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Adam Roberts is a thwarted technophile who makes up for not being able to afford gadgets by reading about them. He'll be sharing the wisdom he comes across, fortnightly on these pages.

Becoming iFree

05:00am 29 Oct 2013

ADAM ROBERTS

I never much liked Snake, but it is beginning to grow on me.

I finished up at the Nelson Mail on Friday, so this will be my last column. If you're the kind of person who looks at the byline of the stories you leave (ie, the best kind of person) mine won't be there any more.

After three years, my partner and I are now heading across the ditch to give Melbourne a go, like every other young New Zealander I know. I have no idea what I will do when I am there.

But first we'll be going on a trip to Southeast Asia, again like every other young New Zealander I know. Again, I have no idea what I will do when I am there.

It's been a great few years, and I've loved covering Nelson for the paper, as well dispensing fortnightly instalments of technology angst and, I hope, some useful or entertaining stuff in this column.

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Every Snapchat can tell a Story for a day

05:00am 15 Oct 2013

ADAM ROBERTS

With a single update, popular app Snapchat has gone from a quirky messaging platform with a dodgy reputation to a social network for the future.

Snapchat is the two-year-old iPhone and Android app that lets you send self-destructing pics or short videos to friends.

Once they've opened the message, they have up to 10 seconds to view the video or pic before it is deleted from their phone forever (unless they screenshot it, alerting the sender).

With Snapchat, moments are forgotten by the software even quicker than they fade from your memory. Because of this, the service has a reputation for facilitating the exchange of dirty messages.

I've written before that using the app is more like a real conversation than any other social app, and reminded me of instant messaging before the services remembered your every utterance.

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In control

05:00am 01 Oct 2013

ADAM ROBERTS

Given how useless I am at this whole "being an adult thing", I'm always surprised at returning home from work every day to find an intact flat, rather than a smouldering wreck.

I've had close calls before.

One time I had to text a friend from a wedding ceremony to get them to check I hadn't left the iron on. I had, so that worked out pretty well, all things considered.

Examples like this make me hope for a move to the automated home of the future.

Considering our species' innate laziness, I'm really shocked we're not already controlling everything remotely.

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The 'data privacy' oxymoron

05:00am 17 Sep 2013

ADAM ROBERTS

It's hard to write about the United States' National Security Agency without sounding like Gene Hackman in the film Enemy of the State.

In fact, the more you read about the agency and its practices, the more you wonder whether the hyperbolic, Faraday-cage-living paranoid was being a bit blase.

Thanks to leaks from exiled, former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, we've found out that the spy agency does some really neat things!

These include, without a warrant, recording every phone call that routes through the US, taking private data from basically every major web company and paying US telecommunications providers to have direct access to their networks.

The NSA has also circumvented or intentionally weakened encryption standards, which pretty much everyone relies on to protect sensitive data.

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Security, not surprises at Apple's latest launch event

05:00am 11 Sep 2013

Apple have unveiled some new shiny stuff for us all to either buy or fervently hate.

Here’s a longer story on the unveiling, but below are my “hot takes” on the “news”.

Firstly, I’d just like to acknowledge how weird it is that we still seem to care about Apple’s product unveilings so much.

Despite ongoing and overwrought hand-wringing over the fate of the company post-Steve Jobs, the hype about Apple doesn’t seem to have abated in the few years since the founder’s death.

Which is why I’m writing this blog, and why you’re reading it.

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