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Matt’s Favorites: Michigan Goes To CES, Snapchat Fixing Security, And More

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Photo by Magnus Manske via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Magnus Manske via Wikimedia Commons

mattroush Matt Roush
Matt Roush joined WWJ Newsradio 950 in September 2001 to spearhead the...
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Hello and welcome to your new Technology Report, now delivered three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Hope you’ll stick with us through this evolution; we’re still the best and most frequently published tech newsletter in Michigan, with serious, thoughtful coverage of tech-based economic development in our state — and healthy dose of fun, to boot. Now, on to the news:

* It’s CES Week! Yes, the event organizers now insist on referring to as “International CES” (because, I guess, Consumer Electronics Show just made too much gosh-darn sense) got under way in Las Vegas with press events Sunday. Keynote speeches start Monday, from Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and Audi chairman Rupert Stadler. The official show runs Tuesday through Friday. It’s the world’s largest trade show, with more than 150,000 attendees (including 10,000 from the media, excluding, unfortunately, yours truly), more than 3,000 exhibitors and a record 2 million square feet of official exhibit space (and God only knows how much more unofficial space in hotel conference rooms and suites all over Sin City). Michigan is well represented again, with nearly 40 companies exhibiting, including all of the Detroit Three and major suppliers (Bosch, Delphi, Valeo, Visteon), all with booths with the latest in in-vehicle infotainment, connected vehicle technology, autonomous cars and more. Compuware and Covisint will be there, too, as well as West Michigan’s Whirlpool Corp. and all the audio companies related to Commerce Township-based Homedics/HMDX. We’ll be checking in with most of ‘em this week, so stay tuned and check back here often. And here’s a look from CNet’s News.com on what to expect as well as the skinny on car tech at CES.

* Check out the nationally renowned Rube Goldberg talents of a Canton Township sophomore at Michigan State University, which were put to good use during the holidays by the MSU College of Engineering. Steve Price created the MSU Engineering holiday message, which was then shared with alumni and friends. Price is an honors student in mechanical engineering who achieved national fame last summer by qualifying for the quarterfinals of NBC’s America’s Got Talent show and appeared live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. See his Rube Goldberg design at http://bit.ly/1gwi4JJ

* Snapchat says it plans to put out a more secure version of its application following a breach that allowed hackers to collect the usernames and phone numbers of some 4.6 million of its users. The disappearing-message service popular with young people said in a blog post that the updated version of its app would allow users to opt out of its “Find Friends” feature, which was apparently at the heart of the breach, and would stem future attempts to abuse its service.

* Happy New Year! And the No. 1 resolution of course is to lose weight, me included. Whether you’re trying to lose those last 10 vanity pounds or aiming for bigger goals, weight loss apps can help keep you focused. Lose It and My Fitness Pal are two of the most popular weight loss apps around – and there’s a good reason why. The free apps are like digital food diaries. Users can get goals, add a food item, calculate calorie count and subtract calories by exercising.

* Remember all the hoopla about the “eerily accurate” predictions about life in the year 2014 from the late sci-fi master Isaac Asimov, which he made during the 1964 World’s Fair? Yeah. Well, upon further review, it turns out most of his predictions were way, way off.

* Yahoo.com visitors over the last few days may have been served with malware via the Yahoo ad network, according to a security firm in the Netherlands. Users clicking on some of the ads were redirected to sites armed with code that exploits vulnerabilities in Java and installs a variety of different malware. In a blog post, Fox IT estimated that, based on sample traffic, the number of visits to the site carrying the malicious code was visited around 300,000 times per hour.

* Is there a secret society attempting to recruit the best coder breakers in the world, using clues that spans across the globe and Internet? That’s what some people believe the case is with the elusive Cicada 3301 online puzzle, which, if history repeats itself, will make a return within days.

Facebook is facing a class action lawsuit for allegedly violating its members’ right to privacy. The social network is being sued by members who claim that the company intercepts private messages, without consent, to mine the data for its own profit.

* A city councilman in Indian Trail Town, N.C. has resigned, and opted to write his letter of resignation in Klingon.

* Egypt’s minister of antiquities says Japanese archeologists have unearthed the tomb of an ancient beer brewer in the city of Luxor that is more than 3,000 years old.

* Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was evacuated out of the Galapagos Islands by the Ecuadoran Navy last week after suffering a kidney stone attack, according to local newspaper reports.

* FireEye Inc. said it has acquired Mandiant Corp., the firm that linked years of cyberattacks against U.S. companies to a secret Chinese military unit. FireEye, a Milpitas, Calif.-based maker of security software, said that the purchase of privately held Mandiant would increase its ability to stop attacks in their early stages.

* Scientists, engineers and legions of volunteers have worked hard to make a mock Mars habitat in Utah as realistic as possible. The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), which is run by the nonprofit Mars Society, aims to help humanity prepare for the rigors and challenges of life on the Red Planet. It was designed in line with Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin’s “Mars Direct” settlement approach, which sees crews living off the land as much as possible, MDRS director Shannon Rupert told SPACE.com.

* The Indian Space Research Organisation has successfully launched its heavy-duty rocket — the Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch vehicle (GSLV). The GSLV5, carrying communication satellite GSAT-14 was launched from Isro’s spaceport at Sriharikota, about 50 miles from Chennai. With the launch, India joined a select club of spacefaring nations having the crucial cryogenic engine technology, which is necessary to carry heavy satellites up into space. The other countries include United States, Russia, France, Japan and China.

* Companies, headhunters and recruiters increasingly are using social media sites like Facebook to evaluate potential employees. Most of this is due to a 2012 paper from Northern Illinois Univ. that claimed that employee performance could be effectively evaluated from their social media profiles. Now a series of papers from other institutions reveal exactly the opposite result.

* Here’s a nifty look at the future of our solar system.

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