The hidden cost of free technology

Back in late 2019 I met someone from Zoom who was visiting London. The company, then as now, offered free video-conferencing calls for up to 40 minutes, but charged a fee of around £10 a month to users who wanted longer calls. Towards the end of the conversation, I flippantly asked what I thought was a hypothetical question: ‘How much would you charge to give full Zoom access to the whole UK population?’ I didn’t think much more about it, but to my surprise they came back to me a few days later: ‘If you know anyone in the government who’d be interested in this, we’d like to talk.’ In

What should you put at the end of an email?

Suzanne Moore, the Telegraph columnist, found it ‘deeply annoying’ when perhaps five years ago she noticed people putting ‘Kind regards’ at the ends of emails. Her real gripe was with false claims to kindness. So what should you put at the end of an email? Yours sincerely is conventional in letters to people whom one knows. Sincerely in this context is first recorded by the beloved Oxford English Dictionary from the year 1702, in a letter to Samuel Pepys, in the last year of his life, from Arthur Charlett, the gossipy self-promoting Master of University College, Oxford, who had designed a bookplate for the diarist. He signed himself as ‘your

The terror of choosing the wrong email sign off

Just now, I wrote an email and I couldn’t for the life of me think how to sign it off. ‘Kind regards’, the default setting for most messages, felt a bit too formal, given I am on friendly terms with the recipient; he’s older than me and a priest. ‘Yours ever’ seems forward. ‘Best wishes’ is fine for strangers but may be stilted for someone you know quite well. ‘M’, my most frequent sign-off, would look downright rude. An ‘X’ was out of the question. So plain ‘Melanie’ it was. But I was left wondering which of the range of options I should have gone for, each suggestive of a