National News

Happy Birthday, Apple Macintosh, on your 30th

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 05:40

Apple celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of the Macintosh computer on Saturday, Jan. 25, in Cupertino, California. The unveiling of the Mac to the world by Steve Jobs on Jan. 24, 1984 -- also in Cupertino -- was Apple’s most successful product launch to date, as Apple took on IBM’s domination of the fast-growing market for personal computers.

After the Mac was launched, Apple did well, then not so well in the ‘90s (Steve Jobs had been ousted from the company in 1985). Then he came back in 1996, when Apple bought his company, NeXT, and by the early 2000s Apple was doing well again, revolutionizing the personal computing world with the iTunes store, and iPods, and eventually iPhones and iPads.

Apple’s public pre-launch of the Mac came during SuperBowl XVIII on January 22, 1984 (the L.A. Raiders trounced the Washington Redskins, 38 to 9). A dramatic ad directed by Ridley Scott for the Macintosh ran during the game.

An army of grey robot-men march through prison-like corridors to an assembly area, as a Big Brother figure drones at them from a huge screen about conformity and power. Enter a female runner -- in color, representing Apple -- pursued by helmeted riot police. She runs before them, past the oblivious robot-men, turns once, twice, three times, and hurls a sledgehammer into the screen, smashing Big Brother, unleashing air and light, waking the robots from their authoritarian trance, and ushering in the Age of Macintosh.

“That day the earth’s axis shifted a little bit,” says Guy Kawasaki with a small laugh. At the time, Kawasaki was the Apple Macintosh division’s software evangelist. He was there two days after the Superbowl ad aired, when Steve Jobs unveiled the Macintosh.

“It represented an entirely new way of interacting with computers and accessing information,” says Kawasaki. “This was your computer, and you could do what you wanted with it.”

Technology writer John Battelle was an early adopter and covered Apple for MacWeek; he went on to cofound Wired and The Industry Standard (he’s now CEO of Federated Media). He says Mac’s graphical user interface -- clicking and dragging the mouse across screen displays -- made the personal computer something everyone could use.

“Simply put—you saw yourself mirrored in that machine,” says Battelle. “What you did was directly reflected in the interface of that machine. When you moved your hand, something moved on the machine. The WYSIWYG -- ‘what you see is what you get’ -- interface was magical, and it began a journey of our society into becoming digital and understanding what it means to be data.”

That first post-apocalyptic Mac ad ended with an announcer saying these words as they scrolled down the screen: “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’”

The beige Macintosh personal computer that Steve Jobs described as being ‘for the rest of us’ -- the one that he believed would unseat IBM’s dominance of the market, and change the world -- had arrived.

Listen to an extended interview with Guy Kawasaki here:

What other technology was "born" in 1984? According to this timeline:
  • The Olivetti PC
  • Flash memory
  • 3D printing
  • The first portable computer (weighing in at 30 lbs)
  • The first desktop laser printer
  • Tetris!

Great Wall of Wyoming? This week's Silicon Tally

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 05:22

It's time for Silicon Tally. How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week, Kara Swisher, formerly of All Things D, currently co-executive editor with Walt Mossberg of the new tech news and reviews website Re/Code, takes on the tech gauntlet in our weekly Silicon Tally quiz. Play along at home, below.

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30 Elderly Residents Still Missing After Fire In Quebec

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 05:13

The blaze at a complex that housed the elderly quickly engulfed much of the building. Investigators were having a hard time searching for victims because water used to fight the flames had frozen over the scene. A key question: Why was the complex only partially fitted with sprinklers?

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Strutting in style at the Grammys doesn't come cheap

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-24 05:05

Singer, actress, and model Colette Falla moved to Los Angeles five years ago, and is used to the ups and downs that accompany life as an emerging artist in a city chock-full of emerging artists.  She’s also used to the expense that her career incurs. 

“When I was a kid I had singing lessons and piano lessons,” Falla said. “I did summer workshops for acting. Then, I went to university and and a course which was theater studies and English.” There was also private vocal coaching and music school in LA. These days, she shells out for studio time, PR, and U-Haul vans to get her to gigs.

So while being invited to an awards show is an honor, it’s not necessarily an excuse to splurge. Falla gets her hair styled at the popular but inexpensive Blow Dry Bar, opts for makeovers at the MAC store (free with a purchase) and even tries to save money on clothes.

“I can wear something simple like a little black dress,” Falla said. “Every girl has one in her closet.” Asked if she ever feels intimidated at events where A-list stars are wearing one-of-a-kind gowns, Falla, always good-natured, laughs.

“I think I get a secret boost out of being like, ‘my dress is from Forever 21,’” she said.

Colette’s wardrobe stylist Catherine Joubert is living her own kind of Hollywood dream. After years working for big movie studios, she struck out on her own, following her passion for fashion. Joubert says the competition in LA can be fierce, but she stays focused and has no trouble making a living. She admits that every stylist dreams of taking on a young client who becomes a superstar. That’s why she’s sometimes willing to reduce her hundred-dollar-per-hour fee.

“In LA, anything can happen,” Joubert said. “You can be working with a fresh, new, young face. And they might land a big role on a TV series and all of a sudden, they take you with them.”

Joubert’s philosophy is that no matter how broke the struggling artist, there is no excuse to look like anything other than a million bucks. For clients with more aspirations than cash, she’ll search department stores for something stunning and, hopefully, on sale.

“A singer’s going to take singing lessons,” Joubert said. “Actors will take workshops. It’s important to think about investing in your image as much as the other parts of your career.”

Days before the Grammys Colette Falla was still hoping to snag an invitation.

“’Im in a relationship with a really successful songwriter/producer,” she said. “He might get an invite and I could be his plus one, which would be great for me.”

She paused a second, apparently realizing how such a statement could be interpreted in a land of vaulting ambition. “I’m not in it for that,” she said with a laugh. “He’s my boyfriend. I love him.”

Mediator: Syria, Opposition Will Have Face-To-Face Meeting

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 04:11

The two sides are expected to be in the same room on Saturday. Only the international mediator is expected to speak.

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Mobs Blame Muslim Brotherhood After Bombs Rock Cairo

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 03:40

A huge explosion outside a security headquarters killed at least four people and wounded dozens. Three smaller explosions later left at least two more people dead. Cairo is on edge this weekend, which marks the third anniversary of protests that led to the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak's regime.

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Life-Support Battle Over Pregnant Texas Woman Heads To Court

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 00:43

Marlise Munoz's husband says she is brain-dead and the health of the fetus in question, but the hospital says state law compels it to keep the woman alive. A judge hears the case Friday.

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Giving Thanks For Two Bonus Decades Of Life And Love

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 00:42

Most people born with the genetic CHARGE syndrome don't live past age 5. Alexis D'Luna lived until she was 25 years old and, as her family explains, filled those years with her boundless energy.

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When A $65 Cab Ride Costs $192

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 00:40

NPR's Lisa Chow was in the car for about an hour, rolling around Manhattan in the middle of a snowstorm. She got the car through Uber, the new service that charges more when demand spikes.

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At 30, The Original Mac Is Still An Archetype Of Innovation

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 00:35

In January 1984, Apple aired one of most iconic commercials in Super Bowl history — introducing the Macintosh computer. The marketing helped position Apple as a plucky upstart, and the machine fundamentally changed the way people interacted with computers.

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Russians Fear A Sochi Legacy Of 'Black Widows,' Not Gold Medals

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 00:35

Two weeks before the Winter Olympics, Russian security forces are reportedly searching for potential suicide bombers, at least one of whom may already be in the host city of Sochi. The suspects are thought to be linked to Islamist militants who want to create a fundamentalist Muslim state in Russia's North Caucasus Mountains.

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At 30, The Original Mac Is Still An Archetype Of Innovation

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 00:35

In January 1984, Apple aired one of most iconic commercials in Super Bowl history — introducing the Macintosh computer. The marketing helped position Apple as a plucky upstart, and the machine fundamentally changed the way people interacted with computers.

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Eight Republicans And A Nunn Battle For Georgia's Open Senate Seat

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-24 00:34

The retirement of Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss has unleashed a scramble for the job. Eight Republicans are trying to out-conservative one another in battling for the nomination. And Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, has emerged as the likely Democratic nominee.

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Deadly Bombings Rock Cairo, Raising Fears Of More Militancy

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 22:44

Three bombings hit high-profile areas around Cairo on Friday. That included a suicide car bomber who struck the city's police headquarters, killing five people. It's the first major attack on the Egyptian capital as insurgents step up a campaign of violence following the ouster of the Islamist president.

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3 Dead, 20-Plus Hurt In I-94 Pileup In Indiana

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 22:16

More than 40 vehicles, many of them semitrailers, collided amid whiteout conditions in a massive highway pileup that left three people dead and more than 20 others injured in northwestern Indiana, police said Thursday.

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Conservative Writer D'Souza Indicted On Campaign Fraud Charges

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 17:34

Author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza, a vocal critic of President Obama, is accused of making illegal contributions in a 2012 Senate race. Authorities say he also made false statements about the contributions.

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Latest 'Rising Stars' Highlight GOP's Outreach To Women

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 16:38

As if to underscore GOP efforts at outreach to women voters, a breakout session of the Republican National Committee's latest "rising stars" at the group's winter meeting Thursday in Washington, D.C., entirely comprised young women.

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Welcome To The Edge: NPR's Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Blog

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 15:47

During the 17 days of the Olympics, we'll bring you the most interesting things we see and learn from the Sochi Games. We hope you tell us what you're seeing, too.

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High stakes question: How many times will Peyton Manning say 'Omaha'?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-23 15:43

You have heard, no doubt, of Peyton Manning's affinity for the word "Omaha." As he brings the Denver Broncos to the line of scrimmage.

It could be a decoy. It could be serious. He's not telling. But come Sunday next, at Super Bowl XLVIII, guessing how many times he's going to say it could win somebody some serious money.

The over/under on "Omaha" has been set at 27 and a half by the online betting firm Bovada.lv. It's just one in a series of what are called proprietary bets, that get set up around the game.

You choose "over" and he says it  28 or more times: You win. On the other side, if you choose "under" and he says it 27 times or less: You win.

 Kai says over. 32, to be specific. He also says: Broncos by a touchdown.

A Baby Didn't Bump These Moms Out Of Competition

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-23 15:39

Not that long ago, female elite athletes thought they had to retire if they wanted to have kids. Now, they're competing throughout pregnancies and getting right back to training once they deliver. In some cases, they're even making the most out of sponsorship deals they might have once lost.

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