Larissa Anderson is a producer for the Marketplace Tech Report and she also produces Minnesota Public Radio’s (MPR) Wits.

Andersonjoined Marketplace after honing her radio skills as an intern with American RadioWorks and an assistant producer of programs in the MPR newsroom. She also led the Poetry Radio Project, an initiative that spanned many of APM's national programs including Weekend America, Marketplace, On Being, The Splendid Table, Performance Today and The Story.

Prior to her life in radio, Anderson taught high school English as well as English to adult language learners. She also was a grant writer, waitress and singer/songwriter.

Anderson attended the University of Minnesota where she received her bachelor’s degree in English literature. She returned to her alma mater and obtained her master’s degree in English education.

A native and current resident of Minnesota, Anderson likes to hang out with her family and practice yoga.

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Features by Larissa Anderson

Microsoft buys social network you can use at work

On Monday, Microsoft announced it bought social-networking company Yammer. Finally, I can socially network at the office. From Reuters:

With Yammer, employees can use a private, online company directory to contact co-workers, form networks, chat, share links and post news. A basic version of Yammer is free, but a subscription buys more security and integration with other company-wide software.

On a free site like Facebook, users are bombarded with targeted ads, but Yammer offers a subscription option, so you can pay for the service with your money instead of your data. So, maybe someday, you’ll be on your Microsoft Surface tablet reading a spreadsheet and conducting business, and Jan from accounting will send you an article on best budgeting practices on your Yammer wall (or whatever it’s called), and bypass Microsoft email completely. Welcome to your future job!

Hey Wikipedia, the robots are coming

Raytheon BBN is making a kind of online encyclopedia system for the government - not for public use - written entirely by robots. It’s a project the Pentagon’s out-there research agency is funding (surprise!). These are articles, or dossiers, about people and events that are built using information taken from news stories. Right now the system scans news from about 40 online news sources in English, Chinese and Arabic. From MIT Technology Review:

It starts by detecting an "entity"—a name or an organization, such as Boko Haram, accounting for a variety of spellings. Then it identifies other entities (events and people) that are connected to it, along with statements made by and about the subject. "It's automatically extracting relationships between entities," Colbath says. "Here the machine has learned, by being given examples, how to put these relationships together and fill in those slots for you."

The Boko Haram page goes on to list associated organizations and statements by and about the group. Clicking on any of them takes you back to original news sources, many of them translations of articles originally published in Arabic by sites such as Al Sharq in Qatar and Al Balad in Lebanon.” MIT Technology Review says the articles you find on Wikipedia are written more clearly, but points out that  if you go to Wikipedia, you’re limited to human imagination. These computer-written articles grab everything about the subject from every online news source it can, and it continually updates as time goes by. However, the robots still can’t get subtlety, humor or sarcasm, and it can’t separate out what’s the irrelevant. Yay humans! You’re still winning!

Your Mac might be costing you more than the sticker price

Turns out it’s showing you spendier hotel rooms. Cue the Rockwell - I always feel like Orbitz is watching meeeee! The company tells the Wall Street Journal it is making some use of data mining, and the hotel rooms you see on its site are in part determined by the computer you’re on. If you use a Mac, you're more likely to be served up more expensive hotel room on your room search - as much as 30% more a night. THANKS ONLINE TACKING! From the Journal:

Orbitz found Mac users on average spend $20 to $30 more a night on hotels than their PC counterparts, a significant margin given the site's average nightly hotel booking is around $100, chief scientist Wai Gen Yee said. Mac users are 40% more likely to book a four- or five-star hotel than PC users, Mr. Yee said, and when Mac and PC users book the same hotel, Mac users tend to stay in more expensive rooms.

It’s not just what kind of computer you’re on that determines what hotel offers you see though. Among other things, the site also takes into account where you are when you log in, what site you were on before you came to Orbitz. Again from the Journal:

If a shopper enters Orbitz through Kayak.com, which aggregates offers from travel sites, it might indicate a user is more sensitive about price than a visitor coming from review-focused Trip-Advisor, who may be more interested in hotel ratings.


I wonder if there's any way to tell Orbitz I'm searching for prices using a Commadore 64 with Wi-Fi enabled via coat hanger antena from the alley behind a Starbucks.

Taylor Swift caps her royalties from digital radio


While Pandora is sweating royalty rates, Taylor Swift’s label, Big Machine, signed a new deal with Clear Channel that will pay artists including Swift and other country stars like Tim McGraw and Reba McEntire for radio play on Clear Channel’s terrestrial radio stations. The tradeoff: the artists will cap the amount they get paid from songs that get played on Clear Channel’s digital stations, including its iHeart Radio service.

From the Associated Press:

“Performers and their record labels are allowed by law to take a mandatory minimum payment per play online, which equates to a fraction of a penny per listen. But the growth of online listening on mobile devices and in cars is outstripping stations' ability to sell online ads.”

You guys, if Internet takes off, you’re in the dust. If it doesn’t, nice work!

Here’s another kick for traditional radio: Ford has now added a music streaming app to its SYNC system. Mog.

From CNET:

“Unique to this Mog implementation will be some degree of voice control. Although drivers will not be able to request aspecific artist through voice, they will be able to request the Top Songs and Favorites playlists, as well as choosing to play songs downloaded from Mog to their phones. Probably the most useful feature for customization will be the ability to mark any currently playing song as a Favorite, saving it to the Favorites playlist.”

Radio. It’s old-timey!

Move over Judge Judy, now there’s an Internet

Got a legal problem? Is legal help too expensive? Don’t worry. Internet! Judgeme.com is described by its founder as a “small claims court for the Internet that, according to Computerworld offers “legally binding arbitration services with a particular eye on settling the conflicts that arise over freelance development and Web design.” Everything happens over email, from opening statements to final decision. Again, from Computerworld: “Disputes that have been resolved by the service include parents of a quickly divorced couple disputing the payment of the wedding, an issue between a tutor and one of his students and a dispute between a freelance consultant and a client.”

You guys. They can make things invisible


Some researchers are coming closer to figuring out how to make things invisible. Their work is published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Futurity quotes one of the researchers: “You can isolate and magnify what you want to see, and make the rest invisible,” says corresponding author Gunther Uhlmann, a University of Washington mathematics professor. “You can amplify the waves tremendously. And although the wave has been magnified a lot, you still cannot see what is happening inside the container.”

The only thing left to do is build a prototype. Piece of cake, right? I’m sure you can get that invisibility cloak by the holiday season.

 

Yes, the government is watching you.


Somebody cue the Rockwell. US Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith has released a new paper that estimates federal judges issue 30,000 electronic surveillance orders a year. And, they’re essentially secret, because if no action comes about from them, you’ll never know.

From Ars Technica:

Digital "warrant-like" requests to access stored e-mail in on online account, or to wiretap an Internet connection, or to obtain "pen register" information, or to track a cell phone, are obtained from magistrate judges, many times in secret dockets that don't even appear in the federal government's official PACER document system. They come after one-sided ("ex parte") proceedings in which only the government is heard. And they are generally sealed, only to be unsealed once a criminal case is filed. If no such charges are ever brought, the search warrants and the affidavits defend them can remain buried in the murkiest bits of the federal court system; even knowing that they exist can be a challenge. ISPs, which are often targets of such orders, may also be forbidden from disclosing them.

Smith isn’t arguing that we stop all this surveillance, rather make it more transparent.

Watch the Olympics online


As long as you’re paying a cable bill, that is. All Things D reports NBC is putting everything online - gymnastics, swimming, volleyball, wrestling. But, you have to be a paying cable subscriber, and then you need to go online and tell NBC your account number and everything just to prove you’re a paying cable subscriber. Then, you can get the goods. 

Lost your Internet connection? There’s an app that might be able to help


I was taking a walk yesterday. In nature. And there was NO WAY FOR ME TO GET ON THE INTERNET. It was terrible. I just had to listen to nature out there, no podcasts or music or anything. I couldn’t even read an email. It’s like we lost a war. A new app could make it easier for people to get online when there isn’t a Wi-Fi signal. MIT Technology Review writes about Open Garden, an app that lets you use other users’ signals to connect to the Internet. It’s a mesh network. The app is currently on Android devices, Macs and PCs, and a version could be available for the iPhone when the developers get approval from Apple. “Open Garden sniffs around for available Web-connected devices, choosing the best way to get online automatically, and that the person with the original connection is prioritized over others.”

Apple and Samsung meet in court. Cue the Morricone music.


Today, Tim Cook and Choi Gee-sung, CEOs of Apple and Samsung, will meet in a court in San Francisco. A federal judge is bringing them together to see if there’s a way to settle the patent dispute that has been dragging on between the companies. Apple has said it wants other companies, including Samsung, to make products that don’t look or behave like the iPhone. The two companies have been battling this out across 9 countries and 47 lawsuits.  And while Apple and Samsung are competitors, Apple needs Samsung - the Korean company helps Apple make parts for the iPhone and the iPad. So, will they settle? Maybe? Maybe not?

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