20° post “Biofuels: No get up and go?”

May 15, 2009

Concerns over food crops are only one issue to overcome when it comes to biofuels. There’s also a serious lack of infrastructure that will prevent the fuel alternative from becoming mainstream, according to a new report by Lux Research.

“The problem is that there aren’t nearly enough filling stations and cars–nor will there be for decades–that are capable of using the fuel. Without changes downstream in the current distribution infrastructure and end-use, ethanol’s growth will soon cease–even if it’s given away for free,” said Mark Bünger, a research director at Lux Research, who headed up the report “Biofuels After the Fall.”

Bünger and his group said that research has been focused on developing more cost-effective production methods and reducing reliance on food crops, and that the industry is poised to produce 10 billion gallons for 2009.

But demand will be stifled until the development of commercial infrastructure giving consumers greater access to biofuels and of more vehicles that can use biofuel blends, according to Lux Research.

The report is “a reality check for biofuel advocates operating under the false assumption that demand will exceed supply as soon as costs are competitive with fossil fuels,” the group said in a statement.

Lux Research, which interviewed 35 leading biofuel organizations as part of its study, saw algae-based biofuels, catalysts for fermenting biomass, and lucrative biofuel byproducts as other areas ripe for development and investment.

Earlier this year, a report from Sandia National Laboratories and General Motors said biofuels could be competing with gas by 2030.


19° post “Better Place plugs in battery swapping station”

May 15, 2009

Better Place on Tuesday showed off an automated electric vehicle battery-swapping station which takes about one minute to slip in a fresh battery.

The station in Yokohama, Japan is part of a government-sponsored test around electric vehicles. The vehicles being tested are modified Nissan SUVs that run entirely on batteries.

The switching stations use robotic battery “shuttles” on a track system that remove a depleted battery for recharging and insert a fresh battery.

As the batteries are on the bottom of the car, a driver goes up a ramp and stays in the car during the battery exchange. The battery shuttles are designed to work with a variety of different battery sizes

At this site in Japan, the batteries are charged from a large solar photovoltaic array, making it zero-emissions driving, according to Better Place.

Better Place’s business model is to sell customer a subscription service to charge batteries, which are owned by Better Place. Customers get access to charging stations at home and in public places as well as battery-swapping stations for longer rides.

18° post “Green news harvest: DOE’s Chu on nukes, fuel cells”

May 15, 2009

A sampling of green-tech news with quick commentary.

17° post “Interfaz Cerebro-Máquina: órdenes con el pensamiento “

May 15, 2009

Las compañías japonesas Honda y Shimadzu han presentado sus últimos avances en la tecnología de Interfaz Cerebro-Máquina, conocida como BMI, con la que por vez primera el usuario puede dar órdenes a un robot sólo con el pensamiento.

De momento, la mente sólo puede transmitir cuatro movimientos diferentes: mover la mano derecha, la izquierda, los dos pies o la boca, pero los promotores de esa tecnología esperan que en el futuro puedan ampliarse las aplicaciones.
Los ingenieros responsables de esta revolucionaria tecnología aseguran que las órdenes cerebrales eran interpretadas en el 90,6% de los casos con precisión por Asimo, el robot humanoide más avanzado del mundo. Es la primera vez en la historia que esta tecnología BMI alcanza una tasa de éxito tan alta, según los ingenieros del fabricante japonés, que recuerdan que hasta ahora lo máximo que se había registrado era un 66 por ciento de acierto. Con ese dispositivo además no es necesario implantar ningún tipo de sensor en la cabeza del sujeto que da las órdenes, afirman. Esto puede revolucionar el mundo de la neurociencia.
La tecnología tiene dos puntos clave: un dispositivo de extracción de la información del cerebro y, lo que según los ingenieros es la parte más complicada, la identificación de las diferentes órdenes cerebrales. Para este segundo paso, Honda ha utilizado por primera vez una combinación de la tecnología EEG (Electroencefalograma), que mide las variaciones de los impulsos eléctricos del cerebro, y la NIRS (Espectroscopia Cercana de Infrarrojo), con la que calibra los cambios en el flujo sanguíneo.
La tecnología presentada supera en avances a la desarrollada por Honda en mayo del año 2006, cuando el fabricante alcanzó su primer hito con el BMI. Ahora ya no es necesario que el sujeto se mueva ni que reciba un entrenamiento especial. El dispositivo es además portátil y el robot con el que se está experimentando es Asimo, la niña bonita de los humanoides de Honda.

16° post “Army hopes interactive videos make smarter soldiers”

May 15, 2009

The military issued a formal apology, promptly dismissed the soldier from his regiment and reassigned him to stateside duty.

But news of the shooting had already made its way onto YouTube, and a firestorm of outrage was ignited across the Islamic world. Protests turned deadly in Afghanistan.

Back at the Army‘s Intelligence and Cultural Awareness Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, commanders knew they had a problem. In the 21st century, the Army was sending younger soldiers into an arena they had little cultural experience in, and at the same time, new social networking sites were poised to broadcast their mistakes to the world.

Maj. Gen. John Custer, the leading officer at Fort Huachuca, knew that the Army not only needed trained linguists, but it also needed a new language of its own.

15° post “Novotech amplia sus marcas”

May 15, 2009

Novotech amplía su gama de marcas


La empresa localizada en Naucalpan y con la dirección de Federico Freyría anunció la incorporación de nuevas marcas a su ya de por si extenso catálogo. HomeLogic, Lite Touch, Lowell y Christie son las compañías que acrecentan el acervo de esta compañía dedicada a ofrecer productos y servicios indicados exclusivamente a integradores e instaladores de electrónica de consumo y a la medida.


HomeLogic es una empresa que ofrece sistemas de control y automatización cuyo enfoque esencial en un robusto software con la idea que el consumidor no tenga que preocuparse por programaciones  sofisticadas y extenuantes. Desde 2007 fue comprada por Nortek y ahora es una división de Elan Home Systemswww.homelogic.com



LiteTouch es una de las referentes en el tema de control de iluminación. Indicado esencialmente para el entorno residencial ofrece soluciones integradas o stand alone, lo mismo en casas nuevas que en residencias en remodelación. www.litetouch.com


Con el advenimiento de los cuartos dedicados para equipos centralizados (nodo cero le llaman algunos), es indispensable contar con racks especializados para soportar componentes de audio, video, iluminación, redes y control. Una de las marcas más recurrentes entre los instaladores profesionales es Lowell que llega a México de la mano de Novotech. www.lowellmfg.com


Christie no requiere presentación entre los asiduos al video de altísimo nivel. A México llegan proyectores para aplicaciones empresariales, comerciales y de entretenimiento. Incluso son líderes en el novedoso asunto de señalización digital (digital signage). www.christiedigital.com 


14° post”Zippy electric motorcycle comes at a price”

May 6, 2009

The Zero S electric motorcycle is impressive, but be careful with the throttle–it accelerates superfast from a standing start–and keep in mind that it weighs only 225 pounds.

Those are the initial observations of this first-time rider, who took the street model made by Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Zero Motorcycles out for a spin.

It’s an odd feeling to twist the throttle and feel the powerful acceleration (62.5 pound-feet of torque) and still hear no sound except a slight clanking from the chain, not yet lubricated on this pre-production vehicle. Making tight turns is a little tricky, as there’s no clutch (and no gears). But once you get used to it, it’s just like an ordinary street motorcycle.

That’s the point. In contrast with Zero’s earlier off-road model Zero X, which is not intended for road use, Zero S is made for daily use, such as commuting or making trips up to 60 miles, which is the maximum range on a single charge (complete charging takes 4 hours on 110 volts).

13° post “Skyline Solar unwraps low-cost concentrator”

May 6, 2009

Skyline Solar has designed a solar concentrator that relies on more sheet metal and less silicon to cut costs.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based start-up on Monday introduced its product, called High Gain Solar (HGS) arrays, and said that it has raised an additional $24.6 million from New Enterprise Associates and other investors. It’s one of six companies to get a Department of Energy grant worth $3 million for solar photovoltaics research.

Its arrays, expected to be available later this year, are targeted at commercial customers and utilities looking to generate from about 100 kilowatts to megawatts worth of electricity. The company has a 24-kilowatt demonstration facility at a plant in San Jose, Calif., with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

12° post “Log toggling speeds up Cloud Antivirus”

May 5, 2009

by Seth Rosenblatt

By pushing as much resource usage as possible into the clouds, Panda Security’s new Cloud Antivirus aims to free up the RAM hogging that plagues many security programs. However, testing the new beta revealed slower-than-anticipated scan speeds when doing an on-demand full hard drive scan. Panda’s got a solution that might help some users: turn off logging while running the scan.

Cloud Antivirus splits the usual scanning process into three separate processes. The OnAccess Scan detects executing threats, the OnPrefetch Scan detects non-executing threats that are likely to run in the future, and the OnBackground Scan checks all local files when the computer is idle. Because of the way that the scans utilize idle CPU time, the background scan could still be logging when you start an on-demand scan.

The solution is to deactivate the logging feature when you’re running a heavy-duty, system-wide scan. This is risky if you forget to turn it back on after you’re done, and highlights the lack of advanced options available through the interface. “It’s something we’re aware of and still fine-tuning,” said Pedro Bustamante, senior research adviser at Panda Security, in an e-mail.

Deactivating the advanced logging works, although users shouldn’t expect dramatic changes. Scan times increased from 45 percent completed in 30 minutes to 45 percent done in 25 minutes. To toggle the log, download the two Registry keys found at the top of this blog post. Double-click on LoggingOff.reg and reboot your computer to turn off the log, then when you’re finished double-click on LoggingOn.reg and reboot to re-activate it. I strongly recommend reading the entire post, though. Bustamante has included a lot of information on how Cloud Antivirus works. The known problems blog post is also worth looking at.

If you do try this Registry tweak out, post your results in the comments below.

11° post “Attacker reportedly holds Virginia patient data hostage”

May 5, 2009

by Elinor Mills

An attacker tried to extort $10 million after breaking into a Virginia state Web site used to track prescription drug abuse and allegedly holding the data hostage, according to a posting on the Wikileaks Web site.

The ransom message on the Virginia Prescription Monitoring Program site read:

“I have your [expletive]! In *my* possession, right now, are 8,257,378 patient records and a total of 35,548,087 prescriptions. Also, I made an encrypted backup and deleted the original. Unfortunately for Virginia, their backups seem to have gone missing, too. Uhoh :(For $10 million, I will gladly send along the password.”

The site, which was broken into late last week, was not accessible late on Monday.

Sandra Whitley Ryals, director of Virginia’s Department of Health Professions, told The Washington Post that a criminal investigation is under way by federal and state authorities. An FBI spokesman declined to comment.