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Nicole Kobie

Kittens and six other web revelations from Tim Berners-Lee

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

tbl4x3

The web turned 25 yesterday. Well, sort of — it was the 25th anniversary of Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s original paper outlining the principles of the web, but let’s roll with it.

To celebrate this first milestone, Berners-Lee was all over the web, giving interviews, posting videos and even taking part in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session. As someone with a massive professional crush on the man — I once dodged a PR and vaulted a chair to shake his hand; I think I alarmed him — I’ve read through every one of his AMA posts. Here’s a collection of the web creator’s best revelations from the Q&A session.

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Posted in: Random

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Censorship by copyright: Myles Powers and abuse of DMCA takedowns

Monday, February 17th, 2014

mylespower

One of the problems inherent in any form of censorship — even censorship that’s valid in the first place — is function creep.

Come up with a clever way to block illegal images of child sexual abuse, and someone will want to use it to block piracy websites, and so on. Force ISPs to install parental-control filters, and soon the infrastructure is being used to block extremist videos and other “harmful content”. And so on. It’s all well-intentioned, but censorship with good intentions can still go wrong.

Here’s one such example. The wonderfully named Myles Power is a science blogger from Middlesbrough. His website features oodles of educational YouTube videos, from how to extract DNA from strawberries to making a basic jet engine at home.

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Apple’s OSes set to surpass Windows

Friday, February 14th, 2014

If anyone doubts how substantially Apple and the mobile revolution (or whatever you want to call it) have changed technology, here’s a chart for you, nicked from analyst Benedict Evans:

BenedictChart

This shows sales of all Apple iOS and OS X devices — iPads, iPods, iPhones and Macs — versus sales of PCs running Windows (the orange line), and versus Windows PCs and Windows Phone handsets combined (the blue line).

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Windows 9: what changes would you make to Windows 8?

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Windows81

Windows 8 has been much criticised — with a lot of the complaining coming from our podcast. While some of the grievances levelled at the OS, such as the focus on Metro at the expense of desktop users, are fair, suggestions that Windows 8 is the new Vista may be taking it a bit too far.

Microsoft has made a few improvements in Windows 8.1, with more planned for its next update, and Windows 9 is widely expected to be discussed at Build in April — and to arrive as early as next year, as Microsoft hopes to ditch the 8 brand and get a fresh start. (So maybe it is the new Vista, then?)

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Splunk and the Squeaky Dolphin: when Big Data goes rogue

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

squeakydolphin

Poor Splunk.

The oddly named firm’s products analyse “Big Data”. As it claims on its website: “by monitoring and analysing everything from customer clickstreams and transactions to network activity and call records—and more—Splunk turns machine data into valuable insights no matter what business you’re in.” Even if that business is snooping.

It should come as no surprise, then, that it’s found a place in the biggest Big Data haul: GCHQ apparently uses its data-sentiment analysis software to figure out what people are thinking online. (Indeed, Splunk advertises on its site that the US Department of Defense and Homeland Security use its products, so it really should come as no surprise.)

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Posted in: Newsdesk

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Do parents understand web filters? Research says most do, actually

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Good parenting“Parents are unaware of internet filters,” according to the headline on a government press release that’s landed in my inbox.

This claim is (apparently) based on an Ofcom report, which certainly makes for interesting reading, but which doesn’t entirely back up that headline. The disconnect is clear from the first sentence from the DCMS release:

Around one in eight parents that do not have family friendly internet controls did not know they existed or did not know how to install them, says a new report.

Let’s unpick that, since the headline will clearly be parroted in news stories elsewhere.

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Play it again: Berlin’s Computer Game Museum

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Pong and... whatever this game is

For someone whose first computing experience was a clunky corporate laptop my dad brought home from the office for us to use, I’m always surprised how intrigued I am by ancient PCs – as regular PC Pro readers will have noticed, I’ll never turn down a chance to visit Bletchley Park or the Science Museum.

So last week, while on a wander around Berlin, when my friends and I stumbled across the Computerspielemuseum – the Computer Game Museum – I couldn’t resist.

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Tech City: Easy to score when you move the goalposts

Friday, December 6th, 2013

londonmap

Today is the third anniversary of the government’s Tech City project — I know, I’m excited too — and with that comes another report crowing about the success of the Silicon Roundabout project.

Among other stats, the report suggests that 27% of new jobs in London since 2009 were created off the back of Tech City. That’s right: all those ironically moustachioed, fixed-gear bike-riding hipsters are saving the economy.

Well, not quite.

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Windows 8 on an Android tablet. Wait, what?

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Pipo tablet

Novatech is currently working with Chinese manufacturers to find a white-label Windows 8 tablet it can sell under its own brand. It hasn’t been an easy task, and as yet the British PC maker hasn’t found one it’s happy to put it’s name to.

Novatech has tested dozens of white-label tablets so far, few meeting the grade for build quality or features, but the one on tester Steve Kerrin’s table when I visited the company’s factory was certainly intriguing: an Android tablet running Windows 8.

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Want to force ISPs to censor porn? Pass a law

Monday, July 15th, 2013

webblocking

As I write this, representatives from ISPs are meeting with the government for further talks on parental controls.

Thanks to a leaked letter, we’re aware of the demands government officials are making:

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Posted in: Random

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