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Matt’s Favorites: Comcast TV Catchup, Verizon BlackBerry Z10, Hacking Celebrities, New Pope Online, Beauty From Orbit And Much More

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SOUTHFIELD — So what else is new and cool in the amazing, ever-changing world of high technology? Well, here ya go… the latest.

* Our friends at Comcast tell me that its Xfinity TV service will offer what it’s calling “the biggest TV catch-up in TV history” March 25-31. ‘Watchathon Week’ offers every episode of every season of TV’s hottest series, like Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, Dexter, Girls, Spartacus and Duck Dynasty, plus full, current or most recent seasons of Mad Men, Revolution, The Walking Dead, Touch, Chicago Fire, Psych, Parenthood and The Americans. In total, Xfinity TV customers will have access to more than 3,500 episodes of 100 TV series across 30 premium, cable and broadcast networks.  Watchathon Week will also offer almost the entire on demand TV libraries of HBO, Showtime, Starz and Cinemax, including the critically acclaimed shows that kick-started the TV catch-up phenomenon, like The Sopranos, Sex & The City, Dexter and The Wire.  The event will also give viewers a chance to catch up on hit series Game of Thrones, just prior to its third season debut on HBO March 31. All Video On Demand-enabled Xfinity TV customers will have access to this content, and across multiple screens when available. To help sort through the additional thousands of hours of TV shows, Xfinity TV will launch a Watchathon Week microsite offering a full list of available content across Xfinity On Demand, Xfinity.com/tv and the Xfinity TV Player App. Visitors also will discover special news, trivia, behind-the-scenes features and a Watchathon sweepstakes. After Watchathon Week concludes, Xfinity TV will launch the “Catch-Up of the Week” on April 1. This ongoing effort will offer a mix of current and past seasons of hit shows on a specific network, or a different, popular TV series each week through the end of 2013, allowing viewers to continue to stay on top of some the best shows on TV regardless of their subscription level. For more details on Watchathon Week visit www.xfinity.com/watchathon.

* And my friends at Verizon tell me that the BlackBerry Z10 will be available for pre-order starting Thursday March 14 at www.verizonwireless.com/blackberryz10. Customers will be able to choose from two color models, black or white, with white being a Verizon Wireless exclusive. The new BlackBerry 10 platform includes the BlackBerry Hub, a center for communication that streamlines all of a user’s messages, and a keyboard that adapts to their style. Verizon Wireless plans to offer the BlackBerry Z10 and the BlackBerry Q10, two global-ready 4G LTE smartphones running BlackBerry 10, providing customers with more 4G LTE smartphones to choose from. The BlackBerry Z10 will be available for $199.99 with a new two year customer agreement.

* The pursuit of hackers who audaciously stole and published credit reports for Michelle Obama, the attorney general, FBI director and other U.S. politicians and celebrities crisscrossed continents and included a San Francisco-based Internet company, Cloudflare. Here’s more from CBS News.

* The official Twitter account for Pope Francis has sent out its first tweet under the new papacy. “Habemus papam franciscum,” tweeted the pope’s official account @Pontifex. The Latin phrase translates to “we have a new pope [Francis].”

* Now this looks like a fine idea — a gizmo that would turn your smartphone into a portable Breathalyzer for those nights out. Know exactly when to call a cab! It’s in an Indiegogo campaign.

* Take a look at our wonderful world from orbit in this latest group of pictures, from the new commander of the International Space Station.

* Facebook announced Wednesday that is redesigning its user profile pages, called Timeline, to create a cleaner layout. The new layout will change the main update feed from two columns to one, which will be on the right side of the page. Apps and interests, like music, movies, TV shows and books will be on the left.

* The Federal Trade Commission has updated its consumer protection rules for online activities, and has specifically taken aim at celebrity tweeters. The agency released the rules Tuesday (PDF), and outlined how celebrities who want to promote a product on Twitter should do so.

* In the past, doctors have been skeptical of using 3D technology in their work, preferring to rely on their own experience. But that may change, thanks to improved 3D glasses and even glasses-free systems. Funded by industry sponsors, the study of 50 surgeons using the new technology showed improvements in surgical precision and speed.

* A new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that 78 percent of young people, ages 12 to 17, now have cellphones. Nearly half of those are smartphones, a share that’s increasing steadily – and that’s having a big effect on how, and where, many young people are accessing the Web.

* Creating microscopic black holes using particle accelerators requires less energy than previously thought, researchers say. If physicists do succeed in creating black holes with such energies on Earth, the achievement could prove the existence of extra dimensions in the universe, physicists noted. Any such black holes would be so tiny that they would pose no risk to Earth, however.

* As the popularity of RSS has declined, the day long feared by fans of Google Reader has come: the service will shut down, by July 1, the company said. (And here are some worthy possible replacements.)

* Apple Inc marketing chief Phil Schiller attacked Google Inc’s “fragmented” Android software and its biggest adopter, Samsung Electronics, a day before the Korean firm takes the wraps off its latest flagship smartphone in the United States. Schiller, in an interview on the eve of the Galaxy S4’s launch in New York, said that Google’s own research showed the vast majority of Android users were stuck on older versions of the software, and that Samsung’s new phone itself may debut with a year-old operating system that will need updating.

* A federal jury in New York on Wednesday found that video game company Nintendo Co infringed an inventor’s 3-D display technology patent with its handheld 3DS videogame system. The jury awarded the inventor, Seijiro Tomita, $30.2 million in compensatory damages.

* Astronomers are probing what’s behind a strange, glowing gas in the atmosphere of Saturn’s nearly Earth-sized moon Titan.

* Remember when the Internet was going to break down all the walls between nations? Yeah, me too. Uh, not so much. There’s increasing cyber-nationalism, and that has its own risks.

* Here’s an interesting hypothesis: The Neanderthals went extinct because their eyes were better than ours — so too much of their brainpower was devoted to seeing, rather than abstract reasoning, like us, meaning they couldn’t survive the last Ice Age. (Which gives me yet another chance to plug a sci-fi fave, the excellent Neanderthal Parallax: from Wikipedia, “a trilogy of novels by Robert J. Sawyer published by Tor. It depicts the effects of the (accidental) opening of a connection between two alternate Earths: the world familiar to the reader, and another where Neanderthals became the dominant hominid. The societal, spiritual and technological differences between the two worlds form the focus of the story.” It was my fun summer reading last year.)

* Two cryptography scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have won the 2012 Turing Award for pioneering ways to make online transactions secure, the Association for Computing Machinery announced Wednesday.

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