Facebook fights back in row over its free internet for India’s poor

Campaign aims to restore its Free Basics plan for ‘unconnected billion’

The green light on Pushpa Kaushik’s modem hasn’t come on for the past three months. When she first got internet access in her home a year ago, all the people of Lalpur, a small village in Uttar Pradesh, northern India, used to come to her house to use her computer. Some needed to check their bank accounts, others wanted to learn English, and some even wanted to look for solutions to their medical problems.

Village girls studying at the local university used to come to her house to look for reading material online. Now that Kaushik’s green light has gone dark, they have to walk an hour to the nearest town just to pick up a book.

Continue reading… …read more

Poll: Do you use Google Now?

There are some serious Android fans who rely on Google Now for everything. Then there are those who never touch it. Which are you? Let us know in our poll.

(This is a preview – click here to read the entire entry.)

…read more

Orgasmic design: how vibrators have become ambitious tech products

The vibrator’s long, slow march from taboo to mainstream (and maybe even cool) has been all about figuring out what exactly women want

Consider the humble vibrator. Invented as a medical device in the 19th century, it has gone on to become a Mad Men plot line, a Sex and the City tie-in, a celebrity talking point and a feminist cause.

Not only are vibrators not invisible, they’re hardly even avoidable. New vibrators are unveiled to the awed public at TechCrunch conferences. They are reviewed on Gizmodo. They comprise valid talking points for celebrities, including Barbara Walters. (Walters named hers “selfie”, Alicia Silverstone endorses “eco-friendly” vibrators, Beyoncé’s is allegedly gold-plated and Maggie Gyllenhaal claims an “incredible collection”.) High-end companies market them as luxury products. One 2012 survey found that 52.5% of women used them, whether alone or with a partner, and that women who used vibrators were actually more likely to take care of their sexual health by going to the gynecologist for regular exams.

Continue reading… …read more

Five things we love: from a drone sidekick to a DNA scarf

Ever wanted to go to a nightlclub in a sound-sensitive animal mask? Ever wanted to decorate your bedroom with your own genome? These and more in this month’s roundup

Remember when Enrique Iglesias was injured by a drone on stage last May, and required reconstructive hand surgery? The Spanish heartthrob will be delighted by the Fleye Robot, a non-threatening drone which has just reached its Kickstarter goal, and is designed to follow you around, take aerial photographs and footage or be piloted like a remote control aircraft. The size and near-shape of a football, Fleye has only one propeller, which is hidden behind its plastic housing, and its onboard computer allows it to be buoyant, autonomous and even rather endearing.

Continue reading… …read more

Man who let out home on Airbnb for new year suffers £12,000 damage

Nigel Broome’s south-east London flat was left trashed with holes punched in walls, flooding in kitchen and window ripped out

The new year had barely rung in when Nigel Broome learned that his decision to rent out a brand new family home on Airbnb to holidaymakers might prove rather more costly than he anticipated.

A week later he is still counting the cost – about £12,000 – after a New Year’s Eve party which Broome suggests rivals any other on a list of alleged disaster stories linked to the short-term homeletting site.

Continue reading… …read more

On the road: Seven Axiom SL bicycle review – ‘The lightest, smoothest thing I’ve ever had between my thighs’

This bike has given me such joy that I’ll remember it for ever, like a boy I never got over

There are many things you could buy for seven grand. A year’s tuition at a mid-ranking university. Two decent secondhand cars. A very daft handbag. Or this dreamy titanium bicycle, the lightest, smoothest thing I’ve ever had between my thighs; a bike that has given me such joy, I’ll remember it for ever, like a boy I never got over, or the steak in Rome in 2007 that made me gasp.

It wasn’t love at first sight. Sure, when Phil, the owner of CycleFit in Manchester, twirled the 1.4kg frame on one finger, I was impressed, but I didn’t think, “Cor!” It didn’t look like it cost £3,500, even though I knew it had been custom-made by a woman in Seven‘s Massachusetts factory. The green decal was a little workaday and, really, how excited can you get about a bit of fancy metal welded together? Even after the first few spins, I wasn’t convinced. The SRAM shifters were doing my nut in: I couldn’t get the hang of double-tapping to go up a gear and I was making a right meal out of changing chainrings up front.

Continue reading… …read more