Zano drones struggle to achieve lift-off

Europe's most successful Kickstarter project is finally ready to deliver the tiny drone that won more than £2.3m in backing last November.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the Zano drone which the company hopes to start sending to backers next week will not at first deliver what was promised last year.

I travelled to Pembroke Dock this week to find out just how challenging it is to deliver on the promises you make in a crowdfunding project.

The Torquing company captured the imagination of the Kickstarter crowd with a promotional video showing the Zano drone following a mountain bike along a trail, hovering above a dinner table to grab a picture and even capturing someone diving from a cliff into the sea.

Image caption The first batch of Zanos has belatedly come off the production line

But backers grew increasingly impatient as the promised June shipping date came and went and Torquing provided little information.

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Why has Apple broken its vow of silence?

Tim Cook at the Apple Watch launch, March 2015
Image caption Tim Cook at the Apple Watch launch, March 2015

It must be one of the most secretive companies on earth. Apple will never talk - in public or off the record - about forthcoming products.

Of course, it has to update the markets every quarter about its financial performance, but even then it can be parsimonious - there were no Apple Watch sales figures in the latest quarterly release. All the more surprising then that the CEO should choose to release some very sensitive information to a TV journalist.

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Can anyone build a hit game?

These days, you don't need a huge team and a massive budget to develop a hit video game - anyone can do it for virtually nothing from their bedroom. True? Well, not quite - but as Arran Langmead told me when I visited the tiny Southampton flat which doubles as his games studio, the playing field has certainly been levelled.

We've decided to follow Arran's progress for BBC Tech Tent to see what it takes to build a game and reach a global audience. He has reached a crucial stage in the development of Bears Can't Drift, a kart-racing game which he hopes to launch for both the Sony Playstation Network and the Steam games store over the next couple of months.

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Broadband - are we really in the slow lane?

Britain is in the broadband slow lane. That at least is the message from many listeners to the BBC's Today Programme.

From deep in the countryside, and even from the middle of major towns, they have contacted the programme with tales of terrible service and sluggish speeds - and it is BT's Openreach division which is in the firing line.

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Does the government really want to ban WhatsApp, iMessage and Skype?

WhatsApp logo

Eight hundred million people around the world use WhatsApp to communicate, we learned this week from its owners, Facebook.

Yet this is the messaging service which could soon be banned by the British government because its use of encryption makes it too private for the security services to access. That at least was the story repeated in several newspapers in recent weeks, and frequently denied by Downing Street.

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The FT and the value of digital news

The Financial Times newspaper

The Financial Times has a global paying audience, the majority of them with a digital subscription, and it makes a profit. But now - like many other great British institutions - it is going to have a foreign owner.

Japan's leading financial media group Nikkei has paid £844m to acquire the FT Group. That has been described as a luxury price by news industry watchers, which tells you something about how far old media firms have fallen out of fashion. They point out that the price is about five times what the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos paid for the venerable Washington Post two years ago, a deal described then as remarkably generous.

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The serious science (and business) of gaming

Man looks at screen through virtual reality glasses

Video games - a childish and sometimes dangerous pursuit, not worthy of being spoken of in the same breath as music or movies, either in cultural or economic terms?

Until recently, that was quite a common view in Britain, not just in certain newspapers but among many politicians. But a visit to Brighton this week should have been enough to convince anyone that games have serious value.

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Amazon’s profitless path

Jeff Bezos at an Amazon launch

Twenty years ago today Amazon sold its first book, created the first online book store and went on to become a hugely profitable internet superpower. Today it's celebrating that anniversary with Amazon Prime day, 24 hours of special offers which will be the biggest day of e-commerce the world has ever seen.

Actually, scrub that first paragraph - almost every fact in it is inaccurate. That birthday? Three months earlier Amazon had already tested its systems, selling an academic work about artificial intelligence to a computer scientist in April 1995. It was not the first online book store - the previous year a British man, Darryl Mattocks, posted the first book sold by his Internet Bookshop, a venture soon eclipsed by Amazon.

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Microsoft and Nokia - a marriage made in hell?

Microsoft Nokia sign

Microsoft's takeover of Nokia's mobile phone operation is bound to end up as a business school case study. The deal now looks like a disaster for all concerned - many of the 25,000 Nokia employees have seen their jobs disappear and Microsoft has written off just about all the money it spent.

It looks as though the new chief executive Satya Nadella has looked at the strategy of his predecessor Steve Ballmer and decided it was a disaster. It was Ballmer who decided to buy Nokia, and when the deal was announced he told me "together as one company with the devices folks at Nokia, we'll do a phenomenal job".

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Micro Bit - questions and answers

Micro Bit

Inside the BBC Radio Theatre this morning, the enthusiasm was palpable.

From the BBC's director general to senior executives from technology companies, from Dara O'Briain to teenage techies, everyone at the unveiling of the Micro Bit seemed convinced that this was an idea whose time had come.

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