36 hours of unbridled creativity

This weekend, participants in Hack Illinois will try to show off high-tech prowess for bragging rights, as well as some cash, prizes

Laptops: Check.

Backpacks: Check.

4,300 cans of Red Bull: Check.

Rich Warren: VHS may not look good on new TV

Will a new TV bring an old VHS tape to life? That's the quandary from this St. Joseph reader: "This involves transferring VHS tape to a DVD. I know you have written repeatedly on this and I have the columns in which you address that so I think I know what to do. But before I go to that trouble, here is what I ran into that has me questioning if I should proceed.

Students warned: Think before hitting 'send'

THOMASBORO — Praireview-Ogden Junior High students learned about responsible — and irresponsible — social media use at a school seminar.

Dan Bolsen, a University of Illinois academic counseling graduate assistant, spoke to students last week about the power of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

State's questions resolved on UI solar farm

A field of solar panels designed to supply about 2 percent of the electricity demand at the University of Illinois has cleared a major hurdle with the state, and officials are hopeful installation will start later this year.

METCAD board adds Rantoul to dispatch system

RANTOUL — Beginning as soon as this summer, Rantoul emergency calls will no longer be answered or dispatched from the local police department.

The Champaign County Metropolitan Computer-Aided Dispatch board voted Thursday to accept Rantoul's request to be added to the countywide system.

Rich Warren: I've cooled on NEST thermostat

Birds nest. The rest of us should avoid NEST. Two years ago I purchased the $250 NEST "smart" home thermostat. I thrilled at controlling my heating and cooling remotely, and being able to easily set and fine-tune my system to reduce energy consumption. The NEST even automatically keeps track of your daily schedule and operates your heating and air conditioning appropriately.

Illinois Ancestors: Not much is known about Putin ancestry

A recent article in Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter (March 20) mentions that very little information is known about Russian President Vladimir Putin's family history.

From modems to the cloud, company adapts

CHAMPAIGN — When Prominic.NET won the Innovation Longevity Award at this year's Innovation Celebration, it marked 16 years in business for the company — and an even longer run for Justin Hill.

Hill, the company's chief technology officer, was a partner in a business selling modems while in high school. Later, the focus of that business changed to software.

Rich Warren: Want your music on the go-go? Murfie can help

Take advantage of Murfie's law. No, not the Mr. Murphy who causes mishaps, but Murfie from Madison, Wis. The Murfie folks read a recent column about transferring digital media and contacted us about their eagerness to help.

Murfie transfers your personal, commercially released audio CDs to the cloud, AKA that big computer server in the sky.

Health district adds hours for health care signup

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District will offer extra evening and weekend hours for the final week available to enroll in health insurance to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

Open enrollment in health plans available through the government marketplace will end March 31 for the year.