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Tech & Gaming
PC Pro

PC Pro November 2020

The UK’s biggest selling PC monthly magazine, and your source of professional IT news, reviews and tests. Combining in–depth industry comment and analysis with rigorous product testing.

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Country:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Publisher:
Dennis Publishing UK
Frequency:
Monthly
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12 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
british retailers need to fight back with… scones

IT’S HARD TO find a positive headline at the moment – unless, that is, you’re a shareholder of an US technology company. “Combined, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook earned $28 billion,” reported The New York Times on 31 July. “Amazon had warned investors to expect profits to be wiped out by $4 billion in coronavirus-related costs. Although the firm spent as much as promised, sales grew so fast that it turned a $5 billion profit for the second quarter, double the result of the year before.” Three weeks earlier, by contrast, John Lewis announced that it was closing eight of its 50 department stores, including the Watford branch where I worked for three years during the late 1990s. This was yet another hammer blow to shopping centres that rely on John…

1 min.
contributors

Sarah Kidner Have we become too used to receiving instant gratification from tech in a world full of uncertainty? Sarah provides a nuanced response on p34 Gavin Hall Who better to review the brand-new Microsoft Flight Simulator than a commercial pilot who grew up on sims? Read Gavin’s verdict from p42 Barry Collins A long-time Spotify user, Barry couldn’t help but wonder whether its rivals offered something better. His discovery? That Spotify is no longer king. See p26 Davey Winder Davey provides a double dose of ransomware advice this month: how to avoid it on p104 and then what happens when it hits from p120…

4 min.
calls for regulator to calm algorithm angst

Critics have warned that algorithmic injustices highlighted by the A-level results furore will only increase without an official regulator to monitor their usage. Officials in the UK are increasingly using computer models to automate decisions based on the government’s datasets, but as the recent A-level fiasco has shown, such practices have huge implications for individuals. “We’ve talked about algorithm regulation in academia and now there’s going to pressure for a regulatory body in charge of this,” said Paul Bernal, professor in law at the University of East Anglia. “The thing that made a difference with the A-levels is we saw a direct impact – people were going to lose university places because of this algorithm.” While the A-level scandal, which initially saw thousands of students’ grades downgraded, was the first major event to…

3 min.
news in brief

Microsoft tries risky new form factor with the Surface Duo Microsoft is attempting to kickstart the market for dual-screen devices, with the launch of the Surface Duo. The Android device, announced in October 2019 alongside the still-absent Surface Neo, will go on sale in the US at the stark price of $1,399 – significantly more expensive than most smartphones, tablets and many laptops. However, analysts say the device might find a niche between those three product categories. “Surface Duo’s uncomfortable position in this no man’s land between smartphone, tablet and notebook is exactly why Microsoft is addressing the category,” explained Geoff Blaber, an analyst with research firm CCS Insight. “The company sees significant, long-term potential, and in time it might get there.” The Duo has two 5.6in OLED displays that fold out from a…

1 min.
could sold-off tech be weaponised?

With tensions increasing between the West and China, there’s concern that technologies might provide an inadvertent security threat if lost overseas. In evidence to the Foreign Office committee investigating UK asset stripping, former CEO Hossein Yassaie said Britain must ensure it understood what technologies were involved in tech buyouts or risk problems in the future. “We comfortably talk about autonomous driving cars, but the technologies that would make a car driverless or autonomous can be deployed in other applications, such as military or other targeting applications,” Yassaie explained. “The chips that go in the car to detect pedestrians and drive the car are sophisticated pieces of equipment and completely programmable. “If the development continues in the member state and it is quite clear what is going on, I would be much more relaxed…

6 min.
should we stop selling the crown jewels of tech?

The UK has a rich history in tech, but many of Britain’s biggest tech firms are sold to overseas investors, with assets and know-how heading overseas. Britain runs a free-market model, but many believe that there’s value in greater intervention. “In the modern world, all the national returns are in the profit and the share of income and assets,” said Dan Ciuriak, a trade consultant and senior fellow at Canada’s Centre of International Governance Innovation. “This is where new national wealth is being generated – it’s no longer labour income [through taxes] that’s generating the money. If your economic strategy remains in the industrial era, you will see a shrinking as a percentage of global wealth.” No matter how much money a company such as Facebook makes in the UK, or how much…