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

Unmanned heli-rescues

You know how the opening credits to M*A*S*H start with helicopters off in the distance flying towards the 4077? Those copters just came back from extremely dangerous rescue missions picking up wounded soldiers from the field. The Army wants to make those missions a little less dangerous by using vertical take off and landing drones (VTOLs) for those missions.
The Army is soliciting bids to build a new line of medi-copters, one of which, the Karman K-MAX, is already being used by Marines in Afghanistan to shuttle supplies. Not only could these VTOLs put fewer lives at risk, but more soldiers could become pilots. Wired reports:

… a Navy team led by MIT professor Missy Cummings is working on new, iPad-style controls for K-MAX and other robo-copters that could allow  any minimally trained trooper to guide an unmanned vehicle to a safe touch-down in a hot landing zone. Cummings says the new control system is specifically meant to enable robotic medical evacuation. “Your buddy took a bullet to the chest and no manned helicopter is crazy enough to land,” is how she describes the scenario.

The article goes on to point out that one of the biggest hurdles for the project isn’t in building VOTLs, it’s how to get wounded soldiers to trust them. Imagine lying injured on the battlefield, scared and semi-conscious, when all the sudden some weird transport robot buzzes right over you and tries to pick you up like you were a prize in a mechanical claw arcade game. Now, I’m probably exaggerating a little bit here, but the company who can figure out how to put a human face on the project might be the one  who’s chosen to build these things.

That was then, this is This Is Now: a site for keeping track of time

People upload a lot of pictures to Instagram. The company announced earlier this year that it had passed the one billion mark and estimated over five million new photos are added every day. Those numbers can be hard to fathom, which is where the website This is Now comes in handy. The site extracts Instagram pictures using their geotags and displays them in real-time. So far, you can only choose from a handful of cities (New York, Sao Paulo, London, Tokyo, and Sydney), but when you click on, the result is kind of like a mini vacation. People doing stuff seems to be a common theme throughout. That and food. A sausage from London, pancakes in Japan, cherries in Brazil... it seems that people, no matter what part of the globe they’re in, love taking pictures of food.

OK, I’m hungry.

Samsung believes the hype and wants to get out in front of it

Samsung, presumably after hearing the rumors that its biggest competitor, Apple, is going to come out with a new iPhone on September 12, has announced it will unveil the newest version of the Galaxy note on August 29.

Reuters reports:

South Korean media reports speculate the new Galaxy Note may feature an unbreakable, 5.5-inch display - slightly larger than the current one - as well as a faster processor and a much better camera.

One thing it will be missing: an Apple logo. But that hasn’t stopped Samsung thus far. The company recently overtook Apple to become the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer. Given that Apple is currently suing Samsung over some iPhone patent infringements and design features, I’m sure Samsung hopes that the new Galaxy Note looks and acts nothing like the next iPhone. Chances are pretty good, however, that both phones are going to be pretty similar.

Hey, get a load of that. Oops - launch sequence activated

When I think about the men and women working at the Pentagon to keep our nation safe, I think of military brass strategizing, doors that require retina scans and slide noiselessly into walls, and top-secret projects with innocuous names (note: Project Éclair is NOT about donuts). What I don’t think about: porn. According to a recently released directive, however, that’s what’s on the minds of some Pentagon employees.

From Wired:

The Missile Defense Agency’s executive director, John James Jr., has warned his staff against “inappropriate” use of the agency’s servers — specifically, “accessing websites, or transmitting messages, containing pornographic or sexually explicit images.” As every visitor to such websites knows, they risk “the introduction of malware or malicious code.”

I like how the focus is on a malware attacks, because the fact that so many of his employees are browsing porn at work that he has to write up a memo isn’t the real problem.

Worse than a broken bat

What up Major League Baseball teams and your Facebook accounts? Cap night is one thing, but if you read the Florida Marlins’ Facebook page yesterday, you might have been led to believe fans were to receive pit bulls. Adorable. Yankees fans were told via that team’s page, that super-star shortstop Derek Jeter would be out for the rest of the season due to sexual reassignment surgery. Turns out MLB team accounts were “hacked” yesterday. I use quotes there because it’s unclear on whether somebody broke into the accounts or the posts came from someone who had access to them (and maybe swallowed one too many wads of chewing tobacco).

Sophos reports:

Other clubs affected included the Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants.

Here’s a tip to the prankster: if you’re going to gain access to this many eyeballs, make sure you have something interesting to say. The posts ranged from outrageous to mean, and I think, they were trying to be funny. Missed the mark.

Actors Yelp it up

There has hardly been a more pure poetic moment than when CNET convinced Richard Dreyfuss to read Apple’s end user agreement. If that was an Academy Award winning performance, then maybe this crop of actors reading Yelp reviews deserve an Emmy, or at least a Golden Globe. Yes, there is now a project where people (like me) go to YouTube and watch other people read Yelp reviews.
A little more compelling than you might think, and I can’t wait for creator Joe Plummer to snag the likes of Samuel L. Jackson or Nicholas Cage for future readings.*

*As far as I know, neither Jackson or Cage have been approached for the project. But, one can dream, right?

Facebook has a very broad appeal. “Facebook for divers,” has broad shoulder appeal.

Sure, I’m digging the diving competition in the Olympics, and who cares if China is on its way to earn gold in all eight competitions? I just like watching people jump, flip, and twist while merely bubbles follow their toes into the pool. Ron O’Brien, on the other hand, really knows a few things about diving. He coached Greg Louganis to gold in the ‘84 and ‘88 Olympics, and he thinks he has figured out a way he can bring the U.S. team back into prominence. The Wall Street Journal profiled O’Brien, who has set up a website that matches up and coming high school divers with college coaches. One coach even called the site a “Facebook for divers.” From the Journal:

O'Brien's aim is to keep American divers involved with the sport by helping them find scholarships they didn't know existed. He hopes the added opportunities will deepen America's pool of diving talent, increasing the odds that the U.S. eventually can compete again with China.

O’Brien says, in some cases, scholarships were going unused, because young divers didn’t know they existed. If you can muster up the clams to cannonball off the 10m platform, maybe you can get a free ride to college.

Twindex won’t clean your windows but it will leave you trying to figure out more words to combine with Twitter. TWINSANE!

In the roll up to the 2012 elections, Twitter has announced the Twitter Political Index, or as the New York Times calls it, “Twindex.” The index is designed to show Twitter users’ sentiment towards 2012 presidential candidates. From the Twitter blog announcement:

Each day, the Index evaluates and weighs the sentiment of Tweets mentioning Obama or Romney relative to the more than 400 million Tweets sent on all other topics. For example, a score of 73 for a candidate indicates that Tweets containing their name or account name are on average more positive than 73 percent of all Tweets.

The index, which Twitter says is meant to add to, not replace other political polls, will be updated each day at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Data is being culled, filtered, and sifted by Topsy, a company that specializes in online search and analytics. The Times spoke with Adam Sharp, Twitter’s head of government, news, and social innovation:

Mr. Sharp said the index had a database of thousand of words to understand if these Twitter messages were for or against a candidate. As these messages are being shared by millions of people on Twitter, the software also takes into account colloquialisms.
Mr. Sharp noted that “bad,” for instance, could mean bad, or it be slang for good. He said that Topsy could differentiate between these words in a sentence and if they are positive or negative.

Hear that? You can call the Obama campaign “groovy” or tweet “Aces!” to Romney, and the database will totally get it.
The big question I have, however, is that now this information is public and we know there are just shy of 70 gajillion bots running wild on Twitter, who’s going to stop people from trying to game the system? Not necessarily one of the candidates, but ANYbody could just start sending out truckloads of automated positive/negative tweets about a candidate and shift the numbers.

Fantasy backing for Ouya

Ouya, the come-one-come-all game controller that raised millions on Kickstarter just received a big endorsement from game maker Square Enix, which says it will make a version of its immensely popular Final Fantasy III game available for the device. Ouya, as we have reported, is an open source game controller that can plug into TVs and, if successful, could make the idea of console-specific games a thing of the past. From PC Magazine:

Square Enix said that its popular game will be available on the Ouya at launch, scheduled for March 2013.
Final Fantasy was originally released in 1990, and has since been updated and released on the Nintendo DS, iOS, Android, and the PSP later this year. The Ouya version will be based on the 2006 DS 3D remake of Final Fantasy III, and will take full advantage of the system's high-def resolution.

According to the BBC, some are saying that this could be a tipping point and that other game makers might follow the lead of Square Enix.

The FBI now guarded by Sentinel

It’s a good thing the “Welcome to the 21st Century” gift card the FBI received at the turn of this century didn’t have an expiration date. The bureau is finally cashing it in as they herald Sentinel, a system that allows G-Men (and women) to go digital. No more paper files, which was still how work was primarily documented until recently. The Wall Street Journal reports:

An FBI special agent demonstrated the system, which went live July 1, to reporters Tuesday. Agents can share files electronically and can track changes made by others. RSS feeds, commonly used in Web browsers to aggregate news topics, can be used to track updates on files.

The system also sports top-notch security swipers that identify agents and cases. It allows agents to cross reference other files when searching data like phone numbers, for instance, enabling them to link cases that might been otherwise thought to be unrelated. That’s fancy. And it should be, since the system has been in development for 12 years to the tune of $600 million. Getting the site up and running has been a huge priority since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, which exposed slow reaction time for agents needing to get information to each other.
So why did it take so long? Well, this kind of software doesn’t really exist. It has to be imagined, pretty much, from the ground up. Again from the Journal:

A 2010 audit by the Justice Department's inspector general sharply criticized the Sentinel effort, which began in 2005 and was meant to be completed by 2009, casting doubt on whether the bureau could stay within a $451 million budget.
That's on top of the $170 million—and three years—auditors said was wasted on an earlier technology project called Trilogy that was supposed to deliver software called Virtual Case File.

Now that Sentinel is official, the trick will be getting agents to actually use it. Turns out, they’re a little weary of switching from paper (insert something about teaching an old dog new tricks here).


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