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Mark Ward | 13:14 UK time, Friday, 15 October 2010

Woman holding iPad

On Tech Brief today: Mucky iPads, robots attack humans and text-mad teens.

• Apple may be keen to keep digital filth off its gadgets but it can do little about real filth, finds Ryan Tate at Gawker:

"Your filthy iPad is an excellent vector for transmitting influenza and other viruses, scientists say. In fact, if it's anywhere near as bacteria infested as a cell phone, you should be fairly disgusted to share the Apple tablet without sterilization."

• Tech Brief has never shirked from pointing readers to signs that robots and thinking machines are about to rise up and take over. Early signs of that awakening could be found via the tweets from Nell, a Carnegie Mellon computer that tells the world via Twitter what it has learned about us. Julie Beck at PopSci believes it has a long way to go:

"Nell isn't perfect though. And thank goodness, because that means we get some pretty adorable not-quite-there-yet tweets, such as: 'I think "chicken recipe time" is a #condiment' and 'I think "anonymously" is a #fish.' Nell's followers can tweet corrections to her and help her improve her associations."

• Robots in Slovenia are also getting help to find out about we fleshy humans, by punching six people repeatedly. Paul Raven at Futurismic sees no reason to panic yet:

"But it's all in a good cause, you see - in order to ensure that robots don't harm humans by accident, you have to assess what level of harm is unacceptable."

• Young people today are all about the hands. If they are not throwing down gang signs or mashing the buttons on a game controller they are texting everyone via their phones, according to Nielsen research. Edward Moyer at CNet runs through the report:

"During the second quarter of 2010 (April through June), device users in the 13- to 17-year-old bracket sent or received more than six text messages every hour they were awake, Nielsen said. That's an average of 3,339 texts a month, an 8 percent increase from last year. At the same time, voice activity decreased 14 percent--to 646 minutes, nearly 11 hours, of chatter per month--with many teens citing the ease and speed of texting over voice calls."

• Finally documents from the dawn of the Windows era have emerged thanks to Ray Ozzie who found some of the press materials for the release of Windows 1.0. Ben Parr at Mashable gets all misty-eyed about those innocent days.

"Windows 1.0 was the beginning of the Control Panel and the Clipboard, but more importantly it was the beginning of an era that brought personal computing to billions of households worldwide."

If you want to suggest links or stories for Tech Brief, you can send them to @bbctechbrief on Twitter, tag them bbctechbrief on Delicious or e-mail them to

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