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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 Amazon.co.uk customer rating was 3.0 stars. It’s climbed to 3.9 …


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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. …


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X could mark another Windows branding blooper

Microsoft must avoid the branding disasters of the past if Windows 10X is to succeed

Microsoft has many, many strengths. Branding isn’t one of them.

The company will this year launch Windows 10X, a pared-back version of Windows that Microsoft hopes will compete with Google’s Chrome OS. Yet, the ‘X’ in Windows 10X does nothing to indicate such streamlining.

There are several connotations of the ‘X’ suffix, none of which apply to what Microsoft’s hoping to achieve with Windows 10X.

There’s the Roman numeral usage, as we’ve seen with iPhone X and other brands. …


Ring Video Doorbell 3
Ring Video Doorbell 3
I can see who’s at my door again (picture: Ring)

I came close to ditching Ring, but the Video Doorbell 3 has pulled it back from the brink

I’ve been pretty scathing about Ring in recent times. Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote that I was close to bailing out on the Amazon-owned system, because my original Ring doorbell had grown so sluggish that visitors were in a different county by the time I knew they had been at my door.

When the battery started dying within a week of being charged last autumn, I was ready to bite the bullet. …


Man in spotlight
Man in spotlight
You can’t quietly join Signal (Photo by Ahmed Hasan on Unsplash)

Signal is enjoying a surge up the app charts at the moment, as people flock from Facebook-owned WhatsApp, amid uncertainty about how much WhatsApp data is being fed to the mothership.

Signal is laying it on thick with the privacy message. The app is listed as Signal Private Messenger. “Signal’s advanced privacy-preserving technology is always enabled,” the first paragraph of its Google Play Store listing reads.

“Privacy isn’t an optional mode — it’s just the way that Signal works,” it adds in the next paragraph. OK, we get it. Put down the sledgehammer.

Except… there’s a Signal feature that’s not…


A man’s hands typing on a laptop
A man’s hands typing on a laptop
Espanso can save you from keyboard grind (Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash)

Avoid constantly retyping the same lines, phrases or code snippets with this brilliant, free utility

We’re spending enough time in front of our screens during the pandemic as it is, without wasting time typing and retyping the same things over and again. Espanso — a cracking little open-source text expander — has been relieving the grind in my office for the past couple of weeks.

What’s a text expander? It allows you to type a short code, such as “:date” and have the expander automatically insert today’s date (01/20/2021).

That’s not a brilliant example, as the total fingerwork required to…


Apple is rumoured to be removing the Touch Bar from new MacBook Pro. Here are the reasons I hope the grapevine is wrong.

The MacBook Touch Bar showing a Spotify icon
The MacBook Touch Bar showing a Spotify icon
The Touch Bar is much underrated. Photo by Agê Barros on Unsplash

If the rumours are to be believed — and they’re frequently not — then Apple is about to tear a strip off its keyboards. Namely the touch-sensitive strip that runs above the number keys on certain models of the MacBook Pro, the so-called Touch Bar.

Few Apple innovations divide the crowd as much as the Touch Bar. When I tweeted the other day that I thought the Touch Bar was brilliant and that I “genuinely do not understand people’s antipathy to it”, my replies lit up from both haters and fans alike.

Below, I’m going to explain why I’d be…


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CES has done its best, but it’s a long way from perfect

I never thought I’d write these words, but I miss CES. The sore feet, the queues, the 16-hour days, the traipsing from hall to hall, the queues, the 10-hour flight to get there, the scuffles to get a desk in the press room, the queues… did I mention the queues?

Without wishing to sound crass, Covid-19 might be the best thing to happen to CES, because this year’s virtual conference makes you appreciate just how valuable the real thing is.

The CES organisers have done a reasonable job of hosting a virtual conference, but it’s been nowhere near as useful…


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This is what the new Outlook for Mac looks like, so I’m told (picture: Microsoft)

How many things can you break at one time? Microsoft’s going to need a counter soon.

The “new” Outlook for Mac was released in mid-October, giving it a visual revamp to match macOS 11 (Big Sur to its pals).

Alas, while Microsoft was busy polishing icons it managed to break some of the fundamentals, such as support for email accounts. Y’know, the primary job of Outlook.

Consequently, when you attempted to flick the little switch in the software that promised to deliver “New Outlook”, you were warned you were going to cut off any accounts that use the IMAP/POP 3…

Barry Collins

Freelance writer, editor and photographer. More at: www.mediabc.co.uk

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