Vivace companies work with the security services (Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash)

A mysterious consortium of tech companies isn’t keen to talk about its work with the UK government

Vivace describes itself as “a consortium of the best and brightest in the security industry”. Odd, then, that this publicly-funded brains squad seems remarkably reluctant to tell us who’s in it.

Vivace first came to my attention last week, when it was named as one of the expert technologists consulted as part of the NSPCC’s hugely unbalanced report into end-to-end encryption.

I’d never heard of Vivace before, and so did a little digging to find out what this organisation actually does.

Its sparse…

Hi, Mark. I agree the iMac's display will doubtless be fantastic and hard to match at that price. But given the choice between a 24in screen and, say, Dell’s 27in 4K UHD monitor, I'd take the extra screen space every time. And you could get two of them side by side, plus a Mac mini, for the price of the iMac. The Retina stuff is nice, but less critical on a screen you sit 3ft from than on a phone held inches from your face.

The NSPCC is targeting Facebook’s encryption plans (Image by Thomas Ulrich from Pixabay)

The NSPCC claims to have a delivered a ‘balanced’ report on the dangers of end-to-end encryption — but it was anything but ‘balanced’

Is Facebook making life easier for child abusers by introducing end-to-end encryption across all of its messaging services? That’s certainly the message that the UK’s Home Secretary and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) wanted to get out this week — and it worked, with even the more liberal end of the UK press, such as The Guardian, parroting the message without much question.

Piano keys
Piano keys
The restrictions on digital sheet music are bizarre (Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash)

Digital sheet music is brilliant for beginners like me, but the bizarre restrictions it places on paying customers is reminiscent of pre-Napster MP3s

Like every other fortysomething suffering their mid-life crisis in the pandemic, I went out and bought a piano. I am nothing if not crushingly unoriginal.

The same accusation could be thrown at the digital sheet music industry, which seems intent on repeating the mistakes made by the music business with MP3s — ie. …

Finder can be easily improved (Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash)

Make it easier to navigate the files and folders on your Mac with these five tips

As a relatively recent Mac convert, the biggest thing I miss about Windows is Explorer. It’s simply much better than Mac Finder. Face facts, Macolytes.

However, in the 18 months or so I’ve been using it, I’ve found ways to improve the Mac Finder and (dare I say it) make it more Explorer-like.

Here are my tips for making the Mac Finder better.

1. Show the file path

Apple’s privacy labels suggest Chrome wants the most data (Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash)

A full comparison of iOS privacy labels reveals Chrome is by far the worst browser when it comes to collecting personal data

Apple has finally rolled out its ‘privacy labels’ — a checklist published alongside each app that reveals how apps use your data.

If you want to find an app’s privacy labels, go to the App Store, search for the app and its listing should include the relevant labels, as shown below. …

Apple’s Touch Bar may be on its way out, but it could have been different if it behaved like the Elgato Stream Deck.

Elgato Stream Deck on a MacBook Pro
Elgato Stream Deck on a MacBook Pro
If only my Touch Bar let me customise buttons like this

If the rumours are true, the Mac Touch Bar’s days are numbered. Despite its flaws, I’ll be sorry if Apple does phase it out. But it could have been very different if Apple had relaxed its inherent control freakery and followed the example of the Elgato Stream Deck.

The Elgato Stream Deck might not seem like an obvious rival to the Touch Bar. It’s primarily aimed at YouTube/Twitch streamers who want to press a button mid-stream and flash up a graphic reminding viewers to subscribe or to play a sound effect. …

Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

The days of tech companies encouraging people to be on duty 24/7 appear to be coming to an end

There’s a reason why big tech firms have facilities galore at their offices — and it’s not because they’re trying to boost their scores on Glassdoor.

Onsite gyms, free gourmet food, dentists, creches, pool tables… these facilities aren’t there just for show, they’re designed to encourage people not to leave the campus. Give employees fewer reasons to leave the office and they’ll not be distracted by long lunches, shopping trips or medical care. …

Bill Gates’ How To Avoid A Climate Disaster book cover
Bill Gates’ How To Avoid A Climate Disaster book cover

The ‘customer’ reviews of Bill Gates’ How To Avoid A Climate Disaster show that Amazon’s review system is massively flawed

Bill Gates new book on climate change had been on my watchlist for a while. So when it was finally released last week, I popped over to Amazon to download a copy for my Kindle. I almost stopped there, because the first thing I noticed was the reviews were terrible.

On launch day, the average customer rating was 3.0 stars. It’s climbed to 3.9 …

The old way of doing things was much harder, trust me

People complain that Photoshop is too difficult to learn — they should have tried editing photos before digital took over

I’m an easily triggered, getting-on-a-bit Womble. But if I hear someone else moan that Photoshop is “just too complicated” to learn, I may bust a lens cap.

Photoshop isn’t easy. That row of intimidating icons stretching down the side of the screen; the seemingly endless features in menus; the panels and panes and windows and swatches and the 96 other things you can turn on accidentally take some getting used to. …

Barry Collins

Freelance writer, editor and photographer. More at:

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