Gadgets & Tech

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X-ray perspectives: 'The Eagle' comic returns

'The Eagle' comic's cut-away diagrams fired imaginations and inspired a generation of post-war children. Now London's Science Museum is bringing the illustrations back to life – for today's inquiring minds

Inside Features

Cyberclinic: Why can't my mobile phone read my mind?

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Predictive text-messaging is a divisive thing. Those who use it can't understand why anyone would still bother thumbing away at the keypad, creating a heavily abbreviated mass of unpronounceable consonants. Others hate it because when they start typing "Father", "David" appears on the screen.

Wii: More than just a game

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Remember the buzz when Nintendo unleashed its Wii console the Christmas before last? If you'd pressed your nose up against the window of any computer games shop in Britain, you probably would have witnessed enthusiastic punters waving around a white device slightly larger than a mobile phone. If you had investigated further, you would have seen that they were playing a game of virtual tennis, or maybe golf or bowling. It seemed the height of interactive computer gaming.

Cyberclinic: When should I trust forwarded emails?

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

There's probably a legitimate use for that button that forwards a message to your entire address book, but I can't think of one offhand. Forwarded emails can be profoundly irritating – not because they necessarily carry viruses, but because of the grossly misleading information they contain.

Cyberclinic: Why are blind people ignored by websites?

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

After last week's column about Captchas – the little visual tests that websites deploy alongside password requests to prove that you're human – reader Jo Franks pointed out how maddening they are for blind people. When I raised this issue on the Cyberclinic blog, Thomas Reid mentioned that a Captcha at in effect stops blind bloggers from joining in with their project. This obviously isn't a deliberate ploy. But it's far from unique.

Online television: Channel surfing

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Daytime television in Uzbekistan is semi-arid, like the climate. Today, there's an in-depth report on a trade fair for the fossil-fuels industry. In Chile, meanwhile, a man in a top hat made from aluminium foil is in the middle of a frantic telephone call as part of a show along the lines of Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway (non-Spanish speakers can deduce as much from the incessant laughter track). In Côte d'Ivoire, a Christian TV network is showing hammy adaptations of Bible stories. And back across the Atlantic in Suriname, a Shakira song is being used to advertise lager.

Lightbulb moments: James Dyson Awards

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

A cyclist's jacket that uses technology from the Nintendo Wii to control automatic brake lights and indicators; a smart loo that emails your doctor a health assessment; a wheelchair that uses caterpillar tracks to lower a patient down a flight of stairs. Some of these brilliant ideas are bound to wing their way into our homes and lives, while others are flights of fancy that may never get off the drawing board. But all the ingenious designs on this page, which were shortlisted for this year's James Dyson Awards, suggest that the instinct for innovation among young people is in rude health.

Cyberclinic: How can I stop people hacking into my email?

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Considering how many online services we end up subscribing to, it's not surprising that we sometimes need a few attempts to get our passwords right. After failing a couple of times, you often see a little box popping up with a random jumble of skewed letters on a hazy background, which you have to decipher. These tests are known as Captchas (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) and were introduced around eight years ago as a way of proving that the person trying to log in is indeed a person, and not a computer intent on cracking your password by inputting endless different combinations until the password is cracked.

The curse of satnav: On a road to nowhere...

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

We should have seen it coming. We should have seen all of it coming, really. Paula Ceely should have seen the railway tracks coming, and the train that hit her car moments after she got out. The 62 truck drivers who smashed into the same bridge in Grantham should have seen that coming. The stream of drivers plunging into 4ft of water at Luckington and having to pay 25 quid a go to get their cars pulled out; they should have seen the river Avon coming – just as the woman who drove down a farm track marked "unsuitable for motor vehicles" should have seen trouble ahead even before she drove into the river and was swept away. She should really have seen trouble ahead when she read the name of the village: Sheepy Magna.

More features:

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