Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Broadband Innovations, Part 4: The Doctor Isn't In but Can Still See You

How telehealth is changing the way America gets well.

Read article here.

Broadband Innovations, Part 3: The Film Editor's Dream

A 10-gbps fiber-optics connection enables a Swedish film editor to do his job in real time from his dream home in a beautiful rural village.

Read article here.

Broadband Innovations, Part 2: Fiber optics Reaches the Tipi

In Part 2 of our four-part Broadband Innovations series, see how the Ktunaxa Nation of Canada uses fast broadband to save its indigenous language and culture from extinction.

View slide show here.

Broadband Innovations, Part 1: The 21st Century Athlete

Broadband is helping to redefine the modern athlete. Meet gamer Patrick O'Day, who hopes to compete in the worldwide Digital Games in China this fall.

Read article here.

Don't Miss This - PCW's Exclusive Four-Part Series: Broadband Innovations

When electricity was first discovered, no one foresaw that it would be used to power artificial hearts, electric guitars, disco balls or computers.
Now the same thing is happening with the Internet.
Read this blog post about innovative broadband uses here.

Philips' Outperforming Blu-ray Player

Review of DVD player for PC World.


Classy Disc Printer: Dymo's DiscPainter

Review of Disc Printer for PC World.


Polaroids for the Digital Age

Review of wireless printer for PC World.


Navigon 2100 Max Road Test

A review of the Navigon 2100 GPS for PC World.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Here's what happens to your recyclables

Check out a photo gallery from Davis street transfer station, on the journey from trash bin to recovery.

Recyclables take a world tour

What happens to your plastic bottles or old TV once you get rid of them? There's a good chance they end on the other side of the globe.

Read more here

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The minicomputer lives on in Massachusetts

Twenty years ago, the minicomputer cluster along Route 128, the beltway round Boston, rivaled Silicon Valley as symbol of entrepreneurship, innovation and cutting-edge computer technology. Today most firms like DEC, Prime, Apollo, Wang and data General has disappeared. But the heritage from the minicomputer era still makes its mark on the local economy and some of the product lines continue to sell for billions of dollars.

Read the "Ongoing story of the Route 128 minicomputer cluster" here

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ericsson shares fall on lukewarm outlook

World's largest telecom equipment maker beats earnings estimates, but investors flee on expectations of a sales slowdown.

Friday, July 18, 2008

SolarCity provides sun power for San Franciscans below grid price

With new city solar incentives, households in San Francisco can get solar power for less than the cost of electricity from the grid, leasing panels from installation start-up Solarcity.

Read more here

Improving solar efficiency by coating cells

Australian start-up claims it can improve solar cell power output by 3
percent to 4 percent through its glass-coating technology.

Read more here

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

AllVoices blends traditional media, citizen journalism

Citizen media start-up AllVoices, a global community that lets users contribute news and commentary by cell phone or online, moves from beta to the public newsroom on Thursday.

"My goal is to create the first true people's media company, where 6 billion people on the planet can share their news from wherever they are," said Amra Tareen, founder of San Francisco-based AllVoices.

Read more here

Cheap international calls with new iPhone app

Truphone's free iPhone app offers international rate calls for 6 cents
per minute to landlines and 30 cents to mobile phones, using WiFi hot

Read more here

Saturday, July 12, 2008

With oil price spike, recycled rubber gets funding

Naples, Fla.-based rubber recycler Lehigh Technologies has finished a series E round of funding, squeezing out another $34.5 million and adding Index Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to its list of investors.

The company started producing rubber powder out of recycled tires a year ago. Lehigh's process involves freezing old tires with liquid nitrogen, then putting the frozen tires through a mill in high velocity, turning the rubber into a fine powder. That powder can be used in paints, shoes, plastics, carpets, and tires.

Through this process, Lehigh says it can make rubber powder for half the price of synthetic rubber.

Read more here

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Virtual personal assistants make life easier

Too busy to book airline tickets, order takeout food, or call your parents? For $19 per month, virtual personal assistants from AskSunday.com will run 10 such errands for you.

Read more here

Japanese Shell subsidiary plans one of world's largest solar-panel plant

Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary Showa Shell Sekiyu, Japan's fifth-largest oil refiner, plans to invest 100 billion yen, or about $938 million, in a solar-panel megaplant.

Read more here

India reveals its first climate change plan

Sun-drenched country pushes for solar power, a soaring industry there.

Read more here

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Clorox on Brita cartridge recycling: Not so easy

North American seller of Brita water filters responds to a grassroots
online campaign to get the company to implement a system for recycling
used carbon-filled plastic cartridges.

Read more here

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rainwater harvesting advocates bring filter tech to the U.S.

When Texasborn Joe Wheeler started harvesting rainwater, he wasn't satisfied with the filter solutions on the market. Now he and others are importing German filters to the U.S.
With increased environmental consciousness, and new storm water guidelines, rainwater harvesting is heading towards a renaissance.

Read more here

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New technology to reduce power in data centers by 80 percent

Power Assure isn't shying away from taking on data center giants like HP, IBM and APC. The tiny Santa Clara, Calif. based company claims to slash power consumption, across all data centers, by 80 percent.

Read more here

Monday, June 9, 2008

Marketing firm helping to green companies--and their images, too

Do you want your company to be greener, but can't make it to a full green certificate? There are still things you can do! Now a marketing firm helps companies to take their first small steps on the environmentally friendly path - for free.

Read more here

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bright future for network above the clouds

In the future, there will no be no escape from the ever present Internet, e-mails and web browsing. A new airborne system promises high-speed broadband connection, even when flying over the oceans.

Read more at Xconomy.com

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

CIGS companies eye building-integrated photovoltaics

I visited HelioVolt, the CIGS solar company in Austin. They, like many of their competitors are tapping into the building integrated solar panel market. But it seems like CIGS BIPV aren't exactly around the corner.

Read more here

Sunday, May 18, 2008

World’s first standard hybrid yacht launches — but may be more style than substance

On a fast cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, Austrian boat manufacturer Frauscher just launched the world’s first luxury motor yacht with a hybrid engine, developed together with Austrian engine manufacturer Steyr Motors.

Hybrid cars have already established themselves as the modern fuel-efficient alternative to petrol cars. But on a warm day, many people will leave their car behind for a much less efficient vessel on the water: Most boats today are powered by dirty diesel engines. Pure electric boats have been around since the late 19th century, but will rarely go faster than 5 or 6 knots (about 10 km/h). Frauscher and Steyr combined the two to offer high speed with a claim to environmental friendliness. I went for a test ride to see how it works.

The Frauscher hybrid has a traditional diesel engine connected to an electric engine. The combustion engine can be started with the electric motor, so there’s no need for a conventional starter motor. With the electric start, the boat will also save every seventh liter of fuel that a normal combustion engine burns during cold starts, according to Steyr.

The boat can drive “zero emission” on the electric engine in speeds up to 5 knots, with several lead-acid batteries supplying the energy. But with a turn of the key, the boat switches to diesel drive mode. At low speeds (the boat reaches 38 knots maximum), the electric engine works in the same way as a starter engine and boosts the diesel engine to create faster acceleration while lowering fuel consumption, although it wasn’t clear how much diesel is saved by the “boost”.

The batteries are recharged whenever the diesel engine is being used. It takes about an hour for the batteries to recharge completely.

Frauscher is a family-owned company with a turnover of $15 million in 2007. Prices start at $150,000 for the 5.6 meter tall St. Tropez-style hybrid yacht, like the one displayed at St. Francis Yacht Club on Friday. The hybrid costs about $20,000 more than a traditional engine.

Last year the company shipped about 150 boats out of its production base in Gschwandt, Austria. Managing Director Michael Frauscher, grandson of company founder Engelbert Frauscher, wouldn’t give an exact forecast of how many hybrids he expects to sell. “But for us this marks a very big thing. There are no boats like this in the American market,” he said.

The Frauscher yachts sell in 14 nations, including the USA, Russia and Korea. California Chris-Craft, a dealer of fine leisure boats with five outlets along the American West Coast, will be the first distributor in the world to offer the new Frauscher/Steyr hybrids. The hybrid electric motor will be available for all Frauscher’s motor yacht styles.

At start, the ride was completeley noiseless. But once out of the marina Frauscher turned the key to switch to the diesel engine, and as the boat jumped its way through the waves it began to burn as much fuel as any other motor yacht.

In the end, the Frauscher yacht gave me the impression of being more stylish than environmentally friendly. Like many technologies touted as “green”, the part-electric system could just serve as an excuse — giving serial over-consumers a green light to go out and burn even more fuel on sunny days.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Top 10 tech trends: Smart phones, alternative energies, Boomer technologies

Where is technology headed?

The Churchill Club of Silicon Valley just wrapped up one of its most anticipated events: the Annual Top Ten Tech Trends Debate. Five well-known and opinionated venture capitalists weighed in on what trends will take flight and what trends will fizzle out in the months ahead.

(The VCs are pictured, from left to right: Steve Jurvetson, Vinod Khosla, Josh Kopelman, Roger McNamee, Joe Schoendorf.)

The audience of around 300 people was asked whether it agreed or disagreed with the VCs’ predictions. I’ve ranked them below, according to how well they were accepted by the audience.

Last year’s predicted trends included a shakeout of Web 2.0 companies and the rising economic power of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Trend 1: Customer data stored by different service providers will be combined to create more intelligent services. Josh Kopelman, managing partner at First Round Capital, a seed-stage venture fund, who founded online retailer Half.com (sold to eBay after a year for $300 million) said such customer data includes your financial records, dinner reservations, preferences in the iTunes store, random searches on Google and much more. In this way the Internet goes from satisfying explicit user needs (like searching for a friend to add on Facebook) to satisfying implicit needs (like telling who you should add and why adding them would be helpful to you).
Audience: 95 percent voted “Yes”.

Trend 2: Oil will have increasing difficulty competing with biofuels made from cheap non-food crops for transportation. Vinod Khosla (pictured left below, beside Kopelman), founder of Khosla Ventures, which focuses on alternative fuels and green technologies, said coal will become less competitive compared to reliable solar thermal and other alternative energy sources.
Audience: 90 percent voted “Yes”.

Read the rest of this entry:

Project Better Place Shows Off Electric Car

Written by Irina Haltsonen for GigaOm

The Silicon Valley electric car startup Project Better Place showed off a prototype for its electric vehicle in Israel this weekend, and said partner Renault-Nissan (Renault is building the cars while Nissan, via an agreement with NEC Corp., is supplying the swappable batteries) would likely spend between $500 million and $1 billion into building them. We contacted Project Better Place and are waiting to hear more on the partners’ investment.

Read the full story

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Weird, the Far Out, and the Yet to Come Green Gadgets

Al Gore has probably convinced just about everyone of the need to get off their eco-keisters and think about what they're doing to the planet. Many devices are billed as helping to reduce the user's carbon footprint and, of course, most of these items are available on the Internet. Some are undeniably strange but others represent well-considered concepts for pushing the environmental envelope. Here's a slide show of Far-Out Green Gadgets.


LG Glimmer Review

A review of the LG Glimmer Touchscreen Phone for PC World Video


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nokia on Innovation

Interview with Tero Ojanpera, executive VP of Nokia. We talked about how Nokia is trying to reinvent iself as an Internet company and the importance of different R&D-locations all over the world. Tero Ojanpera sees an increasing diversity in the demand for handset devices, which in his view makes it even more important with a global footprint.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Backstage at Energy Idol

In a small lobby in downtown Boston small groups of aspiring people are waiting to show off in front of judges' panels. It feels like being backstage at a theater audition, but this time it is the semi-finals in a clean energy business plan competition, with 200 000 dollars up for grabs.

Read more

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Finnish Biodiesel Fuels Mixed Reaction

Written by Irina Haltsonen for GigaOm

As the debate over whether countries should mandate more or less biofuels rages on, Finland’s diesel car drivers — at least in the Helsinki area — now have a chance to fill up their tanks with a new diesel fuel blend whose biodiesel content is at least 10 percent. Neste Oil, Finland’s biggest oil refiner, launched the new biodiesel blend commercially this week, called Neste Green diesel; the biofuel is a mixture of fossil fuel diesel and Neste Oil’s NExBTL Renewable diesel, which is based on renewable raw materials such as palm oil, rapeseed oil and animal fats.

Read more

Friday, May 9, 2008

Clean Technology

US Venture Partners to Invest $100 Million in Clean Technology
2008-05-09 19:05 (New York)

By Khaleeq Ahmed

May 9 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Venture Partners will invest about $100 million in new technologies over the next 3 1/2 years that could make clean energy cheaper and household water easier to reuse.

The Menlo Park, California-based venture capital company will invest about 16 percent of a $600 million fund in so-called clean technology, Mamoon Hamid, an associate at U.S. Venture Partners, said in an interview.

``The cost of power generation and storage is coming down because smarter people are coming into the field'' and alternative technologies are gaining strength, he said. Specifically, USVP is investing in solid acid-based fuel cell technology to make fuel-cell systems less expensive, Hamid said.

Fuel cells, first developed in Germany in the 1800s, typically push charged particles through a membrane in an electrochemical process that produces power, water and oxygen.

Solid acid-based fuel cells can operate at much higher temperatures, so they could be used in cars without auxiliary systems to keep them cool, and are less expensive to produce because they don't require catalysts made of platinum, according to the Web site of Superprotonic, a Pasadena, California-based company developing the solid acid fuel cells for commercial use.

Though California state regulators are drafting rules to reduce emissions that could boost ``green'' technology, USVP is investing in technologies that could survive without any subsidies, Hamid said.

Separately, 75 percent of household water needs in the U.S. could be met through recycling and processing of used water, Hamid said. USVP is investing in water purification technology
that removes harmful bacteria and pathogens from the 70 percent of household water that can be reused, he said.

Clean Technology

Investment by venture capital firms in clean technology companies in North America and Europe more than doubled in the fourth quarter of 2007 from a year earlier, according to Cleantech Investment Monitor.

North American investment was $1.23 billion in the fourth quarter, twice as much as the $534 million invested a year earlier, according to Cleantech.

USVP, which has invested more than $1.8 billion in 350 companies since it was set up in 1981, typically invests in early-stage companies for three to seven years.

For related news:
Top environment stories: XTOP
Stories about U.S. and climate:

--Editors: Elizabeth Wollman, Nicholas Turner

To contact the reporter on this story:
Khaleeq Ahmed in San Francisco at +1-650-745-5599 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Elizabeth Wollman at +1-415-617-7138 or


TNRG#<889158.4653949.>#-0- May/09/2008 23:05 GMT

Mobile Marketing: Who’s on First, What’s on Second, and I Don’t Know What’s on the Third Screen

If you still think that e-mail and Internet are things you get on your computer, then you’re probably my age. Or maybe half my age.

I got a taste of the new generation gap yesterday at Boston’s Mobile Monday event, when an audience member pointed out that for people younger than himself, the mobile phone—the “third screen” after the TV and computer—is in fact the first screen. Judging from that person’s age (I would guess thirtysomething), the great mobility divide lies somewhere in the late teens or early 20s.

You can read the rest of the story here

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

mShopper Goes Global

mshopper, a mobile shopping service, was launched in September of last year and has already had over 3 million unique visits. The company powers Sprint's private-labeled mobile shopping platform, is available on Verizon's mobile web portal, and will be partnering with another unnamed major Telecom soon.
They're also getting their feet wet in UK and have received an Asian investment, with plans to launch in China before the Olympic games. AlwaysOn's Phyza Jameel talked with David Gould, CEO of mshopper, about the company's unique offerings and global march.

Estonian Internet Gurus Launch Clean-up Project

Written by Irina Haltsonen for GigaOM

Being an Internet millionaire doesn’t mean you’re only interested in creating businesses that make huge profits — though our list of 25 that ditched infotech for cleantech are certainly still trying. Estonian entrepreneurs Ahti Heinla, a Skype guru, and Rainer Nolvak, founder of MicroLink and Delfi, have decided to use their creative minds and Google mapping software to start a grassroots project aimed at cleaning up their small home country.

They’re calling it Let’s Do It! 2008, and last weekend over 50,000 volunteers, more than 3 percent of the Estonian population of 1.3 million, joined together to clean the forests, roadsides and other public areas from garbage. Using software based on Google Earth, the crew mapped out 10,000 illegal waste dumping sites, gathered the waste from these spots and took it to over 200 temporary collection stations.

Read more

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sulekha merges Facebook and Craigslist in India

A merger between Facebook and Craigslist may seem like a pipe dream — but in India it’s already happening. The web community Sulekha has quickly grown to become India’s largest user-generated content site with 6 million users, a number set to double this year. Social networking features and classified ads take up equally big parts of the site.

The site targets Indians worldwide. India holds 60 percent of the users. Another 30 percent live in North America, which is gathering pace in many cities (more on that later). Almost every person online in India is fluent in English, so Sulekha knew from the start that competition from other social networks would be tough. There is no pure social network based in India that competes favorably with American social networks Myspace, Facebook or LinkedIn.

But Sulekha decided to expand beyond personal social networking. The network part of the site is divided in vertical sections like travel, news, sport and food. The idea is to provide useful content to anyone with interest in Indian culture and news. The Indian Premium League in cricket, IPL, attracts particularly strong interest with hundreds of people writing comments about it under a special “cricket caption”. Satya Prabhakar, CEO of Sulekha, says that the aggregation of social network content in vertical sub-sections makes it easier to attract advertisers who want to know their audience’s interests. General purpose social networks like Facebook and Myspace are all struggling to find a sustainable advertisement solution.

Sulekha will not disclose its revenue but says it’s growing by 75 percent this year, making the company profitable at the operational level. Half of the revenue comes from advertising on the social network part of the site. The other half comes from classified ads, where currently about 20,000 small businesses have paid for search words. In the U.S. a majority of such small businesses have their own websites and many would use Google’s Adwords advertising tool. In India, online advertising is a brand new world.

The major share of Sulekha’s 450 staff work in sales and visit the Indian companies to give them their first introduction to online advertising. It has apparently paid off, since Sulekha now claims to be the largest online classified site in India’s eight biggest cities — Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmadabad and Pune. About three quarters of visitors use the classified ads section of the site.
Read the rest of this entry »

Travel startup UpTake set to launch opinions super-site

With so many online travel sites crowding the market, you’d think we were nearing a Web 2.0 travel bubble. But according to travel information search engine UpTake, which is launching May 14, there’s still an untapped niche in the market: a travel-opinions supersite.

The market is extremely fragmented with thousands of micro-sites for individual hotels, beaches, airlines and leisure activities. UpTake’s goal is to gather opinions from all of those sites together and become the most comprehensive research tool used by travelers.

“The booking sites are good when you know that you’re going to Maui on May 17 and want to stay in a Hilton Hotel. But if you don’t even know whether to go to Maui or Kauai, it’s not that easy,” said CEO Yen Lee, who was General Manager of Yahoo Travel before he left to start UpTake in late 2006.

The site features a personalized filter that, unlike traditional search engines, lets you customize your search according to profiles such as “kid friendly”, “beach”, “romantic” or “adventurous”. These keywords are matched againt a database of more than 20 million traveler opinions from more than 1,000 review sites across the web, including WAYN, TripSay, IgoUgo and, potentially, another newcomer by the name of Tripwolf (more on them later). The ratings collection now spans about half a million places to go, things to do and places to stay. The database will expand rapidly, according to Lee. Searches will be matched with search word ads displayed along with non-commercial search results.

A traveler with unclear travel plans visits, on average, 22 sites before booking a flight or hotel, according to a recent study by Google and Comscore. UpTake wants to turn these 22 jumps into one smooth stop. “We’re like Google, but we’ll only do travel”, said Lee. But he added that unlike Google , UpTake’s database is prepared to ask travellers the big questions: why they’re travelling and who they’re travelling with.

Read the rest of this entry »

Monday, May 5, 2008

Shell Ditches British Wind Farm, Faces Criticism

Written by Irina Haltsonen for GigaOm

Oil giant Shell’s decision to pull out of the world’s biggest planned offshore wind farm to be built in Britain resulted in a storm of criticism last week. Politicians and environmentalists accused Shell of being “greedy” and “irresponsible” in the British media. Many also believe that the move is part of a larger trend by Shell away from its renewable energy initiatives.

And the future of the London Array wind farm seems uncertain now. Shell was one of the three shareholders in the project together with German power company E.On and Danish utility DONG Energy. When fully operational, the wind farm would have provided electricity to power 750,000 homes, or around a quarter of London — its 341 turbines would have generated 1,000 megawatts of power.

The decision of Shell is also a major setback for Britain as London Array has been the symbol of the country’s renewable energy future.

Read the whole story

Friday, May 2, 2008

Dong Recharges Electric Cars

What do a Danish energy company (Dong Energy), a Silicon Valley startup (Project Better Place), and an Israeli-American entrepreneur (Shai Aggasi) have in common? They all believe that electric cars might be the best answer for our transportation future. Using Dong Energy's wind stations, the electric car network will start up with a mass deployment in Denmark, with about 20,000 wind-powered recharging stations. Denmark is the second country to embrace a massive electric car project—Israel was the first, announcing in January that it will have an electric car network powered by renewable energy.

While the $42 million project is geared up for a start date in 2011, the technology still has some infrastructure challenges to sort out. AlwaysOn sat down to talk with Rudolph Blum, General Manager of Dong Energy, and learned how his company plans to set up a complete infrastructure to charge the electric car batteries. Just one of the many problems to work out is negotiating with the government on car taxation. Listen to what he says and get ready to clear out the clutter in your garage....

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bezos Bets Big on Kongregate

Today, indie Web gaming site Kongregate announced it has secured a $3 million investment from Bezos Expeditions -- the personal investment arm of Jeff Bezos, chairman and founder of Amazon.com. The site was founded in 2006 and, while currently in development, is creating an online hub for players and game developers to meet up, play games, and operate together as a community.

Kongregate wraps user-submitted Flash games with community features, serving as a gathering place for users to play great web-based games alongside their friends. Anyone can add games to Kongregate's library, giving talented game developers the recognition and compensation they deserve. Kongregate shares microtransaction and advertising revenue with contributing developers, who retain the full rights to their games.

Kongregate is positioning itself as an aggregator of content in the casual gaming market. With a monthly growth rate of more than 25%, Kongregate is on track to reach more than 10 million unique visitors by the end of 2008. Kongregate CEO Jim Greer exclusively announces the investment on AlwaysOn....

Our friends across the pond at StrategyEye put together the following analysis of the deal:

STRATEGYEYE VIEWPOINT: Could Kongregate consolidate the casual gaming market?

Kongregate has secured further funding from investors including Jeff Bezos, supplementing USD6m raised in previous seed and early stage rounds of funding. The ad-supported casual gaming and in-game advertising sphere is a growing business with accelerating venture capital investment and acquisitions by larger players. Kongregate has established itself as a competitive entrant in the casual-gaming and user-generated gaming market for the following reasons:

Firstly, Kongregate is positioning itself as an aggregator of content in the casual gaming market. The site provides games developers and users with one portal solution in a casual gaming market which is increasingly becoming overpopulated making it difficult for both developers and users to know which way to turn. The Casual Gaming Association estimates that the global casual games market is worth USD2.25bn and is growing at a rate of 20% per year.

Secondly, the company has managed to gain the confidence of many games developers with its business model and strategy, and now has over 4200 games on its platform. Whilst attracting developers can be a challenge for startups in a saturated market, Kongregate has become popular for several reasons:

• Advertising revenue share deals of between 25% and 50% for developers.

• Offers a range of alternative revenue streams including premium games
upgrade fees, and micro-transactions driven revenue on games. While
advertising revenues rely on traffic, alternative streams aim to
supplement this by generating extra revenues from the most loyal users.

• Enables the developer to maintain exclusive rights to the games.

• The business model balances the level of monetisation of developers'
work versus the level of promotional independence the developers hold.
This is represented by a self-sponsoring mechanism that enables developers
to offer a trial version of a game on the platform and a full version both
on the platform and on the developers' personal page.

• Has concentrated on streamlining development processes and elevating
the quality of flash games through sponsorship (Premiere Development Program).

Finally, the company differentiates its consumer offering with a wide range of interactive features: users can create profiles that they can adorn with achievement, chat whilst playing, the community rates games and this is encouraged via redeemable award programmes.

In relation to all the above, StrategyEye believes that Kongregate has a solid business model that follows the likes of YouTube, Digg and other user-generated content. However, the company faces the thorny issue of maintaining the current relationship with developers (and therefore its business model) as well as ensuring that content is democratically managed. Recent history, in fact, teaches us that management of user generated content can become tricky at times and, if managed poorly, could lead to a major backlash (see Digg).

While Kongregate's future success is not a certainty, the company has made significant advances to becoming a much-needed aggregator in the casual gaming market by establishing a crucial relationship with developers, and the traffic is beginning to follow.

Heavyweight hydrogen might be pharma's new winner

Take at medicine already in use, and replace some of the normal hydrogen atoms in the drug's molecules with the heavier variety deuterium. What you get is a new chemical entity, which hopefully is both better and safer and the original one. Drug discovery start-up Concert Pharmaceuticals, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has more than 100 patent applications based on this principle.

Read more

Monday, April 28, 2008

Luxury bargain hunting

Bargain hunting can mean walking miles through drab outlet malls filled with row after row with appallingly bland clothes. But new online bargain retailer RueLaLa wants to transform burgain hunting into a luxury experience, complete with background muzak.

Read more at Xconomy.com

Microsoft Dreams of a Live Mesh

By Irina Haltsonen for GigaOm

In this new millennium, our lives are becoming increasingly digital, thanks to proliferation of devices — from MP3 players to digital cameras to cell phones and of course computers. The challenge is to keep a handle on the data on these digital devices and the software programs that go with these devices. Microsoft thinks it has the answer, and it is called Live Mesh.

The much-talked about technology is a service platform that allows users to manage and access different devices, share and synchronize files and stay in touch with others from any computer by using the Web as a hub. Live Mesh users can, for example, access photos on their mobile phone from their computer and make them available to friends by placing them in a shared folder. In order for devices to talk to each other, you need to install Live Mesh software.

Read more

Race is on for $1000 genome

In the late ninties, it took several years and billions of dollars to sequence the DNA in our cells. New technologies can radically lower trha prize, and make the mapping in a fraction of that time. Today, several companies are competeing to be the first to make the "1000 dollar genome" come true. An extra incentive is the ten million dollar XPrize for genetics, put up by the Xprize Foundation.
Two of the entrants are Helicos Biosciences and ZS Genetics, both based in Massachusetts.

Read more on www.xconomy.com:

With New Machine, Helicos Brings Personal Genome Sequencing A Step Closer

ZS Genetics Enters Race for Genetics X Prize

Friday, April 25, 2008

Advertising tricks through Augmented Reality

Here comes a new way for advertisers to capture attention: software that turns 2D images into 3D simulations when consumers play with them in front of a Webcam.

It's the French company Total Immersion that has come up with a software capable of recognizing, tracking, and rendering images. It works like this: customers view themselves on a screen through a Webcam and hold up a 2D picture. Suddenly the 2D picture pops up and consumers see themselves holding a 3D simulation of the product in the brochure on the kiosk's video feed.

See for yourself and read more here

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Greenwich in Mortgage Crisis

Mortgage Crisis Hits Affluent as Foreclosures Rise, NYT Says
2008-04-24 23:10 (New York)

By Khaleeq Ahmed
April 24 (Bloomberg) -- The wealthy New York suburb of Greenwich, Connecticut, recorded 34 foreclosure notice filings in January, well above the typical number of about six, as the housing industry's woes spread to the affluent, the New YorkTimes reported, citing RealtyTrac data.

According to the Census Bureau, Greenwich was one of the richest cities in the U.S. in 2000, with a median household income more than double the national average, the newspaper said. In addition, Greenwich homeowners have access to resources not available to everyone, the Times said, enabling them to avoid losing their homes.

Still, some residents may face more difficult times going forward, the newspaper said, citing the Independent Budget Office, which forecasts that 20,000 jobs will be cut by Wall Street by the end of next year.

For related news:
Stories on U.S. foreclosures: {TNI US MOR }

--Editors: Elizabeth Wollman, Sau Chan

To contact the reporter on this story:
Khaleeq Ahmed in San Francisco at +1-650-745-5599 or kkhan8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Elizabeth Wollman at +1-415-617-7138 or


#<109539.500134.>#-0- Apr/25/2008 03:10 GMT

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

US debt outsourcing to India

Outsourcing U.S. Debt Collection to India Growing, NYT Says
2008-04-23 22:05 (New York)

By Khaleeq Ahmed
April 23 (Bloomberg) -- Collection of U.S. debts by Indian firms is a growing business for outsourcing companies as America's economy slows and consumers have difficulty paying for purchases, the New York Times said.

Debt collectors in India cost about a quarter of those in the U.S. and frequently do a better job, the newspaper said, citing debt collection company executives.

Encore Capital Group Inc., a San Diego-based company, said about half of its collection force of more than 300 work in India, the Times said. Encore's chief executive, J. Brandon Black, said the only place it will grow this year is India, according to the newspaper.

Currently a fraction of U.S. debt collection is done outside the country, the Times said. New business is in the pipeline, it said.

Tiger Tyagarajan, executive vice president at Genpact, a spinoff of General Electric with roots in India, said financial services clients are asking the company to analyze their debt and change the way they sell loans, the newspaper said. Genpactemploys debt collectors in India, Romania, Mexico and the Phillippines, the Times said.

For related news:
Stories on Indian companies: {TNI INDIA COS }

--Editors: Elizabeth Wollman, Sau Chan

To contact the reporter on this story:
Khaleeq Ahmed in San Francisco at +1-650-745-5599 or kkhan8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Elizabeth Wollman at +1-415-617-7138 or

#<109539.500134.>#-0- Apr/24/2008 02:05 GMT

Even Grannies Fight for Net Neutrality

A group of singing and screaming grandmothers known as the Raging Grannies made up the most colorful part of yesterday’s public hearing on broadband network management practices at Stanford University.
"Internet Freedom, under attack. What do we do? Stand up, talk back," the Raging Grannies shouted outside the Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford University where the FCC hearing was held.
"For a lot of people the Internet is becoming the most important source of communication. It has to be regulated so that open access can be guaranteed, just like with all other communication," said Gail Sredanovic, one of the grannies.
The grannies had written 13 different songs and cheers in support of network neutrality and protesting cable provider Comcast's alleged practices of slowing down or blocking traffic between users, thereby violating the Internet’s tradition of equal treatment of traffic.
"When the telecoms interfere with traffic in secret, it becomes a threat to freedom of speech and equal rights. If you're pushed to the slow lane you become a second class citizen," said Ruth Robertson, another granny.
The Raging Grannies is a performing activist group and network neutrality is far from the only issue they take on. Through music, song, and inventive costumes the grannies carry out protests on issues like the war in Iraq and veteran's rights.
"We have our own website and we’d hate to see it slowed down. But we don’t just speak for us. We represent all the non-profit websites from left wing to right wing," said Robertson.
While most of the grannies announced they were going home for their naps around noon when the actual hearing started, both Ruth Robertson and Gail Sredanovic stayed around to take on the carriers during the public comment part of the hearing.
However, no carriers showed up for them to fight. Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner all declined the FCC's invitation to attend the hearing. This made for quite an uncontroversial day, where the audience cheered most of the panelists on.
With one side of the issue so drastically underrepresented, the auditorium didn't even fill up. At least this way, Comcast avoided new scandals similar to the previous accusations that the company was paying people off the street to take up seats, as they were criticized for doing at the Harvard hearing in February.
This was disappointing to the grannies who had gone to the trouble of writing a cheer for that specific purpose: "What has Comcast got to hide? They had seat-warmers inside! Stacked the deck, told some lies. Grannies say: apologize!"

The Virtual Office Gains Ground

Virtual reality is making its move from gaming and social sites into the business world.
Project Wonderland, developed by Sun Labs, already allows businesses to improve distance collaboration by building online replicas of their offices or classrooms where colleagues may use 3D representations of themselves to attend meetings, give presentations, and interact.
Project Wonderland is an open-source toolkit for building virtual worlds. The toolkit comes with a prebuilt office environment, but developers who want to design their own world can download instructions on how to do so.

An Early Adopter
One user is Green Phosphor, which sells virtual worlds to enterprises. The company, uses the platform for its business data-mapping application, giving 3D illustrations of data graphs inside virtual worlds.
The idea is to help the user visualize the data by creating the feeling of standing in the middle of a spreadsheet. Green Phosphor tried building prototypes of its application on different platforms such as Second Life, Open Croquet, and Open Simulator, but chose to stay with Project Wonderland because of its networking model and Java base.
"Since the platform is Java-based, we've been able to add some elements to Wonderland that would have been more difficult to build using other platforms," says Ben Lindquist, CEO of Green Phosphor.
"Another aspect that differentiates Wonderland from the competition is its audio features," says Lindquist.
At a recent open house-event at Sun Labs' Menlo Park, CA facility, the research team behind the project placed particular emphasis on sound features, showing how people unable to attend a meeting in the virtual world could call in just as they would to a real-life phone conference.
The people in the virtual world were then able to talk to the caller as a group, privately, or even carry the caller, who is represented in the virtual world by a phone icon, from room to room and passing the caller between different people. When someone gave a presentation in the virtual world, the sound was amplified as the person stepped in front of the microphone.
Members of the virtual audience were also able to chat quietly with the person sitting next to them or step outside the room into a "cone of silence" for private conversations.
To relax, users could step into the virtual music room and chose from different albums, or to into the informal chat areas. "We wanted to add the opportunity for people to interact informally before and after meetings so that people working remotely don't miss out on the social aspects," says Nicole Yankelovich, Project Wonderland project leader.

System Requirements
Project Wonderland requires the use of fairly modern PCs with good graphics cards. The application will work with a dial-up modem, but a slow connection will affect the quality of the voice features.
Live applications such as Mozilla's Firefox browser or OpenOffice.org's productivity suite can run in Project Wonderland. There is also a framework for building multi-user applications.
The program is presently able to accommodate about 25 users at a time. In the next release, scheduled sometime this fall, the goal is to be able to accommodate at least ten times as many.
Lindquist, who has been using the Wonderland platform for a few months hopes for better documentation in the next release.
"The platform needs to be solidified and better documented, but as an open source architecture, I think it has the potential to be really great," he says.

Fisker-Tesla Debacle Continues

Posted by Phyza Jameel
The Fisker camp has broken its silence about the Tesla suit. Last week, Tesla Motors alleged that KARMA, Fisker Automotives' new hybrid electric car, is a copied design of Tesla's own white sedan. Tesla sued Henrik Fisker for stealing trade secrets and design concepts to design his own eco chic automobile- the Karma. Here is what Alan Niedzwiecki, President and CEO of Quantum Technologies had to say:

The Karma, a product of Quantum Technologies and Henrik Fisker is ready to kiss the roads in 4th quarter of 2009, with annual production projected to reach 15,000 units.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Open-source films attack Hollywood

Posted by Carl-Gustav Linden
It's 2018 and the Nazis are about to return from space to an unsuspecting Earth.
Sound weird? It could happen. And it does in Iron Sky, a new movie whose preview will be available for download on the 5th of May.
The story is a follow-up from the guys who made the cult film Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning. That $20,000 sci-fi parody of Star Trek has been downloaded 8 million times since it appeared on the Internet three years ago.
Read more on CNET News.com

LED lightbulbs: Are you ready to make the switch?

Posted by Carl-Gustav Linden
High price and a strange color. No, we're not talking about a hairdo. Those are the two factors that have kept light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, from becoming a mainstream light source.
But that might change soon, said Zach Gibler, chief business development officer of Lighting Science Group, which plans to announce distribution deals with major retailers for its LED bulbs that screw into a regular socket.
Read more on CNET News.com

$10 Bn Oil Deal in UAE

ConocoPhillips Close to $10 Billion U.A.E gas project, FT says.

By Khaleeq Ahmed
April 22 (Bloomberg) -- ConocoPhillips is near a deal to work with Abu Dhabi's National Oil Co. on its $10 billion sour gas project, the Financial Times reported, citing ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Officer Jim Mulva.

An announcement could be made within two months, according to Mulva, the newspaper said. Royal Dutch Shell Inc. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. had been front-runners for the contract, though Occidental has been advised in recent months it isn't a finalist, the FT reported.

International oil companies like ConocoPhillips are facing difficulties gaining access to new resources amid increasing nationalism in oil-rich countries, the FT said.

If ConocoPhillips secures the project with Adnoc, as the company is called, it would be better placed to win other contracts in the United Arab Emirates, the world's fifth-largest holder of gas reserves, the paper said.

For related news: Stories on Adnoc: {158443Z UH CN}

--Editors: Elizabeth Wollman, Colin Keatinge

To contact the reporter on this story:
Khaleeq Ahmed in San Francisco at +1-650-745-5599 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Elizabeth Wollman at +1-415-617-7138 or ewollman@bloomberg.net


Wal-Mart Nominates New Board Members as Two Directors Leave

By Khaleeq Ahmed
April 22 (Bloomberg) -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. nominated two new members to its board of directors and said current directors Jack Shewmaker and Roland Hernandez would not seek re-election at the annual meeting in June.

Gregory Penner, a general partner at Madrone Capital Partners, and Arne Sorenson, 49, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Marriott International Inc., have been nominated to join Wal-Mart's board, the company said in a statement on PRNewire.

Penner, 38, is married to chairman Rob Walton's daughter, according to the statement.

Departing board member Shewmaker joined Wal-Mart in 1970 and continued to serve on the board after his retirement from the company in 1988. Hernandez joined Wal-Mart's board in 1998 and is the retired chairman chief executive of Telemundo Group Inc.

The company didn't provide any reason for the director's departure. An after-hours phone call to Wal-Mart spokesman Carol Schumacher seeking comment was not immediately returned.

The Bentonwille, Arkansas-based company will hold its annual shareholders meeting June 6.

For related news:


To contact the reporter on this story:
Khaleeq Ahmed in San Francisco at +1-650-745-5599 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Elizabeth Wollman at +1-415-617-7138 or ewollman@bloomberg.net

Boom for travel sites -- Can they make money?

Cecilia Aronsson | April 22nd, 2008 | Add Comment »

Travel sites are in fashion this spring, with new sites adding at a steady pace. Finnish travel site TripSay is just the latest to emerge, for example, with ways to share tips about travel. It’s still in closed testing, but it plans to open to the public in a few months.

With hundreds of travel sites now existing — ranging from the big ones like Expedia to the small, single-author blogs dedicated to travel — how are they all going to make money?

Well, enter Travel Ad Network, TAN, which wants to help place ads at all these sites. It just raised $15 million from Rho Ventures, Village Ventures and individuals. The money will be used to increase advertising across travel websites. The company says it is serving 50 sites already. This could mean that some of these flavor-of-the-times sites may eventually make some money.

But being a traveler online is not always glamorous. While testing the basic features of TripSay, I was met with: “Cecilia has been to 5 places and is thus described as “Random tourist”. Next level at 10 ratings.”

Huh? It’s early days still for TripSay, so let’s cut it some slack. It works as a social community where as a member, you create and personalize your profile. You’re asked to list places you have been and rate them with a five-point smiley system. The ratings appear as icons on a world map. Only placing a few ratings will result in being dubbed the “Random tourist” — not a very admirable introduction for someone who has traveled the world. If you’re patient, and add a couple of hundred places, you’ll eventually earn a nickname like “Columbus.” However, quality of ratings might suffer if new users feel rushed to fill in information to avoid that initial rude description.
Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Web 2.0 - The ultimate party

The most interesting conversations in a conference can kick off in the bars at night. When the Web 2.0 Expo starts Monday, there are plenty of events every night, so you might have a hard time deciding where to go. However, a Finnish web service called XIHA Life might be able to help you out.

XIHA was founded in September 2007 and is based in Helsinki. It targets people who are on the go in different cities and use multiple languages in their everyday lives. It has developed a language filtering technology that allows users to select several languages to communicate and receive information. It calls it the world’s first multilingual social media platform. The users automatically see only the content they understand.

Being Swedish, I don’t understand Finnish, but through XIHA I found an unofficial summary in English of the parties and gatherings expected to draw the coolest crowds of web folks in San Francisco next week. XIHA means “fun” or “happy” in Mandarin, and Hip-Hop in Cantonese, by the way, to set us in the right party mood.

Click here for the full party program.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Housing Info Flows to the iPhone

Irina Haltsonen for GigaOm

Looking for a new house to buy but don’t have enough time to browse the Internet, either at home or in the office? As of today, iPhone users can use a new application from Silicon Valley-based startup Terabitz to look at property listings, photos, local neighborhood information, recent sales and driving directions to properties while on the go.

So far the app only has data from Northern California, though there are plans to include other locations, too. Given how hard-hit the NoCal region has been hit from the subprime mortgage crisis, however, there will undoubtedly be lots of listings in the meantime.

Clean-tech bubble? Just wait for the next president

While some people wonder whether there's too much hot air in the clean-tech sector, the man who has advised California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on environmental matters says the industry is just beginning to reach its potential.

Regardless of who sets up shop in the Oval Office in January, sweeping changes in federal energy and climate policy are expected to give the clean-tech industry a big boost, says Terry Tamminen, former director of the California Environment Protection Agency and now a clean-tech adviser for Pegasus Capital Advisors.

"We need to take California's standards and federalize them," said Tamminen, who until last year served as environmental adviser to Schwarzenegger and is considered a driving force behind the governor's green policies.

Read more on CNET News.com

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Zombies Are After Our iPhones

By Irina Haltsonen for GigaOm

If you’re a security company like Radware, it’s your job to find and create patches for vulnerabilities, but it’s also your job to poke and prod in the hopes of finding some newsworthy exploit to get your firm’s name in the paper.

Radware struck media gold with its findings of a vulnerability in the iPhone browser. According to Radware, the iPhone Safari browser version 1.1.4. is vulnerable to a denial-of-service attack after a user clicks through spam email or spam texts that could crash the browser or the phone.

Unlimited Plans Could Create Unlimited Trouble

By Irina Haltsonen for GigaOm

Will consumer adoption of unlimited mobile plans cause your call quality to suck? ABI Research seems to think so. In a report released today, ABI Research says unlimited plans can lead to more phone calls, more data use and worst of all, more YouTube-related video streaming. And that leads to more of a burden on wireless networks and backhaul. Since Sprint’s unlimited plan includes 3G data as well as voice, it may be the canary in the coal mine for other carriers waiting to see what unlimited means for their networks.

Betting on bone growth drug

Radius Health, a pharmacutical company in New England was founded by researchers from four different universities with the aim of developing new drugs for the bone disease osteoporosis. At the moment, Radius is testing its first drug candidate. While most osteoporosis drugs work by slowing the decay of bone tissue, the new treatment instead stimulates bone growth.
Read more: http://www.xconomy.com/2008/04/17/radius-health-is-betting-on-a-better-treatment-for-osteoporosis/

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nigeria Oil

Nigerian Oil Output Could Decline 30 Percent by 2015, FT Says
2008-04-16 20:13 (New York)

By Khaleeq Ahmed
April 16 (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, could lose 30 percent of its oil output by 2015 due to funding problems, the Financial Times reported, citing a government report.

The report, written by President Umaru Yar'Adua's energyadvisers, says the government needs to find ways to finance the oil industry, including through increased investment in ventures with foreign oil firms, the FT said. Late last year, ShellPetroleum Development Co., the Nigerian unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, said in an internal memo that funding problems could put at risk its joint venture with the Nigerian government, the newspaper reported.

The Nigerian government had been unable to pay its share of joint-venture costs to companies like Shell, Chevron Corp., and Exxon Mobil Corp., one of the reasons hindering an increase in output, the newspaper said.

The Nigerian government and Shell declined to comment, the FT said.

For related news: {TNI NIGERIA OILPROD } for stories on
Nigeria's oil output.

--Editors: Elizabeth Wollman, Colin Keatinge

To contact the reporter on this story:
Khaleeq Ahmed in San Francisco at +1-650-745-5599 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Elizabeth Wollman at +1-415-617-7138 or



<543482.4609358.>#-0- Apr/17/2008 00:13 GMT

Britain’s best and brightest startups hit Silicon Valley next week for funding

Cecilia Aronsson | April 16th, 2008 | Add Comment »

If you’ve never heard of Dragon’s Den, it’s a popular British TV reality series, where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to get funding from business experts — the “Dragons”. One of those Dragons, Doug Richard, a UK-based Californian and founder of investment research firm Library House got a name for himself as a particularly fastidious investor on the show. And now he’s selected 20 of the UK’s most promising web application start-ups to go and try their luck in Silicon Valley.

The initiative is called Web Mission 2008, and it offers subsidized participation in a one-week tour of the Valley, which begins next week. The program includes visits to Oracle, Bebo and the Web 2.0 Expo. For these British web start-ups, many with CEOs in their twenties, it’s a pretty alluring opportunity. The jury, led by Doug Richard, describe the selected companies as highly promising businesses that are well prepared to attract American investors and customers. “Some of these companies are as good as anything coming out of the Valley”, Richard said in a statement.

More than 100 British web companies applied for the 20 available slots, and the winners were announced the first week of March. The program is sponsored by the UK Trade & Investment Organisation, along with some companies from the private sector. The idea is that British web companies in their early stage have a lot to learn — and earn — from entering the US.

The companies span a broad range of web applications (see full list here). Most were founded a year or two ago. Here’s a quick taste of who’s coming:

Read the rest of this entry »

On Sale: The iPhone (well, in Europe, at least)

Written by Irina Haltsonen for GigaOm

Well the iPhone may be hard to come by in the U.S. these days, but they’re practically giving them away overseas. As Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster notes today, two more mobile phone retailers — Britain’s 02 and Carphone Warehouse — have cut the price of the 8 GB iPhone by 37 percent. This follows another, even more drastic price reduction earlier this month, of 75 percent, by T-Mobile in Germany.

Munster thinks the cuts indicate that the demand for iPhones in Europe is light. However, he also believes iPhone carriers are clearing the way for the new 3G model, expected to be launched in June.

Meanwhile, RIM’s BlackBerry keeps adding addicts overseas: Roughly 33 percent of its subscriber base is now outside of North America, according to Scotia Capital’s Gus Papageorgiou — with most of it in Europe.

FCC to Hold Public Hearing on Net Neutrality

The debate around network neutrality remains a hot topic of discussion among telecom companies and service providers.
Tomorrow, the Federal Communications Commission will hold its second public hearing on broadband network management practices at Stanford University.
Federal regulators say they are considering taking steps to prevent cable and telephone companies from delaying the downloads and uploads of heavy Internet users.
"Obviously network operators can take reasonable steps to manage traffic, but they cannot arbitrarily block access", says FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.
Emotions ran high in February when a similar hearing was held at Harvard Law School. At that hearing the venue filled up early and many people who wished to get in could not. Comcast later admitted to paying people off the street to hold places in line for its employees.
Both of these public hearings were scheduled, in part, because of consumer complaints that Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, has been slowing down Internet traffic of the file-sharing service BitTorrent.
Comcast argues that the growing popularity of peer-to-peer applications like video-sharing was straining the network, degrading other less-intense uses like Web surfing. Consumer groups and critics say discriminating against some content providers is simply a way for Comcast to get rid of the competition and that assuring network neutrality through regulation is necessary to prevent U.S. broadband providers from blocking or slowing their customers’ connections to Web sites or services that compete with services offered by the providers.
"Today there is a lack of competition in broadband which makes it possible for the party that controls the physical access to the Internet to favor that company’s applications," says Vint Cerf, vice president of Google and co-inventor of the Internet. "Many broadband suppliers suppress what should be an open media. Not only will that suppress open expression, but it will also suppress innovation."
The FCC will hear from expert panelists on broadband network management practices and Internet-related issues. There will also be a two-hour session devoted to public comment.
The hearing is open to the public, but interested citizens should show up early as seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Location: Dinkelspiel Auditorium, 471 Lagunita Drive, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

12:00 p.m. Welcome/Opening Remarks
12:45 p.m. Panel Discussion 1 – Network Management and Consumer Expectations
2:15 p.m. Break
3:00 p.m. Panel Discussion 2 – Consumer Access to Emerging Internet Technologies and Applications
4:30 p.m. Public Comment
6:30 p.m. Closing Remarks
7:00 p.m. Adjournment

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Toxic or Chemical?

Canada May Label Widely Used Plastic Component Toxic, NYT Says

2008-04-15 21:45 (New York)

By Khaleeq Ahmed

April 15 (Bloomberg) -- The Canadian government will likely declare as toxic a chemical used for baby bottles and other foodcontainers, the News York Times reported, citing a person familiar with the situation.

The person, who declined to be identified because of a confidentiality agreement, said work to list the compound, called bisphenol A, or B.P.A., as a toxic chemical was finished and was endorsed recently by a panel of outside scientists, the Times reported.

An announcement from Health Canada could come as early as tomorrow and would be the first by a country against the compound, which has been shown to affect the hormonal systems of animals, according to the newspaper.

A spokesman for Health Canada declined to answer questions, the Times said.

For related news:
Health stories from the U.S.: {TNI US HEA BN }
Other stories about B.P.A.: {NSE BISPHENOL }

--Editors: Elizabeth Wollman, Sau Chan

To contact the reporter on this story:
Khaleeq Ahmed in San Francisco at +1-650-745-5599 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Elizabeth Wollman at +1-415-617-7138 or

#<889158.4653949.>#-0- Apr/16/2008 01:45 GMT

Third-world lessons for recycling phones

SAN FRANCISCO--Jan Chipchase is a cell phone modification guru. A researcher at Nokia Design in Tokyo, he's seen cell phones modified to hold up to 16 SIM cards and plenty more in his role at the company.

Chipchase is a member of a team at Finnish cell phone giant Nokia that's trying to lower the cost of phones for emerging markets, an effort that's part market development and part recycling. The group of 15 has scanned bazaars and street shops in places as diverse as Ghana, Brazil, Iran, India, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, China, and Mongolia to learn how end users relate to their products--and they discovered surprises that could impact consumer electronics makers within the next 15 years.

Their main finding: there's no limit to how cell phones can be modified and how their life spans can be extended.

And breathing new life into phones usually doesn't take a complex set of tools. In most cases, handsets can be reborn with the help of just a screwdriver and a toothbrush sprayed with alcohol to clean the contact heads.

In Accra, the capital of Ghana, the shining device on display might very likely be an old phone that got a tuneup. Have a defunct phone? In China, you can go to a bazaar and purchase any part for the 20 most popular phones. The shelves are also filled with printouts of repair handbooks.

"The point is that you think the thing is a closed box that can't be tinkered with, but you can actually go into a shop and build your own phone," Chipchase told CNET News.com last week. He stopped here to speak at a meeting arranged by research and development firm Adaptive Path.

One of Chipchase's favorite pastimes while traveling is to buy a mobile phone, smash it, and bring it to a cell phone repair shop to see how technicians deal with the mess. He calls this "the repairing experience."

"The informal repair culture...makes mobile phones something more affordable to price-sensitive customers, increasing the lifetime of products while lowering the environmental-impact risks," he said, adding that with new phones appearing constantly, street mechanics very quickly learn how to work with new models.

"If they want to stay in business, they've got to listen to what the customer wants," Chipchase said.

In Tehran, meanwhile, consumers can just bring a phone to a shop where the shelves are filled with the latest software ready for download--pirated just weeks after a new model has hit the world market.

The same software-on-demand thinking goes for India--on the streets of New Delhi customers can buy a video phone that plays cricket clips and Bollywood films. And if you're in the market for a job there, you can get a diploma from a "Mobile Repairing Institute.

Installing alternative languages, switching frequency bands, unlocking software installations--these are part of everyday life in many of the places Chipcase and his team visited. In Cairo, Egypt, grocery store owners ask if you want to buy ringtones as you shop for food.

Looking for new ways to recycle

Meanwhile, with Earth Day approaching April 22, the recycling of electronics such as cell phones may assume a more prominent spot in people's minds.

In some parts of the world, the notion of not recycling electronics might seem absurd. People save their wages for months to be able to buy a cell phone, a precious little tool for small businesses or keeping in contact with family and friends where the Internet or even a landline just isn't accessible.

But in the U.S., there are more than half a billion retired phones, and less than 1 percent of those get recycled, according to information from the U.S. Geological Survey and nonprofit Earthworks.

Nokia, which dominates the world market for cell phones in almost every part of the planet except for the U.S., thinks there's much to be done on that front.

One example of what might be a new approach is the Nokia prototype cell phone Remade, which the company showed off at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, in February. Remade's cover, rather than coming from petroleum-based plastic, is made of recycled aluminum cans and old rubber tires, and the device inside comes from a used cell phone.

"This is a concept, to take waste and turn it into something useful," Chipchase said. Although the thin, silver Remade doesn't yet make phone calls and may never reach the market, it can be seen as a commitment to change--and a step toward a possible eco-trend.

During its travels, the Nokia design team discovered a whole business ecosystem around the mobile phone.

And no wonder, as half of the world's population owns a wireless device, according to a report by Informa Telecoms and Media. By the end of last year there were 3.3 billion subscribers. India's subscriber base will pass the U.S. this month, according to Cellular-News.

"In terms of scale, no electronic object has gone so far," Chipchase said.

Asked how Nokia's management has reacted to his team's findings, Chipchase said the data inspires a sense of potential. "People who don't work in these countries are surprised," he said. But "they see it as a possibility, more than a threat."

Monday, April 14, 2008

New RFID reader software gives information on velocity and position of tags

Not being able to distinguish between two tagged objects has been a big headache for the airline business. On one hand, Radio frequency identification readers save labor because they don't need to be aligned with the tags. On the other hand, a device might read several tags at the same time, without knowing which specific piece of luggage the tags are tied to.

The new software from Alien Technology will be able to discriminate between different bags, and provide such information as where the bag is going and whether a certain piece of luggage is supposed to be searched by Customs.

Read more here

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The iPhone in Europe: A patchy success

Cecilia Aronsson, a Swedish business reporter, is a fellow at the Innovation Journalism Program at Stanford University. Through July, she’ll write columns for VentureBeat.com about her experiences in Silicon Valley. Here’s her first column.

The European business press is speculating that the next market Apple plans to target with its iPhone is Sweden, a hotbed of mobile innovation and the home of rival mobile phone maker Ericsson. But I was tagging along with 15 leaders of the Swedish telecom and computer industry yesterday as they visited several Bay Area technology companies, and from what I heard, it sounds as if Apple may not understand the Swedish market.

While US customers are used to choosing a carrier and accepting that not all phones will be available through that carrier, Swedish customers are used to having whatever phone they want with any carrier.

Apple’s strategy so far has been to hook up exclusively with one mobile operator per country (AT&T in the US). The iPhone only works with AT&T’s SIM card (the card that contains the user’s data).

In Scandinavia, though, things are different. Read more here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Robotics start-up Willow Garage believes open source OS will soon put robots in our homes

If Menlo Park-based start-up Willow Garage has its way, in just a few years you’ll be able to hire a robot to come and clean your house once a week.

The company is building open-source robots and giving them away to university research groups in an attempt to fuel quick improvements to the operating system and rapid build-out of applications to run on it.

The company plans to deliver 10 robots to US universities by the end of the year, says Willow Garage president and CEO, Steve Cousins. “We might deliver more robots later, maybe up to 50″, he says. The company will release its open source software at the same time.

“You have to have the device to start inventing applications,” Cousins says. “Usually the first step in building a robot is to create the hardware and then the software. Now we give a ready made platform for research groups to start from.”

He compares the development of personal robots to the revolution of the personal computers: When the first ones came out, nobody knew what to do with them. But then the development got started.

Privately-funded research lab Willow Garage was silently founded last year by Scott Hassan, the chairman of the board, who helped Larry Page and Sergey Brin to develop Google’s technology back in the ’90s. Hassan was also founder of eGroups, a group email messaging company bought by Yahoo Groups in 2000 for about 450 million dollars. And presumably those funds are at least partly responsible for powering Willow Garage, although Hassan won’t say where his funding comes from. Read more here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

SiBEAM delivers high-definition wireless adapters this year, raises $40M

SiBEAM, a company developing technology to stream high definition video more quickly than any existing technology, has raised $40 million in third round of funding.

The financing was led by New Enterprise Associates. The other firms backing up SiBEAM are Foundation Capital and U.S. Venture Partners.

SiBEAM, of Sunnyvale, Calif., is developing a technology called WirelessHD. The technology helps you move rich, high-definition data like video wirelessly from one gadget to another, such as from your portable digital video camera to you TV. We’ve covered the company earlier.

WirelessHD competes with WirelessUSB and WiFi. Wireless USB transfers data at a speed of 480 megabits a second over three meters, while wirelessHD uses the 60-gigahertz spectrum and works in higher speeds, starting at four gigabits at 10 meters and with the theoretical maximum speeds of up to 25 gigabits a second, as the technology matures. That is more than ten times faster than WiFi solutions. Read more here.

Engage’s new dating service: Fall in love - or be publicly embarrassed?

Would you invite friends to an online dating service, to help you in your escapades?

Engage, a San Mateo-based startup, believes you will. Friends are helpful in connecting you with dates in the offline world, so the idea is they’ll vouch for you online as well. In fact, Engage says 262,000 unique visitors used its service last month.

The company officially launches its online dating service today, after two years of testing (see our coverage). That’s a long time. Its traffic is respectable, but not huge. If the wing-man approach is really effective, wouldn’t there be more buzz by now?

Well, Trish McDermott, the company’s vice president of Love, says it’s early days, and that’s true. Most bigger competitors are several years old. Engage is the first “second generation social dating site” on the net, she points out. It provides a place for “mingling, mixing, matching and flirting,” and is such more social than other online dating services, she notes. Read more here.