Tech Sightings, December 19, 2013

Posted December 19th, 2013 at 5:28 pm (UTC+0)
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Bill Gates Surprises Reddit User With Secret Santa Gifts

A Reddit user likely didn’t expect much when she joined the site’s Secret Santa program. But a seven- pound package from “Bill” turned into a Christmas miracle.

Nigeria: Airtel, Google Give Customers Free Internet Service

Leading telecommunications service provider, Airtel Nigeria and Google launched a unique Internet service tagged Free Zone powered by Google. The service allows customers to access mobile web search and other feature-phone-friendly versions of Gmail and Google+ without getting billed.

Micropayments, Mega Angst, and the Future of Console Games

Sony and Microsoft have delivered their next-gen visions, but with this caveat: more microtransactions. Cash grab or survival strategy, it will surely generate controversy as 2014 rolls along.

Reinventing the Wheel: Startup Turns Bicycles into Smart Electric-Hybrids

A startup is launching a new device that transforms almost any bicycle into an electric-hybrid vehicle using an app on a smartphone.The device, called the Copenhagen Wheel, is installed as part of a rear hub of a bike wheel and is packed with a proprietary computer, batteries and sensors that monitor how hard a rider is pedaling and activate an onboard motor whenever support is needed.

Supercomputers Find Bacterial ‘Off’ Switch

The comparatively recent addition of supercomputing to the toolbox of biomedical research may already have paid off in a big way: Researchers have used a bio-specialized supercomputer to identify a molecular “switch” that might be used to turn off bad behavior by pathogens. They’re now trying to figure out what to do with that discovery by running even bigger tests on the world’s second-most-powerful supercomputer.

The ‘Killer Robot’ Olympics

The research branch of the U.S. Defense Department, DARPA, is putting on a big competition in Florida this Friday and Saturday for the world’s most advanced robots. One of the stars of the show is a humanoid thing that geeks at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, working in a place they call “The Bunker,” decided to christen Valkyrie

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

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Whether you are in a big city or a small village – technology is in your hands, your pocket, your car, your home. It is everywhere. And everywhere, it is becoming us.

Techtonics looks at how technology intersects people’s lives, how it empowers them or traps them in a world increasingly obsessed with technological wonders even as privacy slips through its fingers. It aims to inform, discuss, and hopefully inspire.

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