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Week That Was: Smart Fridge Hack, Net Neutrality And The NSA

An LG representative shows off a smart refrigerator at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 10.
Robyn Beck
AFP/Getty Images
An LG representative shows off a smart refrigerator at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 10.

Nothing ends the tech week with a bang like the president's much-anticipated words on the NSA. But let's start with the weekly roundup of tech news from here at NPR and our friends at publications around the country.


As if it wasn't enough for Google to buy Nest, a home automation company that created a popular "smart" thermostat, researchers at the tech giant are also looking into a "smart" contact lens that would monitor glucose levels in tears. Steve Henn has the report on that. But the dark side of the Internet of Things is that these devices might be hacked and turned into "ThingBots," which can be used to drown sites in Web traffic as part of large-scale cyberattacks. One of the hacked appliances was a refrigerator. We wanted to know what food was in the fridge, but — spoiler alert (pun intended) — we couldn't find out.

Your weekly gaming fix: Laura Sydell writes about how Nintendo is trying to capitalize on its enduring nostalgic appeal, as evidenced by a man who named his daughter Zelda. And Steve Mullis reviews another indie video game: This one, called Continue?9876543210, is a meta-journey where you play a dead video character trying to escape digital deletion.

On the brighter side, social media guru Melody Kramer gives some tips on launching a social media strategy for your baby-to-be. Make your pregnancy announcement on Facebook work for you! And if you're announcing that you're preggo on Twitter, you might want to read Kat Chow's post on the abbrevs that are totes the cool things to use these days. For an interesting linguistic commentary on the state of Bay Area tensions, Fresh Air contributor Geoff Nunberg gives a revealing analysis of the words people use to describe the rising tech community in San Francisco.

And thanks to NPR's Alan Yu for providing your weekly dose of Bitcoin news.

The Big Conversation

All Tech blogger Elise Hu reports that the huge data breach that compromised millions of credit cards wasn't just at Target, as we previously thought. For a more in-depth look at the process, check out Re/code's report. And The New York Times points out that security firms could benefit from the rash of thefts.

A U.S. Court of Appeals seemed to strike a blow at "net neutrality" this week, ruling that the Federal Communications Commission can't force Internet service providers to treat all Internet traffic equally. This has caused fearful speculation about what the Web 3.0 could look like — for example, the possibility of a different Internet for the rich and poor, The Huffington Post reports. But The Atlantic insists the court's ruling might not actually be that bad for humanity.

And let's not forget the NSA: President Obama spoke Friday morning about the NSA. Yahoo News was the first to realize that his speech fell on the 53rd anniversary of President Dwight Eisenhower's farewell address in which he warned against "unwarranted influence ... by the military-industrial complex." Obama seemed to argue that the NSA's influence is not unwarranted, however. The Washington Post provides a breakdown of what changes he proposed, and we expect to see more analysis and coverage as the day progresses.

Other Curiosities

Quartz: How a 574-Year Old School is Preparing for a World Without Classrooms

Eton, the storied high school for boys, is working with a London-based accelerator.

The Atlantic: The History of Popular Music, According to Google

"In very, very broad strokes, one can see the largest movements of popular music in one interactive chart (or set of charts)."

Nieman Lab: The New York Times R&D Lab is Building a Quantified Self Semantic Analysis Tool to Track Web Browsing

The tool can monitor your browsing and semantically analyze the pages your visit, then organize it into a series of themes.

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

Emily Siner is an enterprise reporter at WPLN. She has worked at the Los Angeles Times and NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., and her written work was recently published in Slices Of Life, an anthology of literary feature writing. Born and raised in the Chicago area, she is a graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.