The Guardian


'This is small talk purgatory': what Tinder taught me about love

The Guardian

I did not intend to be single in the rural village where I live. I'd moved there with my fiance after taking a good job at the local university. We'd bought a house with room enough for children. Then the wedding was off and I found myself single in a town where the non-student population is 1,236 people. I briefly considered flirting with the cute local bartender, the cute local mailman – then realised the foolishness of limiting my ability to do things such as get mail or get drunk in a town with only 1,235 other adults. For the first time in my life, I decided to date online. The thing about talking to people on Tinder is that it is boring. I am an obnoxious kind of conversation snob and have a pathologically low threshold for small talk.


NHS data is a goldmine. It must be saved from big tech James Meadway

The Guardian

As a society, we are finally acquiring a healthy scepticism about the use and abuse of our personal information. New polling conducted by YouGov for the Institute for Public Policy Research shows that 80% of the public want to see tighter rules applied to how the likes of Facebook and Amazon use their data. Over the weekend, it was revealed that US pharmaceutical companies have already been sold data relating to millions of NHS patients and that Amazon, incredibly, has been given free access to NHS data Hidden away in the secret US-UK trade papers, leaked and revealed by Labour in November, is perhaps the biggest single threat to public data yet seen. Instead of the encroaching privatisation of publicly held data, we should be looking to create a "digital commons" The potential threat to the NHS from a post-Brexit US trade deal is clear, and has become a major election talking point. But alongside the well-known dangers of accelerating privatisation and drug price hikes, there are risks to one of the UK's most prized publicly owned resources.


The 20 best gadgets of 2019

The Guardian

There's more than meets the eye to these generic-seeming glasses. The Bose Frames contain a small pair of hidden speakers and sensors on their arms. In addition to music listening, you can use them to receive calls and interact with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. Can't decide whether to buy a lamp or a speaker? This could be the answer.


Avicii Invector review – an immersive musical tribute

The Guardian

The search for this year's Christmas party video game may be over. Following the rejuvenated interest in the "rhythm action" genre brought about by titles such as Beat Saber and Tetris Effect, Avicii Invector takes the cerebral visual immersion of the latter title and plants it in a beautiful, fast-paced beat experience. Made in collaboration with the superstar DJ and producer Avicii, AKA Tim Bergling, before his death last year, Avicii Invector sees you zooming across a series of gorgeous intergalactic landscapes in a WipEout-esque spacecraft, hitting buttons in time to the music on a glowing board reminiscent of the classic Guitar Hero interface. Adding to the trippy aesthetic, the gameplay has you flipping the play space 180 degrees at a time, with interludes of racing through midair rings in time to the beat. Think of Sega's Nights Into Dreams set to a series of 25 infectious club hits.


What Tinder's biggest 2019 trends reveal about how people are dating

The Guardian

Are you a vegan who likes kombucha? Are you real, lit, or looking for a real lit match? Do you even know what these words mean? If not, you probably need to lower your expectations on Tinder. Yesterday, the dating platform – which has an estimated 50 million users worldwide – released its Year in Swipe roundup: an analysis of user data and activity in the last year, that tells us how the world dated on the app in 2019.


Drones used to deliver parcels to remote Alpine villages

The Guardian

France's postal service has begun using drones to make parcel deliveries to a remote Alpine village. La Poste's subsidiary, DPD, says flying packages by remote control is more reliable, quicker and safer than driving a van up narrow mountain roads in winter when they are often icy or blocked by snow. The delivery by drone, which flies at around 30km/h, takes eight minutes for a round trip, compared with 30 minutes for a vehicle. Launched during a normal postal delivery round from a special launch-and-landing platform that emerges from the side of a vehicle, the drone is guided to a "secure terminal" near the village where it releases the package to be collected by the customer using a code. DPD began researching the possibility of using drones to make deliveries in 2014 and has been honing the technology ever since.


PlayStation 5: the 11 games we want to see in 2020 and beyond

The Guardian

Now that Sony has revealed the technical specifications of its forthcoming console, including its powerful AMD Ryzen processor, SSD storage system for fast loading, 3D sound and 8K support, what everyone wants to know is – what will we be playing on the machine when it launches next year? Here are the rumours and expectations, some more fanciful than others, but each one a distinct and enticing possibility. It's been almost three years since the acclaimed post-apocalyptic, open-world adventure arrived – and its accompanying DLC, The Frozen Wilds, showed there was plenty more to explore in this glorious, machine-filled dystopia. Developer Guerrilla Games has a history of supporting PlayStation launches (latterly with its Killzone titles), so a Horizon Zero Dawn follow-up seems extremely likely. Ever since Rocksteady wrapped up its Arkham franchise with Arkham Knight in 2015, there has been endless speculation over a new Batman title set in the Arkhamverse from WB Montréal, the studio behind the spin-off Arkham Origins.


How our home delivery habit reshaped the world

The Guardian

A decade ago, the British department-store chain John Lewis built itself a long warehouse, painted in gradations of sky blue. The shed, as it is called in the industry, cost £100m and covered 650,000 sq ft. Windsor Castle could easily fit inside it. John Lewis named the shed Magna Park 1, after the site where it stands: a "logistics campus" of warehouses, roads, shipping containers and truck bays east of Milton Keynes. Magna Park 1 was intended to supply the company's stores around southern England, but almost as soon as it was finished, John Lewis realised that it wasn't enough. The pace of e-commerce was flying, and Magna Park 1 opened in the midst of a spell in which, between 2006 and 2016, the share of John Lewis deliveries going direct to customers rose 12-fold. So John Lewis built Magna Park 2, measuring 675,000 sq ft. After that, the company realised it needed a new shed for Waitrose, its supermarket chain, where home deliveries were skyrocketing, too. "It became a bit of a standing joke," said Philip Stanway, a regional director at Chetwoods, the architecture firm that designed and built all these facilities. "They used to come to meetings with their forecasts, and they'd say: 'Screw this. This is the new forecast,'" Stanway said, making a scribbling motion in the manner of a John Lewis executive hastily updating the numbers. "We couldn't build the buildings quick enough for them."


Google Stadia review – the console vanishes from video gaming

The Guardian

The Stadia is nothing short of revolutionary. Its core technology delivers on a promise decades in the making: console-quality gaming, without the console. But revolutions have unpredictable outcomes, leave a trail of destruction in their wake, and have a tendency to destroy those who start them. Will Google be able to see this through? Once Stadia is up and running, the system is nearly indistinguishable from playing a game on a console sitting under your TV, except there's no fan noise, no downloads or discs, and, well, no console.


Porn, public transport and other dubious justifications for using facial recognition software

The Guardian

Then it was your phone. Now governments in Australia want you to use facial verification to access government services, take public transport and even for your private viewing. Last month the joint standing committee on intelligence and security told the government it needed to rethink its plans for a national facial verification database built off people's passport and driver's licence photos. It said there weren't strong enough safeguards for citizens' privacy and security built into the legislation. Despite the concerns, Australian governments and agencies have come up with some creative reasons to justify the use of facial recognition and sell it to the public.