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Links of the Day:

City of Rochester Communications Burear

– More than a few columnists blamed Rochester for Kodak’s demise. We’re “cloistered” and “sleepy” and lack a culture suited for innovation.

That’s total crap, as our many tech companies – both large and small – indicate.

I had the pleasure of visiting Vuzix today, a firm competing with Google to develop augmented reality glasses. The company is making eyewear that can translate street signs, send a text message, give directions and recognize your friends. It has 40-50 workers, 95 patents and production facilities in Rochester. It sells $30,000 camera-equipped monocles to the military.

Why is Vuzix here? Because Rochester is an optics center. There are really smart people and access to numerous technology resources.

The only downside is access to capital. This is a frequent complaint of our small start-ups. They have the technology, but they struggle to find the money to make the most of it.

Vuzix has hit on a product that may one day be as ubiquitous as the iPhone. Wouldn’t that silence critics of the Flower City?

– Kodak’s employment has fallen below 5,200, reports the Rochester Business Journal. Despite ongoing job cuts, this is surprising, as we were last reporting the number of workers hovers around 7,000.

This moves Kodak out of the top five area employers. As of about six months ago, the top five are now the University of Rochester, Wegmans, Rochester General Hospital, Xerox and the Rochester City School District. Unity Health is next, making Kodak the seventh largest employer.

Kodak released its 2011 earnings report this week, showing a $764 million loss in 2011. Sales in the U.S. of consumer products fell 51 percent, so it’s no wonder the company stopped making cameras. The numbers spelled out a sad tale leading to bankruptcy.

– Kodak has discontinued three films used to make slides. Die-hard film users are not happy, if the comments to Kodak’s Facebook page are any indication.

– A retired city school teacher said Jada Williams’ school missed a teachable moment. In an op-ed, Beth Vercolan questioned why this escalated and what the girl learned:

It might have been more helpful to the situation if the adults who are involved in the fracas had taken the time to think why a white teacher might say she felt offended by what Jada had written, rather than jumping to the conclusion that Jada was being persecuted for her views and making the whole thing a cause celebre. Jada is still a child. She depends on the adults around her to guide her and explain to her the difference between right and wrong. Unfortunately the opportunity of the teachable moment — for all — has been lost, and harm has been done to our progress towards a more racially neutral society.

– Here’s something Rochester can do with its potholes!

More Links of the Day:

– People got excited when news leaked this week that Google plans to sell glasses by year’s end. The Google Glasses would be mini-computers using cues in the environment to provide maps, facts, weather and other information.

Don’t recognize the person who just said hello? The glasses would have facial recognition software to remind you.

Google, however, is not a pioneer in this arena. Rochester has a company called Vuzix that’s been making consumer video and “augmented reality” eyewear for some time. A press release this month detailed new cloud-enabled glasses:

Applications, for example, can use face recognition to connect Twitter or Facebook users instantly with their Twitter name under the users face while using the glasses as a very natural human interface. NEC BIGLOBE expects applications ranging from sports to hobbies like skiing, snowboarding, mountain climbing and fishing. Being connected to the cloud can enhance these activities, for example, by helping the user identify fish and fishing techniques right on the river, to showing the user where his friends might be on the ski hill just by looking at icons that are geospatially correct inside the users view through the glasses.

It’s exciting Rochester has a company rivaling Google, at least when it comes to glasses!

– Wegmans is overhauling its store brand products to make them healthier. Mary Ellen Burris blogs about reducing sodium, adding whole grains and making some things gluten-free. I hadn’t realize the old Brooks Ave. store is now a test kitchen.

– The University of Rochester ousted a troubled frat from a campus quad. The move allegedly has nothing to do with a fatal stabbing.

– Buffalo is losing senior citizens. The senior population declined 3 percent between 2000 and 2010. The Urban Land Institute speculates they moved away. Rochester, however, is seeing a spike in its senior population.

– A snowy owl was spotted up in Charlotte.