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Technology

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Those of my generation have seen enormous advances in speech recognition systems.

In the early days, the user had to train herself to the system, exaggerating phonemes, speaking in slow staccato bursts. These days, it's the system that trains itself to the user. The results aren't perfect, but they're pretty darn good.

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Only a well-trained ear might be able to hear the difference between a generic keyboard and the IBM Model F keyboard that was popular in the 1980s.

The Model F is considered by many people to be the best keyboard ever. IBM stopped making it in the '90s and the patent expired. But the keyboard is having another moment.

Cell Towers At Schools: Godsend Or God-Awful?

Jul 14, 2017

School districts — hard up for cash — are turning to an unlikely source of revenue: cell towers. The multistory metal giants are cropping up on school grounds in Chicago, Milpitas, Calif., Collier County, Fla. and many other places across the country.

The big reason: money. As education budgets dwindle, districts are forming partnerships with telecom companies to allow use of their land in exchange for some of the profits.

An update from the Wild Wild West of fake news technologies: A team of computer scientists have figured out how to make words come out of the mouth of former President Barack Obama — on video — by using artificial intelligence.

It has been an odyssey, but finally, a team of six Afghan girls will be able to travel to the United States to compete in a robotics tournament. Two previous attempts to secure visas, which involved traveling 500 miles to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, had failed.

There are more than a dozen medically approved methods of birth control, including condoms, the pill and implants.

Now for the first time, a cell phone app has been certified as a method of birth control in the European Union.

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In World War I, U.S. General John Pershing recruited over 200 women for a dangerous and crucial assignment.

These women were sent through submarine-infested waters to the front lines, where they were given uniforms and placed in charge of one of the most effective tools the U.S. military had in fighting the war – the telephone.

Broadband access for more than 23 million rural Americans is lousy. Microsoft says it wants to change that. The tech giant calls it an effort to serve communities who feel left behind. But what’s behind this latest push? Politics or economics?

GUESTS

Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance

A free speech law center says President Trump and his staff are breaking the law when they block his critics on Twitter. The Knight First Amendment Institute has filed a lawsuit saying the president's Twitter feed is a public forum protected by the First Amendment.

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The website backpage.com has been controversial for years. It's been the subject of lawsuits. And the National Association of Attorneys General calls it a hub for human trafficking.

TOM JACKMAN: It's a classified ad website just like Craigslist.

The Internet is not a safe space to express opinions. There is a very real danger that you’ll be attacked for making your beliefs public.

Pervasive online harassment has led to calls for technology firms to be more accountable for the hostility that happens on their platforms.

But what about the responsibility of users, law enforcement and the government in making the internet a healthier environment for free expression of ideas? And what recourse is there when trolls take it too far?

GUESTS

I didn't drop my laptop, or download malware from a sketchy pop-up window or spill Diet Coke on my keyboard. It just stopped working. One minute, my computer was fine; the next it was like, New hard drive, who dis?

I tried everything I could; I rebooted in different modes, used external disk repair programs — nothing worked. So I gave in, decided to wipe the drive clean and reinstall all my data.

If the activists' predictions pan out, Wednesday might see one of the largest digital protests to date.

Dozens of websites and apps have joined ranks with consumer advocacy groups, through a "Day of Action," to publicly protest the plan by the Federal Communications Commission to roll back regulations it placed on Internet service providers in 2015.

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The speed of digital technology has allowed workers to be mobile and flexible, and more employers continue to embrace remote work policies.

But it has also created demand for continuous updates and real-time collaboration. And that change has driven some companies — including IBM, Best Buy and Yahoo — to recall some of their remote workforces back into the office.

Microsoft is announcing a new effort to connect more people to the Internet. Not people far away, in the so-called emerging markets — where other American tech giants have built Internet balloons and drones. Instead, Microsoft is focusing right here at home, on the 23.4 million people in rural America without broadband access.

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Spare a thought for the poor U.S.-Russia Joint Impenetrable Cybersecurity Unit, which didn't even survive an entire news cycle this weekend.

President Trump pitched the joint cyber-team with Russia in a tweet on Sunday.

He went on to rule out the idea in a second tweet on Sunday evening.

Barbershop: Internet Trolling

Jul 8, 2017

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Carol McDaniel has a perennial challenge: Attracting highly specialized acute-care certified neonatal nurse practitioners to come work for Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla.

They are "always in short supply, high demand, and [it is a] very, very small group of people," says McDaniel, the hospital's director of talent acquisition.

Friday is a big day for Tesla. The automaker's very first Model 3 will roll off the assembly line, the culmination of years of planning, engineering and hype.

Elon Musk, the company's co-founder and chief executive, has been promising an affordable long-range electric car meant for the masses. He first wrote about the dream vehicle in the company's not-so-secret Secret Plan in 2006.

Tap into Snapchat's newest feature, Snap Map, and get a peek into people's lives around the world. You might see a woman playing with her puppies in Guatemala or a view from the car window on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean.

They're called snaps — these ten-second video clips or photos that disappear after a day. To take a look, pinch two fingers on the app's main screen. A world map will open up with a heat map of snaps that submitted to a public stream in the last 24 hours. The biggest hot spots are in North America, Europe and the Arabian Peninsula.

In China, a futuristic new kind of urban transport that its promoters claimed would beat traffic jams appears to have gone off the rails. That became clear last week when police arrested the people behind the project on suspicion of fraud.

Dubbed the Transit Elevated Bus, the vehicle looks a bit like a catamaran on rails or a bus that straddles two lanes of traffic.

Other than vodka, the Russian product most familiar to Americans is probably the anti-virus software made by Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab.

They were teenage brothers. They had big dreams to be doctors. But there was no way it could happen. They were living in the middle of the Iran-Iraq war, studying in classrooms set up in tents.

"We thought we were forgotten," says Kamiar Alaei. But that was a long time ago. He's now 42 and an internationally recognized doctor.

Too Convenient? A Mobile Supermarket That Comes To You

Jul 5, 2017

Browse the science fiction aisles and you can find all sorts of dystopian future visions — environmental catastrophes, robot overlords, zombie swarms, triffids. Oddly enough, one of the spookiest scenarios ever conjured comes from a kids' movie.

Two airlines in the Middle East say they have been exempted from a 2-month-old ban on carrying large electronic devices aboard direct flights to the United States.

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