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technology

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

As predicted, China's Tiangong-1 space lab fell from the sky on Sunday evening.

The city bus-sized craft, which almost entirely burned up as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, broke into small pieces as it plummeted over the South Pacific Ocean. The derelict spacecraft has been slowly falling out of its original orbit for several years.

Facebook phone
Flickr Photo/Stock Catalog (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/23qV3ca

Have you deleted your Facebook yet? Last week alarm bells were ringing as we learned about the data Facebook has on us and what they can do with it.

We found out that a British marketing company used Facebook data to build personality profiles of its users. This marketing firm, Cambridge Analytica, would sell that personality profile to politicians like Donald Trump promising that this information could win votes.

But was that ever true? Can Facebook data swing elections? Bill Radke talks with Antonio Garcia Martinez, who helped Facebook figure out how user data can point ads at you.

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner displays a pen from the signing ceremony of Washington State's Equal Pay Opportunity Act.
KUOW Photo/Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong

Starbucks claims to have solved the thorny problem of pay equity. At least in their current workforce. At least in the US. And this isn’t a final announcement, just a milestone in an ongoing endeavor…

The #DeleteFacebook movement is putting its money where its mouth is. Since the company's recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook's stock has plunged 18 percent — decimating about $80 billion from the company's total market value, according to a couple of analyses.

China's Tiangong-1 space station may fall from the sky on April 1.

That is not an April Fools' joke. It's a real possibility.

The European Space Agency has narrowed its window for re-entry of the long-abandoned orbiting lab — the current estimate is that it will plunge from orbit in a fiery ball of flame sometime between March 31 to April 2.

But that window is considered "highly variable" and no one is sure yet where exactly it will come down.

The Facebook scandal over misuse of user information has reached a Canadian data analytics company. And a whistleblower says he believes the firm, which has ties to the Trump presidential campaign, may have swayed the U.K.'s 2016 Brexit vote.

Which world would you rather be flying in? (The Astrovision one, clearly.)
Astrovision promotional materials

"When this movie's over, the audience will be halfway across the country."

This is not because they'll have fled the scene. Instead, it's an introduction to Astrovision, American Airlines' 1960s answer to other airlines' dominant single screen. It allowed individual film choice and a view of the skies - with consequences that ranged from the dangerous to the absurd. 

The Democratic attorneys general of Washington and Oregon joined 35 of their colleagues Monday in sending a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The letter demands answers to several questions about Facebook’s privacy policies.

Rachel Ralph works long hours at an accounting firm in Oakland, Calif., and coordinates much of her life via the apps on her phone.

So when she first heard several months ago that she could order her usual brand of birth control pills via an app and have them delivered to her doorstep in a day or two, it seemed perfect. She was working 12-hour days.

"Food was delivered; dinner was often delivered," Ralph says. "Anything I could get sent to my house with little effort — the better."

Sunita Williams wasn't the kind of kid who wanted to be an astronaut when she grew up. She wanted to be a veterinarian. But she managed to achieve the former kid's dream job, anyway.

Will private rockets destroy the ozone layer?

Mar 23, 2018
Space-X's Falcon 9 rocket with 10 satellites launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017.
AP Photo/Matt Hartman

Private space companies like Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's Space-X are sending rockets into the upper atmosphere.

Does more activity in space mean more pollution for Earth? That's a concern of listener Laurie McQuaig of Seattle.

She asked us to investigate the issue, so reporter Katherine Banwell took the question to local science and tech expert. Alan Boyle. He says there's no need for concern at the moment — yet.

When President Trump phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his re-election Wednesday, Trump made no mention of one of the latest irritants between Russia and the West — his administration's announcement that Russia successfully hacked the U.S. power grid.

A group of people jog across Lenora Street, on Thursday, October 5, 2017, in front of Amazon's biodomes, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Bill Radke talks to Bloomberg's Emily Chang, author of the book "Brotopia: Breaking Up The Boy's Club Of Silicon Valley," and Kristi Coulter, former Amazon employee and writer of the upcoming book "Nothing Good Can Come From This," about how the sometimes misogynistic and aggressive work culture in places like Silicon Valley shuts women out of the booming tech industry. 

Computer technology keyboard
Flickr Photo/Anonymous Account (CC BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1Zj35Hj

Let's travel to the future for a moment and step inside a fish and chips joint for some lunch. Inside - the manager is planning a new promotional campaign. She's thinking of who's coming in, and what they want to eat. And she's doing it using Big Data.

NPR Survey: Still On Facebook, But Worried

Mar 21, 2018

Facebook has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of revelations that election data company Cambridge Analytica accessed the private Facebook data of 50 million users. The social media giant is facing questions from U.S. and British regulators, and withering criticism in the press.

But the scandal is grounded in everyday America — after all, it was the millions of women, men, parents, grandparents, friends and old acquaintances on the site who had their data accessed.

A view from unit 204, Spyglass Hill apartments
Sound West Group

There’s a new way to get rental housing – by bidding against other people on an app. The person who offers to pay the most gets the spot.

Seattle City Council wants none of this. In a setback for tech entrepreneurs trying to disrupt the rental housing market, the Council issued a one-year moratorium on these kinds of rent auction apps.

Online auction apps like Rentberry and Biddwell serve as a sort eBay for rental housing — how much the rent will ultimately cost isn’t known until the deal closes.

A Sony Walkman, belonging to a fictional character named Alex, holds a cassette mix tape.
GeekWire Photo/Kurt Schlosser

Let this segment take you back — WAY back.

We’re in your high school computer class. It's the 1980s: Walkmans in backpacks, satin jackets in lockers, Apple IIe computers running BASIC. Where is this nostalgic wonderland, you ask? 

There aren't very many scientists who achieved rock star status. Stephen Hawking, who has died at the age of 76, family members told British media early Wednesday, was definitely a contender.

Late at night, in the gathered shadows of your bedroom, you may have heard it. Or, perhaps you heard it over breakfast with your family in the kitchen, the sound rising unbidden from over your shoulder in a corner of the room you had thought — and now, desperately wish — to be empty.

Laughter. Quick, inhuman laughter.

At least, that's what Amazon Echo owners say they've been hearing lately. In recent weeks, many of them have hit social media saying their smart speakers have been laughing spontaneously, unprompted by commands.

Jeff Bezos looks up at a living wall during the grand opening of Amazon's spheres in Seattle in January
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has become the world’s first centibillionaire. By amassing net wealth estimated by Forbes at $127 billion, he has passed Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to become the richest human in history.

That number is so large that it’s hard to make sense of. Just how rich is the world’s richest man?

Could you teach computer class without a computer?

For Owura Kwadwo Hottish, 33, an information and communications technology teacher in Ghana, it's his only option. At the middle school where he works, there are no computers. So using colored chalk, he painstakingly draws a version of the computer screen onto the blackboard.

It's 3am. Does your coffee machine know where you are?
Flickr Photo/Daniel Foster (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/E3Hf4R

In "1984," surveillance devices were installed in homes by the government. In 2018, we pay corporations to install the surveillance ourselves. Kashmir Hill, a journalist with Gizmodo, chatted with Bill Radke about her own foray into smartening up her home.

Tinder date sign
Flickr Photo/Chris Goldberg (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/ptjdAP

Deborah Wang talks to Susie Lee, the Seattle-based founder and CEO of the online dating app Siren, about the history of computer facilitated dating. 

Flickr Photo/Andreas Eldh (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to Samuel Woolley, director of the Digital Intelligence Lab at the Institute of the Future, about how social media bots have influenced and driven conversations online and what can be done to stop the flow of disinformation. 

kids drawings
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Compost-pooping robot dog! Smog-cleaning penguins! Treehouses! Wikes (wind + bikes)!!! 

Those are just a few of the fantastic and whimsical ideas submitted to our drawing contest that asked kids to imagine one way Seattle can save energy.

Pedestrians cross the street at Amazon headquarters in Seattle in September.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Carbon emissions by the tech giants that dominate cloud computing are surging, even as companies like Amazon and Microsoft take steps to tame their climate impact.

The Seattle-area competitors — two of the nation’s largest electricity consumers — take different approaches to their clouds' carbon problems. One favors sunshine; the other, secrecy. Internal documents obtained by KUOW break through that secrecy.

Mary Haddish, 14, left, shops with her father, Daniel Ghebre at Amazon Go on Monday, January 22, 2018, on 7th Ave., in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Nobody likes to wait in line. So today, Amazon removed that unpleasantness from the neighborhood grocery store. At Amazon Go, you walk in, pick up your groceries and walk out.

Who can say why some gimmicks take off and others flop? But the Google Arts & Culture app tapped into the zeitgeist over the weekend, until it seemed like just about everyone with access to a camera phone and a social media account was seeking and sharing their famous painting doppelganger.

“This is a drawing of a bus that runs on electricity. More people will take the bus.”
Tala, Age 6

Hey parents, families or teachers! Do your kids like to draw? 

Invite them to enter KUOW’s climate-friendly drawing contest. Winners will take home prizes and may have a chance to discuss their ideas on air!

The contest is part of our series on climate change, The Burning Question.

James Damore, the former Google engineer who was fired after he wrote a memo sharply criticizing diversity efforts at the company, has filed a class-action lawsuit against his former employer alleging that the tech giant discriminates against conservative white men.

"Google executives and employees condemned Damore, his memo, and his views," according to the lawsuit, filed Monday. Damore says he was laughed at, personally insulted and attacked, before ultimately being fired in August.

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