Matt’s Favorites: A Ride In An Autonomous Car And Much More

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Driverless Car

So what’s the latest on a fine fall Monday? Put down the rake for a second and enjoy these gems…

* First of all, here are links to the Tech Report home page and Tech Report Page Two.

* It may sound like the stuff of sci-fi, but scientists are going all-out to develop a car where a human driver is strictly optional. “CBS Sunday Morning” contributor David Pogue takes a test ride in a driverless car.

* Online auction site eBay has apologized after a newspaper found apparent Holocaust memorabilia, including the clothes of concentration camp victims, being offered for sale in the United Kingdom.

The Obama administration has recruited engineers from several prominent technology companies to help fix the problems preventing people from signing up for government-mandated health insurance. Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison told shareholders at the software maker’s annual meeting last week that the Redwood Shores, Calif., company is trying to make the Healthcare.gov website more reliable and secure. Oracle and Red Hat are pitching in as well as Michael Dickerson, an engineer on leave from Google, according to a blog post Thursday by Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

* Thanks to a recent change in how Twitter displays photos and videos, scanning your tweet feed on a desktop or mobile device is either an eye-popping or infuriating experience. Earlier last week — just days before Twitter will price shares for its initial public offering — the social network known for 140-character missives altered its text-based format to emphasize visual media. Once a click away, Twitter photos and Vine videos are being thrust into the faces of the company’s 230 million members.

* You might wonder which professions have the greatest proportion of psychopaths. Well, according to one book, engineers are nowhere on the list. Until they become CEOs, that is.

* And how cool is this? A flying car that goes off-road.

* Astronaut Scott Carpenter had an adventuresome spirit and was driven to know everything he could about the universe, fellow space pioneer John Glenn said Saturday at Carpenter’s funeral. “Scott’s curiosity knew no bounds,” said Glenn, who preceded Carpenter into space 51 years ago as a member of the Mercury 7 program, America’s first corps of astronauts. Glenn was the first American to orbit Earth and Carpenter was the second, both traveling in one-person capsules. Glenn, now the last surviving Mercury astronaut, delivered Carpenter’s eulogy. Carpenter, who lived in Vail, Colo., died Oct. 10 of complications from a stroke he suffered in September. He was 88.

* Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster Friday told investors he thinks Apple would sell between 2.5 million and 3.5 million of the new iPad Air tablets over the weekend. Even if Apple is on the higher end of that, it’s a tough comparison to the 3 million the company sold over the same period last year. That included sales and preorders for both the fourth-generation iPad and the new iPad Mini. Making things even more complicated is the fact that both devices came just seven months after a completely different, standalone launch for the third-generation iPad.

* Maine has supervolcanoes. Wait, Maine has volcanoes? Yes, and their eruptions — about 420 million years ago — could have been among the biggest ever on Earth, geoscientist Sheila Seaman reported kast week at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting.

* If you’re ready to take a timeout from your life and spend a year living in the Arctic on a simulated Mars mission, the Mars Society wants to hear from you. The non-profit group, which advocates for manned exploration of the Red Planet, has released its requirements for the six volunteers who will be expected to spend 12 months at the society’s Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station on Canada’s Devon Island, which is about 900 miles (1,450 kilometers) from the North Pole, beginning in July 2014.

* Hacking has become the US National Security Agency’s “growth area.” That’s the word from The New York Times, which pulled from thousands of documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to publish on Saturday a lengthy article it described as “a rich sampling of the agency’s global operations and culture.” The Times was joined by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, which published its own version of the piece.

* In the uber-cool aircraft dept., at the Skunk Works, aircraft designers are hard at work cooking up a hypersonic scion to the legendary SR-71, the superspeedy recon jet of the Cold War.

* Speaking of high-tech aviation, here’s some aviation tech that went seriously awry, a display helmet that blinded its users with too much information.

* Four prominent scientists have penned a letter urging those concerned about climate change to support nuclear energy, saying that renewables such as wind and solar will not be sufficient to meet the world’s energy needs.

* And a happy 25th birthday to the computer virus.

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