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Big Robo-Bird Trains to Be Fastest on 2 Feet
March 17, 2015
Becoming the fastest of its kind is just a byproduct of the ATRIAS robot's primary objective. Oregon State University's biped is the focus of a loftier goal: to build an entire industry on its leg locomotion mechanics. Researchers have been drawing inspiration for ATRIAS from birds, and the science will grow from there, said Jonathan W. Hurst, associate professor of mechanical engineering at OSU.
The Micro Bit's Mega Promise
March 17, 2015
The BBC last week announced that it would give programming PCs to 1 million students through its Make It Digital initiative, an effort to spark greater interest in technology. The 11- and 12-year-old UK school children will receive Micro Bit, a stripped-down computer that can be worn on a lanyard. The Micro Bit is designed to serve as an entry point for individuals interested in coding.
Banks' Arbitration Clauses May Hurt Consumers: Report
March 16, 2015
Tens of millions of American consumers use consumer financial products or services governed by predispute arbitration clauses that may put them at an unfair disadvantage, suggests a CFPB report released last week. In some cases, the arbitration clauses are mandatory. Larger banks often include arbitration clauses in their consumer checking account and credit card contracts.
FTC Goes to Bat for Duped DirecTV Customers
March 16, 2015
The Federal Trade Commission last week charged DirecTV with deceptive advertising practices in a complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division. DirecTV, which has been in discussions over a potential merger with AT&T, currently has more than 20 million subscribers across the United States.
Gadget Ogling: Falling Apples and Magical Pancakes
March 14, 2015
Apple dropped a few new facts about its Watch at this week's presentation. The hardware is interesting in that Apple is limiting what people can do with their 8 GB of storage. No more than a quarter of that can be filed with music, and photos can take up just 75 MB, which seems somewhat rudimentary. I'm glad to see the battery apparently lasts enough to see out a full day.
Asus to Sport Powerful New Nvidia GPU
March 13, 2015
Nvidia on Thursday launched the latest in its GTX 900s series of mobile GPUs -- GTX 960m and 950m -- designed to make a gaming laptop as future-proof as possible. Asus' recently unveiled GX501 is one of the machines that already has incorporated the latest Nvidia tech. The new GPUs include such gaming-enhancing features as BatteryBoost, ShadowPlay and Optimus.
Cortana Could Edge Out Siri, Google Now
March 13, 2015
Microsoft later this year will offer its Cortana personal assistant as a standalone app for iOS and Android devices. The engine behind Cortana is "arguably better than [Siri or Google Now] simply because it's far more mature and comprehensive," said tech analyst Rob Enderle. The Cortana personal assistant evolved from the AI character Cortana in the Halo video game series.
Lawsuit Challenges NSA Internet Dragnets
March 13, 2015
The ACLU earlier this week filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the NSA from indiscriminately snooping on U.S. Internet traffic. Using a technique called "upstream" surveillance, the NSA does a spinal tap of the Internet's U.S. backbone, which carries the communications of millions of Americans, the ACLU explained in its complaint filed with a federal district court in Maryland.
Apple's Researchkit Could Be Gold Mine for Hackers
March 13, 2015
Apple earlier this week announced ResearchKit, an open source framework that will let medical and health researchers gather data through iPhone apps. ResearchKit will be released in April. Apps to monitor asthma patients and for studies on breast cancer survivors, cardiovascular health and Parkinson's Disease, already have been developed using ResearchKit.
Astroturfing's Legality Is in the Weeds
March 13, 2015
We see it all the time: a glowing 5-star comment on Yelp about our favorite neighborhood restaurant. At first glance, it looks authentic. However, what if the review actually were purchased by the restaurant? Would that change your perspective on the review or the restaurant? Of course, paying for advertising is hardly new. Celebrities for years have endorsed products and restaurants.
FCC Drops Net Neutrality Rules on Dissection Table
March 12, 2015
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has released the final version of its controversial open Internet rules. In the introduction to the some 400 pages of new rules, which cover both wired and wireless broadband, the commission stated its "carefully tailored rules" would prevent specific practices that are harmful to Internet openness, such as blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.
Google Roars Onto Auto Insurance Turf
March 11, 2015
Google last week launched an auto insurance rate comparison site in California. Mercury Insurance, MetLife and 21st Century Insurance are among the 14 firms already signed up as partners, and Google promises more will follow. Bolt Solutions last week announced that it too has joined up. "We have a Google Compare agreement with Google," said Bolt spokesperson Chrissy Snyder.
No Fuel? No Problem - Solar Plane Completes 2nd Leg in Round-the-World Trip
March 11, 2015
Fueled solely by the sun, the Solar Impulse 2 has completed the second leg of its historic journey around the world, landing in Ahmedabad, India. A decade-old dream is actualizing for the team. The solar plane began its historic flight in Abu Dhabi on Monday and landed early Tuesday at Muscat, Oman. The second leg took 15 hours, with the Solar Impulse 2 arriving late Tuesday night in Ahmedabad.
What Mobile World Congress Delivered Besides Same-Old Smartphones
March 10, 2015
The latest handsets and tablets received their share of headlines at this year's MWC, but their mindshare shrank considerably. Sony unveiled its Xperia Z4 tablet, possibly its last hurrah in the mobile space. Meanwhile, Samsung's Galaxy S6 smartphone stole the spotlight. However, with more than 2,000 tech organizations promoting their wares and services, MWC 2015 offered a fresh set of promises.
Schumer to FAA: Straighten Up Cybersecurity and Fly Right
March 10, 2015
The United States Federal Aviation Administration should implement cybersecurity upgrades recommended by the U.S. Government Accountability Office immediately, or risk hackers taking over its computer systems, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has warned. The GAO last week released a report that found significant security control weaknesses in the FAA's computer systems.
Ellen Pao Airs Kleiner Perkins' Dirty Laundry
March 10, 2015
Ellen Pao on Monday testified in a San Franciso courtroom that she was passed up for promotions and sexually harassed by a partner during her employment at prestigious venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. Pao said that after she broke off a relationship with former Kleiner Perkins partner Ajit Nazre, he made it difficult for her to do her job.
Gadget Ogling: Slick, Dull and Outlandish Smartphones, a Powerful Shield and Invisibility Glasses
March 10, 2015
Samsung is trying something a little different while simultaneously positioning its S6 and S6 edge as the market's dominant Android smartphones. Sure, they're faster, smarter, brighter, stronger and more powerful than previous models -- as you might expect in a flagship refresh -- and that's all terribly pedestrian. Still, I love the edge concept. I'm glad to see Samsung continue and expand it.
How Deep Can Watson Drill?
March 10, 2015
IBM last week announced the acquisition of AlchemyAPI, which uses deep learning to perform natural language processing. NLP consists of semantic text analysis, including sentiment analysis. IBM "has some of these capabilities already, and we continue to explore ways to expand and amplify them through our growing developer community," said IBM Watson VP Steve Gold.
Apple Springs Bevy of New Products at Watch Event
March 9, 2015
The Apple Watch wasn't the only new product to take the stage at Apple's Monday media event -- Apple also introduced an all-new sleek MacBook. In addition, Apple nabbed the chance to be the exclusive launch partner for HBO's new streaming subscription service. Among the event highlights: Apple Watch will be available for preorder April 10, sale April 24; and Apple Watch Edition starts at $10,000.
Get Ready for Self-Driving Autos to Wreak Disruption
March 9, 2015
Autonomous vehicles are on a roll, suggests a new report from McKinsey & Co. Acceptance will increase substantially by 2050, accounting for as much of 20 percent of new car sales. The shift to self-driving technologies could reduce auto accidents by as much as 90 percent, the report suggests. In addition, self-driving vehicles could free up commuters' time in the car.
Hillary Clinton's Possibly Fatal Email Mistake
March 9, 2015
Hillary Clinton's email scandal showcases that she shouldn't be president. This has nothing to do with her party or politics -- it has to do with how she seems to approach a decision -- through tunnel vision leadership. This method isn't biased on the left or right, but it is more hardwired into men than women. Unfortunately, Clinton seems to have this in spades.
Get Ready - It's About to Be Apple Watch All the Time
March 7, 2015
The Apple Watch, representing Apple's first major new device category in more than four years, is about to be unleashed upon the world -- no doubt shortly after Apple reveals pricing and availability details on Monday. Careful what you wish for. All the hype is going to get worse -- much worse. Brace yourself. The rest of this year is going to be Apple Watch, Apple Watch, Apple Watch.
Precision Laser Weapon Scorches Mile-Away Truck Engine
March 6, 2015
Lockheed Martin this week conducted a test of its ATHENA laser system. The successful demonstration attests to just how far directed energy weapons technology has come. Boring clean through the engine of a truck mounted on a platform more than a mile away, ATHENA decommissioned the running vehicle in a matter of seconds. The technology is now ready for wider adoption.
We Done Good, Consumer Protection Chief Tells Lawmakers
March 5, 2015
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has made great strides in carrying out its mission, which is to ensure consumers are fairly treated in the financial marketplace, Director Richard Cordray said Tuesday at a House Financial Services hearing. The bureau's qualified mortgage rule put new measures in place to prevent the sloppy underwriting that led to the subprime mortgage problem.

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Is native advertising good for journalism?
Yes -- It's a reasonable source of additional revenue for media outlets to support their traditional editorial efforts.
Yes -- Paid-for articles can contain useful information, but readers might bypass them if they look too much like ads.
Maybe -- But only if it's clearly labeled as paid-for content.
No -- I don't trust any information from media outlets that cloak paid-for content as objective journalism.
No -- Native advertising is confusing and devious, and it threatens the fabric of traditional journalism.
I Don't Know -- I don't understand what native advertising is.