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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James Ward is fascinated by the history of some of our most beloved items of stationery

Adventures In Stationery: Author James Ward loves Post-it notes, paper clips and staplers so much he has written a whole book about them

It may be humble but, like all objects, stationery has a story and Ward's first book tells it with an understated flair. Rhodri Marsden gets down to brass tacks with him

Stilted chats with DHL delivery men aside, Rhodri feels the absence of real interaction

Is a decline in face-to-face contact leading to a decline in our well-being?

Rhodri Marsden feels that email, text and social media keep him sufficiently connected but still treasures his chats with the DHL guy

Cloud surfing: many of us put our faith in storage systems like iCloud

iCloud: How to stay safe in the cloud

After hackers leaked hundreds of intimate photos of celebrities, Rhodri Marsden suggests a few ways to make sure that private data stays that way (nude selfies or otherwise)
The beard token featured a picture of a large beard below the words 'The money has been taken', with 'The beard is a superfluous burden' on the flipside

Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: Peter the Great's beard token

* It doesn't seem like 316 years ago this week, does it, since Peter the Great returned to Moscow from a trip to Western Europe with a burning desire to modernise the country of his birth. Widespread political, military and social reforms were to follow over the next few years, but Peter knew exactly where to start. Beards.

80 per cent of us keep our phones on overnight, with 50 per cent using them as an alarm clock

Sleeping with the enemy? Why smartphones might not make the best bedfellows...

A couple of months ago I discovered a sleeping aid that seemed to work. A 30-minute audio recording on YouTube of someone reenacting a mundane spa treatment turned out to have unique tranquillising properties – I still haven't got even halfway through without falling asleep.

Rhodri Marsden's Interesting Objects: Dorothy's ruby slippers

* "Give me back my slippers!" shrieked the Wicked Witch of the West, as they disappeared from her colleague's feet and magically appeared on Dorothy's feet. The premiere of The Wizard of Oz took place 75 years ago this week; those ruby slippers would become the most famous shoes in Hollywood history.

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
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The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower