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.

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Features by Marc Sanchez

Obama takes to Reddit

At 3:08 p.m. yesterday afternoon, Barack Obama put this message on Twitter, “Hey, everyone: I'll be taking your questions online today. Ask yours here:http://OFA.BO/gBof44 -bo,” then roughly an hour and a half later, there was the president, on the self-described “front page of the Internet,” answering your questions. Besides being the go-to site for up to the second links and comments about anything and everything, Reddit hosts a series called Ask Me Anything, or AMA, where interesting folks put themselves out there to, well, get asked any question the Internet can offer. Past AMAs have included celebs like Larry King and Woody Harelson to people like a dad who built his own telescope or a former stripper who just graduated from Harvard. The surge of interest in Obama’s AMA almost shut down the site.
Questions about space exploration, family life, and, no surprise, Internet freedom were among the 10 answered in Obama’s half hour visit. The Los Angeles Times writes:

More than 1.8 million readers subscribed to the thread, which also got more than 12,900 comments and questions.
During the session, Obama said his favorite basketball player was Michael Jordan, disclosed that theWhite House beer recipe will be unveiled soon and said "we are focused on a potential mission to a asteroid" when asked about the possibility of increasing NASA's budget. A Reddit user quickly replied with a correction for the President.
"an asteroid, Mr. President," the user said.


Obama’s reaction after his AMA: “NOT BAD!”

U.S. sanctions on Iran have embargoed fun from some gamers

Late last week Iranian fans of World of Warcraft were suddenly locked out of the role playing game. Blizzard, the gaming company that makes WoW, says they had to pull access in Iran to comply with U.S. sanctions against the country. Normally, if you or I had purchased a game then had it yanked back from our computers, we’d expect a refund. In this case, however, Blizzard says it can’t offer refunds, again, due to the sanctions. Needless to say, gamers weren’t happy and they took to the company’s message boards. From the BBC:

Although the block on Wow has been imposed by Blizzard, other reportssuggest a wider government ban might have been imposed.
Players of Wow and other games, including Guild Wars, said when they had tried to log in they had been redirected to a page saying the connection had been blocked because the games promoted "superstition and mythology".
Blizzard said it had no information about Iranian government action against online games.

Coral reefs get touched by a robot

The coral reefs just off the west coast of Scotland have taken a beating from pollution and overfishing, and now they’re going to get a little robot-style TLC. Currently in training with builders from Heriot-Watt University, Scottland, “coralrobots” will soon be let loose in the Atlantic to tend and repair the reef. The BBC reports:

When they get damaged, scuba divers re-cement broken fragments, helping them re-grow - but it is tricky for divers to reach depths over 200m.
Coralbots, the researchers hope, will be a lot more efficient, able to repair the reefs in days or weeks.


The bots aren’t very smart on their own, but when they work in a swarm, like underwater bees with video cameras and remote-control arms, they can get a lot done. The BBC spoke with some of the researchers:

"Our key idea is that coral reef restoration could be achieved via swarm intelligence, which allows us to exploit co-operative behaviours we see from natural swarms of bees, termites and ants that build complex structures such as hives and nests," said marine biologist Lea-Anne Henry who is lead scientist on the project at Heriot-Watt.
She said the robots would be intelligent enough to navigate and avoid obstacles.
"We are developing new intelligent object recognition routines, exploiting the data from hundreds of coral reef images, to enable each swarm member to recognise coral fragments and distinguish them from other materials and objects in the environment in real-time," she said.

Let the music Muve you

When people talk about digital music streaming services, the names Spotify, Rhapsody, and Pandora come up a lot. All three services started out by letting people stream tunes via computer, then they moved onto the smartphone platform. Muve, on the other hand, acts similarly, but it’s only found on phones. Users pay for unlimited streaming music by adding a $10 monthly fee to their phone bills. The service can be found on Cricket Wireless phones and has been quietly adding users from a largely untapped, minority market. Numbers are likely to grow after yesterday’s announcement that Cricket is coming out with a line of Android smartphones, pre-installed with Muve, priced at $50-$70 per month. From the New York Times:

“Cricket’s customer is young, is ethnic, and tends to be middle and lower income,” said Jeff Toig, the senior vice president of Muve Music. “This is not a segment of the market that the major technology companies innovate for.”


And yet, studies have shown that same demographic accesses the Internet more on phones than on computers. Again from the Times:

According to a study in June by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to consider the phone their primary means of going online.

Current bills, with Muve, top out between $55 to $65, and it’s unclear whether the bump up in price for the new phones might prove to be too much.

Isis gets ready to go live next month

Isis, the mobile payment system, was almost becoming as mythical as Isis, the Greek godess. Since it was announced over a year ago as a joint venture between wireless carriers, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, plans for an early 2012 had been stalled. The company just announced that test sites in Austin and Salt Lake City will go live next month. Better late than never I guess. Wired reports:

If you happen to live in Salt Lake City or Austin and happen to have an NFC-equipped phone (all 50 or so of you), you can use that phone to pay at stores that have terminals that can read the tiny chips. (Isis said this spring that participating retailers will include Foot Locker, Macy’s, Jamba Juice, and others, as well as Coca-Cola vending machines.)


Got it, I can buy shoes, clothes, and snack drinks in Salt Lake City or Austin. I’m all set. To be fair, the plan offers payments at local retailers like cupcake shops, pizza joints, and the Utah Jazz too.
The announcement comes at an interesting time too, after Square announced a deal with Starbucks a few weeks ago, mega-retailers banned together to launch the MCX payment system, and PayPal entered into a partnership with Discover. I’m hoping to only have to buy one more wallet in my life, because pretty soon it’s going to be all phone all the time everywhere for everything.

If your company is known for printers, a good business bet would be to stop selling printers

Lexmark announced yesterday that it’s getting out of the inkjet printer business, and upon hearing the news, investors pushed the company’s stock up by 14 percent. If logic follows, McDonalds will stop selling burgers, Disney will send Mickey to a home for old mice, and Bank of America will no longer accept money.
Truth be told, Lexmark has been at it for a while.Printing is sooo Y2-aughts. From the Wall Street Journal:

Diminishing demand for Lexmark’s traditional printing products prompted the company in 2007 to start exiting its consumer inkjet business in favor of higher-performance printers for businesses and electronic-document management software.


I would have thought home printers were a total win for companies like Lexmark. I mean, you buy one for a hundred bucks or so, spend another $50 in a couple months to replace the ink, then the thing breaks within a year, and you start all over. That sounds pretty close to a money printing machine. I must be missing something. The company noted that it still sees a future in laser printers, because who wouldn’t - you get to print WITH LASERS! If you’re one of those poor, laser-less souls who has a Lexmark inkjet printer, you’d better stock up on ink refills now.

Hack you!

We talk about video games from time to time here on Tech Report. Here’s one we wholeheartedly DO NOT ENDORSE. Brain hacking. Armed with a gaming headset, researchers from California, Switzerland and the UK were able to piece together banking PINs and addresses of test subjects. The Daily Mail tells how they did it:

The scientists took an off-the-shelf Emotiv brain-computer interface, a device that costs around $299, which allows users to interact with their computers by thought, and is often used to control games.
The scientists then sat their subjects in front of a computer screen and showed them images of banks, people, and PIN numbers.
They then tracked the readings coming off of the brain, specifically a signal known as P300.
The P300 signal is used by the brain when a person recognizes something meaningful, such as someone or something they interact with on a regular basis.
It is released by the brain around 300 milliseconds after recognition occurs, hence its name.


The good news is that it would be pretty difficult for somebody to “slip” one of these headsets on you, show you recognizable images and get you to spill the beans without you knowing. The researchers say this technology could be promising in prisoner interrogation. Slip a headset on, show the perp some pictures, and see whether they show any signs of recognition. If they do, then questioning might continue. If not, they’re either clean or a STONE COLD KILLER.

We like pictures

Of course Facebook still looks like King Kong on top of the Empire State Building, but a recent poll by Experian shows how much ground Pinterest and Instagram have gained in the last year, we really, really like pictures. Grouping pictures snagged from the web, that would be Pinterest, is the third largest social network site, behind Big Face and Twitter, which is up 185 spots, or 5,124 percent, from last year.
As if that’s not impressive, making pictures look old and distorted, that would be Instagram, has gone from the 609 to No. 11 on the charts - that’s a 17,319 percent increase. That kind of movement is also probably a big reason why Facebook bought purchased Instagram earlier this year. AllThingsD writes:

Based on the habits of early adopters, Experian research head Bill Tancer predicted that the window is still open for additional niche social networks.
Tancer has been studying growth patterns since following the breakout of YouTube in 2005, and attested that these days the hits are emerging faster than ever.
“The ramp is much quicker,” Tancer said. “You see a bunch of demographic segments adopting at once versus that sequential adoption.”


Google+ isn’t doing too shabby either. The site is currently sitting in the No. 4 spot, and Tancer thinks it has a secret weapon: local. Again from AllThingsD:
Earlier this summer, Google released Google+ Local, which combines place pages, free Zagat ratings and related social activity.
Why does that matter? Because local information is one of the biggest things people search for.
“When you look at search distribution being such a significant channel, local will cause a pretty strong growth pattern for Google+,” Tancer predicted.

What happens to your media when you die?

We’ve all watched that scene in a movie where a family gathers around a lawyer’s desk as he reads the last will and testimony of some pivotal character. (It’s a movie, so the lawyer is a “he.” Don’t get mad at me, send your hate mail to Hollywood.) Great Aunt Harriet left her entire fortune to her duck!!! And what now? We each get a month to take care of the duck, and whoever can get her to lay an egg gets the loot?!? Crazy? Sure. You bet I’m in.
But what if Aunt Harriet was a book collector? Better yet, what if all her books were on her Kindle, and she had terabytes of music all purchased from iTunes? Dividing up her digital detritus might be more of a headache than getting Quackers to produce an heir. When you buy a song from the iTunes store or an eBook from Amazon, you’re technically only buying a license - a non-transferrable license. Marketwatch spoke with estate planner Deirdre R. Wheatley-Liss:

 

Most digital content exists in a legal black hole. “The law is light years away from catching up with the types of assets we have in the 21st Century,” says Wheatley-Liss. In recent years, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Indiana, Oklahoma and Idaho passed laws to allow executors and relatives access to email and social networking accounts of those who’ve died, but the regulations don’t cover digital files purchased.


The article goes on to profile DapTrust, lawyer-created software getting ready to come to market that will let users create a trust account for media files. Sure, this sounds like a solution, albeit a labor-intensive one.

 

… experts say there should be an easier solution, and a way such content can be transferred to another’s account or divided between several people.“We need to reform and update intellectual-property law,” says Dazza Greenwood, lecturer and researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab.

A mini announcement

Unnamed sources have “confirmed” that the iPad mini, or whatever it’s going to be called, will not debut at the special Apple event being planned for September 12. And really, if you were Apple, would you want to debut the next iPhone alongside a brand new tablet? Probably not - too much competition for shiny things makes them dull (I think it’s called a shiny double negative or something). That’s why AllThingsD says the company will hold a second media event in October to announce the smaller tablet, pretty much ensuring that the taste of Apple will be on the lips of consumers well through the holiday shopping season.


Only after the next-generation iPhone is out the door and on sale will Apple announce the smaller iPad it’s been working on. That device, which is expected to have a display of less than eight inches, will be uncrated at a second special event, which sources said is currently scheduled for October.


ZDNet thinks
the mini could be the device that delivers a thermonuclear blow to Google but cautions to take this latest news with at least a few grains of salt.


… nothing concrete is known about the iPad Mini, and everything written about it is being based on guesswork and speculation. Not a single hardware component allegedly belonging to the iPad Mini has been leaked, in stark contrast to the endless leaking of purported iPhone 5 components.

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