Matt’s Favorites: Google Honors Grace Hopper, Tech Companies Vs. NSA, And Much More
So what’s the latest and greatest from the fascinating worlds of science and technology on a wintry Tuesday? Well, as Sonny Elliot used to say, throw another anchorman on the fire, warm up and read these dandies…
* First, here are links to the Tech Report home page and Tech Report Page Two, where you will find much worthwhile news. Also links to our latest reports on tech-related events and meetings in Michigan.
* Well, I sure hope this is a trend: MLive says GM is insourcing hundreds of jobs to a new customer call center in Warren, and that it’s viewing its customer call center as a core part of its business! About time for other companies to follow suit.
* Also, join WWJ Technology Editor Matt Roush and panelists gathered by the Southfield accounting and business advisory firm Plante Moran for a webinar on a novel idea for getting innovation into your organization — buying it. The event takes place Thursday, Dec. 12 from 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern time online. The webinar builds off the results of Plante Moran’s just-released 2013 Innovation Survey, which indicate that seven out of 10 organizations are convinced that they would be more successful with innovation if they collaborated.Register here.
* And a bit of a distant early warning: The final day of your WWJ Technology Report for 2013 will be Friday, Dec. 20. We will resume publication on Monday, Jan. 6. Yep, that’s right, I’m taking a two-week vacation — my first one since 2000. We’ll see how crazy I go being off work that long.
* American and British government agencies spied on online game users, according to classified documents released by Edward Snowden. As reported jointly by the New York Times, ProPublica and the Guardian, the 2008 documents refer to online games as a “target-rich communication network” that offers terrorists and criminal networks “a way to hide in plain sight.”
* Google is honoring the “first lady of software,” computer sciences pioneer Grace Hopper, with a Google doodle on what would have been her 107th birthday. The doodle shows a cartoon of a woman at a massive computer, plugging in code, just as Hopper spent many hours doing as she helped program the original computer, the Mark I. She was also the co-inventor of COBOL, a business-oriented programming language. Many credit her with teaching computers to talk.
* Exploring an ancient lakebed on Mars — a now-vanished fresh-water lake that increasingly confirms the past habitability of the red planet – NASA’s Curiosity rover is looking for areas where erosion may have uncovered pristine layers in which organic compounds — and possibly remnant traces of life – might still be found, scientists said Monday.
* Eight of the United States’ leading technology companies published an open letter in major newspapers Monday, calling for the U.S. to take the lead in reforming government surveillance activities that currently put the needs of the state before individuals.
* Cool: The new Ford Mustang has a button guaranteeing electronically perfect burnouts. (Or peelouts, as some geezers I know used to call them.)
* German postal carrier Deutsche Post DHL is testing a drone delivery service that could deliver medical and food supplies to areas with minimal road access. On Monday, the company ran a test delivery of its so-called “parcelcopter.” In a flight that lasted two minutes, remote-controlled drone carried a batch of medicine from a pharmacy in the city of Bonn to the company’s headquarters, just across the Rhine River. (However, eBay’s CEO calls drone delivery a fantasy.)
* Maybe now they’ll leave the Great Lakes alone: Science Daily reports the discovery of vast reserves of fresh water located beneath the oceans that could prevent a global water crisis. A new study reveals that an estimated half a million cubic kilometres of low-salinity water are buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves around the world.
* The iPhone 5S is now fully stocked at Apple Stores, says Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. In his latest survey of 60 U.S. Apple retail stores, conducted on December 4, Munster found that 100 percent of iPhone 5S models were in stock at each store. That number was up from 24 percent two weeks ago and 8 percent at the start of October.
* The High Line, a park that turned a dilapidated stretch of elevated railway on Manhattan’s West Side into one of New York’s newest tourist attractions, may have brought a different kind of visitor: a cockroach that can withstand harsh winter cold and never seen before in the U.S.
* There’s never a good time to lose your phone – or have it stolen. But amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the odds of something happening to your phone increase substantially. Have you taken the appropriate steps to ensure that you can recover your smartphone if it’s lost or stolen? Thankfully, getting your phone ready for the worst is both simple and free. Here are the best ideas.
* Snapchat’s legal team is going on the offensive in the hopes of preventing more seemingly incriminating video footage or statements from appearing in the press. Friday, the Los Angeles-based company’s lawyers filed a motion with California’s Central District Court seeking a temporary restraining order against the jilted Reggie Brown. Brown is suing Snapchat, its co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, and the company’s investors for a stake in the application he claims to have invented in the spring of 2011. The suit, which was first filed by Brown and his lawyers in state court in February of this year, was moved to federal court by the defendants in November. It continues to gain media attention as Snapchat’s popularity and value escalate with each passing month. But the issue at hand now is whether Brown and his attorneys have the right to talk to the press about protected matters.
* Happy birthday to the mouse: On Dec. 9, 1968, SRI’s Douglas Engelbart ushered in the personal-computing revolution with his now-famous demonstration of the world’s first mouse.
* Whether it’s a Google Glass store or a showroom for all things Google X, one thing is clear: No one will be visiting Google Barge anytime soon. The once-mysterious barge, currently sitting idle alongside a pier at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, is officially “on hiatus,” CNET has learned. And while Google is likely still planning on completing the project, it probably won’t be finished until well into 2014, long after it was originally supposed to be up and running — not with the Coast Guard and a regulatory agency checking it out closely.
* Since going public last month, Twitter has been rolling out various features to snag marketers’ attention. It appears this work has paid off. The social network’s shares are the highest they’ve been since the company’s first day on the New York Stock Exchange. Gaining 9.3 percent on Monday, Twitter’s shares closed at $49.14.
* Netflix has crowned the Netherlands as the country with the fastest video-streaming times, the company said in a blog post Monday. The country’s broadband speed averages 3.16Mbps. Runners-up Sweden and Denmark followed with 2.83Mbps and 2.8Mbps, respectively. Mexico ranks last in its listings at 1.77Mbps, just below Ireland and the US. You can see the rest of the ranks here.
* Requests for customer mobile phone data from federal, state, and local authorities topped 1 million last year, according to Senator Edward Markey. The results were revealed Monday by the senator’s office, which published letters received from the major US carriers in response to questions from Markey.
* The Chicago public schools have elevated computer science to a core educational requirement, not just an elective.