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Matt’s Favorites: Dow Makes Sochi Olympics Carbon Neutral, Challenge Detroit Is Back, Energy-Saving Webpage, And Much More

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The Roush CleanTech propane autogas Ford F-650 cab and chassis. Roush CleanTech photo.

The Roush CleanTech propane autogas Ford F-650 cab and chassis. Roush CleanTech photo.

So here we are at another midweek — and another snowstorm. Trust me, when you’re sweating through a power outage on one of those August nights when it barely dips below 80 degrees and it’s 1,000 percent humidity, you will miss this. Maybe. Well, probably not. But anyway, here’s a bunch of tech news to distract you from the shivering…

* Midland’s Dow Chemical Co. says its Sustainable Future Program has mitigated the entire carbon footprint of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia — more than 520,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. Dow was selected by the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee as the “official carbon partner” of this year’s games. For nearly a year, Dow said it has been working with its customers in Russia to implement energy efficient and low-carbon technologies in infrastructure, industry and agriculture. The greenhouse gas emissions reductions have been verified by third party international experts ERM. This footprint includes emissions associated with the travel and accommodation of athletes, staff, and volunteers, the operation of the sports venues during the games, and the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee’s activities from 2007 (when Russia received the right to host the 2014 Olympic Winter Games) until the Paralympic Games’ Closing Ceremony on March 17. Sochi 2014 is also the first Olympic and Paralympic Games with a neutral carbon footprint associated with the travel of spectators and media attending the event.

* Compuware Corp. (Nasdaq: CPWR) announced a new release of its Data Center Real User Monitoring solution. Enhanced analytics and new network packet capture and analysis capabilities simplify identification and triage of performance issues across applications, infrastructure and network. Now application operators can monitor and understand the network impact on application performance down to the transaction and user level at packet-level depth. Compuware says enhancements include smarter triage and delivery of actionable root-cause information to network performance teams including packet-level visibility; quantified business impact of availability issues with smart availability analytics; and the ability to initiate packet captures, using the context of transactions, applications, users and other criteriato set the boundaries for packet-level collection and analysis. More at http://www.compuware.com.

* Consumers Energy says it has rolled out a redesigned page on its website that offers 100 ways to save money and manage energy use. People who visit http://www.consumersenergy.com/energyanswers will find information on simple ways to save energy, a free tool to analyze energy use, and information on available assistance programs and services.

* Grand Valley State University will host the Teen Entrepreneur Summer Academy June 16-20. It’s a hands-on, interactive camp for West Michigan high school students to learn how to launch a business. Academy participants will be exposed to the importance of networking (with students and professionals), target market research and idea generation during the business development process. The curriculum is based on the Career Pathways Program and National Entrepreneurship Education Standards. A combination of brainstorming activities, teambuilding lessons and a field trip to an entrepreneurial center will supplement each student’s creative problem solving task. The final day concludes with a judged business pitch by each team. $1,000 in cash prizes will be awarded.  A registration fee of $150 includes breakfast, lunch, snacks and field trips. Applications are due by May 16. Complete the application here. If you have questions or need more information email cei@gvsu.edu.

*  Challenge Detroit has launched year three of the program and is now accepting applications for its class of 30 fellows for 2014-2015. Challenge Detroit provides the opportunity for talented individuals to live, work, play, give and lead over the course of a yearlong fellowship program. Fellows work with host companies four days a week and spend the fifth day partnering with non-profits in and around Detroit on month-long challenges designed to positively impact the city and region. Fellows in the first two years of the program have helped promote entrepreneurship, community arts, environmental sustainability and education, among other things. Challenge Detroit is looking for its next class of innovators. Talent is sought from a variety of backgrounds in order to create a diverse mix of bright, innovative professionals who want to make an impact on the revitalization of one of the nation’s great cities.  Fellows receive a salary of $36,000 and benefits. Host companies for year three include some of the region’s most innovative corporations and non-profits, including General Motors, CBS Detroit Radio, the Detroit Lions, the United Way of Southeastern Michigan and Crestmark Bank. Challenges are focused on making a social impact and will address issues and opportunities in the community. Challenge Detroit is accepting Phase One applications until Sunday, March 9. The year in Detroit will begin in September. For more information and to apply, visit www.ChallengeDetroit.org.

* Fraser-based AIM Computer Solutions said it added three new customers to its customer base in the fourth quarter of 2013. The customers are automotive suppliers involved in the molding, machining and assembly operations. They have chosen to implement the entire AIM Vision suite of software products. The first is an injection molding operation that has two plants and is experiencing rapid growth. The second is a complex machining facility that has recently been awarded significant automotive contracts. The third is a large machining company that is enjoying major orders from Toyota. In addition to Toyota, the new customers needed EDI software for Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Hino Motors Manufacturing and Honda of America Manufacturing. AIM provides a complete ERP software system tailored to the small to medium sized repetitive manufacturers with a focus on automotive suppliers. AIM Vision  provides a single source for automotive EDI integration into production scheduling complete with demand smoothing to accommodate work schedules, and lean manufacturing and supply chain management. More at http://www.aimcom.com.

* Southfield-based ImageSoft Inc. says it has renamed its criminal justice system document management system JusticeTech. The product was previously known as ImageSoft iJustice. ImageSoft president Scott Bade said the new name is more concise and provides a better overall message for a technology product aimed at courts and related justice agencies. Along with the new name, the company has introduced a product logo and three-minute video overview of JusticeTech. JusticeTech enables the justice community — courts, prosecutors, law enforcement and other related agencies — to share a common electronic case file to create a digital “paper-on-demand” environment where paper is no longer the norm. ImageSoft says courts that have used JusticeTech have increased productivity by more than 15 percent within a year of implementation. To date, two million court cases nationally are being managed by JusticeTech. More at http://www.imagesoftinc.com.

* Roush CleanTech announced it had hired Rob Stevens as the new vice president of strategy. A 27-year veteran of Ford Motor Co., Stevens will spearhead future product and customer strategy. He brings expertise in engineering, product and business development, alternative fuel vehicles, and fleet operations to the company. As Ford’s chief engineer, Stevens directed strategic planning and product development for Ford commercial vehicles, including the new Transit Connect (2010 North American Truck of the Year), E-Series vans, medium-duty and Super-Duty trucks, and commercial stripped chassis. Stevens proved his leadership and commitment to alternative fuels as president and chief operating officer of Ford’s TH!NK Mobility LLC. Stevens influenced government leaders to modify zero emission vehicle requirements to obtainable levels, and launched three alternative fuel vehicle product lines. Later, he initiated the reintroduction of alternative fuels in Ford commercial trucks, developing Ford’s qualified vehicle modifier (QVM) program for gaseous prep engines. Rouish CleanTech is Ford’s only QVM for propane autogas fuel systems. Stevens will continue his role as a board member for NTEA’s Green Truck Association, and will moderate an alternative fuels session at the NTEA Green Truck Summit on March 4. Stevens holds a bachelor of arts in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and an M.B.A. from the University of Detroit Mercy. In addition to his knowledge under the hood, Stevens has experience behind the wheel driving racecars professionally for 13 years. More at http://www.roushcleantech.com.

And now? The national stuff, from CBS News, News.com and a whole bunch of other places.

* After a six-months-long search, Microsoft has handed responsibility for its future to Satya Nadella, who replaces Steve Ballmer and becomes only the third chief executive in the company’s nearly four-decade-long history. Founder Bill Gates, meanwhile, will move over as a “technology advisor,” suggesting a more active role in the development of Microsoft product. John Thompson will take over as chairman. And here’s a think piece on what it all might mean. (One thing I’m pleased with is that he’s a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Nice to see you don’t have to come from Harvard, Yale or Princeton to run a company that important.)

* Here’s a look back at the original Facebook on its 10th anniversary. And hey, remember Friendster?

* A key part of Google’s plans to build the future of its Chromecast dongle has slipped into place as the company unlocked its Chromecast software development kit this week. The Google Cast Software Development Kit, available now, will allow app developers to give their users the option to stream their apps or Web sites to the Chromecast, which acts like a receiver that you plug into your TV’s HDMI port. Web site compatibility only works in Google Chrome via extension, also available today.

*A New York Times report is providing more fodder for iWatch speculation, including the purported use of solar power. Apple has been testing both solar and wireless charging for the rumored iWatch, according to a story in the New York Times. The wireless charging method would involve magnetic induction, according to the report. This could conceivably involve the use of a charging plate. Another method to juice up the watch may be to integrate a solar-charging layer in the screen, according to the report.

* Google does not have the proper permits for a mystery barge at a construction site on an island in San Francisco Bay, a state official said, and must move the floating, four-story building that drew wide attention and fueled weeks of speculation when it was erected last fall.

* The maker movement is officially coming to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The White House announced its first-ever official Maker Faire, bringing a celebration of science, technology, engineering, and math, not to mention the ground zero of the do-it-yourself world, to the home of the leader of the free world.

* If this is the future of work, I quit: Hitachi has introduced a gizmo that will follow you everywhere at work, around the office or the factory all day, like the snoopiest boss in the world. Even into the restroom. If you get up to walk around the office a lot, the badge sends information to management about how often you do it, and where you go. If you stop to talk with people throughout the day, the badge transmits who you’re talking to (by reading your co-workers’ badges), and for how long. Do you contribute at meetings, or just sit there? Either way, the badge tells your bosses. Sounds like a freakin’ nightmare.

* On the other hand, other parts of the future are cool. Like this, which had to happen eventually — a vending machine that includes a 3D printer that will make, oh, pretty much whatever you want, depending on the design you feed it.

* And to continue the curmudgeon act, it’s bad enough we have to compete with near-slave labor in countries like Vietnam and robots in factories. Now we’ll soon be competing with humanoid robots for the few service jobs left. Suddenly I am more understanding of the bartender in Chalmun’s Cantina at Moss-Isley Spaceport on Tattoine.

* Along the California coast, coho salmon that swim upstream to lay their eggs could not have better friends than wildlife biologists Charlotte and Jon Ambrose. The married couple has spent years working to keep salmon from going extinct in California. Overfishing and habitat destruction pushed the coho to the brink. But now the state’s severe drought is the final threat. 

* Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google on Monday began publishing details about the number of secret government requests for data they receive, hoping to show limited involvement in controversial surveillance efforts. The tech industry has pushed for greater transparency on government data requests, seeking to shake off concerns about their involvement in vast, surreptitious surveillance programs revealed last summer by former spy contractor Edward Snowden.

* Google and Cisco have formed a new agreement to ward off potential patent trolls. The agreement gives each company a license to the other’s patent portfolio and covers a wide range of products and technologies, Cisco said in a news release on Tuesday. The deal was set up as a countermeasure to the act of “patent privateering,” which transfers patents to so-called patent assertion firms.

* The skies over northern Sweden lit up over the weekend with what witnesses said was one of the most spectacular northern light shows seen this year. Videographer Chad Blakley captured the phenomenon in time-lapse footage from Sweden’s Abisko National Park.

* Ho boy. Here’s what happens when a company gets bought by private equity — the layoff bloodbath is apparently about to begin at Dell, with numbers as high as 15,000 jobs lost.

* There are five species of snakes in Southeast Asia that are able to fly — or at least glide through the air, up to 100 feet at a time. The snakes do not have wings or fins of any sort, so how they stay airborne has long puzzled researchers. Now, a team of biomechanists at Virginia Tech University is offering new clues into the aerodynamic mystery of the “flying snake,” thanks in part to a 3D-printed replica of its body.

* The Los Angeles Unified School District is getting a break on the price of thousands of iPads, as it continues the rollout of a $1 billion plan to provide the tablets to all students.

* Sprint is throwing a lifeline to low-income students. The company is participating in an initiative by President Barack Obama to provide free wireless service to 50,000 students from kindergarten through the 12th grade across the U.S.

* Target is still reeling from the massive security breach, which affected as many as 110 million customers. Now, as the retailer gets back on its feet, it’s becoming more security focused. Target Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan wrote an opinion piece for The Hill on Monday saying that the company was speeding up its implementation of high-security credit cards.

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