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Matt’s Favorites: Mainframe Skill Shortage, Nukes Vs. Asteroids And Much More

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Uh-oh. Somebody's whole day is about to be ruined.

Uh-oh. Somebody’s whole day is about to be ruined.

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What’s this? Above freezing? Is this possible? Does water come in liquid form? I had forgotten! Well, enjoy this T-shirt weather while you can, kids, and meanwhile, enjoy these tech news tidbits from Michigan and from around the world…

* Study up on those mainframe skills, kids: two-thirds of CIOs believe their businesses will be hurt by a looming shortage in mainframe skills, according to a global CIO survey released by Compuware Corp. The survey shows CIOs remain uneasy about their ability to effectively support new applications and meet the fast changing needs of the business. Despite this fact, there has been little advancement in the number of companies that have created a formal plan to handle these risks, when compared to Compuware’s 2011 study. The survey found that even as new technology platforms such as the cloud battle to claim their stake in the enterprise, the majority of CIOs (81 percent) still believe that the mainframe will remain a key business asset over the next decade. However, while the mainframe is still as relevant as ever, 66 percent of CIOs fear that the impending retirement of the mainframe workforce will hurt their business by reducing their ability to support legacy applications. Concerns relating to the looming skills shortage have remained constant: Increased application risk (61 percent); reduced productivity (61 percent); and an increase in project overruns (56 percent) top their list of concerns. Despite these fears, little progress is being made to smooth the transition. Almost half (40 percent) of CIOs still have no formal plans in place for dealing with the key risks associated with a mainframe skills shortage. Organizations have only made a slight improvement in their preparation levels since 2011, when 46 percent of CIOs admitted they were ill-prepared for a developer shortage. According to an earlier study looking at how the mainframe is being used, the majority of CIOs (89 percent) say that it is now running an increased number of new and different workloads than it did five years ago. Although there have always been high expectations on the performance of the mainframe, the result is that 91 percent of CIOs believe this pressure has increased now that the mainframe is becoming more involved in delivering customer-facing applications. In the face of these rising expectations, Compuware’s latest research found that 55 percent of CIOs claim that their mainframe teams are finding it difficult to keep up with the fast changing demands of the business. Again, this figure is largely unchanged since the 2011 study (56 percent). More at http://www.compuware.com.

* Arnold Weinfeld has been named the new CEO and board chair of Prima Civitas, the statewide nonprofit launched by Michigan State University in 2006 to jumpstart economic transformation in Michigan. Weinfeld had been treasurer of the Prima Civitas board and was previously director of strategic initiatives at the Michigan Municipal League and president of the MML Foundation. Weinfeld succeeds Prima Civitas CEO Steven Webster, who was MSU vice president for government relations before taking the helm at PC in 2011 and expanding its scope. Webster will continue to be active in the international and education program areas of the organization. He and his wife Linda will relocate to be with family in the Twin Cities. Prior to his position with the Municipal League, Weinfeld worked for the Michigan House of Representatives as a legislative aide, policy analyst and policy director. He also served as an elected member of the Waverly Community Schools Board of Education as treasurer and then board president. He currently is Treasurer of the Waverly Education Foundation and is a board member of the Michigan Parks and Recreation Association and Michigan Rural Development Council. Prima Civitas, with key partners such as MSU and The Mott Foundation, creates opportunities in Michigan for companies and communities, and connects them to the 21st century knowledge economy. The organization develops emerging and re-emerging markets and industries, and has created state-adopted international export strategies. PC also works with municipalities to create efficiencies and regional opportunities, and coordinates international activities to benefit Michigan’s economy. In addition, PC develops strategies to integrate entrepreneurship into K-12 schools, and advance Michigan’s student and adult talent pipeline. More at http://www.primacivitas.org.

* TechTown, the startup incubator in midtown Detroit, will host a seminar on “Customer Discovery and Financing for Startups,” Tuesday, Feb. 25 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at TechTown, 440 Burroughs St., Detroit. If you have a tech startup in the works and want to save precious time and money, while improving your odds of success, attend this two-part workshop. You’ll leave with a better understanding of how to find your customers, as well as insider tips to help you prepare for financing and navigate the scene like a pro. For more information, call (313) 879-5250 or email events@techtowndetroit.org.

* The Battery Show, an event for high-tech batteries for transportation and industrial applications, and its companion Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Conference, will be held Sept. 16-18 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. For information on how to be a speaker at the conference, rent a booth, or simply attend, visit http://www.thebatteryshow.com or http://www.evtechexpo.com. The final deadline for submissions is Monday, Feb. 24.

* Troy-based Media Genesis says it partnered under the Pure Michigan Business Connect program to launch an updated website for a business based in Macomb County’s Bruce Township, North American Spirit, at http://www.northamericanspirit.com. North American Spirit is a private cheerleading training provider founded by state championship winning cheerleading coach Mary Frances Milke. Media Genesis provides app development, web design, search engine optimization, social networking, and design and development of e-learning and content management systems to more than 300 companies and nonprofit organizations. More at http://www.mediaG.com.

And now the national stuff!

* Oh, my, I learned a lovely new turn of phrase Tuesday for people who use their Google Glass inappropriately: Glassholes.

* Nearly a year after a meteor unexpectedly exploded in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, wreaking millions of dollars in damage and more than 1,200 injuries, a team of scientists says there is a way to destroy these life-threatening asteroid sbefore they break into the Earth’s atmosphere. The solution, they say, is using nuclear bombs.  They believe the weapons could safely destroy nearly any asteroid, even when there is minimal warning time, Space.com reported.

* Green Car Reports says car dealers are steering buyers away from electric car purchases. Why? Because selling an EV takes more salesperson time, because there are more technical questions from more knowledgeable and curious buyers. And dealers maximize their profits by having their salespeople make sales as quickly as possible.

* When elephants are feeling blue, they lend each other a trunk to cry on — and then some. New research shows that Asian elephants comfort each other by making sympathetic noises and touching their trunks to the others’ mouths or nether regions. Awwwww.

* Speaking of slightly less massive critters in trouble, the moose of Minnesota are dying, and no one knows why. The state lost 50 percent of its moose population since 2010. Michelle Carstensen of Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources is leading a $1.2 million study.

* It might seem that Apple is just starting to consider wearable fitness technology, but a patent reveals that it has been considering this move since at least 2008.  On Tuesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the patent for “Sports monitoring system for headphones, earbuds, and/or headsets.” The patent application describes how headphones and similar products can track health and fitness. Also, Apple Inc is looking at cars and medical devices to diversify its sources of revenue as growth from iPhones and iPads slow, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.

* Until Tuesday, few people probably heard of King Digital Entertainment, the corporate parent of the hugely popular Candy Crush game. That is about to change. The company unveiled plans for a $500 million U.S. initial public offering. Unlike 68 percent of other IPOs that are unprofitable, King Digital makes money — lots of it — earning $567.6 million in profit last year, an increase of more than 7,000 percent from $7.8 million in 2012. Revenue surged more than tenfold to $1.3 billion.

* Some of the Navy’s futuristic weapons sound like something out of “Star Wars,” with lasers designed to shoot down aerial drones and electric guns that use magnets to fire projectiles at hypersonic speeds. That future is now. The Navy plans to deploy its first laser on a ship later this year, and it intends to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years.

* The first prototypes of a high-tech suit of armor to give soldiers superhuman abilities could be ready to test this summer, according to top military officials. The suits, which have drawn comparisons to the one worn by Marvel Comics superhero “Iron Man,” could be delivered to special operations forces as early as June.

* Rut-ro. The Arctic isn’t nearly as bright and white as it used to be because of more ice melting in the ocean, and that’s turning out to be a global problem, a new study says. With more dark, open water in the summer, less of the sun’s heat is reflected back into space. So the entire Earth is absorbing more heat than expected, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

* Robocoin said on Tuesday that later this month it will install the first automated teller machines in the United States that let users buy and sell bitcoin, the latest step into the mainstream for the digital currency. The kiosks, to be installed in Seattle, and Austin, Texas, are similar to ATMs but have scanners to read government-issued identification such as a driver’s license or a passport to confirm users’ identities.

* The International Space Station has one less capsule and a lot less trash. A commercial cargo ship ended its five-week visit Tuesday morning. NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins used the space station’s big robot arm to release the capsule, called Cygnus. Cygnus is filled with garbage and will burn up when it plunges through the atmosphere Wednesday.

* It may be news to you that some Asus wireless routers leave your computer and networked drives open to hackers, but Asus has known about the problems for months, reports indicate. The vulnerabilities make it possible for hackers to access directories on networked drives using Asus’ proprietary AiCloud option.

* The Obama administration said Tuesday that although the president “vigorously supports” a free and open Internet, he can’t order the Federal Communications Commission on how to proceed in re-instating Net neutrality protections. The statement was in response to an online petition asking that the White House order the FCC to reclassify broadband providers as so-called “common carriers,” which would put them under the same regulatory framework as the traditional phone network. The petition, which has received more than 105,000 signatures, was launched in January after the DC Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the FCC’s Open Internet rules and questioned the agency’s authority to impose rules that dictate how broadband providers manage traffic on their networks.

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