Matt’s Favorites: RIP Ron May, Statue Spins, Quite The View, And Much More

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Ron May with characteristic tape recorder in hand. From his last newsletter.

Ron May with characteristic tape recorder in hand. From his last newsletter.

What’s the latest and greatest and weirdest in the wonderful world of high tech? Just read on…

* First of all, RIP Ron May, who did a substantially gossipier version of the Tech Report email newsletter for about 20 years in Chicago. It was even less designed that mine (no pictures, no design at all, as you’ll see). He was just about exactly my age (born April 1956) but had been in failing health for years, due to diabetes. Apparently, he let an infection in his foot get out of hand, went into surgery to have the foot amputated, and… died in the surgery. An official obit is here; Ron’s final report is here. A good, hard-nosed reporter who cut through the corporate BS. Chicago will miss him.

* OK, this is weird… A statue at the Manchester Museum is slowly spinning in circles. The movement is barely visible to the blind eye, but in a video created by museum employees, the ancient Egyptian statue rotates more than 180 degrees in a smooth, counter-clockwise semi-circle. It’s been displayed on a glass shelf for decades, but only started moving earlier this year.

* And it turns out the way Yahoo is getting rid of all its old email accounts that have been inactive for a year is fraught with security problems — like handing all your passwords over to hackers. Wonderful! (And thanks to longtime electron-pal Maia for the tip.)

* You can now “stand” on top of the world’s tallest building without having to face the dizzying heights in person. In its first-ever collection in the Arab world, Google’s Street View took its cameras to the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, dubbed the world’s tallest manmade structure at 2,717 feet. The images show off the view from the observation deck on the 124th floor and offer a peek from the building’s maintenance unit on the 73rd floor.

* Samsung is making its tablet computers look more like its hit Galaxy phones in the hope that the success of the smartphones can boost tablet sales. Samsung Electronics Co., the second-largest maker of tablets after Apple, is putting three new tablets in the Galaxy Tab 3 series on sale in the U.S. on July 7. The cheapest, $199 device will have a screen that measures 7 inches diagonally. An 8-inch model will go for $299 and a 10-inch one for $399. (Also, a report says Samsung may exit the desktop business.)

* Cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin ventured outside the International Space Station Monday, kicking off a six-hour spacewalk to carry out a variety of maintenance tasks, including preparations for attachment of a new Russian laboratory module late this year.

* Okay, enough about the Supermoon already, but here’s one last video look at supermoon shots from around the globe.

* Speaking of space, the miniaturization of electronics has made the 10-centimeter-by-10-centimeter (four-inch-by-four-inch) “cubesat” both shockingly useful scientifically, and well within the research budget of most major universities.

* It’s just as I’ve always known, size matters: Your reputation as a tough, hard-nosed business go-getter may take a hit if you spend a lot of time using your little smartphone. A study conducted by researchers at Harvard Business School suggests that using devices with small screens can cause people to behave less assertively than those using larger screens.

* Harvard and IBM are crunching data to improve solar cells.

* A new study finds more links between bacteria and cancer.

* Hey, from one leaking refugee to another: WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said Monday that Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor sought by the U.S. government, is “healthy and safe.” But Assange, in a conference call with reporters this morning, would not divulge Snowden’s specific whereabouts, or even which country he might be in by now.

* Okay, this makes me nervous — a simian-shaped robot that can keep its balance on wobbly surfaces.

* In general, I’m a fan of smart nuclear power (e.g., not on fault lines)… but this thoughtful article gave me pause.

* An Australian Senate committee has slammed a proposed plan by the government to retain much data on phone calls and emails, recommending it only be considered if it only collected metadata, avoided capture of browser histories and contained rigorous privacy controls and oversight.

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