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Openly Gay Google Exec Megan Smith Named U.S. Chief Technology Officer: VIDEO

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Megan Smith, a Google executive and former CEO of the online LGBT community site PlanetOut, has been selected by President Obama as the new Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. 

As CTO, Smith will "lead Administration-wide efforts to unleash the power of technology, data, and innovation to help meet our nation’s goals and the needs of our citizens."

Said Obama of Smith's selection:

Megan has spent her career leading talented teams and taking cutting-edge technology and innovation initiatives from concept to design to deployment. I am confident that in her new role as America’s Chief Technology Officer, she will put her long record of leadership and exceptional skills to work on behalf of the American people. I am grateful for her commitment to serve, and I look forward to working with her and with our new Deputy U.S. CTO, Alexander Macgillivray, in the weeks and months ahead.

The Washington Post adds:

Smith, the new U.S. CTO, is an MIT-trained mechanical engineer and entrepreneur with deep roots in the California tech world. She currently serves as a vice president at Google[x], the company's lab for ambitious next-generation projects, like its delivery-by-drone Project Wing and its balloon-borne Internet connectivity program Project Loon. For nine years, Smith led Google's team responsible for developing new business, where she led the acquisitions that would become Google Earth and Google Maps. And she's familiar to Washington's burgeoning "civic tech" community through her work with the Google Crisis Response project.

Check out a Bloomberg report on how Smith might shape the tech policy landscape in her new position, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Towletech v.121: Game of Thrones VFX, Mars Rocket, Google Cars, 3D-Printed Castles, Apple iWatch

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BY KYLER GEOFFROY

A weekly round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web.

Road A new Jurassic Park set photo reveals a tribute statue for John Hammond - the park's eccentric founder played by actor Lord Richard Attenborough who passed away Monday at the age of 90.

Road 'Spiral of silence' - Facebook users are shying away from discussing hot-button political/social issues out of fear that others will disagree.

Road Even video game characters are taking the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Road If you're as big of a Game of Thrones nerd as me, you'll love this behind the scenes video of how the show's Emmy-award winning visual effects come to life. 

Road NASA sets a 2018 launch date for the rocket that will eventually take us to Mars.

ComicRoad The GOP has a retro-style new video game that helps teach you why it's so important for them to retake the Senate in this year's midterm elections.

Road The world's most expensive Superman comic just sold for $3.2 million on eBay. 

Road A Shutter Island TV series is being developed by HBO. 

Road Amazon to buy livestreaming video platform site Twitch for nearly $1 billion. 

Road Reports are hinting that Apple's iWatch may be coming to stores early 2015. 

Road How virtual reality could lead to an explosion in "immersive journalism" content: 

Road Star Wars' new, streamlined canon has offically begun with the release of the new book Star Wars: A New Dawn

Road Avoiding potholes, navigating through rain and four other simple things that Google's self-driving cars still can't handle

CastleRoad Engineer builds gorgeous 3D-printed castle in his backyard garden. No word yet on any dragon sightings. 

Road Liam Neeson wants to reprise his Batman Begins role as Ra's Al Ghul on the Arrow TV series.  

Road Check out the incredible hi-resolution imagery coming soon to Google Maps. 

Road Smartphone "kill switch" becomes law in California. 

Road Nintendo has a new 3DS handheld coming to Japan. 

Road Apparently Thor, the God of Thunder, has found himself working for Amazon's customer support line during his down time between films. 


Gay Social Networking App Hornet Helps Users Find HIV Clinics

HornetAs mobile social networks like Grindr, Scruff, and Tinder continue to grow in popularity, the developers behind the apps race to add new features to entice users to their services. Hornet, a San Francisco-based relative newcomer to the game, is banking on a commitment to public health in order to expand its userbase. Typically used to help gay men find one another using their phones’ geo-location functionality, Hornet can now also assist its users in locating nearby HIV clinics.

Incorporating a locator tool developed by AIDS.gov, Hornet’s app will display the 10 closest clinics that administer HIV screening and counseling. Additionally, Hornet’s profile creator will emphasize the importance of knowing one’s status. Along with height, weight, and eye color, Hornet will provide users with the ability to designate their HIV status, as a part of its “Know Your Status” campaign. Once a user designates the date of their last HIV test, the application will automatically remind them to get tested again after a designated amount of time.


Portland Apple Customer Finds Homophobic Slur On Receipt, Calls For Social Competency Training

AppleSlurAdam Catanzarite went into a Portland, Oregon Apple store for a pair of headphones, and left with what could be considered a homophobic slur. A few days after his purchase, Catanzarite took a closer look at his receipt only to find "f@g.com" written where his email (which he declined to give to the employee) should have been.

Catanzarite, an HIV prevention specialist at Cascade AIDS Project and a self-identified queer individual, took action, calling the store, speaking with the manager, and eventually being promised a refund; as of yesterday, he had not received it.

PQ Monthly reports:

In a post to Facebook, Catanzarite explained his immediate response and why he felt this was unacceptable:

“The store manager did not do what he said he would to rectify the situation… being queer and having worked with queer youth, I know first-hand that this is an example of the type of #homophobic beliefs and actions that lead young people to harm themselves. This type of action is NOT OKAY, especially from a company that prides itself on being LGBTQ inclusive and welcoming.”

Rather than fire the employee who entered the offending phrase, Catanzarite believes that there should be more cultural competency training for Apple employees on the whole. The Oregonian reports:

Catanzarite followed the initial Facebook post with another on Wednesday morning, describing the encounter in greater detail. In that post, he said:

“The employee who entered f@g.com should not be fired (take a minute to let that settle in if you need to), but should be given an opportunity to learn about the impact of the use of the word fag and how these words impact the individuals who have been oppressed by them.”

Catanzarite said he hasn’t heard from Apple regarding how or why the slur appeared on his receipt but in this case, he said, the employee’s intent doesn’t matter.

“All I can really focus on is how it impacted me and how we can move forward to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Several updates from PQ Monthly indicate that the incident really could have been accidental on the part of the employee, particularly regarding the quick input of emails (when not given to the employee) and the proximity of "f" and "g" on the keyboard. The unnamed contact--an employee at the same Apple store location--also said that they believe the employee in question is homosexual and that they have heard him use the word "fag" "in a casual, callous, or even joking manner.”

Misunderstanding or not, it is undoubtedly important to recognize the sensitivity around use of inappropriate or offensive language. Apple has yet to respond to the situation, beyond recognition of its occurrence. 


Satellite Launching This Wednesday Will Provide First Public High-Res Images Of Earth: VIDEO

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Look to the skies on August 13th and you may spot the launch of a new, high-tech satellite that will blow your mind - or send your Big Brother paranoia into overdrive. The Worldview-3 from DigitalGlobe will become the first satellite to provide public high-resolution photos of our planet, right down to the numbers on your mailbox and the grass on your lawn. Google and Microsoft, DigitalGlobe customers, will be your best bets for the high-res imagery, so look for Google Maps to upgrade in the near future.

Gizmodo reports:

Walter Scott, founder and CTO of DigitalGlobe, explains some of the satellite's other applications that are more than just skin deep:

'The Worldview-3 is going to offer the highest commercially available resolution of any satellite system out there. Combining that with the power of our constellation, which gives multiple visits per day over multiple hours of the day, means the ability to monitor what's going on and enabling our defense and intelligence customers to make decisions on the basis of fact than the basis of fear."

The Worldview-3 will operate around 383 miles above Earth, making its precise detail all the more impressive. At such high resolution, the company also says the satellite will help see through smoke and identify moisture content and other materials. DigitalGlobe will begin publicly selling images after six months of operation.

Worldview-3 will take off on August 13th at 2:30pm; you can watch it all live here.

And check out DigitalGlobe's video about the Worldview project (and some stunning images of our planet), AFTER THE JUMP...

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Towletech v.118: Supermoon, Eddie Redmayne, Jurassic Wedding, Curiosity Rover

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BY KYLER GEOFFROY

A weekly round-up of the best tech, science, and geek-related news from around the web.

 Road Tonight's supermoon will be the biggest of the year

 Road Tesla and Space X founder Elon Musk says artificial intelligence could potentially be "more dangerous than nukes" 

 Road Check out the debut trailer for The Theory of Everything - the upcoming film starring Eddie Redmayne as renowned physicist Stephen Hawking:

  

 Road Researchers can now listen to voices in a room by filming a bag of chips and analyzing the video of the vibrations on the bag. 

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 12.47.30 PM Road Terminator 5 gets official title Terminator: Genisys. The film, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, and Jai Courtney, opens July 1, 2015. 

 Road Jeff Goldblum really knows how to inject some adrenaline into a wedding.  

 Road Samsung is reportedly working on a new phone with a wraparound, flexible display. 

 Road Legendary Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli announced it will be taking a "brief pause" from making films. 

 Road Neil deGrasse Tyson tells people to "chill out" about genetically modified food (GMOs), issues follow up message after people proceed to not chill out. 

 Road Tyson also narrated a new video this week celebrating the Mars 'Curiosity' rover and how it has exceeded all expectations these past two years on the martian surface.  

 

 Road Optical computers, the kind that could perform calculations at the speed of light, could be on your desk by 2020.

 Road Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 1.02.01 PMHBO's upcoming re-imagining of Michael Crichton's sci-fi western thriller Westworld adds James Marsden to its cast, which already includes Sir Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood.  

 Road Introducing the washing machine that can fit in your backpack

 Road Wired looks at what happens when technological innovation leads to jobs becoming obselete. "The idea that robots could make employment itself optional may sound fantastic. No more work! But the end result could be more, not less angst. We’d still have to find our place among the robots, except this time without work as a guidepost for defining a sense of purpose. By eliminating the need for people to work, robots would free us up to focus on what really makes us human. The scariest possibility of all is that only then do we figure out what really makes us human is work."

 Road Amazon and publisher Hachette continue to be at each other's throats over the price of ebooks with Amazon raising prices on Hachette books, stopping pre-orders, delaying shipping times, and getting readers to sound off until the dispute is resolved. 

 Road President Obama spoke out in favor of net neutrality this week and the tech community was understandably pleased


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