Technology

Word of Mouth
10:00 am
Mon August 12, 2013

A Battle Of The Tech Titans

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Patent wars are now standard in the tech industry, so is fierce competition for markets. But what would happen if two Silicon Valley superpowers made the jump to all-out war?

“Though the feud with Apple has been escalating for months, Google CEO Larry Page has never given serious consideration to the plan known internally as Operation GhostFruit. Then Apple decided to test him, first by removing Google as the default search engine on the iPhone and iPad, and then …by blocking Apple devices’ access to Google.com entirely. Larry Page has no choice but to go nuclear.”

That’s an excerpt from Slate’s totally fictional, not remotely thought out experiment called “Wargames: Apple Versus Google,” a highly entertaining ten-part series imagining what might if happen if the two behemoths used all their power, resources, and money to destroy each other. Matt Yglesias is Slate's Business and Economics Correspondent and he spoke with us about the potential battle: Google vs. Apple.

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Word of Mouth
9:06 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Need Help Gardening? There's An App For That

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Whether you have a well-worn green thumb, or are making your first foray into home gardening, rest assured: there’s an app for that. New York Times Smart App Columnist Kit Eaton confesses he’s not an experienced gardener, but he dug in to the wide variety of garden-related apps on the market and joins us with some winners.   

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Word of Mouth
9:29 am
Thu August 8, 2013

U.K. Welcomes The World's First Lab Grown Burger

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You may have heard the news earlier this week that taste-testers and scientists in the U.K. sampled the world’s first lab-grown burger.  One food researcher said that the burger tasted “close to meat, but not that juicy”. Another quipped, “what was consistently different was the flavor”. Not a great review for a patty costing somewhere around three hundred and thirty thousand dollars, but you’ve got to start somewhere.  Henry Fountain, science reporter for the New York Times, tells us about the science under the bun.

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Word of Mouth
11:02 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Astroturfing On Amazon: Why Telecom Lobbyists Are Planting Bad Reviews

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It’s been a pretty big couple of weeks for Amazon.com.  First, President Obama chose one of the company’s fulfillment centers as a backdrop for a speech on raising the minimum wage.  Then, news broke that Amazon’s founder, billionaire Jeff Bezos, had purchased the venerable Washington Post.  Amazon now has one hundred and twenty-six million monthly users.  But they might want to start reading product reviews with a grain of salt.  Cited as the largest single source of internet consumer reviews in 2010, the online giant is susceptible to a deceitful practice called astroturfing.  When Susan Crawford’s book “Captive Audience” about the Telecom Industry was published in January, it attached a number of bad reviews later revealed to be fake…with a political agenda behind them.  Our guest Mike Masnick weeded out these fake reviews and published an expose for Techdirt that reached the front page of Reddit.  Masnick is the founder and CEO of Floor64 and editor of the Techdirt blog, we spoke with him about his findings.

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Word of Mouth
11:57 am
Thu August 1, 2013

One Of These Space Weather Events Is Not Like The Others

Courtesy nasa.gov

As we learned from Joe Hanson, space weather can be an amazing thing. As receiving real-time space weather forecasts is becoming more of a reality, it would be good to familiarize yourself with some of the weather events you can expect to see. We’ve compiled a list to test your space weather knowledge. All of these events sound fantastic and have been the fodder for many a Sci-Fi plot, but do you know which one of these 4 space weather events isn’t real?

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Word of Mouth
1:21 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Handwriting Is Not A Lost Art Thanks To A Computerized Pen

Credit lernstift.com

People often lament that handwriting is a lost art. But if the creators of a new educational tool have their way, calligraphy will never die out completely. The Lernstift – or “learning pen”– is a working computerized pen which uses vibration to help improve handwriting, and is projected to go into production this fall.   Word of Mouth’s Molly Donahue spoke with Daniel Kaesmacher who helped develop the Lernstift, to learn a little bit more about it.

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Word of Mouth
9:30 am
Fri July 26, 2013

Word Of Mouth 07.27.2013

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Our favorite content, curated in one amazing hour of radio. This week, the science behind J.K. Rowling's unmasking, a guy who played Mr. Darcy at a Jane Austen Summer Camp, the Libertarian festival for Seasteaders, a new telescope technology that will send balloons into space, regular folks drive NASCAR cars, and a musician who writes songs based on the New York Times column, "Modern Love."

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Word of Mouth
9:30 am
Wed July 24, 2013

Fighting Crimes Of The Future...In The Present

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The 2002 film Minority Report, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, imagines a futuristic crime unit that uses data provided by psychics to apprehend criminals before they commit crimes.

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Word of Mouth
1:28 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

The Linguistic Software That Exposed J.K. Rowling

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Last week, author J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame was uncovered as true author behind The Cuckoo’s Calling, a mystery novel written under the pen-name Robert Galbraith. Signed first editions of the book are now selling for over six thousand dollars, a testament to the value of a name. The reporters at the Sunday Times who broke the Rowling story consulted several academics whose methods of determining authorship relied heavily on software they had developed for that very purpose.

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Word of Mouth
9:37 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Letting Go Of Landlines Is Easier Than We Think

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The state of New Jersey is still recovering from destruction left by super storm Sandy last October. Billions have been spent rebuilding property and restoring infrastructure. There is one amenity that some Jersey Shore residents will never again enjoy…old-fashioned telephone land lines. The AP reported last week that the Ocean County borough of Mantoloking lost its copper wire telephone infrastructure in the storm, and that Verizon – which services the area -- refuses to replace it. The story cited Mantoloking as “one of the first places in the country where the traditional phone line is going dead.” Rob Fleischman doesn’t see it that way. He’s an internet infrastructure entrepreneur, CTO at Xerocole, and Word of Mouth’s explainer of all things wired, or in this case…wirelesses.

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Word of Mouth
8:59 am
Mon July 15, 2013

The Internet Is Public Information: Using Wi-Fi As Radar

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At any given moment invisible information is traveling all around you. There are two obvious examples: radio waves…or if you’re listening online, the wireless signal emitted by your router. Researchers at MIT have been experimenting with these signals and they’ve developed a type of radar that uses Wi-Fi signal that can be seen – and used to detect movement and even see through walls. Dina Katabi, is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and she spoke with us about her new project, what she’s calling “Wi-Vi.”

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Word of Mouth
8:58 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Software Reveals The True Story Behind Citizen Videos

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Egyptian troops fired on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo last week. In June, anti-government protests in Turkey were broken up by what the Council of Europe deemed to be excessive force. In Brazil, weeks of demonstrations climaxed on June 21, when millions spilled onto the streets in more than 100 cities. More than 180,000 citizen-made videos captured the throngs in Brazil alone and some were uploaded to support charges of undue police violence made by Amnesty International and other civil rights groups. As amateur media grows increasingly integrated into protest coverage, software developed by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley could support and protect activists against unjust persecution. Called the “Rashomon Project,” the program synchronizes films taken from multiple angles to creating a complete timeline that could to be used as evidence of abuse during human rights trials. Ken Goldberg is professor of engineering at UC Berkeley and leader of the Rashomon Project, and he spoke with us about the project.

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Word of Mouth
10:04 am
Mon June 24, 2013

Facial Recognition Databases Add To Privacy Concerns

Credit Angus McDiarmid via flickr Creative Commons

Facial recognition databases containing millions of are being scanned by local and federal government agencies to help curb everything from driver’s license fraud to terrorism. The growing library of faces also consists of non-offenders and innocent witnesses; many of the photos were taken without the subject’s consent or knowledge. For some, this accumulation of facial data is adding to growing concerns over individual privacy rights.

Craig Timberg is the Washington Post’s national technology reporter and has been covering this story along with Ellen Nakashima.

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Word of Mouth
2:47 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Jeopardy Champ Supercomputer "Watson" Has A New Job: Customer Service

Is this what Watson will look like when he (it?) takes your call?
Credit Rebecca Lavoie for NHPR

If you’ve ever felt like customer support from a call center is a hopeless case, there are now statistics to back that up. Forbes recently reported that fifty percent of calls that go through call centers go unresolved. IBM hopes to change that by putting their new star employee on the job - a super-computer named Watson. You remember Watson, right?


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Word of Mouth
9:23 am
Mon June 3, 2013

Cut The Cord On Cable, Still Watch Your Favorite Shows...Legally

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Premium TV channels like HBO, Showtime, and AMC are pricey, and with  many programs available on Netflix, Hulu, and other online sources, viewers are cutting the cable cord.  Those hanging on say they want to watch what they want, when they want it.

Joining us to give us some practical tips on cutting the cord to premium cable was David Sirota, a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, author, and contributor to Salon, where he wrote about his own exodus from cable.

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