Yahoo gobble of the week: Yahoo announced Monday that it was acquiring social media mini-blogging site Tumblr for $1.1 billion in cash. Yahoo has a history of gobbling up other companies, sometimes with successful outcomes, often not.
Here are some companies Yahoo has dined on over the years: photo site Flickr, news site Summly, a stake in Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba, social bookmarking site Delicious, website group GeoCities and Internet radio site Broadcast.com.
It was widely reported last week that NASA's planet-hunting space telescope Kepler had suffered a serious failure.
There was lots of speculation that the problem could scuttle one of NASA's sexiest missions -- hunting earth-like worlds that might sustain life -- but there has been little explanation of exactly what failed.
Kepler must fix a steady gaze on a specific spot in space to detect these planets. According to the website spectrum.iee.org, the aiming and steadying system consists of four reaction wheels, which are electric motors attached to fly wheels. They rotate Kepler around its center of mass.
Kepler, launched in 2009 to orbit the sun mirroring the earth, has four reaction wheels, but only needs three. The fourth is a backup. But Kepler has had two failures and the remaining two wheels cannot aim the telescope and keep it steady.
Security solution of the week: This past weekend I stayed in a hotel and it brought up the recurrent question of the security of hotel-provided Internet access. It is usually not very good.
Guests don't know the level of security and don't control the security settings. If the hotel offers an Ethernet wired connection, that isn't any safer. You don't have any idea of the trustworthiness of the other people on the network.
You could set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that will encrypt your data.
But I have another solution that has worked well. I have a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot from my cell phone provider. It provides Internet connectivity when I am not near a Wi-Fi network. It is plenty fast and you can connect up to five devices.
I pay $50 a month for the service, but it is worth it because I use it in many situations where Wi-Fi is not available for my iPad, for example. Many phones can be set up as a hot spot also.
I use mine to get Internet access in hotels and other public places. With my wWi-Fi connection and not the hotel's, I am the only person on the network and I control the security settings and password. Much safer.
Good drone of the week: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Saskatchewan have announced the first known use of a small drone to save a life. The craft located an injured man whose car had flipped over in a remote, wooded area in near-freezing temperatures.
According to the agency's news release, the injured driver managed to call 911 from his mobile phone, but he didn't know his location. A manned helicopter with night vision was unable to find him.
But a Dragan Flyer X4-ES drone helicopter with a forward-looking infrared camera picked up the heat signature of the man, who was "curled up in a ball at the base of a tree next to a snow bank," the agency recounted.
Last words of the week: I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring. -- Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman
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