Matt’s Favorites: Tech Report Changes, MSU Bot, Scary Facebook Issue And More

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Martian moons

So what’s the latest from the wonderful world of high tech on this lovely summer Monday? Thought you’d never ask…

*  If all went as it was supposed to, you’re seeing a new design for your daily WWJ Technology Report — cleaner, simpler, easier on the eye on both PC and mobile device. (Bonus: It automates more work for yours truly, permitting me more time to commit actual journalism.) My only concern is that it no longer has links to our calendar, and today’s newly added events, and a client win, not to mention the Tech Report Page Two, where the stories go when I post more than 10 a day (which I almost always do). So I’m putting such links here in Matt’s Favorites, and I will every day so you’ll know where to find them, OK? And remember, you can always find ALL of the Tech Report’s content in the tech news section of CBSDetroit.com.

* Check out the MSU TailBot, a jumping robot that uses a tail for stabilization. MSU Electrical Engineer and Ph.D. student Jianguo Zhao said he believes it’s the first miniature robot that has the three capabilities of running, jumping and aerial maneuvering. Time magazine’s WEb site is currently showcasing a video on MSU Tailbot at this link. The robot’s “tail” is what allows it to land safely, and “can also make the robot stand up for the next jump or lie down for running,” writes project member Jianguo Zhao. The idea is based on recent work published in Nature concerning how some animals use their tails while in mid-air to control their landings. Read more on the MSU TailBot at http://www.egr.msu.edu/~zhaojia1/doku.php?id=tailbot.

* A Palestinian IT expert who claimed to have discovered a Facebook vulnerability said he took his bug report to Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page after being ignored by the social network’s security team. The vulnerability allows anyone to post anything to anyone else’s page, regardless of whether they are a friend of that person, Khalil Shreateh wrote in a blog post Saturday.

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has captured remarkable images of one of the planet’s two moons eclipsing the other. The images were taken on August 1 by the rover’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument. The sequence shows Phobos, the larger of the two moons, passing in front of Deimos, which is about half its size. NASA says it’s the first time the phenomenon has been observed from the Martian vantage point.

* The CIA does not give up secrets easily, but it gave up a big one this week. The spy agency acknowledged there IS an Area 51 in the Nevada desert. It did not say whether the test site houses space aliens or flying saucers — that decades-old debate will continue. No president since the Cold War would confirm Area 51’s existence. It took repeated requests from George Washington University to get the CIA to do it. Here’s more from an expert.

* Snapshots taken on smartphones and then uploaded to sites like Facebook and Photobucket contain revealing information about users. Bettie Cross of Austin, Texas’ KEYE TV reports on how to protect your privacy.

* In this Tech Minute, CNET’s Kara Tsuboi reports on some useful gadgets to help kick off the school year.

* Cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin returned to the safety of the International Space Station’s Pirs airlock compartment Friday after a trouble-free spacewalk, setting a new Russian endurance record with a seven-hour 29-minute excursion.

* Hey, anybody else remember the good ol’ Radio Shack TRS-80? Many people’s first computer.

* And when you’re done laughing at the 1980s, you can laugh at the 1990s, and this hilariously dated instructional video for “cyberspace.”

* And then you can mock the 1930s for designs of a transportation future that never happened.

* A research team in Australia says it’s added enough electrolytes into a decent-tasting beer brew to give it rehydrating properties and therefore alleviate hangovers. Prost!

* Don’t rule out the fuel cell as a niftily distributed source of home power just yet. There’s apparently been a major advance.

* And this is why you watch the Perseid meteor shower — the chance to see stuff like this, a meteor exploding into a debris ring. Super cool.

* Well, maybe the death of the mall is at hand after all: Making a play to attract fashionistas, the Amazon-owned online retailer Zappos.com tries its hand at social experiments in a bid to convince shoppers to abandon brick-and-mortar outlets for the Internet.

* Woz on ‘Jobs': No. In a review posted to Gizmodo, Steve Wozniak calls Ashton Kutcher “disingenuous” and believes the new movie is wildly inaccurate.

* And remember that whole thing about “20% time” at Google, when supposedly employees were free to use a fifth of their work time to pursue whatever their hearts desired, and which supposedly led to some very cool products like Gmail and Adsense? Yeah. Well. According to this, that practice is just about dead at Google.

* Frank Lloyd Wright may have been America’s most famous architect, and the list of his masterpieces could go on nearly forever: Fallingwater, the Guggenheim in New York, the Robie House, the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, and on and on. But for Wright himself, the most important building he ever created may well have been the main hillside house at Taliesin, his lovely 600-acre estate outside his childhood town of Spring Green.  It’s part of Road Trip 2013, CNET’s national Tech Tour on steroids.

* Sony has begun offering its flash-based PlayStation 3 for sale in the United States for $199. The console, which boasts 12GB of flash storage, is now listed for sale at Sony’s U.S. online store. It made its North American debut last week when it went on sale in Canada. An offering in the U.S. was rumored to be near.

* Shoppers in the market for an e-book reader can now pick up the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight for $99 after Barnes & Noble shaved another $20 off its price Sunday. It’s the devise’s second price cut since last September, when B&N reduced the price from $139 to $119. The latest drop prices the Nook Simple Touch below that of the Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon’s rival e-ink e-reader that features an integrated light.

* Silly military technology isn’t limited to the United States. Canada is working on a near-silent $620,000 stealth snowmobile for military use. So there are that many terrorists sneaking through the Arctic?

* WikiLeaks just released another huge file of supposedly top-secret U.S. government information. But for now it’s encrypted and nobody has yet figured out how to open it.

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