OK, so I’m all out of winter jokes. Do you have any winter jokes left, smartypants? Thought so. All I have to say is this: 38 days until spring! (And that’s when we get the really wet, heavy snow, making your snow shovel Myocardial Infarction On A Stick.) Anyway, on to the tech news, local and national… and go, U! S! A!

* I’ve got a crazy-good panel for this Thursday’s monthly morning coffee at Lawrence Technological University. We’ll be talking about technology and healthcare, a topic that’s been in the news just a little bit lately. And check out this panel: We have… Mark Bennett, President, MJBennett PLLC, one of the busiest healthcare and life sciences investors and attorneys in town; Jim Giordano, CEO, CareTech Solutions, a huge company in Troy that provides IT outsourcing to more than 200 hospitals all over North America; Dennis Nash, CEO, DataSpeaks, which provides data analytics tools to pharma companies to accelerate clinical trials and to repurpose data from abandoned trials; Stephanie Rosenbaum, CEO, TecEd Inc., a user research and design firm that has worked on state healthcare exchanges under the Affordable Care Act; and Subra Sripada, executive vice president and chief administrative and information officer, Beaumont Health System, a huge health system working on electronic health records and mobile health apps. Big brains in the room for you to pick, people! Networking starts at 7:30 a.m., the event from 8 to 9ish, all in the University Technology and Learning Center Gallery at Lawrence Tech, 21000 W. 10 Mile Road in Southfield. Be there!

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* Verizon is hosting a nifty wireless workshop on “doing more with your Samsung Android smartphone” beyond the basic functions Feb. 21 in Westland, at the Verizon shop at 35000 Warren Road from 4 to 5 p.m. The event is free. Verizon staff will show users how to download music and watch movies with Media Hub, using Mobile Hotspot, and syncing options. Other Samsung features like S Beam and AllShare Play will also be demonstrated, along with troubleshooting ideas. To register go to

* Wayne State University will host a symposium on big data and business analytics Wednesday, March 26 at Wayne State’s McGregor Memorial Conference Center. Wayne State has a Big Data and Business Analytics Group made up of faculty and staff experts ready to help business and IT executives, decision makers and marketing professionals learn how to use big data to take action, seize new growth opportunities and make their organizations more efficient. The symposium will focus on pragmatic issues faced while deploying big data strategies to drive business success. It will have a special focus on managing and analyzing the data captured through product development, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, sales and service in a global setting. The symposium also seeks to provide a clear distinction between legacy analytics pervasive in industry and the emerging next generation tools, technologies and processes that will form the foundation for a new wave of innovation and growth. In addition to Wayne State experts, the symposium will feature keynote speeches, panel discussions and case studies featuring a number of leading industry experts who have successfully put analytics into action at their respective companies. The symposium is open to all business and information technology executives, decision makers, marketing professionals and others interested in learning how to put analytics into action. To register, visit http://specialevents.wayne.edu/2014bigdata/. More information about the speakers, program, sponsors, lodging and more is available at http://engineering.wayne.edu/big-data-analytics/symposium/index.php.

* The Society for Technical Communication – Southeast Michigan chapter will host a program meeting on the excellent book “Brainiac Paradox” by Mark Cornillie. It’ll be held Thursday, Feb. 13 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Room C406 of the Welcome Center at Lawrence Technological University, 21000 W. 10 Mile Road, Southfield. Anyone who has worked extensively in technical fields is bound to have encountered the Brainiac Paradox – the tendency for those gifted technically to be less gifted interpersonally. It is an age-old phenomenon, but one with tremendous contemporary implications. Technical innovations and solutions are increasingly important to society, but advancements are impeded by communication shortfalls. More at http://www.stc-sm.org.

Red Cedar Technologies of East Lansing has issued a call for presentations for its Optimize This! 2014 conference, being held Oct. 13-17 at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. Presentations will be evaluated based on overall quality, relevance to the field of optimization, practical application of Red Cedar’s HEEDS design optimization software, timeliness of the topic, and speaker qualifications. Please visit ww.redcedartech.com/CFP for more information and to apply. The deadline for presentation applications is April 30.

And now the national stuff…

* Here’s a look at the high tech tune-up that the United States’ bobsled and luge teams have undergone the last four years. Who knows if it will be enough to knock the Germans and the Russians off the medal stand, but we can hope.

* Officials in California have announced proposed legislation requiring smartphones to have a built-in “kill switch” to render stolen or lost devices inoperable. State Sen. Mark Leno, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and others said Friday the bill would require mobile devices sold in or shipped to California to have the anti-theft devices starting next year.

* NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars has captured its first view of Earth from the surface of the Red Planet — a striking image that shows our home planet as a bright light in the Martian sky, with the moon shining nearby. The Curiosity rover photographed Earth from Mars on Jan. 31 using the left-eye camera on its head-like science mast. You can see a video of Curiosity’s Earth-from-Mars images here.

* Here’s more info on apps for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. And here’s a really cool 3D flyover of the Olympics. And check out this video of a Russian police choir singing Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”

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* Edward Snowden used a common web crawler program to scrape the NSA’s systems and grab secret data, says a report. It’s news that raises more questions about security at the agency.

* An angry debate has grabbed headlines as an influx of highly compensated workers — many in high-tech jobs — is being blamed for pushing up the cost of living for San Francisco residents beyond their ability to pay. For example, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom, one-bath rental unit in San Francisco is a jaw-dropping $3,135, up almost 39 percent since 2009, according to Real Facts, an apartment data firm. Animosity against the tech industry has skyrocketed, often taking the shape of protests condemning the shuttles that ferry employees of Google, Facebook, and other tech companies from their homes in the city to corporate campuses in Silicon Valley.

* Yahoo is beefing up its local-search results with the help of a Yelp partnership, according to a report. Yahoo’s search results will feature Yelp listings and reviews “in the coming weeks,” an anonymous source told The Wall Street Journal.

* Dong Nguyen, creator of Flappy Bird, the app that’s been making $50,000 a day in ad revenue (and that some have called the worst smartphone game ever), tweets that he’s pulling the game.

* Here’s the first trailer for HBO’s new Silicon Valley comedy.

* Twelve weeks from now, the majority of Mozilla Firefox users will get a massive overhaul to the browser’s interface and features. The project, code-named Australis, has been limited to Firefox’s nightly builds, but adventurous fans can check out what’s in the works with Friday’s release of Firefox 29 Aurora.

* The problem with robotic hands is that, without nerves, it’s impossible to tell how hard you are gripping something. It seems, however, that a solution will soon be available: between researchconducted by Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University last year, and new research that has just been unveiled, it seems amputees might soon be able to “feel” with their prosthetics.

* Connecticut police say the FAA is investigating a drone equipped with a camera that appeared over the scene of a car crash. Was it being used for commercial or even journalistic purposes?

* Sometimes storms uncover interesting things. A storm uncovered some footprints along a Norfolk beach in England. This wouldn’t be too odd, except these footprints are more than 800,000 years old. That’s ancient enough to earn them the distinction of being the oldest footprints found outside of Africa. You can’t just dust for footprints, so researchers had to use their knowledge of the area’s sediments to date the markings. Archaeologists from the British Museum and Trinity St David’s University accidentally stumbled on the footprints during a geophysics survey of the shore last May.

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* How hard is it to hack a car? Turns out… not hard at all.