It's family vacation time, and I've taken the kids back to where I grew up — a small plot of land off a dirt road in Kansas.

For my city kids, this is supposed to be heaven. There are freshly laid chicken eggs to gather, new kittens to play with and miles of pasture to explore.

But we're not outside.

I'm sitting in my childhood bedroom watching my 7-year-old son and his 11-year-old-cousin stare at a screen. The older kid is teaching the younger the secrets of one of the most popular games on Earth: Minecraft.

Pluto turns out to be pretty lively.

Not Las Vegas, perhaps, but more vivacious with geologic activity than we've ever known about, and for good reason: Pluto is currently almost 3 billion miles away from Earth, a dwarf planet spinning in the lonely last ring of our solar system.

This year is poised to be a difficult firefighting season in the Pacific Northwest. Most parts of Oregon and Washington experienced the warmest January to June since record keeping began in 1890, and the drought that has devastated California is steadily advancing north.

Making the season even more tense, firefighters are reporting an increasing number of near misses with unmanned drones, many of which appear to be sent by hobbyists or photographers trying to document fires.

Battery problems on the Solar Impulse, the airplane that has been flying around the world using only the sun's power, have grounded the plane until next spring. The lithium-ion batteries overheated on a recent five-day trip from Japan to Hawaii.

"Irreversible damage to certain parts of the batteries will require repairs which will take several months," organizers said early Wednesday, ending hopes of finishing what would be a record-setting trip by late summer.

The buzzing phone or ding of an email from the bedside table might be standard these days. But a long-awaited proposal that would increase the number of employees eligible for overtime pay could mean more companies curtailing the use of work email after hours.

When Nicholas Castillo was hired as a bank branch manager several years ago, he was told his $30,000 salary came with expectations.

This past week, users of the social-sharing platform Reddit — one of the busiest sites on the Internet — hit a wall when moderators on several of the site's largest sections, called subreddits, locked users out.

Filmmakers are using virtual reality to make the problems of the developing world seem more ... real.

But how can you see their work?

You could buy a headset, but you might end up in virtual debt. Prices range from $200 to $500 for devices from big players like Oculus Rift, Sony and Samsung. And forking over that much cash is a problem since there's not a lot of content yet.

The decades-old ban on taking photographs inside the White House during public tours is being lifted today, first lady Michelle Obama announced on Instagram.

The White House, in a statement, said guests are welcome to take photos throughout the White House tour route and encouraged visitors to share their experiences using the hashtag #WhiteHouseTour.

What's permitted: Phones and compact still cameras with a lens no longer than 3 inches.

Would you let your smartphone share your location if it meant that one day you could come to a stranger's rescue?

Seattle's Real Change Newspaper Impresses With Pay App

Jun 25, 2015
Robert Surles sells Real Change, Seattle's homeless paper, at First Avenue and Yesler Way.
KUOW Photo/Ashley Stewart

Robert Surles is out on First Avenue and Yesler Way every day.

He’s selling Real Change, Seattle’s homeless newspaper.

When it comes to online video, the world is glued to YouTube. People watch billions of videos on it every day. And that huge share of online eyeballs is why other companies are trying to chip away at its dominance and lure some of its biggest stars away from the service.

What's Trending On Instagram? A Battle With Twitter

Jun 23, 2015

Consider yourself warned: Instagram rolled out an update Tuesday, and the photo-sharing app may be about to eat up a lot more of your time.

More substantial than other recent makeovers touting new filters, this change will transform Instagram into a stream of real-time updates from around the country. Following in the footsteps of Twitter and Facebook, Instagram wants to be a source for your news.

Computer scientist and author Ramez Naam
Courtesy of Ramez Naam

Ross Reynolds interviews Seattle computer scientist and science fiction writer Ramez Naam about the latest technology in human enhancement.  Naam is the author of the 2010 book, “More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement."

broadband router internet
Flickr Photo/Tom Page (CC BY 2.0)

Ross Reynolds interviews Christopher Mitchell about what steps Seattle might take to provide affordable broadband internet for all. Mitchell is the director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Michael Dalder/Reuters

Today, computer and information technology is advancing faster than at any time in human history. Tons of money is being invested into and earned from the industry. Technology giants like Google, Facebook and Apple are changing the world through technological innovations.