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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 23rd Jan 2017

Tim CookGetty Images/Chip Somodevilla

For the third year in a row, Apple has been deemed the most environmentally friendly of the world’s major tech companies, according to a new report from environmental organization Greenpeace.

Apple, along with Google and Facebook — the other highest scorers in the report — made a pledge in 2012 to to transition to 100% renewable energy. Its new headquarters, which are currently under construction, will run completely on renewable energy, with an estimated 700,000 square feet of solar panels.

According to the report, Apple has “played a catalytic role within its IT supply chain, pushing other IT data center and cloud operators who help deliver pieces of Apple’s corner of the internet to follow their lead in powering their operations with renewable energy.”

Greenpeace has been measuring the energy performance of the information technology sector since 2009, and its newest report states that the organization has seen a significant increase in the degree to which the largest internet companies prioritize renewables.

According to the report, the energy footprint of the IT sector is currently estimated to account for 7% of global electricity. But since global internet traffic is expected to rise threefold by 2020 — and with it the sector’s energy footprint — company commitments to and plans for sustainability will become even more important.

Greenpeace’s report notes that Apple and Google continue to lead the sector in matching their growth with an equivalent or larger supply of renewable energy. The report assigned Apple the overall grade of A - in the subcategories, the company got As in energy transparency, renewable energy commitment, energy efficiency and mitigation, and renewable procurement, wit its only B in the advocacy category. It’s clean energy index, calculated based on estimates of facilities’ power demand, was an impressive 83%. Google got As in all subcategories except for energy transparency (where it got a B), though its clean energy index was lower at 56%.

A newcomer to Greenpeace’s list of top scorers was Nevada-based telecommunications company Switch, which develops data centers. The company was the clear leader in the report’s ranking of colocation and content delivery network companies, with all A’s and a whopping 100% clean energy index.

Netflix, on the other hand, stood out with notably unimpressive scores. The report estimates that Netflix’s video streaming accounts for a third of internet traffic on North American networks, but the company received an overall grade of D, with Fs in three of five subcategories.

The report points out that Netflix has not given any public commitment to renewable energy, and that “unlike other major video streaming platforms such as Apple, Facebook, or Google, Netflix does not regularly provide energy consumption data, greenhouse gas emissions, or the actual energy mix of its global operations.”

The streaming company will have to make some changes if it wants a better grade next year.

 

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 23rd Jan 2017

Steve Jobs unveiling the first iPhone in 2007Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionSteve Jobs unveiling the first iPhone in 2007

"Steve had expressly told me it was totally top secret. He said he was going to fire anyone who tells the world.

"I was sweating bullets."

Tony Fadell was pondering just how he was going to explain to Steve Jobs that he'd lost the prototype of what would become the most successful technology product of all time, the Apple iPhone which launched 10 years ago on Monday.

He'd just got off a plane, felt his pockets, and... nothing.

"I was walking through every scenario thinking about what could happen," he told me. None of them ended well.

After two hours, relief - thanks to the efforts of a search party that didn’t know what it was trying to find.

"It fell out of my pocket and it was lodged in between the seats!"

Tony Fadell, known as the Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionTony Fadell, known as the "godfather" of the iPod

Within just a few months, the world would know all about the little device - but for now, Fadell was holding it tight.

60s future phone

Tony Fadell is sometimes referred to as the "godfather" of the iPod. He left Apple in 2010, and went on to found Nest, the smart home company now owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company. He left that company last year*.

As far as Fadell is concerned, today is in fact the 12-and-a-half year anniversary of the first iPhone.

That’s when he started working on the idea, born out of an acceptance that the iPod, which was turning around Apple’s fortunes, was a platform that could be developed further.

By this point the iPod had got video capabilities, even games.

"We were like, 'Wait a second, data networks are coming'," he told the BBC.

"We should be looking at this as a general purpose platform."

Starting this way was the magic ingredient that meant the iPhone broke boundaries, Fadell said. While competitors like Microsoft were trying to shrink the PC into a phone, Apple was looking to grow the iPod into something more sophisticated.

Indeed, one early iPhone concept design used the iPod's distinctive click-wheel as its input method. That was soon ditched.

 

Media captionA look back at the launch of the first iPhone in January 2007

"We were turning it into a rotary phone from the sixties," Fadell remembered. "We were like, 'This doesn’t work! It's too hard to use'."

It just so happened that in another part of Apple, work had started on a touchscreen Macintosh computer.

"They had been working on this in secret. It was the size of a ping pong table. Steve showed it to me and said, 'I want to take that and put it on an iPod'."

Fadell warned Jobs that to make a touchscreen device like the one he envisioned would take time, money and new dedicated infrastructure. They went for it.

"We needed thousands of people working on all of this, at the same time, for it to land together for the launch.

"And then we only had six months after that to ship it. Obviously we pulled it off, but it was not easy."

Malmo Mystery

Apple had many of the best brains in the business, but until that point it hadn’t ever made a phone of its own.

And so Fadell planned a fact-finding world tour to meet experts and check out research labs of telecoms experts.

iPhone on showImage copyrightAFP

Image captionThe first iPhone drew a crowd of journalists when it was launched

It began with one manufacturer in Malmo, Sweden - a trip which ended with all of their bags, notes and equipment being stolen from their cars while they were inside a restaurant having dinner.

"They knew we were building a phone," Fadell said.

"We asked our host where to get to dinner,  we were there all of 20 or 30 minutes because we were tired.

"When we got back to the car, every single thing in the car was gone. Every single bag. We swear it was corporate espionage."

If it was, there were few secrets lost. The team returned home without many of their belongings, but heads full of ideas.

iPhones on saleImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captioniPhones continue to be very popular - though annual sales fell for the first time in the product's history last year

Meanwhile, one fiery debate was just getting started.

Keyboard killed off

It was of course: Should the iPhone have a keyboard or not?

"That fight raged on for around four months," Fadell said. "It was a very ugly situation."

Jobs, who had his heart set on a touchscreen, became so incensed with people disagreeing with his ideas that he enforced a blunt policy.


Looking back - BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones on the launch

A Sunday newspaper columnist described me as having clutched the phone as if it were "a fragment of the true cross", and some viewers complained that the BBC had given undue prominence to a product launch.

I appeared on the Newswatch programme to defend our reporting and said that some products did merit coverage because they promised a step change in the way we lived - and I mused on whether the Model T Ford would have been a story if we'd had a TV news bulletin back then.

Afterwards, I rather regretted saying that - who knew whether the iPhone would really prove as revolutionary as the arrival of mass car ownership?

But today that comparison does not look so outlandish.

Read Rory's blog post


"Until you can agree with us you can’t come back in this room,"” Fadell recalled Jobs saying to pro-keyboarders. "If you don’t want to be on the team, don’t be on the team."

The disagreements soon stopped.

"One person got sent out of the room and everybody got the message and fell in line."

But while the argument left the room, it didn’t leave the iPhone team’s minds. Indeed, some people still think it was the wrong decision not to go for a Blackberry-style keyboard  which, back then at least, was the phone to beat.

"We laid out all the risks of using just a touchscreen. We had to work around each one."

Fans gawp at the new device - it went on sale six months after the first unveilingImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionFans gawp at the new device - it went on sale six months after the first unveiling

Secret Stylus Strategy

From the word go, Jobs was clear: the iPhone didn’t need to work with a stylus because your finger is all you should need.

But Fadell told the team working on the multi-touch screen - arguably the greatest breakthrough the iPhone heralded - to make sure it was compatible with a stylus anyway.

"I thought, 'We must make this work with a stylus'," Fadell remembered.

"Because we knew it was right, even though Steve was making a philosophical point initially saying you can just use your finger. We knew there will come a day when you’re going to need a stylus.

"We did it without his knowledge, it was behind the scenes. He would've ripped my head off."

iPhone 7 logoImage copyrightAFP

Image captionThe latest iPhone was launched in September 2016

Doing things in secret was a common strategy for stubborn engineers and designers who took the view that what Jobs didn’t know couldn't hurt him.  And if you were eventually proven right, you could accept the praise.

"It was the same thing that happened with the iPod working on a PC," Fadell said.

"Steve wanted nothing to do with it, but when iPod growth stalled, we said, 'Oh by the way we've been working on this background'."

"I asked Steve how much a song on iTunes cost, and he said, '99 cents'. I said, 'No, it’s the cost of an iPod, plus the songs, plus a Mac! We only have 1% market share, Steve!'

“He understood.”

Jobs may have relented on having Apple products work on Windows, but he took his hatred of the stylus to his grave, though his successor, Tim Cook, introduced the Apple Pencil in 2015.

Steve Ballmer's laughter

And so to the 9th January 2007.

Hordes of fans and media shuffled into San Francisco’s Moscone Center to see what Jobs brought on as his "one more thing" at the end of a keynote address at that year’s Macworld event.

The device on stage was "only half-baked", Fadell recalled, but was quickly referred to as the "Jesus phone".

Smartphones on New Year's EveImage copyrightAFP

Image captionThe success of the iPhone likely helped to popularise smartphones in general

The press mocked the cultish manner in which iPhone was unveiled. Steve Ballmer, at the time Microsoft's chief executive, famously laughed at the device, calling it "not a very good email machine" that wouldn't appeal to business users.

"We all laughed at him," Fadell remembered.

"We also laughed at Blackberry. Whenever I create a new product , and I learned this with Steve [Jobs], if the incumbents laugh at you and the press laugh at you, you go, 'we’ve hit a nerve'."

Since that day, more than a billion iPhones have been sold, helping make Apple the richest company in the world.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 23rd Jan 2017

PSNI Newry and Mourne Facebook pageImage copyrightPSNI NEWRY & MOURNE FACEBOOK

Image captionDet Supt George Clarke told Good Morning Ulster that some of the more obscene messages were a "reality"

The PSNI has posted a warning to parents about texting 'codes' that some teenagers use to disguise their phone or online messages.

Referencing a list published by a US technology show, the post encourages parents to understand 'text talk'.

Some of the abbreviations are relatively bland, such as 'HAK', meaning 'hugs and kisses' or 'WYCM' for 'Will you call me?'.

Others refer to sexual acts, drugs and suicide.


Quick guide to secret texting codes

  • WYRN: What's your real name?
  • HAK: Hugs and kisses
  • ASL: Age, sex and location
  • WTTP: Want to trade pictures?
  • 53X: Sex
  • CU46: See you for sex
  • NIFOC: Naked in front of computer
  • PAL: Parents are listening
  • KPC: Keeping parents clueless
  • PRON: Porn
  • ZERG: To gang up on someone
  • RU/18: Are you over 18?
  • Broken: Hungover
  • LMIRL: Let's meet in real life

The warning has been treated with scepticism by many of the Facebook users who shared or commented on it.

Some pointed out that it was not an exhaustive list and included American phrases that are unlikely to be used by young people in Northern Ireland.

Others welcomed the post, saying it was a useful resource for parents.

A PSNI facebook post warns parents of the types of phrases and abbreviations teenagers sometimes use to disguise messagesImage copyrightROSHINIO

Image captionA PSNI facebook post warns parents of the types of phrases and abbreviations teenagers sometimes use to disguise messages

Det Supt George Clarke told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster that some of the more obscene messages were a "reality".

"Parents must be involved in their children's lives online and well as offline.

"You wouldn't allow children to go off in a car with people you don't know, so let's be careful about who they're interacting with online," he said.

Margaret Gallagher of the NSPCC said it was impossible to publish a definitive list of texting phrases young people use as they tend to change frequently.

However, she said anything that promoted an "open and honest discussion" about keeping safe online was to be welcomed.

"Teenagers will always want to create coded language that can't be understood by their parents - it's natural and not necessarily something to get overly concerned about," said Ms Gallagher.

The NSPCC said Image copyrightPOIKE

Image captionThe NSPCC said an "open and honest discussion" about online safety needs to be encouraged

"Communication and building trust with your child is the most important thing.

"At the end of the day, you want them to feel comfortable coming to you if they're worried about something that's happened online, like an unsolicited approach or someone putting them in a vulnerable position.

"They (children) just need reassurance that, if things do go badly wrong, they have someone they can turn to."

'Predators are persistent'

Ms Gallagher also pointed out that children who have no behavioural issues were equally as vulnerable to online predators as those who do.

But she stressed that older teenagers, in particular, were entitled to privacy.

"It's not always easy for parents to get the balance right - we know that - but if there's trust and openness there, the risk of things going badly wrong is definitely reduced," she said.

If you want more information on keeping children safe online, you can visit the NSPCC website or call the charity free on 0808 800 5000.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 18th Jan 2017

Cheapest app price to rise to 99p

Brexit now to blame for Apple App store price rises

Brexit now to blame for Apple App store price rises

Apple's App Store prices are about to go up due to the effect of Brexit which has negatively affected exchange rates. 

As reported at 9to5Mac, apps that now cost 79p will be increasing to 99p, while a Tier 2 priced app will now cost £1.99 in the UK up from £1.49. An in-app purchase that previously cost £7.99, such as the 'All Worlds' upgrade in Super Mario Run, will soon be priced at £9.99.

Broadly this represents a 25 per cent increases, and Apple is notifying developers of the changes this week, confirming that it will affect apps in both the iOS and Mac App Stores. As 9to5Mac notes, the same increases also likely will hit the iTunes Store for TV shows, movies and books. 

Apple says that the new higher prices will roll out to the App Store over the next seven days. 

This isn't the first time that Apple has blamed Brexit for price increases. As well as hiking iPhone prices in September, the following month the firm quietly upped the price of some older products, including the iMac 4K and Mac Pro.

Meanwhile the Mac Mini is now priced at £479 (compared to £399 previously), the iMac 4K now costs £1,449 (up from £1,199), and the iMac 5K now starts at £1,749 (up from £1,449). Even Apple's bin-like Mac Pro, which hasn't been upgraded since 2013, saw its price increased from £2,499 to an eye-watering £2,999.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 18th Jan 2017

140 characters is all it takes to change the world

Just wait until I get on Twitter later

Just wait until I get on Twitter later

Incoming US president Donald Trump likes a drama. Barely a day goes by in which he doesn't have a pop at someone on Twitter, whether it's North Korea, Meryl Streep or John Lewis - the historic civil rights campaigner, not the department store. Not yet anyway.

No doubt many more will come into his 140-character crosshairs after he perceives them to have insulted his brilliance, and we'd wager a fair few of these will come from the world of technology. Here are five scenarios we think could play out over the next four years, or more likely, four months.

A technology company and/or its CEO

Trump has made clear that he does not think US companies should be using overseas workers when they could be made in the good ol' US-of-A. And he has made this known on Twitter, as numerous car manufacturers have found out. With many tech companies making products overseas, such as Apple in China, it probably won't be long before Trump sets about taking them to task on Twitter for such actions.

Or it may just be because someone puts their head above the parapet to question the motives of some questionable government initiative Trump is to announce. After all, we've seen how badly he reacts to criticism on more than one occasion.

Security experts

Hacking is bad. So said Trump last week in his freewheelin' press conference. But he also thinks Russia will stop any hacks against the USA once he's in charge. He also accused China of being behind the Office of Personnel Management hack in 2014. This is something many believe, although it has never been officially verified.

Bottom line, though, is Trump and cyber security have a rocky relationship and he can't be guaranteed to toe the party line.

Furthermore, it remains to be seen if Trump really wants to believe everything he's told about information security, especially from those on his side - the US, not Russia. So it would not be surprising if at some point in the not-too-distant future he attacks a security company or individual in relation to a security or hacking related situation.

This maybe a company refusing to help unlock a device, a report that criticises the security of some government agency, or Trump's own website perhaps. Or maybe his own intelligence agencies, when they confirm that yes Russia was behind a leak of information, will get an earful for being 'so dishonest'.

A tech luminary

No doubt at some point Trump's team will embark on some madcap plan relating to encryption or internet governance net neutrality maybe, and someone hugely respected tech luminary will call it out for the nonsense it is.

This will of course get Trump's goat and he'll rush to Twitter to tell the world why this person - maybe it will be Sir Tim Berners-Lee, or Elon Musk, or Vincent Cerf - is now ‘so sad' and ‘so dishonest', and we'll get into another huge round of opinion pieces on why Trump is wrong or right and we'll all ignore the real issue at hand.

An intelligence leak

No doubt intelligence chiefs in the CIA, FBI and elsewhere are deeply worried that Trump's fast and loose ‘tell it like it is' style will lead to the release of some highly classified report or information by Trump himself.

It's not hard to imagine it. The media disputes some claim by Trump or his team, and in a fit of pique Trump fires up Twitter and spews out the facts he's been told in the highest secrecy.

Twitter

So far Twitter has steered clear of any mention of banning Trump, but the firm could well be forced to take action if he crosses the line on its terms and conditions. After all, it's done likewise with some other far-right users of the site, so clearly will take action if finally forced to do so.

Then again, it would be some situation if Twitter banned the president from posting on its site. Of course if this did happen it would deny Trump his usual avenue of vengeance. Unless he turns to the official POTUS account.

 

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 17th Jan 2017

Firm is making a move away from children and hobbyists

A Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is taking aim at industrial systems with a new option called the Pi Compute Module 3

The modules are low cost, naturally, and are the combined effort of the Raspberry Pi Foundation and hardware partner Farnell element14.

Both firms are as excited at the possibilities as the possible end users might be. They've taken this seriously, plugging in a Broadcom BCM2837 chip.

 

"The Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 continues the development of Pi for the ever growing Industrial and Commercial market," said Claire Doyle, global head of Raspberry Pi and Single Board Computing at Premier Farnell. 

"Benefiting from the Broadcom BCM2837 chip, this board allows designers to combine the speed of the Raspberry Pi 3 and the flexibility of Compute modules, enabling them to design-in Pi across a broad range of applications from IoT, to Embedded Solutions, Home Automation, Control Systems and Consumer Electronics."

The Raspberry Pi Compute 3 model has Pi3 processor and memory with an additional 4GB of flash memory. This flash memory is integrated onto a board within a standard DDR2 SODIMM connector. The Foundation said that this leaves all the remaining processor interfaces open to customisation.

A customer I/O is available for reference, as well as a range of development kits and add-ons including a display adapter.

"Raspberry Pi has been incredibly powerful for developers to date and we are excited to see the new innovations that will come from the Industrial and Commercial sectors as a result of the launch of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module," added Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading.

A lite version, minus the 4GB of Flash is also available. We are checking on the cost information. In the real world NEC is using the technology in its digital displays, so keep an eye on them.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 17th Jan 2017

 

jetpackA man with a jetpack. Chris Radburn/Press Association Images

Chinese tech investor Kuang-Chi has invested $30 million (£25 million) in Dorset-based jet engine company Gilo Industries, valuing the firm at $80 million (£67 million), according to The Financial Times.

The deal, announced on Monday, marks the investor's first foray into the UK market.

Gilo, which makes rotary engines for jetpacks and unmanned aircraft, reported revenues of £915,000 and an operating profit of £45,562 in 2015, according to Companies House filings. It said it will use the new capital to expand and adopt new manufacturing technologies.

Gilo Cardozo, founder of Gilo, said in a statement: "The support from Kuang-Chi is exactly what we need to continue to expand our production capabilities and embrace exciting new manufacturing technologies to help us grow and succeed in the global marketplace.

"It is a really clear example of how international organisations look to all areas of Britain for innovation and entrepreneurship and how they can boost regional, national and global industries."0

Founded in Shenzhen in 2010, Kuang-Chi has taken a 40% stake in Gilo, according to The Financial Times.

The tech investor is hoping to raise a $300 million (£250 million) fund over the next three years to invest in innovative companies worldwide. It said it will place a "large focus" on the UK.

Ruopeng Liu, chairman of Kuang-Chi, said in a statement: "This is only the start of Kuang-Chi’s UK investment plans. Despite some fears surrounding Brexit, innovation is booming in the UK and Kuang-Chi has confidence in the UK market, which has a long history and a good reputation for innovation that will not fade away easily.

"Investing in British startups and technology companies in the growth stage is a key part of our long term strategic plan to invest in the most exciting, disruptive and innovative technologies around the world."

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 17th Jan 2017

 

samsung galaxy note 7 explodedAn exploded Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. AP

SEOUL (Reuters) - Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd will announce the results of its investigation on what caused some Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to catch on fire on January 23, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported on Monday citing unnamed sources.

Samsung in October ended sales of the near-$900 Note 7 smartphones in what is one of the biggest product safety failures in tech history. The firm has been looking into what caused the phones to catch fire along with third-party researchers.

Samsung could not be immediately reached for comment.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 17th Jan 2017

Mark Zuckerberg in DallasMark Zuckerberg with residents of the Oak Cliff neighborhood in Dallas, Texas. Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg's first stop on his 2017 tour of the US is Dallas, Texas.

The billionaire Facebook CEO helped plant fruits and vegetables in a community garden in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, according to his Facebook page. He also met with computer science students from a local public high school.

Zuckerberg's main reason for being in Dallas is to testify on Tuesday in a $2 billion lawsuit that claims the Oculus VR company he acquired in 2014 was based on stolen technology. He and other key Oculus executives, including Palmer Luckey, will take the stand this week to defend the company against video game maker Zenimax.

Zuckerberg's personal goal for 2017 is to visit and meet people from every US state he hasn't visited yet, a statesman-like agenda that has sparked more speculation that he could be plotting to eventually run for public office.

 

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 16th Jan 2017

 

Eloise Dicker with her mother's bracelet

While travelling through Kyrgyzstan, Eloise Dicker lost her late mother's treasured gold bracelet. Then a Facebook message changed everything.

It was on the second day of our five-day trek that I realised it was missing.

We had packed up the tents and loaded the horses. I reached up to the horse's mane to pull myself up and saw that my wrist was bare.

"My mum's bracelet! It's gone," I thought, and immediately burst into tears.

Made from melted-down rings she inherited from her own mother, the bracelet had always been worn by my mum for almost as long as I could remember.

Eloise Dicker's wrist with and without the bracelet

Image captionEloise Dicker's wrist with and without the bracelet

Her wrist was very slender even towards the end of her life, with steroids puffing her up like a blowfish. There came a point, however, when she couldn't wear it any more.

She had taken it off and placed it on her bedside table. While clearing up the cups and tissues, tablets and tinctures, I had picked the bracelet up and put it on.

She'd smiled, put her hand on my wrist and said how lovely it was to see me wearing it and that one day I would pass it on to my children.

She died a couple of months later, and I had never taken the bracelet off.

Rosemary Dicker, wearing the bracelet six months before her death on Mother's Day 2015

Image captionRosemary Dicker, wearing the bracelet six months before her death on Mother's Day 2015

Now I felt pain in my throat and a sinking feeling in my stomach. It could be anywhere in this vast landscape - the Tian Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia.

There was a silence as we all realised there was no point in even trying to find it. We were two days up into the mountains and surrounded by grass.

I had one last look around our camp. It was no use. I couldn't re-trace my steps, we were in the middle of nowhere. I climbed back on the horse.

I walked behind the others, crying and thinking. All the memories of her passing away came back to me, bit by bit.

Rosemary holding Eloise's brother Barnaby in the early 1980s

Image captionRosemary holding Eloise's brother Barnaby in the early 1980s

My naked wrist still made me feel incomplete. I wanted to go back in time to the moment I decided to bring it with me. Why hadn't I left it at home?

But maybe it was meant to be here, I thought to myself. Mum was born in Hong Kong and grew up in the UK, and this was half way.

Tian Shan mountains

An endless lush landscape with wild horses, snowy peaks, birds of prey and the sound of the river. Maybe it should be lost here.

That night I looked in the tents with a bit of hope left that it might be in some corner. Nothing.

I crawled into my sleeping bag feeling deeply sad, and accepted it was gone for good.

Later, in the city of Karakol, recovering from our trek, I visited the Russian Orthodox church.

I was just about to leave, having lit a candle in remembrance of my mother, when the Russian nun took my arm and walked me to a painting of the Virgin Mary.

She kissed the glass frame of the picture and gestured that I do the same. I'm not a believer, and was not brought up religious in any way, but I followed her invitation.

When I kissed the glass I looked up at the picture. I started crying. The picture was adorned with gold necklaces and rings.

Russian Orthodox church in Karakol

It was feeling just how jewellery was so significant to humans that made me cry. As a student of anthropology, I have always been interested in the meaning we humans ascribe to objects.

Jewellery by its very nature says: Look at me, see what I can afford, observe what I was given, admire how significant I am.

When inherited from a beloved, it also brings people into relationship, solidifying a kinship or affection, creating a sense of connectedness and of presence.

That bracelet was a physical part of my mother who is no longer physically in the world. It became part of me, and now was gone.

I had already made peace with the loss of the bracelet when, some weeks after I had returned to Europe, I received a Facebook message from Elaman Asanbaev, one of the guides from the Community-Based Tourism (CBT) office in Karakol.

Facebook message

There was a picture attached. "This is it or not, I don't know," he asked.

It was it. It was the bracelet.

It was suddenly back in existence, but what should I do? Should I get Elaman to send it? Should I leave it there? Ask him to throw it in the river?

When I looked into secure courier services, they advised against sending precious stones or metals. I was also reluctant to trust the postal system, it being so far away.

It did occur to me that I could find someone who would be travelling there, but when I saw that flights were cheap in November I decided I would go and get it myself.

London-Moscow-Bishkek. Then a six-hour drive from the capital Bishkek to Karakol with Azamat Asanov, the CBT manager. It was 05:00 and -11C in the capital, the roads icy with thick snow.

As we drove, I watched the country waking up. Children in their winter clothes walking to school, horses with snow on their backs, men in the traditional pointed Kyrgyz hats known as kalpaks.

The next morning we picked up Elaman. "This is for you," he said as he jumped in the car.

Elaman Asanbaev with the bracelet

There it was. This slim piece of gold that I have known all my life.

This part of mum, here in this car 7,000km (4,350 miles) from home in the freezing mountains of Kyrgyzstan.

Elaman described to Azamat where he found it. I didn't understand anything except a word that sounded like "toilet".

Azamat translated - it was in our first campsite, a yurt camp, lying on a path towards the toilets (or, more accurately, a shed with a hole in the ground).

Yurt camp

We laughed. Not the most romantic of places.

I felt its weight and its shape. Mum held this. Putting it back on I felt complete again, and I couldn't stop looking at it.

I gave Elaman a designer flask and wrapped some money around it as a reward for handing in the bracelet.

There was another day in the snow on horseback before I turned round and made the long 21-hour journey back home.

Tian Shan mountains in the snow

We took the horses up the Bos Uchuk valley, which means "colourful point". This was where we had camped on our last day of the summer trek. I could recognise the shape of the mountains and the river.

On my way back to the town I sprinkled some of mum's ashes in the river - something to exchange for the bracelet in the ground, something to put her between home and where she was born, Hong Kong.

Preparing to scatter Eloise's mother's ashes

At this point I felt that these rituals were almost too much.

Yet back home, looking at photographs of mum, I notice the bracelet in every picture. I think how strange it is to know that it had a story waiting of being lost and found far away in a wonderful place.

Is this still the most precious thing that I own? Yes. Would I take it again on an adventure? Probably.

 

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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