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Matt’s Favorites: Spring Has Sprung, Money Smart Week, Gardening Apps And Much More

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Comerica Park. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Comerica Park. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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FINALLY! Finally finally finally finally. Fifty degrees Sunday and even better Monday and Tuesday, and the last bit of filthy slush is disappearing from the shady spots around town. It won’t be long now until picnics and beaches and golf and camping. And it’s only a matter of hours until baseball, when a practically unrecognizable but still predicted to contend Detroit Tigers team takes the field at the new corner. And meanwhile? The high-tech world marches on. So check out the parade. Hey, it’s warm enough for parades now too!

* More than 300 free, non-commercial, financial education programs will take place in more than 35 counties across the state during Money Smart Week in Michigan, April 5-12. Search by topic, zip code or date at http://www.MoneySmartWeek.org. There’s information for folks of all ages and all levels of fiscal sophistication. It’s part of the national Money Smart Week initiative.

* The New York-based social networking and dating site LGBTQutie.com has expanded into Michigan and nine other states — Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana. New members of LGBTQutie.com are encouraged to fill out a Relationship Readiness Quiz. This helps members understand their own goals, whether that’s social networking or the search for a significant other. As a second step, anyone can complete the optional LGBTQuestionnaire, which reveals potential compatibility with other members without creating any obligation or restricting search functionality. Unlike many relationship sites, LGBTQutie.com doesn’t try to pigeon-hole members into pre-determined categories. And the site isn’t only for those in search of romance. LGBTQutie.com also functions as a traditional social network, enabling members to make new friends or coordinate events in their community. Basic membership with LGBTQutie.com is free and provides enough features to set one on the path toward love or friendship. A paid premium membership opens up additional search options, a “wink” feature, initiating instant messaging and video chat, and the ability to upload as many as 200 photos. Premium members can also change their username, play internet games with other members and see who has viewed their profile.

* Mid-Michigan’s premier expo for entrepreneurs, investors and others looking to grow their business network, “Heading For the Big Leagues,” will return to Dow Diamond in Midland on Thursday, May 29. Mark your calendar for this extraordinary showcase of regional innovation and entrepreneurship. The event will include an exhibit hall loaded with technology-based companies looking to network and grow their business. Plus educational and dialogue opportunities for anybody interested in increasing their business knowledge. More at http://www.mmic.us. The event is presented by the MidMichigan Innovation Center, Dow Chemical Co. and the Blue Water Angels.

* AT&T Inc. announced it will offer small businesses in its U-verse service areas in Michigan free internet service at its base speed level, up to 6 megabits per second if they sign up for new or expanded wireless phone service. AT&T provides the service in the Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Marquette and Traverse City areas. To get the free service, businesses must be new AT&T wireless business customers adding Mobile Share Value 10GB or higher plans; or existing AT&T mobility business customers migrating to AT&T Mobile Share Value 10GB or higher plans; or existing business customers on Mobile Share Value 10GB or higher plans. If small businesses choose AT&T U-verse download speeds faster than 6Mbps, they will be provided a monthly credit of $35 for up to 12 months or up to $420 per year. The discount will make 12 megabit service available for $10 a month, 18 megabit service for $40 a month, 24 megabit service for $50 a month and 45 megabit service for $60 a month. Small business customers can learn more about or purchase the new Mobile Share Value-free U-verse High Speed Internet offer by calling 855-877-4288, or visiting a local AT&T-owned store. In addition, they can get more information at http://www.att.com/bizinternetoffer. The promotional offer runs through Wednesday, April 30. To determine if they are located in AT&T’s U-verse High Speed Internet service footprint – and, therefore, qualify for free U-verse High Speed Internet– small businesses can call 855-877-4288, visit an AT&T-owned store, or go to the online tool at http://www.att.com/u-verse/availability.

And now the national and international stuff, from our pals at CBS News, News.com and elsewhere…

* Spring is here and flowers are starting to bloom. We’ve got some cool gardening apps for hobbyists and green thumbs alike.

* Watch what you post on Facebook, part the infinity: A woman in Westland gets in hot water for posting that she drank, while on probation from a drunk driving charge that demanded she abstain from booze.

* Here’s a very cool look at what Ford Australia is doing with virtual reality to design cars.

* The iPhone 6 will arrive as early as September in two screen sizes, according to Japan’s largest business daily publication. The next-generation iPhone 6 “will likely be offered in 4.7- and 5.5-inch versions,” Nikkei reported in its Friday edition. The current iPhone 5S has a 4-inch screen. The displays will be made in Japan by Sharp at its Kameyama factory and at Japan Display’s Mobara plant, as well as other facilities, according to the report. 

* No, they’re not sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads, or even ill-tempered sea bass — but Ukraine’s combat dolphins, seized as part of Moscow’s theft of the Crimea, now swim for new bosses, the Russians.

* A little-known U.S. space plane quietly broke its own space endurance record last week as its current unmanned mission surpassed 469 days in space. Much of the information about the X-37B and its mission is classified, but the little that is public points to it being a development vehicle for new Air Force space capabilities while serving a secondary role for the U.S. military and intelligence community as a testbed for new space-based surveillance technologies.

The current mission, dubbed USA-240, is the third for the X-37B and began on Dec. 11, 2012, atop an Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral. The spacecraft is taken into orbit on a rocket but lands like the space shuttle by gliding down to Earth.

* Researchers in Sudan have found a 3,000-year-old skeleton riddled with cancer. Researchers say the discovery will help to provide insight into cancer’s evolution. They explain that if archaeologists can find more ancient remains with cancer, they could better understand how the disease has changed over time.

* And speaking of disease, it turns out rats may have gotten a bad rap for spreading the Black Plague. Turns out us humans did most of the damage.

* A new report based on the trove of NSA documents leaked to journalists last year by Edward Snowden says the agency’s UK counterpart, the GCHQ, spied on German Internet firms, and it provides more information on the NSA’s efforts to monitor German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

* BlackBerry has squashed Ryan Seacrest’s BlackBerryesque Typo iPhone case, at least for the time being. A U.S. district judge in San Francisco granted this week a preliminary injunction — i.e., a temporary sales ban — against the $99 Typo, which grafts a physical keyboard onto an iPhone. BlackBerry is suing Typo, saying the iPhone case’s beveled-key keyboard is “a blatant infringement against BlackBerry’s iconic keyboard.”

* U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh on Friday quashed a request for summary judgment by defendant tech firms in a lawsuit filed against them by their employees, CNet has learned, setting the stage for a trial. The class-action lawsuit was filed by a group of around 64,600 engineers, designers, quality analysts, artists, editors, and system administrators employed by one of seven technology firms between 2005 and 2010. It accuses the companies of conspiring to eliminate competitive hiring and keeping wages artificially low.

* Get ready to say goodbye to the landline phone. Increasingly, state regulators (including in Michigan) are letting the telecom giants make it optional to provide landline service in all areas. Hey, you can just use a wireless phone, right? (But my house remains a Verizon and Sprint dead spot. Guess I’ll just have to hope I’m not below the second floor when I need to dial 911 about he fire or the break-in.)

* Regional ISP Charter Communications is fighting back against the potential merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast. Charter had been bidding for TWC before Comcast got involved, and now they’re urging shareholders to reject the deal.

* T-Mobile is changing the way it offers discounts to customers whose companies have discounts for individual bills, the carrier announced Friday. The carrier is dumping its current discounts plan, starting April 1. The plan took a percentage — set by a customer’s company and T-Mobile — off of a customer’s total bill each month. Instead, these customers will get $25 off a device each time they purchase or upgrade to a new device.

* Mozilla announced some management changes Monday, but it turns out the shakeup isn’t over yet. Three members of Mozilla’s board resigned over a disagreement about the Firefox developer’s promotion of former Chief Technology Officer Brendan Eich to the chief executive job, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

* Google confirmed this weekend reports that its public Domain Name System (DNS) service, which translates numeric Internet Protocol addresses into the more human-readable domain names, is being blocked in Turkey. Google received several credible reports and “confirmed” with its own research that its DNS service is being intercepted by most Turkish Internet service providers (ISPs), software engineer Steven Carstensen wrote on Google’s security blog on Saturday.

* Since before the birth of either Facebook or YouTube, one spacecraft has been cruising through the solar system in search of what could be considered the ultimate hitchhiking adventure. The European Space Agency’s Rosetta originally launched in 2004 and spent a little time early on checking out nearby asteroids while gathering speed to be able to reach its ultimate target, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. As of this week, Rosetta finally spied the chunk of ice and space rock that it plans to board in the name of science.

* How about that? A compound found in tobacco may be useful in battling the West Nile Virus.

* I keep telling people daylight saving time is evil. We should just leave it in place all year or not have it at all. Now, the proof: springing forward is strongly linked to heart attacks.

* How do we measure the level of air pollution in ages past, before there were reliable scientific instruments? Well, we can look at the colors painters put in sunsets…

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