What’s the hottest and happeninest (?) when it comes to the ever expanding domain of science and technology? Glad you asked, it keeps me in high-speed Internet service…
* You may not need it, but, according to Brian Cooley, editor-at-large at CNet, you’re going to want one. It’s the newest innovation in TV technology announced on Tuesday by Samsung, and is just one of the cutting-edge choices now on the market. But Cooley called this television “a game-changer.” “This will be the TV you want and have in a few years,” Cooley said. “It’s $9,000 now, but I’ll tell you, that’s $6,000 less than expected, so the glass is half-full.”
* Speaking of Samsung, a labor group said Samsung Electronics Co. is facing a lawsuit from Brazil’s government seeking damages over poor working conditions at the company’s assembly lines. Prosecutors allege more than 2,000 workers suffered from health problems such as back injuries in 2012 that were related to working conditions.
* Microsoft is trying to fix a technological breakdown that has cut off some people from their email accounts on Outlook.com and files stored on the company’s SkyDrive service.
* Another step toward a private spaceship: SpaceX’s Grasshopper has successfully pulled off a divert test, the company said Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Falcon 9 test rig flew to an altitude of 250 meters (820.2 feet) and was able to make a 100-meter (328 feet) lateral maneuver before flying back to the center of its launch pad. The company said that the test proved that the Grasshopper has the ability to “perform more aggressive steering maneuvers than have been attempted in previous flights.”
* Hey, you weren’t expecting privacy in your Google Gmail, were you? C’mon! In a 39-page motion filed in June to have a class-action data-mining lawsuit dismissed, the Web giant cites Smith v. Maryland, a 1979 Supreme Court decision that upheld the collection of electronic communications without a warrant. “Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient’s [email provider] in the course of delivery. Indeed, ‘a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.'”
* A new psychological study of college students found they have more empathy toward dogs in trouble than they do about adult humans in trouble. So it isn’t my imagination.
* This is cool: Test the age of your ears on YouTube.
* In space, engineers have identified 12 near-Earth asteroids we could easily capture with existing rocket technology and tow wherever we wanted to study them.
* Stewart Butterfield got lucky building a successful product — Flickr — out one feature of a failed game (hardly anyone remembers, but it was called Game Neverending). Now, as he shelves another game, the Flickr co-founder thinks a collaboration tool called Slack — originally developed as part of the game — could be his second big hit.
* In the This Is What’s Wrong With The Job Market Dept.: Cisco Systems delivered a strong fourth quarter as expected, and CEO John Chambers added that his confidence in “our ability to be the No. 1 IT company is increasing.” But in order to make sure it will hit the profitability target Wall Street has predicted for the next quarter, Cisco announced it would fire 4,000 workers, 5 percent of its labor force. And did I mention that Cisco is just sitting on $50 billion in cash, five years’ worth of profits?
* Whatever you think of upcoming sci-fi film “Ender’s Game” based on Orson Scott Card’s 1985 novel, Audi has made a pretty interesting contribution. The car manufacturer has designed a super-space-age concept vehicle for the International Fleet. Sleek and aerodynamic, the Fleet Shuttle Quattro is the first purely virtual Audi car created for a film.
* Twitter is experimenting with a new mechanism to point members to must-see television. The social network is inserting a “Trending” box into some members’ timelines to showcase television shows that people are talking about en masse.
* The Israeli government puts out a national call for university students to come work for its new social media project, which aims to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.
* Interesting story on more people starting to use jamming technology to frustrate omnipresent surveillance.
* New research shows that changes in Earth’s orbit were key to the global warming that ended the last Ice Age.