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Signs of the California Solar Initiative’s Coming End | Greentech Media

Signs of the California Solar Initiative’s Coming End | Greentech Media | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The California Solar Initiative (CSI) is approaching its goals. Look what it has done.

 

CSI was made law by 2006’s Senate Bill 1, the combined design of California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) work and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “million solar roofs” vision.

 

It had two initial goals, according to CSI Senior Regulatory Analyst James Loewen. One was to build 1,940 megawatts of solar in California in supported system allotments of one kilowatt to one megawatt. A General Market Program of 1,750 megawatts was aimed at residential and non-residential settings and another 190 megawatts targeted low-income settings. The other goal, Loewen said, was to transform the solar market and make solar “sustainable, vibrant and even mainstream.”

 

The California Energy Commission (CEC) was budgeted at approximately $400 million to oversee the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP), intended to increase installations of new-home solar systems in the territories of the three major California investor-owned utilities (IOUs), Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E),.

 

A voluntary program for publicly owned utilities (POUs) was budgeted at almost $800 million.

 

The CPUC was allotted the balance of the funding, approximately $2.2 billion, to oversee new and retrofit non-residential solar and residential retrofits in the IOU territories.

 

The program has six segments, one residential (up to ten kilowatts) and one non-residential (ten kilowatts to one megawatt) for each of the IOUs, with the SDG&E segments administered by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE).

 

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Sponge-like structure generates steam using lowest concentration of solar energy yet | GizMag.com

Sponge-like structure generates steam using lowest concentration of solar energy yet | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Researchers working at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering claim to have produced a sponge-like substance that helps convert water to steam using sunlight one-hundredth as bright as that required by conventional steam-producing solar generators. A composite of graphite flakes layered on a bed of carbon foam, the new material is reported to convert as much as 85 percent of received solar energy into steam.


In practice, the scientists say that the graphite flakes and carbon foam composite that they've created forms a porous insulating material structure that floats on water. After a number of experiments, the scientists found that the best method to maximize heat retention properties in the top layer was to exfoliate (expand a material by heating so that it increases in volume and lowers in density) graphite by cooking it in a microwave, causing it to bubble and swell. The outcome is an exceedingly permeable top layer able to maximize absorption and retention of solar energy.


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Italy: BioCasa 82 boasts bragging rights as Europe's first LEED Platinum home | GizMag.com

Italy: BioCasa 82 boasts bragging rights as Europe's first LEED Platinum home | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

There are very few LEED Platinum homes around – the green building standard's highest rating – and this scarcity becomes even more pronounced once you leave the US. Italian home BioCasa 82 boasts bragging rights for being the first private residence in Europe to achieve LEED Platinum, and as you'd expect, it's a very energy-efficient home, deriving 55 percent of all required energy from renewable sources.


Designed by Italy's Rosario Picciotto Architects and built by green building specialists Welldom, BioCasa 82 was completed earlier this year and comprises a total floorspace of 484 sq m (5,209 sq ft). The two-story home is based just outside Montebelluna, a small town not too far from Venice, Italy.


Its rural placement is cited by the architects as the reason that the home scored "only" 117 points out of a total possible 136 and not higher, reflecting LEED's preference for urban homes in a system that also awards points for categories such as the use of sustainably-sourced materials and on-site renewable energy sources.


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Frack Quietly, Please: Sage Grouse Is Nesting | NYTimes.com

Frack Quietly, Please: Sage Grouse Is Nesting | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In a new oil field among the rolling hills near here, Chesapeake Energy limits truck traffic to avoid disturbing the breeding and nesting of a finicky bird called the greater sage grouse. To the west, on a gas field near Yellowstone National Park, Shell Oil is sowing its own special seed mix to grow plants that nourish the birds and hide their chicks from predators.


And on a 320,000-acre ranch near the northern tail of the Sierra Madres, developers of an enormous wind farm have decided not to plant turbines where some of the best onshore winds in the world blow because it is in prime grouse territory.


The spotted owl never had it this good. But like that bird, which became a bitter symbol of the conflict between the environment and economic development a generation ago, the greater sage grouse — a chickenlike bird known for its flamboyant courtship strut — has seen its numbers plunge far and fast.


Now, federal officials are weighing putting it on the endangered species list — setting off a mad scramble among the unlikeliest of allies to save the bird and avoid disrupting the nation’s enormous growth in energy production. With a range stretching over more than 165 million resource-rich acres across 11 states, the grouse is at the center of one of the country’s most important struggles: to balance the demand for energy against the needs of nature. And in the process, it has put two environmental priorities — preserving species and fostering renewable energy — on a collision course.


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World's largest dome structure completed in Singapore | GizMag.com

World's largest dome structure completed in Singapore | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Work was recently completed on a big, bold, and presumably very expensive architectural project – and for a change, it's not located in Dubai or China. The Singapore Sports Hub is a mammoth, sustainable sports complex containing the East Asian city state's new National Stadium: a 55,000 capacity venue that boasts the notable achievement of being the world's largest dome structure.


Situated on a 35 hectare (86.4 acre) site, the Singapore Sports Hub was designed by local firm DP Architects, and its centerpiece is the National Stadium. The National Stadium's dome shaped-structure measures a total of 312 m (1,023 ft) in diameter, besting its nearest rival in the dome structure size stakes, the Texas Cowboys Stadium, by 37 m (121 ft).


The stadium also sports a huge retractable roof and a flexible interior layout that can host athletics, soccer, rugby, or cricket as required, taking around 48 hours to convert.


Other important sporting venues within the Sports Hub include an aquatic center, which seats up to 6,000, and a 3,000 seat multi-purpose indoor arena. Elsewhere lies a 41,000 sq m (441,320 sq ft) retail area, which contains a water park and rock-climbing facilities.


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UK: Mayor of London unveils three proposals for the future of Heathrow Airport | GizMag.com

UK: Mayor of London unveils three proposals for the future of Heathrow Airport | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

What to do with London's increasingly-cramped Heathrow Airport? While plans have previously centered around building a new runway, London mayor Boris Johnson favors abandoning the site altogether, and building a new airport on an artificial island in the Thames Estuary.


Should this ambitious plan come to pass, it would leave the original Heathrow site obsolete, presenting an opportunity for redevelopment. To this end, the mayor's office has revealed three proposals for transforming the airport into a new town dubbed Heathrow City.


The proposals were commissioned by Transport for London, at the mayor's behest, and will be available for public viewing at the New London Architecture galleries in central London until August 9. At this stage, they appear more a jumping-off point rather than finished plans and warrant all due skepticism.


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United Arab Emirates: Fixed network sharing expected in October, Du says | TeleGeography.com

Dubai-based telecoms operator Du has indicated that long-delayed network sharing with sole rival Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) will begin in October, the company’s CEO Osman Sultan told Gulf News.


The move will break the monopolies held by the pair within their respective areas by giving consumers nationwide the choice of operator for their fixed line voice and broadband services.


Du is primarily restricted to the new development areas and free zones of Dubai, while Etisalat serves the rest of the market.


Sultan revealed that IPTV services will not be offered initially, but will be available ‘at a later stage due to some technical reasons’.


Etisalat and Du first began discussing the issue in 2009 and a trial bitstream service with selected customers was launched in July 2011, but failure to agree the terms of network sharing have so far delayed its full implementation.

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EU Regulators Want Google To Expand Right To Be Forgotten Worldwide And To Stop Telling What Links Have Been Forgotten | Techdirt.com

EU Regulators Want Google To Expand Right To Be Forgotten Worldwide And To Stop Telling What Links Have Been Forgotten | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

We've been covering the ridiculous ruling in the EU on the "right to be forgotten," which was interpreted to mean that search engines could be forced to delete links to perfectly truthful stories (and even if those stories are allowed to be kept online). Google has been trying to comply with the over 90,000 requests it has received -- nearly half of which it has approved -- and removed from its European searches.


The company has been struggling to figure out how to comply with the ruling, and those struggles continue. Originally, it was going to place a notice on search results pages where links had been removed (like it does with copyright takedowns) alerting people that stories were missing. However, regulators told Google that would defeat the purpose. So now, Google's European search results show a message on nearly every search on a "name" that results might have been removed.

Either way, once Google started removing the requested stories, it did the right thing, alerting the websites that links were being removed. Of course, that just resulted in many of those publications writing about it, and bringing the original news back into the public eye.

In response to all of this, European regulators are apparently quite angry again, summoning representatives from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft (but mainly Google) to argue that the removals should be global, not just for Europe and that the companies should stop informing websites if their stories were removed. One hopes that these three companies would fight strongly against either such proposal. The idea that Europe can dictate how search engines in other parts of the world work is dangerous.


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Microsoft wants you to forget Windows 8 | Gregg Keizer | NetworkWorld.com

Microsoft wants you to forget Windows 8 | Gregg Keizer | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

As talk of the next Windows begins to build and some details of what most are calling for now either Windows 9 or Threshold come into focus, it's worthwhile to take a moment to remember Windows 8.


Because Microsoft will want everyone to forget it. And we will.


Unless the Redmond, Wash. technology company radically changes its habits, it will throw Windows 8 down a memory hole even before the successor ships. Just like it made Vista persona non grata in its official messaging in 2009, it will shove Windows 8 so far into the background that we'll need the Hubble telescope to find it.


Not that that's unusual. All companies fake amnesia to a stunning degree, even when what they want to forget -- more importantly, what they want customers to forget -- was once trumpeted with Joshua's band. Ford tossed the Edsel into the don't-mention file, Coca-Cola did the same with New Coke, Apple erased the Performa and Ping from its corporate memory, and IBM would be hard pressed to admit it ever knew the PCjr or OS/2.


It's always about next year's shiny object, not last year's.


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ESB and Vodafone to invest €450 million in 100% fibre broadband network across Ireland | TelDaC.com

ESB and Vodafone to invest €450 million in 100% fibre broadband network across Ireland | TelDaC.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

ESB and Vodafone today signed an innovative joint venture agreement to invest €450 million in building a 100% fibre-to-the-building  broadband network offering speeds from 200 Mbps to 1000 Mbps, propelling Ireland into the ranks of the world's fastest broadband countries . Ireland will also become the first country in Europe to utilise existing electricity infrastructure on a nationwide basis to deploy fibre directly into homes and businesses, initially reaching 500,000 premises in 50 towns. The fibre will be deployed on ESB's existing overhead and underground infrastructure, ensuring a fast and cost efficient roll-out to every county in Ireland and reversing the digital divide between the capital and regional towns.

With recent data from ComReg, the Irish telecoms regulator, showing that 43% of fixed broadband customers in Ireland receive speeds of 10 Mbps  or less, direct access to 100% fibre broadband of up to one gigabit per second will transform the internet experience of small and medium businesses (SME), remote workers and consumers. This will help regional areas to compete more effectively for investment and jobs, and SMEs to work more efficiently, enhance their online presence and reach new markets and customers. Consumers will enjoy innovations ranging from home entertainment to e-health and virtual education. Home working will also become a real option for more people, helping Ireland to develop its smart economy. With global internet traffic set to triple in the next five years , the speed and reliability delivered by 100% fibre broadband will ensure Irish customers can lead the digital lives they want.

Subject to European Commission approval, the 50:50 joint venture will begin rolling-out the new network across Ireland in the coming months, with the first customers able to avail of 100% fibre broadband from the start of 2015. The initial phase of the project is expected to be fully rolled-out by the end of 2018, with scope for a second phase under the joint venture.

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Shocking drought data for Colorado River Basin from NASA | DailyKos.com

Shocking drought data for Colorado River Basin from NASA | DailyKos.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine, scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.


This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years.


Scientists were shocked at the results of their latest study:


"We don't know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don't know when we're going to run out," said Stephanie Castle, a water resources specialist at the University of California, Irvine, and the study's lead author. "This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking."


If you live in the western and southwestern part of the United States, it's even worse:


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US State Department computer crash slows visa, passport applications worldwide | NetworkWorld.com

US State Department computer crash slows visa, passport applications worldwide | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The U.S. State Department’s main computer system for processing passport and visa applications crashed earlier this week leading to global delays for travel documents.


The problems first surfaced after “routine maintenance” on the consular database, said Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, during a televised briefing Thursday. Harf said the system has been brought back online, but it’s still not back to full capacity.


“We are working urgently to correct the problem and expect our system to be fully operational soon,” she said.


Because the problems occurred after maintenance work, Harf said the U.S. government doesn’t believe the problems are the result of any malicious action, although she acknowledged the department hasn’t identified the root cause of the problem.


“This is worldwide, it’s not specific to any particular country,” she said.


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UK Supermarket To Power Itself With Food Waste | HuffPost.com

UK Supermarket To Power Itself With Food Waste | HuffPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Where does all the leftover food go when the grocery store closes at the end of the day? Maybe it's repurposed somehow or thrown out, but what if it could help a supermarket become energy independent? A Sainsbury's supermarket in the United Kingdom will soon power itself with leftover food waste and disconnect from the National Grid.


Sainsbury's is partnering with Biffa, one of the U.K.'s largest waste management companies, to make this possible. Sainsbury's trucks its food waste from all over the U.K. to Biffa's plant in Staffordshire. Biffa then converts it into biogas, and this biogas is then burned to meet the energy needs of a location in the town of Cannock.


"Sainsbury's sends absolutely no waste to landfill and we’re always looking for new ways to reuse and recycle," said Sainsbury's' head of sustainability Paul Crewe in a press release. "We’re delighted to be the first business ever to make use of this linkup technology, allowing our Cannock store to be powered entirely by our food waste."


Not all of Sainsbury's' food becomes biogas. To ensure no waste goes to landfills, Sainsbury's also donates food that's safe to eat to its charitable partners to feed the underprivileged, or to the Knowley safari park to feed the animals.


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Uphill task for Ultra HD TVs | BroadbandTVNews.com

Uphill task for Ultra HD TVs | BroadbandTVNews.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

High pricing is preventing Ultra HD televisions (UHD TVs) from securing a meaningful share of the overall flat-panel TV market through the world.


According to a report entitled TV Systems Databases: Monthly TV Shipments – June 2014 by IHS Technology, among the top 13 brands for liquid-crystal-display televisions (LCDTV) worldwide, the share of UHD TV shipments reached 5% in May, up from 4% in April, 3% in March and 2% in February.


But while UHD TV share has expanded by at least 1 percentage point for the last three months, growth hasn’t increased much since September last year, when the market was already at the 2% level.


The top 13 brands account for more than 75% of total LCD TV shipments, and also represent over 90% of overall UHD LCD TV shipments.


UHD TV shipments this year are projected to grow to 14.5 million units, up from just 2.0 million in 2013, as global brands deploy aggressive marketing efforts and roll out new models.


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UK: Living in style 12 meters from a busy railway line in East London | GixMag.com

UK: Living in style 12 meters from a busy railway line in East London | GixMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Architects Pitman Tozer have built a 7-story housing block in Mint Street, east London, for Peabody housing that combines market-rate and subsidized apartments in a modern, stylish, efficient building located only 12 meters (40 ft) from a busy railway viaduct. In a departure from the harsh functional towers usually associated with such tight urban sites, the Mint Street building is a pleasant, colorful, curved form that offers living spaces with plenty of light and humane proportions.


This difficult site in east London is a former car park, sandwiched in a constricted urban spot between the viaduct, existing housing and a large light industrial building that was being retro-fitted for creative office "hub" use at the same time. Peabody (formerly the Peabody Trust), a social housing organization that has been active in the UK since the late 19th century, acquired the land and the light industrial building behind it and decided to develop both in parallel.


Pitman Tozer’s winning scheme creates 67 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and embraces the site outward, rather than trying to exist in isolation from its surroundings. The building curves with the shape of the rail line, and windows at the frontage face boldly onto the trains, rather than being turned away, with entrances opening toward the viaduct.


This was a deliberate decision by the architects, who could have chosen to have all of the windows twist in a different direction or face inward in some kind of courtyard arrangement, which would have been darker and much less engaged with the neighborhood. The plan works to maximize the natural light and expansive views, which are unobstructed, except when trains are passing.


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Inner city vertical farm concept designed using shipping containers | GizMag.com

Inner city vertical farm concept designed using shipping containers | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Vertical farming and building with shipping containers have been touted as solutions to dwindling space in cities and costly construction, respectively. A new concept wants to combine the two as a means of re-localizing food production. The Hive-Inn is a modular and adaptable city farm design proposed for New York.


Gizmag has featured many vertical farming projects, shipping container builds and concept designs for both over the years. In 2009, we asked whether or not vertical farming could solve a global food crisis and last year we featured 10 of our favorite shipping container-based structures.


Other related ideas include Eugene Tsui's two-mile-high termite nest concept, designed as a solution to the world's burgeoning population, and the composting islands proposed for New York by Present Architecture.


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Drones take flight over Belize coastline to monitor illegal fishing activity | GizMag.com

Drones take flight over Belize coastline to monitor illegal fishing activity | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Unsustainable fishing in Belize has placed growing pressure on local anglers and the country's celebrated coral reef systems. Decades of decline has led to the introduction of catch limits and even the European Union blacklisting seafood imports from Belize for a perceived lack of action against illegal fishing. In an effort to better regulate the industry, the Belize Fisheries Department has begun using drones to monitor coastal areas for unlicensed and unlawful activity.


Working with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Conservation Drones, an organization that develops low-coast UAVs for conservation efforts, the Fisheries Department began testing the vehicles in July 2013. Following full implementation of the program last month, the drones will now be used to locate fishing vessels operating illegally in marine protected areas.


"Belize has been a leader in the establishment of marine protected areas, including the world-famous Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, but fishing regulations are difficult to enforce on the open sea," says Julio Maaz, Communities Fisheries Coordinator for WCS’s Marine Program in Belize. "Drones offer a means of improving the rate of detection of illegal activities at a fraction of the cost required for patrol vessels."


The drones in question are able to fly autonomously for more than an hour at a time within a range of 50 km (31 mi). Capable of capturing high-resolution photo and video, the aircraft will enable government officials to monitor areas along the coastline that are often obscured by mangrove forests, where fishermen stash illegal catches. By using the drones to detect such activity, authorities can more efficiently conduct searches and deploy patrol vessels.


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UK scientists develop super-black material that absorbs 99.96 percent of surface light | GizMag.com

UK scientists develop super-black material that absorbs 99.96 percent of surface light | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A newly produced material is believed to be the "blackest" ever created. Vantablack is a pure carbon coating and absorbs 99.96 percent of incident radiation (solar energy as it hits the material's surface). Manufacturer Surrey NanoSystems believes that is the highest such figure ever recorded.


Vantablack was created in partnership with the National Physical Laboratory and the ABSL Space Products division of Enersys as part of the UK Technology Strategy Board's Space for Growth program. The program aimed to help space related technologies to reach their full commercial potential.


Speaking to Gizmag, Surrey NanoSystems CTO Ben Jensen explained that some work had already been done on creating super-black materials by NASA and other organizations. The materials were being developed in part for use in aircraft and spacecraft. Titanium and silicon substrates were being used on which to grow the materials.


Weight is, of course, a major issue where air and space travel is concerned. Additionally, the use of high temperatures when creating carbon nanotube materials means they cannot be directly applied to sensitive electronics or materials with low melting points. As such, Vantablack was developed through a need to use aluminum as a more suitable substrate.


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New network coding technique could boost internet speeds tenfold | | GizMag.com

New network coding technique could boost internet speeds tenfold | | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Researchers at Aalborg University, MIT and Caltech have developed a new mathematically-based technique that can boost internet data speeds by up to 10 times, by making the nodes of a network much smarter and more adaptable. The advance also vastly improves the security of data transmissions, and could find its way into 5G mobile networks, satellite communications and the Internet of Things.


Data is sent over the internet in "packets," or small chunks of digital information. The exact format of the packets and the procedure for delivering them to their destination is described by a suite of protocols known as TCP/IP, or the internet protocol suite, designed in the early 70s.


Back when it was conceived, the internet protocol suite was a tremendous leap forward that revolutionized our paradigm for transmitting digital information. Remarkably, 40 years on, it still forms the backbone of the internet. However, despite all its merits, few would say that it is particularly efficient, secure or flexible.


For instance, in order for a TCP data transmission to be successful, the recipient needs to collect the packets in the exact order in which they were sent over. If even a single packet is lost for any reason, the protocol interprets this as a sign that the network is congested – the transmission speed is immediately halved, and from there it attempts to rise again only very slowly. This is ideal in some situations and terribly inefficient in others. The issue is that the protocol doesn't have the intelligence to know what the right thing to do is.


Also, although the packets could take a theoretically infinite number of paths to travel between point A and point B in a network, it turns out that data in a TCP connection always travels along the same path – which makes it quite easy for an eavesdropper to spy on your communications.


An interesting proposal that might offer the solution to these problems is so-called network coding, which aims to make each node in the network much smarter that it currently is. In TCP/IP, the nodes of the network are just simple switches that can only store data packets and then forward them to the next node along their predetermined route; by contrast, in network coding each node can elaborate packets as needed, for instance by re-routing or re-encoding them.


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Switzerland: Cablecom rollout brings 250Mbps broadband to 2m homes | TeleGeography.com

Swiss cableco UPC Cablecom has extended its network to pass more than two million homes, having completed the installation of a fibre-optic network in Ticino.


The operator, Switzerland’s second largest internet service provider (ISP) after incumbent Swisscom, noted in a press release that it has invested more than CHF1.1 billion (USD1.22 billion) over the last five years and now offers speeds of up to 250Mbps across its entire footprint.


Looking forward, Cablecom claimed that the next technology upgrade was ‘just around the corner’ and would see speeds lifted to more than 1Gbps.

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China: Qualcomm found to have monopoly | TeleGeography.com

China’s anti-trust watchdog the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has confirmed that chipmaker Qualcomm’s position in the market constitutes a monopoly, Reuters writes, citing a report from state-run paper The Securities Times.


The report did not say whether the regulator had found that the manufacturer had abused its market power – a charge which could land Qualcomm with a potential fine of more than USD1 billion.


NDRC’s investigation centred on the operator’s chipset and patent businesses, claiming that it had overcharged for rights to use its standard-essential patents.


The Financial Times cites an anonymous industry source as saying that Qualcomm’s chips are used in almost all high-end phones using China’s Time Division Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) 4G technology, with the manufacturer claiming royalties of 3%-4% on the price of the handset.

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Climate data shows clear signs of warming | Climate News Network

Climate data shows clear signs of warming | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

However you view the evidence, whatever set of measurements you examine, the picture that emerges is consistent: the Earth is heating up.


The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports: “In 2013, the vast majority of worldwide climate indicators − greenhouse gases, sea levels, global temperatures, etc − continued to reflect trends of a warmer planet.”


This, NOAA says, is the picture painted by the indicators assessed in a report, State of the Climate in 2013, published online by the American Meteorological Society.


Scientists from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center were the lead editors of the report, compiled by 425 scientists from 57 countries. It provides a detailed update on data collected by monitoring stations and instruments on air, land, sea and ice.


“These findings reinforce what scientists for decades have observed: that our planet is becoming a warmer place,” said the NOAA‘s administrator, Dr Kathryn Sullivan.


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State of Emergency in Siberia's Permafrost Region due to Wildfires | DailyKos.com

State of Emergency in Siberia's Permafrost Region due to Wildfires | DailyKos.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The fires were touched off by thunderstorms that produced no rain. The Siberian Times reports that over 1000 people had to be evacuated from their homes due to fire in the Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia, with its landmass as permafrost and 40% of that area within the arctic circle. States of emergency are also in effect in the Russian Federation regions of Kransnoyarsk and Irkutsk.


"Vyacheslav Popov, head of the republic's Forestry Department, said: 'The area of wildfires doubled. There are 37 active wildfires in the republic right now covering the territory of 76,000 hectares. There is a threat to eight settlements in five areas of Yakutia''


'The biggest number if wildfires are here in Vilyui district', said the the local administration head, Sergey Vinokurov.


'They all started at the same time because of so-called 'dry thunderstorms' which we had last week.


'We had to send helicopters to evacuate people out of the most dangerous areas and bring them to Vilyuisk'.


The town is an administrative capital some 600 kilometres northwest of capital Yakutsk.


As Siberia frazzles in the summer heat, states of emergency were introduced in areas of Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk regions, the Republic of Buryatia, and three districts of Trans-Baikal region, plus one of the Tyva Republic.


'For the duration of the emergency situation, entering forests is strictly forbidden for the population', and punishable by fines of up to 100,000 rubles ($2,800)', locals were warned in Buryatia."


In the Northwest Territories of Canada, dry and warm weather has fueled over 186 fires of which 156 are still burning according to this report from Climate Central.


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The Last Drop: America's Breadbasket Faces Dire Water Crisis | NBC News

The Last Drop: America's Breadbasket Faces Dire Water Crisis | NBC News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

While a high-pitched wind rattles the windows, and assaults a flapping, fraying American flag in the front yard, Lucas Spinhirne knows he’s staring into an abyss that many in Texas—and across the world—may be forced to contemplate.


The once bounteous quantities of water that flowed under his farmland in the Texas Panhandle are a distant memory–pumped to the last drop. Now there is only one source of water for his wheat and sorghum: the sky above. “We try to catch anything that falls,” Spinhirne says.


The scope of this mounting crisis is difficult to overstate: The High Plains of Texas are swiftly running out of groundwater supplied by one of the world’s largest aquifers – the Ogallala. A study by Texas Tech University has predicted that if groundwater production goes unabated, vast portions of several counties in the southern High Plains will soon have little water left in the aquifer to be of any practical value.


The Ogallala Aquifer spreads across eight states, from Texas to South Dakota, covering 111.8 million acres and 175,000 square miles. It’s the fountain of life not only for much of the Texas Panhandle, but also for the entire American Breadbasket of the Great Plains, a highly-sophisticated, amazingly-productive agricultural region that literally helps feed the world.


This catastrophic depletion is primarily manmade. By the early eighties, automated center-pivot irrigation devices were in wide use – those familiar spidery-armed wings processing in a circle atop wheeled tripods. This super-sized sprinkler system allowed farmers to water crops more regularly and effectively, which both significantly increased crop yields and precipitously drained the Ogallala.


Compounding the drawdown has been the nature of the Ogallala itself. Created 10 million years ago, this buried fossil water is–in many places—not recharged by precipitation or surface water. When it’s gone, it’s gone for centuries.


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Federal regulators let utilities gouge customers | David Cay Johnston Opinion | Al Jazeera America

Federal regulators let utilities gouge customers | David Cay Johnston Opinion | Al Jazeera America | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The profit margins that federal regulators set for utilities should be decreasing, given the long downward drift of interest rates and the shrinking cost of capital.


Bizarrely, the opposite is happening: Utilities are raking in stunning profits at the expense of consumers.


Now the first in a raft of cases asserting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is letting utilities gouge customers by setting egregiously high rates of return may finally get a hearing.


Since utilities are legal monopolies with no market to discipline their pricing, only the vigilance of regulators stops them from causing irreparable economic harm by stifling growth, draining wealth from customers and distorting investment. Court rulings say FERC commissioners must “guard the consumer against excessive rates.”


The legal standard for setting utility rates is known as “just and reasonable.” Profits and prices are supposed to be balanced so both investors and customers get fair treatment.


FERC commissioners, however, disregard the just and reasonable standard, routinely ignore evidence and act more as agents of utilities than fair-minded regulators.


Who are these commissioners? Acting Chairman Cheryl LeFleur was acting CEO of the National Grid utility company. Philip D. Moeller has been the chief Washington lobbyist for utilities Alliant Energy and Calpine. Commissioner John R. Norris is a utility lawyer. Commissioner Tony Clark is a career regulator whose biography emphasizes that “he oversaw regulatory proceedings that permitted more than $5.5 billion in new investment in North Dakota through expanded wind, coal and oil and gas infrastructure.”


Absent from the commission is anyone who represents the rights of consumers.


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NZ: Yet Another Court Rules That Digital Data Is Not Property | Techdirt.com

NZ: Yet Another Court Rules That Digital Data Is Not Property | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Back in March, we reported on an interesting case where a UK court ruled that information stored electronically is not property. Now senior judges in New Zealand have agreed (found via @superglaze), as the Lexology site explains:


Jonathan Dixon, the Queenstown bouncer who accessed CCTV footage of the England Rugby Captain in a bar during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, appealed his conviction for dishonestly obtaining property on the basis that the digital data did not come under the definition of 'property' in the Crimes Act. The New Zealand Court of Appeal yesterday agreed (but substituted his conviction with one of dishonestly obtaining a benefit).


Lexology goes on to explain:


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