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Cloudy Future for Digital Property

08/31/10 06:00 AM

Could Apple move iTunes into the cloud? It probably won’t happen tomorrow at Apple’s iTunes event – but in the long run it seems inevitable.

Cloud computing is slowly taking over – it’s already changing the way we work and live. Corporations’ appetite to increase data storage is driving HP and Dell in their bidding war for the data storage company 3Par.  Seems like time to ask what’s ours in a cloud-computed world?

If you are uploading all your photos to Flickr, who owns them? What about the love letters sent to your husband or wife? Do you own those words if they are stored in-box on Yahoo instead of a in a shoebox in your closet?  

Eric Goldman, a professor of technology at Santa Clara Law School, and Justin Brookman from the Center for Democracy and Technology argue that in the digital age, our definitions of ownership are in flux.

Comments | Filed Under: apple cloud data storage

Africans rush to create apps

08/30/10 06:00 AM

The next wave of apps may not come out of Silicon Valley but places like Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

That’s what organizers of the Apps4Africa contest are hoping, anyway.

East African software developers are rushing to meet an August 31st deadline for the contest.  It’s sponsored by the U.S. State Department as well as three regional non-profits. The winners will get money and gadgets for coming up with the best apps to solve problems in East Africa. But more importantly, organizers say, is that the competition has jump-started a dialogue between developers and NGOs in these countries. And some of the software platforms recently developed in East Africa like Ushahidi are already getting widespread usage around the world. Last week, we looked at that platform’s use in flood-ravaged Pakistan.

We speak with one of the contest’s organizers, Josh Goldstein of AppAfrica. And we hear from one of the judges, Anil Dash, about what developers in the West could learn from emerging tech scene in Africa.

Comments | Filed Under: Africa apps sms

A problem, a phone, a software platform: crisis relief in Pakistan

08/27/10 06:00 AM

If you go to, you’ll see a map of Pakistan riddled with red dots. Click on one, a little dialogue box pops up.  “under 9 feet water. 400 stranded near Qaim Bhawana ‘Bund’. Food & medicines urgently needed.  Disease everywhere. Relief camp in QB town in name only.”

This is all direct information about conditions on the ground in Pakistan sent for free by text message to number called a short code. 

We’re coming up on the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  The storm slammed into the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1700 people, displacing hundreds of thousands of others.  In the aftermath, just trying to find people, getting information about who needed what, where, was a major challenge.

Now, in flood-ravaged Pakistan, volunteers have a way to get people on the ground directly involved in the information sharing, and this weekend, they’re going to make a big push to make sure people in Pakistan know about it.  They’re using Ushahidi, a platform for collecting and visualizing information. 

Patrick Meier, Director of Crisis Mapping and Strategic Partnerships at Ushahidi, and Anahi Ayala Iacucci, volunteer coordinatorfor PakReport explain how it all works and how it helps in crisis situations.

BASEERA, PAKISTAN - AUGUST 26: Flood victims head back home on a flooded road as the water level goes down August 26, 2010 in Baseera, Punjab, Pakistan. Pakistan is suffering from the worst flooding in 80 years, with government officials claiming as many as 20 million people have been affected by the flooding with 15 million seriously affected. The U.N has described the disaster as unprecedented, with over a third of the country under water, and the country’s agricultural heartland has been devastated as rice, corn and wheat crops have been destroyed by the floods. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Comments | Filed Under: maps crowdsourcing text messaging cell phones crisis

"Pain ray" to be tested on inmates

08/26/10 06:00 AM

A new non-lethal device is coming to an LA County jail. The LA County Sheriff’s Department is calling it an Assault Intervention Device, but it’s more commonly known as a “pain ray,” and was originally developed by the military for use in Afghanistan. The device uses microwave technology to heat up moisture just below the skin, creating a sensation akin to a burn. But the pain is supposed to go away within seconds of moving out of the beam’s ray. The LA County Sheriff’s Department plans to start testing it in a dormitory at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, Calif., as a means to break up inmate brawls in common areas. We speak with Commander Robert Osborne, head of the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s Technology Exploration Program, about why he sees the pain ray as a better and safer alternative to traditional methods of breaking up prison fights. And we talk with Brookings Institution senior fellow Peter W. Singer about why the US military developed the pain ray and then decided not to use it after all.

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Comments | Filed Under: military prisons weapons law enforcement

Malware on Spanair computer system

08/25/10 06:00 AM

It’s been two years since a Spanair plane crashed just after take-off at an airport in Madrid. It was the worst crash the country had seen in 25 years, and killed 154 people.

The United States is involved in the investigation; it was a U.S.-built plane. And officials have already released many of the details of the crash.  Part of the problem: The wing flaps and slats were not in the right position at take off.  That’s kind of like driving a car with the doors open.  Also at issue … malware.

We talked with Bill Waldock about how malware was involved. He’s a professor of safety science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., and associate director of the university’s Center for Aerospace Safety Education. We also hear from Jeff Moss, founder and director of the Black Hat computer security conference, about the kind of malware found on the airline’s computer system and how it may have done the damage it did.

MADRID, SPAIN: An aerial view shows the tracks of Spanair flight JK5022 beside a Barajas airport landing strip next to where the flight crashed on August 20, 2008 near Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Informativos Telecinco/Getty Images)

Comments | Filed Under: malware computer security trojan horse

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the Blog

Future Tense becomes Marketplace Tech Report

09/17/10 06:12 PM

Hi everyone. John Moe here. Starting Monday, September 20th, Future Tense will be going by the name Marketplace Tech Report.

Producer Larissa Anderson and I have been working closely with the folks at Marketplace ever since we took over Future Tense in May. It’s worked out great. We’ve helped them, they’ve helped us, and together we’ll find more stories you’ll want to hear. Basically, we loved Marketplace so much we married them. And kind of took their name too. Is it creepy to compare two radio shows to a married couple? Sorry about that.

As part of the Marketplace portfolio of programs (along with Marketplace, Marketplace Morning Report, and Marketplace Money), Marketplace Tech Report will keep bringing you stories that explain news and trends and technology and what it all means to you. We’ll be moving to a new simpler URL:, which will go live over the weekend. We’ll be bringing our entire archive of past shows and blog posts with us but in the meantime, we’re leaving up so you can access the show archives from there as well.

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