Matt’s Favorites: Sign Up For Webinar On Innovation, Avoiding Holiday Gift Scams Online, Trouble On The ISS, And More

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NASA photo

NASA photo

So what’s the latest on this frigid Thursday from the wonderful worlds of science and technology? Read on, MacDuff… and damned be him who first cries ‘Hold! Enough!’

* 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 client wins and tech-related HR notices in Michigan.

* 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.

* Nothing like getting a bargain in your holiday shopping, and no place like online to get it. Only, in the frenetic quest to find the right things for the right people, you could find yourself on the bad end of a scam. Here’s how to avoid falling for one.

* A valve in a coolant system pump module aboard the International Space Station apparently malfunctioned Wednesday, triggering cooling problems in one external ammonia loop and prompting flight controllers to power down nonessential equipment in the forward part of the lab complex, including some of the station’s research gear.  The lab’s six-member crew was not in any danger, NASA officials said, and they followed a near-normal schedule while engineers on the ground worked to “collect more data and consider what troubleshooting activities may be necessary.”

* In what may be his last interview as Microsoft’s CEO, Detroit native Steve Ballmer spoke with CBSNews.com’s sister site ZDNET.com about his biggest mistakes and regrets – chief among them is the failure of Windows Vista.

* The same Web browser cookies used to track consumers on the Internet are being used by the National Security Agency to track surveillance targets, according to a Washington Post report. The cookies — bits of code that allow advertisers to track consumers’ Web activity to deliver more-targeted ads — are being used by the NSA to help identify targets for government hacking and surveillance, according to internal NSA presentation slides provided to the newspaper by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

* So what can save North America’s collapsing bee population? An open source project, of course.

* The colossal asteroid impact that killed off the dinosaurs may have sent the seeds of life to other planets and moons, according to a new study. Lifeforms may have even hitched a ride to Mars along one of the 360,000 large rocks that have made their way from the Earth to the red planet after asteroid impacts.

* Microsoft says more than 2 million of its Xbox One consoles have been sold since the system’s launch 18 days ago. That works out to an average of 111,111 units per day. And company officials say users have spent over 83 million hours with the games, TV, and apps on Xbox One since the Nov. 22 launch.

* By now, you’ll have come to realize that the idea of Amazon sending your diapers by drone is brilliant. A brilliant public relations idea, not a brilliant idea for actually delivering diapers. Groupon, however, clearly sees this as a threat to its business and our society. So, the company put its collective craniums together in order to come up with a new delivery method that will be fast, but more people-friendly than Amazon’s drones — the catapult. No, really.

* It’s been a year since the ban on extra-loud commercials kicked in. Has it worked? Depends who you ask.

* This sounds like something you’d think up if you were really high. (Not that I would know, of course.) The universe is just a hologram?

* It looks like science fiction, but it’s reality. A human-sized robot named CHIMP has been created by Carnegie Mellon’s University’s National Robotics Engineering Center in Lawrenceville, and it’s getting ready for a big challenge, reports CBS affiliate KDKA in Pittsburgh.

* Looks like more trouble for Yahoo Mail. The e-mail service, which has drawn the ire of many users since its October revamp, is experiencing a partial outage that some say has lasted nearly two days.

* Bayan’s home Internet connection rarely connects to the outside world. When he opens his web browser, many mainstream news sites don’t load, as if the pages were down completely. They aren’t. Bayan lives in southern Syria, close to the Jordanian border. His balky connection is a result of tactics used by the Syrian government to curb free speech and stop opposition forces from communicating with each other in the country and their supporters in the outside world.

* NASA’s newest satellite recently captured images of the hottest section of the sun, the area between its surface and the corona, or outer layers. The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) video shows a bubbling, fiery cauldron. Temperatures there spike beyond 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit, punctuated by explosions that travel fast enough to go from New York to Los Angeles in seconds.

* The revolution won’t be televised, but it may get livestreamed over Google Glass. At least, it’s taking a step in that direction on Wednesday as writer and artist Molly Crabapple livestreams her latest drawing project with a hacked pair of Google Glass. Inspired by Edgar Degas’ paintings of dancers, Crabapple will be drawing the adult film actress and aerialist Stoya as she moves through her warm-up routine (yes, clothed).

* The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the private equity firm Centerbridge Partners has a tentative deal to buy wireless broadband provider LightSquared out of bankruptcy in a deal worth $3.3 billion.

* After receiving coding lessons from a helpful Samaritan, a homeless man in New York launches Trees for Cars, a new carpooling app with a focus on saving the environment.

* Here’s CNet’s rumor roundup central site on Samsung’s new flagship phone, which everybody assumes will be called the Galaxy S5.

* Color-morphing may sound less intimidating than, say, baring teeth or dragging hooves, but male chameleons rely on such psychedelic intimidation to ward off male rivals, according to a new study. Chameleons are popularly thought to use their color-changing abilities to blend into their environments, but, in recent years, researchers have found this shade-shifting may play a larger role in social interactions than in camouflage.

* Here’s a good guide to holiday audio gifts under $100. And no, you can’t buy me, but don’t let that stop you from trying.

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