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Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology correspondent

Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

Welcome to dot.Rory - these are my thoughts about how technology is changing the world and shaping our lives

A cloud of uncertainty

2 September 2014
Jennifer Lawrence

Two days after stolen celebrity photos started leaking onto the 4Chan website, one thing is clear. And that is that virtually nothing is clear.

Despite all the speculation about Apple's iCloud or other cloud services being hacked, there is still no evidence about exactly how the photos were obtained.

All we know is that some - but not all - of the photos are genuine, and that they have now been spread widely across the web, with some individuals trying to turn a quick profit by offering access in exchange for payment in Bitcoin. At least one of these people has been "identified" as the leaker, but has insisted he was just trying to make a quick buck rather than being the original source.

Apple has not exactly sprung from the starting gate to deal with what are worrying questions about its security. They finally released a statement last night saying "We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report".

Meanwhile my inbox has filled up with emails from PR people offering "security experts" to comment on the "iCloud hack". When I challenge them on how they know it was an iCloud hack, they explain that they read this in the media. So much for expertise.

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A computing revolution in schools

1 September 2014
Primary school children on computers

This is the week when a revolution begins to sweep through schools in England. It involves a whole new way of teaching children about computing - but I suspect many parents, and even some teachers, know very little about this important moment in education.

As children from five upwards return to school, they are going to have to start learning how to program - or to "code" to use the trendy term which seems to upset some old-school programmers. This is the result of the new national curriculum for computing that is being introduced in England this term.

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Can computers replace historians?

22 August 2014
Tablet propped up on top of old books

All kinds of big claims have been made about the potential of Big Data. It seems it can predict the course of an election, map the spread of flu, even help police to solve crimes.

But here is the biggest claim so far - crunching through the big data of history can help us spot patterns and work out where the world is heading next.

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Teenagers and the news game

15 August 2014
Boy texting on phone

Any parent of a teenager, particularly one of the male variety, will know that their conversation can be, well, limited. So my wife was surprised earlier this week when our 16-year-old son suddenly asked her what she thought about "this terrible stuff that's been happening in Ferguson".

There followed an apparently well informed account of events in the US town where a young black man had been shot dead by police. She went on to discuss with him America's troubled past when it came to race relations, and more words came tumbling from this often monosyllabic young man.

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Cambridge - making a noise about tech

12 August 2014

With a world-class university, a clutch of billion pound businesses, and a constant stream of young graduates with bright ideas, Cambridge should be unchallenged as the UK's top technology cluster. But in recent years it's struggled to make its voice heard above the hubbub from London's TechCity, which has had the backing of the government and plenty of its marketing muscle.

Cambridge has also suffered from a lack of venture capital, and that has meant plenty of its young tech firms have headed to London, because that's where the money is. But today a new venture capital fund Cambridge Innovation Capital unveils its plans to change that.

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JustPark and the sharing economy

7 August 2014
JustPark - screenshot from website

The "sharing economy" is the latest trend on the lips of every digital strategist, in the tradition that brought us Web 2.0, the Cloud and Big Data. It refers to companies such as AirBnB, which helps people to "share" their homes with holidaymakers or Uber and Lyft, which allow drivers to "share" their cars with passengers.

I've been somewhat cynical about this term because it seems to imply that these fast-growing Silicon Valley businesses are engaged on some charitable mission, rather than simply spotting a gap in the market and making huge piles of cash from exploiting it.

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HP and Autonomy bitter battle

5 August 2014
Meg Whitman
HP's Meg Whitman's reputation is up for inspection with Autonomy's Mike Lynch's

Autonomy was one of the jewels in the crown of the British technology industry, a business based on the expertise of some of the brightest minds to have emerged from Cambridge University.

It may not have been a household name, but it was in the FTSE 100, it sponsored Spurs and its chief executive Mike Lynch was one of the great and good, a non-executive director of the BBC, on the board of the British Library and an advisor on scientific policy to the Prime Minister.

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Facebook expands Africa push

Screen grab

It's the new frontier for the internet - connecting billions of people in Africa and Asia who have yet to sample the delights of the digital world. Through an organisation called Internet.org, Facebook has put itself at the forefront of this mission.

Today it unveils a clever plan to get millions of people in Zambia online. It is without doubt a laudable philanthropic mission - but in the long run it could also be hugely important to Facebook's growth.

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Hype and hi-tech

3D printer creating figurine

Predicting the future shape of technology is a fool's game. If you believed the forecasts of future-gazers when I was growing up, we would all be taking holidays on the moon, consuming our meals in tablet form and enjoying a 10-hour working week by now.

And even very recent predictions seem to be going awry. Figures last week from Apple showed iPad sales slowing, and growth in the overall tablet market is looking less than spectacular, so the idea that the conventional desktop PC is in its death throes now seems to be a bit oversold.

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National roaming - a bad call?

David Cameron with mobile phone
Difficulty getting a signal?

It sounds a great idea - allow anyone finding it difficult to connect to their mobile phone network to roam to another network to make a call.

It's called national roaming but from what I'm hearing the mobile operators will fight tooth and nail to stop something they regard as impractical and counterproductive.

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About Rory

Rory has been watching the technology scene like a hawk for the last 15 years.

From the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s to the rise of Google and Facebook, from the Psion organiser to the iPad, he's covered all the big gadget and business stories, and interviewed just about everyone who's played a part in the story of the web.

Dot.Rory, his previous blog, was named among the Top 100 blogs by the Sunday Times.

He aims to look at the impact of the internet and digital technology on our lives and businesses. Rory has been described as "the non-geek's geek", and freely admits that he came late to technology - but he aims to explain its significance to anyone with an interest in the subject.

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