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NEDA board approves Tutuban-Sorsogon railway, 7 other projects

TALKING INFRA. President Rodrigo Duterte presides over the board meeting with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) at the State Dining Hall inside the Malacañang Palace on November 14, 2016. Photo by SIMEON CELI JR/Presidential Photo

(UPDATED) The board, chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte, also discusses guidelines for processing China-assisted infrastructure projects

Published Tue, Nov 15, 2016 10:00 AM

TALKING INFRA. President Rodrigo Duterte presides over the board meeting with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) at the State Dining Hall inside the Malacañang Palace on November 14, 2016. Photo by SIMEON CELI JR/Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte, approved 9 projects on Monday, November 14.

One of the projects approved during the NEDA board meeting is the South Line of the North-South Railway Project, a train that will run from Tutuban in Manila to Sorsogon in Bicol. This project was not approved at the first NEDA board meeting in September.

NEDA Director-General Ernesto Pernia, quoted in an Inquirer article, said the  653-kilometer railway will cost P214 billion, making it the biggest Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project.

Duterte, before he assumed the presidency, had said he aims to build 3 legacy railways in Luzon and Mindanao during his term.

The projects approved in the Monday meeting are worth around P270 billion, said Pernia in a message to Palace reporters.

In the first NEDA board meeting last September, 9 projects worth P171.14 billion were approved.

The approved projects, released by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, are the following:

  1. Scaling up of the Second Cordillera Highlands Agricultural Resources Management Project
  2. Expansion of the Philippine Rural Development Project
  3. Improvement/ Widening of General Luis-Kaybiga-Polo-Novaliches Road to Valenzuela City
  4. New Cebu International Port
  5. North-South Railway Project – South Line
  6. Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project, Stage 2
  7. New Nayong Pilipino at Entertainment City
  8. Improvement, widening of road from Quirino Highway, Quezon City, to Gen MacArthur Highway

The Chico River Pump Irrigation Project was discussed during the meeting but deferred with instructions for the National Irrigation Administration to reconfigure the project so it includes hydropower. The NIA was also told to gather more information on what type of crops may be profitably grown in the area around the Chico River.

During the NEDA board meeting, guidelines for processing projects that involve assistance from Chinese parties were also discussed.

Some of these guidelines include:

  • The source of financing for pre-investment studies are not tied to a particular country/technology/lender
  • Suppliers are qualified and of “good standing”
  • Contracts are favorable to government

The discussion on guidelines comes after Duterte’s state visit to China where Memoranda of Understanding between the government and Chinese companies were signed.

But some of these Chinese companies were found to have shady track records. One firm was involved in a string of accidents in Vietnam, while another was banned by multilateral lender World Bank.

The Palace later clarified that the government has made no commitments to these companies and had only agreed to allow the companies to do “feasibility studies.” – Rappler.com

 

Filed under: People who inspired Us, Pictures for the future, Public Service, Sorsogon News Updates, Technology

Just privatize PNR

 By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star)

The current PNR general manager should probably be given a medal for his heroic efforts to make the government-owned railroad company run its trains again all the way to Bicol. He is most probably of my generation, albeit a few years younger, to feel so passionately about the Bicol Express. There is something romantic about the PNR in those days… it wasn’t the Orient Express but it served our needs.

So now we are being told that after years of neglect and abuse, PNR will once again run a Bicol Express service. According to newspaper reports, they apparently conducted the test-run the other weekend and it covered more than 400 kilometers through a newly refurbished locomotive train with several hand-me-down tourist class coaches donated by the Japanese government.

“In my assessment, the Bicol test-run we conducted was 95 percent successful and we are nearing our objective to put back in operation the commercial PNR trips to Bicol region,” said PNR general manager Junio Ragragio Jr. The Manila-Naga trip took nine hours, shorter than the usual 10-hour travel time through bus, Ragragio said. He added that all train coaches for the “Bicol Express” will be air-conditioned.

“We also have two types of sleeper coaches. One is a family suite that is good for a family or barkada of four to six persons. And we also have the executive class for passengers who would like extra privacy and the inclusion of a dining car with the ambiance of a first class restaurant,” he added.

“In the tourist class we have reclining chairs with more leg room compared to commercial buses. This includes a wide screen LCD with state-of-the-art sound system to comfortably watch movies during the long trip,” Ragrario said. We didn’t even have it this good in the good ol’ days.

They will also renovate several train stations traversing along the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Sur and Albay. I also heard that they will try to get back the historic Paco Station and restore it to its old grandeur. They are also thinking of putting up railway connections to Batangas, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon. Definitely too good to be true!

Back to reality… the coaches are 30 years old. . . the Japanese gave us train coaches they have already junked. Maintenance costs will be high… for ‘brakepads’. (common source for PNR graft), aircon/engine repairs and extraordinary expenses for regular mishaps and accidents (diskarel) will plague this band-aid solution. . . expect the usual landslides along the old tracks resulting from typhoons and continuous rains during the rainy season.

I e-mailed Ray Altarejos, Ragragio’s high school classmate and fellow Bicolano about this development. Altarejos is a New York-based entrepreneur who is now in Brazil looking for business opportunities. Here is his comment:

“I told Jun Ragragio to focus on changing the narrow-gauge PNR tracks to wide-gauge and make it run freight trains all the way to Sorsogon. In the 1930’s, PNR (then known as the MRR or Manila Rail Road) was extended to Albay to haul abaca to Manila. Manila hemp was a major dollar earner.

“But a PNR for freight has no political constituency. Warren Buffet is now making tons of money with his big bet on Burlington Northern. With the high price of oil, Burlington Northern has stolen the business of long-distance trucks. Brazil has a great train system into the interiors hauling soybeans, corn and iron ore bound for China.

“Bicol despite the usual typhoons could have a dynamic agri sector.”

At least they are doing something to resuscitate the PNR rather than pillage what is left of PNR assets, which politicians in the past apparently did quite well. The next 12 months will show whether the P500M P-Noy gambled on these old coaches running on the old PNR tracks will be worth it. . .

Worthy of praise as these current efforts are, I think there is a better way: privatize PNR. The faster they do this, the better before more of PNR’s assets get dissipated. Somebody in a past administration even sold its air rights over the tracks!

It isn’t as if there isn’t any private sector interest. San Miguel made a proposal to buy 51 percent control of PNR and still have government as a partner in its development. At no further cost to taxpayers, San Miguel offered to develop a national railroad system starting with the Luzon line of PNR that will run slower trains on at-grade level and fast trains on top.

Ramon Ang told The STAR last year that they have commissioned a group that includes international companies with experience in bullet trains to study the possibility of building a bullet train railway that will run from the north to the south end of Luzon. San Miguel proposes to run the bullet train railway on the Laoag-Manila-Bicol route. SMC’s top executive expressed optimism about the possibilities that this venture… a high-speed train service is also expected to help boost the economy in general.

I asked Ramon how he expects to make money considering the large amount of capex he must invest on it upfront. He said he is looking at PNR not only as a train company but a general logistics company. Consumer goods marketers will find the railroad the more efficient way to do Luzon wide distribution of their products… exactly what Altarejos was suggesting. San Miguel will run telecom, water, electricity lines along the right of way. He will develop the adjacent real estate and make money on malls and other property ventures near train stations.

Ramon said he has made a pitch to Secretary Ping de Jesus who just gave him a polite “we will study” kind of reply. But from the discussions, it was clear that the bureaucrats, specially the powerful usec that Ping depends on, do not want anything that does not require ODA financing. They also want to keep government control over PNR even if the past decades have shown government is totally incapable of running it, except to run it to the ground.

It is stupid to ignore a proposal like this. What is there is lose with taking Ramon Ang on his word? PNR isn’t exactly the epitome of operational efficiency and profitability. If Ramon Ang fails, the attempt would still have generated economic activity and the failure will cost PNR and the taxpayers nothing. But if the venture succeeds, the government and the people benefit tremendously.

ODA will only get us so far in rehabilitating PNR. In fact, ODA has failed to do anything for PNR for years now. If San Miguel is willing to stake its money and its reputation on reviving a dead duck like PNR, they should be given the chance to do so. We need bold measures like what San Miguel has proposed.

San Miguel would not give me a copy of their proposal out of respect for Secretary Ping who promised to study it. But such proposals should be made public if only to put pressure on unimaginative bureaucrats that they have to think boldly to move this country onward. Or could it be that the bureaucrats are afraid of losing lucrative rackets imbedded in ODA-financed projects? Secretary Ping should not forget how to think like a private sector manager. Right now, he is allowing his usec to repeat proven failures… the old bureaucratic way.

We are spending money on international road shows supposedly to entice foreign investors to invest on our PPP initiatives. But here, we have a local investor ready and willing to invest big bucks on a major infrastructure program and all our government could tell them is that they “will study it”. This is absolutely ridiculous. The earlier P-Noy cracks the whip to get his people moving and thinking boldly, the better for his credibility rating and for our country’s future.

Filed under: Government, Information, Innovation, Invest in Sorsogon, Sorsogon News Updates, Technology, , , ,

iPhone-Tech firms aim to keep wayward walkers on path

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Todd Atwood says he doesn’t worry too much about accidents when walking down the street using his iPhone to make calls, send text messages or check his e-mail.

But he’s seen the consequences of paying more attention to the gadget than what’s ahead.

“I saw someone walk right into a sign,” recalled the 32-year-old Silicon Valley resident. “She didn’t hurt herself but she was startled. She dropped her phone, then her friends starting laughing at her. It was funny but I guess it could’ve been more serious.”

While using a cell phone while driving has triggered the most alarm bells and prompted laws in several states, experts say, pedestrians are also suffering the consequences of mobile distraction — tripping on curbs, walking into traffic, even stepping into manholes as they chat or type while walking.

To help these sidewalk stumblers step out more safely, technology companies are now stepping in, creating applications that do everything from make a smartphone screen transparent to transform speech into text.

Whether the technologies will prevent injuries and embarrassment remains to be seen, they are being welcomed as a move in the right direction.

“I don’t think we’re going to eliminate people from walking into things outright and of course we want people to be responsible, but what we’re trying to do is eliminate the friction point … and give the user back a little mental bandwith,” said Travis Bogard, the executive director for product management and strategy at San Francisco-based Aliph, which makes bluetooth earpieces.

Aliph’s Jawbone earpiece incorporates voice-to-text technology which eliminates the need to glance down at the keypad to send an e-mail or text message. It also has caller ID that speaks to the wearer so he or she doesn’t have to pick up the phone to see who is calling and a function that allows wearers to call up their contacts using their voice rather than fingers.

“All of this gets rid of the need to touch your phone, which causes your eyes to move away from what’s in front of you,” Bogard said.

Other programs also on the market aim to make it easier to type while walking. They tap into a smartphone’s camera to beam an image of what’s in front of the user over the message screen so typers can see what’sahead. They include Text Vision, Type n Walk and Email ‘n Walk.

“See-through screens, yes, would solve part of the problem,” said Clifford Nass, a professor of communications at Stanford University and one of the authors of a study on multitasking. “But there’s still a second problem, which has to do with engagement of the brain.”

Same goes with voice-to-text technology, Nass said.

“It can help a little bit but the fundamental problem is that we’re stuck with brains that can’t do all that much when we’re doing other things,” he said.

Two years ago, the American College of Emergency Physicians issued an alert warning of the dangers of text messaging while walking, driving, biking and in-line skating based on anecdotal evidence from physicians.

Manhattan physician Mark Melrose said he’s seen his share of near-misses on the city’s busy sidewalks and heard of bad accidents.

“A personal friend almost walked right into a manhole while looking at her phone,” he said. “Another friend was actually run over by a bike messenger. She wasn’t paying attention, walked into the street and the bike messenger walloped her.”

An Ohio State University analysis found that for the past few years, the number of emergency room visits resulting from pedestrian cell phone accidents has doubled year-on-year. The study showed that in 2008, just over 1,000pedestrians visited emergency rooms for injuries like walking into a pole while texting or spraining an ankle after falling down while talking on a cell phone.

Jack Nasar, a professor of city and regional planning who supervised the study by his graduate student, Derek Troyer, said there were likely even more accidents that were never reported because people won’t admit that’s how they were injured or the injuries didn’t warrant a hospital visit.

“The bottom line is that you’re phased out, less aware when you’re looking at a phone,” he said.

Peter Loeb, an economist at Rutgers University who studied the effect of cell phones on pedestrian fatalities, said cell phones can actually keep people safer because they get ambulances to the scene faster.

But, his study also concluded that once a certain number of phones exist in the market, the benefit disappears.

“As more and more people use cell phones, the distraction effect is overwhelming,” Loeb said.

Exacerbating that is texting, which has grown exponentially in recent years. The wireless industry association CTIA reported that the number of text messages sent by its members’ customers increased from 32.6 billion in the first six months of 2005 to 740 billion in the first six months of 2009.

At least two states, New York and Illinois, have considered laws limiting the use of personal electronic devices by pedestrians but no bills have been passed.

Most lawmakers and experts agree that Big Brothering the sidewalks is impractical. They instead encourage public outreach and see promise in the technological innovations, including ones that don’t involve phones themselves, such as special crosswalk lights to grab walkers’ attention better.

“For pedestrians, it’s primarily themselves that they put at risk, not others, so that does separate this from driving,” said state Sen. Joe Simitian of Palo Alto, who sponsored California’s hands-free driving law. “At some point, however, we do have to accept personal responsibility.”

Read more via: http://www.ushour.com/tech-firms-aim-to-keep-wayward-walkers-on-path/

Filed under: Mobile Technology, New Ideas, New Invention, Technology,

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

Starbucks is offering free Wi-Fi to all customers, at every location, starting today. Whether you’re clicking connect on Starbucks’ Wi-Fi or some other unsecured, public Wi-Fi network, here’s how to stay safe and secure while surfing a public hotspot.

Just because most wireless routers have a firewall to protect you from the internet doesn’t mean you’re protected from others connected to the same network. Lots of wireless hotspots these days are completely unencrypted, usually so they’re easier to connect to (baristas don’t need to be giving out the internet password to everyone that walks in). However, this leaves you unprotected against malicious users in the same coffee shop, so there are a few settings you should always make sure to tweak when you’re connected to a public network. We’re going to show you which settings are the most important ones, as well as how to automatically change your settings to the appropriate level of security every time you connect to a public network.

The Settings

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

1. Turn Off Sharing

When you’re at home, you may share files, printers, or even allow remote login from other computers on your network. When you’re on a public network, you’ll want to turn these things off, as anyone can access them—they don’t even need to be a hacker, and depending on your setup, some of that stuff probably isn’t even password protected. Here’s how to turn off sharing:

In Windows: Open your Control Panel, then browse to Network and Internet -> Network and Sharing Center, then click Choose Homegroup and Sharing Options -> Change Advanced Sharing Settings. Once here, you should definitely turn off file and printer sharing, and you may as well turn off network discovery and Public folder sharing. Some of this is done automatically by Windows if you specify the network as public (more on this later).

In Mac OS X: Go to System Preferences -> Sharing and make sure all the boxes are unchecked.

You’ll also want to turn off network discovery, which will be in the same place. This will prevent others from even seeing your machine on the network, meaning you’re less likely to be targeted. On Windows (as I mentioned), it’s just another check box under advanced sharing settings. On OS X, it will be called “stealth mode” and be under your firewall’s advanced settings (see below).

2. Enable Your Firewall

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks


Most OSes come with at least a basic firewall nowadays, and it’s a simple step to keeping unwanted local users from poking at your computer. You may already be using a firewall, but just in case, go into your security settings (in Windows under Control Panel -> System and Security -> Windows Firewall; and on Mac under System Preferences -> Security -> Firewall) and make sure your firewall is turned on. You can also edit which applications are allowed access by clicking on “allow a program or feature” in Windows and “advanced” in OS X. Your firewall
is not an end-all, be-all protector, but it’s always a good idea to make sure it’s turned on.

3. Use SSL Whenever Possible

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
Regular web site connections over HTTP exchange lots of plain text over the wireless network you’re connected to, and someone with the right skills and bad intent can sniff out that traffic. It’s not that big of a deal when the text is some search terms you entered at Lifehacker, but it is a big deal when it’s the password to your email account. Using HTTPS (for visiting web sites) or enabling SSL (when using applications that access the internet, such as a mail client) encrypts the data passed back and forth between your computer and that web server and keep it away from prying eyes.

Some sites will do it automatically, but keep an eye on the address bar and make sure the “s” in “https” is always there when you’re exchanging sensitive information. If it disappears, you should log out immediately. Note that if the sensitive browsing can wait, you might as well just do it at home—no reason in risking more than you have to. Other sites will default to HTTP connections, but support HTTPS if you manually type it in. Gmail, for example, will allow you to log in using HTTPS, and you can specify in your Gmail Settings whether you want it to use HTTPS automatically in the future. (Go to Settings, find the Browser connection setting, and set to Always use https.)

If you access your email from a desktop client such as Outlook or Mail.app, You’ll want to make sure that your accounts are SSL encrypted in their settings. If not, people could not only theoretically read your emails, but also get your usernames, passwords, or anything else they wanted. You’ll need to make sure your domain supports it, and sometimes the setup might require different settings or ports—it’s not just a matter of checking the “use SSL” box—so check your email account’s help page for more details. If it doesn’t support SSL, make sure you quit the application when you’re on an insecure public network..

4. Consider Using a Virtual Private Network

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks


Unfortunately, not all sites offer SSL encryption. Other search engines and email providers may still be vulnerable to people watching your activity, so if you use one of these sites frequently (or really just want the extra protection), you may want to try using a VPN, or virtual private network. These services let you route all your activity through a separate secure, private network, thus giving you the security of a private network even though you’re on a public one. We’ve detailed
how to set up a VPN with Hamachi, though there are a number of great services—check out our Hive Five for best VPN tools for more ideas. If all that’s a bit too complicated, you can always go with previously mentioned Hotspot Shield, which is a fairly popular app that will run in the background and set up the VPN automatically.

5. Turn It Off When You’re Not Using It

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
If you want to guarantee your security and you’re not actively using the internet, simply turn off your Wi-Fi. This is extremely easy in both Mac and Windows. On a Mac, just click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar and select the turn off AirPort option. On Windows, you can just right-click on the wireless icon in the taskbar to turn it off. Again, this isn’t all that useful if you need the internet, but when you’re not actively using it, it’s not a bad idea to just turn it off for the time being. The longer you stay connected, the longer people have to notice you’re there and start snooping around.

How to Automate Your Public Wi-Fi Security Settings

You don’t want to have to manually adjust all of these settings every single time you go back and forth between the coffee shop and your secure home network. Luckily, there are a few ways to automate the process so you automatically get extra protection when connected to a public Wi-Fi network.

On Windows

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
When you first connect to any given network on Windows, you’ll be asked whether you’re connecting to a network at your home, work, or if it’s public. Each of these choices will flip the switch on a preset list of settings. The public setting, naturally, will give you the most security. You can customize what each of the presets entails by opening your Control Panel and navigating to Network and Sharing Center -> Advanced Sharing Settings. From there, you can turn network discovery, file sharing, public folder sharing, media streaming, and other options on or off for the different profiles.

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

That’s a good start, but what if you want a bit more control? Previously mentioned NetSetManis a great program to customize your network profiles for different networks; you choose your IP address, DNS server, or even run scripts (opening the window for pretty much any action) every time you connect to one of your preset networks.

On OS X

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
On OS X, you don’t have a lot of options for automating your network preferences, but
previously mentioned Airport Location will do everything you could possibly want and more. With it, you can turn on your firewall, turn off SMTP mail, connect to a VPN, and a whole lot more, all depending on the network you’ve connected to. Heck, you can even change your desktop background for each given network, as well as run Applescripts for those functions that just aren’t built in to the app.

In Your Browser

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
The
previously mentioned HTTPS Everywhere Firefox extension automatically chooses the secure HTTPS option for a bunch of popular web sites, including the New York Times, Twitter, Facebook, Google Search, and others, ensuring secure HTTPS connections to any supported web site, every time you visit. You can even add your own to their XML config file. Note that as a Firefox extension, this works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Consider a Safety-First Approach

If you’re a real road warrior, you may find yourself adding so many profiles that automating your safe settings at every step along the way may seem like a lot of work. While most chains like Starbucks or McDonald’s should have the same names for each of their Wi-Fi networks (and thus your profiles will carry over), an better approach may be to make your more secure settings the default for your system, and create just one profile for your home network. Thus, by default, file sharing would be turned off, your firewall would be at its most secure state, and so on—then, when you return home to your protected network, you can have Airport Location or NetSetMan turn your less secure settings on.


This isn’t all-encompassing by any means, but should give you a good quick checklist of things you should do every time you connect to a public network. There are certainly a number of other things you could do (such as setting up a SOCKS proxy over SSH), but these steps will take you a long way on the road to security when you’re browsing on those public hotspots. Of course, some of you already have your own public browsing routines, so be sure to share your safe networking tips in the comments.

Send an email to Whitson Gordon, the author of this post, at whitson@lifehacker.com.


Read more via: http://lifehacker.com/5576927/how-to-stay-safe-on-public-wi+fi-networks?skyline=true&s=i

Filed under: Computer Matters, Internet Security, Mobile Technology, Technology,

Preparing for iPhone 4 launch day

NEW YORK–Google CEO Eric Schmidt made a guest appearance at a press conference here Wednesday where Google, Motorola, and Verizon Wireless unveiled the new version of the popular Android Droid smartphone.

Schmidt took the stage first and touted the importance of the smartphone category.

It’s that time of year again when throngs of people line up, sometimes days in advance, for the latest and greatest version of the Apple iPhone.

Thursday is the official release date for the iPhone 4. And from the looks of things, this year could be the biggest of all iPhone launches.

AT&T says that demand for the iPhone 4 is 10 times what it was for the iPhone 3GS. And Apple says it took 600,000 preorders for the new phone through its sales channels.

The iPhone 4 goes on sale Thursday, though the white version won't be available.

(Credit: James Martin/CNET )

The iPhone 4 goes on sale Thursday, though the white version won’t be available at first.

If history is any indication of what to expect, initial sales of the iPhone 4 are likely be a doozy. Apple sold more than 1 million iPhone 3GS smartphones the first three days it was on sale. The original iPhone sold about 270,000 units during its first weekend in June 2007, while the iPhone 3G sold around 1 million when it launched in July 2008.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs called the iPhone 4, which is the fourth generation of iPhone, the “biggest leap since the original iPhone” was launched in 2007. With a new homegrown processor like the one used in the iPad, a bigger battery, a 5-megapixel camera that can record video in high definition, and a new FaceTime video chat application, the iPhone 4 is expected to be a hotter device than all previous iPhones.

Unfortunately, for customers waiting to get their hands on the new phone, there are already signs that supply may not keep up with demand. On Tuesday, AT&T announced that only preordered iPhone 4s will be in stock in its retail stores Thursday. Anyone looking to buy an iPhone 4 at an AT&T store without having preordered the device will have to wait until June 29.

AT&T’s preordering system also crashed over and over on June 15, the day the iPhone 4 was made available for preorder. Potential customers attempting to buy the phone saw error messages as they tried to process their orders.

So what is an expectant iPhone 4 user to do? Check out this FAQ to get a better handle on what will be happening on launch day. For updated information from AT&T, the company suggests checking out its Facebook page.

by Marguerite Reardon and Erica Ogg

Read more via: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30686_3-20008509-266.html?tag=mncol

Filed under: Innovation, New Ideas, New Invention, Technology,

Motorola Droid X unveiled, ‘made for video’

Attendees to Wednesday’s New York press conference get a rundown of the new Droid X’s features.

(Credit: Bonnie Cha/CNET)


Motorola Droid X

“This is not a toy or app engine,” he said. “It is a powerful kind of operating system. What is happening now is that people are thinking mobile first instead of desktop first.”

He cited the importance of a robust wireless network, as well as hardware with fast processors and big screens. But Schmidt said Wednesday’s event is notable not just for the announcement of the new Droid, but for the emergence of the entire category of device.

Indeed, the new Droid X epitomizes this. The newest version of the Google Androidphone made by Motorola offers an HDMI output, a 4.3-inch display, and 720p video capture. The device also comes with faster processors that will offer faster Web browsing. And it has an 8-megapixel high-definition camera.

John Stratton, executive vice president of Verizon Wireless, said the device is made for video. And there will be new apps designed to take advantage of these features, including a deal with Blockbuster to provide movies for purchase or rent.

The Droid X will cost $199.99 after a $100 rebate and will go on sale starting July 15. Unlike AT&T, which has switched to tiered pricing for its iPhone, Verizon said it will keep its unlimited mobile data plan for smartphones, which costs $30 a month.

The new Droid X also offers Wi-Fi hot spot capability, which allows users to connect up to five additional Wi-Fi devices to the Verizon 3G network. This feature will cost $20 extra a month for 2GB of data for the month. If users exceed the 2GB, they will pay 5 cents per megabyte.

Verizon is altering its upgrade policy to sweeten the deal for current customers looking to upgrade to the Droid. It will allow any Verizon Wireless customer whose contract expires in 2010 to upgrade to the Droid when it comes out on July 15.


Executives at Droid X kickoff

Google CEO Eric Schmidt joins executives from Adobe, Motorola, and Verizon Wireless onstage at the kickoff for the new Droid X. From left to right: Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe; Andy Rubin, vice president of engineering for Google; Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola; and John Stratton, executive vice president of Verizon Wireless.

(Credit: Marguerite Reardon/CNET)


By Marguerite Reardon

Via: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30686_3-20008606-266.html?tag=nl.e498

Filed under: Innovation, New Ideas, New Invention, Technology, ,

Airborne Wind Turbines?


Yes, the day is not far off when reaching for sky is the new motto for generating cost-effective renewable energy. Initially it was considered to be technically non-viable to tap high-altitude winds. But today, technically-advanced materials and innovative computer know-how are giving new life to this scheme with innovative autonomous aerial structures using wind energy to generate power.

Joby Energy, Inc. model:
Joby Energy Inc., exploring wind turbine technology, has developed a computer-controlled multi-winged kite-like structure which floats around 2000ft height for generating power. Mr Bevirt is the inventor of this aerial kite. The DC power generated is transferred to ground through tether to a ground station to be converted to AC power ready for consumption via a power grid.

Advantages of high altitude wind turbines:
Extolling the virtues of these autonomous aerial power generators, Mr. Bevirt said, “Operating at five times the height of a conventional turbine increases both wind speed and consistency resulting in more power, more often.” Professor William Moomaw, Director,
Centre for International Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts University, Massachusetts, agreed, “The higher speeds at the greater altitudes should produce significantly more electricity.”

Mega source up above:
Actually statistics is strongly in favor of these air-borne wind turbines because globally tropospheric winds carry nearly carry potential to produce 870 terawatts of energy whereas our total demand put together is only 17 terawatts. Along with Joby Energy Inc., other companies like Kitegen focusing on power kites, Magenn Power’s Air Rotor System called (MARS) with a helium filled blimp design and Sky WindPower with flying electric generators are trying to tap this mega source to produce clean and cost effective power.

Tread with care:
US Federal Aviation Administration has asked the flying altitudes restricted to 2000 ft or less in spite of the potential to reach heights up to 35,000. Also Professor Mick Womersely, Director of Sustainability, Unity College, Maine, expressed the obvious concerns about possible hazards and reliability of these prototypes.

Reassurance about safety:
Mr. Bevrit confirmed about the safety measures like ability to ground the turbines in gale-force-type winds, multiple motor designs to circumvent motor failure and on-board stand-by batteries to land the system in case of tether malfunction. He assured that road-testing in sparsely-populated areas with good strong wind is being planned and all safety measures will be paid attention to.

Joby Energy’s aim:
Joby Energy aims to create enough systems to power 150 homes (about 300kW) and move on to larger systems producing 3MW or more. In Mr. Bevirt’s words, “Our goal is to deploy airborne wind turbines globally to produce cheap, consistent, and abundant electricity for a prosperous planet.”

By: ALTERNATIVE ENERGY NEWS

Source:  http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/airborne-wind-turbines/

Filed under: Innovation, New Ideas, New Invention, Technology

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