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bt-home-hub-4.jpgSo you want fast broadband, really fast broadband. Well BT has announced that it is set to introduce 300mbps broadband to the UK later this year.

It has been testing 300mbps speeds from BT for a while and now it has announced that some 100,000 premises will be able to access the new speed by the end of the year. The homes are those which are already serviced by fibre and can access speeds of up to 160mbps. They are in 50 different exchange areas. Details are here.

BT says that it imagines the increased speeds will provide stability and flexibility in homes with multiple devices.

'The key thing is concurrency of usage. It will be possible for several people all to be streaming high quality video simultaneously. They can be consuming, recording and someone else is gaming. The limiting factor will actually be the number of people you can fit in one house!' BT's MD of consumer broadband David McDonald told me yesterday.

BT's big rival Virgin Media is currently offering speeds of up to 100mbps.

Yesterday BT displayed its recently launched HomeHub 4, and a sample of its successor the HomeHub 5.

The company is making a big play on how easy the version four is to use. The set up process is apparently very simple. BT has also added parental controls an extras like anti virus software and smart talk.

Version four is available to all new Infinity customers at launch, as well as those signing up for a new contract with BT. It is also expected tosell it on the High Street for around £35.

Coming later in the year the HomeHub5 will support the latest 802.11 ac Wi-Fi protocol, allowing for faster, more stable connections and will also combine the router and the modem into a single unit - a first for BT's kit.

betegy.jpgEveryone who loves football fancies themselves a bit of a pundit. Who hasn't taken on Lawro on the BBC challenge and scoffed at his constant positive predictions for Liverpool FC!

Imagine though if you could use technology to predict the outcome of games, and what if that tech was around 90% accurate? Well thats the scary claim of a new Polish start up called Betegy, which believes that in some games in some leagues it is getting the results right 90% of the time.

Let's be straight on this, that isn't the score, but the outcome. So with three possible outcomes the basic level would be 33%.To do this it has developed an algorithm which takes into account team form, player form, motivational factors and even odd stuff like birthday and the weather.

CEO and founder Alex Kornilov told the WSJ "Imagine that, say, Manchester United is playing Liverpool. We know that Manchester United has more players who can strike from long distance. Usually in poor weather the manager will tell players to shoot from further out. Knowing these small things allows us to tweak the analysis in favor of Manchester United."

You can take a look at how successful it has been too here as there are predictions for a large variety of games.

The company is being taking very seriously too and has struck a deal with a US broadcaster. If you like the look of its predictions too you can take advantage of its betting system which is integrated into its site. It also has some interesting features coming soon, including a personal strategy option that advises you on how to bet, by telling you the stakes and amount to bet, by calculating the risk level and also series of tables and charts that will analyse player and team performances.

Some games, and some leagues, are harder to predict than others. The U.K. Premier league has high levels, since there are a few strong clubs and that gives the league stability, Mr. Kornilov said. "On games that we can call, for some matches we can predict with around 92% to 93% accuracy. For others it is around 55% to 60%."

It has pulled a few surprises too. At the recent Confederation Cup, Betegy correctly predicted Brazil's victory, although Spain was widely tipped. The company didn't quite get the score right (it predicted 2-1; the result was 3-0).

Of course the company can never be anything like 100% accurate, but as pundits go I think I'd trust their algorithms a little more than the whims of an Octopus.

apple-ios.jpg

Every year the CoolBrands survey compiles a list of, you guessed it, super cool brands in the UK and this year tech dominates and Apple knocks Aston Martin off the top spot.

The CoolBrands survey asks a number of key influencers and 3,000 regular people to rate a list of top brands based on a range of interesting (yet rather subjective) criteria, like innovation, originality, desirability and uniqueness.

This year the list features a record number of online brands and Twitter, Skype and Nikon entered the top 20 for the first time. YouTube has moved up eight places from last year, but we can't help but notice Facebook hasn't made an appearance this time round, does that mean it's just not cool anymore? It's also worth noting tech companies like BlackBerry and Nintendo have dropped out of the top 20 too, but that's less surprising....

The official top 20 CoolBrands are:

1. Apple
2. YouTube
3. Aston Martin
4. Twitter
5. Google
6. BBC iPlayer
7. Glastonbury
8. Virgin Atlantic
9. Bang & Olufsen
10. Liberty
11. Sony
12. Bose
13. Häagen-Dazs
14. Selfridges
15. Ben & Jerry's
16. Mercedes-Benz
17. Vogue
18. Skype
19. Nike
20. Nikon

Check out the CoolBrands website for a full list of the brands that made the cut.

o2_logo_3.jpgLondoners get a few extra free Wi-Fi hotspots today, courtesy of O2.

The network will be opening select hotspots around the capital to all mobile web surfers, regardless of their network affiliations.

Visitors to Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden Leicester Square, Oxford Street and Regent Street amongst other areas will be able to connect to O2's Wi-Fi zones without charge.

All that's required is a quick registration process, after which their phones or tablets will automatically be able to connect to the internet once in range of the

First announced back earlier in the year, O2 have made good on their promise to deliver the free service to key London landmarks in time for the start of the Olympic games.

It's pretty savvy timing overall on O2's behalf. Just last week their users were up in arms over a widespread network black-out. It'll be a nice good-will boost after a week's worth of bad press.

Via: Tech Digest

macbook-air-2012.jpgThe next-generation MacBook Pro may be as good-looking as it is powerful, but it still isn't as slim as the MacBook Air. Also getting a 2012 makeover at WWDC, Gerald from Tech Digest runs us through the key new specs of Apple's catwalk-friendly notebooks.

While all eyes will undoubtedly be on Apple's next-generation MacBook Pro as the computing weapon of choice for Apple fanboys for at least the next couple of months, there were also updates to the MacBook Air line too.

Both 11 and 13-inch models get a makeover. Up to 8GB of RAM can be squeezed alongside a 512GB SSD in the latest models, kept ticking speedily along with Intel Ivy Bridge processors, clocked at up to 2.0GHz dual-core i7 and higher speeds with Turbo Boost.

Integrated graphics give a 60% improvement over previous models with Intel's HD 4000 graphics, while there's also now a 720p FaceTime HD camera on the front too, as well as USB 3.0 connectivity.

OS X Lion comes pre-installed, with Mountain Lion coming as a free upgrade when it launches in July.

Prices start at £849 for the 11-incher and £999 for the 13-incher.

Full press release below:

SAN FRANCISCO--June 11, 2012--Apple today updated MacBook Air with the latest Intel Core processors, faster graphics and flash storage that is up to twice as fast as the previous generation.* The current generation 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro have also been updated with the latest Intel Core processors and powerful discrete graphics from NVIDIA. Apple's popular AirPort Express has been redesigned to include features previously available only in AirPort Extreme.

"Today we've updated the entire MacBook line with faster processors, graphics, memory, flash storage and USB 3 connectivity," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. "We've made the world's best portable family even better and we think users are going to love the performance advances in both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro."

Available in 11-inch and 13-inch designs, the new MacBook Air features the latest Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors and is perfect for browsing the web, making movies and managing photos. The new integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 is up to 60 percent faster and gives the MacBook Air plenty of power to tackle games and videos.** MacBook Air features flash storage up to four times faster than traditional hard drives for instant-on performance and fast access to your apps and data. Now with 4GB of faster memory, configurable up to 8GB, you can run memory-intensive apps with ease. MacBook Air also features a new FaceTime HD camera that delivers high-definition 720p.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro features the latest Intel Core i5 or Core i7 dual-core processors up to 2.9 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz. The 15-inch MacBook Pro features the latest Intel Core i7 quad-core processors up to 2.7 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.7 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M discrete graphics. Both the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro can be configured with a 1TB hard drive or SSDs up to 512GB that are up to twice as fast as the previous generation.

MacBook Air and MacBook Pro both feature a high-speed Thunderbolt port and two USB 3.0 ports to easily connect to external displays and a wide variety of high performance peripherals. The 13-inch MacBook Air, and 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro deliver up to 7 hours of wireless battery life, and the 11-inch MacBook Air delivers up to 5 hours. Mac notebook batteries use advanced chemistry and Adaptive Charging technology to provide up to 1,000 recharges.***

The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro ship with OS X Lion. Starting today, customers who purchase a Mac are eligible for a free copy of OS X Mountain Lion when it becomes available. Mountain Lion introduces innovative features including the all new Messages app, Notification Center, system-wide Sharing, AirPlay Mirroring, Game Center and the enhanced security of Gatekeeper. With iCloud built into the foundation of OS X, Mountain Lion makes it easier than ever to keep your content up to date across all your devices.

Priced at just £79, the new AirPort Express features a completely redesigned compact enclosure and new wireless and connectivity capabilities. Simultaneous dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi allows users to easily create a network that delivers optimal performance and range. The AirPort Express also features an audio-out port to connect external powered speakers or an A/V receiver and use AirPlay to wirelessly stream from iTunes on your Mac or iOS device. A USB 2.0 port allows you to share a printer wirelessly over your network, and an additional ethernet port lets you connect to other computers and network devices. Setup is built right into OS X and iOS and can be done in just a few simple steps, and with AirPort Utility 6.0 for OS X Lion and iOS you can access a visual map of your network for viewing and reconfiguring devices.

Pricing & Availability
The 11-inch MacBook Air comes with a 1.7 GHz processor, 4GB of memory and is available with 64GB of flash storage starting at £849 inc VAT (£707.50 ex VAT), and 128GB of flash storage starting at £929 inc VAT (£774.17 ex VAT). The 13-inch MacBook Air comes with a 1.8 GHz processor, 4GB of memory and is available with 128GB of flash storage starting at £999 inc VAT (£832.50 ex VAT), and 256GB of flash storage starting at £1,249 inc VAT (£1,040.83 ex VAT). Configure-to-order options include a 2.0 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, up to 8GB of 1600 MHz DDR3 onboard memory and up to 512GB flash storage.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of memory and 500GB hard drive starting at £999 inc VAT (£832.50 ex VAT), and with a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory and 750GB hard drive starting at £1,249 inc VAT (£1,040.83 ex VAT). The 15-inch MacBook Pro is available with a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics 4000 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, and 500GB hard drive starting at £1,499 inc VAT (£1,249.17 ex VAT); and with a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics 4000 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, and 750GB hard drive starting at £1,799 inc VAT (£1,499.17 ex VAT). Configure-to-order options include faster quad-core processors up to 2.7 GHz, additional hard drive capacity up to 1TB, up to 8GB of memory and solid state storage up to 512GB.

Via: Tech Digest

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After a long old wait, Apple have finally revealed the next-generation of their MacBook Pro line. And for once, the Cupertino company seem to have made good on every rumour that's made the rounds on the web these past few months. Gerald over at our chums Tech Digest gives you the low-down on everything that may well make these Apple's best laptops ever.

"The very best computer for today, and for the future", according to Apple, the next generation MacBook Pro packs a Retina Display into a thinner chassis, along with SSD storage, Intel Ivy Bridge processors and NVIDIA Keplar-series graphics.

A 15.4 inch model, the next gen MacBook Pro introduces the Retina Display to the laptop line. Running at a maximum resolution of 2880 x 1800, it's hitting 220 ppi, or 5,184,000 pixels, or four times the pixels of the last generation, which Apple claim will be a real boon to photo editors. Mac Apps will need to be updated to take full advantage of the higher resolution however. Better viewing angles with reduced glare and higher contrast ratios were also touted.

The chassis gets a fair bit slimmer too, at just 0.71-inches thick, making it 1/4 thinner than the current Pro. At 4.46 pounds, it's the lightest Pro ever too. Again, a large glass trackpad features, alongside a backlit keyboard.

Ivy Bridge Intel processors power the machine, with configurations starting at 2.3GHz quad-core i7s and going up to 2.7GHz quad-core i7s, and as much as 16GB of 1600Mhz RAM available for those looking to splash out. Ivy Bridge leads to a 60% integrated graphics performance boost, though that's not all that important, thanks to the the discrete NVIDIA chips onboard. Their latest Kepler series GT 650M graphics is inside, showed blasting through a Retina-display updated version of Diablo III.

Flash storage is now also in the MacBook Pro. You can configure up to a 768GB SSD, allowing for super-fast boot speeds and fast application loading.

Connectivity options on the next generation MacBook include an SD slot, HDMI and two USB 3.0 ports, as well as the thinner new MagSafe 2 connection, two Thunderbolt ports and a headphone jack. There are also stereo speakers, as well as dual-mics, useful for clear audio when Facetime HD video calling with the built-in webcam and OS X Mountain Lion's new dictation feature. FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet Thunderbolt adapters will also ship soon, with 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 handling wireless connectivity.
macbook-pro-retina-2.jpg
Something had to give however, and as expected, it's the optical drive. You'll need an external drive to watch DVDs or Blu-ray's, which is a shame considering the insane display on show. Same goes for disc-based software. Still, that won't hurt Apple's HD iTunes movie downloads or Mac App Store sales we guess.

Even with all this going on, battery life matches previous models. 30 days of standby time and seven hours of typical usage per charge are on offer, with a video showing the new MacBook Pro's internals dominated by battery packs.

As expected, OS X Mountain Lion will be a free upgrade when it launches in July. OS X Lion comes pre-installed.

"The new, next-generation MacBook Pro with Retina display. It is the future and, best of all, it is going to start shipping today," said Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple.

And start shipping it will, so long as you've got the pennies. As ever, Apple products command a premium, and this being their new computing flagship, it's going to get pricey. You're looking at $2199 for the entry level model with a 2.3GHz quad-core chip, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of flash storage. Expect it to easily push $3,000 once you've maxed out the build-to-order specs.

Still, even the most cynical Apple haters can't complain about this one. Ticking pretty much every rumoured spec on our wish-list, our bank account just shed a single, emptying tear.

macbook-pro-retina-top.jpg
After a long old wait, Apple have finally revealed the next-generation of their MacBook Pro line. And for once, the Cupertino company seem to have made good on every rumour that's made the rounds on the web these past few months. "The very best computer for today, and for the future", according to Apple, it packs a Retina Display into a thinner chassis, along with SSD storage, Intel Ivy Bridge processors and NVIDIA Keplar-series graphics.

A 15.4 inch model, the next gen MacBook Pro introduces the Retina Display to the laptop line. Running at a maximum resolution of 2880 x 1800, it's hitting 220 ppi, or 5,184,000 pixels, or four times the pixels of the last generation, which Apple claim will be a real boon to photo editors. Mac Apps will need to be updated to take full advantage of the higher resolution however. Better viewing angles with reduced glare and higher contrast ratios were also touted.

The chassis gets a fair bit slimmer too, at just 0.71-inches thick, making it 1/4 thinner than the current Pro. At 4.46 pounds, it's the lightest Pro ever too. Again, a large glass trackpad features, alongside a backlit keyboard.

Ivy Bridge Intel processors power the machine, with configurations starting at 2.3GHz quad-core i7s and going up to 2.7GHz quad-core i7s, and as much as 16GB of 1600Mhz RAM available for those looking to splash out. Ivy Bridge leads to a 60% integrated graphics performance boost, though that's not all that important, thanks to the the discrete NVIDIA chips onboard. Their latest Kepler series GT 650M graphics is inside, showed blasting through a Retina-display updated version of Diablo III.

Flash storage is now also in the MacBook Pro. You can configure up to a 768GB SSD, allowing for super-fast boot speeds and fast application loading.

Connectivity options on the next generation MacBook include an SD slot, HDMI and two USB 3.0 ports, as well as the thinner new MagSafe 2 connection, two Thunderbolt ports and a headphone jack. There are also stereo speakers, as well as dual-mics, useful for clear audio when Facetime HD video calling with the built-in webcam and OS X Mountain Lion's new dictation feature. FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet Thunderbolt adapters will also ship soon, with 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 handling wireless connectivity.
macbook-pro-retina-2.jpg
Something had to give however, and as expected, it's the optical drive. You'll need an external drive to watch DVDs or Blu-ray's, which is a shame considering the insane display on show. Same goes for disc-based software. Still, that won't hurt Apple's HD iTunes movie downloads or Mac App Store sales we guess.

Even with all this going on, battery life matches previous models. 30 days of standby time and seven hours of typical usage per charge are on offer, with a video showing the new MacBook Pro's internals dominated by battery packs.

As expected, OS X Mountain Lion will be a free upgrade when it launches in July. OS X Lion comes pre-installed.

"The new, next-generation MacBook Pro with Retina display. It is the future and, best of all, it is going to start shipping today," said Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple.

And start shipping it will, so long as you've got the pennies. As ever, Apple products command a premium, and this being their new computing flagship, it's going to get pricey. You're looking at $2199 for the entry level model with a 2.3GHz quad-core chip, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of flash storage. Expect it to easily push $3,000 once you've maxed out the build-to-order specs.

Still, even the most cynical Apple haters can't complain about this one. Ticking pretty much every rumoured spec on our wish-list, our bank account just shed a single, emptying tear.

Via: Tech Digest

broken-computer.jpgEveryone in your office may be boasting about the latest shiny gadgets that they received over Christmas, but according to a recent study more than half of Brits admit to not being able to properly work the most basic of home technology products.

The research, carried out by online printer cartridge retailer Cartridgesave.co.uk, found that 51% of respondents didn't know how to use all of the technology in their homes.

The main culprit seems to be the elusive printer, as 41% said it doesn't work properly because it's broken or they can't change the ink. Although we hate to admit it, we've been stumped by a confusing printer many a time in the past, but come on guys, let's all use some initiative here and get Googling.

Many more admitted to not being able to use their home technology because it's damaged, with 71% explaining that their laptops are broken and 77% revealing they own a broken mobile phone.

Now it's the new year why not make it a resolution to either get your home electrical products fixed or recycle them? We dread to think how many sad, lonely and smashed gadgets are sat in cupboards across the nation dreaming to be fixed or turned into something new. Sigh.

2,084 people across the UK took part in the study in 2011.

[Image via YoungThousands]

25-working-fromhome.jpgLetting employees use their own computers and tech stuff for work makes them more productive, according to a recent survey by YouGov.

30% more productive, if you want to know.

It's a bit counter-intuitive - surely having more control over the computers gives you more control over the employees? But it seems not.

The YouGov research was commissioned by a company that makes remote access software - Citrix Online - so obviously has an interest in the results. Their software will let you access work servers from your computer. But from personal point of view. I can see where they're coming from.

Here's a quick list of why using your own computer work well in my experience.

Benefits from the employer's perspective
- It's a lot cheaper because you don't have to buy the computers - or the software
- You're not responsible for updating or maintaining the computers either
- Employees can be happier and more productive
- Employees are more likely to invest in the latest software and hardware than a business

Benefits from the employee's perspective
- You can work from home or from wherever you are, as opposed to being tied to your office desk.
- You can work with the computers and tools that you want to work with - if you prefer a Mac, you can use a Mac. And if you want certain software, you can get it yourself, without having to go through bureaucracy.
- You can do other stuff apart from work during work. They can't ban Facebook if you're using your own computer.

Downside:
- When there's a computer failure, there aren't back-up computers or IT support
- Security of information - businesses have less control over where their information is

You know what it's like. First you get stuck in a line behind 20 sunseekers who don't understand airports' liquid restrictions - and somehow deem it worthwhile to argue about it. Then you finally reach the metal detector, barefoot and holding your trousers up by your hands because you've removed your belt and shoes - only to be informed you have been selected for a "random check". (Yes this really happened. Twice.)

There is however a light at the end of this tunnel - and they're calling it the "Checkpoint of the Future". The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has just presented it - a tunnel that scans you as you walk through. It's 20 foot long, meaning there's ample time for it to scan your person, your shoes, and even your bags. Just walk on through with no dallying - it's the airport dream we all dream.

It's not quite here yet, but until then the IATA is considering a special security line for those with good records - like the 5-items-or-less queue at the supermarket, if you like. This will be for frequent fliers who have proved themselves worthy of this trust. Similarly, dodgy characters may find themselves taken aside for extra checks - this will be based on eye scans and police records though, and not the personal opinions of security staff.

[via Huffington Post]

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It's not me, it's you - this seems to be Julian Assange's attitude these days.

The Wikileaks founder, who is still fighting extradition over alleged sex attacks, spoke to audiences at the Hay literary festival, where he accused the audience of having "a rather annoying middle-class squeamishness" when it came to the publication of secret documents.

Assange also parted with some nuggets of gossip over the superinjunction issue, claiming there were more than 200 outstanding rulings that the public knows nothing about. He said he was prepared to reveal the names of the people who had taken out superinjunctions in the UK, if he were to stumble upon the information.

Still, being an information-freedom-fighter-slash-terrorist does not come without drawbacks, according to Assange. People who reveal secrets on the internet continue to be "hounded from one end of the earth to the other".

[via TechEye]

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It says it all, really. Some poor kid in China has decided to sell an internal organ - surplus to requirements but STILL - to buy an iPad 2.

The teenager had arranged the sale of his kidney on the internet, as is possible in China where blackmarket organ trading is flourishing. He or she was paid £2,450 for the kidney, which was enough for not only an iPad 2 but also a laptop.

The story came to light when the mother became suspicious at the new hardware, and when she saw the scar from the surgery the kid then confessed. It is not know whether or not the teenager, identified only as Little Zheng, regretted the decision.

[via BBC News]

hacker-inside.jpg

This time it's the Sony Pictures internal database that has taken the fancy of hackers, if their claims are to be believed. The culprits call themselves LulzSec, and they say they have stolen personal information of 52,000 Sony customers after breaking into the website.

It was not very long ago that Sony was at the centre of a hacking scandal at the PlayStation Network, which caused the system to go offline for over a month back in April. Sony said it had strengthened its security systems after the attack, but if the latest claims from the hackers are true, there is still work to be done.

Hacking group LulzSec explained in a statement distributed on the internet how it used a technique called SQL injection to break into Sony. Using this method, a hacker would enter commands that cause a database to produce its contents. The hackers said they had gained access to a database that contained unencrypted personal information belonging to more than one million customers: "Sony stored over 1,000,000 passwords of its customers in plain text, which means it's just a matter of taking it. This is disgraceful and insecure: they were asking for it."

A Sony Pictures Entertainment spokesman, told The New York Times the company is "looking into these claims."

key_sky.jpg


Lawmakers in the state of Tennessee have passed a potentially significant new law, stating that it is illegal to share passwords to paid-for online services.

The bill was promoted by the music industry, keen to find another way to stop music sharing. The law, the first of its kind, is awaiting a signature from the governor, but soon it will be illegal for the people of Tennessee to share passwords to music- or film-streaming services.

Apparently the law was aimed at fraudsters who sell these passwords, but it will technically be illegal to use a password belonging to a friend or family member. It is unlikely the police will crack down on siblings sharing an account, but it seems the law could take an interest in any kind of larger scale sharing, such as emailing your password to all your friends.

[via The Huffington Post]


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The past six months has seen a 165% rise in the number of women being employed in the digital sector, according to a report from PeoplePerHour.com released today.

48% of these jobs were in the area of design and programming, with 10% of them being in database development. Web graphics and flash programming each represented 9%.

"The IT sector had predominately been seen as male dominated, but these figures show that women are easily a match for men in the sector," says PeoplePerHour.com founder and CEO, Xenios Thrasyvoulou.


The high statistical increases are likely to be at least partially due to the upswing in employment following the recession. Thrasyvoulou thinks the downturn is part of the reason women may have retrained to find work in the digital sector: "The figures today also show that women who have been hit hardest by the recession are becoming more entrepreneurial and gaining new skills to beat the depressed jobs market."

The most significant progress was seen in the North, where there was a 1,000% increase in the number of women moving into the digital sector. There was a 72% increase in the South.

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Ebay has complained to Ofcom about the shoddy state of mobile broadband coverage around the UK. It keeps the people from spending, says the retailer, and stifles economic growth in the process.

Apparently eBay's beef is with places like rural Wales and the Scottish highlands, or the 16% of the UK which is an "m-commerce non-spot", according to research commissioned by eBay. Mobile spending is at least 20% under the national average in these areas - after all it's hard to spend on your mobile if you can't get a decent signal.

It won't be cheap, getting coverage to remote areas with few mobile subscribers, and this has been the reason it hasn't been done yet. Ebay reckons UK retailers would be earning £1.3 billion more a year if mobile connectivity were better. We haven't seen the full study so we don't know how this number was reached, but we feel confident in thinking not all of this will be coming from the Scottish countryside. After all, only just over a quarter of people in the UK have smartphones, so coverage is only one part of this equation.

... What comes first, though, the phones or the network? It's the chicken and the egg, folks.

[Smartphone ownership stats as of August 2010, via Ofcom]

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Stephen Fry may well be a national treasure, and now we'll get to listen to him while visiting some of the country's other treasures too. Plonk yourself down on one of the National Trust's new benches and Mr Fry will pop out of the woodwork (so to speak), with a little bit of information on what you're looking at.

John Sargeant, cricketer David Gower and comedian Miranda Hart are among others who will be brought to us from the National Trust. Five minutes snippets have been recorded about Calke Abbey in Derbyshire and Northumberland's Cragside, while philosopher Alain de Botton is the voice of choice at Castle Ward in Northern Ireland. Some effort has gone into pairing the narrators with relevant sights; Stephen Fry said he hoped his bench at Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk would provide "comfort, balm and solace for many a weary bottom", notes The Guardian.

It's an interesting idea, but it remains to be seen how keen people will be to have their countryside strolls punctuated by a celebrity's drawl. Sometimes it's good to just get away, you know. But we can't help but wonder - instead of building this voice recording into the benches, wouldn't it have been easier and cheaper to just make an app?

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PayPal claims Google played dirty in developing Google Wallet, its new electronic payment system. The payments group has now filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming the tech giant poached key PayPal staff in order to get access to PayPal's business secrets.

PayPal executive Osama Bedier jumped ship earlier this year after nine years at PayPal, and is now working at Google as vice president of payments. In the lawsuit, PayPal claims Bedier "misappropriated PayPal trade secrets by disclosing them within Google and to major retailers".

PayPal and Google had been working closely with each other for the past three years, however Bedier is accused of having secretly interviewed for a job at Google while at the same time being in negotiations for PayPal to handle sales Google app sales on Android phones. This could have been a conflict of interest.

Google has yet to respond to the claims.

The Google Wallet, which has just launched in New York, operates on NCF (near field technology) to allow users to pay for goods by swiping their handsets across shop payment terminals. Users can access the wallet app free of charge, and the system uses a PIN code for security. Details of the payment will remain within the handset, where it will be encrypted, but all details pertaining to payments can be erased if the handset is stolen. Google also assures that customers will not be held liable for losses in case of theft.

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Popular website platform WordPress has announced it will no longer be supporting Internet Explorer 6.

Jane Wells, UX lead for WordPress, explained the reasoning behind this in her blog: "It has required increasingly complex code trickery to make the WordPress dashboard work in the IE6 browser, which was introduced 10 years ago and does not support current web standards."

Users of WordPress will still be able to use Internet Explorer 6 to view the site, but it won't work very well. WordPress will show you a big red warning if you try. The changes will take effect when the new version of WordPress (3.2) is launched in June. So keep on top of those upgrades.

Orange customers are the first to be able to pay for goods using their mobile phones - assuming you also are a customer of Barclaycard and have a Samsung Tocco Quick Tap handset.

So not the broadest roll-out yet, but it's a good start for something we've been eagerly waiting for. More of us should be able to enjoy the service as well, as other handsets and networks follow suit to offer touch-to-pay services. With Orange, users can pay for items costing less than £15 by swiping the handset onto readers, which activates an NFC (near-field communication) chip.

Apple is rumoured to be planning this function in the next iPhone, with other manufacturers also thought to be planning this for rollout within the next six months. But the lucky ones in possession of the Barclaycard-Orange-Samsung combo can start today - loading their handsets with up to £150 through an app on the phone. The system will check the transaction against your account and run a daily tally.

Having said that - as the "wave and pay" function is incorporated into the SIM card and not the handset in this case, it should be possible to remove the SIM and put it into a different handset and it should still work.

About 50,000 shopping outlets in the UK will accept this type of payment, including McDonald's and Pret a Manger, but this is likely to increase as more mobiles are equipped with the technology.

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If you've been getting invitations to Scoville recently, or saw a rash of #toptuesdays on your Twitter feed yesterday, this article is for you. What is it? Should you care? What is top? why Tuesday?

#TopTuesday?? EXPLAIN
It's where you share awesome places with your friends, on Twitter.

On Tuesday?
Yes.

Why Tuesday?
Well the recommendations go out once a week, and the day on the week it goes out on happens to be Tuesday..

Why would I want to do that?
Well, if you like going to great places, recommending other great places and, like, getting your friends to go with you this could be handy.

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What is Scoville?
Scoville is the name of the scale used to determine the heat of chilli peppers, it's also a cunning new service built on top of Foursquare. It's the group that run the TopTuesday hashtag.

Their sell: "We're building the most awesome discovery platform. Every Tuesday we'll feed you with awesome places worth checking out, with personalized recommendations based on the places you've loved and those your friends have recently loved."

Foursquare...?
Remember Foursquare? Of course you do, it's that location-based social network that everyone loved about 12 months ago, then Facebook Places came along and we all predicted it would die. Well it hasn't and this little tweak could help it keep going.

Why is there a picture of a cow on the website?
I don't know.

So the Scoville app is just a twitter hashtag basically?
Well this latest tweak is the simplest thing I've ever seen. Despite the beta tag and the fancy interface, it is essentially a hashtag - a way of collecting up a bunch of tips in one place and sharing them among a group of people.

However a few qualifications: You can only nominate your #TopTuesday from places you have actually visited that week and checked in at on Foursquare. You see recommendations from your friends, but you can also see other ones near you. Like with Foursquare, you get points for doing more stuff - inviting your friends for example.


Scoville is still in beta, but if you have a Foursquare account, you can sign in here

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