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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Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: The saucy postcard

* Sixty years ago this week, a 79-year-old man stood trial at Lincoln Crown Court for a breach of the 1857 Obscene Publications Act (OPA). That man was Donald McGill, Britain's pre-eminent saucy postcard artist, who by the time of his death had drawn some 12,000 nudge-wink pictures. One of the offending postcards featured a young man holding a gigantic stick of rock protruding from his groin. McGill claimed that its phallic nature had never occurred to him.

Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside

Rhodri Marsden: Filming everything is a dangerous mix of vanity and stupidity

A badly-framed, woozy digital keepsake, an aide-memoire at best, a pointless act of narcissism in pursuit of social media thumbs-up at worst

Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: The sliced loaf

* Eighty-six years ago this weekend, an advertisement appeared in The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune for Kleen Maid Sliced Bread. "The housewife can well experience the thrill of pleasure," it read, "with each slice the exact counterpart of its fellows." The next morning, Missouri's Chillicothe Baking Company put the first pre-sliced loaves on sale to the public.

The Blackphone promises not to compromise your privacy

Rhodri Marsden: The Blackphone comes with the promise of 'peace of mind'

A pleasure that I indulge in which other people might conceivably describe as "guilty" is to sit up late watching the QVC shopping channel. Not to buy anything, you understand – merely to watch people doing free-form verbal improvisation around, say, a diamonique bracelet.

A love of mystery: Googling your date is a fool’s errand

Romantic CRB checks: Searching for love

Checking out a date's online profile before a meeting can be hazardous, as Rhodri Marsden found out

Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: Remington No 1

* Christopher Sholes and Carlos Glidden didn't actually invent the typewriter. John Pratt's 'Pterotype' provided much of the inspiration for the two men, a Wisconsin printer and inventor respectively. But the Remington No 1, also known as the Sholes & Glidden, was the first typewriter to achieve any kind of commercial viability. It went on sale this week in 1874.

Rhodri Marsden: This new app Yo is a funny idea but $1.2m of funding is no joke

The internet has made us an excitable bunch. We jump on speeding bandwagons, keen to be in on something early and eager to get people to join us. Our behaviour can be measured down to the last unit, our rapidly changing interests charted across the web on hit-counters and graphs, soaring as we embrace something, and then levelling off or plummeting as we get bored. Last week, that almost violent capriciousness was demonstrated perfectly by a little app called Yo.

Rhodri Marsden: Am I the only person in the world who hates the ukulele?

The ukulele has become irritatingly ubiquitous - and the instrument of choice for people who list tea and cupcakes as their interests. Rhodri Marsden struggles to pinpoint its appeal

The six-colour flag has since become standard, but Baker has expressed a desire to 'bring the eight colours back'

Rhodri Marsden's interesting objects: The rainbow flag

* A rainbow flag was first flown as a symbol of LGBT pride 36 years ago this week, when two such flags were hoisted at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. "From that first moment," said the flag's designer, Gilbert Baker, "I knew that this was the most important thing that I would ever do."

It took 30 minutes to prove that Facebook equals the internet

An 'issue' on the social networking site yesterday had millions of users peering into a dark abyss

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?