While many headlines from Sen. Barack Obama's speech on energy policy on Monday focused on tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve , a look at the details shows a significant pledge to clean technologies.
The presumed Democratic nominee for president delivered a speech in Lansing, Mich.--an area hit from the declining auto industry--to unveil his New Energy for America plan.
Overall, it calls for investing $150 billion over 10 years to create new clean-energy jobs and to cut U.S. dependence on imported oil from the Middle East and Venezuela.
Short-term measures are geared at lowering gasoline prices by tapping the petroleum reserves. They also include a tax rebate.
The medium and long-term plan calls for policies to promote renewable energy, clean-tech jobs, and energy efficiency. Specifically, the plan's goals are:
Putting 1 million U.S.-built plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015 through loan guarantees for retooling automakers and a $7,000 consumer tax credit.
A mandate that 10 percent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2012 and 25 percent by 2025.
Cap and trade-based climate regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. A portion of the proceeds from auctions would go toward next-generation biofuels .
For many clean-tech entrepreneurs and investors, these are the sorts of policies they are seeking. A recent poll by Earth2Tech found that a great majority of clean-tech venture capitalists favor Obama over McCain .
His rival, presumed Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, also supports alternative energies and plug-in vehicles but political coverage of his energy policies focuses on his support for expanded oil drilling and nuclear power.
For more details on the comparison between McCain and Obama's plans, see this Bloomberg article and this CNN article .
Google just released a handful of small updates for its RSS Reader product that continue to improve some of its organizational capabilities. Included in this update is a more pervasive tagging system, international sharing, a timestamp for the last time a feed was crawled, and an alphabetic sorting system for folders and subscriptions.
The two changes I want to highlight are the new tagging system and feed subscription sorter.
Tags in Reader have been present for feeds and individual stories, but they can now be found when sharing or noting a story in reader too. Below the text field that lets you personalize a note, you can now add as many comma separated tags as you want and they'll show up on the shared item. From an editorial standpoint this means people who may be subscribed to your share feed will be able to better sort out what you're sending them, either in Reader or whatever other tool that they're using.You can now sort out subscriptions alphabetically.
The other small change that I think was long overdue is the option to sort out subscriptions alphabetically. This is something that's incredibly useful if you're monitoring a large quantity of feeds. Even the best organizational system can crumble when your mind's not working, and simply sorting everything out alphabetically can help with that.
You can toggle back and forth between this and your drag-and-drop organization using a small options menu in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. Still missing from that field is some sort of visual indicator that would let you see which feeds you're completely ignoring--something that must be figured out via the service's trends menu.
LAS VEGAS--Sprint Nextel will launch its first commercial WiMax service in Baltimore in September, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said Wednesday during a speech at the NxtComm trade show.Dan Hesse, Sprint Nextel CEO
Sprint will turn up WiMax service in two other cities, Chicago and Washington, before the end of the year, Hesse added. But he didn't give a specific time frame for these deployments.
The much-anticipated WiMax service has been delayed several times. Initially, the company had said it would launch the service in the first half of the year. More recently, it has been vague about when it would deploy the service. It's been testing the mobile WiMax service with download speeds of between 2 megabits per second and 4 Mbps since the end of last year in Chicago and the Washington-Baltimore area.
The company has faced some delays due to technical issues having to do with backhauling or connecting traffic back to Sprint's core network. But much of the delay seems to be a result of financial and management issues at the company.
In an effort to appease shareholders and refocus the company on its core cell phone business, Sprint announced last month that it would spin off its WiMax assets and team with another service provider, Clearwire , to build a nationwide WiMax network. Clearwire has already been offering a fixed WiMax service in parts of the U.S., and it is currently testing a mobile WiMax service in Portland, Ore.
The new joint venture, called Clearwire, will be majority-owned by Sprint and has taken investment from cable operators Comcast and Time Warner Cable as well as from big tech companies such as Intel and Google.
During his speech, Hesse said that the new Sprint Clearwire venture has at least a two-year advantage over other wireless operators who plan to build 4G wireless networks. And he emphasized that this was a key differentiator given the fact that existing 2G and 3G networks were already running out of capacity for data services.
"As fast as are today, nothing will define wireless broadband like WiMax," he said. "The 4G technology is wireless at rocket speeds. And Sprint could have a two-year head start in providing broadband wirelessly at landline speeds."
He talked about using the new WiMax network to provide Internet connectivity to a slew of consumer electronics devices such as cameras, as well as bringing new services to cars, allowing parents to download videos directly to their cars while traveling so their kids could watch movies in the back seat.
Experts following the WiMax market say it is critical for Sprint to get a commercial WiMax up and running as soon as possible.
"Nothing beats proof of concept," said Paul Kapustka, founder and editor of Sidecut Reports, which has recently published a report on the WiMax market. "It's great to talk about this stuff, but seeing a network in action goes a long way. If Sprint wasn't able to get a commercial deployment out before the end of the year, then there would have been real questions about the viability."
But even if Sprint is able to hit its new September deadline, there are still big questions surrounding WiMax's future. Even with big technology companies such as Intel and Motorola backing the technology, some experts question whether mobile WiMax can be anything other than a niche market. Most of the world's major cell phone companies including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Vodafone, the world's largest cell phone operator, say they will use a competing technology known as Long Term Evolution or LTE to build their 4G wireless networks.
The "device stage" in Windows 7 serves as a central point where hardware makers can offer a range of options from synchronization to product manuals to settings.
LOS ANGELES--After unveiling most of the details around Windows 7 to developers last week, this year's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference isn't expected to be the barn burner it is in some years.
WinHEC will have the same venue as last week's Professional Developer Conference , the same Windows 7 bits and, indeed much of the same pitch that Microsoft gave last week, albeit with a more hardware-oriented bent.
Still, I expect to find enough tidbits about the OS to make it worth your time. I'll have full coverage starting Wednesday.
In particular, look for Microsoft to talk up its Device Stage --a feature in Windows 7 where hardware device makers can offer all kinds of information about their add-ons.
Julie Larson-Green, vice president of program management for the Windows Experience, demonstrated the feature last week, showing what she might be able to do by connecting a Motorola phone to her Windows 7 PC.
"I can set up my sync capabilities," she said. "I can manage the media on my device. I can browse files. I can go and find that documentation because I probably threw out the manual when I got the box, so I can go online and get that. And anything that the device does can be exposed through the device stage."
Microsoft will need support from PC makers for other things, such as touch, but I would expect them to make much the same case they did at PDC--namely that Vista was the tough adjustment and that there should not be too much heavy lifting associated with getting ready for Windows 7.
I've been playing around with Windows 7 myself. I'm trying it out on a Lenovo X300. With its solid-state drive, the most striking thing is how fast the Windows 7 machine both goes to sleep mode and wakes from sleep. My only complaint--it doesn't seem to be working with my USB Sprint card, making me more Wi-Fi dependent than normal.
I'll have more to say on my Windows 7 impressions in a follow-up posting this week.
Also at WinHEC, I'll be talking to PC makers and generally nosing around. In the meantime, if you have Windows 7 questions, send them my way by Wednesday and I will do my best to find answers at the show.
Click here for more news on Windows 7.
Dell actually beat analysts' expectations Thursday when it released the preliminary results of its earnings for the second quarter of fiscal year 2008, but again opted against the traditional follow-up conference call with company executives, investors and the media.
Dell has failed to file its last six quarterly earnings reports and its last annual report with the SEC due to the company's internal investigation into its accounting practices. The probe, which was wrapped up earlier this month, found that Dell accountants were regularly fudging quarterly earnings numbers as far back as 2003 to meet or surpass Wall Street expectations. Meanwhile, the SEC's own investigation continues.
Dell says it's going to get current with its SEC filings in the first week of November, which is good timing. The NASDAQ informed Dell last week it had until November 12 to get its act together or it will be delisted.
Dell says its next earnings report is due November 29, at which time it will return to regularly scheduled programming of taking calls from investors and reporters.
But this quarter was decent. The company reported preliminary results of $14.8 billion in revenue and earnings of 32 cents per share. Servers were the company's strength again, responsible for $1.6 billion in revenue.
According to Gartner, Dell continues to lose worldwide market share in the PC space to Hewlett-Packard. Though still No. 1 in PCs shipped in the U.S., its shipment growth has declined 11 percent from a year ago.
Dell representatives declined to provide details about when the paint problems delaying backlogged orders of its anticipated Inspiron and XPS 1330 notebooks would be resolved.
Word on the street is that Cisco Systems is looking to buy a wireless switch start-up. The asking price could be as much as $500 million, according to the industry rumor mill.
For months, Silicon Valley wonks and Wall Streeters have been talking about Cisco buying Airespace , but rumors of the deal have heated up in recent days, with many folks now saying the deal is close to being finalized. The $400 million to $500 million price tag could be a nice prize for Airespace, which reportedly posted about $60 million in revenue for 2004.
Even though Cisco dominates with more than 50 percent market share, experts say Cisco's wireless LAN technologically is at least a year behind start-ups like Airespace and Aruba Wireless Networks. There are even rumblings that the company has lost some major accounts, because its offering wasn't up to snuff. Word has it that Airespace will probably win Microsoft bid to upgrade its wireless network . Cisco gear was used five years ago to build the first generation network.
An acquisition could jump-start Cisco's development and give the company an edge as it grows the wireless business. But others argue the price tag is too high for Airespace. For now, both Cisco and Airespace are keeping mum about any talks.
Update 10:30 p.m. PT: I corrected the description of the old favicon.
Google updated its 'favicon' with a softer, bluer look.
Overnight, Google got a new face on the Web--one measuring 16x16 pixels.
The search giant updated its favicon, the eensy little 256-pixel logo that appears in browser locations such as bookmarks, URL location bar, and window tabs. The old icon, a capital G in a multicolored box, has been supplanted by a cuddlier-looking blue lower-case g.
It's a minor change, to be sure. But coming from a company obsessed not only with design choices but also the effect those choices have, I can't help but draw attention to it. And given how often most Web users see that icon sprinkled across their browsers, it's probably smart to pay some attention to that aspect of branding.
Note that the new favicon doesn't appear on all Google sites yet. And in some areas, there are other favicons: Google Docs, for example, shows different icons for online spreadsheets, word-processing files, and presentations. Conveniently, those favicons are color-coded with the same green, blue, and red colors used by Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.