News Bitcoin is an experimental digital currency that has gained popularity worldwide

James Howells accidentally threw away a hard drive containing the cryptographic "private key" needed to access the digital currency

Gadget of the week - Pico-C USB drive, £380

For anyone still feeling flush despite financial failures, busted banks and reams of redundancies, this could be a great way to waste some wedge. It's an 8GB memory stick covered with a 24-carat gold. Tasteful it's not, but if you're still willing to spend the equivalent of £400 on a blinging piece of computer kit, then subtlety and moderation probably aren't your most obvious virtues. Hilariously, it comes with a chain so it can be worn as a necklace and is sold encased in a plush velvet presentation box. A golden USB drive is definitely God's way of telling you that you have too much money... www.supertalent.com

Bomb details on lost memory stick

A Swedish soldier has been convicted of negligence and fined 21,000 kronor (£1730) for leaving a USB memory stick with military secrets in a public computer.

Stick tricks - USB memory magic

If, like a growing number of people, you're in possession of a rarely-used USB memory stick, here's four simple but incredibly useful tips that'll not only give it a whole new lease of life but can also simplify your world.

Inquiry into loss of confidential data on 12 million website users

An investigation is underway after a memory stick with user names and passwords for a government computer system was found in a pub car park, leading to the shutting down of the website as a security precaution.

Government memory stick found in pub

An inquiry was under way today after a memory stick with user names and passwords for a key government computer system was discovered in a pub car park.



Apple's announcement: Aluminium every-thin

In the monitor stakes, bigger was always - until Apple started putting little high-resolution monitors into iPods that were so detailed, you can watch movies on them. Since then, and perhaps also due to environmental and power-saving constraints, nowadays everything new seems to have higher resolution while being slimmer.

Catalogue of data blunders

The loss of a computer memory stick containing information on thousands of criminals is the latest in a series of embarrassing losses of confidential information.

Confidential information on thousands of criminals lost

Sensitive details of thousands of criminals have been lost in the latest major data breach to engulf the Government.

'Peep Show' makers lose children's personal data

The BBC suspended all commissions from the production company behind the hit comedy Peep Show after a memory stick containing personal details of hundreds of children was stolen.

Brett Anderson, Mermaid Theatre, London

At the helm of deviant wannabes Suede, he reignited interest in English eccentricity and paved the way for Britpop. Now without a record contract, Brett Anderson points the way in the post-label age for fortysomething artists.

Gadgets &amp; Gizmos: IRiver H10<br/>Nokia 7260<br/>iPod Shuffle<br/>Siemens SK65<br/>Pentax Optio 750Z

Charlotte Ricca-Smith reviews the best new products

Outlook: Farming fun

MORE FUN and games down on the farm. Dairy farmers this week voted to break Milk Marque up into three separate co-operatives. This was quite a turn up for the books, given that earlier this year, Stephen Byers, the Trade and Industry Secretary, had spent many months agonising over a Monopolies and Mergers Commission report which had recommended precisely this. In the end he chickened out, and in a move politically designed to appease the countryside lobby, overturned the MMC's findings. The MMC's approach was just too radical, he seemed to say; the poor little dairy farmer gets a raw enough deal as it is, without this to cope with on top. In doing so, he seemed to agree with the National Union of Farmers that farming shouldn't be subject to the usual rules of competition at all, but instead should be a protected industry for ever set in aspic.

Outlook: Milk Marque

STEPHEN BYERS is as sensible and considered a politician as they come. So when he became Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, it was no surprise to find him allied with that growing body of opinion that believes competition policy and decision making should be taken away from the politicians and invested in an independent authority free from vested interest and interference - much like monetary policy already is.
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