Happy Monday, everybody! We’re back for another fun-filled week of tech news and more, and the weather is looking up after a frigid but thankfully snowless Sunday. So… buckle up and let’s take a look at the cool blinking lights!
Just a couple local items to start…
* The PMI Great Lakes Chapter invites you to participate in the 13th Annual PMI-GLC 2014 Spring Symposium, “Project Management: Staying Relevant Through Continuous Evolution.” The Symposium will be on April 25, 2014, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. Attendance is expected to exceed 500 area project management professionals. PMI-GLC’s annual symposium is an educational and networking forum designed to facilitate continued professional development in the latest tools, techniques, and advancements made in the field of Project Management. The annual symposium is one of the highlight events the Chapter has offered for the last 12 years.
* Oakland University’s School of Engineering and Computer Science has received $50,000 gift from ABB Robotics, the supplier of industrial robots headquartered in Auburn Hills. The gift will support of the development of a four-year industrial robotics and automation program and be applied to curriculum development and related student programs. In addition, ABB will provide internship opportunities for several Oakland University students each year in programs designed to produce valuable, work-ready graduates.
And now the national and global tech news, courtesy of our colleagues at CBS News, CNet’s News.com and elsewhere across the intertubes…
* The Kalamazoo Growlers, a collegiate summer baseball team, want your selfie so they can wear it on their jersey this summer. No really — here’s the story.
* And here’s a cool new Google Street View feature — a trip down the Colorado River. Always wanted to ride the rapids through Grand Canyon? Now you can, virtually.
* And here’s a cheery new study from NASA, about what we do about the “inevitable” collapse of industrial civilization due to unsustainable resource exploitation. Oh joy!
* Researchers at MIT have created a robotic fish. Unlike land-based robots, this one has all the fluidity that we would expect from a marine animal. It’s called a “soft robot” and is “powered by fluid flowing through flexible channels,” according to apress release. The fish is flexible to maneuver itself out of harm’s way, changing direction in a fraction of a second.
* Under London’s streets in Winston Churchill’s World War II bunker, young techies are fighting a new kind of war. Bent over their computers in a steel-reinforced room, dozens of amateur cybersecurity experts spent Friday racing to understand why Britain’s banking network suddenly seemed to have gone offline.
* China e-commerce giant Alibaba Group confirmed early Sunday that it plans to become a public company in the United States. Rumored to be near for months, a US IPO would “make us a more global company and enhance the company’s transparency,” the company said in a brief note on its Web site. The statement did not indicate which stock exchange the company would choose for its listing.
* Microsoft is taking baby steps toward offering its operating system for free or on the cheap — a necessary tactic in a world dominated by Google’s Android and other up-and-coming free operating systems, an analyst tells CNet.
* What? Your kid and her Tiny Zoo Friends are threatening to march off with your life savings by way of virtual doodads purchased in mobile games? You’ll probably be interested in this. Google has updated its Play Store with an option that lets you require that a password be entered every time someone wants to buy virtual goods while immersed in a game or other app, according to a report in blog Android Community. Previously, goods could be bought for a full 30 minutes on one password entry (an option that remains available).
* Pro-Russian Ukrainian hackers claimed responsibility for a cyberattack that took down several NATO Web sites amid rising tensions over military incursions into the Crimean peninsula. A hactivist group calling itself Cyber Berkut claimed to have launched attacks Saturday that took down NATO’s main page and that of NATO’s cyber defense center. NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu confirmed on Twitter that several NATO sites had been the target of a “significant” distributed-denial-of-service attack but said the integrity of the systems was unaffected and experts were working to restore normal functionality.
* Of all the awful places to install one of those red light cameras, how about right outside an emergency room? Well, remember, it is Florida. There’s a reason it’s shaped like that.
* After incubating the Internet and overseeing it for decades, the U.S. government announced Friday it’s releasing the last elements of control it has. The Department of Commerce originally handled core parts of the Internet, but gradually backed away from those duties through a contract with a nonprofit organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In a statement Friday, the Commerce Department tasked ICANN with convening involved parties to formalize a “multistakeholder” approach to Internet governance.
* And here’s the biggest 3D printer I’ve ever seen, spitting out the biggest 3D printing project I’ve ever seen: A house.
* Hoo boy. The UK is talking about banning “unsavoury” content online. For one thing, learn how to spell savory. For another, down with censorship!
* Rest in peace to the savior of Skylab, who figured out how to jury-rig a fix to its broken solar panel.
* And meet the billionaires who are privatizing U.S. scientific research in an era of shrinking federal support for basic science.
* Poop can be dangerous stuff — full of disease. But this solar-powered toilet turns it into something called biochar, which is good for soil. Neat tech.