Woman angrily hangs up phone. Photo via Shutterstock

Web ads are reading my keystrokes and I can’t even spel propperlie

Something for the Weekend, Sir? A friend has the willies. He even went on Facebook to tell us about his willies. He’s not normally the kind to get the willies, but willies is what he has. American readers of this column may be disappointed to learn that my friend is neither a fellow of loose morals nor is he, as far as I am aware, multitudinally …
Alistair Dabbs, 18 Mar 2016

T-Mobile US finally lets websites escape Binge On's web vid crusher

T‑Mobile US will let video-streaming websites opt out of being included in Binge On. This is the service that lets people watch stuff online without the downloads counting against their monthly limits, although the video quality is deliberately reduced to 480p. Subscribers using Binge On can stream as much as they like all …
Shaun Nichols, 17 Mar 2016
Apple Watch Sport

Woz: World-changers to Apple Watches, why pay for an overpriced band?

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has slammed Cupertino's decision to charge hundreds of dollars for Apple Watch models that offer users little more than an overpriced band. Wozniak made the remarks during a Reddit AMA post in response to a reader's question. "I worry a little bit about - I mean I love my Apple Watch - but it's …
Darren Pauli, 17 Mar 2016

Swedish publishers plan summer ‘Block Party’ to thwart ad blockers

Swedish publishers will mount an aggressive counter-offensive against ad blocking software later this year. “80 to 90 per cent” of publishers will simultaneously block the ad blockers for the month of August. It’s the first nationwide action of its kind. “Yes, we know this could be naïve, and we know this will be complicated …
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Mar 2016
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Big-screen Skype gets small farewell note

One of the big splashes of CES 2010, Skype for televisions, will start going gently into that good night in June. Via Skype's support FAQs comes the announcement that the talk-to-your-friends-on-the-telly app is getting sunsetted. "Starting in June 2016, the Skype for TV application will no longer be supported; there will be …

With Facebook shafted, India now belongs to Google

With Facebook’s Free Basics out of the way, Google has a free hand at capturing personal data from Indians who aren’t on the internet. Google is reportedly in talks with two Indian telecom operators to provide backhaul for its Google Loon pilot in India. The all-seeing solar powered balloons float around 20km above the Earth' …

Californian tycoons stole my sharing economy, says Lily Cole

Big Money has poisoned the utopia of the sharing economy, says the millionaire supermodel and “social entrepreneur” Lily Cole. Once upon a time, unicorns grazed innocently over websites like Cole’s own Impossible.com, the “gift economy” website that was powered only by love (and a gift from taxpayers). Contributors were happy …
Steve Jobs with OS X interface designers in 2001 shortly before the beta release

Dead Steve Jobs is still a crook – and Apple must cough up $450m for over-pricing ebooks

Apple's long and stubborn efforts to avoid the sting of ebook price-fixing probe and an accompanying $450m fine have finally ended: the US Supreme Court has decided not to hear the iTunes giant's appeal. The Cupertino titan lost its case back in 2013 after it was found guilty of conspiring with publishers Macmillan, Hachette, …

You're fired! No – you're acquired! Reality TV hits Silicon Valley startups

First comes satire then something that makes satire impossible. To be fair, it's been a long time coming, but Silicon Valley is about to gets its own reality TV show and it's going to star Jason Calacanis. Who? You know, Jason Calacanis, the poor man's Marc Cuban. And it's a good choice, since Jason embodies everything that …
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We’re not holding biz to ransom, says pay to play ad-blocking outfit

Far from killing the advertising industry, ad blockers are saving it from itself, says the company behind AdBlock Plus. Eyeo was responding to headline-grabbing remarks by Culture Minister John Whittingdale earlier this week. Whittingdale didn’t name names, but compared ad blocking software companies who whitelist advertisers …
Black hole - spaghetti visualisation. Artist's impression.  NASA/JPL-Caltech, CC BY-SA

Mechanical black hole: Microsoft settles music royalties sueball

Microsoft has quietly settled a lawsuit over unpaid music royalties with a drummer and his band’s music publisher. It’s a small but significant settlement: the pair are also suing Google, Deezer and Jay Z’s Tidal for the same reason, and the issue is also at the heart of two class action lawsuits against Spotify. All the …
Zuckerberg photo Facebook

Facebook paid £4k in tax. HMRC then paid Facebook £27k – for ads

Facebook is to pay millions more in taxes in the UK, a day after it was revealed that HMRC paid Facebook six times more to advertise on the site than the ad platform paid HMRC in taxes during 2014, according to reports. Facebook is, it says, undergoing a major overhaul of its tax structure. A spokesman for the free content ad …
Kat Hall, 4 Mar 2016
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No more Nookie for Blighty as Barnes & Noble pulls out

Barnes & Noble's Nook business in the US is faltering, but that's nothing compared to the UK, where it's exiting and handing operations to Sainsbury's. The company has posted this announcement on its UK site. Effective from March 15, 2016, NOOK will no longer sell digital content in the United Kingdom. The NOOK Store on NOOK …
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Facebook can block folks using pseudonyms in Germany – court

Facebook has landed a win in Germany: the Hamburg Administrative Court says the website's real-names-only policy is governed by the laws of Ireland – and not Germany. That means Facebook's policy does not fall under German privacy laws, and thus the social network doesn't have to change a thing despite concerns over the policy …

Surprise! That blood-pressure app doesn't measure blood pressure

Quantified self types not only fill Twitter feeds with reports from every walking, running, breathing and bonking app around – but the spewed data isn't always particularly accurate. In a letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a bunch of US medical academics decided to test AuraLife's …

Ad-blockers are a Mafia-style 'protection racket' – UK's Minister of Fun

UK Culture Minister John Whittingdale compared ad-blocking software to “a modern day protection racket” in his Oxford Media Convention keynote yesterday. But a study of the full text shows he would prefer to bang some sense into the ad industry, rather than shake down individuals using content filters in their web browsers. …

BBC telly tax drops onto telly-free households. Cough up, iPlayer fans

The UK's Minister for Fun will rush through legislation to allow the BBC to impose a compulsory subscription on people using iPlayer to watch catchup TV. The BBC wants to plug a “loophole” that allows households that do not watch live transmissions, and do not need a TV licence, to watch BBC content. The licence costs £145.50 …

Ofcom should be the BBC's ultimate overlord, UK.gov told

Telcomms regulator Ofcom should also regulate the BBC, a review for the Ministry of Fun has found. An independent review into the governance and regulation of BBC governance by Sir David Clementi, commissioned by DCMS, reported back yesterday. Astonishingly, Clementi came up with the result that the government had wanted in …
Snakes on a Plane, kind of

More and more Brits are using ad-blockers, says survey

22 per cent of British adults now use ad blocking software, up from 15 per cent last July – and by four per cent over three months. The survey was compiled for trade group the Internet Advertising Bureau by YouGov. The IAB wants more consumer-friendly and “lighter” ads to fend off an “Adpocalypse”. Two weeks ago mobile …
Port of Tyne sign. Google Maps

Photographer hassled by Port of Tyne for filming a sign on a wall

Video A photographer in a public place was called a “lunatic”, "detained" by private security guards and had the police called on him after he videoed a wall outside the Port of Tyne. Footage posted to YouTube by 24-year-old media production graduate Alan Noble shows two security guards employed by the Port of Tyne remonstrating …

Wikimedia’s executive director quits after less than 2 years in post

The Wikimedia Foundation’s executive director, Leila Tretikov, has resigned after less than two years in the post. A decade ago the foundation employed just three people and operated on a budget of $3m – which is the operating cost of the site today. But aggressive funding drives initiated by a previous executive director saw …
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Feb 2016
Zuckerberg photo Facebook

Zuck: Facebook won't retry Free Basics in India

MWC16 Mark Zuckerberg says he'll find other ways to deliver connectivity to rural Indians, after his Free Basics program was rebuffed in India. But the program will press on in the other 37 countries. Free Basics was just one of Facebook's Internet.org initiatives, he stressed, which intended to bring the 4.1 billion unconnected …
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Feb 2016
Zuckerberg photo Facebook

Is Facebook about to get a Virtual Reality check?

MWC16 “I’m incredibly bullish on virtual reality,” Facebook’s chief technology officer Mark Schroepfer tells The Reg. No surprise there, then. “But it’s a brand new platform that will start slow and take a while to develop,” he continued on a brief stop-over in London late last year. “Part of the thing we are trying to avoid that’s …
Gavin Clarke, 22 Feb 2016

ADpocalypse NOW: Three raises the stakes

Analysis It’s WAR. CK Hutchison’s Three network will become the first UK mobile operator to block ads, threatening to undermine the $100bn mobile ad business, and app developers and publishers who depend on them. Three confirmed to us that apps will be starved of ads once the blocking is turned on. Although Three is the smallest of …
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Feb 2016

Q: How many guns to arm nine coachloads of terrorists?

The BBC has made an audacious if flawed bid to establish the "coachload of terrorists" as a standard for quantifying arms caches. Back in 2014, Suffolk police found an impressive 177 rifles, 136 handguns, 88 shotguns and 38 machine guns, plus 200,000 rounds of ammunition at the home of James Arnold. So impressive was the …
Lester Haines, 19 Feb 2016
Pie chart inventor and scoundrel William Playfair could easily take his place at a cereal bar in Shoreditch

Meet the original Big Data, TED Talk, Thought Shower Futurist

Andrew at Large At the Battle of Ideas Festival at the Barbican last year, Claire Fox chaired a panel titled: “Is Technology Limiting Our Humanity?”, and invited me to take part. Panelists could give a seven-minute introduction. It’s now online as a video and podcast. Two avenues looked promising, and today I will give you an excerpt from …
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Feb 2016
Cassette tape exposed

Subscription music download service drip.fm closes

Music distribution service Drip.fm is closing. Drip created a paid music subscription service that artists could use as-a-service. Alt.rock weirdsters They Might Be Giants were one customer and used the site to offer downloads of the song-a-week released as part of the group's revived Dial-A-Song offering. The site's founders …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Feb 2016

FCC clicks off the safety, fires at America's great cable TV box rip-off

US broadband watchdog the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has approved a proposal Thursday to put an end to the closed cable box rental – aka the biggest rip-off in America. Under the "notice of proposed rulemaking," put forward last month by the regulator's chairman Tom Wheeler, all cable companies will be obliged to …
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Feb 2016
Conchita Wurst

Eurovision Song Contest uncorks 1975 vote shocker: No 'Nul point'!

Voting for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest has undergone its biggest overhaul in nearly 40 years. The Eurovision Song Contest final in May will for the first time record the votes of viewers – sent via SMS, phone and app – and judges separately. Before, votes from each country were combined to produce a total score. Now …
Gavin Clarke, 18 Feb 2016
Robot AI Woman

Terrified robots will take middle class jobs? Look in a mirror

Andrew at Large At the Battle of Ideas Festival at the Barbican last year, Claire Fox chaired a panel titled "Is Technology Limiting Our Humanity?", and invited me to take part. Panelists could give a seven-minute introduction. It's now online as a video and podcast*. Two avenues looked promising, and I'll give you excerpts from each. One …
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Feb 2016
Amputation

Yahoo! axes! websites! you've! never! heard! of! and! lays! off! staff!

Yahoo! has eliminated seven of its digital publications as the sputtering web giant continues to cut costs. The Purple Palace confirmed on Wednesday that it was eliminating the Yahoo! Food, Health, Parenting, Makers, Travel, Auto, and Real Estate cyber-magazines. With the cuts comes the loss of a number of jobs including, …
Shaun Nichols, 17 Feb 2016
shutterstock_184661174

Google? Great firm, lovely people, says Microsoft-backed ICOMP

A Google-bashing industry group backed by Microsoft says its Google-bashing days are over. In a blog post from last week, ICOMP confirmed that it was changing its focus: While we continue to monitor the Commission’s Google investigation, we are aligning our focus to evolving interests of our membership. ICOMP now focuses on …
Andrew Orlowski, 16 Feb 2016

Facebook tells Viz to f**k right off

UPDATED Facebook has "unpublished" the page pertaining to legendary Brit comic Viz, citing a breach of the social network's terms and community standards. Viz revealed the shock news on Twitter earlier today, prompting one fan to suggest: "Couldn't you disguise yourselves by posting child pornography or right wing nut job content?" …
Lester Haines, 16 Feb 2016

Free science journal library gains notoriety, lands injunctions

A repository of 47 million research papers is playing a game of internet cat-and-mouse with publisher Elsevier. Last month, Sci-Hub was forced to relocate to the sci-hub.io domain after its previous home at sci-hub.org was shut down when Elsevier won a preliminary injunction against it. Likewise the addresses libgen.org, …
Kieren McCarthy, 12 Feb 2016

Reluctant Wikipedia lifts lid on $2.5m internet search engine project

The Wikimedia Foundation has finally disclosed details of its controversial Knowledge Engine grant – and it confirms that Wikipedia is getting seriously into search, despite Jimmy Wales' categorical denial that WMF is “doing a Google”. Wikimedia’s reluctance to detail the restricted grant, from the Knight Foundation, was a …
Andrew Orlowski, 12 Feb 2016
Abandoned building

Time acquires Myspace, creates 2004's most fearsome media giant

Time Inc. said it has acquired what's left of social networking ghost town Myspace. The media giant will take on ownership of Myspace as part of a larger acquisition of parent company Viant, an advertising and data analytic firm. Viant acquired Myspace from News Corp in 2011. Time said that it plans to integrate Viant into …
Shaun Nichols, 11 Feb 2016

Twitter CEO Jack's off to the settings page, adds robot-sorted tweets

It's official – Twitter is slightly moving away from being a hosepipe of real-time wittering. It will use an algorithm to sort tweets into some arbitrary order. However, twits will still be able to sort tweets by time and date as per normal, so there's no need to panic. Rumors of the switch to robot-promoted-tweets have had …
Iain Thomson, 10 Feb 2016

Andreessen stokes the Facebook Free Basics ‘colonialism’ row

Venture capitalist and Facebook board member Marc Andreessen has stoked the growing row about banning a free data service that gets impoverished rural Indians online. On Monday, India’s telecomms regulator TRAI effectively outlawed the Facebook Free Basics service, which offers a basic data service to rural communities in over …
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Feb 2016

Hold the miniature presses: Playmobil movie is go

In long-overdue news, it's been announced that 2018 will see the release of a full-blown animated Playmobil movie, the first of a planned trilogy. The $75m cinematic celebration of our fave figurines will be helmed by Lino Di Salvo, the former Disney Animation chap who headed animation on Frozen. His other credits include …
Lester Haines, 10 Feb 2016
Furious man punches monitor and puts fist clear through it. Pic by Shutterstock

Don't you see these simple facts? Destroy Facebook and restore human Liberty

FoTW What could be more warmly received on this brisk winter's day than a delicious, heartfelt bellow of rage from a Commentard who could bear it no more. We haven't had one in a few years, but Sir, you are our Flame of the Week... and nobody claims their five pounds. Nobody wins any pounds. In fact, nobody wins. This is …
Jude Karabus, 9 Feb 2016

What took you so long, Twitter? Micro blogging site takes on the trolls

Twitter is seeking to stamp out the anonymous bullies and trolls who blight the “social” media site. Today the company announced the Twitter Trust & Safety Council, comprising more than 40 organisations and outside experts. In a statement today, Twitter’s policy boss Patricia Cartes said the council was a "new and foundational …
Drew Cullen, 9 Feb 2016