Matt’s Favorites: Oracle’s Ellison On NSA, Google, Apple; Perseids Put On A Show; And More
So what’s the latest and coolest and weirdest stuff in the wonderful world of high technology? Wow, just you wait…
* Tech tycoon Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, sat down with Charlie Rose at his compound near San Francisco and gave his surprising opinion on the NSA surveillance program. And not so surprising rips on Google and Apple.
* Here are more cool photos of summer’s greatest sky show, the Perseid meteors, lighting up the sky.
* And if you’ve been watching the skies for the spectacle of the Perseid meteor shower over the past few days, you’ve probably thought about some of the larger rocks up above. A few are downright scary compared to shooting stars. This graphic from NASA shows the orbits of more than 1,400 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids, objects measuring at least 460 feet across that come within 4.7 million miles of Earth’s orbit.
* Okay, so maybe this future doesn’t suck as bad as I used to think it did (although it still falls far short of the Jetsons future I was expecting). At least they’re now testing workable personal jetpacks.
* During the summer of 1963, Earth looked a tiny bit like Saturn. The same year that Martin Luther King, Jr. marched on Washington and Beatlemania was born, the United States launched half a billion whisker-thin copper wires into orbit in an attempt to install a ring around the Earth. It was called Project West Ford, and it’s a perfect, if odd, example of the Cold War paranoia and military mentality at work in America’s early space program.
* Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. have put together a robot that can jump and climb. That could make it particularly useful for military search missions or supply transport.
* Apple will launch its new iPad and iPad mini ahead of the “holiday shopping season,” according to a new report. Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported Monday that Apple plans to release the new tablets after the new iPhone is reportedly announced on Sept. 10. The tech giant is expected to put the tablets on the market in time for the holiday shopping season.
* There are still many questions surrounding the possibility of a manned mission to Mars, but perhaps the most fundamental comes down to something everyone faces, everyday: what to eat? Well, how about Cajun jambalaya, Moroccan beef tangine, no-crust quiche muffins, Crater Crunch bars and fried noodles? Those were just a few of the recipes a crew of six researchers noshed on during a four-month Mars-mission simulation study.
* A new LED TV from Samsung gets whimsical ’70s styling, from big rotary knobs to an obviously located front speaker.
* Researchers have found what they say are specialized bone tools made by Neanderthals in Europe thousands of years before modern humans are thought to have arrived to share such skills, a discovery that suggests modern man’s distant cousins were more advanced than previously believed. (Which gives me yet another excuse to plug The Neanderthal Parallax, a fun trilogy of sci-fi novels about what happens after the creation of an accidental portal into an alternate universe where the Neanderthal survived and we didn’t. Short plot summary: They’re much better stewards of the environment than we are, so their Earth circa 2013 is still an Eden. So what do you think greedy avaricious homo sapiens would want to do with that accidental portal? Yeah.)
* IT admins were given a heads-up by Microsoft on Tuesday about eight security updates — three rated “critical” and five “important” — that tackle vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, Exchange, and Windows. The company’s Security Bulletin Summary for August, published on this Patch Tuesday, notes that the most severe IE holes “could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted Web page using Internet Explorer.”
* The law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd has filed a class action suit against Microsoft over what it claims was misleading information on the company’s Surface RT sales. Neowin.net posted about the suit on August 13, noting that it names as defendants Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, former Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein, corporate Vice President Frank Brod and Executive Vice President of Marketing Tami Reller. The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on behalf of purchasers of Microsoft stock between April 18 and July 18 (the “Class Period”). The firm is seeking a lead plaintiff for the case. A PDF copy of the complaint is here.
* A little more than four months after the San Francisco Chronicle began charging online readers for some content, the newspaper’s pay wall experiment has reportedly come to an end.
* The complete YouTube app for Windows Phone has finally returned. After a public tussle between Microsoft and Google over the app last May, the two companies have made nice.
* Garmin’s new Head-Up Display projects navigation directions from your smartphone onto your car’s windshield, reducing distraction while also looking pretty cool.
* Going to a summer music festival can mean spending hundreds of dollars on tickets, enduring the crowds and Porta-Potty lines, and trekking from stage to stage to see different bands. But more festivals and concerts are being streamed live, making every seat the best seat in the house and bringing together music fans from around the world. CNET’s Molly Wood takes us inside the Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco, Calif.
* There’s a long history of scientists creating glowing animals, ranging from fish to mice to cats. Now, a team of scientists from the University of Hawaii and two universities in Turkey have genetically engineered some adorable, fuzzy, glowing baby bunnies.
* Twitter has purchased a tech boot camp firm to whip its engineers into shape. With the buy of Marakana, the social network’s engineers will get crash courses in open-source technologies like Python and Android.