Technology | Anorak - Part 18

Technology Category

Independent news, views, opinions and reviews on the latest gadgets, games, science, technology and research from Apple and more. It’s about the technologies that change the way we live, work, love and behave.

Should Apple Throw $150 Billion at Shareholders or Not?

ONE investor in Apple, Carl Icahn, has demanded that Apple should throw $150 billion of the company’s money at shareholders. It seems like a reasonable enough idea, given that the company’s money does actually belong to the shareholders, but there’s a couple of minor problems. The most obvious being that despite Apple having $150 billion in cash it would have to go and borrow to pay that amount to the shareholders:

Mr Icahn took to Twitter to disclose that he had used a dinner meeting to press the tech giant’s chief executive Tim Cook to carry out further share buybacks. He said he had “pushed hard” for more share purchases by the iPhone and iPad maker.

Buybacks reward investors by lifting earnings per share and Apple shares rose 2.4pc on the news the influential investor was pressing the company over its share purchases.

“Had a cordial dinner with Tim last night,” Mr Icahn said on Twitter. “We pushed hard for a $150bn buyback. We decided to continue dialogue in about three weeks.”

Mr Icahn later told CNBC that he had invested $2bn in Apple. He added that the tech group’s finance chief had also attended the meal with Mr Cook.

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Posted: 22nd, October 2013 | In: Money, Technology | Comment

We Know You’re Reading This At Work You Know: Google’s Online News Explainer


ONE of the things that’s become increasingly apparent in the development of this ‘ere internet thing over the last couple of decades is that everyone’s reading it at work. We seem to have shifted the “finding out the news” thing away from free or leisure time into the working hours of the day and the week.

Anyone who has ever run a website knows this little point: traffic starts to rise from a particular timezone as people start to arrive at work in that timezone. UK traffic is pitiful before about 8.30 am and rises strongly after 9.30 am. It then falls away again around 5 pm. US traffic starts to rise around 8 am East Coast Time and continues to rise until the Californians get in several hours later.

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Posted: 21st, October 2013 | In: Money, Reviews, Technology | Comment

Image Processing Guy Creates Incredible Picture of Saturn

YOU think you know Saturn and then Saturn Gordan Ugarkovic creates the hereunder magnificent picture of the planet. It is huge – both picture and planet, that is. Others explain what we’re looking at:


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Posted: 18th, October 2013 | In: Technology | Comment

1984: Bruce McCandless takes man’s first untethered flight in space

space photo

ON 12 February 1984, Bruce McCandless waved farewell to the Challenger Space Shuttle and floated off into space. His only power was his Manned Maneuvering Unit or MMU, a nitrogen jet-propelled backpack. It was humankind’s first untethered flight in space.

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Posted: 15th, October 2013 | In: Flashback, Technology | Comment

The Daily Mail defines Apple’s massive iPhone 5c failure for us


OR rather, the Mail might want to try and find a different measure of failure. For Apple has, as we all know, released two new iPhones, the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s. Which seem to be selling pretty well: they shifted 9 million pieces over their first weekend which is many, many, more than they’ve done in the first few days of any other iPhone model. But here’s the Mail:

Is the iPhone5C a failure? Apple ‘halves’ production and slashes the price of its handset in China due to ‘dismal sales’

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Posted: 15th, October 2013 | In: Money, Technology, The Consumer | Comment

Markets versus bureaucrats in mobile phones roaming row: Simple Choice defeats the EU telecoms Tsar

WE’VE got a great little example here of how markets and bureaucrats work. Steely Neelie, the EU telecoms Tsar, is insisting that the mobile telephone companies will have to stop charging people for data roaming. That’s the idea that when you cross a border you start getting charged a fortune for your online access.

Europe’s digital tsar Neelie Kroes has been defending her call for greater integration of telcos across Europe, and appears to be arguing that what she described as “artificial” lowered roaming revenues should not hinder the telcos’ greater investment in European infrastructure.

Neelie’s plan is to get rid roaming charges across Europe by forcing operators to scrape them altogether, or offer customers the almost-impractical option of an Alternative Roaming Partner, but operators won’t give up on their revenue stream so easily and are lobbying to water down the legislation before it goes to the vote.

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Posted: 15th, October 2013 | In: Money, Technology, The Consumer | Comment (1)

Cyclist ticketed for not riding in bike lane makes video of himself crashing into things in bike lanes

Casey Neistat

THE cyclist ticketed for not riding in bike lane has made this video of him crashing into things in bike lanes:

Posted: 11th, October 2013 | In: Technology | Comment

HTC’s creates tacky golden bling to celebrate black music at the MOBO awards

mobo tat

I’M really not sure that this is all that appropriate you know. Is overpriced golden blong really the way to celebrate the best of black and urban music at the MOBO Awards?

Because that’s what they’re doing:

Still, HTC has just announced a new model that’ll put their scarcity to shame: an 18 carat gold HTC One priced at £2,750 (about $4,400). Only five copies will be made to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the MOBO awards, which honors black artists and urban music in the UK. It’s the “most exclusive and expensive smartphone every produced by HTC,” according to MOBO, and features a MOBO 18 logo laser etched on the back.

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Posted: 11th, October 2013 | In: Money, Music, Technology | Comment

Mobile phone spectrum fees rise: Costs to us won’t

THE mobile phone companies have got all hot under the collar about new fees they’ve got to pay for the spectrum they use to provide the service. So much so that they’ve actually started lying about it. For this rise in fees will have absolutely no effect at all on the prices the companies charge us:

The communications regulator on Thursday unveiled plans to increase the amount it charges EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three for using certain bands of the airwaves by between 330pc and 433pc, meaning an increase in combined annual fees from £64.4m to £309m.

The move will provide a £245m a year boost to the Treasury, but the mobile operators said that it would discourage investment in new 4G services and labelled the price rises “excessive”.

Industry sources said they were digesting the likely implications of the new fees, adding that they may have to charge customers extra in order to protect margins.

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Posted: 11th, October 2013 | In: Money, Technology | Comment

Dear Margaret Hodge: Facebook just isn’t avoiding tax in the UK

Margaret Hodge MP outside No 10 Downing Street, central London, after handing in a petition - signed by more than 110,000 people - calling on internet retailer Amazon to pay their fair share of UK tax.

DEAR Lord the egregious Margaret Hodge is getting boring on this subject. She seems to ignore the manner in which every time she opens her gob on the subject of corporate tax she has to be corrected. It simply is not true that Facebook is avoiding tax in the UK:

However, those numbers are not reflected in its accounts. In common with fellow American technology leaders Google and Apple, Facebook funnels the vast majority of its income from advertisers targeting its 33 million British users through Ireland. “This is yet another example of what appears to be deliberate manipulation of accounts of economic activity to deprive the British taxpayer of a rightful tax contribution, according to the profits they make in the UK,” said Commons public accounts committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge. “I am getting fed up of this constant stream of stories and little sign of a challenge from HMRC and a strange silence from government.”

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Posted: 9th, October 2013 | In: Money, Technology, The Consumer | Comment

FIFA 14 features Liverpool and Newcastle player in gay love scene

FIFA 14 is doing its bit for gay rights in football. Well, possibly not. After Andy Carroll, then of Newcastle United, kissing Arsenal’s Lukasz Fabianski in FIFA 12, this season’s title has upped the ante.



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Posted: 9th, October 2013 | In: Sports, Technology | Comment

Toby Young, Wikipedia and the 583 entry edits


ONE of the tiresome chores of life is maintaining the polish on one’s public profile. Don’t I know it, poppets! If anyone doubts this, check out Toby Young’s impressively anal attention to detail in his Wikipedia entry. Since January 2012 to the present (alone), he has made about 60 corrections, amendments and emendations.

Some are perfectly understandable. On 28 August 2013, for instance, he added an apostrophe to Earl’s Court. And on 27 April 2012, he deleted the word “stint” to avoid repetition. I like this. Editing is a much neglected art. Other edits suggest a dynamic growth in minor celebrity selfie-dom. On 2 August of this year he writes: “I deleted the ref to my father cos it implies I was the beneficiary of nepotism which I wasn’t. The admissions tutor later told me that Brasenose were legally obliged to honour the mistaken offer. Nowt to do with my dad.”

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Posted: 9th, October 2013 | In: Celebrities, Technology | Comment

Calculator testing: Morrisons v WHSmith v Canon – an unpacking masterclass

HOW to unpack a Morrison’s calculator; and how it stacks up against a WHSmith calculator and a calculator from Canon, This is not an unboxing video. This is  an unpacking masterclass:

Spotter: Brady Haran

Posted: 8th, October 2013 | In: Technology, The Consumer | Comment

Now Silk Road has been taken down where will we all buy drugs?

silk road

YOU’LL have seen the news that Silk Road, the online drug bazar, has been taken down by the FBI. There’s a number of fun questions surrounding what actually happened.

For those who don’t know Silk Road was part of the “deep web”, the bit where Google doesn’t go. And it was a trading shop for just about anything: from heroin through computer trojans and all the way to hit men. All highly illegal of course and it seems the the bloke running it was a bit of an extreme libertarian. Which is going to cause problems for nice cuddly libertarians like me of course.

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Posted: 7th, October 2013 | In: Money, Technology, The Consumer | Comment

How Barack Obama, Michael Jackson and Britney Spears can help you evade the NSA and Facebook spooks

HOW can you prevent your face from being known by the authorities searching the American-corporation-owned web? Wear a burqa. A beard? Be old and grey (the ultimate invisibility cloak)? Dutch designer Simone C. Niquille has an idea how you can dodge facial-recognition software: wear clothes covered in pictures of other people. Her “REALFACE Glamoflage” T-shirts are great. She says:

“I was interested in the T-shirt as a mundane commodity. An article of clothing that in most cases does not need much consideration in the morning in front of the closet…I was interested in creating a tool for privacy protection that wouldn’t require much time to think in the morning, an accessory that would seamlessly fit in your existing everyday. No adaption period needed.”

simone C Niquelle 2


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Posted: 6th, October 2013 | In: Fashion, Technology | Comment

Are you ready for glow-in-the-dark trees?


HOW about if science creates trees that glow in the dark? No need for lamp-posts? That hedge along the motorway’s central reservation makes night driving easier. Reason reports:

[Efforts to engineering a glowing tree] has been going on since the mid-1980s, when researchers first successfully transplanted a gene present in fireflies into tobacco plants [seen above]. By now you’d expect to see phosphorescent Marlboros casting an eerie glow in what few dive bars still allow smoking, but progress has been slow.

Things sped up last year after former Bain consultant Antony Evans watched biologist Omri Amirav-Drory give a presentation on the possibilities of using living organisms to produce energy, fuel, plastics, and fertilizers. Evans was inspired by Amirav-Drory’s suggestion that armchair tinkerers, utilizing sophisticated but easy-to-use software and a “biological app store,” might one day assemble the genetic material for producing a “renewable, self-assembled, solar-powered, sustainable street-lamp”—in other words, a bioluminescent oak tree.

One problem: how do you contain the seeds? Would you want your garden to start glowing? Neon mould, anyone?


Posted: 30th, September 2013 | In: Technology | Comment

It’s not just Apple’s iOS 7 that causes motion sickness

apple sickFOLLOWING on from last week’s news that users of Apple’s new operating system, iOS 7, were starting to feel motion sickness as a result of using it (and yes, up to the point of falling over and even vomiting) we’re getting the news that there are some people who are pretty much allergic to our bright new digital future. Quite simply some cannot deal with modern digital graphics and 3D effects and so are always going to be locked out: or on the floor throwing up of course.

The initial news that iOS 7 was causing problems came up in the Apple user forums:

 The zoom animations everywhere on the new iOS 7 are literally making me nauseous and giving me a headache. It’s exactly how I used to get car sick if I tried to read in the car.

How do I turn them off? Do I have to revert to 6?

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Posted: 30th, September 2013 | In: Technology | Comment

Computer blessing: priest dispenses God’s grace on iPads and even Nokia phones

TODAY Gil Florini, parish priest of Saint Pierre D’Arene church in Nice, southeastern France, blessed mobiles phones and computers during a Mass to celebrate St Gabriel, the archangel of transmissions. In the past Gil Florini has enabled the blessing of all kinds of things, like vehicles and animals.

He blesses everything, does Gil. Like a drunk man asking for a donation outside a branch of Threshers, Gil shouts ‘Gawd bless yer” at everything and everyone. One day his iPhone was just a piece of throwaway gadgetry; the next it was a holy relic housed in an ornamental châsse, which on weekdays doubles as a branch of Phone 4 U.


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Posted: 28th, September 2013 | In: Strange But True, Technology | Comment

Finally: proof that Grand Theft Auto 5 (GTA V) turns good kids into criminals

FOR too long we’ve been bombarded with stories that computer games create violent crime. The Sun told us that Adam Lanza had been playing Call of Duty before he killed – a game the paper told readers was “fantastic“. Call of Duty, according to the Mirror, drove Aaron Alexis murder 12 people on a US naval base.

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Posted: 27th, September 2013 | In: Technology | Comments (4)

Candy Crush Saga maker files for IPO: but are they a one hit wonder?

candy crush

THE makers of Candy Crush Saga have filed for their IPO over on Nasdaq in the US. That they’re an English company floating over there is interesting but of rather more importance is whether they’re really just a one hit wonder?

The basic news is here:

It is understood that King will float on the Nasdaq exchange in what is likely to be the biggest IPO by a UK technology company for years.

King, which used to be referred to as Britain’s answer to Zynga before the latter company’s fall from grace, has lodged its pre-IPO “S-1” paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission, taking advantage of the same loophole for rapidly-growing businesses that allowed Twitter to keep its IPO confidential.

Few financial details are available, but it was turning over around £300m at the start of this year and has grown rapidly since then. Its games were played an average of 300m times a month in 2011 but that figure now tops 30bn, helped by the success of Candy Crush Saga, which is the most popular game played on Facebook.

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Posted: 27th, September 2013 | In: Money, Technology | Comment

The artist as spambot: Daily Mail Reporter is brains behind horse_ebook

Screen shot 2013-09-26 at 19.06.35

THE Twitter feed @horse_ebooks is not a spambot but a blog created and written by humans.

It may also turn out that the Daily Mail is not written by computers but humans deciding that Jan Moir (64% human) should be upset by the paper’s countless pictures of Miley Cyrus twerking. The super busy ‘Daily Mail Reporter’ might well be an actual person. He/She might one day mate with @horse_ebook and save the publishing industry a fortune in staff.

Dan Sinker:

“When Susan Orlean (of all people!) revealed in the New Yorker (of all places!) that for at least the last two years, @Horse has actually been authored (shepherded? overseen? THERE IS NOT A WORD TO DESCRIBE THIS) by Jacob Bakkila and Thomas Bender two employees of Buzzfeed (seriously) and that the account was coming to an end today, with a culmination in a performance art piece (ouch) at a New York gallery (fuck), it felt devastating.”

Who is who

[Jacob Bakkila and Thomas Bender] have been working on the project for almost four years, keeping their identities secret from just about everyone, including their colleagues at BuzzFeed, where Bakkila is a creative director, and Howcast, where Bender, until about a year ago, was the vice-president of product development.

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Posted: 26th, September 2013 | In: Reviews, Technology | Comment

Netflix and BitTorrent: If you let people buy things then they won’t steal them

Netfilx headquarters in Los Gatos, Calif., Tuesday, March 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

TWO interesting little bits about Netflix, the online on demand film and TV show service.

The first one is that they monitor what people are stealing over the BitTorrents to see what shows they should try to go and buy the rights for:

Netflix acknowledged this week that the company eyes piracy statistics to determine what kind of video content to offer subscribers and what kind of television programs they should buy.

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Posted: 26th, September 2013 | In: Money, Technology, The Consumer | Comment

Doctors grow nose on man’s forehead

TO China, where Xiaolian, 22, has had his new nose grown on his forehead ahead of transplant surgery.

His original nose suffered irreparable damage in an accident.

His new nose was created by contorting his forehead skin into a nose shape with a plastic strip and adding cartilage taken from his ribs.

It’s a great nose. But would you pick it?

Posted: 25th, September 2013 | In: Strange But True, Technology | Comment