Friday roundup: A week in tech | News

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The Innovation and Technology Network

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Friday roundup: A week in tech

EE mobile customer? Thinking of going on a trip to Europe? You’ll probably want to change provider, sharpish.

In further Brexit carnage, the notorious roaming charges that once haunted UK travellers as soon as they set foot on continental soil are set to return.

Having previously pledged not to reintroduce the hated extra costs, EE has done a 180 so it can "support investment into our UK based customer service and leading UK network". Ha.

From January, the network’s customers will be charged £2 a day to use data in 47 European countries.

After Brexit was finally somehow sort of settled at the start of 2021, mobile networks regained the option to apply extra charges to UK travellers in the EU, though 02, Three, Vodafone, and, indeed, EE said they wouldn’t.

Roaming charges were initially forbidden in 2017 but, as previously mentioned, Brexit saw to it that the ban was no more. Thanks, Brexit.

It seemed as if 02 was going to pull an EE this week, following reports it was also going to up its fees. However, turns out it only plans to introduce a 25gb ‘fair use’ monthly limit.

So, devilishly clever little earner or demented effort to drive customers into the arms of other networks? We’ll sEE (sorry).

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Thank goodness for Skype. When the Season of Lockdowns kicked off, and we all had to stay at home, tentatively figuring out how to communicate with our friends, families, and colleagues through the internet, at least we had access to a technology that could provide a vast communications nexus, allowing us to do our jobs and stay sane.

Except, for some reason, Skype hasn’t been used by anybody during this most house-bound of crises – the business and social worlds powered entirely by the likes of Zoom, Teams, and whatever the other video conferencing systems are called.

Poor Microsoft ‘snapped up’ Skype in 2011 for a ridiculous £6.1bn. And it’s done so well the firm has decided to drop it from the forthcoming Windows 11, it’s latest stab at an operating system that works properly, opting instead to bundle it with the ubiquitous Teams.

Oh well, never mind.

Apart from promising to be the latest version of Windows, Windows 11 will also see the end of Paint, 3D Viewer, and OneNote, while the eternally unpopular Internet Explorer will be disabled.

What else? Will it grind to a near halt after the first update? Will it be installed by default on millions of laptops and desktops that are too woefully underpowered to run it? Probably.

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It’s roundup roundup time, the bit where I link to stories that haven’t enough substance for me to spin any gags, wisecracks, snide remarks etc. out of:

An incredibly rich tech man has squirrelled away a $5bn tax-free pension nest egg. I know – I couldn’t believe it either! PayPal founder Peter Thiel, a man who, unsurprisingly, has a long-stated hatred for taxation, has been cannily putting pennies into a big secret piggy bank, sorry, an individual retirement account (IRA), and you read all about his insatiable antics here.

China, apparently, plans to build a base on Mars, develop on other planets, and build some sort of elevator to carry stuff from the earth up into space – basically all the things lots of other countries, including China, have expressed a keenness to pull off in the past. Anway, the Independent is pretending it’s news so have a read here.

Would you like to read another piece about homeworking? Or should I ask, are you a masochist? Alexia Cambon has written article #45,989,634 about the differences between offices and kitchens. I haven’t read it, so there’s a infinitesimal chance it might actually be interesting for all I know, but like I say, if you’re a masochist have a read all the same.

And while we’re on the theme of stories that endlessly repeat themselves, here’s yet another tale about some incredible new battery technology that will charge our phones and such in lightning fast time. A Cambridge team reckons it can fully charge a device in five minutes. I remain dubious and it’ll be my luck indeed if this is the one that turns out to be the winner. Read it all here.