Matt’s Favorites: NASA Birthday Blues, GTA Glitches, And Much More
So what’s the latest, wildest, weirdest and wonderfulest on this wonderful Wednesday? Hey, we’re halfway to the weekend, so enjoy these nifty nuggets…
* One of the things that happened yesterday when I was sick is that when I posted yesterday’s Lawrence Tech Leaders & Innovators honoree, I neglected to post the link to his full profile. Check it out at http://www.ltu.edu/leaders/.
* And what the heck got into you people Tuesday?! After days of, well, slow news days, you sent me enough news Tuesday to make TWO Tech Reports. So some of it held — I won’t put any more than two online pages’ worth of news into any day on my Web site, figuring nobody will make it past Page Two and keep reading. So if you sent me something and it’s not on the Tech Report Web site today, it will be tomorrow.
* Also, here are links to your Tech Report home page, the Tech Report Page Two (trust me, it contains much fascinatin’ news), as well as our latest reports on event notices, HR notices and awards and certifications.
* In Dearborn, Ford’s Alan Mulally brushes off talk of being named CEO of Microsoft.
* Tuesday was NASA’s 55th birthday — but don’t expect to see a celebration, or even a congratulatory quote from a NASA official. With the government officially shut down, the majority of NASA employees are on furlough for the foreseeable future. They aren’t answering the phones, and theNASA Twitter handle has gone silent. Only 549 of NASA’s 18,250 employees are at work today.
* Of course, monitoring and safety functions on the International Space Station continue. But work on programs that are not time critical, like NASA’s new Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket, the Orion deep space exploration capsule and the James Webb Space Telescope, will grind to a halt, including work on NASA’s next Mars probe, known as MAVEN, that is scheduled for launch in November. Depending on how long the government shutdown remains in effect, “MAVEN could miss its scheduled launch date,” said Bob Jacobs, a senior public affairs officer at agency headquarters in Washington, “And if that happens, the next launch opportunity isn’t until 2016.”
* Grand Theft Auto Online, an online multiplayer game that allows players to form gangs and complete new heists, is having some trouble getting the gamers online. The title, which launched on game consoles Tuesday morning, is experiencing server issues that have locked out some gamers and made it difficult for those who have gotten in to play the game. Twitter is abuzz with complaints from gamers who say they can’t get into the service.
* Amazon CEO and co-founder Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post is now final. According to the Associated Press, all of the I’s have been dotted and the T’s have been crossed and the newspaper is now officially under Bezos’ ownership.
* It wasn’t a tsunami but it had the same effect: A huge cluster of jellyfish forced one of the world’s largest nuclear reactors to shut down in Sweden — a phenomenon that marine biologists say could become more common, because the jellyfish involved like areas of overfishing and poor water quality.
* Apple has scored a patent for the large round glass structure that leads customers down to its retail store in Shanghai. Awarded Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark office, the patent known as “Glass building panel and building made therefrom,” describes the unique design of the cylinder. The structure is made of huge glass panels united by metal joints. But to achieve the cylindrical design, the glass panels had to be manipulated to curve precisely into the right shape.
* Symantec has seized part of the 1.9 million-computer strong ZeroAccess, one of the largest botnets in existence. In a blog post Monday, the security firm said the ZeroAccess botnet is primarily used to deliver payloads to infected computers, which is aimed at two illegal, revenue-generating activities: click fraud and bitcoin mining.
* Every day has to start somewhere. For millions of Americans, nothing happens until the coffeemaker kicks into action. The dark elixir that is coffee fuels us forward with the all-important first caffeine jolt of the day. Others prefer a bite before heading into action; for them, perhaps the toaster is the first appliance of the day. Then, of course, there are those who must attend to more practical matters first: recharging the phone because of forgetting to plug it in. Considering the fact that morning fog can obscure the path to multiple appliances, Bella has created the Toast and Brew Breakfast Station ($34.99). Combining a toaster and a coffeemaker and throwing in a USB port for good measure, the one-stop breakfast gadget offers convenient recharging of body, mind, and mobile device.
* Samsung is falsely inflating the scores of its new Galaxy Note 3 smartphone, according to adetailed story published by Ars Technica. Reviews editor Ron Amadeo provides compelling evidence of his charges, which he says inflates the new smartphone’s performance scores by up to 20 percent when it specifically identifies popular benchmarking software such as Quadrant, Geekbench, and Linpack is running.
* If you had a choice between spending 2 minutes or 6 seconds brushing your teeth, you would probably go with the faster method. The Blizzident custom 3D-printed toothbrush is a bizarre-looking toothbrush alternative that promises a 6-second scrub of your pearly whites.
* Speaking of speed, here’s where to recharge your electric car in a big hurry.
* MasterCard, Visa, and American Express have teamed up to create a new digital payment technology. The companies say that their proposed standard would increase the security of payments via Web sites and mobile products by using a digital “token.” Armed with a token, consumers wouldn’t need to input account numbers for purchases.
* This year’s CES gadget show in Las Vegas (which I still don’t know if I’m going to, dammit, so somebody hurry up and sponsor me please) will feature 3D printing in a big way for the first time.
* It’s comeback time for Internet Explorer, the browser that languished for years but now is showing renewed vigor in the market as Microsoft revamps it. Months ago, Net Applications statistics showed IE gaining some ground as measured by daily use among individuals. Now, new data released from StatCounter, which uses a different methodology emphasizing page views, is confirming that rebound.
* Delta Airlines is replacing those bulky flight manuals and map books with Surface Tablets for its pilots.
* The atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan is made up of hydrocarbons bombarded by sunlight and Saturn’s magnetic field into some really exotic molecules. Among them are ingredients used in Earthly plastics like polypropylene and polyethylene, along with fuels like propane. (But without oxygen in the atmosphere none of this stuff would burn, so no worries.)
* Now this would be a salutary effect of the Affordable Care Act: It could fuel a startup boom, because people will no longer be forced to keep their jobs to keep their health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. Now they can quit, establish their startup and still be able to get insurance on the exchanges.
* A week after Los Angeles schools learned that high school students had hacked into their new school-issued iPads to get onto Twitter and other social media sites, officials asked students in some schools to return the Apple tablets. The Los Angeles Times reports this week that officials took back iPads from students at Westchester and Roosevelt high schools and possibly other campuses.