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Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology correspondent

Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

Welcome to dot.Rory - these are my thoughts about how technology is changing the world and shaping our lives

Spain’s social wi-fi tycoon

15 April 2014
Martin Varsavsky

Nine years ago, Martin Varsavsky unveiled what sounded like a barmy idea - getting people to plug in a piece of kit to their home router and share their wi-fi with anyone who happened to be passing by.

But Fon, the first social wi-fi network, took off, and what was intended to be a not-for-profit enterprise has grown into a substantial business, with backing from investors ranging from BT to Google. It is in 13 million homes and claims to be the world's biggest wi-fi network, reaching 200 million people.

Now Mr Varsavsky, who from his Madrid base has become one of Europe's most successful telecoms entrepreneurs, has a new and perhaps equally unlikely mission. He wants to turn us all into the kind of people who are happy for our friends to play their music in our homes.

Today sees the launch of Gramofon, a joint venture with Spotify, to enable social sharing of music. It involves plugging in a new version of the Fon router - a small attractively designed black or white device - and connecting it to the internet and to your home music system. You then pair it with an app which allows you - or your Facebook friends - to stream music from Spotify and a number of other services.

Martin Varsavsky holds up the Gramofon device

"It's going to be the Apple TV for sound," Martin Varsasvsky told me when he popped by for a coffee yesterday to explain the service. He told me he'd been lecturing on entrepreneurship in New York when after giving his students a start-up project task they'd challenged him to come up with his own idea. "I went to a party where everyone was arguing over whose music from whose smartphone they wanted to play - that's when the idea came to me."

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Live radio - through Google Glass

11 April 2014
Rory and guests

Phew - we've just come off air after our weekly World Service radio programme Tech Tent, and I think we may have just achieved a world first. I wrote earlier this week about my experience with Google Glass, and that we were puzzling about how we might stream live video from the device.

Then, a couple of days ago a company called Livestream announced that it had launched an app for Glass which would allow anyone to do just that - stream a live view of what someone wearing the device was seeing.

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Taking Google Glass for a run

8 April 2014
Rory Cellan Jones wearing Google Glass

I've started an experiment - and so far it's had mixed reactions.

"You look a complete idiot," said my teenage son. "Must you wear that thing?" asked my wife. But "Wow that's exciting!" said at least a couple of colleagues.

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Nest and the battle to control your heating

2 April 2014
A hand is on the Nest smart heating thermostat
Nest launched in the US in 2011

Competition to be the company that brings smart home technology to Britain and cuts energy bills is hotting up. Nest, the firm whose smart thermostat has been a big hit in the United States, is launching in the UK.

The device, from a team which cut its design teeth at Apple, connects wirelessly to your boiler and can be controlled remotely via a smartphone app. It learns your daily routine and adjusts the temperature accordingly. But, with the weather warming up and at least one energy firm promising to freeze bills, April might not seem the best month to be promising to disrupt the market with new technology.

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Protecting children from pornography

28 March 2014
Child using a computer

Today's research from Nielsen for the online video regulator ATVOD confirms something not particularly surprising - that pornography on the web is very popular and is a huge business. But by showing that large numbers of children are getting unrestricted access to hardcore pornography, ATVOD is raising some difficult questions.

How worried should we be - and even if we are convinced this is harmful is there anything that can be done about it? And isn't it the job of parents, not regulators, to keep children safe online?

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Facebook buys the future

26 March 2014
Man wearing Oculus Rift headset

There was a swift reaction in my household to the news that Facebook is buying Oculus Rift, the start-up virtual reality gaming business.

"Why would they do that? They"ll ruin it," said my 15-year-old son, a keen gamer.

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HTC's time to refocus

25 March 2014
Rory Cellan Jones

It was by common consent the standout smartphone of 2013. The HTC One, with its sleek steely looks and its zippy performance, won all kinds of awards. But what it didn't do was sell enough to pull HTC out of its downward spiral. So can the new version, the catchily named HTC One (M8), pull off the trick of delighting the critics and proving a massive sales hit?

HTC certainly needs some good news. Last year it had just 2.2% of the smartphone market according to the analysts IDC - down from nearly 9% two years earlier. The company made its first ever quarterly loss last year, though it was in good company - apart from Samsung and Apple, everyone is struggling to make money in this business.

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Twitter ban: Turkey's President Gul challenges PM's move

21 March 2014

The minute the Turkish prime minister announced the block on the service, many users were finding - and sharing - ways around the ban.

With Turkish internet providers ordered to send Twitter traffic to a dead end, computer users found they could change the Domain Name Settings (DNS), which form the internet's address book, to get back on the right track.

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Chromecast - a TV game changer?

19 March 2014
Google Chromecast, an HDMI attachment

The internet and TV is the marriage that has continually been put on hold.

Back in 2012 I speculated that the long-awaited digital union would finally be consummated in British living-rooms that year - and yet viewers remained largely unmoved. Literally - the latest Ofcom figures showed that most of them still sit back on the couch, switch on the TV and watch what is on one of the main channels, rather than plunging into the delights of the on-demand world.

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A tasty tech takeaway for London?

17 March 2014
Pizza slices

The champagne corks must be popping at the London Stock Exchange - and maybe at the headquarters of Tech City, they'll be ordering a takeaway chicken korma to celebrate.

Having wooed all sorts of technology companies in the hope of having a high profile stock market flotation - and seen most swept off their feet by those flashy US exchanges - London has at last bagged one.

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About Rory

Rory has been watching the technology scene like a hawk for the last 15 years.

From the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s to the rise of Google and Facebook, from the Psion organiser to the iPad, he's covered all the big gadget and business stories, and interviewed just about everyone who's played a part in the story of the web.

Dot.Rory, his previous blog, was named among the Top 100 blogs by the Sunday Times.

He aims to look at the impact of the internet and digital technology on our lives and businesses. Rory has been described as "the non-geek's geek", and freely admits that he came late to technology - but he aims to explain its significance to anyone with an interest in the subject.

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