Matt’s Favorites: Private Spacecraft, LTU Goof And Much More
So what’s the latest as we hit midweek and All Hallow’s Eve Eve in the wondrous realms of science and technology? Check out these treats, no tricks…
* Also, I goofed up Tuesday by not providing a link to this week’s Leader & Innovator, a program sponsored by our friends at Lawrence Technological University. I fixed it around noontime Tuesday, but just so everyone knows, the full profile of Greg Cavey, founder and lab manager at Launch MI Lab in Kalamazoo, is at http://www.ltu.edu/leaders.
* The private spacecraft company Sierra Nevada downplayed the damage to its test craft after it slid off a runway due to a landing gear malfunction. Tuesday, an official with builder Sierra Nevada said the malfunction caused relatively minor damage, while the test confirmed the flight worthiness of the winged “lifting body” design. “Ninety-nine percent of the flight that we really wanted to get — which was does this vehicle fly, is it able to be controlled, does the software work, can it autonomously fly the vehicle in, can we acquire the runway and land — all of that was 100 percent successful,” said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada. “In fact, we probably performed better than the original test standards were meant to do.”
* The Silicon Valley home where Apple co-founder Steve Jobs grew up and built some of his first computers is now on the city’s list of historic properties. The historical commission in the city of Los Altos voted unanimously for the historic designation on Monday night, the Palo Alto Daily News reported. Any proposed renovations to the modest, ranch-style home now require additional review.
* The population of eastern Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) has grown so much – from 18,000 in the 1970s to more than 70,000 in 2010 – that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service recently removed them from the U.S. Endangered Species List.
* Uber’s done it again. It finds a buzzworthy product and makes it available for on-demand delivery. This time it’s hit the meme motherload – cute and cuddly kittens. Tuesday was National Cat Day, so Uber was promoting its service by partnering with popular meme site Cheezburger to deliver kitten-snuggling time. But not for you, Detroit — the service is available only in New York, San Francisco and Seattle.
* Google is relying on a little social networking to put its Internet-connected glasses on the heads of more people. The expanded sales of the device known as Google Glass will come as part of an invitation-only program announced Monday.
* BlackBerry is playing the field and courting all types of potential suitors before it sells itself to the most attractive bidder. The company is said to have even visited California last week to flirt with Facebook and solicit a buyout bid, the Wall Street Journal reported. When reached for comment, Facebook declined to discuss the matter.
* With the Tuesday release of a new Messenger application, Facebook is making a much stronger case to be your go-to smartphone app for instantly getting hold of friends and address book contacts.
* Twitter users are posting an average of 500 million tweets a day, and many of those contain photos and videos. As part of a new software update for its app on Android and iPhone, as well as to its Web site, the company says it’s made media “more visual and more engaging” for those tweets with previews that show up underneath.
* The appliances have listened. Or, more specifically, the makers of appliances have listened. Not willing to see the nascent smart-home appliance industry get bogged down in differing sets of details, four firms have decided to focus on their similarities. ABB, Bosch, Cisco, and LG intend to develop an open architecture for data exchange. In other words, smart appliances will learn to play nice. (The major company missing? Michigan’s Whirlpool.)
* In space, no one can hear a dying star scream, but you can certainly see the aftermath if you have a space telescope. To celebrate the spooky season, NASA released three images of “the disembodied remains of dying stars” captured by the Spitzer Space Telescope.
* The Sprint Samsung HTC is not bulletproof, but in this case it made its owner bullet-resistant.
* Sprint launched a major expansion of its 4G LTE coverage, including in the Adrian area in Michigan, the wireless carrier announced Tuesday. Sprint rolled out it’s high-speed service in 45 new markets, bringing its total coverage to 230 markets. Sprint’s rollout included parts of Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, which finally brings its 4G LTE coverage to all five boroughs of New York. Other areas to see LTE access turned on include Abilene, Texas, Naples, Fla., and Red Bluff, Calif.
* Figures we’d have to go to the BBC to get a decent look at why broadband is so expensive in America.