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Technology

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On Monday, Apple is rolling out a new way to pay: a digital wallet called Apple Pay. Millions of people with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be able to tap — rather than swipe — at the register.

The move could be a major change in how we shop. Or it could end up as a blip on the map that fades away, as other "mobile wallets" have in the past.

Here are some questions you might be asking:

I have a leather wallet in my back pocket. Am I going to have it a year from now, given this mobile-wallet revolution?

Chinese characters don't readily work with the English-centric internet. The New Republic's Chris Beam tells NPR's Scott Simon that the Chinese use numbers that when pronounced, sound like words. This story air originally on Weekend Edition Saturday on May 10, 2014.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

When you think about robots, if you do, you might think of famous images from science fiction, some kind of tin can built to vaguely resemble a human being.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: EPISODE 1 - THE PHANTOM MENACE")

How will technology and gaming need to change to be welcoming for women? We've been exploring the issue for years. This week, the debate rages anew with a development out of Silicon Valley, and a new chapter in the still raging Gamergate controversy.

As a neurosurgeon in Connecticut, Dr. Katrina Firlik saw too many patients make the same mistakes, over and over again.

At her hospital in Greenwich she'd see patients with hemorrhagic strokes that could have been prevented. "They didn't take their hypertension medications for the last couple decades," she says.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

In the Silicon Valley arms race to lure the top talent with the best benefits, Facebook and Apple are adding egg freezing for female employees. The two companies may be the first to pay for the procedure for women who choose it to delay childbearing.

The addition of egg-freezing to the benefits plan comes as tech companies face mounting pressure to hire more women. And it's a perk that some women may find attractive.

In the aftermath of disasters like earthquakes, fires and severe weather events, the rush to both alert and check on family and friends can crash telecommunications networks. During the freak 2011 Virginia earthquake, which rattled the nation's capital and damaged the Washington Monument, panicked phone calls quickly overloaded the phone network.

Facebook's newest tool, known as Safety Check, aims to allow people to quickly alert friends and family that they are safe after a natural disaster.

For borrowers in default, the repo man is no longer the one to fear — it's Big Brother. Growing numbers of lenders are getting tech savvy, remotely disabling debtors' cars and tracking customer data to ensure timely payment of subprime auto loans. The practice has created problems for consumers and raises privacy concerns.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Government regulators have approved a new generation of genetically engineered corn and soybeans. They're the latest weapon in an arms race between farmers and weeds, and the government's green light is provoking angry opposition from environmentalists.

In April, residents of Louisa County, Va., were shocked to learn of a sexting "ring" among the town's teenagers. When Hanna Rosin asked teens from Louisa County High School how many people they knew who had sexted, a lot of them replied: "Everyone." But what was originally characterized in the media as an organized criminal affair was soon revealed to be widespread teen behavior.

"I think we as a culture don't know whether to be utterly alarmed by sexting, or think of it as a normal part of teenage sexual experimentation," Rosin tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Weekly Innovation: Your New Pet Robot

Oct 15, 2014

Remember "Weebo," the floating robot from Robin Williams' 1997 movie Flubber? A cute yellow bot that lived with Williams' absent-minded professor character, "she" was a loveable gadget that seemed far-fetched at the time. But fast-forward 17 years and Weebo is a whole lot closer to fact than fiction.

HBO has built a robust and popular online presence over the past couple of years with its app, HBO GO. But to get it — as is the case with many streaming services that offer television over the Internet — you've needed a cable subscription. In other words, HBO GO was an add-on for people who already had HBO, not an alternative way of getting shows for people who didn't.

A group of hackers, allegedly from Russia, found a fundamental flaw in Microsoft Windows and exploited it to spy on Western governments, NATO, European energy companies and an academic organization in the United States.

That's according to new research from iSight Partners, a Dallas-based cybersecurity firm.

Since her birth in 1900, Anna Stoehr has seen dramatic shifts in technology. But when the Minnesota woman tried recently to create a Facebook account, she hit a snag. The service's software couldn't handle her advanced age of 113 years old. So she fudged it a bit, and said she was 99.

To put Stoehr's age in context, we'll remind you: She was born three years before the Wright brothers conducted their historic first flight of an airplane in North Carolina.

What can get lost in a flurry of news about Dropbox and Snapchat getting hacked is that the companies themselves deny they were hacked at all.

We've come a long way in the information age. We know how to put data on the cloud. We hold mobile devices that can carry as much music as a record store. We've figured out how to send photos to friends with lightning speed — and make them self-destruct after 10 seconds. And yet we haven't quite figured out passwords.

Modern Family writer Megan Ganz, Grantland writer Rembert Browne and Rookie Mag founder Tavi Gevinson recall their most embarrassing monikers for our New Boom series.

We also want to hear your embarrassing screen names. Share them on Twitter with #NewBoom and we'll add them here.

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.

Millennials are spending — and giving away their cash — a lot differently than previous generations, and that's changing the game for giving, and for the charities that depend on it.

Scott Harrison's group, Charity: Water, is a prime example. Harrison's story starts in New York's hottest nightclubs, promoting the proverbial "models and bottles."

A carnivorous plant has inspired an invention that may turn out to be a medical lifesaver.

Nepenthes, also known as tropical pitcher plants or monkey cups, produce a superslippery surface that causes unfortunate insects that climb into the plant to slide to their doom.

Scientists at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering wondered if they could find a way to mimic that surface to solve a problem in medicine.

The holiday season is approaching, a time for sales and Santa and, now, credit card data breaches.

Though cyberthieves have stolen millions of card numbers this year, shoppers are heading into the heavy-spending season with no new credit safeguards in place.

When you hear about a data breach, Bryan Sartin is one of the guys who go in to investigate.

"I've seen my own personal information in those lots of stolen data many, many, many, many, many times," Sartin says.

Our tech coverage this week was bookended by stories about women. We started with a look back at the forgotten females who pioneered computer programming and ended with the controversy about a certain tech CEO's insensitive remarks on women asking for raises. Oh, and Hewlett-Packard called it splitsville.

For about a month, Kmart says, its stores' checkout registers were "compromised by malicious software that stole customer credit and debit card information."

The company, owned by Sears, says it removed the malware from its system after it was discovered Thursday. It announced the exposure late Friday, saying that no personal data or PIN numbers were lost.

While some important customer information seems to have been protected, the breach could still allow criminals to make counterfeit versions of the exposed credit cards.

Twitter filed a lawsuit against the federal government this week over First Amendment rights, marking the latest round in a battle between tech companies and the government over how much they can reveal about government requests for their user information.

On Thursday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said it is good karma in some instances when women do not ask for a raise. His comments stirred a heated debate about pay equality. Nadella was talking to president of Harvey Mudd College and Microsoft director Maria Klawe at a conference panel. Melissa Block talks to Klawe about Nadella's comments and the reaction that followed.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's comments on women asking for raises triggered an instant backlash, but they also raise more questions about the tech industry's male-dominated culture and spotlight the challenges women in tech face.

The narrative around drones is that they are killing machines. Unmanned tools of war that the government uses to avoid putting boots on the ground in conflict zones around the world.

Sometimes a fetus can't make it into the birth canal. Both mother and child are at risk. If you were looking to fix the problem, you probably wouldn't call up an Argentine car mechanic.

But maybe you should.

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