- Ukrainian officials say phone services of members of parliament were targeted
- Authors: Cyberattack was also reported before Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008
- They say attacks are easier than conventional warfare but can provoke counterattacks
- Bergen, Maurer: U.S. had a lead in cyberwarfare but that is likely to ebb
Editor's note: Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst, a director at the New America Foundation and the author of "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden -- From 9/11 to Abbottabad." Tim Maurer is a research fellow at New America focusing on cyberspace and international affairs.
(CNN) -- Ukrainian security officials are complaining that unknown attackers are interfering with the mobile phone services of members of Ukraine's parliament, making difficult political decisions about what to do about Russia's incursion last week into Crimea that much harder.
The head of Ukraine's security service said on Tuesday, "I confirm that an IP-telephonic attack is underway on mobile phones of members of Ukrainian parliament for the second day in row."
This is reminiscent of the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on Georgia that preceded Russia's invasion of the country in August 2008. The attacks shut down several websites of Georgia's government including the president's.
While the Kremlin denied any involvement, Georgian officials accused Russia of being behind the attacks.
Of course, just as some states have exploited offensive cyber capabilities for their own purposes, so too has the United States.
Cyberattacks are double-edged swords. Compared to mounting a conventional war they cost little in terms of blood and treasure. However, in the long run they may have larger unintended consequences if more and more nation states and even private groups use cyberwarfare capabilities.
The Stuxnet malware that was discovered in 2010 showed the potential of cyberattacks. The joint U.S.-Israeli operation demonstrated how the nuclear enrichment facility of Natanz in Iran could be effectively disrupted using a cyberattack that interfered with Iranian centrifuges' capacity to enrich uranium.
The level of sophistication of the malware was unprecedented and affected the facility even though it was "air gapped" -- disconnected -- from the public Internet.
Last month came the news that Obama national security officials have debated since 2011 whether to target Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria with cyberattacks.
The upside: No American boots on the ground and some potentially significant harm could be done to al-Assad's military capabilities.
The downside: What about unknown risks? Might such attacks embolden Syrian allies like Iran and Russia to launch cyber-counterattacks against targets in the U.S.?
The Stuxnet attack on Iran was not an isolated event. A January report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies points out that Iran "is the likely source of a recent series of incidents aimed at Gulf energy companies, American banks, and Israel. The most important involved a major disruption involving the destruction of data on computers used by (oil giant) Saudi Aramco...."
The Syrian Electronic Army, a group that supports the al-Assad regime, showed the potential to undermine trust in the financial system when it hacked The Associated Press's Twitter account last year to falsely report an attack on the White House, which caused the Dow Jones to drop by 150 points.
While technically not comparable to Stuxnet and its effect was only temporary -- the White House quickly refuted the reporting -- it nevertheless demonstrates the existence of a tool for shadowy organizations to influence events that did not exist before.
These recent incidents underscore both the scope and the significant differences among cyberthreats:
-- The actions by the Syrian Electronic Army did not cause a physical effect; they changed data and the content of The Associated Press's reporting.
-- The disruption at Saudi Aramco was due to the destruction of computer data, but it did not cause a physical effect either.
--Stuxnet, on the other hand, had a physical impact making Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuges spin at a rate they were not supposed to.
The DDoS attacks that appear to be happening in Ukraine right now, and the type of cyberattack that the U.S. launched against Iran that could at some point happen in some other form against Syria, raise significant moral and legal issues.
In many ways the cyberwarfare issue is akin to the issue of the use of armed drones, which greatly reduce the number of deaths that would result from a conventional armed conflict.
Whoever launches a drone attack or a cyberattack pays no costs of the kind that would typically take place on a conventional battlefield. You can't shoot down a drone pilot or kill a computer technician launching some kind of cyberattack thousands of miles from the intended target.
For this reason drones and cyber capabilities can also make conflict more likely as the barriers to entry to engage in either drone warfare or cyberconflict are so low. Moreover, there is a risk that the use of drones or cyber capabilities can escalate into a conventional armed conflict.
Similarly to the case of armed drones, the United States has had a large lead in its ability to mount effective offensive cyberattacks, but that advantage is unlikely to last. And since the United States is the only superpower and among the most technologically advanced (as well as most vulnerable), it must lead by example and harden cybersecurity at home and contribute to international agreements to govern the use of these powerful new tools.
These tools that will only get more powerful as the world becomes more connected and ever-more dependent on computers.
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Jefferson Graham runs down the week's tech headlines, highlighted by the selfie seen around the world,. Apple's new CarPlay system and a new Roku device.
LOS ANGELES — This week's top tech headlines have to begin with the selfie seen across the globe, when Ellen Degeneres organized a seemingly unrehearsed star-studded group shot during the Academy Awards.
The photo got so many retweets it shut down Twitter briefly, and has since been re-tweeted more than 3 million times.
The big winner of the photo was device manufacturer Samsung, which offered the Note 3 smartphone to DeGeneres to use as part of the company's $20 million ad budget for the Oscars, according to various online reports. (Her backstage photos were taken on the Apple iPhone, which tends to be favored by celebrities.)
APPLE IN YOUR CAR
Speaking of Apple, the company this week unveiled a new in-car entertainment system that promises to bring an iPhone like experience to monitors in the car. The idea is to make calls, listen to music and navigate using the Siri hands-free system with your voice instead of your hands. CarPlay is expected in select new car models later this year. The online preview videos make it look really sweet, but as Ben Keough from Reviewed.com points out, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone owners need not apply. "It will only work if you own an iPhone."
A NEW STICK FROM ROKU
In the home, Roku, which makes a popular set-top box to bring Internet programming to your TV, announced a smaller version, a $50 Streaming Stick, to fit into the back of TVs. The Stick competes with a similar $35 model from Google, but Roku promises 1,000 channels of programming — including YouTube, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, while Google only has 12. The Stick will be in stores in April.
RADIO SHACK SLIMMING DOWN
One place you may not be able to buy the new Roku stick is your local Radio Shack. The retail giant said this week it would close up to 1,100 stores, due to declining sales. The company gave no indication which outlets it would shutter.
TOP APPS OF THE WEEK
Finally, in app news, the most downloaded free Apple app of the week, once again, is yet another Flappy Bird clone, this time it's Tiny Flying Drizzy, a nod to singer Drake, who is sometimes known as Drizzy. There were four Flappy clones in the top 10, including Drizzy, Flappy Wings, Flappy Fall and Fratty Bird.
In the Google Play store for Android, the top new download chart is headed by Flappy clone Splashy Fish, with Floppy Bird and Hoppy Frog at No. 8 and no. 10.
Next week's tech headlines are certain to be dominated by events at the South by Southwest festival, which gets under way Friday in Austin. NSA leaker Edward Snowden (by satellite from Russia) gives his first public address since the government spying scandal broke in 2013 on Monday, and many tech startups are on hand hoping to get discovered. Apple's iTunes Music Festival kicks off Tuesday, featuring Coldplay, Keith Urban and others performing, and the event will be streamed live to computers and Apple devices.
This weekend, USA TODAY is at the South by Southwest conference with complete coverage, including a live Web show Saturday, Sunday and Monday at noon ET, so be sure to tune in.
Follow Jefferson Graham on Twitter.
"Good evening everyone. Thanks for coming over for dinner! I'd like to introduce my friend Joe.
"He's a Mets fan, drinks a little too much Miller Beer, is an inconsistent libertarian, and has been known to spend his evenings checking out his female coworkers' Facebook pages. Joe has high blood pressure and some disturbing PSA levels that just might indicate a prostate problem.
"And here's Carla. She likes HBO — a lot — drives a Chevy but dreams of an Audi, gets all her makeup from the discount counter at CVS, and is a secret smoker. She has a condo, w-a-a-ay underwater, and visits a guy two buildings over in her complex rather late in the evening once or twice a week.
"And over here is Jack, who had a DWI last year and subscribes to HGTV magazine ... "
Well, that would be some dinner party, wouldn't it? I have a feeling a round of introductions like that would get things off on a bad foot.
But let's face it: All of that information — about Joe and Carla, me and you — is out there for the taking. Facebook is collecting information on what you look at, the better to target you for advertisers. Google is collecting your search history and your Internet provider has logs of your online travels.
Your credit card company knows what you buy. Even if you pay cash, your loyalty card records every purchase at the grocery or drugstore. All you have to do is use it in conjunction with a credit card one time to link up the data.
Your texts and emails, of course, are running through your phone company's servers, and even the prescriptions you buy are one data leak away from being public record — assuming your pharmacy or credit card company hasn't already inadvertently shared the information with data miners.
There's good news and bad news here. The bad news is that the horse is out of the barn.
The info that Big Data has on us is daunting, and a little bit scary. There is a complex network of folks who gather your data including stores, websites, credit card companies, Internet providers and online services like your email program. Then there are the companies whose names you've never heard of that combine it all into your own personal profile. Finally, there are the ad providers who take those recommendations and serve you up targeted ads.
And don't forget about any nosy government agencies snooping around and collecting data for their own use.
It's not a pretty picture. And you have to remember that most of what we do on the Web is free. This kind of advertising is the thing that's paying for the services we use. For better or worse, it's the world we live in, so it isn't going away.
The good news is that there are some steps you can take to minimize the risk. Here's what I do to sleep a little better at night.
2. Change your birth date on Facebook. I would think this might make it a little harder for an advertiser to match you up with whatever profile they have on you, unless you have an incredibly unique name, of course!
4. Log out of Facebook when you're not actively looking at friends' posts. This keeps it from tracking your browsing through Facebook widgets on other sites.
5. Create one or more anonymous email accounts for your activities on the Web. There are also temporary email services like MailDrop.
6. Go to Aboutthedata.com and see what's known about you. You can even go here and opt out of one advertising consortium's ad-targeting. Here's another disquieting place to look. Your Google account knows an awful lot about you; all of us should get in their and limit the company's ad profiles of us. You can see what the service thinks it knows about you — and opt-out of future interest-based ads across the web.
7. Surf the Web using your browser's private browsing mode available in the menu. This keeps your browser from saving cookies that will alert sites when you visit again — you'll look like a new user.
8. Your smartphone is tracking you too. Both Apple and Android phones let you block ad tracking.
On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, newsletters and more, visit
- The idea to mark road surfaces reportedly came from watching a milk truck drip milk on the road
- U.S. airline passengers increased by 3,000% in two years following Charles Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic
- Nil Bohlin's invention of the three-point seat belt is estimated to have saved more than a million lives
- Several companies are in the process of bringing back supersonic flights
(CNN) -- Just more than a hundred and ten years ago, Orville Wright became the first human to achieve powered flight.
On a calm, December 1903 day, helped by his brother Wilbur, Orville successfully launched their flying machine, maneuvered it through the air for 120 feet, and landed it safely.
Later that same day they achieved another flight of 852 feet in 59 seconds, to start the modern air travel era.
Since then numerous inventions, discoveries and milestones have been made.
Here are a few of our favorites.
Have we missed your top travel moment? Tell us about it in the comments section.
1903: First powered flight
Flying isn't the tricky part we're told -- landing is.
But until December 17, 1903, it was all a bit of a dream.
Then, with a design based on a glider kite, the Wright brothers successfully piloted a powered aircraft for 12 seconds for the first time, and (important!) landed it safely.
Step one in global air travel achieved.
When do we get flight attendants?
More info: Wright Brothers take flight
1911: Discovery of Machu Picchu
Field trips and textbooks about the Incas must have been far less exciting before Hiram Bingham III, an American explorer and politician, stumbled upon Machu Picchu in 1911.
Bingham uncovered the Inca ruins, now one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, with the help of local guides more than 400 years after the European discovery of America.
The discovery put Peru on the map as a travel destination and changed ideas about Latin America's history.
1911: Road surfaces marked
Seems simple now, but it wasn't until Edward N. Hines from the U.S. state of Michigan spoke up that anyone thought it'd be a good idea to mark roads to help separate traffic.
Hines was a member of the Wayne County Road Commission at the time.
In 1911, River Road in Trenton, Wayne County, became the first road in the world to be marked.
The inspiration reportedly came from watching a milk truck drip milk onto the road.
More info: Inventor of highway centerline
1912: Titanic sinks
The Titanic's sinking is the best documented maritime disaster of all time.
Back then, people around the world mourned the deaths of 1,500 after this state of the art, supposedly "unsinkable" luxury liner struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912, four days into her maiden voyage from Southampton, UK, to New York.
The sinking also sparked panic among transatlantic cruise travelers and prompted improvements in maritime safety measures.
1912: Automobile self-starter invented
It's probably apt that "cranky" is a synonym for bad-tempered.
You would be too if you had to hand-start your car every journey.
In 1912, presumably after years of sore arms, Charles Kettering created the first electric self-starter that eliminated the need for hand cranks, the patent having been granted some years before.
More info: 10 cars for every type of traveler
1927: First transatlantic flight
An unknown 25-year-old U.S. Air Mail pilot flew into the record books on May 21, 1927, by becoming the first pilot to successfully make the first nonstop transatlantic flight from New York to Paris.
Charles Lindbergh was after a $25,000 prize -- six well-known pilots had perished in their attempts to claim it before Lindbergh pulled it off.
Lindberg's epic flight and subsequent publicity tour changed the public's skepticism toward aviation.
U.S. airline passengers increased by an incredible 3,000% in the two years following his flight.
More info: Person of the Year: Charles Lindbergh
1937: Hindenberg disaster ends era of airship travel
When the hydrogen-filled Hindenburg airship burst into flames and crashed to the ground in New Jersey in 1937, killing 36 people, the era of intercontinental zeppelin travel came to a horrifying end.
Though the crash of the Hindenburg wasn't the worst airship disaster in history, the shocking newsreels and chilling live radio commentary -- "Oh, the humanity!" -- broadcast around the world shattered public confidence in airship travel.
More info: Could airships make a comeback?
1946: Credit cards created
Cash was king until John Biggins invented a novel method of payment in 1946 for Flatbush National Bank in Brooklyn, New York.
Customers could buy items in local shops with their cards, the business owners would present the sales receipts for cash from the bank, which would, in turn, bill the customer for the amount.
Thanks to his convenient invention, travelers today enjoy unrestricted access to hotels, rental cars and online booking engines around the world.
And banks enjoy the high interest rates when we overspend or flub a payment.
More info: World's 12 best shopping cities
1947: Chuck Yeager breaks sound barrier
Could a plane, or a person, withstand the pressure of exceeding the speed of sound?
That was the question for the United States Air Force in the mid-20th century.
Selected by the Air Force Flight Performance School to provide the answer, Chuck Yeager became the most famous test pilot in U.S. history when he hid two broken ribs (he'd been thrown from a horse two days before his flight) and flew a bullet-shaped, rocket-powered plane faster than the speed of sound (767 miles per hour) on October 14, 1947.
More info: Chuck Yeager fast facts
1948: Transistors invented
Often called the most important invention of the 20th century, transistors are what all modern computing technology is based on.
They made space travel possible and today are the building blocks of smart phones, computer terminals, radios and other electronic devices that make world travel a comparative breeze.
They were created by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley at Bell Laboratories, and act as a switch in a circuit or to amplify currents.
So, "Flappy Bird" fans -- you know whom to thank.
More info: The Nobel Prize in physics
1949: Crash test dummy born
Safety tests on cars, planes and other vehicles would be a lot less meaningful without the crash test dummy.
The first of its kind was Sierra Sam, created in 1949 to test ejection seats on aircraft.
Over the years, the crash test dummy has been increasingly refined to be more human-like in shape, size, weight and even fitted with sensors to allow better interpretation of results.
1952: First commercial jet flight
It may have been Americans who flew the first aircraft (Wright brothers, 1903) and the first commercial flight (a 23-minute flight between Tampa and St. Petersburg in Florida in 1914), but the Brits launched the first commercial jetliner service in the world -- the closest thing to today's air travel.
In 1952, the de Havilland Aircraft Company debuted the first commercial jetliner flight -- on a plane called the de Havilland Comet -- between London and Johannesburg, a trip that took 23 hours.
The jet shortened the London-New York flight from 18 to 12 hours.
Due to a series of accidents after its initial success, the Comet's fleet was grounded in 1954 and the jet was redesigned, including replacing the square windows and panels with the rounded versions we see today.
More info: A century of romance with flying
1959: Three-point seat belt created
The first seatbelt was invented at the beginning of the 19th century by Sir George Cayley for his glider.
It was a strap that went across the lap to hold down the pilot during flight.
Effective, but rudimentary.
More than 150 years later, Nils Bohlin came up with the three-point seat belt found on almost all vehicles today.
Bohlin's design allowed users to put the seat belt on using only one hand and it was more secure, holding down the driver by the shoulder.
It's estimated the three-point seat belt has saved more than a million lives.
More info: Three-point seatbelt inventor Nils Bohlin
1964: Japan launches bullet train
These days, associating a lethal projectile with a new mode of transport would be a PR no-no.
But back in the '60s it was deemed apt for Japan's "shinkansen" trains, which hit speeds of 210 kilometers per hour and brought high-speed rail to the masses.
After the first three years of service more than 100 million passengers had been aboard.
The term "bullet train" is a direct translation of the Japanese term "dangan ressha," a nickname given to the shinkansen prototype.
More info: Hayabusa bullet train hotfoots it up Honshu
1967: ATMs rolled out
If the trauma of forgetting your PIN or losing your debit card makes you question the benefits of the ATM, consider what this process used to involve: walking around with pieces of radioactive paper in your pocket.
The world's first ATM was unveiled in 1967 at Barclays Bank in Enfield, London.
Created by John Shepherd Barron, who headed the invention team at De La Rue Instruments, the original machine was initiated when it detected radioactive isotope carbon 14 on a check.
Thankfully, we've moved on to the card and PIN system, giving travelers easy access to their cash in hundreds of countries.
More info: The world's first ATM
1969: First 747 flight
The queen of the sky, the jumbo jet, or simply the Boeing 747 -- whatever you call this icon of mass transit, it was a game-changer.
It was the first wide-body plane (carrying up to 490 passengers) and it traveled almost twice as far as any other commercial aircraft of the day; 13,450 kilometers (8,350 miles) with a 747-400.
It's often hailed as the plane that brought air travel to the masses, making flying cheap enough for more people.
More info: Best of Boeing: 10 revolutionary aircraft
1969: First Concorde flight
For three decades the supersonic Concorde was a marvel of aviation technology and the ultimate status symbol for wealthy jetsetters.
After test flights started in 1969, the plane entered commercial service in 1976 with London-Bahrain and Paris-Rio (via Dakar) routes.
Concorde later flew travelers from London to New York in about 3.5 hours -- twice as fast as any other commercial airliner.
When an Air France Concorde crashed in France in 2000, killing 113 people, the plane's already waning luster faded out entirely.
All Concordes were retired in 2003 by British Airways and Air France, the airlines blaming high operating costs and sinking demand.
More info: Celebrating Concorde
1970: Wheeled suitcase 'invented'
Hard to fathom, but the wheeled suitcase didn't exist 50 years ago.
When Bernard Sadow, president of United States Luggage Corporation (now Briggs & Riley Travelware), developed his in 1970, he had trouble selling the idea.
It was thought people wouldn't want to pull their luggage around behind them.
Thankfully Sadow stuck with it, and we can all now transport our oversized, overweight bags to check-in with ease.
More info: Happy anniversary, wheeled luggage
1972: Lonely Planet first published
Broke but happily married young hippie couple Tony and Maureen Wheeler created what became the world's most successful travel guides when they published their accounts of how to travel across Asia on a shoestring in 1972.
Their books, most popular with backpackers, recommend handfuls of places across the world and have often been the source of intense competition among hostel owners, to the extent that it has occasionally proved problematic to travelers.
One unconfirmed report from India illustrates: when Lonely Planet gave a positive review to a hostel named "Green's Hotel," several other hotels on the street renamed themselves "Green's Hotel."
The company made headlines last year when the BBC sold it to reclusive Kentucky billionaire Brad Kelley.
More info: Tony Wheeler's top 5 edgy destinations
1972: Security measures improved
A world without queue-swelling security searches did once exist.
Then, in the early 1970s, a spate of "skyjackings" occurred, triggering a chain of events that led to the modern airline security we experience today.
The first reported plane hijacking can be traced to Peru in the 1930s.
But it was a Southern Airways hijacking, in which hijackers threatened to crash into a nuclear reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee in the United States in November 1972, that prompted authorities to finally install strong counter measures.
More info: Skyjacked: A nation with no airline security
1973: First call from handheld mobile phone
A little more than 40 years ago a call was made from the first handheld mobile phone by its creator, Martin Cooper, an American inventor.
Thanks to Cooper and his brick-sized prototype, the door was opened to an unprecedented era of communication, turning people into callable numbers, contactable any time, anywhere.
So, enjoy that holiday totally away from work when ... wait, sorry we gotta get this real quick ...
1974: First hotel minibar installed
Countless thirsty travelers have been saved (and their wallets thinned) thanks to one Hilton executive and Siegas, the German company that invented the refrigerated minibar in the 1960s.
In 1974, an executive from the since-closed Hong Kong Hilton was inspired to stock overpriced liquors in all 840 rooms, and lo the loved/hated minibar was globalized.
The minibar led to a 500% increase for in-room drink sales and a 5% boost to the company's net income that year, according to the Atlantic.
More info: Hotel minibars: In need of being refreshed?
1974: GPS hits the road
When you're lost on the back roads of a small town and your GPS comes to the rescue, think of Roger L. Easton.
And when you're lost on the back roads of a small town because your GPS "came to the rescue," blame Roger L. Easton.
Easton, an American scientist and inventor, worked with a team at Naval Air Systems Command in the United States to develop and track satellites.
His work ultimately led to the invention of GPS, with the patent awarded in 1974.
Easton was inducted into the Inventor's Hall of Fame for his work.
More info: GPS inventor
1975: First digital camera appears
Digital cameras have come a long way since Kodak engineer Steven Sasson screwed together a bunch of misfit parts, including the lens from a movie camera and a digital cassette recorder, in 1975.
That hefty bit of kit weighed eight pounds and displayed its images using a separate TV set.
More info: 9 great cameras for travelers
1978: First list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Announced in 1978, the inaugural list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites provided the world with an officially sanctioned travel bucket list.
A dozen "properties" were given the heritage treatment on debut, including the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, Aachen Cathedral in Germany and Yellowstone National Park in the United States.
Strangely, for such a wide area from which to take their choices (the entire planet), 10 of the entries came from five countries. Asia and Australasia had no inscriptions.
There are now 981 properties on the list, covering every continent except Antarctica.
1979: Sony Walkman launched
Launched in 1979, the Sony Walkman's transportable music playback system was revolutionary.
Gone were the days of trunk-like boom boxes and other unwieldy stereos.
Opened was the door to music anytime, anywhere.
The Sony Walkman sold a total of around 200 million units while it was being made, and spawned later models that were waterproof, solar-powered and one model with two cassette drives.
CDs, MiniDiscs and now MP3 players have since usurped the Walkman, but this was the device that made "music on the go" an integral part of travel for millions.
More info: 12 best travel songs of all time
1985: Schengen visa created
Signed in 1985, the Schengen Agreement made possible the free movement of people within the Schengen states -- 26 countries in Europe.
A byproduct is the Schengen visa.
International tourists now need just one visa and can take their pick of destinations.
More info: Schengen visa services
1996: Internet travel booking takes off
Expedia.com's launch in 1996 meant travel agents no longer held the only keys to hotel and airline reservation channels, allowing travelers themselves to research, compare prices and book trips.
So many booking sites have been launched, we've even started seeing the creation of aggregator sites that search these booking sites.
1998: Smoking ban on planes
Breathing someone else's expelled air inside a confined metal tube is bad enough; breathing their expelled smoke was, for many, dreadful.
In 1998, the late Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey helped ban smoking on planes in the United States, allowing non-smokers to breathe a sigh of relief.
Smokers got grumpy, and still are -- those little ashtrays in the armrests, still included for some reason, reminding them how good the traveling life used to be.
1999: Introduction of the euro
While the benefits of being in the euro-zone are always up for debate, one thing is clear -- Europe's single currency is useful for travelers.
The singular currency works in 17 countries.
More info: Bored with Europe? Try the 'new Europe'
1999: Smart phones arrive
A child of the '90s and the first phone equipped with a WAP browser, the Nokia 7110 was the first step toward the face-to-phone lives many of us live today.
The 7110 is often cited as the first true media phone, with messaging and Internet capabilities.
Since then we've been introduced to myriad other ways to ignore the real world -- Blackberry, Samsung, and Apple being just three other major providers.
Now it's rare to come across a mobile phone that isn't Internet enabled, so we can Tweet, Facebook and WhatsApp wherever we are.
2001: First space tourist
In 2001, U.S. rich guy Dennis Tito became the world's first space tourist.
His eight-day trip with a Russian crew on a visiting mission to the International Space Station, during which he orbited the Earth 128 times, reportedly cost $20 million.
Today, cheaper space tourism possibilities are out there, but you still need to fork out around $250,000 for a seat.
Virgin Galactic has said it'll launch its first mission in 2014.
The events of 9/11 changed the world in a way that needs no explanation.
When traveling pre-9/11, airport security was comparatively relaxed.
Today, shoes and belts are often removed at the security scan, bottles of water are confiscated and pat downs are thorough.
Even the words we use, or tweet, can lead to questioning or arrest, as one unlucky joker found out.
More info: Flight attendant: How 9/11 changed my job
2002: World adapter invented
Hair tongs, cameras, laptops, phones -- most travelers will have found themselves desperately in need of using one of these in a foreign hotel, only to find it's powered out and the plug won't fit the wall.
There are 12 significant electrical plug shapes in use around the world and until Swiss company SKROSS invented its world adapter, the chances were your new home for a few days didn't have sockets that fit.
Now there are various plug adaptors to fit (almost) all sockets.
2008: Airbnb founded
For travelers weary of floating in a sea of inflated hotel rates, ridiculous Wi-Fi prices, cramped rooms and bad buffet breakfasts, Airbnb's arrival was a much-needed lifesaver.
The platform connects people who have space to rent with travelers who are looking for a place to stay.
There have been a few horror stories along the way, but for the most part the rental site is today a reliable alternative for those who aren't afraid to try something different.
Airbnb says more than 9 million guests have used its site, booking everything from apartments to castles in more than 33,000 cities and 192 countries.
2012: Boeing Dreamliner launched, then grounded
Said to have revolutionized jetliner design and brought commercial aeronautics into the 21st century, the 787 had a record number of pre-orders when it was announced with nearly 800 planes due for delivery.
Its composite fuselage makes it lighter and therefore cheaper to fuel and its bigger windows and extra space inside make it more comfortable.
A series of problems, mostly involving the plane's battery system, saw the whole fleet grounded for a short period in 2013.
The aircraft's advances may yet prove to be revolutionary, though it remains to be seen if the plane will show up when lists such this one are updated in five, 10 or even 100 years.
This week, we turned the spotlight on some impressive high-end products, along with a few more casual devices. The Sony Alpha A7R mirrorless camera and Samsung NE58F9710WS Flex Duo oven, for example, are innovative takes on well-established high-end product categories. The JBL J33i in-ear headphones, on the other hand, are a mid-range triumph of performance and design fundamentals.
Meanwhile, our news and features team had some fun with celebrity pancakes and vain Facebook users, but also took a look at the new Apple CarPlay infotainment platform and a machine can literally turn water into wine.
Tuesday was National Pancake Day (believe it or not), and we at Reviewed... well, we love pancakes. But we know they can always be done better, and that spirit of kaizen led us to seek out the advice of our culinary betters. So we found five tips from five of the food world's brightest stars that are sure to kick your pancake craft up a notch.
What kind of a man would use a mix of all-purpose flour and cake flour in his pancake batter? Alton Brown, that's who. What kind of nut would go through the painstaking process of separating egg yolks from whites? Gordon Ramsay, of course. To discover the rest of the secrets to pancake nirvana, check out our full list of expert tips. After all, Mother's Day isn't too far off.
The Sony Alpha A7R (MSRP $2,299.99) marks the culmination of a trend that has seen camera manufacturers sticking ever-larger imaging sensors into ever-shrinking bodies. The A7R includes a 35mm ("full-frame") sensor commonly found in professional DSLRs. While not a perfect triumph, the A7R is a testament to Sony's ingenuity and risk-taking nature. It incorporates strengths from the manufacturer's best enthusiast cameras to date, from the NEX-7, to the RX100 II and RX1.
We firmly believe this is a camera worth the hype.The A7R's design is fresh, with a logical menu layout and extensive feature set. Our complaints were few and generally minor: The shutter was oddly loud, and both the burst shooting rate and autofocus system proved a bit slow for our taste. We also would have liked to have seen phase-detection autofocus, which is found in the A7R's cheaper brother, the A7. That said, we firmly believe this is a camera worth the hype—even if it does cost as much as high-end refrigerator.
Apple CarPlay is exciting, but comes as no surprise.(Photo: Apple)
Apple made a splash this week with the unveiling of CarPlay—a new iPhone-mirroring technology that will almost certainly be integrated into your next new car's infotainment system. The connectivity brings everything found in your phone—iTunes, Maps, Phone, and, yes, even Siri—to a safer, more convenient location on your car's dashboard.
That all sounds great, but it's really just a slick new skin on an old idea: CarPlay is easily the best-designed take on iPhone/car integration, but it's hardly the first. And the 55% of Americans smartphone owners who use Android, Windows Phone, or BlackBerry devices? Well, they'll have to keep waiting.
The JBL J33i in-ear headphones (MSRP $79.95) may be small, but they earned a big recommendation from us. There's plenty of boom on the low end, and ample focus on mid to high notes as well. The output tends to hiss here and there on some upper notes, but overall the balance is very pleasing.
Plenty of boom on the low end, and ample focus on mid to high notes.In terms of design, the J33i's aren't exactly a game-changer. In fact, some may find them stylistically lacking. But in terms of build and functionality, they're quite practical. There are four different earpieces included to help you find the right fit, and listeners are sure to appreciate the three-button remote/mic that can skip a track, change the volume, or even pick up a call. For about $20 less, you can buy a slightly downmarket alternative—the J22i's—but you'd be giving up the J33i's better noise cancellation.
Yep, you read that right—and we can't wait to see if it works as advertised.
The Miracle Machine aims to make winemaking ubiquitous through a combination of affordability and speedy operation. According to the two wine industry veterans behind the device, the prototype can produce a high-quality bottle of wine in just three days, using only $3 worth of ingredients. If you know anything about wine, you're probably pretty skeptical right about now. But let's wait and see how the Kickstarter campaign goes before we pass judgment.
Yes, the Samsung NE58F9710WS (MSRP $2,299.00) is an expensive oven, but it's also two ovens in one.
How? I'm glad you asked! The NE58F9710WS includes Samsung's proprietary Flex Duo technology, which slides into the oven cavity to create two separate compartments. The control panel immediately recognizes that the Flex Duo panel has been inserted, and then switches to dual mode, giving you independent temperature control over the two chambers.
Flex Duo technology aside, the NE58F9710WS is stylish, fairly priced, and an excellent performer. In our tests, the electric stovetop recorded an average high temp of 715°F and an average low of 85°F, while the oven proved similarly dynamic. All in all, the NE58F9710WS is one of the most versatile ranges on the market.
The iconic Facebook "like" thumb logo.(Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Facebook)
A recent study has revealed that people are vain, and social media makes them even more so. We can't say we're shocked.
As if people weren't judgmental enough, the research suggests that our first impressions of people on social media sites are highly influenced by how many "friends" they have. The findings also extended to physical attractiveness, which also—bizarrely—increased along with friend count. Sad but true!
The Kenmore 68102 dryer (MSRP $949.99) is exactly what you want it to be: versatile, easy to use, and effective. Available for as low as $650, it's also pretty darn cheap. The feature set is somewhat lacking, but that's an acceptable tradeoff for the kind of performance the 68102 delivers.
Pretty much every cycle was somewhere between adequate and exceptional in our tests. While it would have been nice to get a few extra features, you can't set unreasonable expectations for a machine this cheap. Ultimately, this is a real bargain.
An informal study published this week offered a glimpse at the surprising depth of Americans' technological ignorance.
While the survey was far from "scientific," it still managed to show how little one of the most technologically advanced societies in the world knows about the various gadgets that power our daily lives. Just one example: 23 percent of respondents thought "MP3" was name of a robot from Star Wars.
It used to be wetlands, a recreation zone. Today the locals call it Sodom and Gomorrah.
Slag heaps of rusting electronics, old refrigerators and monitors are scattered everywhere in Agbogbloshie, a dumping ground in Ghana for electronic waste from the rest of the world. On the banks of a polluted river, smoking heaps of burning junk spew bilious, black fumes into the sky. To breathe is to cede years of your life.
The residents of Agbogbloshie are well aware of the poisons in the used electronics they scavenge. But for them, scavenging is the only way to make a buck.
“What you do to get money is what kills you,” one resident said recently. A translator went on to explain, “He knows that, yeah, I’m going to die from this someday. What can I do?”
Another explained the problem in broken English: “We are crying for work, suffering for work. How to eat is hard. There is no job enough, that’s why we come to south. And there is no job to the south. Only this.”
Kevin McElvaney, a 26-year-old business administrator from Germany, recently went to Agbogbloshie to document its ecotech disaster. His portraits show the people working there, mainly kids between 7 and 25, struggling to make a living.
“Before you enter the burning fields of Agbogbloshie, you will recognize a huge market. On one side you can buy cheap local fruits and vegetables and on the other side you will see loads of manufacturers and scrap dealers. Go to these scrap dealers and you will see men sitting on broken TVs smashing their hammers and simple tools against any kind of car parts, machines and electronic devices,” he wrote recently on his blog.
Over the course of four days, McElvaney met hundreds of young boys and girls, most from the northern part of the country, who came south to burn cables and extract the copper from them. It can be sold on the market for pennies. Monitors can be disassembled to extract bits of precious metals; electronic parts can be removed from gadgets and sold – but at a terrible cost to the human body.
“Injuries like sears, untreated wounds, lung problems, eye and back damages go side by side with chronic nausea, anorexia, heavy headaches,” he wrote.
And where does the trash come from? Despite efforts to police itself, the U.S. contributes as much to the problem as anyone, experts say.
“Much of the incoming material comes from the U.K., but a lot comes from the U.S.,” Jim Puckett, an activist with the non-profit watchdog group Basel Action Network and former toxics director for Greenpeace International, told FoxNews.com by email.
“Last time I was in (nearby) Accra there was a lot of used electronic equipment from the U.S. government arriving there.… When after some time the computers do not sell in the shops, young boys with carts come by and pick them up and take them to the Agbogbloshie wetland/slum area to burn.”
The Basel Convention, organized by the U.N. and adopted in 1989 in Basel, Switzerland, aims to prevent the trade and movement of hazardous electronic wastes. To date, 180 countries and the European Union have signed on to the treaty.
The U.S. signed the treaty in 1990, but Congress never ratified it.
According to State Department policy, shipping electronics for repair, refurbishment or remanufacturing “does not constitute movement of waste, and thus is not impacted by the Convention or its procedures.” In addition, it says, the Convention lacks authority to enforce its own policy.
A number of U.S. businesses have sprung up that export e-waste to other countries -- the repair and remanufacturing the State Department mentions. Good Point Recycling, for example, processes 13 million pounds of electronics annually. Robin Ingenthron, the founder of the company, told FoxNews.com the Basel Convention and overeager activists have led to short-sighted policy. California recently shredded $100 million worth of reusable gear, rather than export it as “e-waste,” he said.
“As someone who lived in Africa for two and a half years,” Ingenthron said, “if you just go to World Bank statistics, Lagos (in Nigeria) had 6.9 million households with televisions in 2007. So what do you expect to see in Lagos dumps?”
And the photos from Agbogbloshie?
“The photos show stuff that’s been there for 15 years,” he said.
Rather than the Basel Convention, the U.S. relies upon the electronics industry to police itself, through guidelines such as the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship, a 2011 policy document from the EPA. (The EPA did not respond to FoxNews.com questions in time for this article.) It offers recommendations, not regulations.
As a result, activists say, the U.S. is essentially blind to the problem. We have no way to quantify the e-waste we export.
“When a nation ratifies the Basel Convention, they are required to monitor their export of hazardous waste,” said Sarah Westervelt, stewardship policy director with Basel Action Network. “We are not monitoring our export of this particular hazardous waste. We literally are not quantifying it.
“If we were to ratify the convention, we would be required to measure so we could quantify.”
The U.S. recently set out to do that. In December, the National Center for Electronics Recycling, working with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and funded by the EPA, released a report titled “Quantitative Characterization of Domestic and Transboundary Flows of Used Electronics,” which sought to measure the flow of waste from the U.S.
“We really don’t have a good handle on what exactly … is getting exported every year,” Jason Linnell, executive director of NCER and the report’s author, told FoxNews.com. “We needed to find a good way to get more data about what is actually going out of the country and set up a way to measure things going forward.”
The report found that 66 percent of e-waste in the U.S. is collected, but just 8.5 percent of it is exported as whole products. This represents the low end of what’s being exported, Linnell acknowledged, since the analysis relied on self-reports from the industry. Still, he thinks there has been progress.
Over the last 15 years, he said, “I tend to think the industry has come a long way. Blatant exporting … that’s harder to do now than it ever was.”
But Westervelt blasted the report and its methodology, saying it’s pointless to rely on the industry to report its own exports.
“Unfortunately the report is incredibly flawed,” she said. “When they have this voluntary survey that asks, ‘are you exporting to Africa,’ you’re not going to be getting reliable response.”
Meanwhile the volume of e-waste remains incredibly high. According to EPA estimates, 1.79 million tons were trashed in 2010 -- not including “TV peripherals” like VCRs, DVD players and so on.
And that number has likely soared, thanks to the explosion in mobile phones. But because the U.S. is the only developed country that hasn’t ratified the Basel Convention, it is in a unique position: It’s perfectly legal to load up a container ship with hazardous junk and sell it to the highest bidder. Once the container ship enters international water, though, it falls under the umbrella of international law -- where it’s illegal for about 143 developing countries to accept it. Many do anyway: e-waste is a lucrative business, after all.
“Companies are making money off this on both ends. But they’re causing these irreparable long-term impacts,” Westervelt said.
Ingenthron pointed out that Basel Action Network is one of those companies making money -- its e-Stewards program certifies recyclers and exporters, and charges them a hefty fee to be listed in its database, he alleged.
“They’re charging hundreds of thousands to certify companies for export,” he said. “None of that money goes to Africa.
“And that’s our objection to these photos. Its poverty porn.”
Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at FoxNews.com, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.
Contributor Jennifer Jolly shows off the latest tech-meets-bacon promotion from Oscar Mayer, and demos a egg-shaped device that can amplify music around your house.
Quite possibly the best invention since whatever came before sliced bread, a new iOS device wakes you up with the sweet scents — and sounds — of sizzling bacon.
We all knew it was just a matter of time before a "smell-o-phone" came along, but leave it to the genius marketing minds behind the Wienermobile to create the ultimate baconator: the Wake Up And Smell The Bacon.
Fresh from the The Oscar Mayer Institute for the Advancement of Bacon, the porky plug-in is filled with bacon-scented liquid. The tiny accessory slides into the headphone jack of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod (sorry Android and Windows Phone fans), where you pair it with the free companion app, set an alarm, and then bask in the heavenly bacon-filled cloud wafting your way come morning.
I'm absolutely addicted to it. It actually smells sweeter than you might expect, the sizzle sounds beat the nails-on-a-chalkboard screeching alarm beep any day, and a man's gentle voice also serves up a hearty dose of Baconisms the longer you wait to turn it off. My favorites so far are, "A world without bacon is like the Earth without the world," and "Time passes and civilizations crumble, but bacon is forever." Sigh.
So now that you're sitting in your computer chair, with drool dripping down your chin, you're probably wondering how you can get your hands on this little slice of gadget goodness? The marketing minds at Oscar Mayer know how much we crave our salty strips of heaven, but they're not going to sell their magically meaty device in stores. You'll have to win one by entering your details on the Wake Up And Smell The Bacon website between March 6th and April 4th. Now clean your keyboard, you're making a mess.
This isn't the first time Oscar Mayer has had some fun with America's still booming bacon-mania obsession. Last year it launched an e-commerce site encouraging people to give bacon gifts for Father's Day, with it's awesomely schmaltzy, Say It with Bacon campaign. Just a few months ago, popcorn brand Pop Secret made a similar play for our senses with Poptopia plug-in and app pairing, which released the smell of buttered popcorn.
HOW ABOUT AN EGG TO GO WITH THAT BACON?
All this talk of bacon makes me think of eggs, which is a weird but oddly effective segue-way into another gadget that I can't get enough of this week — the new Bass Egg speaker. It's a small, portable Bluetooth speaker that turns virtually any surface into an amplified subwoofer.
It's truly magical: You simply place Bass Egg on any surface you see fit, whether it's your desk, the kitchen counter, your car, (the start-up guide tells you not to put it on pets, which cracks me up because of course, you'll want to) and the powerful little instrument transfers vibrations to produce audio. Music is really quiet on the device until you set it down. Then, it totally booms. And different surfaces can add funky touches to your tunes. For example, a wood surface produces a much different vibe than metal or glass.
You can sync the Bass Egg up with any device that supports Bluetooth speakers, including your iPhone, Android, and Windows smartphones, so you can rock out to egghead music while your bedroom smells like bacon. It's a dream come true! Unlike its pork-scented breakfast counterpart from Oscar Mayer, you can buy the Bass Egg, which comes in black or silver hues for $99.95. But be warned, you'll need to budget for several hours of time that you'll run around your house putting it on every surface imaginable before you realize that yes, it really does turn your entire house into a massive speaker system. If only it could make everything smell like bacon too.
Want more bacontopia? Be sure to check out the video with this column, as well as the new Wake Up and Smell the Bacon commercial.