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A glance at Google+

Google's latest attempt to challenge Facebook's dominance in social media is called Google+. Plus offers things you'd expect - a wall, photos, videos, chat, friend requests, etc. Plus is being rolled out this week in typical Google fashion - allowing users to sign up only through quasi-exclusive invitations. If you ask, as you might, what is Plus and why do I need it, Google might tell you, simply, that Plus makes it easy to control who see... Continue Reading

University Reporter moves online

The Cambridge University Reporter recently announced it would no longer be publishing in print.  This move to e-ink upset Cambridge classics professor and TLS blogger Mary Beard.  Writing in her blog "A don's life," Beard argued, OK, if we want the info, it will still be there. But one of the virtues of a canny democracy is that it puts info in the hands of people when they have a few free moments to take it in, and when they least expect ... Continue Reading

A Note on “Hacking”

The other week on VarsiTech, m’colleague Robin Jack levelled his pen/cursor at the thorny issue of internet piracy, touching upon Sony’s recent efforts to prosecute anyone caught tampering with their PS3 so that it could use software made by other companies. Sony released a statement warning against the “unauthorized circumvention” of the PS3 “by hackers”, and blamed these individuals for “damaging our industry...and [your] online e... Continue Reading

How To Spoil The Web

We love our new interwebz, and things can only get better, right? Wrong. Join Varsitech in a run-down of potential web-spoiling scenarios. Spam-spewing Zombie Computer Viruses Statistically there's a 25% chance that the computer you are currently using is a member of a 'botnet'; a network of zombie computers quietly controlled by a 'bot herder'. Just one seemingly clean download could leave your PC infected. Bot herders are online crimi... Continue Reading

Forbidden Fruit

Yesterday, amidst an expected frenzy of media hype, Apple announced the launch of their latest shiny plaything: the iPad 2. Apart from being a bit thinner, a bit faster, and a lot more colourful, the iPad 2.0 is really more of an iPad 1.5 - a slight upgrade rather than a new product - but still, it will sell millions. Launches like this seem to distance Apple from Steve Jobs’ old maxim that “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a... Continue Reading

Cultural Ephemera 2

"The week’s best videos that you’ll have forgotten about by next week." Thom Yorke dances to Single Ladies http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf7RI4Ka_CQ Well, this was just inevitable really. After Radiohead released a video for their new single Lotus Flower featuring Mr Yorke's lovely interpretative dancing (actually not spontaneous but choreographed) a number of interweb denizens gleefully re-interpreted his efforts. Another classic i... Continue Reading

Bridging the digital divide

If the internet is a global conversation, then only some of us are invited. The 5 billion who lack internet access have no voice and are at risk of being left behind. This 'digital divide' maps onto existing global income disparities, with a country's GDP being a rough indicator of its level of internet access. Because access to information technology tends to improve one's economic status, rather than merely reflect it, disparities in digital pa... Continue Reading

How to Lose at Battleships

Internet piracy rocks. Never has it been easier to get hold of any thing that can be stored digitally that you want, at any time, for free. Long gone are the days when you’d have to wait for a trip to the cinema to see a new film, to wait for a band’s album to come out at the local store or to play the latest game on your altered console. Rapidshare, Hotfile, Megaupload, The Pirate Bay, Demonoid – the list goes on ad infinitum, all sites th... Continue Reading

The Human(e) Machine

For those of us that have Google alerts set up for news-items about “sentient machines” or the “robo-pocalypse" last week set off a lot of alarms. After the collective rush to stock up on beans and Spam had died down we waited in a hushed silence to see what our new robot overlords would do next. As it turns out all they really wanted was a chance to be on TV; and naturally, they went for a quiz show. This was the news that long-running Ame... Continue Reading

Will e-book piracy ruin publishing?

As we all know, the creative industries have been shaken up by 'digital piracy', otherwise known as online file-sharing (depending on whose side you're on). Until recently, it is the music and video industries who have borne the brunt of the damage. But with the advent of affordable, ubiquitous and pleasant-to-use e-book reading devices, could publishing be next in line? According to research by Attributor, a provider of 'anti-piracy ... Continue Reading
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