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Tech Week That Was: The Mac Turns 30, More NSA Rumblings

Apple's CEO Steve Jobs (left) and President John Sculley display the hardware unveiled at the annual shareholders meeting on Jan. 24, 1984.
Terry Schmitt
Apple's CEO Steve Jobs (left) and President John Sculley display the hardware unveiled at the annual shareholders meeting on Jan. 24, 1984.

It may have been a slow news week — no national security flaws or revelations, no more signs that Google is trying to take over the world — but we had plenty of content to feed your tech appetite here on All Tech Considered.


Well, that's not good ... The blog took some time this week to look at the broader implications of the massive security breach at Target, Neiman Marcus and, potentially, other merchants. Elise Hu reports that this might finally force the U.S. to start using cards with encrypted chips because industry leaders know that current cards with magnetic stripes are outdated and easily exploitable. And Laura Sydell writes that the breach brought to light the inconsistent laws around the country concerning how quickly companies are required to alert customers that sensitive data were stolen.

You don't look a day over 29. The original Macintosh is celebrating an important birthday Friday: It's now old enough for run for U.S. senator. Steve Henn has a retrospective on its plucky beginnings. On the other side of the PC vs. Mac aisle, the once-acclaimed Windows XP just turned 12, and Microsoft wants the stragglers to switch over to an operating system that wasn't developed in the previous millennium. I found that it's proving harder than it seems — partly because mobile computing is getting so powerful. Alan Yu reports that your smartphone might soon be able to detect gamma radiation.

And your weekly gaming fix! NPR's gaming guru Steve Mullis reviews Nidhogg, a two-player game reminiscent of the good ol' arcade days, when Steve would make strangers cry by beating them on a Joust cabinet. (He didn't say that; we're just assuming.) KQED's Amy Standen tries to make a helicopter fly using only her mind and a brain-controlled headset, but her Jedi-like powers have limited success.

The Big Conversation

Even without a major revelation this week, the NSA has still been the subject of many in-depth analyses. An independent review board in the executive branch determined that the phone data collection program is illegal and called for it to end. WNYC's Brian Lehrer collected a list of the mass intelligence-gathering capabilities we know the NSA currently has.

Columbia Journalism Review's Lauren Kirchner documented the ongoing FOIA fight over NSA-related documents. In the U.K., The Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger, accused Parliament of complacency on surveillance issues.

Meanwhile, historian Sean Wilentz wrote in The New Republic that NSA leaker Edward Snowden and former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald aren't truth-telling fighters for constitutional rights but rather enemies of "the liberal state." Snowden also took a variety of questions in an online Q&A Thursday. NPR's Mark Memmott recapped the answers in The Two-Way.


The Atlantic: What If Your Autonomous Car Keeps Routing You Past Krispy Kreme?

Dieters, beware! Here's a vision of a world where advertising could be integrated into your vehicle.

Slate: Facebook Study Finds Princeton Is About To Go The Way Of MySpace

After a Princeton study concluded that Facebook will lose 80 percent of its user base in the coming years, Facebook concluded that Princeton will lose half of its enrollment by 2018. It's a witty exchange on the power of numbers.

The New York Times: Big Web Crash In China: Experts Suspect Great Firewall

China's Web traffic mysteriously failed for several hours on Wednesday. Ever weirder, some of its traffic redirected to a website based in a Wyoming building that some think normally helps people get around the Chinese firewall. Weirder still, that building is home to several thousand companies. Odd all around.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Emily Siner is an enterprise reporter at WPLN. She has worked at the Los Angeles Times and NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., and her written work was recently published in Slices Of Life, an anthology of literary feature writing. Born and raised in the Chicago area, she is a graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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