Technology: What Geeks are talking about from National Public Radio


Here is the latest Tech News from National Public Radio.

Call A Random Swede? We Tried It Out
As a way to encourage communication between people from different countries, Sweden invited people from all over the world to call a number that would connect them to a random Swede. So we did.

How An Idea To Develop A Safer, Smart Gun Backfired
If we can lock and unlock our smartphones with a fingerprint, why can’t we do the same with guns? One company tried to make a safer so called smart gun and found itself hated by everyone.

What Special Ed Teachers and Parents Need To Know About Social Media
The internet can be a dangerous place, especially for kids who may struggle with communication. A psychologist offers some guidelines to help kids with special needs stay safe online.

A ‘New’ Rembrandt: From The Frontiers Of AI And Not The Artist’s Atelier
A newly unveiled portrait bearing all the hallmarks of the Dutch master is actually the result of 18 months of analysis of 346 of his paintings, plus 150 gigabytes of digitally rendered graphics.

WhatsApp Adds End-To-End Encryption To Its Communication Services
That means only the sender and recipient of a message can view it. The people who run the popular messaging service cannot, and they cannot hand data over to law enforcement.

Fashionable Prostheses Trade Realistic Color For Personal Pizazz
A firm in New York is making brightly colored, personalized covers for prosthetic legs that each wearer helps design — sort of like a tattoo.

Twitter Wins NFL Deal To Stream 2016 Thursday Night Football
The NFL hopes to reach a broader audience, including those who don’t have cable, while Twitter is looking to attract and keep new users.

Laid-Off Tech Journalist Joins A Start-Up, Finds It’s Part Frat, Part Cult
Dan Lyons was in his 50s when he lost his job reporting on the tech industry. He took a job at a start-up, where he was the old guy. His new book is Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble.

How Colorado Is Turning Food Waste Into Electricity
At the Heartland Biogas Project, spoiled milk, old pet food and vats of grease combine with helpful bacteria in massive tanks to generate gas. It’s all thanks to anaerobic digestion.

Solar And Wind Energy May Be Nice, But How Can We Store It?
Renewable energy is taking off across the nation, but storing the energy is still a problem that is challenging companies to innovate with solutions ranging from molten salt to ice.

When A Dark Web Volunteer Gets Raided By The Police
What happens when law enforcement is frustrated by encryption that’s run by private citizens? In one Tor volunteer’s case, they showed up with a warrant and asked for computer passwords.

As Renewables Boom, Companies Explore Energy Storage Technology
Renewable energy has a problem — the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine when we use electricity the most. Batteries can store energy for later, but companies are looking for cheaper alternatives. Three reporters examine technologies that employ air, salt and ice.

First Mention: Computer Scientists Develop ‘Virtual Reality’
Our First Mention feature finds the phrase “virtual reality” on All Things Considered on Aug. 8, 1989.

What Happens When The Online Bully Is A Child With Special Needs
A bullying counselor argues that too often, adults expect kids to navigate the Web with wisdom but without much guidance. For a child with special needs, it can be a powerful yet frightening space.

Upon Reclaiming Palmyra, The Controversial Side Of Digital Reconstruction
A group of researchers is recreating monuments damaged in Syria using digital models and 3-D printers. NPR’s Scott Simon talks to Roger Michel, director of the Institute for Digital Archaeology.

After Apple Case, Encryption Vs. National Security Dilemma Has Just Begun
NPR’s Scott Simon asks Rep. Ted Lieu about his bill to look at something pressing and still unresolved, despite the week’s news: encryption and security.

‘Hijack Selfie’ Photo Subject Sought Fame In Dangerous Circumstances
Why would someone pose for a picture with a supposed suicide bomber? In this commentary, NPR’s Scott Simon wonders about seeking the price of fame during a dangerous situation.

#NPRreads: 3 Stories To Spring Into This Weekend
#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and The Two-Way. Correspondents, editors and producers share the pieces that have kept them reading. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

Fashionable Prosthetics Trade Realistic Color For Personal Pizzazz
A firm in New York is making brightly colored, personalized covers for prosthetic legs that each wearer helps design — sort of like a tattoo.

Malware Attacks On Hospitals Put Patients At Risk
A computer virus that may be an inconvenience for another business leaves hospitals unable to effectively care for patients. Cyberattacks have left 14 U.S. hospitals unable to access critical data.

Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Lack Of Address Will Stop These Deliverymen
Lots of houses in Nigeria have no numbers, so deliveries are often late. But two techies have devised a solution. And they’re creating new jobs in the process.

A Tesla For The Masses? Orders For Model 3 Top 100K In First Hours
Before the Model 3 was even unveiled, people lined up at Tesla stores to put down a deposit. With a base price of $35,000, the car will go on sale late next year at the earliest.

How Can Text Messaging Save Lives?
Activist Nancy Lublin explains how Crisis Text Line, the first 24/7 text line of its kind, has helped millions of people by providing direct support as well as anonymous data about people in crisis.

FCC Votes To Propose New Privacy Rules For Internet Service Providers
The vote, however, was delayed for several hours as regulators negotiated a budget deal on another issue: the expansion of a phone subsidy to begin covering Internet access.

FBI To Help Arkansas Prosecutor Unlock iPhone Linked To Murder Case
Once the FBI announced that it had unlocked the iPhone of one of the shooters involved in the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., the bureau received other requests for assistance.

Analyst Comments On The Significance Of FBI Unlocking iPhone
Renee Montagne talks to Philip Mudd, a former CIA counterintelligence official and FBI intelligence adviser, about the possible repercussions of the FBI’s hack of an Apple iPhone by a third party.

IRS Commissioner Details Growing Problem Of Taxpayer Identity Theft
NPR’s Audie Cornish speaks with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about the state of e-tax hacks.

Meet A Tractor That Can Plow Fields And Talk To The Cloud
A city boy came up with a great idea for farmers in Africa: a mini-tractor that costs only $4,000 and has cool digital features.

To Catch Someone On Tinder, Stretch Your Arms Wide
How people sit or where their arms and legs are in the images they share loom large in potential daters’ calculations, according to experiments involving speed dating and an online dating app.

Apple, Google Ordered To Unlock Smartphones Since At Least 2008
New court records obtained by the ACLU show how the fight between Apple and the FBI in San Bernardino is one of many cases in which the government has asked tech companies to help unlock cellphones.

Mom Asks: Who Will Unlock Murdered Daughter’s iPhone?
The FBI says it’s unlocked the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. A district attorney is Baton Rouge, La., is hopeful the FBI will share its master key for an iPhone in a murder case.

What Apple’s ‘Win’ Over FBI Means For The Tech Community
The dispute between Apple and the FBI might be over, but the conversation is not? NPR’s Audie Cornish talks with Nico Sell, the co-founder of secure messaging app Wickr, who called Apple CEO Tim Cook a “national security hero.”

Apple Vs. The FBI: The Unanswered Questions And Unsettled Issues
The FBI isn’t saying if it can reuse its mystery digital crowbar to unlock other iPhones. The standoff is likely to be replayed as new technologies become a growing element of criminal investigations.

When You Become The Person You Hate On The Internet
Author Sarah Hepola has complained for years about the random hatred of the Internet. Then, with one careless post, she became part of the problem.

How Teachers Are Using Snapchat
Teachers explain how they’re applying the social media app to lessons and homework.

Oculus Rift Launch Makes A Splash. Will It Lead A Wave Of VR Tech?
After four years of hype, the Oculus Rift hits the market Monday. It’s just one of several virtual reality systems — but not all the VR gadgets are up to snuff.

The FBI Has Successfully Unlocked The iPhone Without Apple’s Help
The Justice Department says it is withdrawing its legal action against Apple because it has been able to get data from a terrorist’s phone. A spokeswoman says the FBI is reviewing the data.

Virtual Reality Whiz Palmer Luckey: Future Will Be ‘More Boring Than We Think’
The 23-year-old founder says sci-fi writers love to use virtual reality as a backdrop for conflict, but the future is “probably not going to be nearly as interesting.”

Department Of Justice Says It No Longer Needs Apple’s Help To Unlock iPhone
The Justice Department has asked a federal court to vacate its order that Apple write software to help the FBI access data in the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.

Oculus Rift Launch Makes A Splash. Will It Lead A Wave Of VR Tech?
After four years of hype, the Oculus Rift, a hits the market Monday. It’s just one of several virtual reality systems — but not all the VR gadgets are up to snuff.

D.C.’s No-Drone Zone Gets Help From Superman And E.T.
Washington, D.C., has long been a no-fly zone, but authorities are taking to social media to remind drone hobbyists to keep away from the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Should Apple Unlock Terrorist’s Phone? Listeners’ Questions Answered
A day before they were expected to face off in front of a judge, the FBI said there may be another way to get inside one of the San Bernardino shooter’s phone that doesn’t require Apple’s help.

When School-Installed Software Stops A Suicide
School administrators increasingly have the power to track students’ Web browsing even when they’re at home. The implications are complicated.

‘Dark Territory’ Examines The Long History Of Cyber War
So many things in our lives are plugged into networks vulnerable to hacking. Fred Kaplan’s new book Dark Territory looks at how this came to be and what it means for the future.

Internet Trolls Turn A Computer Into A Nazi
Microsoft’s artificial intelligence chatbot was supposed to mimic a teenage girl. Instead, internet trolls tricked it into spouting hate speech. BuzzFeed tech reporter Alex Kantrowitz explains how.

With Cherry Blossoms In Bloom, D.C. Issues Reminder: No Drones
For those hoping to capture an aerial shot of the famous tidal basin surrounded by an army of cherry blossom trees in full bloom, well, too bad.

Terrorists Escape Detection Using Common Encryption Tools
NPR’s Robert Siegel talks to security analyst Michael Smith, co-founder of security consulting firm Kronos Advisory, about tools terrorists use to keep their operations and communications secret.

Honda Tries To Race Ahead With Its New Acura NSX Hybrid
Ever dream of owning a “supercar?” Your vision may of a Porsche 918 or Lamborghini. Now Honda wants to change your dreams by rolling out the Acura NSX — the most expensive car ever built in the U.S.

The Work Productivity Tool Giving Hope to Belgium’s Bereaved
As people continue searching for their loved ones, they are turning to social media for help. One site, Trello, lets friends and family keep an active list of those who remain unaccounted for.

IRS And Cybercriminals Step Up Spy Vs. Spy Efforts. Who’s Winning?
Each year, cybercriminals expand their efforts to trick people into misdirecting their tax refunds, or paying fines they don’t owe. But the IRS says it’s stepping up its game too in an endless race.

This New Chrome Extension ‘Rewords’ Hateful Online Messages
Aimed at preventing cyberbullying, the online tool, called Reword, flags insulting phrases and crosses them out with a red line. So far, the product is available for Google’s Chrome web browser.

Justice Department Charges 7 Iranians For Hacking U.S. Banks
The Justice Department is charging seven Iranians with alleged cyber attacks against American banks and an attempt to take over control of a dam in New York.

Microsoft Chatbot Snafu Shows Our Robot Overlords Aren’t Ready Yet
Kids these days: Microsoft’s millennial chatbot, Tay, turns into a genocidal maniac. A day later, the company took it offline, with a final tweet: “c u soon humans need sleep now.”

Vacuum Cleaner Manufacturer Dyson Could Be Developing An Electric Car
Based on government documents, the U.K. government is “providing a grant of up to £16m [$23 million] to Dyson to support research and development for battery technology.”

U.S. Indicts 7 Iranians Accused Of Hacking U.S. Financial Institutions
The Iranians allegedly carried out cyberattacks against U.S. financial institutions between 2011 and 2013. One of them is accused of remotely accessing the control system of a small dam in Rye, N.Y.

Teen Girls Flip The Negative Script On Social Media
Teen girls experience a lot of hate online. While parents and teachers try to address these problems from outside girl culture, teens have been coming up with their own social media solutions.

The Apple-FBI Whodunit: Who Is Helping The Feds Crack The Locked iPhone?
The rumor mill has started on what mysterious “third party” is helping the FBI unlock the San Bernardino iPhone. Here’s what we do and do not know about the one company currently in the news.

FBI Puts Standoff With Apple On Hold To Test New iPhone Hack
The government now says it may have found a way to unlock a terrorist’s phone without Apple’s help. That announcement caused a judge to delay a highly anticipated hearing over the Justice Department’s request to force Apple to unlock the phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook.

From Reagan’s Cyber Plan To Apple Vs. FBI: ‘Everything Is Up For Grabs’
Fred Kaplan, author of Dark Territory, traces the history of cyber defense into the current heated debate between the FBI and Apple over the encryption of the iPhone.

How A High-Tech Buoy Named Emily Could Save Migrants Off Greece
Emily is about 4 feet long, weighs 25 pounds and looks like a cylinder wrapped in an orange-red life jacket. First responders in Greece are beginning to use the remote-controlled lifesaving device.

The Delay In The FBI’s Clash With Apple: What Does It Mean?
The FBI is testing a new tool that may allow it to crack into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters without Apple’s help. Its success or failure could have major legal implications.

Digital Pioneer Andrew Grove Led Intel’s Shift From Chips To Microprocessors
Andrew Grove, the co-founder of Intel, has died. During 40 years at the company, he helped it become the most powerful chipmaker in the world.

CEO Andrew Grove, Who Led Intel To Silicon Chip Dominance, Has Died
The company says its influential longtime CEO has died at age 79 after a storied life that led him from Hungary to the United States — and to the roster of Silicon Valley legends.

FBI Says It May Be Able To Access Shooter’s iPhone Without Apple’s Help
A federal judge has postponed a hearing set for Tuesday that would have been the next step toward settling the battle between Apple and the FBI.

Justice Department Asks To Vacate Hearing With Apple Over Locked iPhone
The Justice Department asked to delay a Tuesday hearing with Apple while it tests a new method to unlock the iPhone owned by one of the San Bernardino shooters without Apple’s help.

Missouri Bomb Squad Builds Chirping Easter Eggs For Special Needs Kids
The bomb squad at the St. Charles County, Mo., police department recently tackled a different sort of electronics challenge. They built chirping eggs for an Easter egg hunt for children with special needs on Saturday.

New Robot System Helps Migrants Cross The Mediterranean Safely
Engineers are testing a new robot rescue system in the Greek islands, hoping it will be able to save some refugees while trying to cross from Turkey to Greece.

Would You Trust A Robot To Rescue You From A Burning Building?
Would you trust a robot to escort you out of a burning building? Maybe you shouldn’t. NPR’s Robert Siegel talks with roboticist Paul Robinette, lead author of the Georgia Tech study, “Overtrust of Robots in Emergency Evacuation Scenarios.”

How A Gambling Case Does, And Doesn’t, Apply To The iPhone Debate
The 227-year-old law at the center of the Apple-FBI debate has been called antiquated and unsuitable for the digital age. But it has withstood several other challenges, including at the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court To Hear Samsung’s Appeal In Patent Dispute With Apple
Samsung says it paid too much in damages after Apple accused it of copying aspects of the iPhone’s design, arguing, “The law of the smartphone cannot follow reflexively from the law of the spoon.”

DraftKings, FanDuel Will Shut Down Paid Contests In New York — For Now
The websites will stop accepting money bets ahead of an appellate hearing this fall. The deal comes as the companies are lobbying state lawmakers to pass legislation that would legalize the industry.

Blame It On The Algorithm: Defining The Word That’s Giving Instagrammers Fits
Instagram will start testing a new algorithm that will choose what content we see first. Tech journalist Kurt Wagner explains what an algorithm does, and why users might not be so happy about it.

Retired Boeing Employee Stays On In Fighter Jet Command Voice
NPR’s Melissa Block talks with recently retired Boeing company employee Leslie Shook whose voice is used as part of the greeting and warning system of the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet.

Need A Useless Robot? Simone Giertz Is The Queen
Simone Giertz Yahtch makes robots. The Swedish inventor has found a following with her quirky mechanical creations, even if they don’t work as you’d imagine.

In Sync: Is Sharing Your Online Calendar A Relationship Milestone?
Like a first date, sharing a calendar can be a big milestone in a relationship. Some say it makes coordinating complicated lives easier; others think it’s weird to keep such close track of each other.

Virtual Reality Vs. Augmented Reality: Should We Believe The Hype?
At tech conferences and in media reports, word is that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are coming. But many people don’t know what they are or what the difference is — and why they should care. NPR explains the difference and the hype.

How Can Hidden Sounds Be Captured By Everyday Objects
Computer scientist Abe Davis explains how you can turn a plant or a bag of chips into a microphone, and capturing the hidden sound vibrations on a high-speed camera.

London’s Newest Pollution Fighters Are Pigeons
Pigeons have a bad reputation. But London’s Pigeon Air Patrol is monitoring pollution levels. A flock of racing pigeons equipped with sensors launched this week. The results, naturally, are tweeted.

Automatic Braking Systems To Become Standard On Most U.S. Vehicles
Automatic brakes are designed to stop a vehicle before it collides with a car or another object. Some 20 carmakers have agreed to make it a standard feature on nearly all new cars in the U.S. by 2022.

The Eaglet Is Landing: ‘Pip In Process’ Caught On Web-Cam In D.C.
“We have a pip in process!” says an update from the American Eagle Foundation. The bird could fully emerge in the next 12 to 48 hours.

Submit Your Questions On The Dispute Between Apple And The FBI
The FBI wants Apple to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Morning Edition wants to hear what questions listeners have about the ongoing legal dispute, and we’ll answer them on a later show.

FCC Proposal Would Let Consumers Weigh In On Internet Privacy
The Federal Communications Commission is proposing, for the first time, privacy regulations for Internet service providers. The goal is to let consumers decide what information about them gets collected and how it’s used.

FCC Chair: Proposal Would Let Consumers Determine Value Of Internet Privacy
The top telecom regulator says his privacy proposal, a first of its kind for Internet providers, would empower consumers to have a say in how their data gets used and how it’s valued.

What Artificial Intelligence Could Mean For Education
Recent advances — such as the victory over a human Go champion — raise important questions about AI’s potential role in teaching and learning.

How Do You Start Mapping Unmapped Streets?
With cameras and smartphones, volunteers are snapping pictures as they cruise Dar es Salaam’s dirt roads.

Apple On FBI iPhone Request: ‘The Founders Would Be Appalled’
Apple and the FBI head into a court hearing on March 22 in the dispute over access to a locked iPhone. In its last filing before then, Apple says the government is stretching laws to fit the case.

Achievement Unlocked: Google AlphaGo A.I. Wins Go Series, 4-1
A top world Go champ lost the last of five games against Google’s AlphaGo. But both sides are going home from the match with a lot more to learn.

Can Computer Programs Be Racist And Sexist?
When people write computer programs, their biases can creep into code. Computer experts say it’s important to talk about the problem because if humans don’t fix it, computers won’t do it themselves.

Can Computers Be Racist? The Human-Like Bias Of Algorithms
As algorithms play a growing role in determining the content delivered to us online, many critics say the results are often filled with biases. Women see ads for lower paying jobs and African-Americans for cheaper neighborhoods. Can computers be just as biased as humans?

Blendoor App Breaks Down Computer Bias In Hiring
NPR’s Robert Siegel talks with Stephanie Lampkin, founder and CEO of Blendoor, an app that tries to counteract bias in the job application process, about the potential for bias in interpreting big data and what can be done about it.

Siri And Other Phone Assistants Don’t Always Help In A Crisis
Smartphone assistants like Siri or Cortana can help with some things. If you say, “I want to kill myself,” they give a national hotline. But they’re not so helpful if it’s abuse or sexual assault.

After Three Losses, Master Go Player Scores A Win Against Computer
Google’s AlphaGo program has already won the best-of-five match against Lee Sedong. But Sedong now has ensured it won’t be a clean sweep by getting a victory in on game four.

Dole-Kemp Campaign Site Immortalizes ’90s Internet Tech
It was among the first campaign websites, and it’s still archived online for all to see. Robert Arena, director of Internet strategy for the campaign, takes a stroll down memory lane.

Going, Going, Gone: Master Go Player Loses Best-Of-5 Match With A.I.
Lee Sedol has lost three games in a row to Google’s AlphaGo program, which means the program has officially defeated the human. Lee said the pressure was intense, and he felt “powerless.”

Cyclists Strap On Cameras To Protect Themselves
Road rage can be a big problem — especially if one of the people is on a bicycle. Now some cyclists are using a new tool: tiny cameras to record their rides.

In Apple Security Case, Obama Calls To Strike A Balance
The president’s appearance at SXSW’s technology conference comes as the Justice Department tries to force Apple to help it unlock an iPhone. Many in the tech world oppose the government’s position.

World Drone Racing Competition Underway In Dubai
You can watch live as custom-made drones whir around a track, attempting to win the $250,000 prize at the “World Drone Prix.”

Here’s What Obama Said At SXSW Festival
Obama addressed the role of technology in civic life, defended the merits of government, talked about the digital divide, and of course, weighed in on the ongoing debate about digital privacy.

Nevada Solar Power Business Struggles To Keep The Lights On
Since Nevada regulators began phasing out incentives, the solar power business has been in turmoil and many workers have been laid off. Now some worry what happened there will spread to other states.

At Calif. Campuses, A Test For Free Speech, Privacy And Cybersecurity
The University of California president, former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, secretly ordered data monitoring across the system after hackers broke into the UCLA medical center.

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