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Author: Gavin Haynes

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Net ​nostalgia: the online museums preserving dolphin gifs and spinning Comic Sans



Archivist Jason Scott has made it his mission to record digital culture for future generations. But why are we so keen to relive the days of Geocities websites and 56k modems?

Jason Scott is a “guerilla internet archivist”. Someone’s got to be. If you’ve got some content embedded in a site that’s about to disappear, then he and his team of coders and data engineers go in there and “Ocean’s Eleven” the joint. In the name of digital archaeology, they migrate as much data as they can to a safe harbour even as the main site goes down. “We swoop in and, to the best of our ability, take a snapshot,” he says.

Scott is interested in conserving the stuff we have forgotten has value. Increasingly, our culture plays itself out on the internet, yet even now we have a tendency to view what we do on there as trivial. Or we make the mistake of assuming that digital means for ever. “The problem is, the internet’s systems have been designed as though everything goes on indefinitely,” he says. “There are no agreed-upon shutdown procedures. When users die, what do you do? Because their accounts live on, and suddenly Facebook is telling you your dead friend also likes Snickers bars. Often, you don’t even know who’s running a site. It’s as if you didn’t know who was in charge of your water supply; then one day, it just stopped …”

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Calling Gordon Gekko: how old mobile phones became £1,000 collector items



With the market for retro cell phones booming, here’s a selection of desirable designs, from a 10kg monster to a clamshell classic

When it debuted in 1989, the MicroTAC was hailed as a “game-changer”, one that Motorola argued would bring mobile phones out of the hands of top execs and into the hands of senior mid-level execs. Competively price at $2,995, the size of a Dutch brick rather than the preceding concrete breezeblock, it had an amazing half-hour’s talk time with only 10 hours of charging.

The price has dropped a bit, but at £100 on eBay, the likes of the MicroTAC still hold value for collectors. New research by Talkmobile highlights how the market for vintage phones has become increasingly lively as collectors aim to snap up a brick of tech history.

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Can Google really tell us how busy a place is?



The technology giant is now using live data to let you know exactly how crowded your local cafe, restaurant or tourist attraction is. Does it work? We put it to the test

One of the creepiest – and most useful – Google inventions has been its ability to predict traffic jams by using anonymised ping-backs from mobile phones to tell how fast everyone is moving.

Related: Google will now tell you whether a bar or shop is busy in real-time

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Knock knock. Who’s there? The new generation of doorbells



From facial-recognition to dog power, smart technology has come knocking on your door. No, don’t get up …

The doorbell, like the landline, is increasingly on its way out. Being in a specific place at a certain time is just not how digital nomads roll. In the past few years, US companies such as SkyBell and DoorBird have offered solutions to the problem of having to be home occasionally by developing doorbells that connect to your smartphone, so you can converse with the deliveryman, passing pal or burglar, whether in or out. The UK’s newly launched Ding, though, is one of the first to do it with a design finish that doesn’t scream “home security paranoiac with own laser trip wires”.

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Knock knock. Who’s there? The new generation of doorbells



From facial-recognition to dog power, smart technology has come knocking on your door. No, don’t get up …

The doorbell, like the landline, is increasingly on its way out. Being in a specific place at a certain time is just not how digital nomads roll. In the past few years, US companies such as SkyBell and DoorBird have offered solutions to the problem of having to be home occasionally by developing doorbells that connect to your smartphone, so you can converse with the deliveryman, passing pal or burglar, whether in or out. The UK’s newly launched Ding, though, is one of the first to do it with a design finish that doesn’t scream “home security paranoiac with own laser trip wires”.

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Drone racing: the new sport that could go sky high



It is barely a professional pursuit, yet quadcopter flying has attracted wealthy benefactors, million-dollar TV deals and famous investors. Those on the inside are convinced fame and fortune lie ahead

Drones aren’t just for snooping on Bin Laden showering in the Tora Bora mountains. The idea of racing them has been embedded in pop culture for ages, but it’s only recently that the sport has started to form itself into something recognisably professional. Landmarks have come thick and fast in the past year, most notably with the $1m (£760,000) Dubai World Drone Prix in March.

Now, the fledgling sport is about to reach Britain. Sky has decided to invest $1m into a US drone-racing formula, run by a former Tough Mudder executive; 10 episodes of the Drone Racing League will be shown on Sky Sports Mix. The deal also paves the way for a British drone race, at a venue yet to be decided.

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How Pokémon Go took over the world in a weekend



From armed robberies to space invaders, the launch of the Nintendo game has had more than a few unexpected outcomes

If the clusters of teenage otaku captured wandering round Central Park on Saturday are anything to go by, Pokémon Go is rapidly turning the US’s streets into a George A Romero B-roll. The newly released augmented-reality game uses your phone’s GPS and clock to make Pokémon “appear” around you. The aim is to travel around the real world nabbing these coloured blobs – normally dinosaurs, birds, rats, snakes or dragons. As a “trainer”, your role is then to build up their strength, thereby enabling them to “fight” each other. It may not sound riveting in precis, but the game has juiced Nintendo’s stock price by 23%, and has proved so popular the company’s servers haven’t been able to keep up with demand.

Now, as a community best known for lying on sofas eating Reese’s steps outside to visit “Pokéstops” (to gather “Pokéballs”) and trek to “gyms” (to battle other Pokémon), reality is biting back at augmented reality in surprising ways.

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