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Matt’s Favorites: Detroit Bankruptcy Effect On Tech, Rube Goldberg Machine On TV, Pioneer Buyout Bumps Profit, And More

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mattroush Matt Roush
Matt Roush joined WWJ Newsradio 950 in September 2001 to spearhead the...
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So what’s the newest and coolest in the ever-entertaining world of technology? Well, check out these Friday morning funnies, stunners and puzzlers…

* Well, I can’t not talk about this — it’s the 800-pound gorilla, maybe the 800-ton gorilla in the room: The city of Detroit filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy in history Thursday. So from my corner of the world I wonder: What will this do to the nascent high-tech corridor that’s growing in downtown and midtown Detroit? My initial thought is, not much — this corridor has been building with very little apparent help from city government, and indeed the city’s current bumps and bruises made the real estate cheap enough for a lot of this to happen in the first place. I called a few people last night to talk to them about this, but wasn’t terribly successful in reaching anyone. But my readers are the smartest people I know, so I’m asking YOU. What do YOU think the effects will be? Will this make it harder to attract and retain tech talent here? To raise venture money? Drop me an email at mnroush@cbs.com and let me know. I’ll be back Monday with the info.

* Fans of Rube Goldberg machines, Michigan State University and mechanical engineering students from Canton Township should keep an eye on America’s Got Talent, starting next week. Steve Price has made the cut to take his Rube Goldberg machine to Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Final rounds for the national TV show start July 23; Steve’s appearance is slated for August. See more in the Observer & Eccentric. 

* An example of why people invest in venture capital funds: Pharos Capital Group LLC, a private equity firm based in Dallas and Nashville, said it sold its stake in Marquette-based Pioneer Surgical Technology, Inc. as part of the company’s acquisition by RTI Biologics Inc. for $130 million. Pharos made two uinvestments in Pioneer — leading a $30.5 million round in 2006 and another round of $17 million in 2008. Pretty good return there. Just hope the buyer, a Florida biotech firm, leaves well enough alone in the U.P., where Pioneer employs 300.

* The small handheld medical reader used by Dr. Leonard McCoy in “Star Trek” has been replaced by a smartphone. The real-life tricorder is a sleek, square device called a Scanadu Scout that works with your phone.

* Looks like Comcast is getting ready to put Wi-Fi hot spots on everything from rental cars to buses to bicycles to — people. That would be a huge expansion of its network.

* Turns out that the smartest artificial intelligence out there these days is about as smart as the typical 4-year-old. Guess it’s only a matter of time until the HAL 9000.

* A coalition of tech companies, investor and advocacy groups will call on President Obama and congressional leaders on Thursday to provide more transparency about government surveillance programs, according to a letter obtained by AllThingsD.

* The Curiosity rover has taken a deep breath of the air on Mars, and found it’s made mostly of carbon dioxide with hints of other gases. The measurements by the most advanced spacecraft to land on the red planet closely match what two Viking landers detected in the late 1970s and what scientists have gleaned from Martian meteorites — rock fragments that fell to Earth. Also, the rover has rolled past a mileage milestone.

* Making his way back to the safety of the International Space Station’s Quest airlock, Italian spacewalker Luca Parmitano was unable to see or hear as water from a leak in his spacesuit slowly but surely filled his helmet with a floating blob of liquid that covered his eyes and ears. “For a couple of minutes there, maybe more than a couple of minutes, I experienced what it’s like to be a goldfish in a fishbowl from the point of view of the goldfish,” he told KGO-TV in San Francisco Thursday.

* Microsoft stock tumbled after the tech giant’s fourth-quarter earnings and sales missed expectations by a wide margin, as the PC market slowdown and a write-down of Surface RT inventory painted a bleak picture.

* Google reported revenue of more than $14 billion for its second quarter, showing investors a 19 percent increase from the same quarter last year, the company posted on Thursday. Google said its net income was $3.23 billion, compared to 2.79 billion in the Q2 of 2012. The second quarter ended on June 30. Its earnings per share was $9.71, which is down from last year’s $10.13.

* Alcatel-Lucent broke yet another tech speed record by moving an astounding 31 terabits per second over a single fiber optic cable.

* The top prosecutors in San Francisco and New York say they are bringing in state and federal security experts to test the newest anti-theft features designed to thwart the surge of stolen smartphones nationwide.

* Uber is looking to give some city dwellers relief from the sweltering summer heat. On July 19, the San Francisco-based startup known for letting people order private drivers in sleek black cars using a smartphone app, is offering an ice cream-on-demand service for one day only in more than three dozen cities around the world, including San Francisco, Philadelphia, London, Singapore and Rome.

* It didn’t take long for Verizon Wireless to jump into the early upgrade game. A little more than a week after T-Mobile unveiled its Jump program and two days after AT&T debuted Next, Verizon on Thursday announced Edge, its own pricey no-contract plan that enables customer to upgrade to a new phone after only six months.

* Dell shareholders will have another week to consider whether Michael Dell’s $24.4 billion buyout deal is worth taking. Dell announced Thursday, just hours before the company was to hold a vote on whether it should be taken private, that it has postponed the vote until July 24. The meeting next week will provide shareholders with the opportunity to vote on whether they should accept the buyout deal or nix Michael Dell’s offer.

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