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Break­ing and en­ter­ing

Hack­ing and bank­ing are two words fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions may not want to hear in the same sen­tence, but Ul­ster Bank’s Hackathon, held in Fe­bru­ary, was more about hack­ing ideas for the ben­e­fit of cus­tomers than pil­fer­ing mil­lions from vaults. The event brought to­gether de­vel­op­ers, coders, de­sign­ers, en­trepreneurs and in­vestors, who pitched so­lu­tions to a var­i­ous chal­lenges. These in­cluded mak­ing bank­ing more fun (a tough task for any­one with debt com­ing out of their eye­balls) and cre­at­ing propo­si­tions to ben­e­fit cus­tomers.

Don’t fear the reaper

Play­ing a record in mem­ory of a dearly de­parted friend or re­la­tion is one thing, play­ing a record made from the ashes of your dearly de­parted friend or re­la­tion is an­other. In a move in­spired by the Mar­i­lyn Man­son school of tech, the UK com­pany And­vinyl lets peo­ple pledge their re­mains to the grooves of vinyl records. The ba­sic pack­age lets you press your cre­mated ashes into 30 discs, each with 24 min­utes of au­dio. Cus­tomers pro­vide the sound, whether maudlin farewells or up­beat dance tracks. If that seems too macabre, the com­pany lets you turn your pet into a record, so you can hear its howls from the af­ter­life in­stead.

Di­alling back time

Mo­bile phones a decade ago were like Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger com­pared to the sen­si­tive Ed Sheeran-type smart­phones of to­day. Nokia 3310 could be bull­dozed by a truck, dropped out of an air­plane, or do spins in the tum­ble dryer, and still be ready for an­other game of Snake. Now the in­de­struc­tible phone is hav­ing a re­nais­sance, fol­low­ing ru­mours that Nokia is re­launch­ing it at a €59 tag. The 3310 is geared to­ward nos­tal­gia buffs and the sec­ondary phone mar­ket. With a bat­tery that lasts days, and no ac­cess to stress­ful so­cial me­dia, tak­ing a step back­wards can some­time seem like the best way for­wards.

Prints among men

Most of­fice print­ers chug along like in­dus­trial ma­chin­ery from the Vic­to­rian era. The new Ep­son Work­Force Pro A3, on the other hand, claims to save 95% on en­ergy, 99% on waste, and print up to 84,000 pages with­out any­one hav­ing to change sup­plies. This eco-friendly printer in­cludes a smart­phone-in­spired touch­screen and user in­ter­face, and NFC and WiFi sup­port print­ing from mo­bile de­vices.

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