technology

Everyone knows that the first rule of driving is never take your eyes off the road.

Teen drivers start off being careful, but they tend to start multitasking after just a few months behind the wheel, according to research published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

And while older drivers can handle eating or talking to passengers, which trip up the newbies, dialing a cell phone increased the risk of accidents among young and experienced drivers alike.

Is The DVD Box Set Dead? Yes ... And No.

Dec 31, 2013

Are we witnessing the twilight of DVD and Blu-ray?

Kinda-sorta. With the emergence of various digital distributions systems — streaming and downloading through your laptop, your cable system, your game console — it's easy to see how these discs will be the next physical media formats to fade away. DVD and Blu-ray could well go the way of CDs and vinyl, becoming a niche boutique market for collectors.

Ticktock. Ticktock. Ticktock.

The seconds left in 2013 are slipping away. And you know what else is slipping away? The seconds left in your life.

Luckily for you, there's a new product called Tikker, a wristwatch that counts down your life, so you can watch on a large, dot-matrix display as the seconds you have left on Earth disappear down a black hole.

For the scientists who have emotionally traveled with NASA's Voyager mission for decades, 2013 will be remembered as the year they knew Voyager 1 had finally become the first explorer from Earth to enter the mysterious realm of interstellar space.

Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, both blasted off in 1977, more than 35 years ago. Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter, then Saturn — and then on toward the unknown region that lies between stars.

New Year's resolutions: Sometimes we make them; usually we break them. The annual goals are intended to bring out the best in us — but what if you're already extremely accomplished?

These five women have worked hard to help others, through businesses, innovation and writing. Four of them were speakers at the TEDWomen conference earlier in December in San Francisco (Katrina Alcorn was an attendee).

The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday unveiled the names of the six applicants who have been granted the right to test the commercial uses of "unmanned aircraft systems" — drones.

The FAA's approvals were highly sought after because the test sites are expected to bring high-tech jobs and investments to the states where they're located. The six winners are:

Though hackers did obtain "strongly encrypted PIN data" when they got into Target's information systems, the retailer said Friday that sensitive information from customers' debit cards should not be at risk.

Target posted this explanation:

Headlines such as this come along every few months:

"Delta To Honor Extremely Cheap Mistake Fares."

The news, says The Associated Press, is that:

Ben Simo / Creative Commons

Our schools teach a variety of foreign languages: Spanish, French, even Latin. But should we be focusing on the language of computer programming? Even NBA star Chris Bosh is asking everyone from young kids to the homeless to learn to code. Why aren’t we teaching it more? It seems like President Obama needs an army of coders to fix the glitchy HealthCare.gov website.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The state could lose $170 million over the next two years in fraud and abuse at the Department of Social Services. But Governor Dannel Malloy said the state has hired an outside contractor to help stem the losses.

Customers Sue Target Over Credit Card Breach

Dec 23, 2013

At least 11 customers have filed lawsuits against Target over a security breach that exposed the credit card information of 40 million customers.

The BBC reports:

"The lawsuits, each seeking class-action status, have been filed in US courts in the past several days.

Target is trying to get back in its customers' good graces after a massive data breach affecting some 40 million credit and debit account holders. The giant retail chain offered its customers a 10 percent discount over the weekend as an act of atonement, but business was said to be down anyway.

The breach affected customers who used their credit and debit cards at one of Target's 1,750 stores during a three-week period after Thanksgiving.

(NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Waterbury native Rick Mastracchio is scheduled to make the first of three space walks on Saturday. He'll replace a pump module on the International Space Station, which broke last week forcing the shutdown of several science experiments and other non-critical systems. 

This will be Mastracchio's seventh EVA. NASA officials say they anticipate the first space walk, on Saturday, will last about six-and-a-half hours. The broken pump he will repair is linked to one of the station's two external cooling loops, which circulate ammonia outside of the space station to regulate equipment temperatures.

Back in ye olden days — say, a decade ago — many holiday shoppers worried about using credit cards to buy gifts online. They feared their information would end up in the hands of computer hackers.

Turns out, walking into a store and swiping a credit card can be plenty risky, too.

Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte / Thinkstock

Stamford-based Frontier Communications announced plans to buy the landline service of AT&T in Connecticut. About 1.4 million households in Connecticut will be affected by the sale of the business, which includes Internet subscribers and U-verse video customers. 

A federal judge in Washington says the National Security Agency's program for bulk phone record collection violates Americans' reasonable expectation of privacy.

The ruling (pdf), however, has been stayed pending a likely appeal.

Judge Richard Leon says the sweeping NSA collection of U.S. phone metadata constitutes an unreasonable search or seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

A Chinese spacecraft made a soft landing on the surface of the moon on Saturday, China's state television is reporting.

Televised images showed the control room at the Aerospace Control Center in Beijing erupted into applause at about 8:10 a.m. ET. Almost immediately, the lander started to deploy its solar panels and began running a systems check.

As we become a more digitally connected society, one question has become increasingly pervasive: Is the expectation of privacy still reasonable?

Ann Cavoukian, the privacy commissioner for Ontario, Canada, thinks so. She contends that privacy — including privacy online — is foundational to a free society. She developed a framework for approaching privacy issues back in the 1990s that's been recognized around the world.

National Institute of Standards and Technology

A Connecticut company was among those at the White House Thursday for a summit about the emerging Internet of Things. 

A commuter train crash that killed four passengers in New York is raising questions about whether a high-tech safety system could have prevented the derailment.

Elph / Creative Commons

More than 14,000 Connecticut residents may have had their personal information compromised in a data breach from JP Morgan Chase. 

All this month, our friends at Tell Me More are digging into the role of blacks in technology. You can join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #NPRBlacksInTech.

Software development is a huge and growing industry, and there are likely to be far more jobs in the future than there are folks to do them. But today, there's a paucity of blacks and Latinos in software development positions.

There is no question that Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Silicon Beach and all of the other places we associate with tech entrepreneurism face diversity problems.

African-American innovators represent just 5 percent of America's scientists and engineers, according to a 2010 study by the National Science Foundation.

Amazon is looking at drastically reducing its delivery times — to 30 minutes or less — as it plans a new service called Prime Air that it says could debut in a few years. In an interview on CBS' 60 Minutes, CEO Jeff Bezos said the giant online retailer plans to use semi-autonomous drones to carry purchases to customers.

That's got tech experts buzzing about whether the idea will fly.

White House officials say the government's health insurance website, which has been plagued with problems ever since it launched in October, is now working smoothly for most users.

"The site is now stable and operating at its intended capacity with greatly improved performance," Jeffrey Zients, the president's appointee to fix the site, said during a telephone conference with reporters on Sunday. The bottom line, said Zients, is that Healthcare.gov is "night and day" from what it was at launch.

Traditional shopping malls took a big hit after the economic collapse. Problems at big retailers Sears and J.C. Penney — two of the biggest mall tenants — could signal even more troubles.

But malls are trying to adapt. As online shopping grows, things are getting more and more competitive out in the real world of brick-and-mortar retail.

As I write this, snowstorms are swirling over the East Coast, threatening Thanksgiving holiday travel plans for millions of travelers. How much time in the purgatory of airports will this mean for you? Check out FlightAware's MiseryMap, which combines weather and flight data into a live map that lists which airports are being struck by storms, the number of delays and cancellations, and graphs that show flight destinations and the chances they'll actually make it on time.

Crowdfunding is popular among musicians, filmmakers and artists looking for a way to finance their next project.

Now the Securities and Exchange Commission is considering rules that, for the first time, would allow small companies to solicit investments over the Internet and sell shares to the general public.

For some small firms, these new rules come as welcome news.

Wonderlane, Creative Commons

This hour, we listen back to our live conversation from The Big Connect at the Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, our last "Small Business After Hours" event of the year.

We get together a few times a year to talk about issues concerning small business, and what's a bigger, broader topic than "technology?"

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