What’s the newest and coolest in tech today? To the Intertubes!
* Worried about filling up your DVR? The nation’s largest cable TV provider, Comcast Corp., is rolling out a new TV platform that does away with the hard drive and saves your TV shows online. Comcast (CMCSA) unveiled the platform, called X2, on Tuesday at the annual gathering of cable TV companies, The Cable Show. The system takes its name from the X1 platform that it introduced last year and will be available to customers later this year.
* Removable flood walls would be set up for much of lower Manhattan, a levee up to 20 feet would guard part of Staten Island and a system of gates and levees would protect a Brooklyn creek as part of a nearly $20 billion plan that Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed Tuesday to transform how New York City girds itself for storms and climate change.
* A Shenzhou spacecraft carrying a crew of three, including China’s second female astronaut, streaked into orbit Tuesday, heading for a prototype space station module for a planned two-week mission. China’s fifth manned spaceflight got under way at 5:38 a.m. Eastern time (5:38 p.m. local time) when a Long March-2F rocket thundered away from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the north central region of the country.
* And not only will China be the first nation on Mars (my prediction, just wait), it will also put the Panama Canal out of business. Nicaragua has awarded a Chinese company a 100-year concession to build an alternative to the Panama Canal, in a step that looks set to have profound geopolitical ramifications.
* Google says it has nothing to hide and wants to make data requests it gets from the U.S. government public. In an open letter addressed to U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller Tuesday, Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said that the company has consistently pushed back on overly broad government requests for users’ data and that it wants permission from the government to publish requests that are barred by nondisclosure agreements.
* Similarly, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reiterated Tuesday that the social network does not work directly with the National Security Agency or any other government agency to provide direct access to its servers.
* NSA phone tracking is seen as an acceptable compromise to privacy if it is used to investigate terrorism, a new study finds. The news comes amid a series of high-profile leaks (and secret orders) detailing the Obama Administration’s use of high-tech surveillance to peer into the private lives of everyday citizens.
* Microsoft had a splashy showing of next-generation Xbox One hardware and games at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) on Monday that included Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg and …a rape joke? Oh geez. Apparently yes.
* On a much lighter note, the latest volley in the flying-food fight involves a sushi chain in the United Kingdom testing out flying quadcopter delivery of its new rice burgers to customers’ tables.
* I will freely admit to falling asleep at the keyboard one time or another. But at least it didn’t result in the colossal mistake of this German banker, who snoozed when he was supposed to be trasnferring 62 Euros to a retiree, and instead transferred the equivalent of $293 million.
* On June 30, 1908, a powerful blast ripped open the sky near the Podkamennaya Tunguska river in Russia and flattened more than 2,000 square kilometres of forest. Eyewitnesses described a large object tearing through the atmosphere and exploding before reaching the ground, sending a wave of intense heat racing across the countryside. New research shows the most mundane explanation is probably right: it was a meteor.