So what’s new and cool from the wide, wonderful world of high tech? Well, after a fine Easter weekend, I found this…
* Let’s lead with the five strangest stories in tech last week. Fun stuff.
* Next, a string of events centered on women and the technology field in March have led to a blaze of online dialog. Yet many believe that a “tipping point” in the gender inequality debate may have finally been reached.
* A veteran Russian commander, a rookie cosmonaut and a Navy SEAL-turned-astronaut rocketed into space Thursday and glided to a smooth docking with the International Space Station less than six hours later, a record-setting rendezvous being tested to reduce the time crew members have to spend cooped up inside the cramped Soyuz ferry craft.
* The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has denied Apple’s bid to trademark the term “iPad Mini,” contending that “mini” is “merely descriptive” of goods or services sold in miniature form. In a letter sent to Apple in January but only recently published, the USPTO reviewer denied Apple’s application because “the applied-for mark merely describes a feature or characteristic of applicant’s goods.”
* While the Supreme Court listened to the cases of Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor last week, the social media world went red with Facebook profile pictures that showed support for same-sex marriages. The red squares with a floating pink equal sign began to appear on Facebook when the Human Rights Campaign began to urge people on Monday to change their profile pictures. On Friday, the social network released data showing just how many people joined the campaign.
* People living in zero-gravity can lose up to 5 percent muscle mass a week. Yikes! That’s why working out is not just something astronauts do because they had a double cheeseburger with onion rings for lunch. Curious about what a space workout looks like? Canadian astronaut and commander of the International Space Station Chris Hadfield offers this video of his workout in space that he is dubbing “The Hadfield Shake.”
* Sunday wasn’t only Easter. It was also World Backup day. So how is your stuff? Safely backed up?
* A space rock found in Morocco may be Earth’s first known visitor from the planet Mercury, a scientist says.
* And a NASA asteroid capture mission is part of the 2014 federal budget.
* Cops posing in social media as indie-rock scenesters? Please. But the cops in Boston are trying it, to stop what they apparently consider a scourge — house shows, or concerts played in private homes, rather than in clubs.
* China expressed “resolute opposition” and “strong dissatisfaction” with a new U.S. cyber-espionage rule limiting imports of Chinese-made information technology products, state media reported on Saturday. The remarks underscore growing tension between the world’s top two economies after the United States accused China of backing a string of hacking attacks on U.S. companies and government agencies.
* You’ve always thought surveillance was bad. Now it turns out there are good solid scientific and social reasons why it sucks to be surveilled — because it menaces our intellectual privacy (our right to read and think freely and secretly) and because it gives the watcher power over the watched, creating the risk of blackmail, persuasion, or discrimination.
* Enjoy this completely honest ad you are guaranteed never to see on cable TV.
* The cheap, versatile Raspberry Pi computer goes on sale in the United States, and promptly sells out.
* The FCC is finally reopening its review of cell phone safety standards — after 15 years.
* The cyber-terrorists attacking United States banking interests are both well organized and well funded, experts say.
* Energy efficiency gains are failing to keep pace with the Internet’s rapid rate of expansion, meaning that global web use is consuming an increasing share energy, warns a new perspective published in the journal Science.
* Tracking the rumor that just won’t die — the Facebook phone.
* An interactive panorama shot by NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover lets you take a high-resolution walk around the Red Planet.