Monday, April 30, 2007

Ground source heat pumps (San Francisco Chronicle)

Finally, finally, finally I got my article about the ground source heat pumps in today's paper. I got the idea already back in Sweden when I was talking with an American friend about how people heat their homes in Sweden.

In Sweden, this kind of heating is getting more and more common. My friend had no idea what I was talking about. Neither did most of my colleagues at the Chronicle and that's when I decided to write the story.

As for most stories, the more concrete it can be, the better. That's why I desperately tried to get hold of people in California who had installed ground source heat pumps in their houses. I called many different contractors and after weeks I finally got a name to a family in Livermore west of San Francisco.

I went out there, did the interview and when we were finished the man said "You know, my wife just reminded me that some years ago we had some reporters from the Chronicle here who wrote about or heat pumps." Sure enough, on July 14 2001 there was a long article about the Johnson's house in Livermore.

I talked to my editor Ken Howe and he said we could still use the Johnson's, but not as a lead, I had to find someone else. Of course I should have checked our digital archives better, but the term they used in the 2001 article was "geo exchange", not "geothermal" or "ground source heating".

I had to contact another family in Healdsburg north of Santa Rosa.Went there last week, did the interview and could finally publish the articles. Learnings for an injo reporter? Well, always try to find a concrete case. The story will gain a lot from that. An, of course, always check your archives thoroughly before making appointments…
Injo Fellows excursion Apr 29 2007

Here are some pictures from yesterday's excursion to San Gregorio State Beach with the injo fellows located in the Bay Area.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The automatic shader generation

This is Johan Andersson, rendering architect at Dice/Electronic Arts. He and his colleagues have developed a graphics engine, Frostbite, which makes it possible to decrease the time it takes to develop computer games. Frostbite also good for rendering objects and game environments that should be possible to break down or destroy. Sounds easy, but is tricky.

In the future, I guess we will see Frostbite also in other games than the upcoming Battlefield: Bad Company.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Catching the buzz at PodTech

My first days as InJo-fellow at Podtech have been buzy and fun. One project I work on we call the assimilator or blogg-buzzer. In it, I try to make a quick summary/analyze of the discussion among influential bloggers/reporters/writers on the important story of the day (in the areas of tech, business or media) - with lots of cross-linking. To a large extent my writing is based on, which I find a good tool for information. The pieces I write are posted on my boss John Furriers PodTech-blog, with a dubbel byline. Here´s one on green media, another on Googe and Swedish Marratech, one on the vlogging-aspect of the massacre at Virginia Tech and one on My Spaces new news property. There are some more posts at the blog.
This is not very thorough reporting, but fast assimilation, published with no editorial filters. Therefore there´s not much time dealing with the innovation eco-system. But in a way I think it is innovationjournalism because it's about ideas or products reaching the market, technology and - in some cases - the policy surrounding it. In a way it's about the future. Also - blogging is a rather new and innovative format for journalism (if this type of blogging should be called journalism). I´m still not clear if PodTech does journalism or information or both - but it´s an interesting place to be at.
Tina Magnergård Bjers

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Local Newspaper embraces Citizen Journalism

Some newsrooms are still debating if readers on the Net should be able to comment freely the news stories, while others are embracing the readers' opinions. The local newspaper "The Hartsville Messenger" has for a year gone further, letting the readers freely publish their own stories, adding a citizen journalism site to the news site, making it a part of their publication. The experiment was run by Douglas J. Fisher, Instructor University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications and Graham Osteen, Publisher of The Hartsville Messenger, with funding from the Knight Foundation.

Conclusion: Citizens aren't journalists, but cit-journalism is a good source of stories for the news room. So it's a good idea to assign journalists to follow it. Be certain to include a date book in the site and let the users upload pictures. Be active in recruiting users, they won't appear by themselves. Keep in touch with community groups, etc. There is no business model for it yet, but on the other hand the investments are moderate. The publisher expects to spend 10.000 USD this year on the citizen journalism site. Maybe he should look closer at Red Herring founder Tony Perkins AlwaysOn-GoingOn project. Tony is working on a business model for blogospheres - something that seems pretty close to where citizen journalism ended up having its focus in the Hartsville experiment.

The Hartsville report is available on the j-lab website.

Jan Sandred showed when setting up Biotech Sweden a number of years ago that an innovation system can offer a great readership and produce good advertising. An innovation ecosystem has parallels to a local community, and it would be interesting to see trade journals follow the example of Hartsville. PC World and CNET are already very close to their readers, often changing stories after publication due to reader comments.

/David Nordfors

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Uncle Sam wants cheap solar power

U.S. Department of energy will invest $168 million in solar technology. This is one of the stories I have written to Red Herring during last a couple of weeks.

Green cars are not always that green.

The shortage of land makes it hard to replace oil with ethanol:

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hot Doings at a Really Cool Show

I went to the Cool Product Expo at Stanford, mostly to take a look at NeuroSky's innovation. They have created a device that measures the electrical activity of the brain's neurons and combined it with a computer game. Quite cool.

Except Neurosky's stuff, I also found other interesting things, which I also wrote something about. The picture to the left is Kurt A. Kulmann, showing how to clean water with help of UV light.

While at the expo, I met Zamir. He made a nice movie - be sure to take a look at it. I also made a movie, not as good as Zamir's, which I produced in my room at Cardinal Hotel in Palo Alto...



Intel's Andy Grove wants to change the U.S. health care system (CNET

Andy Grove, co-founder, former CEO and president of Intel as well as a numerous award-winning and best-selling author, gave a speech at the University of California at Berkeley's School of Public Health on how information technology could change the U.S. health care system.

He thinks internet health files and online tracking of patients' medical conditions being treated at home can lower the costs of health care, which today stands for 16 percent and the largest segment of expenses in U.S. economy.

An example of how innovation can contribute to different fields.

Link to story:

Link to video:

The innovation process of a robot taking shape (CNET

Some weeks ago I visited an incubator, Ycombinator, for start-ups in Mountain View and I found robot Dexter. The start-up Anybots is run by Trevor Blackwell who started building Dexter six years ago, also one of the founders and co-workers of Ycombinator. I thought a walking robot could make a story, a good example of something you were initially covering leading to new ideas.

I introduced it to CNET and we decided to go back to Ycombinator's office and talk to Anybots. It became a joint-project of me and Zamir working together, he interviewed on camera and I interviewed for a story.

The innovation processes of what robots will be used for in the future are in progress. The robotic industry is a ongoing innovator of creating products to facilitate people's life. Majority of the robots are still at the research and prototype stage such as the Anybots robots.

Link to the story:

Link to the video:

Link to the photo gallery:

Tomorrow's products on display at Stanford (CNET

Cool Products Expo 2007 at Stanford University was one event to know as how Start-ups, students and big companies are going innovative. The most interesting innovation was by young boys from Palo Alto High School who had invented laser-guided equipment for disabled persons.

Watch the video report at this link:

(Added Apr 21: This story has been picked up by Engadget /David N.)

NASA wants to find another Earth (CNET

NASA's Kepler spacecraft will search for earth size planets orbiting distant stars. Kepler is scheduled to be launched in November 2008.
NASA held a press conference on April 12 to discuss its plans for using its new spacecraft, called Kepler, to search for planets that may have extraterrestrial life. The Nasa scientists briefed about the mission concept and goals, what Kepler discoveries would mean.

Link to the video report:

Anybots' humanoid robot trains to do the dirty work (CNET

Anybots is a start-up company in Mountain View, Silicon Valley. The company is in the process of making humanoid robots. Me and Miriam Olsson were assigned to go there and talk to the creators of these humanoid robots. Miriam did a detailed story for the CNET News and I did a video story for CNET TV.
I spoke with Trevor Blackwell, founder of Anybots, and saw humanoid robots that may one day be used to perform dangerous tasks. We had a close look at walking robot Dexter and its pneumatic limbs. After Dexter, Anybots' team built robot Monty, which is on wheels and has arms. Trevor said that humanoid robot would be the mixture of these two robots. He plans to put upper body of Monty on the lower part of Dexter.
It was interesting to know something about the innovations taking place in the field of robotics.

Here is the video report:

Link to Miriam's story:

Monday, April 9, 2007

Old innovation becomes available to public (CNET

A family of a videogames collector donated all his games to Stanford University. The collection contains more than 25,000 titles. Henry Lowood, curator for the history of science and technology collections at Stanford University libraries, and his team are in the process of filing all the videogames and make them accessible for people to play them.

Al Gore wants more engineers (CNET

Last week I blogged from a keynote Al Gore, former vice president and Oscar-award winner, held at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose. He talked about the need of new engineers when the old ones retire, and that they have to build new systems to help up the climate crisis and make this a better world to live in.

IT is hot again!

Those long-gone days could be here again. The fact is that the IT companies who have gone public so far this year have been performing very well. And they have managed to attract much more capital than the same time last year.

Ralph Hermansson

H1-B visas

Last week I wrote, as I mentioned, about the H1-B visas for foreign tech workers. One way of finding out whether your subject is controversial or not is, I guess, the numer of e-mail you receive from readers. Using that parameter, this must have been my most controversial article so far. One reader wondered why foreign farm workers won't be granted the same kind of visa and concluded "I guess MONEY talks." Well, I can't argue with that.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Humans fiddle while the planet heats up (CNET

I interviewed Ms Terry Root, a Stanford Professor on the issue of Global Warming and Climatic Changes affecting Plant and Animal Kingdoms and Humans. The interview lead to a whole lot of interesting debate in the Talkback. Check out the Video links and Newsmaker link.



Sunday, April 1, 2007

April Fools

This is professor A.P.Rilföl, from Yôke University. He has made a great innovation, which today was announced on Spectrum's web site.

It is the first time ever that Spectrum publish a April Fool's article, and I am sure there will be a discussion about it during the news room's next meeting. Is it good or bad for such a serious magazine to publish something like this?