Technology & Digital Life

All Tech Considered
3:19 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Will Bureaucracy Keep The U.S. Drone Industry Grounded?

Paul Applewhite of Applewhite Aero isn't allowed to fly this 3-pound Styrofoam plane. That's because he has added circuitry to make it autonomous — it can find its way to specified coordinates — which means it's an unmanned aerial vehicle requiring a special testing permit.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 3:27 pm

Americans are suspicious of drones. Reports of the unmanned aerial vehicles' use in war zones have raised concerns about what they might do here at home. For instance, in Seattle earlier this year, a public outcry forced the police department to abandon plans for eye-in-the-sky UAV helicopters.

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All Tech Considered
3:07 am
Tue April 30, 2013

When It Comes To Productivity, Technology Can Hurt And Help

With instant messages buzzing, emails pinging and texts ringing, how can employers increase productivity in the workplace? Software companies are tackling the problem, tracking employees' computer time to find ways to improve their efficiency.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 3:27 pm

Even when people think they're buckling down, studies show the average office worker wastes over a third of the day. There's Facebook, of course, and the email from a friend with a YouTube link. After all that, is it time to go get coffee?

Worker pay is the most expensive line item in the budget for most businesses, which means billions of dollars are going to waste.

But here's the silver lining: It turns out lack of productivity presents a big business opportunity.

Joe Hruska is pretty blunt about how much work anyone does in a typical day.

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All Tech Considered
5:51 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

How One College Is Closing The Computer Science Gender Gap

Harvey Mudd President Maria Klawe often uses her longboard to get around campus and chat with students like senior Xanda Schofield.
Wendy Kaufman NPR

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 7:48 pm

This story is part of our series The Changing Lives of Women.

There are still relatively few women in tech. Maria Klawe wants to change that. As president of Harvey Mudd College, a science and engineering school in Southern California, she's had stunning success getting more women involved in computing.

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All Tech Considered
5:17 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

A Real-World Connection Between Video Games And Guns

Medal of Honor's authentic action is a selling point for its publisher, Electronic Arts.
Courtesy of Electronic Arts

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 1:43 pm

In the aftermath of last year's Newtown, Conn., school shootings, the Entertainment Software Association, which serves computer and video game publishers, issued a statement saying that years of research has shown no connection between entertainment and real-world violence.

But there's still a connection between video game makers and real-world gun makers.

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Technology
5:00 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Tech Week Ahead: Touch Screen Keyboards

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 5:48 pm

Steve Henn looks ahead to a new touch screen keyboard developed by researchers at the University of St. Andrews. Melissa Block and Audie Cornish have more.

Digital Life
5:00 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

'Sleep Machine' Am Ambient Noise App For Your Nap

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 11:29 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And finally in Tech, an app for your nap. It's called Sleep Machine, and it lulls users into rest and relaxation by way of ambient noise: from lapping waves on the beach...

(SOUNDBITE OF WAVES)

BLOCK: ...to the loud hum of a hair dryer, if that's your thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF A HAIR DRYER)

BLOCK: And there's instrumental music

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PAUL F. TOMPKINS: I can't stop picturing the people making the music.

(LAUGHTER)

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Monkey See
1:01 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Can Online Shows Be Habit-Forming? Soaps May Provide Some Clues

Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams in a scene from the online-only premiere of All My Children.
Screenshot

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 10:23 am

In the world of television, there's nothing quite like a soap habit. People watch characters evolve not over the 10 or 15 seasons that might mark a long run in prime time, but over 30 or 40 years, until they have kids and grandkids — sometimes played by the same actors the entire time.

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All Tech Considered
3:29 am
Mon April 29, 2013

After Sandy, Questions Linger Over Cellphone Reliability

Residents of the East Village in New York City look for cellphone reception Nov. 1 after Hurricane Sandy wiped out power and some cell towers.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 1:07 pm

Roughly one in four cellphone towers in the path of Hurricane Sandy went out of service. It was a frustrating and potentially dangerous experience for customers without a landline to fall back on. Now, local officials and communications experts are pushing providers to improve their performance during natural disasters.

Lori McCaskill lives in Brooklyn, and when Sandy hit last October, her Verizon cell service went out. She couldn't work. She couldn't check in with family and friends. Her sister was due to have a baby any day.

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All Tech Considered
3:25 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Blazing The Trail For Female Programmers

Sarah Allen works with interns Lori Hsu (left) and Fito von Zastrow at the Blazing Cloud offices in San Francisco.
Ramin Rahimian for NPR

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 5:35 pm

This story is part of our series, The Changing Lives of Women.

Sarah Allen has been the only woman on a team of computer programmers a few times in the more than two decades she has worked in the field. Most notably, she led the team — as the lone female programmer — that created Flash video, the dominant technology for streaming video on the Web.

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History
4:21 pm
Sun April 28, 2013

First He Invented The Phone. Then, Bell Left A Voice Message

Though the quality of the sound recordings is poor, we know what Alexander Graham Bell was saying because he left transcripts.
Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 4:28 pm

As the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell is credited with bringing countless voices to our ears. And now, for the first time, here he is imploring us to hear his own voice:

The sound is scratchy. You have to strain to decipher it, but the words are clear. They're from Bell's lips, recorded in 1885 but unveiled just last week by the Smithsonian.

"It lets us know what the past was really like. It fills in a gap for people," says Shari Stout, collections manager at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

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