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Technology

How do I find a smartphone with the specifications I really want?

Product search tools help you find a phone, PC or camera if you know the specs you want

My Samsung S8 has given up the ghost, and the prohibitive cost of repair means I’m in the market for a new mobile phone. I’ve come up with a wishlist of specifications. Are there any phones due in the coming months that offer all of these? I don’t believe anything currently on the market does.Declan

There are four obvious problems with having a list of specifications for the device you want to buy, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, laptop, digital camera or whatever. The first and biggest problem is that it can easily eliminate most of the products on the market or, in your case, all of them. In fact, it’s a problem I share: nobody offers a laptop that meets my most-desired specification, though a few come close.

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How can I get better at using Google search?

Michael struggles to find the search results he’s looking for, and would like some tips for better Googling

Last week’s column mentioned search skills. I’m sometimes on the third page of results before I get to what I was really looking for. I’m sure a few simple tips would find these results on page 1. All advice welcome. Michael

Google achieved its amazing popularity by de-skilling search. Suddenly, people who were not very good at searching – which is almost everyone – could get good results without entering long, complex searches. Partly this was because Google knew which pages were most important, based on its PageRank algorithm, and it knew which pages were most effective, because users quickly bounced back from websites that didn’t deliver what they wanted.

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Can DuckDuckGo replace Google search while offering better privacy?

The alternative search engine markets itself on protecting users’ privacy, but is it worth using?

So is DuckDuckGo no good? Surprised you did not mention it. Murray

Following last week’s article about privacy and surveillance capitalism, several readers wrote in about the absence of DuckDuckGo, and it was mentioned a dozen times in the comments. I have suggested this privacy-oriented search engine a few times since 2012, and I think it’s worth a go. However, I’m answering Murray’s earlier query along the same lines because I can use his email verbatim rather than cobbling together a joint question from multiple sources.

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How do I protect my online privacy from 'surveillance capitalism'?

Chris wants to better protect his privacy. What can he easily do besides de-Googling his online life

Having read Edward Snowden’s revelations in the Guardian and in his book, I would like to protect myself from both the surveillance state and surveillance capitalism. I already use a VPN, and I am in the process of removing Google from my online life. What else should I be doing that’s reasonable for a home environment? Chris

Great timing! On Monday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published a 17,000-word report on this topic. Behind the One-Way Mirror: A Deep Dive Into the Technology of Corporate Surveillance, by Bennett Cyphers and Gennie Gebhart, covers both online privacy problems and the growth of real-word surveillance.

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What sort of security software and backups do I need for a home business?

Allen wants to set up a small company working from home, and would like some advice

I’m looking to set up a small business working from home, and would like some advice on back up and security measures. I have an Office 365 account so my main directory for saving documents will be OneDrive. I was looking to back up on a Synology NAS drive, perhaps to two separate hard drives as a precaution. Also, I currently just use Windows’ built-in security, but wondered whether I should look for something else.

Initially, it would just be me, but if things go well then I may have another two or three people helping. I’m assuming I can just scale up any security measures as the need arises. Allen

Technology manufacturers cater to two very large markets with different needs: home users and businesses. You’re about to enter the SoHo (small office, home office) market where home technologies dominate because most single traders don’t need proper business systems with all the extra costs and complications involved.

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