May 2010

Amazon “Kindle 3” to defy multifunction and target heavy readers

Amazon “Kindle 3” to defy multifunction and target heavy readers The Kindle 2 has seen good success with heavy readers, namely because of its E Ink screen, which claims that the experience is just like reading paper. In contrast the glow that emanates from a backlit LED screen like the Apple iPad’s can cause more eyestrain as the eye adjusts to looking at a constantly bright light. Still, the iPad provides a host of other (potential) productivity tools in the form of its vast app store and Amazon is bound to feel some pressure there.

Despite that pressure, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently shared that the company’s next generation Kindle 3 will continue to target heavy readers with its E Ink screen. It will, however, likely provide that specialized reading experience in a slimmer form factor.

Scots want to “trip up” Donald Trump’s new golf course

Scots want to “trip up” Donald Trump’s new golf course Donald Trump isn’t known as America’s sweetheart. He lives large, whether it be traveling on his private jet or running his mouth to any media outlet within ear shot. The golf loving tycoon may have met his match in a group called “Tripping Up Trump” that wants to stop the construction of his massive golf course in Scotland.

Trump began his quest to build the golf course back in 2006 and settled on the Menie Estate in Scotland. The area is home to a lush countryside and the Menie Dunes that border the North Sea. According to the Times, the development would feature an “18-hole course, a clubhouse, driving range, practice area, 450-bedroom hotel, 950 holiday apartments, 36 golf villas and 500 residential homes.”

Paperless revolution still kills trees

Paperless revolution still kills treesBusinesses and homes alike are steadily turning toward paperless transactions. The benefits seem obvious. It saves trees, eliminates the pollution that comes from manufacturing paper and reduces the energy used to recycle paper. By some estimates, 16.5 million trees can be saved in the US alone if all the nation’s households switch to electronic billing. There's no need to pay postage and some companies even offer discounts for paperless transactions. The disadvantages have, for the most part, remained hidden.

Pandigital goes after the iPad with help from Barnes & Noble

Pandigital goes after the iPad with help from Barnes & Noble Apple’s iPad has stolen a lot of thunder from Amazon’s Kindle, the predominant e-reader device on the market. Its array of apps, multimedia capabilities, and a color display are certainly bonus points for consumers looking for the next “It” gadget. Pandigital has recognized that fact and created the Novel, a tablet based e-reader.

The Novel sports a lot of features that are similar to Apple’s tablet for just $199.00. It has a color touch-screen display, photo library, calendar, email client, plays video, and has a web browser that takes full advantage of the Android OS.

Low-tech solutions save lives one drop at a time

Low-tech solutions save lives one drop at a timeYou can go for months without food. You can go for weeks without sleep. Without water, you will die in a few days. Our bodies consist mainly of water, and yet many people in the world are denied access to this life necessity. Tomorrow, count how many times you turn on the faucet. How many gallons of water do you use in a single day? The average American family uses more than 700 gallons of water each day. For most of us, a quick twist of the knob yields cold, hot, clear, clean water. We don't even have to think about it. The average family in Africa, on the other hand, has access to about five gallons of water each day and those five gallons are a precious, and often deadly, resource.

Samsung and LG control next TV revolution with OLED displays

Samsung and LG control next TV revolution with OLED displays It's any consumer's paramount perpetual struggle: buy the latest and greatest LED or Plasma TV and watch as the technology and market swing to the next biggest fad, leaving the consumer feeling as though he/she has an inferior TV.

It's what keeps the industry alive and for that matter, booming.

According to iSuppli, LED-backlit TVs accounted for 12.1% of all televisions bought in Q1 of 2010. To put that into perspective, in 2009, 3.6 million LED TVs were sold in the US. Recent reports show that 211 million TVs were sold in 2009 meaning that only a small percentage of TVs purchased were LED.

BP oil spill still gushing into the Gulf, Obama getting aggressive

BP oil spill still gushing into the Gulf, Obama getting aggressive BP is still scrambling to plug its oil spill which has allowed somewhere around 5,000 barrels of oil per day for the last 5 weeks to flow into the Gulf of Mexico. Wednesday it’s planning a new tactic which involves pumping drilling fluids into the well. Those fluids are heavier than the crude oil and theoretically would exert enough pressure to stop the leak. So what’s the problem?

This tactic hasn’t ever been tried a mile underwater which adds a certain amount of complexity and imprecision as humans control robots that are doing the work. Also pumping the drilling fluids downward until it meets the upward flowing crude oil will create additional stress on the pipelines. Too much stress and the pipe could rupture, further complicating matters. BP and government scientists are doing what they can to test the procedure prior to moving forward.

Ford + hybrid batteries & transaxles = 220 green jobs in Michigan!

Ford + hybrid batteries & transaxles = 220 green jobs in Michigan! What’s the solution for a state with brimming unemployment rates and a timidly recovering economy? Jobs. But for new jobs to appear companies must grow in a way that sustains the need for new resources. Ford is delivering on that need – to the tune of 220 green jobs for offices and plants in Michigan that will be designing, engineering and producing components for hybrid vehicles.

Ford is seeing some success with its plunge into fuel efficient vehicles like the forward-looking Fusion Hybrid and is hoping to build on that with its remixed 2011 Fiesta. To stay on top, Ford is establishing a “Center of Excellence” in Michigan which will focus on putting the company in an industry-leading position when it comes to the electrification of vehicles.

Some of the new jobs are coming to the United States from Mexico and Japan.

Tesla and Toyota form electric car tag-team

Tesla and Toyota form electric car tag-team Tesla and Toyota lie in two separate sectors of the electric car market. One has a very sexy and expensive model hitting highways while the other has virtually nothing. A recent deal between the two may give Tesla the power to launch their Model S and give Toyota a boost against Nissan’s Leaf. 

Late last week Toyota announced that they had purchased a $50 million stake in the California based electric car company. The money isn’t a direct injection of cash, but instead it’s tied to Tesla’s future IPO.

The deal is important to Tesla for a myriad of reasons, but the Model S has to be at top of the list. Their only other car in production is the two-seater Roadster that comes a with a base price that’s over $100,000. Many Americans can’t fathom shelling out that kind of money for a house, let alone a car.

Deconstruction beats demolition environmentally and economically

Deconstruction beats demolition environmentally and economicallyFew things draw a crowd like a cloud of dust and a wrecking ball. Demolitions can quickly change the face of a neighborhood, perhaps to make way for a row of condominiums or to remove structures that are abandoned, unsafe and harboring illegal activity. Whatever the reason behind the removal, there is a greener alternative to the dust and debris that demolitions leave behind.

Miley Cyrus’ jewelry line jettisoned from Walmart

Miley Cyrus’ jewelry line jettisoned from Walmart Whether you know her as Hanna Montana or as Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter, Miley Cyrus is a major draw for the burgeoning tween market. Her image sells everything from school supplies to bedding and DVDs. Earlier this week, Walmart yanked her Chinese made jewelry line from their stores due to a report by the Associated Press (AP) that found high levels of cadmium in some items.

The AP went after Walmart back in January and claimed the trinkets they sold from the Disney flick “The Princess and the Frog” had high levels of cadmium. The items were made in China and many believed that cadmium was simply a replacement for lead, which unlike cadmium is heavily regulated in the United States. Under pressure, Walmart stopped selling the items.

Walls move toward sustainability

Walls move toward sustainabilityFor every kid who dreamed of living in the House of Tomorrow, Hong Kong native Gary Chang is bringing those dreams one step closer to reality and laying the groundwork for future architects. His designs make the most of a resource that is becoming scarce in many world cities: space. 

Samsung and Sony 3D LED TVs threaten Panasonic 3D Plasma TVs

Samsung and Sony 3D LED TVs threaten Panasonic 3D Plasma TVs 3D TVs, both Plasma and LED, are quickly becoming the electronic craze. Manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, and Panasonic have full line-ups of 3D TVs that each offer a one-of-a-kind, crystal clear 3D viewing experience. While each manufacturer might have a competitive advantage in one area or another, it seems the battleground is changing: Samsung and Sony are likely to work more collaboratively and Panasonic will attempt to differentiate its features even more.

New Android app from Amazon may cannibalize Kindle 2 sales

New Android app from Amazon may cannibalize Kindle 2 sales Amazon has dominated the e-book reader space for a while now but it’s facing a slew of new challenges from the Barnes & Noble Nook and more recently from the Apple iPad and Google Editions. While the Kindle 2 has an E Paper screen that omits backlighting and emulates reading paper, Amazon is realizing that readers want to take books with them wherever they go. It plans to meet that need for even more users with a newly announced plan for an Android app.

The new GM posts a profit! Thanks to ideas like the Chevy Volt

The new GM posts a profit, thanks to cars like the Chevy Volt Why did GM recently close several of its manufacturing facilities and accept $50 billion from the United States Federal Government? Because it was losing money as quickly as the BP oil leak is polluting the Gulf of Mexico. GM’s solution was to spin off loads of its debt through a bankruptcy agreement and emerge on the other side in the fast lane toward profitability. Many critics believed that it was a mistake for the Federal Government to step in on GM’s behalf but almost in symbolic spite of those naysayers the company just announced a quarterly profit.

A profit to the tune of $865 million, which looks like a sign that some of GM’s changes are making an impact on the bottom line. Before the restructure, North American markets were draining GM’s cash stores as it tried to continue meeting commitments to retirees with good benefits packages. The broader economy also played a role as well as GM’s dogged focus on large, inefficient SUVs.

Holland and Belgium’s World Cup pitch focuses on green

Holland & Belgium’s World Cup pitch focuses on green In a few short weeks fans will pour into South African cities to experience the world’s biggest sporting event, the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Whether you call it soccer or football, the World Cup is big business for the host nation and sadly a big producer of carbon emissions. Holland and Belgium teamed up in hopes that a green spin on geography and clean transportation will land them the World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

Because of the sheer scope of the World Cup, transportation is often an issue. Fans dying to see their nation compete rely on rail, air, and car to get to the host country. One study estimates that travel related carbon emissions for fans and teams going to South Africa will be 1,856,589 tons. 

Formaldehyde lurks in organic clothing

Formaldehyde lurks in organic clothingThe skin is the body's largest organ, and it's covered in millions of tiny mouths. Almost everything that comes into contact with the skin can be absorbed and actively metabolized by the rest of the body. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has standards in place to protect workers from exposure to hazardous agents. Considering we spend most of our lives covered in fabric, it's important to consider what goes into our clothing and what kind of hazardous agents might be seeping into our skin.
Last year the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on companies that had been advertising their rayon cloth as pure bamboo. When plant fibers are treated to make fabric softer, the process requires petroleum and releases toxins into the environment. The end result is hardly bamboo. But even clothing made from natural and certified organically grown fibers can harbor harmful chemicals.

The Progressive XPRIZE wants to put green cars into high gear

The Progressive XPRIZE wants to put green cars into high gear Americans are certainly hungry for affordable fuel efficient cars as shown by frenzy over Nissan’s Leaf and Chevy’s Volt. But beyond a handful of other models, buyers don’t have a lot of other choices in the market. The Progressive Insurance Automotive XPRIZE for super fuel-efficient cars aims to change the market through a rock-em sock-em competition for $10 million.

Plastic: the fatal flaw in LEDs

Plastic: the fatal flaw in LEDsLight-emitting diodes illuminate cell phones, traffic lights, toys and many other everyday items, but are they green? Compared to compact fluorescent lights, LEDs burn hotter and carry a hefty price tag, which are definite drawbacks. But they’re also compact, durable and energy-efficient. They're in the running to replace incandescent bulbs as our dominant source of light, but there's one significant component that keeps LEDs being truly green: plastic.
LEDs are typically coated with plastic resin, which is manufactured from oil and poses both environmental and health risks. The waste produced by this casing may offset all of the energy savings gained from using LEDs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency's profile of plastic resins, the process of manufacturing the pellets that form plastic produces waste from leaks, spills and even equipment cleaning, which contaminates water with a concentration of organics, acids and salts. 

Is Samsung's green focus too much of a good thing?

Is Samsung's green focus too much of a good thing? Samsung is no stranger to taking chances and making investments in big time technology trends before they hit. It is a part of the core strategy that has made the company a player in high end 3D LED TVs, home entertainment systems, mobile phones, and appliances. Samsung's latest ambitious plan, for better or for worse, could be a glimpse into the Samsung's product future: green. 

In late January, Samsung made the announcement that it would be mass manufacturing 3D LED screens. Amid the buzz of 3D on the big screen, the aggressive announcement to not only carry the innovative technology, but to produce mass quantities of the 3D LED screens before a single 3D TV had even been bought off the shelf says something about the aggressive nature of the company.

BP oil leak cleanup cost $350 mil so far + a world of outrage

BP oil leak cleanup cost $350 mil so far + a world of outrage For 3 weeks now BP has tried to stop an oil leak that began with an explosion on its Maconda well in the Gulf of Mexico. For 3 weeks, oil has spilled into the ocean at a rate of about 5,000 barrels per day. Not only is it devastating the environment surrounding the oil leak and causing economic repercussions for people who live and work on the coast, it’s also a monumental waste of unrealized energy.

With the fail-safes it had in place defunct and ineffective, BP is now flailing to figure out another way to contain the oil leak. Executive Officer of BP, Tony Hayward has indicated that the company already spent $350 million in trying to cleanup and stop the oil leak, but that’s miniscule compared to the gaping wound this circumstance has left in the Earth which is at the same time destroying the BP brand.

Toyota looks beyond 2010 Prius at cheaper hydrogen cars in 2015

Toyota looks beyond 2010 Prius at cheaper hydrogen cars in 2015 Hydrogen cars are a worthwhile pursuit because they power vehicles with a chemical reaction that only produces water vapor. So why haven’t manufacturers like Toyota, GM and Honda started to sell a hydrogen car to the masses already?

They’re too expensive, specifically because of the amount of platinum required to make things work. Hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius or PHEV vehicles like the Chevy Volt are cheaper to build because the materials are more readily available.

Still, Toyota plans to overcome this costing challenge by 2015 and then plans to begin selling a hydrogen sedan for $50,000. That’s still pricey for many people but if the business climate is at all similar to what’s happening now there’s a good chance for some tax credits to assist.

That’s a hairdo: salons & pet groomers help fight BP oil spill

That’s a hairdo: salons & pet groomers help fight BP oil spill   As news of the BP Oil spill spread, many Americans were looking for a way to voice their opinions or lend a hand. Some called for a boycott of BP stations, increased regulation for offshore oil drilling, and others shaved their heads. No, really. An eco-minded non-profit called Matter Of Trust is collecting human hair and animal fur to protect the threatened beaches of the Gulf Coast.

Matter Of Trust’s mission is to “Link ideas, spark action and materialize sustainable systems,” as shown through their unique hair recycling program. Donated hair or animal fur is either made into a mat or booms that one Alabama resident called “a giant hair sausage,” but are actually just hair and fur stuffed pantyhose.

Borders hopes the Kobo can cut the Kindle to pieces

Borders hopes the Kobo can cut the Kindle to pieces The e-book market keeps growing everyday with new hardware offerings from small startups or or big companies like Apple and Google selling the latest reads. Borders is hoping to get in on the fun with their new eBook Store and affordable e-reader called Kobo.

Many people haven’t purchased an e-reader simply because of the price. Buying a discounted bestseller at the nearest megamart is a lot easier on a budget than paying $259.00 for a Kindle. That’s why Kobo’s $149.99 price tag may finally convince weary consumers to purchase the device.

GM is going beyond the 2010 Chevy Volt with “zero landfill” goal

GM is going beyond the 2010 Chevy Volt with “zero landfill” goal GM continues to receive a sizeable plume of buzz stretching across the Internet thanks to its innovation in PHEV hybrid cars, namely the Chevy Volt. That’s great because it enables consumers to have less impact on the environment, but what about the footprint GM itself creates while manufacturing vehicles? It’s a materials-intensive trade and the company is taking another step toward green with its “zero landfill” project.

What does that mean? GM committed to recycling or reusing all normal plant waste in half of its manufacturing facilities before the end of 2010. The company is making progress and it shows a willingness to adapt business processes in a climate where sustainability is increasingly tied to profitability.

Toyota Prius and Lexus hybrid surprising buyers after recall

Toyota Prius and Lexus hybrid surprising buyers after recall Once Toyota's competitive advantage and stake in the automotive market, reliability is now Toyota's most tarnished and troubling attribute. After 3 malfunctions that have resulted in over 10 million recalls, a $16.4 million fine, and 58 deaths, Toyota can only hope to redeem its damaged reputation. The major blow, after blow, after blow has turned away loyal brand followers and trusted consumers, but has it really affected consumers' willingness to buy Toyota and Lexus hybrids?

Toyota had it all together when it came to hybrids. The Toyota Prius introduced the world to innovative technology and 50+ MPGs, all at an affordable price. With a market share of almost 50% of all hybrids sold in the US, few hybrids could even make a name for themselves.

Now, Toyota is at a crossroads where admitting its faults and paying to restore its reliable reputation are a must.

Watch out Kindle 2, Nook, and iPad: Google’s selling e-books soon

Watch out Kindle 2, Nook, and iPad: Google to sell e-books soon There’s already some heated competition in the e-book reader space between Amazon’s Kindle 2, the Barnes & Noble Nook, and Apple’s iPad but Google is set to make its own entry in the coming months. The service will be called Google Editions and at launch it will provide access to about 500,000 titles. In comparison Amazon advertises “more than 500,000 books,  newspapers,  magazines,  and blogs” in its Kindle store. In other words Google will have a very solid number of books available right at launch.

It’s a slap in the face to Amazon who’s been in the e-book reader space for a while now and has had to work hard to pull publishers along. That’s part of Amazon’s cost for being a thought leader, and in order to stay ahead of the competition it’s probably time for Amazon to start making noise about a next generation Kindle.

5,000 barrels of oil spill per day make deep sea mining questionable

5,000 barrels of oil spill per day make deep sea mining questionable Millions of barrels of oil have already spilled into the ocean and 5,000 more barrels billow upward from a hole in the seabed BP drilled and now can’t close. Deep sea oil drilling sounds like a good concept in theory but just like with many other energy generation processes, it poses risks. The exact cause of the explosion that caused this mess is not yet known, but the degenerating effects on the waters and coasts nearby is rapidly magnifying.

It’s a life changing event for local fishermen who rely on clear waters and healthy ecosystem to generate their faire. The tourism industry in general will also suffer because for the most part tourists generally prefer oil-free beaches.

Pepsi & Waste Management give birth to the “Dream Machine”

Pepsi & Waste Management give birth to the “Dream Machine” In a memorable episode of Seinfeld, Kramer and Newman devised a plan to drive a truckload of soda bottles from New York to Michigan in order to take advantage of the state’s generous bottle redemption program. While funny, it also showed that people will change their behavior to get a reward. Pepsi is teaming up with Waste Management to expand the idea with their incentive based Dream Machine to increase recycling rates.

If you’re familiar with bottle return machines, the Dream Machine is not much different. It scans your barcode, you deposit the bottle, and get something back such as your bottle deposit fee.