Matt’s Favorites: Verizon Outage, Orbital Craziness, Forget Privacy, And Much More
So what’s the latest from the wild world of high tech on this Mother’s Day weekend? Ever so glad you asked…
* We had a brief Verizon Wireless voice outage in the Detroit area Friday. Here’s the story.
* Commander Chris Hadfield has done it all from space: He tweeted, he worked out, he brushed his teeth, he cried. And on his last night on board the International Space Station, Hadfield released a video cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” — a very impressive, professionally produced one, too.
* But it wasn’t all fun on the ISS over the weekend. Two U.S. astronauts had just two days to plan a spacewalk to fix a leak in a critical ISS cooling system that uses ammonia as its cooling fluid. But it could be a month before we know if the mission was a success. With a view of the Earth below, astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Christopher Cassidy carefully searched for the ammonia leak.
* Americans have virtually no privacy online and need to recognize that their Internet activities cannot be scrubbed, cyber-privacy experts warned last week. “Google is history,” said University of Pennsylvania Law professor Anita Allen, author of “Unpopular Privacy: What We Must Hide,” at a panel convened in New York City by the Penn law school.
* Last week, we learned that the National Security Agency uses Google, Syria’s Internet went down amid ongoing turmoil in the region and U.S. Customs discussed how a 70 million-year-old dinosaur was smuggled into the U.S. In another round-up of off-beat stories, we learned that the United Nation’s Twitter account doesn’t just follow diplomats and global leaders, and nothing good can come from sticking a “kick me” sign on a fellow employee’s back.
* The latest news about the climate is especially worrying. U.S. government scientists working at an observatory on the big island of Hawaii reported today that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time over the last several million years. Most scientists believe the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas is helping cause the rapid rise in carbon dioxide levels. This greenhouse gas traps heat, changes weather patterns, and raises sea levels. Ralph Keeling runs the CO2 monitoring program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He believes efforts to curb emissions have failed and some impacts of climate change are irreversible. “We’re moving into dangerous territory,” he said. “So there are lots of threats to human beings in these changes. We don’t know exactly how big but it’s very unlikely that we’re going to get through this without major turmoil.” Also, an ice-free Arctic Ocean may be around the corner.
* Microsoft has issued a warning that a new piece of malware masquerading as a Google Chrome extension and Firefox add-on is making the rounds, threatening to hijack Facebook accounts. First detected in Brazil, Trojan:JS/Febipos.A, the malware attempts to keep itself update, just like normal, legitimate browser extensions, Microsoft noted in a security bulletin late Friday.