Signing up the e-sports stars

Media captionMeet the Premier League's first e-sports player

I've been spending time this week off my usual beat with one of West Ham United's summer signings. Even diehard fans of the Premier League club may however be unfamiliar with Sean Allen. That's because Sean - also known as Dragonn - has made his name not as the new striker the Hammers need but as a champion player of the Fifa video game.

In May, West Ham became the first Premier League club to sign an e-sports player, followed in July by Manchester City who signed up Kieran "Kez" Brown. Both clubs believe that e-sports are about to take off in a big way and this kind of move will show their fans and the gaming community that they are serious about getting involved.

I met Sean Allen at West Ham's training ground where he watched the first team train, sat in on a press conference given by manager Slaven Bilic, then played a game of Fifa with a star player Cheikhou Kouyate. He won 5-0 by the way…

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Image caption Cheikhou Kouyate lost 5-0 to pro-player Sean Allen when he took him on at the Fifa video game

24-year-old Sean's career path on the way to becoming an e-sports star has not been smooth. He started playing in tournaments when he was 16 and won £500 in the first event he entered. But two years ago, he was on the verge of giving it up: "I decided I was too old at 22, I sold my Xbox," he tells me.

But he kept on plugging away and then this year got a big break, qualifying for the Fifa Interactive World Cup, an event he'd been trying to get into for years. He went to New York for the tournament and ended up in the final, losing narrowly to the Danish champion and coming away with $5000.

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Can podcasts turn a profit?

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Image caption People are enjoying a wave of new, meticulously produced podcasts

For most of its short history, podcasting has been a largely amateur business, with few signs that it might become a mass medium that would prove attractive either to advertisers or subscribers. Then Serial changed all that.

The true-life crime series about a murder and a possible miscarriage of justice attracted hundreds of millions of downloads - and transformed the way advertisers saw podcasting.

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Can a computer copy your handwriting?

Media captionWATCH: Could a computer copy your handwriting?

Researchers at University College London have taught a computer to imitate anyone's handwriting.

They have created an algorithm that can take a sample of handwritten text, examine its qualities, and then write any text in the same style.

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Broadband deals - is the fog clearing?

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Spend half an hour shopping for a broadband deal and you may want to go and lie down in a darkened room for a while.

The adverts bamboozle you with special offers that will expire after six months, put the line rental cost in the small print, and promise you "up to" speeds which you suspect will never be delivered.

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Facebook's drones - made in Britain

Media captionFacebook's Aquila drone takes to the air

In a warehouse in Somerset, the latest phase in Facebook's bid for world domination has been taking shape.

Or, to put it less dramatically, the social network's plan to connect millions in developing countries is proceeding.

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Broadband - do we want it cheap or good?

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Image caption Is Openreach investing enough in fast fibre?

The MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport committee are clear - our UK broadband strategy is going down the wrong path and BT must shoulder much of the blame.

The focus of their report is on BT's Openreach division and its alleged failure to invest in fast fibre. But there are others with questions to answer - notably the government, the regulator, and the broadband users.

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Blockchain and benefits - a dangerous mix?

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Image caption Some benefit claimants in the UK will soon test a blockchain-powered app

The government has quietly launched a bold experiment using the technology behind the virtual currency Bitcoin - and, if anybody notices, it could prove hugely controversial. That is because the trial involves the payment of benefits and could conceivably involve very sensitive data being made public - or at least that's the concern of some critics.

There is a huge amount of excitement around now about the Blockchain, with endless academic studies and a good deal of investment reinforcing the belief that a permanent ever-expanding and tamper-proof online ledger of transactions must have all sorts of wider applications.

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Gloom and hope for the future in UK tech

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There is new evidence today of how the UK technology sector is feeling about its future after the referendum vote to leave the EU. And the message from a survey carried out by Tech City UK is pretty gloomy - though the organisation itself sees some reasons for optimism.

Tech City UK got responses from more than 1,200 members of the tech community. Questioned in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, 74% of them said they thought the economy would get worse, not better.

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Moorfields, Google - and a problem with sharing

Eye scan

It is a fascinating experiment that brings together Google's artificial intelligence division and one of the world's leading centres for the treatment of eye conditions.

But the research project that has seen Moorfields Hospital hand over retinal scans to DeepMind has already proved controversial - and, for me, it all feels rather close to home.

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Brexit: Tech leaders try to paint bright Brexit future

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It is probably not controversial to say that the UK tech scene, and in particular London, was very much in the Remain camp in the EU referendum.

Tech entrepreneurs were worried about what Brexit would mean for access to the single market, the confidence of investors and their access to skilled staff from across Europe.

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