technology

Ross Reynolds talks to Porter Erisman, a former vice president at Alibaba -- the biggest e-commerce site on the Web -- about his new book, "Alibaba's World: How A Remarkable Chinese Company is Changing the Face of Global Business."

Jennifer Pahlka at the 2014 Code For America Summit
Flickr Photo/Carlos Moreno

In 2013, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act on the healthcare.gov website became a debacle for the Obama administration. Sen. Mitch McConnell said about it: "God only knows how much money they've spent and it's a failure … the government simply isn't going to be able to get this job done correctly."

One key safety feature was missing from the stretch of track where an Amtrak passenger train going more than 100 mph derailed and killed seven people.

Investigators say that if positive train control had been installed on that stretch, the technology could have automatically slowed the train and perhaps saved lives.

NPR's David Schaper tells our Newscast unit that Amtrak and other railroads are behind schedule in rolling out the technology.

He filed this report:

In recent years, Twitter has become the go-to destination for news junkies. Now, Facebook is entering a deal with nine news organizations, including The New York Times, NBC News and Buzzfeed, to run some of their in-depth articles, photos and videos inside Facebook. No need to leave the app!

Christian Cultee, a student at the Northwest Indian College, with a rocket that broke the sound barrier.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It started out as a joke. 

The students at Northwest Indian College on the Lummi Reservation near Bellingham were launching little rockets made from recycled water bottles as a way to do some hands-on science.

Ellen McLain had a long career as an opera singer. But now her voice is most famous for something entirely different: video games. McLain is the voice of GLaDOS, the passive-aggressive computer in the games Portal and Portal 2.

Gene DeAnna sits at a computer next to a vintage Victrola, appropriate for his job as curator of the National Jukebox project.

It's an online collection of some 10,000 pre-1925 recordings, made acoustically, without any electrical amplification. DeAnna points to a photo on the jukebox's Web page.

"You can see in this picture here that they gathered the orchestra around a great big recording horn and behind the curtain there is a cutter that is cutting the recording into a wax master," he said.

An Acousitic Doppler Current Profiler (four blue-red cyllinders with yellow housing) is installed at the base of Axial Seamount.
University of Washington/Interactive Oceans (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with University of Washington oceanographer John Delaney about Axial Seamount, the underwater volcano that just erupted off the Oregon coast.

"When the volcano erupts it releases a gigantic plume, just like any volcano, except that all that plume is caught within the ocean itself," Delaney said. 

Back in 1890, Thomas Edison gave us some of the world's first talking dolls. Today, the glassy-eyed cherubs that are still around stand about 2 feet tall; they have wooden limbs and a metal body; and they sound supercreepy. (If you're looking for a soundtrack to your nightmares, listen to the audio story above.) Edison built and sold about 500 of them back in 1890. Now, new technology has made hearing them possible for the first time in decades.

Thom Pasiecki, 24, says that after he lost his job in Connecticut and broke up with his girlfriend, he realized he needed help with an online gaming addiction.
KUOW photo/Jamala Henderson

Thom Piasecki is on day 19 of digital rehab at a rural retreat in eastern King County.

His daily routine is mostly outside, walking on dirt paths through forested areas, feeding chickens and doves, and checking on goldfish in a tub outside. 

The increasingly abundant use of emojis across cultures and age groups — and the similar meanings we assign them — suggest we're entering an era of hybrid communication, as we treat pictures like a real language.

Microsoft Windows 10
Flickr Photo/Miguel Angel Aranda

Marcie Sillman talks with Geekwire's Todd Bishop about Microsoft's pitch to get software developers on board with Windows 10.

The Access Map by team Hackcessible, a team of University of Washington students, won Seattle's Hack the Commute competition on Wednesday night.
Access Map

A few months ago the City of Seattle launched a search for the next big commuter tool.

The idea was to Hack the Commute – and make a real difference in the lives of people who need to move around our region. Wednesday night they picked a winning project.

Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey are trying to figure out whether smartphones might be used to give earthquake warnings.

People standing above the epicenter of a large earthquake will feel the ground shaking before those on the periphery of the quake. The same can be said of their smartphones.

Ben Brooks with the USGS says if a computer was checking for simultaneous movement of a large number of smartphones, it could give people on the periphery of a quake a 10 or 20 second warning.

That's enough time to stop a surgeon from making a cut, he said.

A container ship at the Port of Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Bari Bookout (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds speaks with economics reporter Jon Talton about climate change's affect the economy of the Pacific Northwest.

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