BC-AP Technology Digest

The technology news enterprise package for this week through Dec. 26. Comments or questions to John Simons, jsimons(at)ap.org, or 212-621-7325. Questions about photos at 212-621-1900. For questions about graphics, call 212-621-1900. Repeats of stories are available from http://apexchange.com or the Service Desk, 1-800-838-4616.

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WASHINGTON â¿¿ In the days since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a shell-shocked nation has looked for reasons. The list of culprits include easy access to guns, a strained mental-health system and the "culture of violence" â¿¿ the entertainment industry's embrace of violence in movies, TV shows and, especially, video games. By Lou Kesten.

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NEW YORK â¿¿ Facebook isn't just for goofy pictures and silly chatter. Whether shoppers know it or not, their actions online are helping dictate what pops up in stores this holiday season. After polling fans on the social media site, Macy's decided to carry denim jeans in bright neon hues rather than pastels. Wal-Mart for the first time is letting customers vote on which toys they want discounted. And to better plan orders for the next holiday season, a small business owner in Mississippi is running a contest encouraging customers to chime in about how they're decorating their homes this winter. By Business Writer Candice Choi.

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WENCHI, Ethiopia â¿¿ The kids wear filthy, ragged clothes. They sleep beside cows and sheep in huts made of sticks and mud. They don't go to school. Yet they all can chant the English alphabet, and some can make words. The key to their success: 20 tablet computers dropped off in their Ethiopian village in February by One Laptop Per Child, a U.S. organization that believes cheap, simple computing power can educate the world's neediest children. "The kids have already learned more than they would have in one year of kindergarten," said Matt Keller, who runs the Ethiopia program. By Jason Straziuso.

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WASHINGTON â¿¿ A cellphone game for kids about U.S. geography, "Stack the States," gets rave reviews from parents. Its creator, Dan Russell-Pinson, considered making the 99-cent app better by adding a feature to allow children to play online against one another. But with the Federal Trade Commission issuing more stringent online child privacy rules, he's not even pursuing the idea. The software industry is bracing for new regulations that it says will stifle creativity and saddle small businesses with legal and technical costs to ensure their cellphone apps don't run afoul of the rules. The changes raise these questions: What is the value of a child's privacy on the Internet, and who should pay for it? By Richard Lardner.

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LOS ANGELES â¿¿ Nintendo is switching on a television service that transforms the tablet-like controller for its new Wii U game console into a remote that changes the channel on your TV and puts programs from the Internet just a few finger taps away. By Ryan Nakashima.

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ATLANTA â¿¿ It's hard to make headlines with a portable music player these days. It's old hat by now to carry around thousands of songs in your hip pocket, whether on an iPod or a smartphone. But there's been a price for portability. You are listening to your favorite music delivered only after a host of technology has diminished the resolution of the audio. It sounds fine, but the makers of a new portable music player are betting there are still some people out there who want even better quality â¿¿ and are willing to pay. By Ron Harris.

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