Matt’s Favorites: Weird Tech, To Space With Leo, Hulu For Sale, And More
So what’s the newest, coolest and techiest for this holiday-shortened week? So glad you asked!
* First, as has become customary (if not reasonable), a look back at some of the weirdest tech stories of last week.
* Actor Leonardo DiCaprio plans to fly to space on Virgin Galactic’s new commercial spaceliner, along with the winning bidder in a charity auction at the Cannes film festival, according to news reports.
* Online video site Hulu is again up for sale, with Yahoo and pay TV operators DirecTV and Time Warner Cable among the seven bidders, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The person wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and spoke Friday on condition of anonymity, after several news outlets reported on the bidding.
* Russian ground crews are preparing a Soyuz spacecraft for launch Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to ferry three fresh crew members — a veteran Russian cosmonaut, an Italian test pilot and an American shuttle veteran — to the International Space Station.
* Buzz Aldrin is one of just a handful of people on earth with good reason to be unimpressed with the idea of a “moon shot.” After all, he’s been there, done that. Aldrin is far more interested in a Mars shot these days. The second man to step on the moon in 1969 — right behind the late Neil Armstrong — is now 83 years old and out with a new book “Mission to Mars,” in which he outlines his vision for taking humans to Mars by 2035.
* Attention new parents: If you’re going crazy wondering why baby won’t sleep at night, you may be relieved by a new study showing that a large determinant of an infant’s nighttime sleep is simply the luck of the genetic draw.
* An English math whiz who once published a research paper titled “Why I Don’t Have A Girlfriend,” estimating his chances of finding a spouse at one in 285,000, is now engaged. Either he’s really lucky or his math isn’t nearly as good as he thinks.
* It must be peculiar for children of the Internet age. They are the first to have a complete record of their whole lives. They are the first who’ll be able to offer concrete proof of every one of their days, friends, and actions. Google’s Eric Schmidt worries, however, that they’ll be the first who’ll never be allowed to forget their mistakes.
* Just a few months after unveiling its Galaxy S4 smartphone, Samsung is getting ready to unveil new mobile devices. The South Korean electronics giant announced Monday that it will hold a press event in London on June 20 that will presumably highlight additions to its Galaxy and Ativ lineups.
* After failing to appear at Google I/O, evidence that Android 4.3 is forthcoming soon has been leaking out slowly. Now, the first photos of the next sweet iteration of the mobile OS running on a device have been spotted. It looks to be a new flavor of Jelly Bean rather than the whole slice of Key Lime Pie.
* Of all the great and wondrous things that we can view in our sky, the top four are (in descending order of merit) a total eclipse of the sun, a beautiful manifestation of the northern lights, a real “shower” of shooting stars and a great comet with a long tail. With any luck (and some good weather), all four of these skywatching sights may be readily available to us in the near future. Here is a list of the Top 4 and when we might expect to see them.
* Thanks to Karen Nelson, a tidy archivist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, about 20 forgotten vials of moon dust collected by Armstrong and Aldrin have been rescued from a grave of their own: a warehouse at the Berkeley lab, where they’d sat quietly gathering, um, Earth dust for the last 40 years or so.
* How can the Internet be brought to areas that have no infrastructure for high-speed wireless? Beam the Wi-Fi networks down from flying objects, of course. Google is reportedly working on creating wireless networks for more remote parts of the world, such as countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, with sky-bound balloons and blimps, according to Wired.
* From personal photographers to aerial artworks, drones are finding new applications every day. Now Germany’s national rail network wants to deploy them against graffiti. Deutsche Bahn says its trains were defaced about 14,000 times in 2012 alone, costing the operator about $9.8 million in cleanup expenses. The company will start testing drones at large rail depots, where vandalism frequently occurs at night. The drones will be nearly silent and will have GPS tracking and sensitive infrared cameras to establish evidence for criminal prosecution.