What’s new in the wild and wacky world of technology? Well, after a little bit of housekeeping first about WWJ Newsradio 950’s big move, I’ll let you know.
* I picked a darn fine time to go on the Tech Tour, because that was right around the time WWJ Newsradio 950 was moving into new digs — all the way across the parking lot, into the former Panasonic Automotive building. Those of you in the tech or publicity worlds, feel free to give me a call and I can give you a quick tour. And oh yes, I have a new phone number as a result of the move, because we have a super-cool new IP phone system. The new digits are (248) 327-2794. And for those of you sending me snail mail, the new address is 26455 American Drive, Southfield 48034. Now, on to the actual news…
* After cooling its heels for a month on the Red Planet, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is gearing up for lots of action in the coming weeks. Curiosity’s handlers sent no commands to the rover for most of April, because Mars was on the opposite side of the sun from Earth at the time. But this planetary alignment, known as a Mars solar conjunction, is now over, and the mission team is planning to drill into a Red Planet rock soon and then send Curiosity off on an epic, miles-long trek to the base of a huge and mysterious mountain.
* YouTube announced Thursday that it is launching a pilot program of paid channels on the video sharing site. In a blog post, YouTube said that content creators often request “more flexibility in monetizing and distributing content.” The company says there are over 1 million channels that currently generate revenue.
* The National Security Agency recently declassified a book called “Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research” that contains over 600 pages of tips for researching information online. According to Wired, the book was released following a Freedom of Information Act request filed in April by MuckRock, a group that specializes in processing public records requests. Sections in the guide include “Introduction to Searching,” “Mastering the Art of Search” and “Uncovering the ‘Invisible’ Internet.”
* Brazilian parents are getting a jump start on social media parenting, with a device that sends a tweet when their child has a wet diaper, thanks to a Huggies product called TweetPee. TweetPee is apparently a small device that looks like a bird, with a sensor that clips to a diaper. When the diaper is wet, it will alert parents by sending a tweet.
* There have been times I look at modern art and think, jeez, that looks like totally random crap. Well, here you go. A horse can apparently paint something that looks suspiciously like a Pollock.
* Here’s video of something we reported on yesterday, a laser shooting down a missile. Very cool.
* Less than a month after its release, the HTC First, also known as the first “Facebook phone,” is selling for the clearance price of 99 cents with a two-year contract with AT&T. The mid-range smartphone, which arrived on April 12 and was previously selling for $99, comes preloaded with Facebook Home, the social-networking software package that turns the device’s home screen and lock screen into Facebook-only zones. The dramatically reduced price point seems to confirm our earlier suspicions that Facebook wasn’t proving to be much of a sales pitch.
* Speaking of smartphones, here’s a cool collection of eight high-end ones for less than $100. My next phone is probably among them.
* For those of you who can wear earbuds — unfortunately I can’t for very long, they give me whanging earaches, I have to use headphones — here is a cheap set for $40 that according to the review give shockingly good sound for the price.
* NASA’s Landsat 5, which recently set a Guinness World Record for the “Longest Operating Earth Observation Satellite,” has been delivering high-quality, global data of Earth’s land surface for 28 years and 10 months. Using the annual Landsat satellite imagery captured since 1984, Google has created dramatic composites, alongside other Google Earth satellite imagery, depicting our changing world, the death and growth of natural lands, and humans’ impact on the landscape.\
* Nearly 40 years after the movie was filmed, Luke Skywalker’s boyhood home still stands on Tattoine… oops, I mean in Tunisia.
* And you thought you had the ex from hell. Check out this tale of woe of a Canadian teacher and his apparently batbleep Malaysian ex.
* A global cybercime ring stole $45 million from banks around the world in a matter of hours by hacking a database of prepaid debit cards, federal prosecutors said Thursday. Seven people are in U.S. custody in connection with the case, which prosecutors said involved thousands of thefts from ATMs using bogus magnetic strip cards.
* Eat those peppers. Apparently the nicotine they contain protects you from Parkinson’s.
* The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered rocky remains of planetary material ‘polluting’ the atmospheres of two white dwarfs — a sign that these stars likely have (or had) planetary systems and that asteroids are currently being shredded by extreme tidal forces.