NPR tech news

NPR tech news
8:51 am
Mon December 3, 2012

In Eye Control, A Promise To Let Your Tablet Go Hands-Free

In an image from an Eye Tribe video, a man uses his eyes to play the Fruit Ninja game, slicing fruit in half as it appears on the screen.
The Eye Tribe

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 1:57 am

Forget touch screens and voice recognition — what if you could control your computer just by looking at it? Gaze-based interaction has been around for 20 years, used mainly by people with disabilities. But the technology could be available to the masses soon, allowing users to move a cursor with their eyes, or turn the pages of an e-book without lifting a finger.

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NPR tech news
3:33 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

Reports: Apple lets go one more employee in maps fiasco

Apple's new iPhone 5 may have been criticised for its glitch-ridden new maps program, but it may have inadvertently provided a diplomatic solution to China and Japan's ongoing row over disputed islands. When a user searches for the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, claimed by Beijing under the name Diaoyu, two sets of the islands appear alongside each other.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 4:30 pm

In the aftermath of the maps fiasco, the heads continue to roll at Apple. Today, there is news that one more employee has been let go. This time it was manager Richard Williamson, who oversaw the maps project, who lost his job.

Bloomberg broke the news and it reports:

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NPR tech news
11:51 am
Mon November 26, 2012

News Outlets Punk'd, Somebody Profits: Google Wi-Fi Buy Is A Hoax

Google.com

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 11:56 am

This Associated Press report today wasn't true:

"Google has bought an operator of Wi-Fi hotspots in high-traffic locations such as airports, hotels and fast-food restaurants. Google Inc. is paying $400 million for ICOA Inc., a Warwick, R.I., company, as part of the search company's efforts to diversify its portfolio."

It was so wrong, in fact, that the AP later moved a "KILL BULLETIN" saying it was:

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NPR tech news
10:49 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Embracing your inner robot: A singular vision of the future

"Child-robot with Biomimetic Body" (or CB2) at Osaka University in Japan in 2009, where the android was slowly developing social skills by interacting with humans and watching their facial expressions, mimicking a mother-baby relationship.
Yoshikazu Tsuno AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 2:13 pm

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NPR tech news
11:29 am
Wed October 24, 2012

Boeing successfully tests electronics-frying, microwave missile

Computers fried by CHAMP.
U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 11:00 am

It's not the sexiest of weapons, because it doesn't cause big explosions, or fly around the world in minutes. But the effect is huge and could cripple a modern military without causing any casualties.

This week, Boeing announced that it has successfully tested a missile that can send out targeted, high-power microwaves that fry electronics without actually causing an explosion.

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NPR health
9:15 am
Tue October 23, 2012

'Addictive' Cigarette Smoking Games On Smartphones Target Kids

In this iPhone app, players pretend to smoke a cigarette and then pass it to their friends.
Screenshot from Puff Puff Pass Lite.

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 8:41 am

You can do just about anything with your phone these days. Take an electrocardiogram. Confess your sins. Even smoke a cigarette

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NPR tech news
7:32 am
Tue October 23, 2012

Microsoft, an empire under siege, makes its next moves

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks at a Microsoft event in San Francisco in July. This week, Microsoft launches Windows 8, a radical redesign of its operating system, as well as a new set of tablet computers.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 3:49 pm

Microsoft, the company that defined the PC, is still enormously profitable — but not as profitable as it once was.

This week, Microsoft will try to regroup. It is rolling out the largest upgrade of its Windows software in more than a decade. All of this is meant to help the company break into the exploding market for mobile.

While the company still commands a formidable computing empire, it is now under attack.

Microsoft's CEO is Steve Ballmer, a big, bombastic, balding guy. These days he's riled up about Windows 8.

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NPR tech news
4:02 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

For Nobel winner's agency, precision is the only way to operate

NIST physicist and Nobel Prize-winner David Wineland adjusts an ultraviolet laser beam used to manipulate ions in a high-vacuum apparatus containing an "ion trap." These devices have been used to demonstrate the basic operations required for a quantum computer.
Copyright Geoffrey Wheeler National Institute of Standards and Technology

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 7:46 am

David Wineland is the American half of the scientific duo celebrating the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics today.

Wineland and French scientist Serge Haroche developed new ways for scientists to observe individual quantum particles without damaging them. This may not sound so impressive, but the work opens a world of possibilities— including the development of a quantum computer and super-precise clock.

But who needs a better clock? Don't we have pretty good ones already?

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NPR tech news
6:57 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Predicting The Future: Fantasy Or A Good Algorithm?

Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 8:47 am

After failing to predict the Arab Spring, intelligence officials are now exploring whether Big Data, the combing of billions of pieces of disparate electronic information, can help them identify hot spots before they explode. The intelligence community has always been in the business of forecasting the future. The question is whether tapping into publicly available data — Twitter and news feeds and blogs among other things — can help them do that faster and more precisely.

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NPR tech news
7:43 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Apple Is 'Extremely Sorry' For Its Much-Maligned Maps, CEO Tim Cook Says

Will it take you where you want to go? A new iPhone 5 and Apple's new mapping software.
Beck Diefenbach Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 7:46 am

How much of a "public relations disaster" has Apple's new mapping software been?

Big enough that the famously proud company has apologized — and suggested that users can turn to arch rival Google Maps instead.

In a message "to our customers" posted this morning, CEO Tim Cook says:

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NPR tech news
3:31 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Some rental computer users got more than they bargained for

Ever feel like someone is watching you? The Federal Trade Commission finds you could be right — if you've used a rental computer.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 6:12 am

Rent-to-own companies may have a right to use software to track the computers they lease out — and disable them remotely if a customer stops making payments.

But they don't have the right to spy on their customers, which is exactly what the Federal Trade Commission says took place. The agency found that the compromised data included everything from passwords to highly personal images.

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NPR tech news
7:08 am
Mon September 24, 2012

'Amazing scene' as riot shuts Foxconn plant in China

Workers at a Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, China, in 2010.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 6:01 am

  • NPR's Frank Langfitt talks with Steve Inskeep on 'Morning Edition'

At one point overnight as many as 2,000 workers at a Foxconn plant in Taiyuan, China, were involved in a riot that drew 5,000 police officers to the site and has closed the facility that makes parts for Apple's iPhones and hardware for other companies including Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.

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NPR tech news
10:02 am
Sat September 22, 2012

The Emoticon Turns 30, Seems Happy About It :-)

The emoticon turns 30 this week.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat September 22, 2012 8:33 am

The emoticon, punctuation to depict a facial expression, began 30 years ago this week. Using three keystrokes, the colon, dash and parenthesis, to suggest a smile may not be a great scientific advance, like the coronary stent or computer chip. But the emoticon has been simple, useful and enduring.

There had been previous hints of emoticons. A newspaper transcript of Abraham Lincoln drawing a laugh in 1862 follows it with a semi-colon and parentheses, but that may have simply been a printer's typo.

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NPR tech news
3:18 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Apple Unveils New, Thinner, Lighter iPhone 5

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller announces the new iPhone 5 during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 1:02 pm

Moments ago in San Francisco, Apple's Phil Schiller unveiled the latest incarnation of the company's massively popular smartphone.

The iPhone 5, said Schiller, is "the most beautiful product we've ever made."

Of course, you want to know what's different about this model: Essentially it's thinner, lighter, faster and also has a bigger screen than the iPhone 4s.

The device also comes equipped to work with faster wireless networks like LTE, which AT&T, Sprint and Verizon carry.

The AP adds:

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NPR tech news
4:40 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

11 Takeaways From Zuckerberg's First Interview Since Facebook's IPO

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg emphasized his company's mobile-centered future Tuesday, in his first public comments since Facebook's troubled IPO.
Eric Risberg AP

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 5:08 pm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave his first public interview after his tech company's rocky IPO and the disappointing stock performance that followed. Facebook's share price is now worth about $19 — half as much as it was priced back in May when its stock first went on the market.

Zuckerberg took questions from Michael Arrington at TechCrunch Disrupt, a San Francisco conference for startups. We watched and listened in to the talk in case you missed it:

Building a mission and business go hand-in-hand

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