Tech Tent: Minecraft and a botnet battle


The top story on my podcast this week is about the cyberwarfare raging beneath the surface of a game whose main audience is children.

We also look at Europe's battle with fake news, and hear how the South Korean electronics giant Samsung has been tainted by a government corruption scandal.

Minecraft and a botnet battle

The Mirai botnet hijacked thousands of connected devices to launch huge denial of service attacks (DDoS) against major websites last year - and in the process sparked a major panic about the security of the Internet of Things.

Now one of the victims of those attacks, the security researcher Brian Krebs, has published a major investigation into the origins of Mirai and the people behind it. This has taken him many months and is a brilliant piece of investigative journalism.

The most extraordinary aspect of his story is that it was a battle over the popular educational game Minecraft that led to the hugely disruptive DDoS attacks.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Running Minecraft servers can be lucrative

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Tech Tent: Tech gets ready for Trump


It's safe to say that in Silicon Valley tech companies big and small you'd struggle to find many people who owned up to voting for Donald Trump last November. But an industry which tends to have an optimistic view of the world is already adapting to a political landscape very different from the one it expected.

Image caption Birch: "Accept the cards you are dealt"

On this week's Tech Tent, we report from San Francisco on the mood amongst the tech community as the Trump presidency looms. When I visited the offices of Monkey Inferno, which houses three firms owned by the entrepreneur Michael Birch, I found people just getting on with the job - even on a Saturday.

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iPhone - a moment in history

Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone
Image caption Not the greatest shot - but a landmark moment

Ten years ago I was running from San Francisco’s Moscone Centre to a nearby hotel to edit a piece for the Ten O’Clock News when my phone rang.

Those were the days, by the way, when phones were for making calls but all that was about to change.

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CES 2017: Danny’s amazing earbud adventure

Danny Manu Image copyright Danny Manu

It sounds like a game-changing innovation: earbuds that auto-translate other languages. But what was supposed to be their big coming out week isn't going quite as planned.

If you're a tech company wanting to grab the world's attention this week, then Las Vegas could be the worst place to be.

Read full article CES 2017: Danny’s amazing earbud adventure

Safety test proposal for drone users

a drone with a plane in the background Image copyright Getty Images

Anyone who buys a drone in future in the UK may have to register it and take a safety test.

That could be the outcome of a government consultation on strict new drone safety rules.

Read full article Safety test proposal for drone users

Computing GCSE 'leaves girls and poorer students behind'

Three pupils watch a teacher while sitting at computer screens Image copyright Getty Images

A revolution is under way in the teaching of computer science in schools in England - but it risks leaving girls and pupils from poorer backgrounds and ethnic minorities behind. That's the conclusion of academics who've studied data about the move from ICT as a national curriculum subject to computer science.

Four years ago, amid general disquiet that ICT was teaching children little more than how Microsoft Office worked, the government took the subject off the national curriculum. The idea was that instead schools should move to offering more rigorous courses in computer science - children would learn to code rather than how to do PowerPoint.

Read full article Computing GCSE 'leaves girls and poorer students behind'

Tech Tent: Can Facebook foil the fakers?


On this week's Tech Tent, we bring you 100% genuine news about a plan to help readers of online news decide what's fake and what's not. And we look into the 5G future and ask whether we need ever faster speeds on our mobile phone networks - especially for a time when driverless cars will be commonplace.

Image copyright Paul Paladin
Image caption Facebook has reached out to fact-checking organisations to help tackle fake news

Facebook tackles the fakes

In the last month our programme has covered the mounting concerns about the spread of fake news, documenting the mounting pressure on Facebook to act. Now the social network has come out with a series of measures designed to help its users distinguish between truth and lies.

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Tech Tent: Is technology good for us?

Rory Cellan-Jones

On Tech Tent this week we ask whether the tech industry is out of touch with the real world.

In the rush to disrupt every industry and to reinvent the way we live, do the tech utopians forget the negative impact some of their miraculous products can have on the lives and jobs of many people?

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Amazon Go store has done away with staff on the tills

Shop smart

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Seamless shopping and the future of work

Amazon Go user outside shop Image copyright Amazon

A man walks into a shop, grabs a sandwich off a shelf then walks straight out.

A woman browses the selection of ready meals, puts one in her handbag and leaves. Scenes from a viral video - not about shoplifting but about Amazon's vision of the future of retailing.

Read full article Seamless shopping and the future of work

Blippar wants your face in its app

Media captionWATCH: App recognises Rory

Ever seen someone across a crowded room and struggled to remember who they are? Well now there's an app which would allow you to fit the face to a name.

Blippar, the augmented reality business, is adding facial recognition to its app. Some will find that cool, others will see it as a creepy invasion of privacy.

At the moment the Blippar app gives you information about all kinds of objects when you point your smartphone's camera at them - it will identify famous paintings for example, or provide advertising content when you point it at a product.

Read full article Blippar wants your face in its app