So what’s the newest, latest and greatest from the ever-shifting sands of high technology? Well, let’s grab a couple of shovels and dig it…
* The car is the next great proving ground for communications technology, General Motors Co. CEO Dan Akerson said on last week. The automobile will become a major platform for tech “and one with far better battery life than an iPhone,” he said in prepared remarks to the Chief Executives’ Club of Boston. And, Akerson said, the automaker plans a switchover to 4G LTE technology in its cars. Here’s the story from Reuters.
* Microsoft’s Office software package is finally available for the iPhone, and that’s a huge plus for those working on-the-go. Starting on Friday in the U.S. and rolling out to the rest of the world this week, the technology giant is offering people the ability to read and edit their text documents, spreadsheets and slide presentations without having to sit in front of a computer.
* Here’s an interesting look at 1960s astronaut wives, who lived a little bit of “Mad Men In Space.” Author Lily Koppel, who has compiled a bunch of stories into “The Astronaut Wives Club,” puts it this way: ”They weren’t being flung into space, but they were dealing with the stress of having their husbands ride up on this giant rocket where no man had ever gone before, and also the sort of projecting the perfect American family image to the rest of the world.”
* Speaking of space, an unmanned European Space Agency cargo ship loaded with 7.3 tons of supplies, spare parts and science gear completed an autonomous rendezvous with the International Space Station early Saturday, gliding to a smooth docking at Russia’s Zvezda command module.
* And in falling from space news, a Massachusetts man discovers a strange-looking green rock on the banks of the Merrimack River. He later discovers there’s a reason it looks a bit unusual: It used to be in orbit and part of the old Soviet space station Mir.
* In space budget news, the latest House version of NASA’s budget nixes President Obama’s asteroid retrieval mission in favor of returning to the moon as soon as possible. It’s not known what the Senate will do, but this sets up yet another partisan showdown in Washington, this time over the direction of the space program.
* And finally in space, future Mars explorers won’t just have to contend with a lack of protection from ultraviolet radiation and solar outbursts, but also toxic chemicals called perchlorates in Martian soil.
* And in aviation, here’s some footage explaining why there are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots. Here’s what you do when you’re landing and the runway disappears.
* Google calls it Project Loon in acknowledgement of how crazy it sounds. But these balloons it’s trialing over New Zealand may eventually be a cost-effective way to bridge the Digital Divide between the world’s 2.2 billion Internet connected people and the 4.8 billion who haven’t yet been invited to the online banquet.
* Facebook received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests from government entities in the last six months of 2012, on subjects from missing children to terrorist threats, the company announced after negotiations with the feds. That sounds like a lot. But here’s a little: The U.S. government searched for detailed information on calls involving fewer than 300 phone numbers last year, according to an unclassified document circulated Saturday.
* Here’s more worry about the cybersecurity of medical devices.
* AT&T has started to push out a carrier update that will now allow owners of various versions of Apple’s iPhone to receive important Wireless Emergency Alerts. The update itself is mandatory, in that users have no way to decline it once they get the message that the over-the-air update has been installed.
* The Romans really knew their concrete. Two thousand year old installations are holding up just fine. So finally, we are copying the formula.
* And in India, the world’s last major telegram service is shutting down.