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Tech Week That Was: Suspicious Searches, Def Con And Moto X

Each Friday we round up the big conversations in tech and culture during the week that was. We also revisit the work that appeared on this blog, and highlight what we're reading from our fellow technology writers and observers at other organizations.

ICYMI

In case you missed it ... here on All Tech, we featured NPR host Scott Simon's explanation of his lyrical, hour-by-hour Twitter farewell to his mother. We wondered about how to preserve memories of our kids' futures when all our photo storing keeps changing; checked out an app that will let you share your leftovers with strangers; and reviewed the long-awaited MIT report on its involvement in the prosecution of the late Aaron Swartz. Our weekly innovation pick was NapAnywhere, a bendy disk that promises to be much better for your body — and your naps — than the traditional U-shaped inflatable travel pillow.

On our airwaves, All Things Considered featured a chat about the new Moto X phone with Laura Sydell, and dispatches from the Black Hat and Def Con conferences from Steve Henn. Steve reported a piece on how hacking cars is now a reality. He also covered remarks by Army Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency, to the tough crowd at the Black Hat hackers conference. I reported for Morning Edition on the viral ad for HelloFlo, and how the openness and wider conversation fostered by social media are changing the marketing landscape.

The Big Conversations

The tech world widely covered the release of the Moto X, which is the flagship phone by Motorola, the faded telecom giant that Google purchased about two years ago. With its easy voice and gesture control, the Moto X is considered a marker in the ground for how smartphones will be expected to work going forward. "It's easy enough to say that the Moto X is impressive, but one would be hard pressed to call it disruptive," the New Yorker says.

It was a big week in national security news, and since we're in the summer of nonstop reports of secret government surveillance, the Internet was set abuzz Thursday after a woman claimed that Google searches for "pressure cooker" and "backpack" from the family's Internet connection led Joint Terrorism Task Force agents to her doorstep. But the story wasn't quite right. Wired reports:

" 'Yes, The FBI Is Tracking American Google Searches,' read Gizmodo's headline, one of many blowing up the story.

"But the local police department that actually visited [Michele] Catalano's husband finally explained themselves, and it turns out the story is more about a dispute with the husband's former employer than rampant secret police surveillance ...

" 'It's easy to see why this story found traction. But bogus claims of secret data mining and 'profiling' detract from the real news. So please let's stop.' "

What's Catching Our Eye

In no particular order:

Associated Press: Smartphones Outfitted To Detect Bacteria

A new app can turn your smartphone into a handheld biosensor to let users run on-the-spot tests for food safety, toxins and medical diagnostics.

The New York Times: Who Made That Super Soaker?

Perfect for these hot summer days, a look at how a NASA engineer came up with a better water gun. Awesome.

Ars Technica: Engineer can't get decent dinner reservations, creates Urbanspoon-dominating bot

What a way to code around a problem. Since bots are now thieving restaurant reservations through OpenTable or other online reservation systems, one San Francisco engineer wrote a bot to beat the other bots.

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WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, July 30, 2015

Folk music descends on Vienna this weekend. Elsewhere in Virginia, jazz music takes over a performing arts venue. 

NPR

You Say Striped Bass, I Say Rockfish. What's In A Fish Name?

Legally, a single fish species can go by many names from sea to plate, and different fish can go by the same name. An environmental group says that hampers efforts to combat illegal fishing and fraud.
WAMU 88.5

A Congressional Attempt To Speed The Development Of Lifesaving Treatments

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act in a rare bi-partisan effort. The bill is meant to speed the development of lifesaving treatments, but critics warn it may also allow ineffective or even harmful drugs onto the market.

NPR

Oculus Uses 'Henry' Premiere To Wet Appetites For Its Virtual Reality Headset

The virtual reality company Oculus is close to releasing a headset for games, movies and other entertainment. The company premiered an animated short called Henry that will come with the headsets.

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