Columns Archives - Stuff


Thai cave rescue’s dramatic conclusion last week reminded us that the world is a good place

Last week’s extraordinary rescue of 12 teenager soccer players and their coach from monsoon-flooded caves in Thailand will be one of the defining stories of this generation. It has all the hallmarks of great literature: an ill-fated adventure into a cave before sudden floods trap the boys, a chance discovery by a cave diver, an improbable rescue scenario competed against the odds with internationa...[Read More]

What started as a prank: a story of manipulation and the most viewed video on Vice

After writing numerous TripAdvisor reviews himself, Oobah Butler wondered what it would take to get a restaurant to be number one in London. So he took photographs of his small rented cottage in a suburb called Dulwich – including some made up food shots using pool chemicals and his foot – and made a page for “The Shed at Dulwich”. What started as a prank turned into an extraordinary story of gami...[Read More]

Photographers like Sam Nzima and David Goldblatt were great chroniclers of our history

My favourite thing that the great photographer David Goldblatt said was in answer to why he didn’t shoot colour film during the dark days of racial repression: “During those years colour seemed too sweet a medium to express the anger, disgust and fear that apartheid inspired.” Last Monday, news broke that this great documenter of South Africa’s dark legacy had passed away. He was 87. Earlier in Ma...[Read More]

The resignation of Intel’s chief over a moral infraction is an astounding act of ethics

A quite remarkable thing happened in the tech world last week, that would be even more astounding if it occurred to South African politicians and business people to do the same. Brian Krzanich, the chief executive of Intel, resigned last week after the semiconductor chip maker’s board found he “had a past consensual relationship with an Intel employee”. It’s an entirely unexpected end to an otherw...[Read More]

Email is the least secure means of transmitting anything, especially private and financial information. You’ve been warned

If there is one good thing to come out of the Liberty Life hacking drama that ruined everyone’s Saturday night, it may be that people finally realise how insecure email is. Once designed as a means to send simple text messages over the nascent network that would evolve into the internet, email is now the backbone of global communications. Email may be a gift for communications between people, but ...[Read More]

The recent spate of hacked websites is a reminder that you need to protect your online security more than ever

All 3bn of Yahoo’s accounts were hacked in 2013, the search giant revealed last week, triple the previously stated 1bn, making it the biggest data breach so far. This followed the staggering hack of US credit agency Equifax last month, exposing the personal details of 145.5m Americans, including their credit cards details and social security numbers. It’s a stupendously big deal and confirms...[Read More]

What is ransomware and how to protect your precious files from it

What would it mean if you lost all of your personal documents, such as your family photos, research or business records? How much would you pay to get them back? There’s a burgeoning form of cybercrime that hinges on the answers to these questions. You have probably heard of viruses and malware. These dangerous pieces of software can make their way into your computer and wreak havoc. Malware autho...[Read More]

Protect your privacy during turbulent times: A hacker’s guide to being cyber-safe

Protecting individual privacy from government intrusion is older than American democracy. In 1604, the attorney general of England, Sir Edward Coke, ruled that a man’s house is his castle. This was the official declaration that a homeowner could protect himself and his privacy from the king’s agents. That lesson carried into today’s America, thanks to our Founding Fathers’ abhorrence for imperiali...[Read More]

One day we will be grateful that Europe’s GDPR laws have clawed back our privacy

In the last two weeks your inbox will probably have been bombarded with emails asking you to agree to new privacy rules about your personal data. It may be the first time you’ve seen the acronym GDPR – which stands for General Data Protection Regulation – but it won’t be the last. This new set of regulations from the European Union about how businesses handle our personal data is a profound ...[Read More]

Facebook has deleted a quarter of user total in account clean up but electioneering has moved

Facebook has disabled a staggering 583-million fake accounts in the first quarter of this year as the social network tries to rebuild its shattered reputation from the Cambridge Analytica saga and resultant fallout about how lax its took its users privacy. Over half a billion fake accounts is a eye-watering number by any measure, but even more so because it represents about a quarter of Facebooks ...[Read More]

The Qwerty keyboard is one of those anachronisms of the mechanical age that lives on in the digital era

Why does the Qwerty keyboard have such a strange layout, I was recently asked. It’s one of those anachronisms of the mechanical age that lives on in the digital era. Back in the heyday of this new-fangled technology called typewriters in the 1870s, the race was on to make a new mechanical writing device. One of the biggest problems was that regularly-used keys would jam. These early typewriters us...[Read More]

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