Can we be persuaded to pay for online news?

Newspaper websites Image copyright iStock

Got any idea of how to make money from news in the online era? Well prepare for the media giants to beat a path to your door, as they struggle with plunging print advertising revenues and an audience that seems to think news should be free.

No wonder then that a young former technology journalist Alexander Kloepping is attracting attention - and investment - from the likes of the New York Times and the Axel Springer group.

His idea is called Blendle, and in his native Holland it has brought hope of better times for newspapers, in much the same way as Spotify has shaken up the music industry. Blendle allows the Dutch papers - which have all signed up to the service - to charge small payments for individual articles.

Blendle subscribers are presented with a series of cards on their home screen, showing the first paragraphs of articles which may interest them. If they click to read on they are charged somewhere between 20 cents (14p) and 90 cents (63p), although if they get to the end and decide they are unsatisfied they can get a refund.

Of half a million people who signed up to Blendle, about 100,000 have actually opted to pay for articles. Kloepping says that is a good start and compares it to the 20% of Spotify users who pay rather than opt to listen to adverts.

Image caption Alexander Kloepping

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Shrinking to Zero: The Raspberry Pi gets smaller

Raspberry Pi Zero with a playing card

It was launched in February 2012 with modest ambitions to give young people a small cheap programmable device - and has become Britain's most successful homegrown computer. Now Raspberry Pi is getting smaller and cheaper.

The latest edition is the Raspberry Pi Zero. It is slower than the full-size version (though faster than the original Raspberry Pi) and has fewer ports, but its main selling point is that it is so cheap. The Zero, which like its predecessors is being manufactured in Wales, will sell for £4 or $5. And subscribers of the Magpi, a Raspberry Pi magazine, will find a Zero attached to the cover of the magazine - possibly the first time that a computer has been a free giveaway.

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Zano - the blame game continues

Zano drones on display

The fallout from the collapse of Europe's biggest Kickstarter project continues. The crowdfunding platform has been heavily criticised by Zano backers, who believe they were duped into spending £2.3m on the mini-drone. Now Kickstarter has responded to their complaints.

In a letter to all backers it says: "Like you, we're extremely frustrated by what's happened with this project." It goes on to explain that Kickstarter emailed Zano's creators a couple of weeks before the announcement that the project had gone bust to encourage them to be more communicative with the backers, but received only "a cursory response.".

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Sky stakes claim on the future of TV

For Sky's chief executive it was "the biggest reimagining of Sky in our history", for its head of new products it was "an entirely new way to enjoy all the TV you love across all the screens in your life."

The satellite broadcaster was certainly not underplaying the importance of the Sky Q service at a glitzy launch this morning. But does a product which combines the power of satellite broadcasting with the flexibility of on-demand TV over the internet really put Sky ahead of the game - or is it playing catch-up?

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Anonymous takes on IS

A man wearing a mask associated with Anonymous makes a statement in this still image from a video released on November 16, 2015 Image copyright Reuters

They are a loose collective of hackers who once appeared to have no greater purpose than having some mischievous anarchic fun.

But in recent times Anonymous has got serious. Earlier this month the collective targeted the Ku Klux Klan, publishing online a list of alleged sympathisers of the white supremacist group.

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When crowdfunding projects go wrong

Kickstarter front page of web Image copyright Istock

What happens when a crowdfunded project goes wrong? And do those who back ideas on platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have any rights when they do not deliver on their promises?

That is what the more than 12,000 people who backed the Zano mini-drone project are asking as their hopes recede of ever getting a working product.

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Kickstarter's Zano drone fails to fly

Zano drone Image copyright Torquing
Image caption More than 12,000 people gave a total of £2,335,119 to fund the drone via Kickstarter

It was Europe's most successful Kickstarter project - but now the Zano mini-drone is in deep crisis.

Last night, the former chief executive of Torquing Group - the firm behind the Zano - resigned. That left the thousands who had backed the firm with more than £2m a year ago in despair.

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Superfast or slow lane - how fast is Britain's broadband?

Man typing on computer Image copyright Thinkstock

The debate over Britain's broadband future gets more heated by the day.

The man pouring fuel on the flames today is Vodafone's Vittorio Colao, who claims that Britain is being left in the dust by countries like Spain and Italy when it comes to superfast broadband.

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Universal broadband - how, why, how much?

A man using a computer Image copyright iStock

So, every home and business across the UK can now have fast broadband if they want it.

That was the promise made by the Prime Minister at the weekend. But it left open a number of questions - did he mean everyone, no matter how remote, what technology will be used, and who is going to pay for it?

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School broadband - rich pickings?

Schoolgirl using laptop Image copyright Istock

Earlier this week I wrote about the efforts by the council-backed London Grid for Learning to stave off competition from rival broadband suppliers. The story certainly caused a stir in the education technology world.

Some people got in touch to complain that they too had experienced similar high pressure tactics in trying to get schools to stay with the existing council supplier - not just in London but across the UK.

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