Chapter 4 Software Basics: The Ghost in the Machine

Apple and IntimacyAs one of the most innovative and profitable companies on the planet, Apple makes headlines when it makes announcements. This week Apple announced several important new products, each of which represents trends in a fast changing industry. Larger iPhones bridge the gap between smart phones and tablets. A mobile payments system designed to bypasses credit cards and protect privacy and security of users. And Apple’s long-awaited entry into the wearable computer market that has humbled several other companies. Technology writer Steven Levy’s thought-provoking piece for Medium suggests that the Apple watch may signal the beginning of a new, much more intimate type of interface between humans and their digital devices.

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patentspart2Patents have been part of American life since the country was born—they were written into the constitution to legally protect and encourage innovation, creativity, and productivity. But today, patents are used by shadowy companies that make nothing more than profits—and the threat of lawsuits from these companies is enough to keep people from creating high-tech products, companies, and jobs. This episode of This American Life shines a bright light on the broken intellectual property legal system by telling the stories of people whose lives have been profoundly impacted by that system.

thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/496/when-patents-attack-part-two

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Five Minutes, Ten Tips. How Many Hours Will You Save?

May 3, 2013

David Pogue is one of the most prolific–and entertaining–tech writers we know. In this short TED talk, he runs through a list of tips that can save you time every day.

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Android Phones Show a New Face(book)

April 5, 2013
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Rumors of a Facebook phone have rattled around the tech world for quite a while. Today Facebook announced not a a phone, but software that can convert many Android phones into Facebook machines. Facebook is available in app form on most smart phones. But the new Facebook Home software will replace the Android home screen with a Facebook-centered home, making it possible for social networkers to keep Facebook at the center of their phone experiences.

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Is That a New Tattoo or a New Computer?

March 29, 2013
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The smart phone in your pocket is a computer that’s much more powerful and easy to use than the mainframes of yesterday. But if this research project pans out, that phone may eventually be a replaced by a small patch on the back of your hand.

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3-D Printing Applications and Implications

March 6, 2013
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We’ve heard about how 3D printers can be used to manufacture toys, small machine parts, and even some prosthetic devices for human bodies. But as applications emerge, so do some difficult questions.

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Will You Be Waving Goodbye to Your Touch Screen Soon?

January 7, 2013
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Just as the mouse made the command-line interface of early PCs seem primitive, the touch screen may soon put the mouse out of a job. But after you see this short video, you may think that even the touch screen is old-fashioned. Once again, science fiction points the way to future technology.

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The Changing World of Windows

October 26, 2012
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Microsoft will soon offer two new versions of its ubiquitous Windows operating system. Windows 8 is designed to replace Windows 7 as the flagship PC OS. Windows RT will run mostly on Microsoft’s new Surface and other tablet devices. This CNET article gives an overview of the two OSs and how they fit into a world where the line between tablets and laptops is blurred by all kinds of hybrid devices.

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Remix this Post!

August 21, 2012
Everything is a Remix

Was Bob Dylan a creative genius or a thief? What about Steve Jobs? Or that kid down the block who posts cut-and-paste videos on YouTube? In this entertaining short TED talk, Kirby Ferguson argues that every creation is, to some degree, a remix. Do our intellectual property laws need to change to embrace, rather than outlaw, remixes?

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The Robot in Your Future Home

June 21, 2012
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Personal robots are coming. This fascinating NPR story gives an audio peek inside the labs that are working hard to bring robots to everyday people. wbur.org/npr/155278207/you-know-you-want-one-personal-robots-not-ready-for-you-yet

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