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Matt’s Favorites: Doing Biz With Defense At LTU, Michigan’s URC At SXSW, Close Shave From Asteroid, 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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So it’s another Friday, and it’s time to spring forward, probably right into a snowbank. Don’t forget to set that clock ahead an hour Saturday at bedtime, regardless. And here’s some tech news to help you make up for the prospect of that lost hour. Don’t worry, you’ll get it back in the fall, by which time the snowbanks may actually have melted.

* We’ve got another amazing event planned for you Thursday — it’s the last Unwired Coffee Series breakfast of the program year at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield. We’ll be talking how to do business with the defense industry, the world’s largest buyer of darn near everything, from bullets to butter. If you’re even considering getting your business into the defense industry, this is a must-attend. We’ll have veteran experts of the defense and aerospace industries telling you how. Sign up here.

* Officials with Michigan’s University Research Corridor say they will play an active role at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival starting Friday in Austin, Texas. Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University plan to promote how well Michigan is competing worldwide in digital creativity and cutting-edge technologies by pointing to advancements such as autonomous cars and nanotechnology that can lead to less invasive medical procedures. Michigan’s spirit of innovation can be seen in student startup team Carbon Cash, which will be competing Monday against seven other student teams from around the country in the finals of SXSW’s Student Startup Madness tournament. A student team from MSU that created the Tempo Run app won last year’s tournament, and MSU is the only university that competed last year to make it to the finals again this year. Spreading the word about the URC at SXSW will be URC program manager Britany Affolter-Caine and representatives from URC. They will be joining the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and its Pure Michigan campaign to promote the state and its growing technology and entrepreneurial sectors. UM will be demonstrating innovations at its SXSW booth including student-produced video games, model helicopters that can fly themselves and Egg-Bot, a printer that can print on spherical and egg-shaped objects such as ping pong balls. Faculty and staff members from MSU and UM will be making presentations on the program throughout SXSW, talking about everything from robot workforces to packaging sports experiences to engage more fans.

* Keep an eye on Ann Arbor’s Arotech Corp. (Nasdaq: ARTX). The company announced Thursday that it has filed a patent application for a “potentially revolutionary new technology” in power storage — an “iron flow battery” to provide storage for grid power, specifically renewable energy. Arotech says the new battery technology can even out the peaks and valleys in wind and solar production at a far lower cost than today’s battery technologies. The new battery technology also has better performance and a more environmentally friendly profile as well, Arotech said in a press release. Arotech posted a detailed competitive analysis online at http://gkir.us/flowbattery.pdf.

* Livonia’s Roush CleanTech has unveiled the first propane powered Ford F-59 delivery truck chassis to serve a high-mileage FedEx route in Buffalo, N.Y. The owner of the vehicle, Jon Chase, CEO of Chase Delivery in Lancaster, N.Y., estimates his company will save more than $25,000 over the life of the truck. Already experiencing lower fuel and maintenance costs, Chase expects a less than three-year return on investment. Because of this, he encourages other FedEx Ground contractors to switch to propane fuel. This new delivery truck has a 65-gallon fuel tank and will lower carbon dioxide emissions by about 105,000 pounds over the lifetime of its operation compared to gasoline-powered counterparts. Propane autogas vehicles emit fewer greenhouse gases and smog-producing hydrocarbons than conventionally fueled vehicles.

* With the Michigan job market heating up, college seniors and alumni from Michigan’s two-or-four year colleges can meet with prospective employers from a variety of fields at the biannual Michigan Collegiate Job Fair, This popular event, sponsored by Eastern Michigan University and supported by the Michigan Career Educator and Employer Alliance, is scheduled Friday, March 21, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Burton Manor, 27777 Schoolcraft Road at I-96 in Livonia. The event is one of the state’s largest career fairs, with more than 100 employers currently registered. Employers include Coca Cola, DTE Energy, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Quicken Loans, Siemens PLM Software, Thomson Reuters and various State of Michigan and U.S. Government departments and agencies. Candidates can view a list of participating employers and pre-register for the event online at http://www.mcjf.org. The deadline to pre-register is March 19 for $10. Walk-in registration is $15. Last November’s event attracted 130 employers and 600 candidates. It’s recommended taht candidates dress in professional business attire, bring several copies of their resume, and research the employers that they are interested in speaking with prior to the event. There’s also a ready room to prep candidates in everything from practicing handshakes to LinkedIn photos to company research to job fair success tips to wardrobe touchups. Corporate sponsors include WWJ-TV CBS 62, WKBD-TV CW50 Detroit, WFDR-Radio Disney Detroit.

* If you’ve saved a receipt for just about anything you bought between 1998 and 2002 with a computer memory in it, you may be eligible to share in a $310 million price-fixing court settlement. The settlements have been reached in U.S. District Court in California with 12 manufacturers of Dynamic Random Access Memory over accusations of price fixing. The suits  alleged that the price fixing caused millions of consumers and businesses in Michigan and around the country to pay too much for DRAM and products containing DRAM, such as computers, printers, and game systems. Eligible purchasers that submit claims will receive a minimum $10 payment, and perhaps thousands depending on the amount of their DRAM purchases and the number of claims received. Those involved in the settlement say there’s an online claims process that takes just a few minutes. Hey, it’s worth a shot. Purchases must have been made in the United States, and from a computer maker (Apple, HP or Dell), a retailer (Best Buy, Staples or Costco) or any other reseller (CDW, Ingram Micro or Amazon.com). You’ve got until Aug. 1 to submit your claim at http://www.DRAMclaims.com. Purchasers that prefer to submit their claim by mail can download claim forms from http://www.DRAMclaims.com or receive claim forms in the mail by calling 1-800-589-1425.

* Automation Alley has released its 2013 annual report, available at http://www.automationalley.com. Highlights include opening an office in downtown Detroit; leading 29 local companies and organizations on trade missions to international and domestic locales; awarding 11 local companies funding for training of new and current workers in high-level IT skills and certifications; investing in two more high-tech startup companies; and ocmpleting a major reverse engineering project for the U.S. Army.

* The Macomb-OU INCubator at Velocity Collaboration Center will host “Buying And Selling A Business In Michigan” Thursday, March 20 from noon to 1 p.m. The center is at 6633 18 Mile Road in Sterling Heights. This workshop provides a process overview for buying or selling a business, specifically with a “checklist” of “things to do” before getting started. It is perfect for business owners who are considering selling their business or looking to purchase down the road, or those who are ready to begin the process and need help. To register, contact Joan Carleton at macINC@oakland.edu or (586) 884-9324. Presenter John Carter is a principal member at Witzke Berry Carter & Wander PLLC and leads the Business Law and Commercial Transactions group. He has been practicing business and commercial law for 18 years and focuses on assisting Michigan entrepreneurs with business formation, commercial transactions, licensing and franchises and business succession planning. John works with businesses in various local industries such as advanced technology, health care and professional services. He received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and his law degree from the University of Miami, FL.

* The Altair Partner Alliance of Troy-based Altair Engineering Inc. has added a materials failure prediction software product, DigitalClone, from New York City-based Sentient Science. The first of its kind to be offered within the program, DigitalClone will allow HyperWorks users to better control product lifecycles by predicting failure probability throughout the design process. The web-based software, DigitalClone Component, determines the future life and performance of rotating components including bearings, gears, and splines. DigitalClone Component will be released in two phases with the APA. Starting now, the Phase I of the DigitalClone Component simulator will allow users to manipulate public fixed geometry DigitalClone models selecting from an existing library including bearings, gears and drivetrain components. In addition, users may also be able to purchase consulting services from Sentient Science and Altair to develop their custom DigitalClone models. At the Phase II launch, DigitalClone Component users in HyperWorks will have the option to independently build their own custom DigitalClone models within the APA offering. Sentient Science has built DigitalClone models in industries from energy to aerospace to automotive and has both validation data and test cases to share with Altair customers worldwide. Available for the last 13 years, Altair’s unit-based licensing system allows HyperWorks users customizable access to a growing portfolio of applications, optimizing their return on investment by making more than 20 in-house developed applications available by use of a single pool of recyclable HyperWorks units. After experiencing this original licensing model’s success, Altair has offered the opportunity for third-party companies to run their own applications under this unit-based system, a collaboration now known as the Altair Partner Alliance. The overall flexibility of these HWUs empowers users via access to the largest, most complete suite of CAE applications available. The ROI increases for users each time a new application is added to the offering, since any of the partner programs can be accessed using the same leased HWUs they are already using to run HyperWorks. This makes more than 60 additional applications available at no incremental cost or long-term commitment. For more information about Sentient Science and DigitalClone, attend an introductory webinar being held on Wednesday, March 26 at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern time. HyperWorks users can download DigitalClone at http://www.altairalliance.com/digitalclone.

* The Ann Arbor healthcare analytics developer ArborMetrix has appointed Mark McClellan, M.D., a senior fellow and director of the Health Care Innovation and Value Initiative at the Brookings Institution, is joining its Board of Directors. A physician and economist, Dr. McClellan is the former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and also the former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In those roles, he led initiatives such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit and the FDA’s Critical Path Initiative, as well as public-private initiatives to develop better information on the quality and cost of care. Dr. McClellan is a member of the Institute of Medicine, where he chairs the IOM Roundtable on Value and Science-Driven Health Care. He also serves on the board of the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA and is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He recently served as co-chair of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. Dr. McClellan holds an M.D. from the Harvard University-Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Division of Health Sciences and Technology, a Ph.D. in economics from MIT, an M.P.A. from Harvard University, and a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He completed his residency training in internal medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and has been a board-certified practicing internist during his career. ArborMetrix provides a cloud-based platform for performance measurement and clinical intelligence in acute and specialty care. For more information, visit http://www.arbormetrix.com, email info@arbormetrix.com.

* For the fifth straight month, gas mileage of new vehicles sold in the United States topped 25 mpg and was at a record-high 25.2 mpg in February, say researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Average fuel economy (window-sticker values) of cars, light trucks, vans and SUVs purchased last month was up 2.5 mpg from just three years ago and up 5.1 mpg from October 2007, the first full month of monitoring, according to UMTRI researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle. In addition to average fuel economy, Sivak and Schoettle issued a monthly update of their national Eco-Driving Index, which estimates the average monthly emissions generated by an individual U.S. driver. The EDI takes into account both the fuel used per distance driven and the amount of driving — the latter relying on data that are published with a two-month lag. For the second consecutive month, the EDI registered its best mark ever at 0.78 (the lower the value, the better) during December. The index currently shows that emissions of greenhouse gases per driver of newly purchased vehicles are down 22 percent, overall, since October 2007. fuel economy calculations, along with a graph and table of current and recent mpg, are available at www.umich.edu/~umtriswt/EDI_sales-weighted-mpg.html. Eco-Driving Index calculations, along with a graph and table of current and recent values, are at http://www.umich.edu/~umtriswt/EDI_values.html.

* The Southfield accounting and business advisory firm Plante Moran announced that Paul Blowers has been named CIO. He had been part of the global IT executive team at Kelly Services in Troy, where he was chief architect and senior director of enterprise architecture and business solutions. Blowers has IT leadership experience in strategy, architecture, solution delivery and operations and has worked in staffing, manufacturing, utilities, and management consulting industries. At Plante Moran, Blowers will be responsible for the information technology that supports Plante Moran’s enterprise goals. Prior to joining Kelly Services in 2007, Blowers worked for Accenture from 1995 to 2007. Major assignments at Accenture included serving as lead architecture specialist for a global chemical company and leading technology project teams for several large utility companies across the U.S. Blowers is taking on the role of CIO following the upcoming retirement of Doug Brady, who has been with Plante Moran since 1987. Blowers holds a Master of Science degree from Walsh College and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kalamazoo College, where he was an NCAA All-American athlete, NCAA All-American Academic and graduated cum laude. He is also Project Management Professional, Six Sigma, and ITIL certified. Blowers has served as a panel presenter for Salesforce.com, is the author of Security in the Cloud, (Staffing Industry Review Magazine) and co-author of the textbook e-Commerce in Virtual Worlds.

Verizon Wireless took top state honors in the nation and in Michigan in the latest RootMetrics’ National RootScore Report of the nation’s four largest U.S. wireless providers. Verizon won the Overall Performance Award in Michigan and also scored first in the categories of call, data, reliability and speed. Also, Verizon was named the top network quality leader in all six regions of the U.S. by J.D. Power and Associates — including in the North Central region, which includes Michigan. Verizon’s Michigan 4G LTE network is complete, with the company already expanding AWS spectrum, or Advanced Wireless Service, in various locations in the state. AWS was not measured for this report, which would likely deliver higher speeds. Verizon began introducing 4G LTE in Michigan in the fall of 2010. Both in Michigan and nationally, the rollout is substantially complete making Verizon the first wireless provider to complete a 4G LTE network with higher speeds. The company has invested $9.4 billion in its wireless network alone during 2013. Of that amount, $160 million was invested in Michigan.

* Speaking of phones, AT&T announced Thursday that it has invested nearly $1.7 billion in its wireless and wired networks in Michigan between 2011 through 2013. Through its Project Velocity IP, an investment plan to expand and enhance its wireless and wired IP broadband networks, AT&T in 2013 made 891 network upgrades in Michigan, including new cell sites, addition of wireless and wired network capacity, and new broadband network connections. Additionally, AT&T expanded the reach of its network, providing access to U-verse Internet and video services to 78,000 new customer locations and delivering powerful fiber-optic connections to 5,512 business locations at 257 multi-tenant business buildings and business parks. In 2013, several markets in Michigan were added to AT&T’s extensive LTE network, including Flint, Saginaw-Bay City, Grand Rapids, Mount Pleasant, Lansing, Muskegon, and Kalamazoo. The company also expanded its 4G LTE footprint to nearly 100 communities, including, Dearborn, Ann Arbor, Algonac, Benton Harbor, Port Huron, Armada, Saline, Ypsilanti, Newport, Farmington Hills, Brighton, as well as other places throughout the state, including in Bay, Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties. AT&T also improved Internet speeds with the addition of 45 Mbps U-Verse Internet Service in the state. For more information about AT&T’s coverage in Michigan or anywhere in the United States, consumers can visit the AT&T Coverage Viewer.

* Cooperating Libraries in Consortium, a group of private higher education libraries in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. has become the first academic library consortium to subscribe to the cloud-based library services platform Intota, from Ann Arbor-based ProQuest. The CLIC libraries will implement the technology in phases beginning with the Summon discovery service this spring. Later in the year, the libraries will also implement Intota for assessment and for e-resource management, with other components to follow. CLIC member libraries subscribing to the services include Augsburg College, Bethel University, Concordia University, Hamline University, St. Catherine University, University of Northwestern-St. Paul, and University of St. Thomas. Intota is designed to address the key needs of today’s libraries — managing electronic collections and supporting the expectations of the modern patron. Intota combines discovery, linking, collection management and assessment in one system built on a single knowledge base. More at http://www.proquest.com.

* The board of Royal Oak-based Bonal International Inc. (OTC: BONL) has appointed Thomas E. Hebel as chairman, president, and CEO of the company and subsidiary Bonal Technologies Inc. Hebel was interim president from April 2010 through December 2012. During that time Bonal posted profits in all eleven quarters, averaged 17.3 percent net after-tax profit, and paid record dividends in each of the three fiscal years. Hebel is a longtime member of the board and will celebrate his 40th anniversary with the company in June 2014. The board also named George Harrison and Harold Hebel to the board. George Harrison is a private investor, businessman, and retired tax and securities attorney. Harold Hebel has a 15-year background in accounting, auditing and finance predominantly with an international public accounting firm. His experience includes auditing both public and private companies in a variety of industries and has been an instructor for several accounting training courses. They joined re-elected board members August G. Hebel, III, Betty Jean Hebel, John Hebel, Paul Hebel, and Thomas Hebel. The board also appointed Paul Hebel as vice chairman, John Hebel as secretary, and Harold Hebel as treasurer and CFO. Paul Hebel owns and operates a custom service machine shop which specializes in planer-mill machining, the machine shop where Bonal’s Meta-Lax technology was first invented. John Hebel, a former employee of Bonal, currently is a senior buyer with a domestic automotive company. The board also appointed Gregory Merritt vice president of Bonal Technologies. Merritt has been with the Company for 23 years with more than 20 years serving as director of marketing. Bonal provides technologies that improve the strength and durability of metal and welds at a fraction of the cost and energy use of competing technologies.

And now the national and global stuff, from our friends at CBS News, CNet’s News.com and elsewhere.

* For the second day in a row, a space rock zipped close by Earth within the orbit of the moon. The 33-foot-wide near-Earth asteroid 2014 EC came within 34,550 miles of Earth’s surface Thursday. 2014 EC, which was discovered just Tuesday (March 4), is about half as wide as the asteroid that exploded over Russia in February 2013, injuring about 1,500 people.

* Caterina Fake wants to make the places around you come alive, and she needs your help to do it. Co-founder of the once-beloved photo site Flickr and the archetype of the female geek, Fake hopes to prove that she can once again make technology more human — less about me and more about we. This time around, she’s using an app calledFindery to put the world’s greatest stories in the palm of your hand.

* The time-consuming task of reading literary tomes like Moby Dick is about to change. Boston-based software developer Spritz has been working on a program that will be launched side-by-side with Samsung’s new S5 smartphone and Gear 2. The reading technology could easily outpace traditional reading methods — such as skimming, scanning and detailed reading — allowing readers to read at speeds that would enable them to finish a novel in an hour and a half.

* Doctors may soon be able to develop personalized treatment plans to fight superbug infections, according to new research. The key is in a tiny chip that measures the level of antibiotic molecules in the blood and determines how they work against bacteria.

* Okay, I officially give up. So if the really good New York strip I had for dinner last night is as dangerous as a pack of Newports? I officially give up.

* Obscure tiny Pacific Island nations aren’t the only places threatened by rising sea levels due to climate change. So is Lady Liberty. 

* With Target (TGT) still grappling with fallout from its massive data breach, the retailing giant has decided that its technology overhaul must include finding a new top information security officer. CIO Beth Jacob stepped down from Target, a departure that comes as the retailer overhauls its executive structure on the technology side. Jacob, an executive without an IT background, had overseen the company’s tech infrastructure since 2008. Under Jacob’s watch, as many as 110 million Target customers may have had their payment card or personal information stolen by hackers.

* Wake up and smell the bacon! Seriously. There is now an iPhone app that sends the smell of bacon wafting to your nose as your alarm goes off. And the promo imagery features a rose made of bacon strips. Created by Oscar Mayer, the app is accompanied by a dongle that plugs into the iPhone’s headphone jack. When you sync it with the app, you wake up to the sounds and smell of bacon sizzling on a skillet.

* Newsweek claims to have tracked down the secretive and mysterious inventor of Bitcoin. Rather than being a tech wunderkind, the man Newsweek identifies as the mastermind behind the global digital currency is a 64-year-old, twice-married, Japanese-American man with six children, who lives in a Los Angeles suburb. He reportedly developed the concept for Bitcoin under his actual name — Satoshi Nakamoto.  The claim has yet to be independently proven.

* Getty Images, the premiere collection of professional quality photos on the Internet, has for years charged licensing fees to those who wanted access to its extensive portfolio, but that is changing. The image provider has launched an Embed tool that allows people to use more than 35 million of the service’s portfolio of images for noncommercial purposes.

In the latest skirmish in an escalating debate over skyrocketing military launch costs, SpaceX founder Elon Musk told lawmakers Wednesday that allowing his company to launch high-priority military payloads would save taxpayers billions of dollars by opening the national security launch market to competition and innovation. Not surprisingly, Michael Gass, president and CEO of United Launch Alliance, the company that up to now has been the sole provider of military Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) rockets for national security payloads, disagreed, saying his company constantly innovates and that its Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets were the most reliable in the world.

* Scientists claim they have safely introduced engineered immune cells in 12 people with HIV that have the ability to resist the virus. Researchers are lauding it as a step toward paving the way to curing the disease. Typically, patients must stay on HIV treatments the rest of their lives.

* NASA is plotting a daring robotic mission to Jupiter’s watery moon Europa, a place where astronomers speculate there might be some form of life. The space agency set aside $15 million in its 2015 budget proposal to start planning some kind of mission to Europa. No details have been decided yet, but NASA chief financial officer Elizabeth Robinson said Tuesday that it would be launched in the mid-2020s.

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