technology

A few days back, All Tech got a question from an NPR listener that got us curious.

Tim Callahan from Seattle wrote:

"A friend asked how texting — in all its forms (admittedly a squishy thing to corral) — is contributing to global warming? After saying, 'minimally...', I thought about how to answer that question. Putting aside the sunk contribution caused by the manufacture and transport of the device you text with, how much does the battery emit / generate while a person does a typical or somehow average text? ... Can you help quantify?"

Here's a stark fact: Most American children spend more time consuming electronic media than they do in school.

According to Common Sense Media, tweens log 4 1/2 hours of screen time a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. For teens, it's even higher: nearly seven hours a day. And that doesn't include time spent using devices for school or in school.

USGS/KUOW

Thousands of people throughout the Puget Sound region felt a 4.8-magnitude earthquake Tuesday night centered between San Juan Island and Vancouver Island.

No major damage was reported, but seismologists are wondering about the role played by slow-slip tremors.

Flickr photo/Philip Cohen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Washington Department of Corrections learned in 2012 that the software it was using to calculate prisoners' time off for good behavior was letting some prisoners out too soon. A possible fix to that computer error was delayed 16 separate times, Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke said Tuesday.

Microsoft sign on the company's Redmond, Washington campus.
Flickr Photo/Wonderlane (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1NM853Z

David Hyde speaks with Geekwire co-founder Todd Bishop about the top three tech stories in Seattle in 2015, including a revival at Microsoft, Amazon deliveries, and the murky story of the $70,000 wage at Gravity Payments.

Delaney Foster envisioned a robotics program that would help students with autism -- like her big sister Kendall Foster, a Roosevelt High senior.
Cyberknights Instagram

The commons at Roosevelt High School had been transformed into a battle ground. 

Robots built by students in the special education program at Roosevelt waited to enter the ring.  

Editor's Note: This post accompanies a story that you can hear on the NPR One app by following this link.

The words you use betray who you are.

Linguists and psychologists have long been studying this phenomenon. A few decades ago they had a hunch that the number of active verbs in your sentences or which adjectives you use (lovely, sweet, angry) reflect personality traits.

Commercial spaceflight company SpaceX launched a rocket with a group of communications satellites into orbit. But it was the landing that received most of the attention and made history.

The Falcon 9 rocket, which lifted off Monday evening in Florida, was carrying 11 small satellites for communications company Orbcomm.

Bill Radke speaks with Luis Ceze about why we should store digital data in DNA and how it can be done. Ceze is a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. He's working with Microsoft researchers on this project. 

Thomas Furness is known as the pioneer who stood at the inception of what we know today as virtual reality.

The camera on your smartphone is powerful. You use it to record your baby's first steps. Take a panorama shot or selfies at the Taj Mahal. Every day, we're finding new uses.

And recently, a startup in Silicon Valley realized: That camera on the phone could be used by people who are blind, to get help seeing remotely. The company Be My Eyes has created a novel kind of volunteer opportunity on the Internet.

Is a drone a toy or a (tiny) airplane?

To the Department of Transportation, the question is far from complicated.

"Unmanned aircraft operators are aviators and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said on Monday while unveiling new drone registration rules.

Citing a potential fire hazard, major U.S. airlines are banning hoverboards from their cabins and cargo holds. Announcing its ban, Delta acknowledged the toy's "presence on many gift lists this holiday season" but said safety comes first.

The bans come as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says it's looking into at least 10 reports of the self-balancing electric scooters bursting in flames — an occurrence that's allegedly been captured on video, in some cases.

Children's personal information isn't supposed to be an online commodity. But whether kids are using Google apps at school or Internet-connected toys at home, they're generating a stream of data about themselves. And some advocates say that information can be collected too easily and sometimes, protected too poorly.

Remember net neutrality?

Right, it's that brain-flexing term that refers to the idea that phone and cable companies should treat all of the traffic on their networks equally. No blocking or slowing their competitors, and no fast lanes for companies that can pay more.

In fact, the term itself was so nerdy that it's been "re-branded" as Open Internet.

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