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Matt’s Favorites: Plex Growth, Events And More

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So how’s everybody doing as the winter of our — well, not discontent, maybe, but certainly our discomfort, continues? Bundle up and check out these fine tech tidbits, first the local, then the national.

* TechTown will offer a look at its tech program through a three-part workshop series. On Feb. 5, it’s “Taking the plunge: So you have the next big tech business idea … now what?” On Feb. 19, it’s “Get out of the building! The best ways to discover your customers.” And on March 5, it’s “Where to get the big bucks — financing your startup.” All events run from 6 to 8 p.m. at TechTown Detroit, 440 Burroughs St. More at this link.

* The solidThinking Inc. business unit of Troy’s Altair announced seven new channel partners in Europe who will sell solidThinking software. The companies are Global Informatica, MR Services, Unit Trend and Weisoft in Italy; Eng-IT in the United Kingdom; MechWorks Tecnologia in Brazil; and Softwarebox in Germany. SolidThinking is three-dimensional design software.

* Lawrence Technological University is unveiling the new LTU Corporate Partners recognition wall for significant corporate relationships that enhance educational and career opportunities for students and alumni. A ceremony will be held on Thursday, Jan. 30, from 8-9 a.m. on the top level of the Buell Management Building at LTU, 21000 West 10 Mile Road, Southfield. Selection as a LTU Corporate Partner is based on significant support in four areas: academic programming, applied research and industry-sponsored projects, career pathways for LTU graduates, and a strong history of philanthropic support. The inaugural roster of LTU Corporate Partners includes Aramark Higher Education, AT&T, AVL, Barnes & Noble College, Barton Malow, Chase, the Chrysler Foundation, Chrysler LLC, Comerica, Consumers Energy, Denso, DTE Energy, Dow, Eaton, Federal Mogul, Ford Motor Company Fund, Grant Thornton, General Motors, Harley Ellis Devereaux, Huntington, IBM, ITC Holdings Corp., Johnson Controls, JPRA Architects, Kahn, Lear Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Masco Corporation Foundation, Meritor, Michigan First Credit Union, Nissan, Roush Siemens, Toyota and Walbridge. The logos are displayed in a prominent location inside the main entrance of the Buell Management Building en route to the president’s office.

* Troy-based Plex, a leader in cloud-based ERP software for manufacturing, announced the appointment of Don Clarke to CFO. Most recently, Clarke was CFO at Eloqua, where he helped build the company from $21 million in revenue in 2007 to $96 million in 2012, leading to the company’s successful IPO that year. Plex completed another record year in 2013, adding 59 new customers, including qa roster of nationally recognized food and beverage brands including Sanders & Morley Candy Makers and Green Flash Brewing Co. The company also expanded relationships with more than 50 existing customers, adding new solution capabilities and opening new factories built with the Plex Manufacturing Cloud. Plex now manages more than 1,100 customer production operations worldwide and is deployed in 20 countries. More at www.plex.com.

* SME and The New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan have joined forces to create the SME Technology Interchange. This first-time event features 25 NASA innovations that can transfer to business and manufacturing applications. It will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. The SME Technology Interchange promises to be an eye-opening event for even the most advanced manufacturing and engineering professionals. The featured NASA technologies are ready to be co-developed with businesses focused on advanced energy, automotive and innovative manufacturing. The Interchange will also provide attendees with the opportunity to connect with new supply chain providers, create new business opportunities, forge new partnerships with major research companies, and find new resources. a portion of the event is designated as Resource Row – where organizations can display their products and services that support technology and business and complement the NASA technologies. The Interchange will run from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Admission is $35. For more information, visit sme.org/smetech.

* The following mobile events are also happening in the next few weeks:

Monday, Feb. 3: Mobile Monday Ann Arbor, 6:30 p.m., Ann Arbor Spark, 330 E. Lilberty St., Lower Level, Ann Arbor. Event is an “app sharing night.” Register at http://meetup.com/MoMoA2

Monday, Feb. 10: Mobile Monday Detroit, 5:30 p.m., Compuware, One Campus Martius, Detroit. Program: “Not Able to Attend CES? Get Insights From Those Who Were There!” Register to attend at http://meetup.com/Mobile-Monday-Detroit

Thursday, Feb. 27: CocoaHeads Detroit 5:30 p.m., at Future Help Designs, 91 N. Saginaw, Suite 105, Pontiac. Register to attend at http://meetup.com/CocoaHeadsDetroit. CocoaHeads is a group devoted to discussion of Apple Computer’s Cocoa Framework for programming on iOS & MacOS X. During monthly meetings, members present on their projects and offer tutorials on various programming topics.

Thursday, March 13: CocoaHeads Ann Arbor, 6:30 p.m., Arbormoon Software, 212 S. Fourth St., Ann Arbor. Register to attend at http://www.meetup.com/A2-CocoaHeads. CocoaHeads is a group devoted
to discussion of Apple Computer’s Cocoa Framework for programming on iOS & MacOS X. During monthly meetings, members present on their projects and offer tutorials on various programming topics.

And now, on to the national stuff:

Google Glass is getting glasses. Google is adding prescription frames and new styles of detachable sunglasses to its computerized, Internet-connected goggles known as Glass. The move comes as Google Inc. prepares to make Glass available to the general population later this year. Currently, Glass is available only to the tens of thousands of people who are testing and creating apps for it.

* Here’s a look at futuristic AI like that depicted in the movie Her. Not really all that far off, the experts say.

* Wondering if your credit card number could be in the hands of a crook? Look for a charge for $9.84. The Better Business Bureau issued a fraud alert about a raft of consumer complaints all reporting the same niggling charge. The business levying this fee may purport to provide “customer support,” or it may simply identify itself as any one of a number of different websites.

* A newly discovered hearth full of ash and charred bone in a cave in modern-day Israel hints that early humans sat around fires as early as 300,000 years ago — before Homo sapiens arose in Africa. In and around the hearth, archaeologists say they also found bits of stone tools that were likely used for butchering and cutting animals.

* Last February, Fuzebox, a creator of cloud-based communication technology, was named to Forbes’ list of Most Promising Companies in America. Then, in September, the company made headlines again by raising $26 million in Series B financing, and by poaching a new CEO from another buzzy player in the digital space — David Obrand of Yammer, a social media service for business.  While at Yammer, David Obrand served as Chief Customer Officer, and,according to the FuzeBox website, played “an instrumental role in the company’s explosive growth and eventual acquisition by Microsoft for $1.2 billion in 2012.” Before that, he spent a decade — a true lifetime in the tech world — at another similar star in that industry, Salesforce.com. Here’s the interview with him.

* Every so often, CBS News reports, Brandi Koskie of Wichita, Kan. finds dozens of photos of her 3-year-old daughter, Paisley, on her iPhone – but they aren’t ones Koskie has taken. “There’ll be 90 pictures, sideways, of the corner of her eye, her eyebrow,” said Koskie, who lives in Wichita, Kan. “She’s just tapping her way right into my phone.” The hidden photos, all shot by Paisley, illustrate a phenomenon familiar to many parents in today’s tech-savvy world: Toddlers love selfies. 

* New research suggests that the Grand Canyon formed within the last 5-6 million years. The findings run counter to recent studies showing that the famous canyon dates back 70 million years. The rocks that form the canyon have been in place for as much as 1.8 billion years, and several smaller canyons that are now part of the Grand Canyon may have existed for tens of millions of years, but the Colorado River only started carving out the full chasm within the last 5-6 million years, the study explains.

* See, this is why I’m suspicous of massive online multiplayer games. Somebody screwed up on a team in one game, and it might cost somebody $200,000 in real-world cash. Are you freakin’ kidding me?

* Documents leaked by former NSA contactor Edward Snowdensuggest that spy agencies have a powerful ally in Angry Birds and a host of other apps installed on smartphones across the globe. The documents, published Monday by The New York Times, the Guardian, and ProPublica, suggest that the mapping, gaming, and social networking apps which are a common feature of the world’s estimated 1 billion smartphones can feed America’s National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ with huge amounts of personal data, including location information and details such as political affiliation or sexual orientation.

* Cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy re-installed two commercial cameras on the hull of the International Space Station Monday during a six-hour eight-minute spacewalk. Despite space-to-ground conversations indicating one of the cameras was unable to communicate properly, officials with Vancouver-based UrtheCast said late Monday they were pleased with the results.

* China says its first lunar rover is experiencing mechanical problems, in a rare setback for its burgeoning space program. The six-wheeled Yutu vehicle began operating last month after making the first soft landing on the moon by a space probe in 37 years. It was designed to roam the lunar surface for three months while surveying for natural resources and sending back data, along with its stationary lander, Chang’e 3.

* The cold, hard walls between mobile native apps and HTML5 wobbled a bit on Tuesday morning, as Google announced that Chrome Apps will now work on the two most popular mobile platforms. Chrome Apps are HTML5-based single-serving applications, more than just a mere Web site, that will work on Windows, Mac, and Chrome OS without having to open your browser first. However, because they’re based in Chrome and can’t function without it, they’ve been criticized for “breaking” the Web. Google opened up a developer preview of the Apache Cordova “toolchain” for wrapping Chrome Apps in code native to Android and iOS. It’s not perfect, but it lets developers more easily attain the Holy Grail of writing code once and publishing everywhere.

* Yahoo on Tuesday reported revenue of $1.27 billion and non-GAAP earnings of $.46 per share for the fourth quarter of 2013. The company beat Wall Street’s expectations of $1.2 billion in revenue, and its non-GAAP estimate of $.38 per share. The lumbering technology giant is of course in the midst of an attempted turnaround, and its stock has largely been goosed by Yahoo’s 24 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, which is on its way to a highly anticipated IPO.

AT&T swung to a profit in the fourth quarter as it deals with pressure from rival T-Mobile. The Dallas telecommunications company posted a fourth-quarter profit of $6.9 billion, or $1.31 a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $3.9 billion, or 68 cents a share. Excluding one-time items, including gains from its benefit plans, per-share earnings were 53 cents, AT&T said Tuesday. Revenue rose 1.8 percent to $33.2 billion.

* A designer imagines a possible Apple smartwatch that takes a page from slim fitness trackers like the Nike FuelBand.

* We might finally have a clearer idea of how Apple believes iOS should look in your car. A video put together by noted developer Steven Troughton-Smith places an iPhone and in-car display side by side using what appears to be an iOS simulator that Troughton-Smith says is available in the “public, shipping version of iOS 7.”

* Comcast Corp., the country’s biggest cable company, has entered a partnership with its smaller rival Cox Communications to license its X1 video software system.

 

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