Matt’s Favorites: Bye ‘Til July 15, Take That Innovation Survey, Astronomy Groups Snub Shatner, And Much More

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Tell me again how routine spaceflight has become.

Tell me again how routine spaceflight has become.

What’s the latest, coolest and most amazing on this, the last day before your Tech Report takes its summer break? Read on, MacDuff, and damned be him who first cries ‘Hold! enough!’

* Once again, a reminder: Your Tech Report is about to go on its summer break. We won’t be publishing Thursday, July 4 or Friday, July 5, because those are CBS Radio Inc. holidays. And yours truly will be taking the following week off for a little midsummer R&R. I’m in the process of preparing a series of Tech Report Lites that you will continue to receive while I’m gone, from Monday, July 8 through Friday, July 12. Expect a slimmed-down version of your regular report, with interesting news, but news that’s a little less time-dependent. And I’ll be back in your inbox live, tanned (well, as tanned as a ginger gets) and rested, on Monday, July 15.

* If you’re a boss at a small or midsized business, don’t forget to take a 10-minute survey at
www.innovationquotientsurvey.com, The survey will ask you questions designed to measure innovation activity, the business value of innovation and drivers and constraints on innovation. In return, you’ll get a keen report full of ideas on boosting innovation in your workplace. Your Technology Report is a partner in this survey, sponsored by the fine folks at Plante Moran.

* And like several before them, a Michigan State University Spartan balloon journeys to the edge of space. Very cool.

* The International Astronomical Union announced its picks to name the two recently discovered moons of Pluto. They will now be known as Kerberos and Styx respectively. In Greek and Roman mythology Kerberos is the name of the mythological three-headed hound that guards the entrance to the underworld (although it’s usually spelled Cerberus, like the equity fund). Styx is the name of the river that separated the underworld from the real world (as well as the 1970s arena-rock band). The names, picked in a popular contest, were actually the second and third choices. The first choice was Vulcan, officially touted because it was the name of a Roman god who was a relative of Pluto’s and was associated with fire and smoke. But the real reason that Vulcan shot up to the top of the list was that was a choice by Star Trek fans in a campaign instigated by actor William Shatner, who played Captain James Kirk in the original series. Shatner may lead a revolt.

* Yeah, in case you’re thinking that spaceflight is now routine? Yeah, well, accelerating something from zero to 17,000 mph inside of 10 minutes is still a pretty risky deal, as the crash of this Russian Proton-X rocket shows. Luckily, only satellites on board, no people. Here’s video.

* If you’re in the market for a new cell phone, like I am, check out this cool cell phone buying guide from CNet.

* Speaking of CNet’s News.com, its annual summer road trip was in suburban Chicago this week for a look at the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture lab. Very cool.

* Many superheroes come equipped with super-sight. Now, real-world researchers are working on a contact lens that bestows telescopic vision, though it won’t let you spy on faraway planets. The lens experiment came about through DARPA-funded research into vision enhancement devices for soldiers. What the researchers developed could become a solution for people suffering from age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness for older adults.

* Radio Shack is out with a new store concept. It has to be more than just the last place on Earth you can actually buy shortwave radios or spools of speaker wire.

* After more than 20 years in the making and FDA approval in February, the Argus II bionic eye is finally here. Well, almost. Developer Second Sight says it has selected clinical centers in 12 U.S. markets where it will begin rolling out the groundbreaking technology later this year. The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, which was approved in February to treat adults 25 and older with severe to profound retinitis pigmentosa, doesn’t actually restore vision to these patients, but can allow them to detect light and dark, and thus identify the movement or location of objects.

* There’s a security breach announcement over at the website of game publisher and developer Ubisoft. Quoting: ‘We recently found that one of our Web sites was exploited to gain unauthorized access to some of our online systems. We instantly took steps to close off this access, to begin a thorough investigation with relevant authorities, internal and external security experts, and to start restoring the integrity of any compromised systems. During this process, we learned that data were illegally accessed from our account database, including user names, email addresses and encrypted passwords. No personal payment information is stored with Ubisoft.” Still, a bummer.

* Well, now it’s time to start cloning your replacement body, because a neuroscientist says that the technical problems of transplanting a new head onto a replacement body can now be overcome. I’d like a diver’s or sprinter’s body for the next go-’round, please.

* Alcatel-Lucent and Telekom Austria have completed the world’s first trial of G.fast, new technology enabling gigabit broadband over existing copper networks. Hey, remember when the theoretical speed limit of copper wires was 56k? How times have changed.

* Believe it or not, this guy wants to repeal the Internet because of the danger of cyberattacks. Just relax, grandpa. And tell us one more time about how you used to tie an onion to your belt, because that was the style at the time.

* Apple is powering a large new data center in Nevada with a solar farm.

* Whatever privacy we have left is due to the technological limits of snooping, MIT reports. Unfortunately, technology is making snooping easier and easier.

* In an effort to boost messaging, Facebook announced Tuesday that members can now send stickers to each other in private messages from the Web. The social network introduced stickers in April, adding them first to its Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps for iOS and Android. Stickers are essentially more elaborate, character-driven emoticons, and they give members a more lightweight means to communicate through kooky animations.

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