Government to ban WeChat on Sunday to ‘safeguard national security of the US’, while TikTok to be banned by 12 November
The US government will ban downloads of the Chinese-owned video sharing app TikTok and the use of China’s popular messaging and payments app WeChat to “safeguard the national security of the United States”.
Pros from then and now recall a game that sparked a cultural phenomenon and inspired some of the best skaters in history
Skateboarding has always ebbed and flowed in popularity, according to pro skateboarders Rodney Mullen and Chad Muska. “We’ve watched this rollercoaster ride and, each decade, there’s usually a huge peak and then a dip,” says Muska. “But we’ve not felt the dip for quite a long time now.” Since a crash in the early 90s, skateboarding has been enjoying a slow ride to the top. The dudes of the original skateboarding boom, now in their 40s, are now vastly outnumbered in skate parks by teenagers.
In the late 90s and early 00s, rap and hip-hop became integrated with skate culture; skate videos ditched the grungy VHS aesthetic and fish-eye lenses for faster cuts and smoother shots. Fast-forward to 2020 and the kids that grew up with this culture are now paying homage. Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s, is a coming-of-age film about 90s skateboarding, while Virgil Abloh, the creative director of Louis Vuitton, is now signing pro skateboarders to design shoes for his fashion house.
As the pandemic persists, older adults who are at higher risk of contracting Covid-19 are moving their lifestyles – from classes to coffee chats – online
In his 72 years, Brad Veloz has risked his job and overcome health issues to fight for LGBTQ+ and Latino rights. The coronavirus wasn’t going to stop his activism.
A year ago, the self-described “in-your-face” activist had never even used Zoom online video conferencing, but it is now a constant presence in his life in lockdown to connect with fellow activists instead of taking to the streets.
Adding a few paragraphs and photos can boost revenue by ?100,000 for small cities
Forget glossy travel brochures and whizzy online sites; one of the most cost-effective ways tourism chiefs can drive business to their towns or cities is by updating their Wikipedia page.
An experiment by economists at the Collegio Carlo Alberto in Turin, Italy, and ZEW in Mannheim, Germany, found that a few simple edits to a Wikipedia page could lead to an extra ?100,000 a year in tourism revenue for a small city, underscoring the power of the free online encyclopaedia.
Extension on Firefox browser will allow users to record information about videos recommended by site
YouTube viewers are being asked to become “watchdogs” and record their use of the site to help uncover the ways in which its recommendation algorithm can lead to online radicalisation.
Mozilla, the non-profit behind the Firefox web browser, has produced a new browser extension, called RegretsReporter, which will allow YouTube users to record and upload information about harmful videos recommended by the site, as well as the route they took to get there.
Company releases new versions of operating systems with just a day’s notice
Apple devices received a surprise update as the company released the latest version of its operating systems for iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs and Watches with just one day’s notice.
But while the new updates bring a wealth of new features for free, some independent developers are warning that the short notice has left them frantically rushing to update their own apps to work with the new systems.
Cheaper, lighter, crisper screen and more power make for potent standalone virtual reality escapism
The Oculus Quest 2 is Facebook’s second iteration of its popular standalone virtual reality headset. It is more powerful, has a better screen and is cheaper, ready to be your ticket to a virtual escape from the misery of Covid-19.
The Quest 2 costs ?299 and comes with everything you need to start playing – there’s no powerful gaming PC required. The original Quest released in 2019 marked a defining moment in the evolution of VR breaking it free from the shackles of cables and expensive computers – and proving more popular than expected in the process.
“Conceptually I can tell you that I don’t like that,” Trump told a news conference when asked about a reported proposal to give Oracle only a minority share. “I’m not prepared to sign off on anything. They’re going to be reporting to me tomorrow morning and I’ll let you know.”
The website for booking coronavirus tests is struggling to cope with the number of requests, adding more problems to those already accrued by the NHS test-and-trace scheme.
People in the UK who attempt to book a test for Covid-19 online are directed – once they have passed screening questions to ensure they are entitled to the test – to a purpose-built website where they can theoretically book either a home test kit or a walk-through or drive-through test. However, in practice, an increasing number of users are reporting errors on the site itself that prevent them from even attempting to book a test.
And if you’re imagining that it’s lifelong gamers who are leading the surge, you’re wrong. All kinds of people have discovered – or rediscovered – a passion for video games: from retirees with extra time on their hands to stressed parents looking for something to do with the kids. And now, with a socially distanced winter looming, the halting of big gatherings and the possible threat of more lockdowns, video games have quickly become one of the safest – and most popular – ways to socialise.
There are some words that, when used with respect to technology, bring about a collective groan, slump of the shoulders and eye-roll from the broader tech community. It’s normally on stage at a big conference, or in a newspaper headline, or in an elevator pitch at the latest demo day. Such words and phrases include: “We are the Uber of [insert industry here]”, “growth-hacking”, “[coding / design / business] ninja”, and, of course, “moonshot”.
They are shortcuts, they are hyperbolic, they are used to try to impress. But they also signify something unspoken to those in the know looking on. Something unintended by those making big claims. They signify laziness of thought and a lack of originality. Most of all, they suggest a complete lack of engagement with the current state of the science and technology industries.
PlayStation 4, PC; Mossmouth Derek Yu’s influential cave-delving game is updated for PS4 and PC and expands the magic – with turkeys
I knew I was going to love Spelunky 2 when I met the turkey. The turkey is a noble steed in Derek Yu’s latest cave-delving “roguelike”, in which each run presents a unique set of levels, progress is lost when you die, and the bird must be tamed before offering its services. This involves leaping into the saddle and letting it careen wildly around, hopefully not tipping you on to a bed of spikes or into the fangs of a mantrap. Once settled, you and your festive friend can flap around the level, headbutting spiders and using its decaying flight trajectory to lower yourself past traps and hungry mouths towards the exit.
But the turkey is also subject to the merciless logic of the Spelunky universe. Laid on a ritual altar, it will be sacrificed to appease the gods. Propelled upward by an unplanned explosion, it may meet a pointy end when it returns to earth. Set aflame, well, it will become a roast turkey, and you may consume it for an extra health point as you sob quietly.
The joyful jumping plumber has been on every Nintendo console and inspired a generation of players. Shigeru Miyamoto, Kenta Motokura, Takashi Tezuka and Yoshiaki Koizumi reflect on his legacy
Almost everyone who has ever picked up a video game controller will have played at least one Mario game. Whether you had a Nintendo Entertainment System in the 1980s, the N64 in the 90s or a Wii in the 00s, the joyful little jumping plumber has graced every generation of Nintendo’s consoles – and touched every generation of players. Over 373m Super Mario games have been sold to date, which means hundreds of millions of siblings uniting to find Star Road in Super Mario World, commuters escaping with Super Mario 3D Land on the train, and parents soaring from planet to planet in Super Mario Galaxy with their kids.
These are in essence straightforward games about the pleasure of running and jumping, of moving a character around in colourful, abstract space. What makes them better than a thousand other platformers, as this genre is known, is the finesse and responsiveness in Mario’s movement. The soaring jump, the slight inertia that carries him forward after a leap, and the sudden acceleration of his run all translate to pleasure when you play. There is such skill and satisfaction in mastering his movement, in stringing together backflips and wall-kicks and long-jumps to scale the geometry of the levels and find their secrets, and this is what has enthralled children (and adults) for 35 years. Mario’s designers know to hide things in the nooks and crannies of these levels, to always answer the question “what happens when I do this?” with “something fun”.
The UK government’s Covid contact-tracing app will finally launch in England and Wales on 24 September, the government has announced, more than four months later than initially promised.
Currently being trialled in the Isle of Wight and the east London borough of Newham, the app was redeveloped entirely over the summer to adopt a framework created by Apple and Google, after an initial attempt to build an independent one failed to deliver reliable performance on iPhones.
Great design, screen, performance, battery and health-tracking, with long support and sustainability
Samsung’s latest, the Galaxy Watch 3, is an all-round refinement of its previous excellent smartwatch efforts – slimmer, lighter and with a larger screen.
The ?399 Galaxy Watch 3 comes in two sizes (41mm or 45mm), two colours and with or without 4G, aiming to be the Apple Watch of Android, here reviewed in black with a 45mm case. It sits alongside the smaller, fitness-focused Galaxy Watch Active 2 and works with any brand of Android with access to the Google Play Store as well as an iPhone running iOS 9 or newer.
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's neuroscience startup Neuralink has unveiled a pig with a small computer chip implanted in its brain. Describing the implant as 'a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires', Musk said the pig was 'happy and healthy' two months after initially having it fitted. He presented a demo displaying the pig's neurons firing 'in real time'.
An everyday smart sports watch that goes anywhere and tracks everything while lasting a week and charging from the sun
Garmin’s latest go-anywhere, do-anything Fenix 6 Pro Solar multi-sport watch recharges from the sun, marking an important step towards the smartwatch you never need to charge.
The ?739.99 Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar is one of the US firm’s top-of-the-line devices, capable of lasting weeks on a charge and tracking practically any stat you’d want, plus it’s able to guide you out of forests when you’re lost.
Donald Trump says the Treasury should receive a share of proceeds from the proposed sale of Chinese-owned video app TikTok. The president's plans come after he reversed his call to ban the popular app in the US due to privacy concerns. Speaking from the White House, Trump said the US would make any sale of the app possible – and should be in line for a share of the proceeds. 'It would come from the sale,' he said. 'Which no one else would be thinking about but me'
Top US tech bosses are told that they are censoring political speech, spreading fake news and ‘killing’ the engines of the US economy in a combative and historic congressional hearing.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, appeared before members of the house judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee and faced intense questioning on everything from market dominance and data surveillance to military contracts and political censorship
Garmin servers are offline but you can still share your runs, rides, swims and walks with Strava. Here’s how
Garmin Connect and Express have been taken offline by a reported ransomware attack, leaving runners, cyclists, walkers and others unable to sync their activities to Strava. But don’t worry – there is a manual way to upload your activities to Strava while Garmin is down. Here’s how:
Our updated list of the best pay-TV and streaming services in the UK
The choice of how you get your TV and movies in the UK has exploded in recent years, with a growing number of premium pay-TV providers and streaming services available at a wide range of prices.
Many of them have long contracts, exclusive content and complicated bundled pricing. And that’s before you work out how to actually get it to your television, whether it is live broadcast TV via the traditional routes of aerial, satellite or cable, new offerings of streaming live TV over the internet, on-demand download or streaming services, or a mix of all three. All of which makes choosing the right one for you a bit of a minefield of information overload.
Top performance, good camera, long support and manageable size make cheaper iPhone a bargain
Apple’s latest iPhone SE is a surprise cut-price marvel that revives a classic iPhone design and trounces every other mid-range phone in the process.
The ?419 iPhone SE takes the important bits of the iPhone 11 – the processor and software – and shoehorns them into the body of an iPhone 8 from 2017. You get a phone design largely unchanged from the iPhone 6 of 2014, with traditional home button, but the performance and longevity of a brand new Apple phone for ?310 less than an iPhone 11.
Chris needs a tablet or video-calling device for his grandma’s Covid-19 isolation. What are the options?
I want to get my grandma a tablet for easy video calling. She is elderly and needs to self-isolate, and she is already quite isolated after the recent death of her husband. I am not sure which tablet or which program to use. She isn’t very computer literate.
This new Facebook thing looks good but I am sceptical of the brand. Chris
Video calling used to be a futuristic topic. Today, it is readily available on most devices except, oddly enough, smart TVs. If anything, there’s a plethora of services, and I haven’t tried most of them. The options include Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Skype and many more. Zoom is a business service but it works well and is clearly flavour of the month, with downloads up by 1,270%. Fake backgrounds are one of its winning features.
Adnan has an old smart TV and Now TV box, so needs something new to stream Disney+
My smart TV is old (Samsung, 2014) so I watch BBC iPlayer on my Now TV box (also old and discontinued). What is the best device for all the popular streaming services including the upcoming Disney+? To my knowledge, it is not yet confirmed if it will be available on my Roku-powered Now TV box. Adnan
You may be in luck, because Disney has just signed a deal with Sky. As a result, Disney+ will be available via Sky from its UK launch on 24 March, to be followed by Now TV in the coming months, says Sky. It’s not clear how many months that means. Perhaps Sky does not know. However, I’d assume it means some time this year, not next.