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."
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
If you’ve ever felt like customer support from a call center is a hopeless case, there are now statistics to back that up. Forbesrecently 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?
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.
In a product launch last Tuesday, gamers around the world waited with bated breath to see what innovations the Xbox One, Microsoft’s third console entry, would offer the gaming world.
The exhibition was sleek, innovative, trendy...and made almost no reference to gaming. Maybe not surprising, given that online entertainment usage outstripped online gaming for the first time last year. Here to discuss what Microsoft’s new console means for the future of home entertainment technology is Jamin Warren, co-founder of Killscreen and former culture reporter for the Wall Street Journal.
Earlier this week, Yahoo!'s board of directors approved the tech company’s one point one billion dollar purchase of the micro-blogging site Tumblr, the latest move in CEO Marissa Mayer’s bid to revive the flagging tech company. The purchase has some Tumblr users up in arms, and others simply shrugging their shoulders at what just seems like the latest acquisition in the wake of so many to come before it.
Joining us to explain a bit more what the purchase of Tumblr means for Yahoo! and fans of the site is Lance Ulanoff, Editor in Chief at Mashable.
A new data collection tool is being heralded as the first “mood ring” of the social media world. The “twittersphere” has become the home for millions and millions of micro-stories - fleeting tales of everyday life broadcast to the masses. Now, researchers at the University of Vermont are looking to extract a social pulse from Twitter’s vast output. Millions of tweets have been processed through UVM’s Hedonometer, which measures collective levels of happiness over space and time. Here to discuss the project - and the newly launched website, is Chris Danforth, associate professor at the University of Vermont’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics and one of the developers behind the Hedonometer.
A government lab announced earlier this month that it’s been operating a quantum internet at Los Alamos for the past two years. Which led us to wonder, um, WHAT IS A QUANTUM INTERNET??? Joining us to explain it is Rob Fleischman, Chief Technology Officer at Xero-Cole, and the guy we call to help us understand things like, you know, quantum technology.
Syria’s civil war is now in its third year. More than 70,000 people have been killed; more than 1.4 million people have fled their homes; lives and families have been shattered; landmarks decimated and the economy is crumbling. Among those seeking refuge in neighboring Jordan are innovators and diaspora entrepreneurs who may well be seeding the ideas and infrastructure of Syria’s future. Patrick Clark is a reporter for Bloomberg Business Week covering small business and entrepreneurship and wrote about a tech boot camp for Syrians working in Jordan with Sarah Topol.
Google Glass -- a glass-lens like device which allows users to access the internet, take photos and film short snippets, is slated for retail release at the end of this year or in early 2014. Already, the wearable computer has been preemptively banned in large parts of Las Vegas, and legislators in at least one state are trying to make it illegal to use while driving. While there could be some tough legal battles ahead, that may not be the biggest hurdle facing Google Glass. Marcus Wohlson is a staff writer for Wired Business…and he wonders if Google Glass may just be too dorky to go mainstream.