Week in review: Tech loses a loved one

The gadget world lost one of its most visible and respected journalists this week with the death of James Kim.

The gadget world lost one of its most visible and respected journalists this week with the death of James Kim.

Kim, a senior editor at CNET, was found dead Wednesday after being lost in a remote part of southern Oregon for 11 days. An autopsy determined that Kim died of exposure with hypothermia.

Kim left his family's stranded car Saturday morning searching for help and never returned. He apparently traveled in a 10-mile circle and was found less than a mile, separated by a sheer cliff, from where his family's station wagon got stuck in the snow. Officers said there was no way to determine whether he was trying to return to his starting point or if he became disoriented.

Kim's wife and two young daughters were found alive and well Monday after surviving more than a week stranded in the wilderness. Kati Kim suffered frostbite on two toes, but will not lose those toes.

More than 100 individuals were involved with the search, which was focused on the Big Windy Creek drainage area, about 30 miles northwest of Grants Pass. At various times, efforts involved helicopters, rafts floating down the Rogue River, Sno-Cats, four-wheel-drive vehicles and dozens of searchers on foot.

A commercial satellite-imagery company even rerouted one of its satellites to fly over the Oregon wilderness where rescue crews were searching for Kim.

Kim was a respected expert on cutting-edge digital devices, an owner of a trendy clothing store and a lover of the futuristic-sounding music known as electronica.

Yet, according to friends, most of Kim's life revolved around old-fashioned values: sacrifice, friendship and family. Those who knew him say they aren't surprised that Kim, in the last act of his life, demonstrated the ultimate expression of devotion to his wife and daughters.

The outpouring of concern and condolences for the family set records for the number of postings to the CNET News.com TalkBack forum.

"I am choked up. This is a very sad story about a great man," wrote one reader to the forum. "My heart is with his family and him."

CNET News.com has created a page for those wishing to share their thoughts and condolences with the Kim family.

The search for the Kim family illustrates how important cell phone technology has become as a public safety tool. While other technologies such as global positioning system, or GPS, navigation may help people find their way out of trouble, it does little to help when people are stranded on the side of the road like the Kims were.

Tracking devices that send beacons to rescuers could be helpful, but they are used mostly by wilderness backpackers and backcountry skiers. Few people carry them on road trips. And even though satellite-based tracking technology exists, even fewer people are likely to consent to having their whereabouts tracked on a daily basis in the off chance that they might get lost on a backcountry road.

A little privacy
Cell phones can also be used to spy on you. The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.

The technique is called a "roving bug," and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him.

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