Marc Sanchez is the technical director and associate producer for Marketplace Tech Report where he is responsible for shaping the sound of the show. 

Sanchez started at Marketplace in April of 2011, but has worked for American Public Media since 2005. During that time, he was the director and associate producer of Weekend America, produced a season of American RadioWorks, worked in the Minnesota Public Radio newsroom and helped out with Speaking of Faith, now called On Being.

Sanchez believes that the everyday people around us often have the most interesting stories to tell.  In 2010, Sanchez started a project called Minnesota Sounds, which captures Minnesota, his home state, from an audio perspective.

Sanchez received his degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University. 

In 2008, he received a Minnesota Excellence in Medical Journalism award for “Donation Day,” a story inspired by his experience being a marrow donor.

Sanchez is originally from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., but currently calls Minneapolis home. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with his wife and daughter, playing music, record shopping and continuing his quest to find the world’s best tacos.


Features by Marc Sanchez

That fancy new Windows 8 phone can sure take great video

Nokia really wants you to believe that headline. It created it’s own video of a fun-loving couple on a bike ride using their new Lumia 920 Lumia phones. Wow, look how smooth that video is... and they’re on bikes too! One problem: the video wasn’t shot using the new phone.

The Verge was first to point out the error:

... there's a curious reflection in the window of the trailer in the background. It's not a young man riding his bicycle alongside the cheerful model, but instead a big white van with a lighting rig and a cameraman standing in the doorway — with what appears to be a large camera rig. Whatever he's holding, we can reasonably agree it's not a Lumia 920.
Owning up to the mistake, Nokia issued an apology for the misleading ad, which reads in part:
In an effort to demonstrate the benefits of optical image stabilization (which eliminates blurry images and improves pictures shot in low light conditions), we produced a video that simulates what we will be able to deliver with OIS.
Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but we should have posted a disclaimer stating this was a representation of OIS only. This was not shot with a Lumia 920. At least, not yet. We apologize for the confusion we created.

The apology was accompanied by a new, hastily shot video that really does show the new phone’s image stabilization capabilities.

By 2050 we may not all be flying into space, but we could be taking off like rockets

According to Airbus, taking off at sharper angles could save a significant amount of fuel, and, as it turns out, the European airplane maker says it could build just such a plane by mid-century. The design would involve a series of wheels fitted to the bottom of the plane that give it more up an upward propulsion and detach just before taking flight. I imagine runways littered with bunches of wheel “carcasses” as if a bunch of  cicadas had just shed their shells. Taking off this way, theoretically, gets planes up to their cruising speed much quicker, which helps them to economize fuel.

Taking off isn’t the only innovation Airbus sees in its jet-fueled future.

A new way of landing could be part of the game too, as the BBC writes:

[Airbus] suggested planes could glide towards airports using a steeper approach than is common at present as an alternative to the use of engine thrust and air brakes.
It said this could slow aircraft at an earlier stage, making shorter landing distances possible.
"As space becomes a premium and mega-cities become a reality, this approach could... minimise land use, as shorter runways could be utilised," it added.

Wait, gliding to a landing “using a steeper approach?” That sounds like stalling out in mid-air. And cities are going to get bigger and more congested, so airports are going to have to take up less of a footprint. I hope these planes come with gigantic parachutes too.

Robot style mind-leg harmony

For now, Oscar Pistorious has to compete in the Olympics with running blades, but in a couple generations, runners could be sprinting atop mind-controlled robot legs. Step aside Steve Austin, and take Jammie Sommers with you. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine and the Long Beach Veterans Affairs Medical Center have successfully tested a pair of such legs. Just think of it. No really, just think of it, because that’s all you need to do to get the legs to respond. And now that the team has figured out how to translate EEG readouts (brainwaves) to bot gams, there’s a whole new realm of possibilities in the field of prosthetics.
Keep in mind, these are still in the early stages of development.

From the Verge:

While future improvements could allow the user to change speed and direction and perform actions such as sitting down and standing up, the current implementation of the system is only capable of alternating between binary "idling" and "walking" states. Another issue is so-called "false alarms," which, as the researchers note, "carry the risk of bodily harm in future BCI-prostheses for overground walking" — four of these occurred during testing, with the device's pre-programmed startup sequence causing them to last at least five seconds each.

While the rest of us get to add “wide web,” one in three people live only in the world

OK, let me explain. Tim Berners-Lee, the guy that invented the World Wide Web, has just published a web index that shows, of all the people in the world, only one in three connect to the web. That number grows to one in six, when looking specifically at Africa. The BBC breaks the index down:

It highlighted censorship and high broadband prices as barriers to a "web for all".
Using data from the past five years, it scored nations in seven different categories.
These were: communications infrastructure - the state and availability of web-enabling infrastructure; institutional infrastructure - education, laws, regulation and censorship; web content - what relevant and useful content is available; web use - the extent to which the web is used in a country; political impact; economic impact and social impact.

Overall, the U.S. ranked No. 2 on the index, behind Sweden and in front of the U.K. We’re number two! We’re number two! Iceland, it turns out, is the most connected with 95 percent of its population logging on, while Yemen scraped the bottom “in three categories, including social and economic impact of the web.” Again from the BBC:

According to the index, 30% of countries face moderate to severe government restrictions on access to websites, while about half of them show increasing threats to press freedom. "The web is a global conversation. Growing suppression of free speech, both online and offline, is possibly the single biggest challenge to the future of the web," warned Sir Tim

61 countries were surveyed for the index, and besides location, one of the main barriers to going online is still price. According to Berners-Lee, “broadband connections still cost almost half of monthly income per capita.”

The Estonians are coming, all the way from first grade

Kids are going back to school in droves this week. Hair styles, funky jeans, and nerves will make for great embarrassing photos (and stories) in 20 years. In the U S of A our first graders are armed with pencils to learn how to write and draw. That’s cute, when you consider that, first graders going to public schools in Estonia will now be required to start learning to code. The program, dubbed ProgeTiiger, is aimed at getting Estonian youth to be the makers, not just consumers, of technology. Venture Beat writes:

ProgreTiiger education will start with students in the first grade, which starts around the age of 7 or 8 for Estonians. The compsci education will continue through a student’s final years of public school, around age 16. Teachers are being trained on the new skills, and private sector IT companies are also getting involved, which makes sense, given that these entities will likely end up being the long-term beneficiaries of a technologically literate populace.

Hopefully these kids will grow up in the footsteps of @IlvesToomas (aka the president of Estonia), and active tweeter and tech enthusiast, and not follow the path of other, more nefarious, countrymen who were recently made headlines after one of the biggest Internet malware spreading crews was brought down last year

A win for Samsung

Well, at least for now. The Samsung Galaxy 3 beat out Apple’s iPhone 4S as the country’s best-selling phone in August. That’s the first time Apple has been beat out of the top spot since the release of the 4S, which came out about a year ago. Now, what could possibly be a contributing factor? How about that Apple is widely expected to announce the next iteration of the iPhone next week? CNET notes:

While the iPhone 4S sales weakened, the Galaxy S3 numbers continue to look strong, further solidifying Samsung's position as the world's largest smartphone vendor and top Android partner.

Have you ever been swimming in the ocean and tried avoid waves crashing on you? The trick to not getting sucked under and tumbled around is to take a deep breath and dive into the base of a wave. Right about now, I’d say we’re standing waist-deep in an ocean of smartphones. And that giant wave on the horizon? That’s the onslaught of phones arriving just in time for the holidays. Now take a deep breath and dive.

If you’re using BitTorrent to download movies and music and whatever, don’t befriend Rockwell

Rockwell has enough people watching him and sends his regards. According to a recent study, almost all downloads from BitTorrent sites are being monitored, some within just a few hours of making a connection. A team from Birmingham University in the U.K. ran the numbers. The BBC writes:

The three-year research was carried out by a team of computer scientists who developed software that acted like a BitTorrent file-sharing client and logged all the connections made to it.
BitTorrent is a method of obtaining files by downloading from many users at the same time.
The logs revealed that monitoring did not distinguish between hardcore illegal downloaders and those new to it.

A group of roughly 10 companies kept popping up as monitors, a few of which were affiliated with copyright infringement. So that makes sense, but the others? They were unknown firms - PacMen and Ms. PacMen, if you will - gobbling up the pellets and power pellets of data you scatter when uploading or downloading content via BitTorrent. They’re hoping that someday they can cash in (gobble up a blue ghost) on all the information getting scooped up in their nets. But you’re safe, for now. Lead researcher Dr. Tim Chothia spoke with the BBC:

"All the monitors observed during the study would connect to file-sharers and verify that they were running the BitTorrent software, but they would not actually collect any of the files being shared," he said.
"It is questionable whether the monitors observed would actually have evidence of file-sharing that would stand up in court," he added.

So you probably won’t go to jail for that “free” copy of an iPhone-ripped version of Dark Knight Rises, but really, was being the first to own a shaky, sometimes out of focus version of the latest Batman movie worth giving up your digital bits?

Wal-Mart tests Scan & Go

From the depths of a Wal-Mart in Rogers, Ark. comes another Scan & Go, Wal-Mart’s plan to speed you through its stores using that little computer you carry around in your pocket. The company is testing an iPhone scanning system that would let customers scan items while they shop. You’d still have to stop off at a cash register to pay for your goods, but Wal-Mart says this newly proposed method of shopping could save $12 million a second, which only makes me think: Wow - Wal-Mart makes a lot of damn money!

From the Wall Street Journal:

The trial comes after Wal-Mart's chief financial officer, Charles Holley, announced plans in March to add more self-checkout lanes, where shoppers scan and bag items without the help of cashiers. About 1,600 of the more than 4,500 Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores in the U.S. include a traditional self-checkout option.

The experiment seems to be aimed more at speeding up lines and probably gaining access and insight into customer shopping habits rather than a move on the mobile payment chess board. The company recently announced it was joining other retail giants like Target and Lowe’s in a separate mobile app ecosystem called Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX).

Looking for a job? You need to pass the robot test first.

A few weeks back, Eric Auld wanted to see how many people he was competing with for jobs he saw posted on Craigslist. After creating a fake ad, it turns out the answer is A LOT - 653 resumes in just 24 hours. Lots of responders used cut and paste methods and generic resumes that would have been flagged had Auld been a robot. “First looks” are becoming increasingly more digital as the BBC reports on the new digital trends companies are employing to, uh... employ you. The Chemistry Group customizes a kind of role playing game for companies and their applicants. The game might start out mundane, with the user (applicant) enjoying a day in the park, but then distractions set in. A bird circles. Emails pop up. And maybe somebody else starts to ask you questions. The game is set up to judge your multi-tasking skills.

From the BBC:

It is just one of a new breed of software that reflects the growing impact of the digital age on the recruitment sector.
Another programme, created by talent management firm SHL, features online 3D simulations, which drop graduate applicants into scenarios where a boss with a piercing stare asks for solutions to various dilemmas.

And don’t forget the keywords. For years, companies have been employing software that searches resumes for keywords that relate to specific jobs. It’s such a common practice, in fact, that people try to game the system.

Again from the BBC:

As flexible working and virtual teams become more prevalent, so does the opportunity to pull the wool over an electronic recruiter's eyes.

There are about 40 people guiding your next Netflix choice

According to Netflix, as of this morning, my reviewer user ranking is No. 886, 927. Woo-hoo, cracked a million! Of the 1,287 movies to which I’ve designated a rating, I have reviewed zero. That’s quite a different story for the roughly 40 freelancers Netflix pays to balance out its algorithm. This relatively small group gets paid to tag, rate, and review movies that, in turn, tell you what to watch.

The Los Angeles Times writes:

The taggers were hired for their love of entertainment and their ability to evaluate it quickly. Many are film school graduates who once worked in Hollywood — or dream of doing so.
They're the ones who pick from more than 1,000 tags to describe thousands of movies and television series offered by Netflix to viewers in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Great Britain and Ireland. Every movie is watched by a single person, as are at least three episodes of every TV series.
Taggers are paid several hundred dollars per week — pocket change for a company that generated $1.76 billion of revenue in the first six months of this year — to watch between 10 to 20 hours of content.

Netflix won’t release the exact number of streams available, but estimates put it at around 14,000. In other words, way too many for the average viewer to sift through before s/he finds something better to do and cancels their Netflix subscription. The company estimates that around 75 percent of what we watch on the service is based on recommendations, which is why it’s coming up with more and more ways of slicing and dicing tags. In the last six years the number of tags, which used to be completely computer generated, has grown from a couple hundred to over 1000 with the help of the human touch.


With Generous Support From...

Sustainability Coverage

  • The Kendeda Fund
  • Wealth & Poverty Coverage

  • The Ford Foundation