Broadband Britain - is it working?

Man's hands with smartphone Image copyright PA

"Notspot" - according to one dictionary definition, "an area that has no broadband Internet or 3G mobile phone coverage, or where this is very slow and unreliable."

What should perhaps be added is the clause, "... and guaranteed to cause fury and to fill up the postbags of members of parliament." Today the House of Commons holds a debate on the issue of poor coverage, a chance for MPs to vent their constituents' grievances.

For three hours, they will debate the roll-out of fixed and mobile broadband across the UK and, whatever the government's claims about the success of that project, you can expect politicians from all sides and from all parts of the country to say it isn't working in their areas.

The motion before the House notes variations in the effectiveness of superfast broadband and calls on the government to host a "not-spot summit." Matt Warman, a former Daily Telegraph technology correspondent who is now a Conservative MP, was instrumental in arranging the debate.

He says the focus will be on connecting the final 5% of households not reached either by the market or the government's rural broadband programme. But overshadowing the debate - and that notspot summit if it happens - will be the bigger question of whether the whole broadband strategy is working, and at the heart of that is the future of BT.

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Twitter's Jack of all trades

Jack Dorsey Image copyright Getty Images

It has been an open secret for days, but now it's official - Jack Dorsey is back as chief executive of Twitter.

The man who helped found the company, then was sacked amid all sorts of internal feuding, has now been confirmed as boss after serving as interim CEO since July.

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Electricity from the air - Drayson's big idea

Clean space app

Free energy from the air. It sounds like a fantasy but that is what the entrepreneur and former science minister Lord Drayson has just unveiled at London's Royal Institution.

He claims that a technology called Freevolt can be the power source for the "internet of things", allowing low energy devices from wearables to sensors to operate without being plugged in.

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Google's gadget game

Google's launch Image copyright Getty Images

"Been awhile since I was this excited about a Google event," tweeted one tech blogger 30 minutes before the Nexus launch started. Maybe I am getting old and jaded, but it has been a while since I got really excited about any tech event, and this one was no exception.

Which is not to say that the five devices unveiled by Google were disappointing. In fact, the two phones, two streaming devices and the tablet shown off in an hour-long presentation all looked pretty clever additions to Google's hardware range. None, however, was particularly innovative and I'm still struggling to work out exactly what a firm whose wealth is built on software is doing making gadgets.

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Silicon Valley - still the capital of tech

Aerial view of Silicon Valley Image copyright Getty Images

What makes Silicon Valley tick? And can it go on ticking up profits as other centres of innovation snap at its heels?

That's what I've been pondering over recent days on a short trip here. What I've found is that this place is still far ahead of its rivals but finding real innovation here is becoming more of a struggle.

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Robots that sell you robots

I'm in Palo Alto, California, where we came across a shop with a salesperson outside trying to persuade people to come in.

There's nothing unusual in that - except the salesman was on a device called Beam, a sort of virtual presence.

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Will Amazon's new launch keep us taking the tablets?

Amazon has lobbed a bomb into the cut-price tablet market, with a new device costing under £50.

The news comes just a week after Apple unveiled its very expensive iPad Pro, a tablet aimed at persuading professionals to give up their laptops. Two very different strategies in a market in need of a shot in the arm.

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Facebook dislikes: Thumbs up or down?

Thumbs up and down Image copyright Thinkstock

Why has Facebook finally succumbed to the pressure to create a dislike - or rather "empathy" - button?

Yes, there is a need to allow people a more subtle response to your status update about your dog dying than a Like. But why can't people, as my wife asked me over breakfast, simply put a sad face up :-( 😞? And there's an obvious risk that whatever button is created will be used by trolls to punish anyone who says something they don't like.

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My day with a robot

I spent a day this week showing my new friend Harry Nao around my office.

He met lots of people - from John Humphrys on the Today Programme to Radio 2's Jeremy Vine - and many who came into contact with him were charmed. But here's a confession - I was rather disappointed in his conversation and his overall level of intelligence.

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AI is not new, so why suddenly does it matter?

Employee checks supercomputers at a research institute Image copyright Getty Images

Here come the Intelligent Machines.

This week on the BBC you may get the impression that the robots have taken over. Every day, under the banner Intelligent Machines, we will bring you stories on online, TV, radio about advances in artificial intelligence and robotics and what they could mean for us all.

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