It can be hard to feel anything other than soul-crushing frustration when you’re flying: the baggage fees, the security line, the cramped seats. Today, score one for us human sardines!
You were right. We all were right. Our readers and tablets aren’t going to bring down airplanes.
The FAA will allow electronic devices throughout the flight.
“My 17-year-old son thinks this is the coolest thing around,” says Federal Aviation administrator Michael Huerta. You’ll be able to keep on reading, or listening to music, but you’ve still got to turn off the cell phone part of your phone.
“This is a game changer,” says Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation expert at DePaul University. He added up all the digital time lost because of powering down during takeoff and landing and found more than 105 million hours of “disrupted technological activity.” “Now people will be able to plan to do work or plan to stay connected; people find it therapeutic to use their devices, so airlines certainly will welcome this,” says Schwieterman.
It’s also a win for airplane wireless providers. Shares of the in-flight wifi company GoGo rose more than 4 percent.
And, the rules mean flight attendants will get to stop nagging people to turn off their Kindles.
“We want to make sure there is consistency across the board in how this rule is implemented,” says Veda Shook, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants. She hopes it’s not going to be used as a marketing tool by airlines, as a way to get an advantage over each other. Flight attendants have already had to do their fair share of arguing about the rules.
Though claims dropped by 10,000, they're still running at a pace that signals a sluggish labor market.
The "NSA leaker" is set to start working Friday, his attorney claims. It isn't known yet just what website he'll be working for. He's been given asylum in Russia.
President Obama's approval ratings have hit a record low, according to a major poll... The Affordable Care Act's terrible launch may have set back Americans views of what government can do... Why Obama won't fire Sebelius.
News flash: “Economy of Nigeria to Grow by 40 Percent. On December 10th!”
The news is not technically wrong. Nigerian officials are revising their calculation of gross domestic product, or GDP, to reflect changes in the economy over the past two-and-a-half decades. They will deemphasize sectors that have diminished in importance, and increase the weight of new sectors that have emerged. That is expected to boost GDP by approximately 40 percent.
The U.S. did the same thing earlier this year, yielding an increase of 3.6 percent to GDP. Nigeria’s larger increase is due partly to the fact that it hasn’t revised the formula for calculating GDP since 1990, and that large parts of the economy remain underground, untaxed, and unregulated. Ghana’s GDP increased by 60 percent when it revised its calculations in 2010.
One of the sectors that will boost Nigeria’s new GDP figure substantially is Nollywood, the Nigerian Hollywood, which produces movies, TV shows and music that are exported across Africa. The fast-growing telecommunications sector will also help Nigeria catch up to South Africa, its biggest economic rival and currently the Sub-Saharan African country with the largest GDP ($385 billion, compared to Nigeria’s expected $382 billion, when the new figure is released on December 10).
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s farming and textile sectors will be downgraded in the new GDP weighting. Reasons for this include urbanization, and intense competition from textile-producing nations in Asia, such as China and India.
Hossein Askari, a business and international affairs professor at George Washington University, says GDP ranking doesn’t make much difference to foreign investors or global brands looking to expand into developing markets. They’re more focused on infrastructure, corporate governance, and rule of law.
“Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world,” says Askari, “there are internal conflicts, and there is a very large degree of poverty.” Askari says he’s studied the economic impact of energy development in many countries, including Nigeria. “And if I had to mention one country where the people have not benefited from the oil wealth -- the least of any oil exporter -- this would be Nigeria.”
South Africa, meanwhile, has a bigger middle class, better legal institutions, and a more transparent financial system than Nigeria, says Amadou Sy, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s African Growth Initiative.
Sy points out that even if Nigeria is about to catch up with South Africa in total GDP, the distribution of that wealth and growth is much more equal in South Africa. He estimates GDP per-capita in Nigeria will be $2,700 after its upcoming revisions. In South Africa, he estimates the figure at $8,700.
“South Africa remains very important, especially for the Southern Cone of Africa,” says Sy. “But it’s also good to have another champion in the Western region of the continent.”
Also, a story on teenage pregnancies in the Dominican Republic, a report on a deadly balloon crash in New Zealand and a story from Pakistan that's fit for Halloween.
The director of the National Security Agency is pushing back hard on a Washington Post story -- based on documents provided by Edward Snowden -- that the agency has broken into the communication links that connect Google and Yahoo data centers around the world, copying the data of hundreds of millions of users, including Americans. The program, which is operated jointly with Britain's Government Communications Headquarters, is known as MUSCULAR.
Army General Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, told a cyber security conference in Washington on Wednesday that the government does not illegally break into databases, saying, "We go through a court order."
But if you don't buy Alexander's assertion, you're not the only one.
"The government is in the business of surreptitiously and professionally getting into all sorts of places it shouldn't be," says data security expert Roger Kay, founder and president of Endpoint Technologies Associates. "And one of its tactics is to always deny that it does so."
Google and Yahoo have both released statements claiming that they were unaware of the government's activities. Both companies have good reason to be outraged, Kay says. Knowing that the NSA can access your information has a serious impact on consumers.
"If you know that Google is losing your information to the government, you might not be willing to use their products -- it's just bad for them, reputationally [sic]," Kay says.
Kay says if you are concerned about the government staying out of your data, you might want to look to our neighbors to the north. "One of the interesting artifacts of this whole Snowden business is that the Canadians are capitalizing on the problems in the U.S. and providing services to Americans that they purport to be secure."
The Boston Red Sox are world champions after beating the St. Louis Cardinals. Here's a cheat sheet about the World Series.
Here's a gravely serious Halloween story for you. Maybe you're not the superstitious type, but perhaps you've wondered before if anyone died in your house -- or maybe one of your neighbor's houses.
Now there's an easy way to find out who met their maker in your bedroom, in a way that doesn't involve exhaustively searching county records. DiedInHouse.com, an internet company based in South Carolina, will run a background check to see if there's a record of anyone dying in a given house for $11.99.
CEO Roy Condrey said he got the idea for the business when he decided to check to make sure a rental property he owned wouldn't turn into "The Amityville Horror" for his tenants.
"In the middle of the night, I had a tenant text me saying, 'Did you know your house was haunted?'" Condrey says. "So the next day I got online -- because that's where we go to find out information -- and there what I did find was page after page of advice telling you how to find this information, and what they say is to check government records, speak to your neighbors, and check online -- so it's tons of research to find this."
The difficulty in finding out if anyone died in the house, combined with the fact that there are often no laws requiring people selling homes to disclose that kind of information, inspired Condrey to start DiedInHouse.
Condrey says there's a legitimate need for the service beyond just satisfying your morbid curiosity. If a real life horror movie took place where you live, it can have a big impact on the value of your property.
"A death in the home -- especially a violent death -- can depreciate the value up to 25 percent, and it will take 50 percent longer to sell," Condrey says.
What else besides a death can impact home value? Take our quiz and test your knowledge:
Earlier this year, Georgia Tech became the first top university to offer a steep discount for an online grad degree: less than $7,000 for a master’s in computer science, instead of the usual $45,000.
When applications closed last weekend, the pool looked very different from the traditional program. About 85 percent of graduate applicants came from the United States -- as opposed to one in 10 on campus.
Georgia Tech Computer Science Dean Tvi Galil says he doesn’t worry about cannibalizing his traditional program. It offers foreign students something they can’t get online: A visa.
"They want to come to the States," he says. "They want to get in, and they want to stay."
Georgia Tech’s campus program enrolls 150 students and turns away more than 1,000. Eventually, Galil hopes to enroll thousands online; 2,300 applied in this first round.
The program uses technology developed for MOOCs -- massively open online courses. Georgia Tech partnered with Silicon Valley’s Udacity, which provides the back-end and will split any profits.
With pressure on tuition and new online technology, Galil says he figured somebody was going to do this. He wanted to get out front. That’s probably right, says Ronald Ehrenberg, who runs Cornell University’s Higher Education Research Institute. Tuition can’t keep going up forever. Something’s going to give.
"I’m very happy that I’m no longer a university administrator," he says, "because it’s very difficult to make decisions in such an unstable framework."
This week marks a year since Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. One of the problems persisting in New York City is keeping our transit systems from flooding. Many New Yorkers can remember walking from Midtown through a darkened city last fall while the Transit Authority was still assessing the damage -- much of it from water. Well, a company has a tech-y solution to this -- an inflatable plug that could be blown up to keep water out of a tunnel when flooding occurs. Dave Cadogan, engineering director at the company ILC Dover, tells Marketplace Tech all about the giant stopper.
An important step has been taken in the quest to rid Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime of its lethal weapons. Next, an agreement must be finalized on a plan to destroy tons of toxic agents and munitions.
A new report from The Washington Post says that the National Security Agency has been secretly copying massive amounts of information. While that sounds like old news, it's not. This program, called MUSCULAR, has reportedly been tapping into the fiber optic cables that connect data centers at Yahoo and Google -- without either company knowing about it.
Independent security researcher Ashkahn Soltani co-wrote the story, and tells Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson about these new revelations. He says the program is significant because the agency may have been dodging legal oversight. It's also an international story, because the company you use for email or other online activities doesn't just store your information in the U.S. Copies of your data are stored all over the world, for backup. In other words, an email sent from someone in New York to a friend in Topeka might get copied and sent through someplace like Helsinki.
While it might be unlikely that the NSA has been digging up cables on the bottom of the Atlantic, it may have tapped into some of the big spots where those cables come onto land -- right under the nose of the utility companies that maintain them.
A Halloween event first started by churches has been gaining in popularity. Instead of going door to door seeking candy, kids instead go trunk to trunk, with cars parked in a central location. "Trunk-or-treating" is billed as a safer alternative to trick-or-treating.
If you commute to work, chances are you travel on roads or rails. Designers in Austin, Texas, wonder, "Why not up in the air?" In a nod to orangutans at the National Zoo who get around on wires 50 feet above the ground, the designers see the potential for aerial mass transit.
Twin embarrassments framed HHS Secretary's Kathleen Sebelius' day Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Criticism over the rocky rollout of the HealthCare.gov website was expected. But Sebelius also had to answer questions about insurance companies canceling policies for people who buy their own coverage.
The science-fiction writer is attracting new attention. Hordes of visitors and tentacle-bedecked merchandise descended on Rhode Island for a literary festival this year that would have made Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth proud. A bronze bust of Lovecraft even appeared in a local museum.
Several Marines were disciplined after a videotape surfaced showing them urinating on dead Taliban members in Afghanistan in 2011. The case seemed to be over, but now there are allegations that the top Marine officer, Gen. James Amos, intervened in an attempt to get a harsher punishment.
The ingredients used to make chemical weapons aren't environmentally friendly, and until recently the process of disposing of those weapons wasn't either. New rules make disposal safer, but are also a major stumbling block to the dismantling of Syria's stockpiles.
In a psychology study using Halloween candy, kids who got a candy bar and a piece of bubble gum were less satisfied than kids who got just a candy bar. The study shows that when we think about experiences, we are significantly biased by how the experience ends.