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technology

phone listen headphones
Flickr Photo/Christoph Spiegl (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/99y97M

Smart devices like your phone or tablet could be used to track your movements. A group of computer science researchers at the University of Washington recently demonstrated this.

They turned smart devices into active sonar systems using a new computer code they created called CovertBand and a few pop songs.

technology computer keyboard
Flicker Photo/Leslee Lazar (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke speaks with Claire Cain Miller, a reporter with Upshot for the New York Times, about her article that looks at the stereotype of tech workers as loner genius nerds and why it is dangerous to perpetuate that myth. 

Here's what we've been told about passwords:

  • Make them complicated.
  • Use numbers, question marks and hash marks.
  • Change them regularly.
  • Use different passwords for each app and website.

These guidelines often leave users frustrated and struggling to remember them all.

Flickr Photo/Robert Scoble (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke speaks with Slate tech writer April Glaser about the reasons that Google fired an engineer after he wrote a memo that questioned the ability of women to be successful in the tech industry. 

The cubist revolution, now in its eighth year, is thriving.

That's Minecraft cubes, of course.

The game where you build virtual Lego-like worlds and populate them with people, animals and just about everything in between is one of the most popular games ever made; it's second only to Tetris as the best-selling video game of all time. There's gold in them thar cubes: More than 120 million copies have sold since Minecraft launched in 2009.*

So what's behind the game's enduring appeal?

For the first time, a generation of children is going through adolescence with smartphones ever-present. Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, has a name for these young people born between 1995 and 2012: "iGen."

She says members of this generation are physically safer than those who came before them. They drink less, they learn to drive later and they're holding off on having sex. But psychologically, she argues, they are far more vulnerable.

Seattle women with advanced degrees earned 68 cents on the dollar that men made in 2015. Women with high school degrees were closer to parity with men of their education level in the city.
Flickr Photo/European Parliament (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/rwbiZy

If you're a Seattle woman with an advanced degree, another man in the city with the same level of education may earn quite a bit more than you.  

Updated 11:30 p.m. ET

A senior software engineer reportedly has been fired by Google after a memo he wrote criticizing diversity initiatives was leaked and sparked protests on social media.

The 3,300-word document that has been shared across Google's internal networks says "biological causes" are part of the reason women aren't represented equally in its tech departments and leadership. The senior engineer also cited "men's higher drive for status."

Marcus Hutchins' Twitter account suddenly went quiet a day ago when the FBI took him into custody in Las Vegas on Wednesday. The 23-year-old British citizen — who was praised earlier this year when he was credited with helping to control a global ransomware attack — was in town attending the Black Hat and DefCon cybersecurity conferences.

A privacy watchdog group has filed a complaint with the FTC over Google's system for tracking purchases Internet users make in person, at physical store locations.

In his North Korean mining town, Kim Hak-min loved getting his hands on electronics so much that he became the go-to guy to fix his neighbors' watches, TV's and radios. It earned the nickname "Repair Boy."

"I remember first opening up an electric toy when I was eight years old, figuring out how it worked and clutching it when I went to sleep," Kim recalls.

But by 2011, Kim had yet to encounter a smartphone.

"When I was in North Korea the only phones I saw where 2G and they were flip phones," Kim says.

Courtesy of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Yes, you were promised a jet pack. Your disappointment around that may still sting, or you may be more concerned about global warming, or a robot taking your job, or finding affordable housing. Or you might be reasonably concerned that the digital revolution will leave you somewhere on the global trash heap of history.

A new book will help you find out what’s happening now and next in technology and maybe how to stay ahead of the curve.

You may have read that Bigfoot was found dead on a lake shore in New Mexico this summer. He wasn't. You can learn about that hoax here from the myth-busting and fact-checking site Snopes.

You may have heard NASA predicted the Earth will endure 15 straight days of darkness this fall. It didn't. Snopes has that covered too — debunking the claim when it first appeared in 2015 and again in May when it resurfaced.

In the neonatal intensive care unit of Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, a father is rocking a baby attached to a heart monitor. While doctors roam the halls trying to prevent infections, Chief Information Officer Theresa Meadows is worried about another kind of virus.

"The last thing anybody wants to happen in their organization is have all their heart monitors disabled or all of their IV pumps that provide medication to a patient disabled," Meadows says.

Crumbs may seem harmless here on Earth, but they can be a hazard in microgravity — they could get in an astronaut's eye, or get inhaled, causing someone to choke. Crumbs could even float into an electrical panel, burn up or cause a fire.

That's part of the reason why it was a very big deal in 1965 when John Young pulled a corned beef sandwich out of his pocket as he was orbiting the earth with Gus Grissom.

"Where did that come from?" Grissom asked Young.

"I brought it with me," Young said.

Even the most commonplace devices in our world had to be invented by someone.

Take the windshield wiper. It may seem hard to imagine a world without windshield wipers, but there was one, and Mary Anderson lived in that world.

In 1902, Anderson was visiting New York City.

Mute button on an Amazon Echo
Flickr Photo/Rob Albright/(CC BY-NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/C6Ae3S

Bill Radke speaks with WIRED senior writer Emily Dreyfuss about her article that asks the question if Amazon's Echo should be able to call the police and what implications that could have on our privacy. 

Elon Musk is warning that artificial intelligence is a "fundamental existential risk for human civilization," and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is looking into how states can respond.

What will a post email world look like?

Jul 18, 2017
Then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, hugs his son Donald Trump Jr. during a rally at Ohio University Eastern Campus in St. Clairsville, Ohio, Tuesday, June 28, 2016.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Bill Radke speaks with Farhad Manjoo, NY Times tech columnist, and Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, about the frustrations and alternatives to emails.

They discuss how the blowback from Donald Trump Jr.'s recent email controversy highlights the problems with email. They also discuss what could replace email and how much (or little) people value the privacy of their digital communications. 

Texting or holding a phone to your ear while driving is already illegal in Washington state. But starting Sunday, Washington state troopers and local police will begin enforcing a toughened law against distracted driving.

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.

Microsoft aims to connect two million rural Americans to broadband Internet by 2022.
Flickr Photo/Steve Rhode (CC BY-NC-ND)

Washington is one of the states that could benefit from Microsoft's new plan to boost broadband Internet access to rural communities.

South Lake Union neighborhood, home to many Seattle tech companies
Flickr Photo/Tim Eytan (CC-BY-SA-2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9yHUyP

Emily Fox talks with immigration attorney Tahmina Watson about President Trump's decision to put an end to the International Entrepreneur Rule, which would have allowed some foreign business owners to build their companies in the U.S.

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.

The battery-free cell phone is powered by ambient radio signals or light.
Mark Stone/University of Washington (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/Wk7pzy

It could be a game changer for future cell phones, and other battery power hogging devices: University of Washington engineers have invented a cell phone that doesn't need a battery.


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

Twenty years ago Tuesday, a plucky little probe named Pathfinder landed at Ares Vallis on the surface of Mars.

It didn't land in the traditional way, with retrorockets firing until it reached the surface. No, Pathfinder bounced down to its landing site, cushioned by giant air bags. It was a novel approach, and the successful maneuver paved the way for a similar system used by the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2003.

After years of requests from drivers, Uber has added a tipping function on its app
Flickr photo/Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures (CC BY-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/kAYh8Z

Passengers who use the ride-hailing app Uber will now have the option to tip their driver.

The company has refused to offer it until now, even though drivers have long requested it and competing app Lyft already allows tipping.

Names and personal data of about a million people may have been compromised in a burglary involving Washington State University property. This month the university started alerting people who could be impacted.

View of Mt. Rainier from the Paradise parking lot.
KUOW Photo/Matt Martin

"Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness," that's what the famous naturalist John Muir said. Sounds like Muir would not want his cell phone to work at Mount Rainier National Park.

But the park service wants to know what you think about a proposal to add cell service at Mount Rainier's Paradise Visitors Center. Public comment is open now.

KUOW producer Matt Martin explains to host Bill Radke about what people visiting Paradise think about the proposal. 

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