So here we are, looking over the penultimate edition of Matt’s Favorites. Don’t cry! You can still bug me at the Engineering Society of Detroit. But for now, let’s check out the local tech news…
* Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center will host a one-day conference to educate businesses and nonprofit organizations on how to properly use donation- and investment-based crowdfunding. The Michigan Invests Locally Exemption (MILE) Act will be among topics of discussion at the conference. The act, signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in December, gives Michigan-based small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs the ability to raise funds from Michigan residents using crowdfunding strategies. The “CrowdCon Lakeshore Crowdfunding Conference” will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 23, followed by a networking session from 4 to 6 p.m. The MAREC is at 200 Viridian Drive in Muskegon. There is a $50 registration fee, which covers up to two people from each organization. It is open to the public; breakfast and lunch with be provided. Registration is at https://clients.sbdcmichigan.org/workshop.aspx?ekey=72340006. The event will feature a panel discussion and keynote address by Angela Barbash, founder and director of Ypsilanti-based companies of Reconsider and Revalue. Supporting sponsors include Michigan Small Business Development Center, Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Grand Valley’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, eMerge, GR Current and the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association.
* Speaking of GVSU, the university will also hold a conference called Sustainable Solutions May 1-2 and feature workshop sessions and panel discussions on topics including supply chain sustainability, best practices, sustainable urban design, community development, food systems and more. Keynote speakers include Cascade Engineering CEO Fred Keller, who will discuss “The Business Collective: Making an Impact,” author Stuart Hart who will talk about “Entrepreneurship for a Sustainable World,” and author Bob Willard who will discuss “The Business Case for the Sustainability Imperative.” Panelists include representatives from Amway, Steelcase, Haworth, Meijer, Lean Logistics, Varnum, City of Grand Rapids and many others. Participants will have the opportunity to learn how sustainable practices are being embedded across academic, public and private sectors. The event runs from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. May 1 and 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 2 at the L. William Seidman Center on the GVSU Pew Grand Rapids Campus. Regsiter at http://www.gvsu.edu/sustainablesolutions. Registration is $149 per person by April 15 and $169 after April 15. The cost for faculty or staff is $50; the cost for students is $25. The conference is co-sponsored by Grand Valley’s Seidman College of Business, College of Community and Public Service, Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, and in partnership with The Right Place, the economic development agency for the Grand Rapids area. For more information or a conference schedule, visit http://www.gvsu.edu/sustainablesolutions or contact the Seidman College of Business at (616) 331-7100.
* Troy-based Billhighway, which automates finance for nonprofits, has launched a new website at http://www.billhighway.co. The website rolls out the welcome mat for finance, development and IT professionals with content that speaks directly to them. Billhighway’s cloud-based solution provides secure payment processing, eliminates manual tasks and integrates with existing software to help associations and nonprofits focus more on mission-driven activities. The company’s enterprise financial management platform can be configured to meet the needs of medium to large nonprofits and member-based associations, combining invoicing, payment processing, accounting and banking in one centralized system. Visitors interested in leveraging existing technology investments should swing by The Integration Station to learn how Billhighway merges incoming funds and constituent data with The Raiser’s Edge, Salesforce, member management and social fundraising software. White papers, videos and success stories woven throughout the site help communicate the company’s value proposition. Users can learn more about Billhighway’s partnership with clients like Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan and the Michigan Education Association. By automating the donation process and integrating with The Raiser’s Edge, Billhighway helped Gleaners to expedite donor thank you notes resulting in an incremental $500,000 per year in revenue. Billhighway developed an automated dues collection system for the MEA, providing their members with customized monthly statements and multiple payment options, while reducing processing time from more than 200 hours to less than one.
* The Pleasant Ridge promotional marketing company HelloWorld Inc., formerly ePrize, has awarded two computer science students its inaugural Technology Scholarship. The $5,000 award was granted to Andy Peterson of Hudsonville, a student at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, and Samuel Delamarter of Eaton Rapids, a student at Aquinas College, also in Grand Rapids. In partnership with the Michigan Colleges Alliance, the HelloWorld Technology Scholarship provides financial assistance to college students while connecting them to potential internship and employment opportunities. Scholarship recipients were chosen in a two-step process. In November 2013, full-time computer science and computer information systems students were invited to complete an application and essay outlining their personal and academic background. To be considered, students were required to have a cumulative 3.0 grade point average or higher. The four finalists were then invited for an in-person interview with the HelloWorld talent team. Peterson is a junior at Calvin majoring in computer science. A part-time developer at CQL, he was drawn to Calvin because of its computer science program. During his junior year of high school, he helped started a robotics program, which later took part in the FIRST Tech Challenge. Andy is now president of the Residence Hall Executive Team, a mentor for the FIRST Tech Challenge and Te-Create and is on the Dean’s List. Delamarter is double majoring in computer information systems and mathematics. He works as a specialized technology assistant at Aquinas’ IT department and carries a 3.8 GPA. After graduating, he is planning to attend graduate school, start a business or become a teacher.
* Joseph J. Horak has been named director of the Family Owned Business Institute in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University. Horak has been an adjunct faculty member in the Seidman College of Business since 2007 where he has taught a class in family business. He coached a Grand Valley team of students at the 2014 International Family Business Case Competition that won the award for Most Creative and Innovative Team. Horak’s doctorate is in counseling and leadership from the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology Department at Western Michigan University where he was honored with the department’s Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2011. Horak was appointed to the Licensing Board for Marriage and Family Therapy by Gov. Engler and to the Licensing Board for Psychology by Gov. Snyder. Horak is a past president of the Michigan Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and previously was the senior director of Leadership Development and Family Business Consultation at DWH. The mission of the Family Owned Business Institute is to promote, preserve, influence and impact family businesses through quality academic research, curriculum and information services. In September 1999, the Seidman College of Business and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, working with its Family-Owned Business Council, raised $301,000 in honor of Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos. This became the seed money for the Family Owned Business Institute.
* MiCTA, the Saginaw-based national nonprofit tech consortium, has selected Grand Rapids-based Netech Corp. as an approved national network equipment vendor for its membership. MiCTA’s bidding process enables it to evaluate technology-oriented and telecommunications solutions on behalf of its nationwide membership. MiCTA members may then select highly qualified vendors for telecommunications and technology-oriented products and services at volume discounts without conducting additional competitive bidding processes. MiCTA, located at 4805 Towne Centre, Suite 100 in Saginaw, represents thousands of higher education, K-12, healthcare, library, governmental and charitable entities. Nationally, MiCTA seeks to negotiate discounted purchase contracts for telecommunications and technology services for its members, provide helpful information, participate in legislative and regulatory telecommunications advocacy, and resolve common voice, video and data issues. More at http://www.mictatech.org.
* The Jackson-based utility Consumers Energy is being recognized nationally for its excellence and commitment to energy efficiency in Michigan with the 2014 Energy Star Partner of the Year Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Officials from Consumers Energy will receive the award April 28 in Detroit, the day before the ACI National Home Performance Conference and Trade Show. Consumers Energy is a host sponsor of the conference, which will bring more than 1,000 home performance professionals to Michigan. Consumers Energy was recognized for several accomplishments within its energy efficiency programs, including completing more than 1,950 Home Performance with Energy Star projects, working with homeowners save energy and money; helping 415 homes to be built to Energy tar specifications and working with the Michigan Association of Realtors to promote the value of Energy Star to Michigan’s economy; improving K-12 buildings in 19 districts across Michigan through Consumers Energy’s Building Performance with Energy Star for K-12 Schools pilot program; and working with more than 400 Michigan retailers to promote Energy Star-certified lighting products and distributing Energy Star-certified light bulbs through partnerships with food banks. Consumers Energy launched its energy efficiency programs following Michigan’s 2008 energy law. Consumers Energy is working with Michigan residents to reduce electric use by at least 5.5 percent and natural gas use by 3.85 percent by 2015. Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.5 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
* The Ann Arbor supply chain design software developer LLamasoft said Tuesday that Sweden’s Lund University has selected LLamasoft Supply Chain Guru as its supply chain modeling technology of choice for research and teaching. The university is being supported by LLamasoft alliance partner Optilon. Sweden’s Lund University is ranked as one of the top 100 in the world, providing education and research in engineering, science, law, social sciences, economics and management, medicine, humanities, theology, fine art, music and drama. The university’s 47,700 students and 7,500 employees are based at campuses in Lund, Malmö and Helsingborg. LLamasoft supply chain design software helps organizations worldwide design and improve their supply chain operations. LLamasoft solutions enable companies across a wide range of industries to model, optimize and simulate their supply chain network, leading to major improvements in cost, service, sustainability and risk mitigation. More at http://www.llamasoft.com.
* As part of its continuing network investment and ongoing 4G LTE rollout, AT&T has upgraded a mobile Internet cell site in Pinckney to expand AT&T 4G LTE coverage for area residents and businesses. Customers can now enjoy faster speeds in Pinckney in the area of west Huron River Drive and along Dexter-Pinckney Road and north of the Hudson Mills Metropark. The new cell site is one part of AT&T’s ongoing efforts to expand 4G LTE coverage and to drive investment and innovation to deliver the nation’s best, most advanced mobile Internet experience for customers.
And now the national news, from our pals at CBS News, News.com and elsewhere…
* Here’s a cool-sounding startup — Airpooler, in Boston, lets you hitch a ride on a private plane for the cost of the plane’s tank of gas.
* CBSNews.com Technology Editor Chenda Ngak rounds up the latest and greatest mobile apps for her weekly online video show “Eye on Apps” — this week’s episode features the top beauty apps to help viewers look their best on the go. You can see the episode at
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/beauty-on-demand-check-out-apps-from-glamsquad-lifebooker/. Additional episodes, featuring travel, shopping, brain training, gardening, dating and gaming apps, can be found at http://www.cbsnews.com/feature/eye-on-apps.
* Mars took the celestial stage Tuesday night when it lined up with the Earth and sun in a kind of cosmic preview to the Red Planet’s closest approach to Earth during a total lunar eclipse later this month. The alignment between Mars, the Earth and the sun is called “opposition” because Mars and the sun are opposite to each other in our sky. Opposition and the date of closest encounter are slightly different because Earth and Mars are not in perfectly circular orbits.
* Nominees for Webby Awards, which celebrate Internet achievement, were announced today, and they range from famous — or infamous, as the case may be — celebrities to groundbreaking tech companies, mobile apps and games. The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a group of 1,000 internet experts and professionals, announced the nominees for the 18th Annual Webby Awards on Tuesday. The academy will choose regular award winners, and the public will also have a chance to cast their votes for some of their favorite nominees at the Webby People’s Voice Awards. All winners will be announced on Tuesday, April 29.
* The nutritional quality of food crops may be at risk if climate change intensifies, according to a recent study. In a wheat field test, scientists found that elevated carbon dioxide may inhibit plants’ assimilation of nitrate into proteins. The findings were published online in the journal Nature Climate Change on April 6. Food quality is declining under the rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide that we are experiencing,” said lead author Arnold Bloom, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences in University of California-Davis, in a statement.
* Internal Apple documents, revealed as part of the company’s legal battle over patent infringement with Samsung, reportedly show Apple’s own view of the iPhone’s shortcomings. According to documents submitted as court evidence and cited by Re/code, Apple knows exactly what is holding the iPhone back: small screens and high prices.
* Chipmaker Intel, struggling with a shrinking personal computer market, is shutting its assembly and test operation in Costa Rica and eliminating 1,500 jobs, a spokesman said on Tuesday.
* The United States Navy’s newest weapon uses no gunpowder — instead, uses electromagnetism to accelerate a projectile up to seven times the speed of sound, where it’s devastatingly deadly.
* PC users have heard this repeated again and again over the past few months, but this is a final goodbye — Windows XP was officially declared dead on Tuesday. Dead is perhaps a bit extreme, as computers that run XP will still work. However, Microsoft will no longer support the 12-year-old operating system, which mean no more updates and no more security patches for the already vulnerable OS.
* A major new vulnerability called Heartbleed could let attackers gain access to users’ passwords and fool people into using bogus versions of Web sites, and some already say they’ve found Yahoo passwords as a result. The problem, disclosed Monday night, is in open-source software called OpenSSL that’s widely used to encrypt Web communications.
* Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone includes a faster processor, bigger display, and an improved camera. The company took it a step further with the Galaxy S5. Not only is the device dust and water resistant, but it’s also equipped with both a fingerprint scanner and a heart rate sensor. The Galaxy S5 is slated to be one of the top selling smartphones of the year. Here’s everything you need to know about getting your hands on one as soon as possible.
* In a new survey, 72 percent of Americans say they won’t buy Google Glass because of privacy concerns.
* The government of Tunisia is trying to raise money from Star Wars fans to save the remote movie set that’s still out there — the fictional childhood home of Luke Skywalker.
* A Utah mom sees comments on her son’s Facebook page. They are from teens who allegedly claim they will shoot him. She informs the police, who say that the teens were ready to carry out the threat.
* UFO enthusiasts are excited about a strange blip of light in a photo from Mars, but the real explanation is likely much less exotic than alien life — scientists say it’s probably a cosmic ray hit.
* Comcast officially kicked off the regulatory review process Tuesday for its $45.2 billion merger with Time Warner Cable with a filing detailing the benefits and defending itself against claims that the deal would harm competition.
* Decidedly old school and proud of it, Pegasystems CEO Alan Trefler says the current app culture has abandoned the concept of customer-centricity with serious consequences for the US’ ability to make serious software.