Matt’s Favorites: Awesomer Alpena, ePrize Job Offer On Instagram, And More

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Alpena Community College

SOUTHFIELD – So what’s the latest and greatest in the fun and fantastic world of high technology, both here in Michigan and around the universe? Well, here’s what I found on a Sunday night for your Monday morning mental edification…

* Awesome Alpena just got awesomer. Alpena Community College will be purchasing a ROV, and underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle, with funds from a grant.  This will enhance the tools used in the Marine Technology program at ACC. The Alpena News has the story.

* The folks at ePrize are using social media to make job offers. The Pleasant Ridge online promotion company recently made a job offer to a candidate via Instagram. The national tech blog Mashable wrote about the story, The candidate, Samantha Bankey, was an intern with ePrize last summer — and she accepted the offer, as you can see by her Twitter feed. Pretty cool stuff.

* Yahoo (YHOO) may be on the verge of closing its biggest acquisition during the 10-month reign of CEO Marissa Mayer as she tries to attract more traffic and advertisers to the Internet company’s website and mobile applications. The Sunnyvale, California, company’s board of directors met Sunday and approved a $1.1 billion acquisition of online content-sharing site Tumblr in a deal Mayer negotiated, according to the Wall Street Journal. The technology news site All Things D first reported the story late Friday, citing anonymous sources.

* The drone is going mainstream. Pilotless aircraft — known until now primarily for their controversial role in American foreign policy — are now being integrated into American life. The Federal Aviation Administration expects there to be 7,500 commercial drones operating domestically by 2018.

*The science project of Maryland high school sophomore Jack Andraka sounds like a Nobel Prize winner’s. “I created a new way to detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer that costs three cents and takes five minutes to run,” he said. No — really.

* Warnings about Wednesday’s Texas tornadoes gave people just 26 minutes to prepare for impact. That’s actually more than double the average warning time. When people have more notice to get into a safe place, there usually are more lives saved when the disaster strikes. That’s why the National Weather Service is getting a $25 million bump in its budget to update its computer mapping system. It will increase the agency’s computing power by 25 times, which is sorely needed.

* Forty years ago Friday, President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law. The legislation was created to protect threatened species from extinction, and, unlike some laws that have gone on the books, decades later it’s still very relevant.

* Growing up in the 1960s, Ben Burtt was such a big “Star Trek” fan that when he went off to college at a school where he had no TV, he had his father record the audio from each week’s episode and mail it to him. Today, Burtt is one of the most important people in the “Star Trek” ecosystem. As the sound designer on the brand-new “Star Trek Into Darkness,” as well as 2009’s “Star Trek,” and five of the six “Star Wars” films (he also worked on the original “Star Wars”), there may not be anyone alive today with a better sense of what it takes to put a major sci-fi movie’s sound together.

* And did you love the new Star Trek movie? Answer here: I saw it twice, Friday and Sunday, so yeah. And here’s an old school Trekkie who agrees with me.

* A Saudi cleric says Twitter will damn your soul. See, I knew it.

* With a key piece of equipment on the blink, the Kepler planet-finding mission may be kaput. So here’s a look back at some of its accomplishments.

* The hacking group that calls itself the Syrian Electronic Army struck again on Friday, this time breaking into the Twitter accounts and blog headlines of The Financial Times. The attack was part of a crusade that has targeted dozens of media outlets as varied as The Associated Press and The Onion, the parody news site.

* And I swear this is not from The Onion — a new breed of ant called “tawny crazy ants” is displacing fire ants in the southern United States, and these ants have a particular affinity for infesting electronics.

* The U.S. tech industry added nearly 64,000 software related jobs last year, but as the workforce expanded, the average size of workers’ pay checks declined by nearly 2 percent. The average annual wage of all workers in the software services sector was $99,000 in 2012, about $2,000 less than the prior year, reported TechAmerica Foundation in its annual Cyberstates report.

* And yes, as a matter of fact, meteors do still hit the Moon, that’s how craters are made.

* On Mars, the rover Opportunity breaks a 40-year-old NASA roving record.

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