Monday, August 30, 2010

Solar Roadways

Here's a great idea...and what which makes us ask: 'why didn't we think of this before?!'

The Solar Roadways company has made a section of road from the material that airline black boxes are made of and, in it, housed solar cells to collect energy, thereby creating a road that would pay for itself over time. They then said, "What if we added LEDs to "paint" the road lines from beneath, lighting up the road for safer night time driving? What if we added a heating element in the surface like the defrosting wire in the rear window of cars to prevent snow/ice accumulation in northern climates?" In 2009, the company received a contract from the Federal Highway Administration to build the first ever Solar Road Panel prototype.

Read more at - 'Solar Roadways'


Friday, August 27, 2010

On the Web's Cutting Edge, Anonymity in Name Only

Websites are now gaining the ability to decide whether or not you'd be a good customer, before you tell them a single thing about yourself. And this technology reaches beyond the personalization we are presently familiar with:

You may not know a company called [x+1] Inc., but it may well know a lot about you.

From a single click on a web site, [x+1] correctly identified Carrie Isaac as a young Colorado Springs parent who lives on about $50,000 a year, shops at Wal-Mart and rents kids' videos. The company deduced that Paul Boulifard, a Nashville architect, is childless, likes to travel and buys used cars. And [x+1] determined that Thomas Burney, a Colorado building contractor, is a skier with a college degree and looks like he has good credit.

The company didn't get every detail correct. But its ability to make snap assessments of individuals is accurate enough that Capital One Financial Corp. uses [x+1]'s calculations to instantly decide which credit cards to show first-time visitors to its website.

Read more at - 'On the Web's Cutting Edge, Anonymity in Name Only'


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bill Gates: In Five Years The Best Education Will Come From The Web

A recent announcement from Bill Gates has the future of our education on the Net - without the plagiarising that is!

Five years from now on the web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world,” Gates said at the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, CA today. “It will be better than any single university,” he continued.

He believes that no matter how you came about your knowledge, you should get credit for it. Whether it’s an MIT degree or if you got everything you know from lectures on the web, there needs to be a way to highlight that.

He made sure to say that educational institutions are still vital for children, K-12. He spoke glowingly about charter schools, where kids can spend up to 80% of their time deeply engaged with learning.

But college needs to be less “place-based,” according to Gates. Well, except for the parties, he joked.

But his overall point is that it’s just too expensive and too hard to get these upper-level educations. And soon place-based college educations will be five times less important than they are today.

Read more at - 'Bill Gates: In Five Years The Best Education Will Come From The Web'


Monday, August 23, 2010

Indian HR Ministry brings $35 low cost computing device to reality

It's been reported that India has succeeded in delivering the lowest-cost computing device - which might even drop to as low as $10 per unit!

Finally a low-cost computing-cum-access device has been unveiled by HRD minister Shri. Kapil Sibal. The price is this device is expected to be around $35. However, HR ministry is aiming at bringing down the cost of this device to $20 and ultimately to $10. IIT’s and other Technical Institutions are setting up research teams to cover wide range of issues and capability enhancements to achieve the ultimate goal of bringing down the the cost of this device to $10.

I, personally am quite proud to see this happen, and I will tell you the reason why – While the private entities and corporates had given up on this idea, professors and experts from IISc & IIT’s went ahead and devised this concept. While & M.Tech students were guided to produce the motherboard and other key components.

Even though this device has been unveiled today, the development & research is currently on-going on at various different levels connected with HR Ministry. The ministry is quite confident of bringing down the cost of this device further.

Ultimately the goal of such devices is to spread education in Rural India, by offering such devices with educational courses / materials embedded inside them.

Read more at - 'Indian HR Ministry brings $35 low cost computing device to reality'


Friday, August 20, 2010

A hidden world, growing beyond control

An extensive investigative report over at The Washington Post has done a terrific job of highlighting the faults of an over-extensive surveillance world that has come into being in the last decade. A worthy read indeed!

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work. These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation's other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.

Read the full article at - 'A hidden world, growing beyond control'


Friday, August 13, 2010

Twitter user sends world's 20 billionth tweet

It doesn't sound like an important communication - GGGGGo_Lets_Go .......yet it has become a landmark text...or rather a 'twitter' the social network site Twitter has just had its 20 billionth message posted:

The landmark and rather opaque tweet was sent at 1544 GMT Saturday by GGGGGGo_Lets_Go, a Tokyo graphic designer for an advertising agency. It said: "So that means the barrage might come back later all at once."

Twitter took four years to reach its 10 billionth tweet, in March this year, and less than five months to double it. GGGGGGo_Lets_Go was inundated with congratulatory messages from around the world for hitting the milestone with a tweet which appeared to have been part of a longer conversation with another user.

He later posted another message, saying: "Looks like I posted the 20 billionth tweet. I'm getting replies from people all over the world. It's scary. What are the chances? Maybe I'm going to die.
"Is it more amazing than winning the lottery? I thought it was a joke."

Read more at - 'Twitter user sends world's 20 billionth tweet'


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

London saddles up for new bike hire scheme

Finally! A bike hire scheme designed to encourage thousands more cycle journeys in central London has begun...and it's had a great response:

So far, more than 12,000 people have signed up to the idea, far outstripping the 5,000 bicycles which will be available at special docking stations. Transport for London (TfL) has admitted it had been expecting "teething problems".

But it insisted that although members outnumbered the number of bikes, people would not face a shortage.
Already, more than 12,450 keys have been handed out to Londoners enabling them to unlock bikes left at 315 docking points across the city.

The keys cost £3 and the cost of using the cycles varies from £1 for an hour to £50 for 24 hours. TfL and operator Serco expect to roll out the scheme to casual users after a month.
Cycles for hire
About 12,000 people had signed up to the scheme - with some asking for more than one key.
But only 6,000 keys had been activated. Until they are activated, cyclists will not be able to withdraw the bikes from docking stations.

Read more at - 'London saddles up for new bike hire scheme'


Monday, August 09, 2010

Who (Re)Built the Electric Car?

Here's news of an interesting electric car project: it's called the 'ChargeCar' and the project is led by the Carnegie Mellon University associate professor and colleagues Gregg Podnar and Ben's all about the battery folks!:

ChargeCar is based at the Electric Garage -- appropriately enough, a repurposed former Exxon station on Forbes Avenue, near CMU's campus. On a rainy July afternoon, Nourbakhsh backs the car from a service bay. Motoring up rain-slick Forbes in rush-hour traffic, then through campus into Schenley Park, Nourbakhsh demonstrates various ChargeCar features. 

It has "regenerative braking," to capture energy conventional cars lose when you hit the brakes. It's dead quiet, except for the hissing of tires on asphalt and the whirring of a brake pump. And though this prototype's top speed is just 45 mph, the fixed-gear ChargeCar accelerates well, easily beating other vehicles off the line as a traffic light turns green...

...ChargeCars wouldn't meet all our transportation needs, of course, or solve all our car-related problems. Like all electric cars, they'd take longer to "refuel" than a gas tank -- a couple hours plugged in to get any range at all, and overnight for a full charge. But even if people kept second cars (which most households have anyway) for long trips, or used rentals, we'd have air a bit cleaner, streets a bit quieter. And we'd have less need of the stuff that's been spewing from a hole in the Gulf of Mexico.

Read more at - 'Who (Re)Built the Electric Car?'


Friday, August 06, 2010

Emails and phones snooped on by authorities every minute

Yet more proof of our UK surveillance we see that political and corporate bodies are racing after our private information:

Councils, police and other public bodies are demanding access to people's private telephone and email records at a rate of once a minute after a rise in snooping applications.

Public authorities asked for confidential communications data on more than 525,000 occasions last year including a 13 per cent increase in requests by town halls.There were also errors in hundreds of applications leading to wrong phone numbers, emails or innocent people being monitored, according to the surveillance watchdog. 

Sir Paul Kennedy, the interception of communications commissioner, also warned children and other members of the public could be at risk because of "very serious weaknesses and failing" in the way communications in prisons are monitored.He said flaws or attempts to monitor too much could place the public, as well as other prisoners and staff, in harm's way. 

The figures will fuel concerns over the use of interception powers by some public bodies under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which are mainly aimed at tackling terrorism and serious crime.The Act gives authorities – including councils, the police and intelligence agencies – the power to request access to confidential communications data, including lists of telephone numbers dialled and email addresses to which messages have been sent but not their content.

Read original post - 'Emails and phones snooped on by authorities every minute'

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Drivers to get £5,000 electric car subsidy

This post from The Telegraph explains how now UK drivers will get up to £5,000 from the Government if they buy an electric car - but the number of grants has been sharply cut from earlier plans:

The subsidy was announced by the Labour government in 2009 but placed on hold by the Coalition until the autumn spending review. From January, any motorist buying a new generation electric car, or ultra-low carbon hybrid, will get 25 per cent off, up to a maximum £5,000. 

However, the number of grants has been slashed from a minimum of 46,000 to as few as 8,600. The scheme has been partially ring-fenced from cuts following pressure from car makers and Britain’s green energy industry.The grants will be available just in time for the UK launch of the Nissan Leaf, the first major rival to the globally successful Toyota Prius.

A full grant would cut the cost of a new Leaf from £28,350 to £23,350, according to a report in The Sun.
Once charged, the cars run for about 70 miles, costing just 3p a mile.Nissan’s Sunderland factory assembles the Leaf, meaning Britain is the company’s third-biggest global electric car base. Nissan itself received grants from the Government to build the Leaf in Sunderland, where the workforce of 4,100 built 338,000 Qashqai, Note and Micra models in 2008.

Read post at - 'Drivers to get £5,000 electric car subsidy'


Monday, August 02, 2010

Mobile phones 'dirtier than toilet handles'

New research suggests that mobile phones are covered with up to 18 times more living bacteria than the flush handle on a men's, that's sexist! Anyway, here's what is said:

Swabs and analysis of 30 mobile handsets found that seven had high or warning levels of environmental bacteria, according to consumer group Which? One contained such an intense concentration of bacteria, including faecal coliforms, that anyone using it could have faced a serious stomach upset.
Which? said the findings suggest millions of UK mobiles would exceed the recommended acceptable levels of bacteria. While not immediately harmful, elevated levels of bacteria indicate poor hygiene and can act as a breeding ground for more serious germs.Hygiene expert Jim Francis told Which?: "The levels of potentially harmful bacteria on one mobile were off the scale. That phone needs sterilising."

The tests showed how easily bacteria could linger on the surface of a phone, which could be passed on to other people if they held the handset to look at photos or other applications.
Which? advises that phones can be cleaned with an alcohol wipe.

Read original post at - 'Mobile phones 'dirtier than toilet handles''