Matt’s Favorites: Social Security Online, Tech Vs. Labor, And More
So what the heck else is there in the big bad world of amazing technology? Well, here you go on a Friday…
* Had a fun visit Thursday afternoon with Frances Heimes-Savickis, the Redford-based public affairs specialist for the Social Security Administration. She told me about a cool new mobile-friendly Web site at www.socialsecurity.gov. Once there, visitors can check out a mobile version of Social Security’s FAQs, get a new or replacement SSN card, and get mobile publications on common Social Security issues in English and Spanish. Users can also get a personal version of that printed Social Security statement that you used to get three months before your birthday each year. (It’s being discontinued and moved online in a cost-cutting effort.) Serving citizens online is way cheaper than live over a counter, so this is good stuff for taxpayers.
* To the U.S. technology industry, there’s a dramatic shortfall in the number of Americans skilled in computer programming and engineering that is hampering business. To unions and some Democrats, it’s more sinister: The push by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to expand the number of visas for high-tech foreign workers is an attempt to dilute a lucrative job market with cheap, indentured labor. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57584789/u.s-technology-labor-unions-clash-on-immigration/
* Here’s why tickets generated by red light cameras are evil.
*If you aren’t out of work yet, this futurist predicts you will be by 2045. All of us will be.
* In yet another recent example of Apple’s increasing role in Washington politics, CEO Tim Cook reportedly plans to propose a “dramatic simplification” of corporate tax laws before Congress next week — and is taking to the D.C. press to argue his case.
* A man gets so angry that a woman won’t stop using her cell phone during a New York musical that he grabs it from her and throws it far away. Yes, he is removed from the theater. I suppose he had to be, but I bet he got a round of applause on his way out.
*Scientists in Canada find a vein of water that’s been undisturbed for a billion years.
* Danish museum officials say that an archaeological dig last year has revealed 365 items from the Viking era, including 60 rare coins. Danish National Museum spokesman Jens Christian Moesgaard says the coins have a distinctive cross motif attributed to Norse King Harald Bluetooth, who is believed to have brought Christianity to Norway and Denmark.
* Google Maps began as roads and satellite photos. Now, through a project called Ground Truth, it’s becoming an ever more sophisticated virtual mirror of the real world. But how? Google engineers described their methods Wednesday at the Google I/O show, describing how they’ve moved from licensing satellite photos to building 3D version of the world that can be updated in minutes.
* In another sign of ever-increasing commercial spaceflight activity, Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser space plane has arrived at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for testing. Part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program along with SpaceX and Boeing, the Dream Chaser is designed to launch vertically on top of an Atlas 5 rocket, dock with the International Space Station, and then return to Earth like a glider, landing on a runway.
* The lightest material ever made has been produced by a team of scientists in China, a Chinese university announced. The ultra-light substance, called carbon aerogel, has a density of 0.16 milligrams per cubic centimeter, Zhejiang University in China said in a statement. One sixth of the substance is air.
* This new category of PC can be hard to pin down. To some, these are all-in-one desktops, similar to the Apple iMac, but with the added ability to either fold down flat or detach their screens. To others, these are battery-powered megatablets, with screens measuring between 18 and 27 inches, but are otherwise similar to Windows 8 slates such as Microsoft’s Surface Pro.
* Facebook on Thursday launched a version of its app for Google Glass, becoming the latest technology company to release software for the computing eyewear. The app allows users to upload photos from Google Glass directly to their Facebook timelines. They also can add optional photo descriptions, just by saying the information out loud.