Greetings fellow tech junkies and welcome back for yet another adrenaline-packed dose of This Week in Technology for December 23rd, 2013.  In case you somehow missed it, the world is officially in frenzy mode for last minute holiday gifts and major retailers are determined to show us pictures of shiny new tablets right up until the deadline.  A recent survey claimed that we are exposed to tech ads a record amount of 136 times per day across all of our media devices (TV’s included), and that’s assuming that you actually go to work and have a social life outside of the web.  For the cost of advertising alone, you’d think it would have been cheaper to just give us each a new Surface tablet and call it a day.

This edition of This Week in Technology couldn’t just focus on holiday gadgets and gizmos, however, because the world around us has somehow found time to hire a new director for the Obamacare website, send two astronauts on a critical spacewalk mission aboard the International Space Station, and we’ve unleashed a new form of video ads on Facebook as well.  So let’s stop dreaming of free tablets and get right down to business-

US Astronauts to Fix Space Station

Astronauts

Our lead tech story of the day takes us 220 miles above the Earth’s surface to the quickly-revolving International Space Station.  You may have heard in other news recently that a major cooling system failure threatens to scrap the entire 12 year program, and NASA has decided that the best course of action will be to send two US astronauts out for a series of space walks to evaluate and repair the problem. Astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio are the two American heroes being called upon to complete this urgent repair and it will take place throughout the week of Christmas.

These walks took place outside the International Space Station on Saturday, December 21st, 2013 with follow-up missions scheduled on the 23rd and 25th.  It is believed that a faulty coolant pump is to blame and since the ISS has a spare already on board, experts hope that this will be a relatively simple fix.  Of course, “relatively simple” to NASA is a lot different than how we’d qualify the phrase, so we will definitely touch back on this story next week to see how the current 6-man crew of the ISS are doing.  For now, life support systems are functioning within normal levels but activity aboard the Space Station has been drastically reduced for precautionary measures.

Ex-Microsoft Exec to Head Healthcare.org

DelBene

In other tech news, President Obama and his administration called in ex-Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene to head up the struggling Healthcare.org website during its crucial final moments of 2013.  DeBene’s resume includes almost two decades of handling complex tasks with Microsoft and overseeing large technical teams working on the Microsoft office division.  His expertise is deemed crucial for the struggling healthcare website not only due to his technical brilliance, but also as a sign of confidence for the American people as well.

This may seem like somewhat of a surprise since Microsoft’s Jeff Zients was handed the reins only two months ago, but that was always scheduled to be on an interim basis anyway.  Zients is taking over the White House duties as the director of the National Economic Council immediately, to work alongside current director Gene Sperling during a transitional period.  This new trend is interesting because it signals the first time that the government has turned to Silicon Valley and targeted top talent directly for specific needs.  All it took was one of the biggest failures in tech history to bring forth a new way of thinking…

Facebook Launches Video Ads

fb video ads

Our final tech story of the week comes to us from Facebook and their announcement of a beta test for video ads.  Starting today, a select numbers of users will start seeing small videos pop up on their news feeds that will automatically play with no sounds.  If users opt to click on the ad to learn more, sound will be enabled and the video will be displayed in full-screen mode.  Initial data shows that consumers interact with the sponsored ads more if they’re played automatically, which will likely become a trait that’s eventually picked up on numerous other websites as well.

Additionally, Facebook has announced that the new video ads will only be displayed when the user’s device is connected by Wi-Fi; it will not download the ad content over mobile video plans out of respect for their users’ limited data plans.  Early estimates of this new tech adaptation believe that it could produce as much as an additional $8.4 billion in additional revenues for the social media giant.  No word has been released yet on when this program will go live, but we will certainly keep you posted.

Well, that’s all we have for you in This Week in Technology for December 23rd, 2013.  Our staff at Amadeus Consulting would like to wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas and we’ll see you once more before the ball drops in Times Square next week!