technology

A move by embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to shut down Twitter in Turkey looks to be backfiring. The hashtag #TwitterblockedinTurkey quickly spread upon news of the ban, and the country's own president tweeted his disdain.

Chion Wolf

Once upon a time, comic books were a niche for kids and nerds. Now they are mainstream culture. "The Avengers" is the number three all-time worldwide grossing movie.

I would like to pause, and say that I owned, as a kid, issue number one of The Avengers. I remember distinctly where I got it, and how I felt about it. I do not remember distinctly what happened to it.

We're updating this post as new information comes in.

There's still no sign of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 or the 239 people on board.

The plane went missing March 8, less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on what was supposed to be about a six-hour flight to Beijing.

Malaysian officials are asking more than a dozen nations to help find the jetliner that went missing last weekend. The search area for the Boeing 777 was widely expanded Saturday; investigators are now looking for potential motives among the plane's crew and passengers to disrupt the flight.

This post is being updated.

Just a few hours after a stunning report from The Wall Street Journal — headlined "U.S. Investigators Suspect Missing Airplane Flew On For Hours" — the Malaysian officials in charge of the investigation say that story's central premise isn't true.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy wants to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. He said the makers of the devices may be trying to hook smokers while they're young. 

The Senate was a chamber divided in reaction to Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein's diatribe against the CIA for allegedly hacking into Senate computers.

A no-nonsense Feinstein, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, took to the Senate floor Tuesday to speak at length and publicly for the first time about a dispute with the agency.

Chion Wolf

In the second season of the Netflix series, House of Cards, the protagonist Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, pulls out an old family typewriter, an Underwood of course, to write a pseudo-heartfelt letter to the President.

Frank's father gave him the typewriter saying this Underwood built an empire. Now you go build another.

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has leaked large amounts of classified information about the agency's electronic surveillance programs, spoke via video to a sympathetic audience at South By Southwest Interactive on Monday.

Creative Commons

A witness, expected to testify today in a terrorism trial in New York,  is also believed to be the person federal prosecutors want to testify at the sentencing later this year of two British citizens imprisoned in Connecticut for supporting terrorism. 

Shawn M. Smith / Flickr Creative Commons

Amanda Hess is one of our favorite social critics. She writes for Slate and lately, well always, she's thinking about the depiction of women in mass media, including a statistical disparity between the performances of men and women on Jeopardy

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden will speak via videoconference to the attendees of South by Southwest Interactive later this morning, and you can bet a much wider audience than just those here in Austin will be watching.

South by Southwest Interactive is the technology-driven part of the annual Austin-based festival for digital, film and music and it starts on Friday. An expected 30,000 people will take part in the interactive and film week that precedes music, and they love it for the spontaneity and the chaos. They also hate it because of the chaos — parties on every corner, marketing handouts at every turn and a sprawling program of panels, screenings and speakers that span at least a dozen city blocks in the heart of Texas.

This post was updated at 10:30 a.m. ET on March 6.

Facebook said Wednesday that it will limit minors' access to pages and posts that offer firearms for sale, along with other measures intended to curtail illegal gun trafficking.

"This is something we've been working on for a while," says Facebook spokesman Matt Steinfeld. "We want to balance the interests of people who come here to express themselves while promoting an environment that is safe and respectful."

Rick / Creative Commons

Today on The Scramble, one of our favorite writers, A.J. Jacobs takes us deep inside the world of modern ancestry research where websites are all  too happy to tell you that you're distantly related to Gwynyth Paltrow, Michael Bloomberg, Quincy Jones, and King David.  Those are all actual examples of people A.J. was told are his relatives. 

E-Sports Reach Pro-Athletic Status, Fandom — And Money

Mar 2, 2014

Online competitive gaming is increasingly mirroring the world of professional sports. E-sports are attracting hard-working teams that compete for millions of dollars in prize money.

Generally, gamers wage battles with one another using rapid clicks of a computer mouse. "A lot of it comes down to reflexes, but a lot of [it] is strategy," says David Gorman, a sportscaster for the popular e-sport, Dota 2. "It's very much like chess, except it's in real time. Almost like speed chess."

Kevin Counihan, the CEO of Access Health CT, is walking through the 15th floor of a downtown Hartford office building that houses Connecticut's health insurance marketplace. He passes the legal department, the IT folks and the consultants, then stops in front of three large, wall-mounted computer screens.

For something that's become so ubiquitous in our lives, the World Wide Web is just a youngster. It was only 25 years ago that Tim Berners-Lee first created a rudimentary information retrieval system that relied on the Internet. It's since exploded into a primary means by which we learn, work and connect. (To put things in perspective, the film Die Hard is older than the World Wide Web.)

One of Bitcoin's largest trading exchanges shut down Tuesday, and you probably couldn't care less.

So what if rumors are circulating that millions of dollars' worth of Bitcoin are stolen? If you don't understand Bitcoin in the first place, it's hard to figure out why this matters. So we're using this as an opportunity to go back to the basics: what this b-word means, where it came from and why it just might matter.

The Birth Of Bitcoin

C.P. Storm / Creative Commons

Last Sunday morning, I read with interest this essay by writer Beth Boyle Machlan on the joys of driving with her kids and listening to commercial radio -- the antithesis of the modern i-music experience which involves carefully choosing and curating one's own "playlists," and never subjecting oneself to anything as vulgar and top-down as listening to a whole bunch of songs picked out by other people. 

Malware is malicious, bad software. It's the code that cybercriminals use to steal credit card numbers and bank accounts. And the big hack against Target showed how good these criminals are getting: They've built a thriving underground where credit cards go on sale before anyone even knows that a massive breach has happened.

Facebook's purchase of messaging service WhatsApp — at a price tag of up to $19 billion — is its largest acquisition yet. To put things in perspective, the social giant tried to purchase Snapchat for a fraction of that cost — $3 billion. And it successfully bought Instagram for $1 billion.

Defence Images / Creative Commons

In 1962, the Nobel Prize was awarded to three scientists, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins, for their work in discovering the fundamental structure of DNA: the double helix. Today, Watson, Crick, and Wilkins maintain international prestige for their findings. 

The Man Behind The Dialect Quiz

Feb 19, 2014

With just 11 days before the end of 2013, The New York Times posted a dialect quiz on its website that drew in millions of readers, making it the site’s most popular page for the year. The quiz is designed to pinpoint the quiz-taker’s exact region, based on the words he or she uses.

The graphics intern who created the mapping algorithm, Josh Katz, was hired for a full-time position and Bert Vaux, the linguist who created the data for the test, began to see an uptick in the activity on his website.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

The Spanish-language website that will enroll state residents in Obamacare is still facing delays. In fact, officials say it could be another two weeks until it is operational. 

Picture Youth / Creative Commons

We're starting out today with a segment about "Generation-Like," the media term media theorist Douglas Rushkoff uses for the generation of Millennials  who live huge chunks of their lives on social media where they subsist on a form of metered approval.  

Inside one in a series of abandoned homes along a blighted block of Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood, filmmaker Tom McPhee walks through the remnants of a life — broken furniture, scattered knickknacks and a flooded basement.

"This is fresh water that's coming into the basement here," McPhee points out. "All of that plumbing has been ripped away 'cause someone found a value in it, so they don't care that it's running. This is all over the city."

Maik Pereira / Creative Commons

Yale Law School is hosting a conference on law enforcement and computer hacking. The conference, "Law Enforcement and Hacking: When Cops Control Your Webcam," starts at 1:00 pm on Tuesday. 

It will focus on the increasing use of sophisticated tools to hack into the computers of targets, including remotely enabling webcams, turning on microphones, and downloading documents and other files from hacked computers.

An announced $45 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable — the largest and second-largest cable companies in the U.S., respectively — is under scrutiny not just for its massive size but also for its potential impact on Internet use.

Reports: Comcast To Buy Time Warner

Feb 13, 2014

Comcast is expected to announce its acquisition of Time Warner on Thursday, various media outlets report.

Bloomberg, citing "four people familiar with matter," says Comcast will buy the cable company for about $44 billion, "combining the largest two U.S. cable companies in an all-stock deal."

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