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Tech Week: Who's Offline, How Hong Kong Connects, How Google Works

Protesters rest following pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on Sept. 29. They're using old and new forms of tech to stay connected.
Xaume Olleros
AFP/Getty Images
Protesters rest following pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on Sept. 29. They're using old and new forms of tech to stay connected.

Another week whizzed by with no shortage of tech news and headlines. Here's a look back and what we were up to here at NPR and some notable coverage from our friends in the media and blogosphere.


How Hong Kong Connects: Student protesters have reliable cell and Wi-Fi connections for now, but those who are concerned service might become slow, spotty or shut down have downloaded the FireChat app. Underpinned by mesh networking, the app lets phones that are close to one another create a network that doesn't require traditional Wi-Fi or cell service. One angle on this that should be noted, however, is security. FireChat isn't necessarily going to keep protesters from surveillance, as Slate points out.

The 4.4 Billion Offline: More than half the world's population doesn't have Internet access, which the Silicon Valley behemoths including Facebook and Google are trying to change. There are bottom line benefits for them, but also social benefits all around — education, economics, opportunity. Tim Fitzsimons writes about the barriers to getting online.

The Big Conversation

Big Bank Hack: 76 million households and 7 million small businesses were compromised in this summer's breach of JPMorgan Chase, America's biggest bank. The bank says customer accounts weren't compromised, just their addresses and other contact information. So beware phishing emails, OK?

How Google Works: You can't miss 'em — or their book. Googlers Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg have been on every channel touting their new book, How Google Works, about the management and business culture practices that made Google an enviable company that millions try to work for every year. The New York Times calls it a "neat and telling story." The MIT Technology Review challenges some of the book's grander notions. And you can see their Tuesday sit-down in Washington, D.C., with yours truly, with this video from at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue.


NYT: Facebook Promises A Deeper Review of its User Research

After getting widely panned by users who learned Facebook was changing its news feeds just to test our emotional responses, the social media giant said it will subject research to greater scrutiny.

Quartz: Google is "tightening the screws" on Android to keep control of the web

The world's leading mobile operating system is becoming less open to tinkering by developers and other companies.

Ars Technica: Game consoles most widely used video streaming devices in US

Consoles like PlayStation and Xbox rule when it comes to streaming, according to the results of a survey. Some 44 percent of broadband-using homes rank consoles as their "primary connected" device for video apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus. Smart TVs came in second, with 20 percent.

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

Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.
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