Friday round-up: A week in tech

Bus

There was bad news for self-driving vehicle enthusiasts this week, as a computer-controlled bus had a crash within two hours of hitting the highway.

But there’s no need sink into a total depression after yet another setback – it wasn’t the bus’s fault, on this occasion.

Programmed to trundle tourists around Las Vegas, the machine was pranged by a truck that suddenly appeared out of an alley. Luckily, no one was injured but the bus sustained a knock to its bumper and the truck driver got a ticket.

Smoothing over the bump, Jace Radke, a spokesperson for Las Vegas, which sounds like a pretty cool job, said: ‘The shuttle did its job in that the sensors hit on the truck, knew the truck was coming and stopped as it was supposed to do. The problem was the truck didn’t stop.’

***

Ok. Let’s see if this tale hurts your head as much as it does mine. Over $300 million in cryptocurrency has been bafflingly mislaid. I’ll try to explain.

The missing funds were (or are) in the form of ‘Ether’: a digital currency that is (or was) stored in virtual multi-signature wallets.

These wallets were and are created and maintained by developer Parity, which tried to fix a bug on Tuesday – but somehow inadvertently managed to make things worse.

When the mistake was spotted, an attempt to fix it only succeeded in sealing the wallets and locking the $300m away forever.

Now a solution has been suggested: something called a ‘hard fork’ would resolve things, say some, but only if 51% of the locked funds’ owners agree to act as if none of this ever happened. What?

Code would have to be changed and then taken up by most of the users – however, if enough users decline the code change, then two rival groups could be created. Again, what?

If you’ve the time, read this Guardian article about it; and if it makes sense to you, come back and explain it to me.

***

Squawking, angry, deranged social media network Twitter has stopped its verified-profile system, after admitting that it’s ‘broken’.

The system is designed to verify the accounts of the rich and famous, great and good, but has begun endorsing, if that’s the right word, the accounts of white-supremacists and similar crazed hate-peddlers.

This week, Twitter verified the account of one Jason Kessler, the individual who organised the torch-bearing Nazi march through the US town of Charlottesville back in the summer. Social media’s great, isn’t it?

Anyhow, in a statement, the hare-brained company said: ‘Verification was meant to authenticate identity and voice, but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance. We recognise that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it.’

***

The very expensive iPhone X has yielded yet another weakness – it doesn’t like the cold.

Users have complained that the thing stops responding when the temperature drops, so they have to go back indoors to carry on their fuming Twitter arguments.

It has emerged that, despite Apple’s claims to the contrary, the iPhone X is the easiest iPhone to break, with the glass screen costing £250 to fix.

Apple has acknowledged the problems some users are facing on frosty mornings, saying: ‘We are aware of instances where the iPhone X screen will become temporarily unresponsive to touch after a rapid change to a cold environment. After several seconds the screen will become fully responsive again. This will be addressed in an upcoming software update.’

Come on, it’s only £1,000. What do you expect for a mere £1,000? Something durable?

Friday round-up: A week in tech

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