Technology

Image copyright PA Image caption An artist’s impression of how the new link will look The search for a company to take on the £2.75bn contract to build high speed trains for the HS2 rail network got underway on Friday. The Department for Transport said up to 60 trains, capable of speeds of about 225mph, were needed. The contract, which will also involve maintaining the fleet, will be awarded in 2019. The trains are for the first phase of the project, due to open in 2026 and run between London and Birmingham. Construction will begin later this year and it is expected to reduce rail times between Birmingham and London by 32 minutes. A second Y-shaped phase of HS2 will open in two stages. The line from Birmingham to Crewe will launch in 2027, with the remaining construction – which includes a spur taking HS2 to a new station at Manchester Airport – due to …

In the smartphone era, the journey from futuristic fantasy to everyday nuisance is short. When the Motorola Atrix 4G made phones with fingerprint scanners widely available in 2011, then when the iPhone 5S made them very widely available two years later, it was the sort of thing you would hungrily unpack the box to play with. Now, if a scanner gets your attention at all, it’s because the blasted thing won’t work. Right now especially. For many people, it is a winter ritual to place a thumb on the sensor, then place it again, then again, then try a finger instead and … oh, forget it, just pretend it’s still 2011 and enter the code! As Apple explains, and as we all know: “Moisture, lotions, sweat, oils, cuts or dry skin might affect fingerprint recognition.” So might “certain activities … including exercising, showering, swimming, cooking”. Which is just a typically wholesome day, of course, in …

Image copyright PA Image caption BT has been battling with Sky over the rights to sporting events BT has announced price rises for its broadband and landline services, while television customers will start having to pay for BT Sport. Broadband charges will typically rise by between 5% and 6% from 2 April, the company said. From August, BT TV subscribers will pay £3.50 a month for BT Sport, which has been free for broadband customers. Landline customers will see phone plans increase, and the cost of calls will go up by 1p a minute. Rivals Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk have all announced price increases within the last year. BT said phone rental would be frozen at £18.99a month, while the cost of a subscription to BT TV will also remain the same. The company also promised to compensate customers automatically if it fails to deliver on one of its service promises. The details will …

Image copyright South Wales Police/Getty Images A man who groomed young boys through the online game Minecraft has been jailed for two years and eight months. Adam Isaac, 23, from Merthyr Tydfil, previously admitted eight sexual offences against children. Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard he targeted two boys, aged 12 and 14, and asked them to send intimate photos of themselves. Judge Richard Twomlow QC said: “This predatory behaviour is a worry and a concern to parents.” Isaac admitted causing or inciting child prostitution or pornography, performing sexual acts in the presence of a child, encouraging a child to engage in a sexual activity and the possession of indecent photos of a child. He committed sexual acts himself while on video calls with the boys and also possessed indecent images of an unidentified third boy. Minecraft: Grooming dangers for children gaming online In a statement to the court, the family of one of the victims …

Image copyright Thinkstock Image caption Mirai recruits thousands of smart devices, such as cameras, to launch attacks Malware that launched the net’s largest ever cyber-attack last year had links to Minecraft servers, according to those investigating it. Security blogger Brian Krebs has spent months investigating the attack which knocked his blog offline. He claims that the origins of the Mirai botnet can be traced back to rivalries in the Minecraft community. His claims are backed up by a security expert who provided net security for Minecraft servers. Robert Coelho, vice president of security firm ProxyPipe, told the BBC that his suspicions about who was behind the Mirai code have been passed to the FBI, which is “actively investigating” the claims. The botnet Mirai was made up of more than 500,000 web-connected devices such as webcams and routers. Media captionEXPLAINED: What is a DDoS attack? The attacks it launched – so-called denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that hit …

The legislation, which passed in late November and replaced the old surveillance law at the beginning of this year, is called the Investigatory Powers Act (or, by its critics, the “Snooper’s Charter”). It enshrines broad new authority for U.K. law enforcement and intelligence agencies to conduct online surveillance, hack into devices deemed relevant to investigations, and make technology companies provide access to data about their users—even by forcing them to change the design of products. It also gives investigators the authority to use these powers in “bulk,” meaning they can access large data sets that may include information about people not relevant to investigations. They can even hack into devices owned by people who are not suspects in a crime. Opponents take issue with many parts of the legislation, but the most high-profile fight is over a new authority for the government to compel Internet service providers to retain “Internet connection records”—including websites visited or …

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Hookah pipe smoking is an integral part of Lebanese culture One of the most familiar sights in the Middle East is of local citizens gathering in cafes smoking hookah pipes as they drink coffee strong enough to knock out an Arabian horse. But in Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, such traditional pastimes are being given a hi-tech twist. Not only is the city as hip and cool as any city in the West, Lebanese technology is even changing the nature of the hookah pipe. Finding the ideal tobacco flavour in the bowl at the right temperature is the Holy Grail of hookahs, but a start-up called Nara – Arabic for flame – is solving this with the first “internet of things” hookah pipe. Compact fast-lighting spheres of charcoal are supplemented by a dense battery and internet-connected sensors that measure air flow, moisture and temperature – all vital elements for a perfect …

I had no idea the Core i3-6100 you mentioned last week is faster than some of the slower i5 chips. Is there any chance of you writing an article that focuses on processors? I appreciate that PCs are more than just processors, but I would find it useful. 75drayton It’s worse than that. There have been cheap Intel Pentium chips that were faster than Core i7’s! Intel uses BMW-style branding, where the Core i3, i5 and i7 are marketed as good/better/best. This is usually a fair reflection of current performance per watt of power used, but it doesn’t tell you the raw performance. You also have to look beyond the branding, because today’s Core chips are different from last year’s. Intel usually brings out a new generation of processors every 12-18 months, and the Core range is now in its seventh generation. Generation game Each generation of Core chips has its own code name, such …

Image copyright AFP Tesla will not be ordered to recall its semi-autonomous cars in the US, following a fatal crash in May 2016. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closed its investigation after it found no evidence of a defect in the vehicle. Joshua Brown was killed when his car collided with a lorry while operating in Autopilot mode. Tesla has stated Autopilot is only designed to assist drivers, who must keep their hands on the wheel. The feature is intended to be used on the motorway, where is lets cars automatically change lanes and react to traffic. The NHTSA report said data from the car showed that “the driver took no braking, steering or other actions to avoid the collision”. Bryan Thomas from the NHSTA said the driver should have been able to see the lorry for seven seconds, which “should have been enough time to take some action”. ‘Inattentive drivers’ The investigation …

Image copyright Reuters A coalition of more than 70 civil rights groups has urged Facebook to be clearer about the content it removes. In a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the group accused the social network of “disproportionate censorship of Facebook users of colour”. The coalition wants the site to specify which rule a deleted post has broken, and provide an appeal process. Facebook has previously responded to a letter submitted by the group, but has not yet replied to the latest one. The social network sometimes removes content that has been reported or flagged by members, if it is judged to have broken the website’s guidelines. But the coalition argued that the moderation was “racially biased”. “Activists in the Movement for Black Lives have routinely reported the takedown of images discussing racism and during protests, with the justification that it violates Facebook’s community standards,” the coalition wrote. “At the same time, harassment and threats directed …

1 2 3 194