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Technology

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The Internet radio service Pandora made its name by creating personalized stations using tools such as "like" and "dislike" buttons for listeners. But a deal between Pandora and a group of record labels has raised concerns that the company is favoring certain songs over others because it's paying the musicians behind those songs a smaller royalty.

When Pandora emerged a decade ago, its big selling point over traditional radio was that it created a station just for you, as the company's Eric Bieschke told NPR last year.

Getting interviewed by Jana Rich provides the warm yet affirming sensation of being in a nurturing therapist's office. She leans forward across the light-wood conference table, clasps her hands together and asks: Why did you move across the country for that job? What is it you really wanted to do? And what about that other dream? Occasionally she interrupts, as though examining storytelling abilities as much as professional narrative, to clarify and to draw the interviewee out.

Is Digital Learning More Cost-Effective? Maybe Not

Nov 25, 2014

Politicians from Jeb Bush to President Obama like to hype the revolutionary power and cost-effectiveness of digital learning, but a new study suggests, in many cases, it is neither more powerful nor cheaper than old-fashioned teaching.

The New York Times has named former top NPR executive Kinsey Wilson to help its digital news efforts.

Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet appointed Wilson to be one of his top deputies in the newly created role of editor for innovation and strategy, the newspaper announced Tuesday morning.

As the holiday buying season approaches, retailers remain open to the same attack — called a "point of sale" attack — that hit Target and Home Depot, security experts say. Those analysts say that retailers have their fingers crossed, hoping they're not next.

And leading companies are keeping very tight-lipped about what, if anything, they're doing to protect customers.

Is This Store Hackerproof?

It's easy to spot a scratched face on a watch. It's much harder to tell if the checkout machine that you swipe to pay for that watch is defective.

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And now for some seriously wasteful purchases, emphasis on the waste.

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A big shift happened in news and information over the past few years: The people who write news and information no longer control the distribution of it. Technology companies do.

Specifically it's Facebook and Twitter — the large social platforms created in Silicon Valley.

Tech companies lobbies all the time — for tax reform, patent reform. But usually, it's in the form of big checks and quiet back room meetings.

Immigration was different — the issue where business leaders decided to ally with Latino community groups and labor unions. And now that President Obama has issued an executive action, the tech sector is sorting out its next steps.

Love Song Goes Quiet

For a while, it seemed, Silicon Valley and Washington DC were singing each other a love song.

For veterans like Katherine Keleher, Facebook can be a nightmare.

When a photo of the 25-year-old former Marine was posted to "Just the Tip, of the Spear" last fall, she was so nervous she couldn't bear to look and asked a friend to check the page for her. The group's name, abbreviated JTTOTS, plays off of innuendo and the Marine Corps moniker as the Tip of the Spear.

What would you give to watch someone else play what's arguably the world's worst video game — for nearly a week?

It turns out, people have given millions, as part of a fundraiser called Desert Bus for Hope.

Uber's public-relations nightmare dominated the week's technology news. A senior executive at the ride-sharing firm suggested that Uber should dig up dirt about media critics of the company. The comments came after Uber faced negative press over a promotion in France featuring scantily clad female drivers.

Electric Bikes, On A Roll In Europe, Start To Climb In U.S.

Nov 21, 2014

For Joel Bowman, decades of bike commuting started feeling like hard work. So the 66-year-old Atlanta resident recently switched to an electric bicycle, and now when he rides Bowman feels like the wind is at his back.

An e-bike looks a lot like a regular bike, but with an integrated electric motor, and it doesn't burn gasoline like an old-fashioned moped. As you pedal, an e-bike gives you a powered boost when you need it.

They are getting more popular in Europe, but in the United States, e-bikes still have to overcome the stigma of being just a toy for old people.

Months after a Supreme Court decision shattered its business model, the streaming service Aereo has filed for bankruptcy.

"The U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively changed the laws that had governed Aereo's technology, creating regulatory and legal uncertainty," the company's founder and CEO Chet Kanojia said in a statement. "And while our team has focused its energies on exploring every path forward available to us, without that clarity, the challenges have proven too difficult to overcome."

"Text neck," the posture formed by leaning over a cellphone while reading and texting, is a big problem, according to the author of a newly published study in the National Library of Medicine.

Kenneth K. Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, says the bad posture can put up to 60 pounds of pressure on the upper spine — sometimes for several hours a day, depending on how often people look at their devices.

It's a question we've all wrestled with: Which emails should be saved and which ones should be deleted?

The Central Intelligence Agency thinks it's found the answer, at least as far as its thousands of employees and contractors are concerned: Sooner or later, the spy agency would destroy every email except those in the accounts of its top 22 officials.

It's now up to the National Archives — the ultimate repository of all the records preserved by federal agencies — to sign off on the CIA's proposal.

How Well Do Your Apps Protect Your Privacy?

Nov 20, 2014

When you open up your Skype app to make a call, it's probably no surprise that it's accessing your phone's call history. But would you expect your Nike+ Running app to collect that information too?

If you're like most people, the answer is no.

That's why the Nike+ Running app gets a B on PrivacyGrade, a site for people to figure out what information their apps might be collecting. Right now it only looks at Android apps, but the site already lists hundreds of them from Google Maps to Instagram to WebMD.

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I'm sure I'm not the only parent who has hovered over a newborn's crib, wondering, "Is she breathing?" Tech companies are now offering to help parents manage that anxiety with devices that monitor a baby's vital signs and beam them to a smartphone.

But that might not be such a good idea, according to Dr. David King, a pediatric researcher at the University of Sheffield. He first heard baby vital signs monitors being discussed on the radio, and "I suspected there wasn't much evidence behind it, because I knew cardiovascular monitoring wasn't recommended in SIDS."

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The USA Freedom Act had the support of not only the White House and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy but also that of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, but the bid to reform the NSA failed late Tuesday after it didn't receive enough votes to cut off debate.

After a 58-42 vote, the measure had the support of the majority – but it didn't get the 60 votes necessary to break a Republican filibuster. It was something of an odd end for a bill that had been approved by the Republican-controlled House back in May.

Overturning a federal judge's ruling that the Federal Aviation Administration had overstepped in fining a man $10,000 for flying a small drone, the National Transportation Safety Board says the agency has the authority to regulate such drones.

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Don't install software from the Web unless it's directly from the company that made it. If you do install software, make sure you update it. And whatever you do, don't open attachments emailed to you by spammers.

These are just a few warnings from Brian Krebs, an investigative journalist and cybersecurity expert.

Krebs learned the ins and outs of how the spam industry works when he was given documents in the aftermath of a feud between two Russian companies — two of the largest sponsors of pharmaceutical spam.

The popular ride-service company Uber is in damage control mode after a senior vice president expressed interest in unveiling details about the private lives of journalists in retaliation for unflattering coverage of Uber's business practices.

This may be the first time in a long while that Bill Cosby can't control the public conversation about Bill Cosby.

Read the recent biography Cosby: His Life and Times, and you see a portrait of a talented performer who took control of his business and career interests early on, forever suspicious of journalists and industry executives who might try to interfere.

Airbus has filed a patent for a new plane that looks decidedly more Star Trek Enterprise than airplane.

The Financial Times dubbed it "flying doughnuts."

Yes, you can fit a recipe into a tweet.

Just ask Maureen Evans, author of Eat Tweet: A Twitter Cookbook. She has been sharing recipes with friends and families for years from the Twitter account @Cookbook, and realized early on that not only is it entirely possible, but it can also be fun.

In the Dutch town of Eindhoven, artist Daan Roosegaarde has paid homage to its most famous resident, Vincent Van Gogh, by creating a glowing bike path that relies on solar-powered LED lights and interprets his classic painting Starry Night.

If you're an Android user, there's a chance that earlier this week your phone or tablet alerted you about a new update to its operating system. Yearly system updates are a part of the modern smartphone experience, and, like clockwork, Apple and Google typically issue them every fall.

The newest version of Google's Android OS, codenamed Lollipop, is something a little different. Lollipop isn't just an update; it's Google's vision of how we should interact with the Web on our phones, tablets and computers.

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