Technology

Vermonters receive an estimated 145,000 robocalls every day. We're looking at what's behind the rapidly increasing numbers of robocalls.
Kirillm / iStock

Vermonters gets an estimated 4.5 million robocalls each month. Calls from scammers and marketers to an 802 number have doubled in just the last two years. We're looking at what's behind the rise in robocalls and ways you can protect yourself from the flood of unwanted calls.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos discusses cybersecurity and priorities in the new legislative session on "Vermont Edition."
Matthew Smith / VPR

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos just returned from the National Association of Secretaries of State meeting in Washington, D.C. We're talking with Sec. Condos about what he learned at the NASS meeting about voting security and cyber threats facing states today, and discussing constitutional amendments in the legislature.

The Beta Technologies prototype Ava XC lands during a test flight at the Plattsburgh International Airport.
Eric Adams / Beta Technologies

Electric transportation offers the promise of rapid travel and zero emissions, often seen in the increasingly sophisticated electric cars that can travel 200 to 300 miles on a single charge. But electric air travel poses unique challenges, not the least of which includes swapping a jet fuel-powered engine for a battery-powered aircraft.

Now the South Burlington- and Plattsburgh-based Beta Technologies is demoing an electric "air taxi" that the company says will be the electric aircraft at the center of planned cross-country flight this summer.

Col. Bill Wagner (center) and Col. Lawrence Seaberg (left) watch cyber defense tactics demonstrated by Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Cover (right) during a May 2014 exercise with the Vermont Army National Guard Computer Network Defense Team.
Capt. Kyle Key / DVIDS

Nine soldiers from the Vermont Army National Guard are now stationed at Maryland's Fort Meade as part of a year-long deployment supporting U.S. Army Cyber Command. 

One guardsman on the deployment, Col. Bill Wagner, tells Vermont Edition that even after a month of training, it's unclear what the small Vermont contingent will do day-to-day during the year-long missions.

"Meal kits" aim to make cooking meals at home easier and less time-consuming. We're looking at the promise and reality of meal kits and Vermont-grown alternatives.
Unsplash

"Meal kit" services are an increasingly popular way to put dinner on the table, delivering everything you need to prepare a meal in a single box of ready-to-cook ingredients.

But what about finding time to cook and confidence in the kitchen? Do meal kits really save time, and do they help you eat fresh and local? We're talking about meal kits and Vermont's home-grown alternatives.

5G networks would require new antennas on existing telecommunication towers.
Emanuele D'Amico / iStock

The promises of 5G - the fifth-generation cellular technology - are incredibly fast speeds and the ability to connect thousands of devices at once. But according to the state's chief of telecommunications Vermonters hoping the technology will bring much-delayed broadband and cellular coverage to rural areas of the state will be disappointed.

An aerial shot of the House floor on the opening day of the Vermont Legislature in 2019.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

Vermont's House of Representatives is one of the few House chambers in the country that doesn't use an electronic voting system to tally roll call.

Chittenden Rep. Jim Harrison wants to change that and is sponsoring a bill to implement an electronic voting system as early as next year. 

A row of six phones, each served by a different carrier with a variety of wires.
John Dillon / VPR

Two state officials devised a data collection project this fall to challenge cell carriers' claims that between them they cover virtually the entire state.

All Things Considered host Henry Epp talked to VPR reporter John Dillon about the goal of improving cell service around Vermont, and the MacGyver-like problem solving that went into the state's challenge. 

Vermont's new chief information security officer, Nicholas Andersen, says the state faces evolving threats to cybersecurity and citizen data held by the state.
bgblue / iStock

The state of Vermont will spend millions of dollars on cybersecurity through 2019 to keep the data you share with the state—like at the DMV or when you do your taxes—protected from threats in cyberspace.

We're talking with Vermont's new chief information security officer, Nicholas Andersen, about what those threats are and how they're evolving. Andersen works in the state's Agency of Digital Services.

We're talking about a trending desire to get off social media, and what's involved in quitting.
strelss / iStock

As Facebook and other big social media networks increasingly treat user information as a commodity - and as these networks are having big impacts on the world stage - many users are looking to quit. Or at least, they're talking about it. We're looking at where the push to quit is coming from and what's involved in getting off these platforms, for good and for ill.

Oliver Parini / VPR File

Vermont’s Attorney General says the state should step up its role to protect data privacy.

The E.A.S.Y company makes sketchpads that allow blind students to draw and graph.
courtesy E.A.S.Y.

One barrier to entry for blind people into science and technology fields4 is the challenge they may face drawing, doing the drafting required for engineering, or even doing mathematics that require graphing. 

In 2011, with support from the National Federation of the Blind, a UVM student and two UVM engineering professors started a company that makes drawing tablets that create raised lines that blind people can touch. And - critically! - they also figured out a way to make an effective eraser.

An astronaut on the International Space Station performs a spacewalk while tethered to the ISS on Dec. 13, 2018. A radiant blue earth is seen in the background.
Alexander Gerst / European Space Agency / NASA

The past year has held exciting news about space: from a new Mars lander, to important strides in spaceflight, to discoveries of distant exoplanets to observations of 'Oumuamua, the first object from another star ever seen in our own solar system. We're talking about the year in space and what to expect in 2019.

A view from near the back window of a car looking at oncoming traffic and moving toward going under a bridge.
Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press File

There's been a lot of hype over the years about the future of autonomous vehicles – though mostly in cities, like San Francisco. But Joe Segale, the Vermont Agency of Transportation's director of policy, planning and research, would like to see self-driving cars being tested on Vermont roads.

Whether you're taking photographs with a cell phone, on film, or with advanced digital cameras, we're talking about ways to compose, tweak and improve your pictures.
Yuri Arcurs / iStock

As you look back at the photographs that tell your story of 2018, do they have that special something that elevates them beyond a simple snapshot and into a photograph worth framing? 

We're talking about how to take better photos, no matter what camera you use, and how to best capture the winter landscapes and family gatherings that tempt everyone's inner shutterbug this time of year.

Kevin Christopher, executive director of Lake Champlain Access Television and president of Vermont Access Network, seated before a microphone in the VPR studios.
Bayla Metzger / VPR

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a new rule that would cut funding to cable-access TV stations. Stations around the country, including in Vermont, say they might cease to exist without it. 

VPR broadcast engineer Kira Parker surveys the top of the Mount Mansfield transmitter site during a June maintenance visit.
Matthew Smith / VPR

Vermont Public Radio's broadcast signal — what listeners hear in the car, or on traditional radios at home or work — emanates from one of 18 transmitters across the state. VPR broadcast engineer Kira Parker travels the state for regular visits to ensure the transmitters are working and keeps the radio signal beaming. 

New laws in Europe and California are forcing tech companies to protect users' privacy or risk big fines.

Now, the industry is fearing that more states will enact tough restrictions. So it's moving to craft federal legislation that would pre-empt state laws and might put the Federal Trade Commission in charge of enforcement.

Europe enacted a tough law in May which requires, among other things, that companies make data breaches public within 72 hours of discovering them.

Stock image of fiber-optic cables.
kynny / iStock

The Public Utility Commission is opening an investigation into service complaints toward Consolidated Communications.

We're talking with energy experts and environmental advocates about assessing "renewability" when it comes to renewable energy.
DrAfter123 / iStock

Vermont is striving to meet ambitious goals to get 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050. But just how renewable is some of that energy? We're talking with energy experts and environmental advocates about how we assess renewability and other environmental costs to alternative energy sources.

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