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Matt's Favorites: Cool App Ideas At Catholic Central, Michigan Energy Forum, And Much More

So here we are at another midweek, with a bit of a warmup underway, and it's time once again for the latest in tech news. Let's check it out!

* I am absolutely in awe of the cool ideas for new apps developed at Detroit Catholic Central for the Compuware Mobile App Challenge. I was honored to serve as a judge at the event and was just blown away by the creativity of the students and how good their presentations were. Congratulations to the winning group, Team DirectiX, and their Community Connection app, which breaks new ground in linking volunteers with nonprofits -- starting with high school students who have community service hours as a graduation requirement, but eventually spreading everywhere. And the other teams were no slouches either -- three of then, MediConnect from team EverTek, MedSync, and Body Broadcast, were variations on the theme of mobile medical information sharing, and the other, MyStory, was a really cool idea for combining your calendar and your social media postings into a single timeline that would tell the story of your life. For more about the challenge -- and wouldn't it be cool to bring it to your school? -- visit this link.

* Ann Arbor Spark will sponsor the Michigan Energy Forum April 3 on "distributive storage." Distributed energy storage is a key supportive technology tohelp achieve a high proportion of renewable energy usage at high reliability. Come hear the answers to the following questions and more: Where and when does it make sense in Michigan today? What Michigan policies should be in-place to support this growing market? Should utilities own or manage a customer's distributive storage? The event runs from 5 to 7 p.m. at Spark Central, 330 E. Liberty St., Lower Level, Ann Arbor. For more information, visit this linkRegister at this link. The Michigan Energy Forum will also be streamed live at You can watch the event and ask questions right from your computer if you can't attend the event. If you were unable to participate in the live webcast, visit to view this and all recorded events. Final video should be available within 48 hours of the live event. We welcome suggestions on topics and speakers for future events. For more information, email

* Math enthusiasts and educators, numerical experts and others inspired by the finite element method are invited to Wayne State University March 28-29 for the 2014 Finite Element Circus. Mathematicians from across the country will convene in Detroit for this annual conference. The program will consist of randomly ordered talks volunteered by conference participants. The finite element method is used in numerous disciplines, from engineering and computer science to aeronautics and medicine. Registration for the Finite Element Circus, which will be held on WSU's main campus, is free and open to the public. For more information, visit or email The Finite Element Circus, devoted to the theory and applications of the finite element method and related areas of numerical analysis and partial differential equations, is a conference series with a rich history dating back to the 1970s. The circus was conceived by mathematicians Ivo Babuska, Bruce Kellogg and Jim Bramble over beer and pizza at the Beltway Plaza shopping center in Hyattsville, Md. in 1970. The first circus was held at the University of Maryland, College Park. Each year, a different college or university hosts the event. Finite element analysis is used to test products used in a range of industries, including automotive, electronics, mechanical engineering and renewable energies. The technology can be applied to most engineering and technology disciplines.

* The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is letting you check in to a day in the life of a person living with Type 1 diabetes today as part of its Twitter campaign using the hashtag #JDRF1Day. Follow along today with that hashtag and meet Livonia native and Royal Oak resident Ryan M. Dinkgrave, a 21-year veteran when it comes to managing his T1D. Dinkgrave was diagnosed in 1993 at the age of 10. When he was 16, Dinkgrave became one of the first children to use an insulin pump through the University of Michigan's Pediatric Endocrinology Department. Today, he works at Focus: HOPE as the Detroit organization's manager of government affairs and is a JDRF Metro Detroit Southeast Michigan board member. More at this link. 

* Southfield-based ImageSoft Inc. said that the California First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco had implemented ImageSoft's TrueFiling software for electronic court document filing, becoming the first court in the state to mandate electronic filing for all civil cases. TrueFiling allows documents to flow from the Internet into the case file and streamlines and accelerates the court's internal processes through automated workflow. The software enables remote filing of documents from anywhere an Internet connection is available. Since TrueFiling drastically reduces paper handling, it improves overall efficiency for the court and filers to the court. For the court, e-filing means better use of resources and greater confidence in the completeness of the case file due to fewer lost or misplaced documents. For busy attorneys it means considerable savings by eliminating the need to copy, process and deliver thousands of paper documents each year and less time spent travelling back and forth to the court to file paper documents. Attorneys also will benefit from real-time communication with the courts via the TrueFiling portal, which enables them to file documents with the court on the internet. TrueFiling also offers a bundling feature that allows the filer to combine several filings into a single transaction and provides automatic proof of service. To help prepare attorneys, court staff and others for the transition to e-Filing, TrueFiling training sessions were held in January. TrueFiling has consistently received high marks from end users and offers an intuitive, user-friendly interface. Later this spring, upon completion of the pilot implementation in the First Appellate District, ImageSoft will work with the court to provide TrueFiling to the five remaining California appellate districts and the state Supreme Court. More at

And now the national and global stuff from our friends at CBS News, CNet's and elsewhere...

* March Madness is here! Have you filled out your brackets yet? Whether you're a newbie or a pro, here are some mobile apps to help you get through the Final Four.

*Google announced Tuesday a new version of its Android software tailored for Internet-connected watches and other devices that can be worn instead of held. Android Wear is expected to power an array of so-called smartwatches expected to be released later this year.

* Apple is making changes to its iPad lineup. The tech giant announced Tuesday that it is replacing the iPad 2 with the fourth-generation iPad with Retina display. The 9.7-inch tablet was made unavailable after the launch of the iPad Air in October. The iPad with Retina display is available in a Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi with cellular model, and comes with an A6X chip, 5 megapixel iSight camera and LTE support.

* Spending time avoiding someone on social media has always been easier than avoiding them in real life. Not anymore -- thanks to a new app called Cloak. An "antisocial network," Cloak rounds up users' Foursquare and Instagram geolocation data to help them avoid others that they'd rather not see. According to its App Store page, the company even describes it as an "incognito mode for real life" -- a nod to Google Chrome browser's hidden search function.

* The skeletons of six cats, including four kittens, found in an Egyptian cemetery may push back the date of cat domestication in Egypt by nearly 2,000 years. The new find includes two adult cats and four kittens from at least two litters. The size of the bones and timing of the litters hints that humans may have kept the cats. The bones date back to between 3600 B.C. and 3800 B.C., which would be 2,000 years before the earliest known evidence of cat domestication in Egypt, archaeologists report in the May issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

* Scientists have found new evidence for the Big Bang in evidence of hyperinflation in the extremely early universe (and I mean really early, like 0.00000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds after <insert the name of your preferred deity> said <insert whatever you believe said deity said> to create the universe). It's really esoteric stuff, so I'll let the world's second coolest scientist after Neil deGrasse Tyson, the estimable Phil Plait, explain it in his terrific Bad Astronomy blog. And here's more from CBS News.

* Scientists also say they may have spotted waves on the oceans of Saturn's moon Titan. If so, they'd be the first ocean waves off Earth. Of course, on frigid Titan, water is frozen so hard as to be metallic, and the seas are made of natural gas...

* Apple could be weeks away from starting production on the iPhone 6. That's according to the Commercial Times (Chinese language), which Reuters translated and reported. Apple's manufacturing partner Pegatron is opening up new factory space and recruiting workers to build the iPhone 6, according to the report. The production would begin in the second quarter, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.

* Newsweek could face legal repercussions over its claim to have found Bitcoin's inventor. Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto has hired a lawyer specializing in business, entertainment and the arts and issued a lengthy statement denying any connection with the virtual currency, alluding to the "confusion and stress" the newsweekly's story has caused him and his family.

* It has been 24 years since the launch of NASA's Hubble Telescope and to celebrate the anniversary, astronomers captured a photographic series of a star birth nearly 6,400 light-years away.

* It's practically inevitable: sometime around the age of 40, people start to need reading glasses. Try as they might, there's no avoiding it. Or is there? The creators of two mobile apps say practicing with their technology can train your eyes to see better, though some eye doctors aren't so sure.

* The National Security Agency has the capability to record "100 percent" of the telephone calls placed in a foreign country and play them back up to a month later, according to a report Tuesday by The Washington Post.

* The computing industry wants to make it easier to back up your data and sync your smartphone without having to rely on an actual cable. Specifically, the standards body behind the USB standard is trying a second time to introduce a wireless variation of the connection technology to devices like PCs, phones, and cameras.

* Google is unleashing its Chromecast video streamer in Europe today, nearly eight months after it debuted in the US. Costing just £30 ($50) in the UK or 35 euros elsewhere, it's cheaper than its competitors such as Apple TV or the Roku Streaming Stick, although currently there's less to view in Europe. The 2-inch dongle plugs straight into an HDMI port on a TV and streams video from YouTube and Netflix along with Google's own music and movie services. In the UK, it will also support the BBC's iPlayer.

* Some news for fans excited to find out what life is like post-Ewok battles and that metal bikini: Lucasfilm has announced a start date for shooting "Star Wars: Episode VII." Director J.J. Abrams and his team will begin shooting principal photography in May at London's historic Pinewood Studios. Lucasfilm also announced that "Star Wars: Episode VII" will take place about 30 years after the events of "Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi," and will star "a trio of new young leads along with some very familiar faces."

* My favorite political website,, has relaunched as a more general news website. It features this nifty article about this past winter in the United States. It wasn't anywhere near the coldest on record nationwide, but boy, it was miserable in some places, specifically the Upper Midwest.

* And aren't you glad Courtney Love has found the missing Malaysian airliner?

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