Posts Tagged ‘E&T’

World goes bonkers for music streaming services – an annotated infographic

February 19, 2015

We never thought we’d say this, but: poor old CDs.

On the one hand, vinyl sales are up, up, up 50 per cent year on year to a near 25-year high – higher sales, in fact, than at any time since 1991, when Nirvana’s Nevermind album first blew up radios worldwide. On the other hand, the majority of folks who never cared much for physical media have turned to streaming music services with a vengeance. No shelf space, no heartache.

Even cassette tapes are enjoying a hipster renaissance, as a subset of the digital-generation music fans dig in to the analogue format archives in search of the ultimate retro-vintage throwback. We’ve got £50 to bet you that 8-track systems and flexi discs will resurface next, if they haven’t already. All of which leaves the humble digital compact disc somewhat forlorn, largely unloved and abandoned.

But you know what? The CD is actually capable of being a pretty decent vessel through which to deliver one’s audio art. It’s not half as bad as some people would have you believe. Naturally, we all hate the ugly plastic jewel cases in which a compact disc is too often obliged to reside – their ineffectual and emminently snappable disc-gripping teeth the cause of much consumer chagrin – but on a top-notch stereo system, a well-produced compact disc is still capable of delivering real quality and an emotional, cerebral and physical experience in sound.

The crucial, killer caveat here, though, is that most people don’t have top-notch stereo systems. A CD on a bad system might as well be an MP3 and if it might as well be an MP3, a listener might as well stream it. And lo, it came to pass.

So, here we are in 2015: vinyl for the purists and collectors, streaming for the rest. And DVD-Audio, Blu-Ray, Pono and HD digital for people who have lost all sense of perspective on this subject, like Betamax enthusiasts grimly hanging on long after VHS had won that particular war. We’re not saying it’s right or wrong, just that the sands have shifted in certain directions.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

It's all right Ma, I'm only streaming

It’s all right Ma, I’m only streaming

#Apple still the world’s most valuable brand – least surprising news story of the day – an annotated infographic

February 19, 2015

In a news revelation on a par with such unremarkable headlines as “Earth still round”, “Pope still Catholic”, “Bears still pooping in the woods” and “Kanye West still a complete tool” comes the announcement that Apple has once again retained its top spot as the world’s most valuable brand, according to consultancy Brand Finance.

So, you’re telling us that Apple once again enjoyed both an embarrassment of riches and also a multitude of end-user warm fuzzies? No shizz, Sherlock.

The concept of being a valuable brand is based on perceived commercial value, derived from a combination of brand strength and financial data. It’s pretty clear that Apple scores highly on all fronts.

Arch-rivals Samsung, Google and Microsoft trail some distance behind, presumably peering desperately through the dust at Apple’s rapidly receding heels through their phablets, Glasses and Windows Phones. This just in from Apple HQ in Cupertino: “Nice to see ya: wouldn’t want to be ya!”

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

Apple: Quite Popular

Apple: Quite Popular

Earth’s inner core revealed – officially not caramel – an annotated infographic

February 17, 2015

Ever wondered what the Earth’s inner core looks like? Have you? Have you?? Well, check out the infographic below: day lucky this be your.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

Earth's core theory

Earth’s core theory

E&T news weekly #37 – we choose our favourite engineering and technology news stories from the week

February 13, 2015

Friday February 13 2015

Vitali Vitaliev  Vitali Vitaliev, features editor
Driverless cars hit the road in the UK

More on driverless cars which, reportedly, have just been given the green light in Greenwich, Bristol, Coventry, and – of all places – Milton Keynes, where it is already next to impossible to find a parking spot for a ‘normal’ ‘driver-full’ car. Talking about lights – green and other – I heard on the news yesterday that the new ‘self-driven’ (let’s call them that for a change) cars would have problems recognising temporary traffic lights (as well as police cars and police sirens), which brings us back to Milton Keynes – the town, where, according to my observations, at least a dozen major road works and road closures (with resulting temporary traffic lights) happen at any given time. Having appraised all of the above, my wife and I took a firm decision to do our next Christmas shopping (for which we would normally drive to Milton Keynes) in Cambridge, where they will only be testing Amazon delivery drones but, thankfully, not the driverless cars. Just to be on the safe side, you know, for the risk of being hit on the head with a book (unless of course it is a Shorter Oxford Dictionary, or, say, a Wiring Regulations folio), accidentally dropped by a drone, looks bleak in comparison with a head-on collision. Incidentally, in case you were put off by my freshly invented neologism ‘driver-full cars’, I did it deliberately to underline the paradoxical (from my point of view) nature of the term ‘driverless car’. We’ll have to wait and see whether it will be absorbed by the language of Shakespeare. Incidentally, the Lutz pod on the photo that appears with our story looks a bit scary, don’t you think?

Manufacturers to replace people with robots, study predicts

The singularity point is coming closer. An ardent supporter of technological progress and far from a Luddite, I nevertheless feel sorry for all those human workers (in China and elsewhere) who will be soon replaced by machines. But I can understand the rationale of the manufacturers too: robots do not go on strike, get sick, fall in love (and get depressed as a result) or hold trade union meetings. Or do they? Having just seen Ex Machina, I am no longer sure. I would make it compulsory for all factory managers who are thinking of replacing their human workforce with machines to watch this fascinating movie before they start signing redundancy packages.

Jonathan Wilson  Jonathan Wilson, online managing editor
IBM’s artificial brain to power Japan’s companion robot

In the same month that the latest Disney animated film Big 6 hits cinemas, about an empathetic robot created as a companion for humans, comes a news story about – you guessed it – an empathetic robot created as a companion for humans. Pepper, developed by French robotics company Aldebaran and Japan’s mobile phone operator Softbank, will go on sale in Japan in the next weeks, and very cute he is too.

‘Kill switches’ reduce smartphone theft

An encouraging statistic for forgetful or careless smartphone owners, with the news that according to authorities in London, New York and San Francisco, the number of iPhones reported stolen decreased by between 25 and 50 per cent in the twelve months after September 2013, when Apple introduced the ‘kill switch’ into its devices. Similar disabling technology has also been introduced to both the Google and Microsoft mobile operating systems.

dominic-lenton  Dominic Lenton, managing editor
Free train wi-fi for UK passengers

I hope the Government will forgive rail travellers if they’re a little underwhelmed by the prospect of free wi-fi on UK trains. The £50m project may be funded from fines for missing punctuality targets, so we’re at least seeing some compensation for disrupted journeys, but how about making being able to sit down during your journey a standard feature? Being able to catch up with some work on the way in to the office every morning isn’t that appealing when you’re always standing squashed in an aisle with several fellow commuters looking over your shoulder at what you’re doing.

Solar panels could save Network Rail up to £150m

Also on the railways, consultancy WSP Global reckons that setting up solar panels alongside half of the length of Britain’s track it could provide a generation capacity of 2.44GW, or half of what is currently used to power the country’s trains. Sounds good, but what about services that run after dark, or in the winter? And how does the energy get from one part of the country to another? Innovative thinking, but let’s see what the engineers who would have to put it into practice make of it.

Tereza Pultarova  Tereza Pultarova, online news reporter
MPs allow national park fracking

No fracking in natural parks! Energy minister Amber Rudd promised just a couple of weeks ago. Well, don’t get excited too quickly. There is NO fracking in national parks, and then there is no fracking in national parks, but right next to and quite well underneath. I guess it always depends on your point of view.

NHS to trial cancer breath test device

If there is something desperately needed for engineering wizards to address then it’s certainly lung cancer diagnostics (and any other cancer by the way). The dreadful disease frequently goes unnoticed until it’s too late – because of cumbersome diagnostic methods. A simple lab on a chip breath test in your GP’s office would allow screening the population for the earliest signs – an exciting development already being tested in some hospitals.

Laura Onita  Laura Onita, online news reporter
Driverless cars hit the road in the UK

The Government has backed this week the testing of driverless cars on public roads and unveiled the first self-driving vehicles at Greenwich in South London. The ‘Lutz pod’, somewhat resembling a Smart car in size and shape, but with a more futuristic look, can seat two people and is designed to work on pavements and pedestrianized areas. The Ministry of Transport said Britain should be at the forefront of “this exciting new development” and from where I stand we’re on the right track to foster a considerable part of what is expected to be a £900bn industry by 2020.

Solar storm forecasting satellite launched

After a bumpy start with a couple of postponed lift-offs, the DSCOVR satellite was deployed into space to replace a 17-year-old satellite to monitor potentially dangerous solar storms. DSCOVR will observe and provide advance warning of extreme emissions from the sun which can affect power grids, communications systems, and satellites close to Earth. Up, up and away!

Rebecca Northfield  Rebecca Northfield, assistant features editor
Free train wi-fi for UK passengers

Free wi-fi is nothing short of genius. As a person who lives in the sticks, any signal – whether it is 3G or E – in my area, is a miracle. When travelling to work on the train, nothing irritates me more than having absolutely no way of communicating with the outside world, especially when you’re in the middle of responding to an urgent email and your signal cuts completely. I feel that the free wi-fi will especially help the early commuters, often grumpy from the constant delays, to be a little less peeved at the inconsistent times. At least they can browse Facebook or eBay to curb the boredom. Bring on 2017.

#CostaConcordia captain sentenced to 16 years for sinking disaster – an annotated infographic

February 12, 2015

Coo, where does the time go? Giving it some idle thought, we’d never have guessed that it’s been over three years since the Costa Concordia ferry foolishly veered to the left and hit the Scole rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, promptly listing on to its side and tragically claiming the lives of 32 people in the process.

Finally, the trial of the Costa Concordia’s former captain, Francesco Schettino, has concluded and found him guilty. A court in the town of Grosseto found him guilty of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his passengers and crew. The man did get off the boat before the passengers, for pity’s sake. He has also denied all the charges against him, although it’s hard to see how.

Schettino has been sentenced to 16 years in prison. The 54-year-old will not go to prison until the appeals process is completed, which can take years.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

To see more Costa Concordia infographics like this one – many from 2012, in the immediate wake of the disaster – click on the “Costa Concordia” tag at the foot of this post.

Costa Concordia timeline

Costa Concordia timeline

Flying still statistically the safest way to travel – 2014 the best year ever – an annotated infographic

February 10, 2015

Good news for fans of flying: despite an apparent alarming tendency for modern planes to mysteriously drop out of the sky and collide with various unforgiving surfaces harder than was ever intended, aircraft accident rates are in fact at an historic low.

Obviously, statistics are no comfort whatsoever to anyone that has lost a loved one in a plane crash, but the unemotional world of statistics decrees that despite a number of recent high-profile commercial aviation disasters, there has never been a safer time to fly.

According to air safety analysts Ascend, the global airline fatal accident rate in 2014 was one per 2.38 million flights, making it the safest year ever. There were 19 fatal accidents in total – the lowest ever figure – resulting in 671 fatalities.

The figures exclude the July 2014 loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, on the grounds that it was shot down by a guided missile and is considered a war risk loss, not an accident. We’re not convinced about this exclusion, as surely any plane that goes down in flames is by definition “not safe”. In these troubled, terrorist-infested times, aren’t all planes potentially at risk of such an attack?

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

Up, up and away

Up, up and away

#F1 technical changes 2015 – an annotated infographic

February 6, 2015

In-house squabbles, financial battles and the incumbent Ecclestone’s belligerence notwithstanding, the F1 juggernaut keeps on rolling round the world.

As the new race season hoves in to view, so does the annual list of new tech regs, designed to test the ability of the assembled teams and push them to their engineering creative limits.

A new nose shape (for the cars, not the team engineers, naturally) is the standout feature this year, but some monkeying about with the suspension, car weight, engines and more will also be required.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

F1: Regulation changes 2015

F1: Regulation changes 2015

E&T news weekly 36 – we choose our favourite engineering and technology news stories from the week

February 6, 2015

Friday February 6 2015

dominic-lenton  Dominic Lenton, managing editor
Lost part of UK’s pioneering computer found

News of how collectable vintage computers have become, with an Apple 1 selling at auction recently for nearly a quarter of a million pounds, may not have filtered through to people who should be scouring their attics. Following the announcement that an original part of one of the world’s first computers, EDSAC, had been discovered in the US, it’s been claimed that others sold off when the machine was decommissioned in the 1950s could be lying undisturbed in Cambridge lofts, sheds and garages. Even if, like the one that’s been located, they’re “quite distressed with corrosion and much of the wiring broken away” they could still be useful for reconstruction projects.

Turing’s notes found in Bletchley Park hut roof

More evidence of how things that seemed ephemeral at the time have become significant as paperwork used by Alan Turing at Bletchley Park has been discovered during restoration work on the building where it had been used as roof insulation. The arrival of the digital age and the paperless office mean future generations won’t be stumbling across anything similar from today that a click on a delete button has consigned to history.

Tereza Pultarova  Tereza Pultarova, online news reporter
Hospitals test Apple’s health tech to improve care

Apple is the first of the big tech companies pushing forward with healthcare technology that provides doctors with the opportunity to remotely monitor their patients. Allegedly a response to the US government’s Affordable Care Act, the technology should allow doctors to provide patients with better care, focusing on maintaining their health instead of just cashing fees for costly procedures. Google and Samsung are already fine-tuning their own services. Let’s hope the projects won’t turn into just another ruthless money-making venture, selling the most personal of people’s data to companies eager to force the ill into purchasing their products.

East Africa’s first large-scale solar plant online

What better way forward for Africa then solar energy? If there is something the continent doesn’t have a shortage of, then Sun could certainly be it.

Alex Kalinaukas  Alex Kalinauckas, assistant features editor
Tackling emissions and cyber threat priorities of Obama’s budget

After a number of high-profile cyber-security issues over the last few months it’s no surprise that President Obama has allocated $14bn in his 2016 budget. This is a 12 per cent increase in spending that will cover federal and private networks – good news for companies after the Sony hack scandal last year. $4bn of the budget will also go towards green energy in the US as which reflects Obama’s promise to make climate change a top priority for his final years in office.

BMW cars found at risk of being unlocked by hackers

The days of a car thief using a coat hanger to pop open the lock and hotwire the engine to steal a car are long gone, but thieves exploiting weaknesses in the security systems of high-performance cars and making easy getaways has been in the news a lot over the past year. It’s good to hear that BMW have fixed the issue and I hope they can stay one step ahead of criminals in the future.

Aasha Bodhani  Aasha Bodhani, assistant features technology editor
New app could diagnose skin cancer

There are many apps in the market that help patients monitor their health and fitness levels. However medical and software experts have joined together to develop a new app to help healthcare professionals diagnose cancerous skin lesions using their smartphone. The app, Lūbax, aims to improve melanoma detection by relying on image-recognition software which can identity skin lesions through its database filled with 12,000 diagnosed skin lesions images.

Millions of records stolen from US health insurer Anthem after cyber-attack

Cyber-crime is showing no sign of slowing down as the US’s second-largest health insurer, Anthem, was attacked this week. The company revealed personal data, such as names, addresses and phone numbers of up to 80 million customers were stolen, but there is no evidence credit card or medical details were taken. Anthem has now hired cybersecurity firm Mandaint to analyse the flaws in its system and to find a solution.

Rebecca Northfield  Rebecca Northfield, assistant features editor
New app could diagnose skin cancer

This new app that could diagnose skin cancer is definitely a good move. In my experience, people who suffered from cancer of any kind often had to wait for the GPs to make appointments, get test results and book scans, which was often a very lengthy process. The time it would take to get a decent diagnosis could take weeks. Weeks that could be spent treating the disease, and improving life expectancy. The app is called Lūbax. By using image-recognition software, it has the potential to identify many types of skin lesions that could be a sign of skin cancer.If Lūbax improves melanoma detection, this could address cancer globally, and help so many more people get the diagnosis and treatment they need more efficiently. The app is free and will be available on the iPhone for medical practitioners in the US, UK and Australia.

Superfast octopus robot inspired by nature

There’s been a lot of hype with drones in the skies; Christmas being the time when there was a huge surge in purchases for gifts. This in turn led to disruption with airports, as people wanted to test their presents in ‘no-fly’ zones. Since conquering the skies – their use in the military seems to be the most worthwhile to me – they are now conquering the water, with the use of an experimental 3D-printed octopus-like robot to show how to make underwater drones faster. The robot has been developed by the Southampton University researchers and a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Using nature as inspiration seems to be the best way to go when it comes to advancing our technology, what with the android ‘dolphins’ I fondly remember from last year, which gave us clues to the Antarctic melt.

Jonathan Wilson  Jonathan Wilson, online managing editor
Superfast octopus robot inspired by nature

Sometimes the headline is all you need. Who could resist a story like this? An experimental 3D-printed octopus-like robot developed jointly by British and American scientists has demonstrated how to make underwater drones faster. The robot, inspired by the ability of cephalopods to move rapidly by expelling water from inside their bodies, can accelerate at a speed equivalent to a Mini Cooper car carrying a 350kg load going from 0 to 60mph in less than one second. That’s one zippy robot octopus.

Turing’s notes found in Bletchley Park hut roof

An endearingly British story, wherein some of Alan Turing’s top secret documents that were used to break the Nazi’s Enigma Code have been found scrunched up in the roof of Hut 6 during a restoration at Bletchley Park. Apparently, having served their historically significant mathematical purpose, they were then pragmatically deployed to block draughty holes in the primitive hut walls and help keep the boffins toasty. That really is the Dunkirk spirit that won the war.

Laura Onita  Laura Onita, news reporter
Drug-delivery pioneer wins top engineering prize

This year the £1m Queen Elizabeth Prize, dubbed the ‘Nobel for engineering’, went to Professor Robert Langer, known for his pioneering work in drug-delivery systems, tissue building and microchip implants. “Why is what you’re doing engineering?” a journalist asked Langer at the press conference, while we had a comment on Twitter this week from a user suggesting that Langer might be a better fit for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Although some said he wasn’t an obvious winner, Langer is undoubtedly responsible for a ground-breaking innovation that benefited more than more than 10 million patients, and all by bridging the gap between biomedical science and engineering. It’s the cross-pollination of mechanisms the he used in his research that make him the worthy winner without a shadow of a doubt.

New standards to prevent future aircraft disappearance

The United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization has endorsed a new standard for tracking of commercial aircraft in a bid to prevent another MH370 scenario. It’s a welcome and important victory for the aerospace industry, even though a little too late. The decision is a response to a string of deadly plane crashes – that in some instances seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth, forcing rescue teams into lengthy and costly search operations.

Vitali Vitaliev  Vitali Vitaliev, features editor
First planetarium in the UK to go 3D

This story is a coveted piece of good news. I have been a planetarium enthusiast since childhood. In my native city of Kharkiv, there was an excellent small planetarium, opened in 1961 by Yuri Gagarin, the world’s first astronaut, himself, and as a kid I used to spend countless hours there exploring the night sky or just watching space-exploration documentaries, projected onto the large panoramic screen inside the dome. Sometimes, they showed cartoons there too. In short, for me – and for many other Soviet kids of my generation – the planetarium was a temple of learning and fun bordering on magic. Now you will understand why I was so thrilled to visit La Coupole 3D planetarium in Northern France during a press trip last November. Located in a former Nazi bunker, from where V2 rockets were supposed to be launched, it was, as I was told, the only 3D planetarium in Europe at the time. Now we have another one in Bristol. I am sure it will become one of the city’s most popular attractions – a source of knowledge and joy for both kids and adults.

Smartphone global market share 2014 – #Samsung down, everyone else up – an annotated infographic

February 3, 2015

Short and sweet today – unless you happen to be a major shareholder in Samsung.

According to the latest figures, comparing smartphone market share from the last quarter of 2014 with the same period in 2013, the major players all increased market share, apparently at the expense of Samsung.

The Korean kopy kat saw its smartphone market share slide almost 9 per cent, down to 20 per cent overall, with its mobile division posting a wallet-troubling 64 per cent decline in profits. Saying that, it still trousered a cosy $1.8 billion so, you know.

Apple market share increased, natch, to nearly 20 per cent. Lenovo and Huawei also did their parents proud, as did the 43 per cent miscellaneous sellers making up the remainder. Good job, smartphone manufacturing dudes. Samsung – see me after class.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

Samsung's problem: no one cares

Samsung’s problem: no one cares

E&T news weekly 35 – we choose our favourite engineering and technology news stories from the week

February 2, 2015

Monday February 2 2015

Lorna Sharpe  Lorna Sharpe, sub-editor
Green light for nuclear technology

New nuclear power plants have come a step closer in Britain, as the Hitachi-GE UK ABWR has successfully come through the Regulatory Justification process. Horizon Nuclear Power says this is an important stage designed to ensure that the benefits to society of the technology outweigh any potential radiological health detriments.

 

dominic-lenton  Dominic Lenton, managing editor
‘Fracking village’ goes solar

Balcome in West Sussex hit the headlines in summer 2013 as the centre of anti-fracking protests. A case of NIMBYism? Not according to the group of residents who have installed solar panels on the roof of a local farm’s cow shed. The energy co-operative says it will provide the farmer with electricity that’s at least 30 per cent cheaper than the market rate and could be the start of a project to generate enough for the whole village. Whether or not it succeeds, it at least demonstrates that there are a range of ways of keeping the lights on.

‘Havoc’ looms for UK taxman over IT switch

No one will be surprised to hear the warning from MPs that shifting from a big, well established IT contract to short-term deals from multiple suppliers will be an “enormous challenge” for HM Revenue & Customs. It’s not due to happen for another two years though – surely long enough to overcome any problems bearing in mind all the lessons learned from previous ill-fated big public sector IT projects?

 

Alex Kalinaukas  Alex Kalinauckas, assistant features editor

Global Calculator: high life and climate change can co-exist

With the world’s population expected to increase to 10bn by the year 2050, it’s good to hear that despite that substantial increase the Global Calculator, a new analysis tool from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and its partners, indicates that it will be possible for us to enjoy a high standard of living. It’s worth pointing out that this is only possible if we implement vast reduction in fossil fuel use, switch to electric heating and eat much less red meat.

Better ways to find plane crash sites are needed, US officials told

After several high profile incidents involving aircraft lost beneath the waves, it’s good to see that officials are examining a way to pinpoint the location of a downed jet without searching hundreds of miles of ocean. Given the prevalence and improved accuracy of movement tracking technology these days, it seems odd that it takes so long to locate the wreckage of a crashed plane. Hopefully any upcoming improvements will change that.

 

Aasha Bodhani  Aasha Bodhani, assistant features technology editor
BT plans to launch six times faster broadband by 2020

This summer, BT plans to trial a superfast broadband technology, dubbed G.fast, with plans to rollout nationwide in 2016.Currently the average broadband speed in the UK is 20 mbps, but with the new broadband technology, BT reveals a 500 mbps increase, enabling improved HD streaming. The trial will begin with 4,000 homes and businesses in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and Gosforth.

BMW cars found at risk of being unlocked by hackers

BMW was almost under a cyber-attack, which would have allowed hackers to unlock BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce vehicles, which are embedded with BMW AG’s ConnectedDrive. Security researchers at ADAC identified the glitch within the software, which forced BMW to upgrade and encrypted communications within 2.2m cars.

 

Jonathan Wilson  Jonathan Wilson, online managing editor
White House crash drone operated by spy agency worker

All of sudden, it would seem, mankind has reached a point in history when barely a day goes by without drones being in the news. This particular technology cat is well out of the well-engineered bag. The latest bulletin from the drone news frontline is the crash landing of a spy drone on the beautifully manicured lawns of the White House. It turns out that the pilot of said drone in fact works for the US’ own National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), who was flying his drone at low altitude over the White House grounds for a lark in his own free time. Curiouser and curiouser.

Global Calculator: high life and climate change can co-exist

According to The Global Calculator- an open source programme that examines the likely consequences of key decisions necessary to adhere to existing climate change promises – despite estimates that the global population will rise to 10 billion people by 2050, it will still be possible to enjoy a high standard of living, a new analysis tool indicates. All the human race has to do is rein in its excesses. So, we’re all doomed, then.

 

Laura Onita  Laura Onita, news reporter
Google to change privacy policy following investigation

Privacy lines got a little blurred when Google introduced its new policy in March 2012 that combined around 70 existing policies into one and merged data collected on individual users across its services, including YouTube and Gmail. Countries across Europe found its guidelines were too vague, and either fined Google – see Spain and France, or requested a change in policy that was more transparent about how it handled user information. It was UK’s turn this week to announce that the search giant succumbed to do just that by 30 June, probably in order to avoid another hefty fine.

Scotland announces fracking moratorium

Two days after MPs at Westminster overwhelmingly rejected a bid to suspend fracking for shale gas – with 302 votes to 52, Scotland announced a moratorium on fracking to allow a full public consultation on the controversial matter. And as if the toing and froing between Sturgeon and Cameron over legislation to hand Holyrood sweeping new powers wasn’t enough, Scotland’s energy minister said that planning consents will not be granted to oil and gas companies for now, until Scotland gains full control over fracking after May’s general election.


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