Rhodri Marsden

Rhodri Marsden is the Technology Columnist for The Independent; he has also written about crumpets, Captain Beefheart, rude place names and string. He's also a musician who plays in the band Scritti Politti, and won the under-10 piano category at the 1980 Watford Music Festival by playing a piece called "Silver Trumpets" with verve and aplomb.

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The beginner's guide to plugging in a USB cable

Rhodri Marsden makes many more failed attempts to plug in a standard, type-A USB cable than he does successful ones. So is there an easy solution?

Mortality maths – like the realisation that the last of those name-checked in Madonna's 'Vogue' died last week – make us feel our own lives are racing by

Numbers game: Lauren Bacall (pictured) was the last star name-checked in Madonna's 1990 hit song 'Vogue'

Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: The Voyager golden record

* This week in 1977, the spacecraft Voyager 2 was launched. Attached to it was a copy of the Voyager Golden Record, a gold-plated LP with an aluminium cover. It contained a selection of music and images chosen by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan.

Short circuit: websites such as eBay stopped working this week due to the number of people online

eBay suffered its tenth major outage this year - but is the internet really full up?

Breathless headlines informed us that the internet had burst its digital zip. Rhodri Marsden explains why that's only partly true

Rhodri Marsden: When it comes to saucy pictures, trust no one. Least of all yourself

The case of John Schindler is a curious one. A former NSA analyst and, until recently, a professor at the US Naval War College, he resigned on Tuesday following a college investigation into whether a widely circulated picture of his penis was actually his.

Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: Kool Herc's party flyer

* The flyer is 41 years old, tatty and scrawled in biro on the back of an index card. It's for a "Back To School Jam" in the recreation room of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, a high-rise block in New York's Bronx district, with admission a very reasonable 25 cents for women and 50 cents for men. At a glance it looks like a pretty nondescript event, but that night is deemed by many to have seen the birth of hip-hop.

Rhodri Marsden: Being anonymous online is cowardly, whether you're saying something unpleasant or not

About 12 years ago I sent an anonymous email. As I typed that devastatingly romantic Valentine message, I felt a strange kind of thrill. After all, this was something I would never have dared to say in person.

Stress less: relaxation techniques can help focus the mind and put problems in context

NOW Live Events is helping festival-goers to channel anxiety into making art

The organisation promotes mindfulness by getting people to participate in art, sculpture, reading, writing and performance exercises

Amateur perfumer Fran Schofield in a dining room masquerading as a makeshift laboratory

Surreal life of the amateur perfumer: Hazmat couriers, guesswork and badger excrement

They grub around in forests for moss; they buy a kilo of tincture to use just 5ml; the authorities hold them in high suspicion; they prise open plastic bags to be hit by the heady scent of badger excrement. And all for what? To be able to create a fragrance whose ultimate ingredient is luck…

Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: The traffic light

* This week marks the centenary of the installation in Cleveland, Ohio of the world's first electrically-powered traffic light system.

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Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

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Waxing lyrical

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Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

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Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

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La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
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We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
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Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

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Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

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Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape