technology

Update: Sites Approved

The Austin City Council approved recommending 99 public and nonprofit organizations for free access to Google Fiber. The much-anticipated high-speed internet service will include 23 public libraries.

Read more about the council's actions - and which site got cut from the initial list - here: City Council Update.

Update: Council Postpones Action (Nov. 21)

This morning, the Austin City Council voted to postpone adopting a list of 100 sites receiving a free “community connection” to Google Fiber.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Google has been traveling the U.S., showing off its wearable computing device Google Glass.

This weekend Google is bringing Glass to Austin. It's an unique opportunity to get  firsthand experience with the divisive device - which has inspired strong reactions among many who have yet to use it. 

We're preparing to bid adieu to 2013, which means it's time for the ever-reliable year-end lists. NPR's Book Concierge lets you explore the best books of the year. NPR Music chronicled the best albums. And Twitter is out with the biggest tweets and most-tweeted moments of 2013.

Did you travel in 2013? Perhaps you went to Disneyland. Or maybe you met someone special or watched the Super Bowl. Those moments of commonality are being highlighted by Facebook, which today released its list of the year's most popular topics, events and places.

After we spent a few moments reviewing the most common life events people reported in 2013, the list reads a bit like a 10-sentence short story — perhaps a fable or a coming-of-age tale.

See what you think: Here are the events Facebook says "people added to their Timeline most frequently in 2013."

flickr.com/financialtimes

Social media giant Twitter announced Thursday that Marjorie Scardino – Texarkana native, Baylor grad and former Pearson CEO – is joining its board of directors. Scardino is the first woman to be appointed to Twitter’s board.

Scardino received a little more than 4,000 shares of Twitter to serve on its board, according to SEC filings. She comes onboard after the company was criticized for not having women in high company positions. Twitter went public in November and is estimated to be worth more than $20 billion.

Scardino led educational publishing company Pearson for more than 10 years until 2012. During that time, she tripled its profits to a record $1.5 billion.

twitter.com/ManorNewTech

For students at Manor New Technology High School, lectures and homework assignments are a foreign concept. Tablets take the place of textbooks, and many classes are taught by a team of instructors.

This fall, a group of students is working to bring their school’s innovative learning system abroad.

The school exclusively utilizes project-based learning, a process that teaches course concepts through hands-on projects and presentations which students design themselves. Steve Zipkes, Manor New Tech’s principal, says it's a more engaging and up-to-date learning system. 

"Student these days are digital natives," Zipkes says. "We’re using technology as the invisible tool. It’s not what makes teaching and learning, but it certainly enhances it. With our students today, it’s almost a necessity."

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

The City of Austin will soon name a leader for its newly created Innovation Office.

So what exactly will this person do – and does Austin need one?

Innovation – like sustainability, transparency, and social responsibility – are buzzwords the public sector is appropriating from the business world. Austin established its own Office of Sustainability in 2010.

Flickr user trebomb, http://flic.kr/ps/dmXZU

Update: This week, Blockbuster Video announced it is closing its 300 remaining retail stores. It’s a bitter end for the rental chain, founded in Dallas, which once had 9,000 stores.

Austin’s Dove Springs neighborhood contains two of the city’s three final Blockbuster stores. And unlike the company as a whole, those stores are thriving.

In the story below, KUT examines how forces behind the chain’s closure – the Internet and the rise of streaming video – are the same forces that have kept Dove Spring’s Blockbuster stores open for years.

Original story (Oct. 4): When was the last time you rented something from a Blockbuster Video?

Austin City Council member Laura Morrison’s recollection probably speaks for most of us. “My memory doesn’t go that far these days,” she says.

Laura Rice, KUT News

It’s Austin Startup Week – when the technology community invites people to visit to see why they should start their business in Central Texas. But is Austin a legitimate tech hub?

KUT’s Laura Rice put that question to Joshua Baer – the founder and executive director of the tech startup incubator Capital Factory:

Is Austin a Legitimate Tech Hub?

"I meet people every day and every week who are moving here, that picked up and are moving their whole company here from Silicon Valley or from New York or from somewhere else. But these things don't develop overnight. They don't even develop over the course of one or two years. Really, the lifecycle of a tech company is five to ten years. So to get through a few cycles of that, you're talking 20 to 30 years. That's how long it takes to build up a tech community. Silicon Valley? They've had that going for a long time. Austin? We're still a little earlier in that cycle – but we're in that cycle."

flickr.com/brendangates

The man behind Silk Road – a site on the hidden “deep web” where users can buy drugs – has been arrested. And he appears to have Austin ties.

The FBI arrested Ross William Ulbricht this morning, accusing him of multiple offenses in connection with running Silk Road.

Laura Rice, KUT News

Technology is improving – and fast. The next frontier for some software designers is the human brain.

William Hurley, or “whurley," is the co-founder of Austin-based mobile studio company Chaotic Moon.

1. Brain-Altering Software Already Exists:

"Currently there are things that are considered brain-altering software. Sites like Lumosity and things like that where you do brain training and different activities."

Dell

A Dell Special Committee has reached a deal with founder Michael Dell. It raises his bid to buy the company by 10 cents per share but also changes some of the voting rules.

Instead of counting votes not cast as “no” votes, only votes that are submitted will be counted. This gives Michael Dell a better chance of getting his deal passed.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

An Amber Alert issued late yesterday evening was a wake-up call to many iPhone users in Texas.

An alert was issued close to 10:45 last night for abducted children in San Angelo, Texas, 200 miles northwest of Austin. An Amber Alert was then sent to iPhone users in Austin – which was announced with a loud, jarring tone. 

flickr.com/philschatz/

Update: Dell is delaying a vote on founder Michael Dell’s offer to buy the company and make it private. The vote was scheduled to happen this morning – but is being pushed back – likely because major shareholders don’t support the deal.

Reports say the vote has been rescheduled for later this month.

Original Story (6:14 a.m.): It is decision day for Dell shareholders.

They are scheduled to meet this morning and vote on whether to accept a buyout offer from company founder Michael Dell and the private equity firm Silver Lake Management that values the computer maker at $24.4 billion.

Justin Carter, the 19-year-old who was arrested and jailed in February after making a Facebook comment about a school shooting, is out of jail. An anonymous donor posted the $500,000 bond to allow Carter to go home. Carter plans to stay near New Braunfels, Texas, to await his trial on a felony terroristic threat charge.

This summer, NPR's Cities Project has been looking at how cities around the world are solving problems using new technologies. And though there's great promise in many of these "smart" city programs, New York University's Anthony Townsend remains skeptical.

Townsend, whose book Smart Cities is due out in October, tells NPR's David Greene about the causes, benefits and potential dangers of the smart city boom.


Interview Highlights

On what caused the smart city boom

tugg.com

There’s a screening tonight in Austin for a movie you probably haven’t heard of.

It’s not part of a film festival or a private event. It's happening in prime time at the Alamo Drafthouse on Research Boulevard.

"’GrowthBusters' is an independent documentary film that brings attention to the fact that we’ve outgrown the planet and it’s time to embrace the end of growth," Director Dave Gardner said.

"GrowthBusters" is Gardner's first big documentary. As a small fish in the big pond of the movie industry, he has limited options for getting it on movie screens. So he turned to an Austin-based startup: Tugg.

flickr.com/BruceTurner

The days of lost dog posters and last-minute babysitter scrambles may be coming to a close.

Nextdoor is an app that connects neighbors via their smartphone to help organize neighborhood watches and community conversations. Over 200 neighborhoods in Austin have already signed up for the app, which is set to roll out this summer.

flickr.com/joeybones

The idea is great: Walk into your local coffee shop, order your usual, and pay with the tap of a finger. No credit cards, no cash, no wallet.

That’s the concept behind mobile payment apps like Isis and Square. Customers download an app to their phones, program their credit card, and pay by giving the cashier their name. Their card is charged instantly.

Fresh reports about the massive amount of electronic data that the nation's spy agencies are collecting "raise profound questions about privacy" because of what they say about how such information will be collected in the future, NPR's Dina Temple-Raston said Friday on Morning Edition.

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