Matt’s Favorites: Space Station Hits 15, Samsung Seeks Halt To Apple Patent Trial, And More

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The International Space Station. Wikimedia Commons photo.

The International Space Station. Wikimedia Commons photo.

So what’s the latest wonderful stuff from the wondrous worlds of science and technology? Take a deep breath, kids, we’re headed for orbit…

* First of all, here are links to the Tech Report home page and Tech Report Page Two, where you will find much worthwhile news, as well as our latest report on tech-related events coming up in Michigan, as well as tech-related awards and certifications.

* Fifteen years ago Wednesday, a Russian Proton rocket carrying the first module of what would become the International Space Station roared to life and climbed into orbit, kicking off one of the most complex — and expensive — engineering projects ever attempted.

* NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg returned to Earth on Monday after nearly six months in space. The trip back was a “wild ride,” she told CBS This Morning.  The 50th woman to travel to space, Nyberg famously chronicled daily life on the International Space Station with YouTube videos explaining things like how to wash your hair in zero-gravity, and shared photos of events like Typhoon Haiyan on her Twitter account.

* Samsung on Wednesday asked a judge to halt the Apple damages retrial, currently under jury deliberation, after the US Patent and Trademark Office said an Apple patent might not be valid. According to court documents, the USPTO questioned whether Apple patent No. 7,844,915, also known as “pinch to zoom,” is a valid patent.

* A glowing lagoon off Puerto Rico’s northeast coast has gone nearly dark and biologists on Tuesday were trying to find out why. Theories range from an increase in construction runoff to inclement weather to people clearing mangroves to allow larger boats into the area.

* Here’s a hands-on review with Microsoft’s new Xbox.

* And Canon has dropped the AA batteries in favor of an onboard rechargeable in one of its last PowerShot cameras that take great pictures at a bargain price.

* And sure, two weeks after I get a new phone, Amazon has dropped the price of a Moto X to a penny.

* What if people who are paralyzed could use their brainwaves to get up out of wheelchairs and walk away? That’s exactly what researchers from the University of Houston are hoping to accomplish with the latest evolution of robotic exoskeletons. They’re turning to mind control to move these high-tech mobility machines to the next level — and take patients with them.

* Hope this backfires, if true: BP has been accused of hiring internet ‘trolls’ to purposefully attack, harass, and sometimes threaten people who have been critical of how the oil giant has handled its disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

* Speaking of Bad Ideas In Public Relations: For months, Wikipedia has been battling a company called “Wiki-PR,” which purportedly sells paid editing services on the well-known online encyclopedia. In October 2013, Wikipedia announced it blocked or banned hundreds of editor accounts in response. Now the Wikimedia Foundation (which runs Wikipedia) is escalating its game: on Tuesday it issued a cease and desist letter to Wiki-PR, demanding that the company immediately halt editing Wikipedia “unless and until [Wiki-PR has] fully complied with the terms and conditions outlined by the Wikimedia Community.”

* A rocket streaked along the eastern U.S. sky early Tuesday evening in an unusual sight as NASA put 29 small satellites into orbit, including one made from parts of a smartphone. NASA and the Air Force launched the private Minotaur rocket from Wallops Island, Va., in a test flight. The NASA launch pad is getting more use, giving more Americans a view of soaring spacecraft that used to be limited to Florida and California. Experts estimated that the launch would be seen from Savannah, Ga., to Montreal and as far west as central Ohio.

* Could online privacy one day be a thing of the past as we share more and more details about ourselves through social networks? Vint Cerf certainly believes that privacy will become much harder to ensure. The father of the Internet spoke Tuesday about online privacy at a U.S. Federal Trade Commission workshop called the “Internet of Things,” The Register reports. A series of tweets posted by Adweek reporter Katy Bachman captured some of Cerf’s key comments.

* Anybody who’s ever been poked a few times before a vein is found when trying to give blood will love this: Epson and Evena Medical today unveiled smart glasses that allow nurses at the bedside to see “through” a patient’s skin to the vasculature beneath.

* You can now get Google Wallet in your real wallet, even when your phone isn’t handy. The payment service now gives US customers who have verified bank accounts with Wallet the opportunity to pay for goods and services with a physical Wallet debit card backed by MasterCard.

* San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman criticized the carriers for rejecting their proposal to install a kill switch in smartphones to deter theft, a move they called “highly disturbing.”

* Imagine being a Star Wars fan and painstakingly creating a working astromech that looks and sounds just like the beloved R2-D2, and then being asked to build one just like it for the new “Star Wars” film. That’s exactly what happened to UK “Star Wars” fans and R2-D2 builders Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples.

* Forget the high-end graphics and motion controls; easy gameplay streaming is the most revolutionary thing about the PS4, a News.com reviewer says.

* Two years later than planned, Microsoft’s new graphical operating system went on sale Nov. 20, 1985. It wasn’t worth the wait. It was in fact an unmitigated flop. But a bigger story was soon to unfold.

* Meet RoboJase, an artificially intelligent android would-be standup comedian modeled after Jason Bradbury, host of “The Gadget Show” in the UK.

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