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3 Trends in the Evolution of IT Infrastructure | Sentilla

3 Trends in the Evolution of IT Infrastructure | Sentilla | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The winds of change continue to morph the landscape of IT infrastructure as we look into plans for 2013 and 2014. Businesses are increasing demands for speed, agility, and flexibility, to enable innovation and quick entry into new markets.

 

In January, we surveyed roughly 3,000 IT professionals to understand the top initiatives they were looking to accomplish regarding cloud technology. Check out the infographic below for 3 of the trends in the evolution of IT infrastructure over the next two years.

 

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Google Broadband By Balloon (Loon) Is About To Go Global | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com

Google Broadband By Balloon (Loon) Is About To Go Global | Karl Bode | DSLReports.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In June of 2013 Google unveiled Google Loon, the latest in a long line of similar projects that will use balloons to deliver broadband and wireless services to under-served or emergency prone areas. Project Loon will use balloons 49 feet wide stationed 12 miles above the planet, well above the range of commercial aircraft. Ground base stations set some sixty miles apart communicate with solar-powered radio transmitters affixed to the balloons, and Google steers the balloons using wind as they ride the 40th parallel.

In an update posted over at Youtube, Google says the company is preparing for a much larger deployment, and tackling the challenge of "moving from small scale, one-off launches and tests, to the scale and automation required to make balloon-powered Internet for all a reality."

Loon saw plenty of critics early on who claimed Google would be lucky to keep its broadband balloons aloft for more than a couple of days. Now, Google's busy keeping balloons in the air for hundreds of days over thousands of kilometers, and it's ready for the next big step.

"We're getting close to the point where can roll out thousands of balloons," Project Lead Mike Cassidy says. "In the beginning, it was all we could do to launch one balloon a day, now with our automated crane system, we can launch dozens of balloons a day, for every crane we have."


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Scientists abandon California snowpack measurement, because–why bother? | Jen Hayden | Daily Kos

Scientists abandon California snowpack measurement, because–why bother? | Jen Hayden | Daily Kos | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Two years ago, scientists at UCLA predicted there would be significantly less snowfall in California than in decades.

Snowpack runoff is critical to California's water supply and with a severe drought already in play, California is in a bad, bay way.

In fact, this year's snowfall was so far off the mark, scientists have abandoned their snowpack study:

State water officials had planned to make the trek back to the Sierra Nevada to conduct their snowpack measurement Friday.

But Thursday they announced they wouldn’t bother. For the second consecutive month, there won’t be any snow to measure.

“This is just another piece of information in a series of increasingly dismal findings,” said Department of Water Resources spokesman Doug Carlson. “It nails down that the drought is severe – maybe as severe as any in our history.”

How severe?


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Senegal plots the return of the phone booth | TeleGeography.com

The government of Senegal is looking to nurture the return of public payphones in the country, with the head of the Development Fund for Universal Telecommunications Services (FDSUT), Koto Aly Ndiaye, announcing a three-year plan to put phone booths back in service.


The FDSUT president says that the strategy plan will be discussed at length under a proposed triennial programme, noting that the installation of public payphones has been overlooked until now due to the widespread take-up of mobile services – even in remote parts of Senegal.


However, the government concedes that due to ongoing issues of mobile service quality and coverage, having payphones in certain areas – such as hospitals, bus stations, shopping malls and petrol stations – makes sense to ensure a robust service is available if and when needed.

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Australia: Laser Light partners Optus for world’s first all-optical commercial satellite system | TeleGeography.com

Optus Satellite and Laser Light Global have this month embarked on a venture to enhance the capability of Laser Light’s ‘all-optical, hybrid global network’, using Optus’ Australian satellite facilities and terrestrial fibre networks.


According to a press release, the collaboration will enable Optus to improve data transmission rates and network management cost efficiency between Laser Light’s new hybrid network and Optus’ fixed fibre infrastructure. Optus will become a preferred supplier and local distributor of SpaceCable, Laser Light’s space-based laser communications service.

Laser Light intends to deploy the world’s first all-optical hybrid global network – the HALO Communications System (HALO System), to combine the global reach of a satellite constellation and the bandwidth capacity of Free Space Optics (laser communications), with the ubiquity and throughput of existing undersea cable and terrestrial fibre networks, the company says.


Laser Light’s HALO System intends to offer its SpaceCable product as an complimentary service to existing and future cable/fibre systems via industry standard service level agreements with a full system capacity of over 6Tbps and customer links of 200Gbps bi-directionally.


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Advanced Rail Cleaner blasts snow and ice off railway tracks | Ben Coxworth | GizMag.com

Imagine if you were trying to pull a heavy sled up an icy hill, while wearing slick-soled boots. Well, that's kind of what it's like for locomotives working on snowy mountain railways. If there's too much ice or snow on the rails, their steel wheels will just spin out when traveling up inclines. Because of this problem, trains going along such routes are generally kept short and light – which isn't cost-effective. Now, however, GE Transportation has developed a supersonic air blower to keep those tracks dry.

Known as the Advanced Rail Cleaner (ARC), the device is mounted so that its nozzles point onto the rails, in front of the locomotive's lead axle.

When an onboard computer detects that the locomotive's wheels are starting to slip, the ARC directs high-pressure jets of air onto the tracks at supersonic speed. This serves to blast away not only snow, ice and water, but also contaminants such as gravel, grease and rust. As a result, the wheels quickly get up to 30 percent more traction.


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Shadow Wi-Fi fights skin cancer by keeping sun worshippers in the dark | Nick Lavars | GizMag.com

Shadow Wi-Fi fights skin cancer by keeping sun worshippers in the dark | Nick Lavars | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Awareness campaigns, sunscreen and mending the hole in the ozone layer have all played a part in the battle against skin cancer. But the beachgoers of Peru now have another form of relief from the sun's harmful UV rays. Aimed at drawing in roasting folk who could do with some respite, ad agency Happiness Anywhere has installed towering sun shades and a free Wi-Fi network that only functions when the users are in the shadows.

Dubbed Shadow Wi-Fi, Happiness Anywhere has deployed its shady Wi-Fi network in collaboration with the non-profit Peruvian League Against Cancer. The thinking is that informing people of the dangers of too much sun can only influence their behavior so much. Giving the hyper-connected individuals of today an incentive by way of free Wi-Fi is designed to give them another reason to play things safe in terms of exposure to the sun's rays.

The system uses a directional Wi-Fi antenna paired with a sensor to track the movement of the sun. As the shade moves throughout the day the Wi-Fi antenna shifts accordingly. Users can register on a webpage to connect to the network, but will need to change their position to keep out of the sun if they want to stay connected. According to PSFK, Shadow Wi-Fi can accommodate more than 250 users at the one time.

The first Shadow Wi-Fi system was launched in Peru last week, with versions to be installed in San Francisco and New Zealand in the coming months.


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Twenty Years after the Birth of the Modern Internet, U.S. Policies Continue to Help the Internet Grow and Thrive | John Morris Blog | NTIA.gov

Twenty Years after the Birth of the Modern Internet, U.S. Policies Continue to Help the Internet Grow and Thrive | John Morris Blog | NTIA.gov | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to speak at the United States Telecommunications Training Institute (USTTI) to a group of foreign government officials focused on Internet and cybersecurity issues. My talk focused on how NTIA sees the role of the Internet in the U.S. economy, and what key policies have contributed to the strength of the U.S. Internet economy.

Participants included representatives from Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda. The daylong course, organized by NTIA’s Office of International Affairs, introduced basic concepts in Internet policymaking and governance to build awareness, and develop and improve policymaking skills while working in a multistakeholder environment with government, civil society, industry and others. The course, which will take place again in September, examined U.S. Internet policy approaches, taking into consideration some of the key international issues and debates occurring globally.

Our discussion happened to fall on the 20th birthday of the commercial Internet, which fit right into my theme. The NSFnet was decommissioned on April 30, 1995, paving the way for the commercial use and private governance of the Internet. In its wake, we have witnessed an extraordinary explosion of innovation and economic growth in the online environment.

These are six key policies that I believe have contributed to the strength of the U.S. digital economy and provide a model for developing countries, such as those that participated in the USTTI course, to consider as they seek to grow their economies:


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Feds to require climate change plans for states seeking disaster relief | Lydia Wheeler | The Hill

Feds to require climate change plans for states seeking disaster relief | Lydia Wheeler | The Hill | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A new Federal Emergency Management Agency policy requiring states to address climate change before they can become eligible for grant funding is drawing fire from congressional Republicans.

The regulations, part of a FEMA State Mitigation Plan Review Guide issued last month, are not set to take effect until next March. But lawmakers are demanding an explanation for the rules now.

In a letter to FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, the lawmakers said they’re concerned that the agency’s decision will create unnecessary red tape in the disaster preparedness process.

“As you know, disaster mitigation grants are awarded to state and local governments after a presidential major disaster declaration,” they wrote. “These funds are crucial in helping disaster-stricken communities prepare for future emergencies.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), David Vitter (R-La.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.).

In the revised guide, the agency said mitigation planning regulation requires consideration of the probability of future hazards and events to reduce risks and potential dangers.

“Past occurrences are important to a factual basis of hazard risk, however, the challenges posed by climate change, such as more intense storms, frequent heavy precipitation, heat waves, drought, extreme flooding and higher sea levels, could significantly alter the types and magnitudes of hazards impacting states in the future,” FEMA said in its guide.

But in their letter, the senators said climate change is still being debated, citing "gaps in the scientific understanding around climate change.”


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How Real Madrid scores fan engagement in the cloud | Thor Olavsrud | NetworkWorld

How Real Madrid scores fan engagement in the cloud | Thor Olavsrud | NetworkWorld | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

During the Microsoft Ignite keynote in Chicago today, only one customer graced the stage, but it was a doozy: Real Madrid, the world's no. 1 sports franchise.

Together with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Real Madrid CEO José Ángel Sánchez announced a new, expanded partnership with Microsoft under which the club will embark on a total digital transformation built on the Microsoft Cloud platform.

"Having more than 450 million supporters around the world is really a challenge," Sánchez tells CIO.com. "This partnership with Microsoft will help us understand who they are, to really get to their passion and love for Real Madrid."

Sánchez says it is critical to understand who the clubs supporters are so it can engage them in more personal ways.

As Sánchez notes, Real Madrid boasts 450 million fans globally, but only about five percent of them are in Spain. In fact, both the U.S. and Indonesia individually have more Real Madrid supporters than all of Spain. Orlando Ayala, chairman and corporate vice president of Emerging Businesses at Microsoft notes that China too has become a strong base of Read Madrid supporters. Creating engagement with all of those fans — especially two-way communication — is no mean feat.


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Palm Oil Plantations Are Blamed For Many Evils. But Change Is Coming | Anthony Kuhn | NPR.org

Palm Oil Plantations Are Blamed For Many Evils. But Change Is Coming | Anthony Kuhn | NPR.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Palm oil is in everything, from pizza dough and chocolate to laundry detergent and lipstick. Nongovernmental organizations blame it for contributing to assorted evils, from global warming to human rights abuses.

But in the past year, this complex global industry has changed, as consumers put pressure on producers to show that they're not destroying forests, killing rare animals, grabbing land or exploiting workers.

I was somewhat astonished to discover, on a trip to a palm oil plantation in the province of North Sumatra, Indonesia, that this much-maligned commodity actually begins with an innocuous-looking, beautiful creation of nature. Palm fruit is composed of ovoid kernels, which, when ripe, shine with lustrous hues of crimson toward their tips, orange in the middle and yellow at their stems.

The kernels are clustered in a bunch that can weigh more than 50 pounds.

It was an absorbing tactile experience to break open a kernel and get its oil on my fingers. It has a yellow color and a smooth consistency that can only be described as buttery.

To see how palm fruit is harvested, I followed a young worker named Sugiarto, who uses only one name, as he made his rounds through the eerily uniform rows of trees on the plantation.


Sugiarto raised a scythe-like blade on a long pole up toward the top of the tree. He cut away the bottom-most branches, and then the stem of the fruit, which brought the fruit bunch tumbling to the ground with a heavy thud.


He then lopped off the stems with a machete and placed the fruit bunches by the roadside.


Trucks collect the fruit and take it to mills to extract crude palm oil.


In the past year, many big palm oil producers have made pledges of sustainability. One of them is the Minnesota-based multinational Cargill. John Hartmann is the Singapore-based CEO of Cargill Tropical Palm.


"There's just this realization that, to provide ... safe, nutritious food for the world, agriculture has to make some changes," he says. "And those changes include ... commitments to sustainability.


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Maritime security firm: 37% of Microsoft servers vulnerable to hacking | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com

Maritime security firm: 37% of Microsoft servers vulnerable to hacking | Ms. Smith | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A recent Department of Homeland Inspector General report (pdf) focused mostly on U.S. Coast Guard insider threats, stating, "Trusted insiders could use their access or insider knowledge to exploit USCG's physical and technical vulnerabilities with the intent to cause harm."

The audit also found numerous issues involving thumb drives and removable media that could be connected to Coast Guard IT systems and used to remove sensitive info, as well as issues allowing sensitive info to be sent via email. The IG also found unlocked USCG network equipment and server rooms, unsecured wireless routers and laptops.

But a real current threat, according to CyberKeel, a Copenhagen-based firm which focuses on maritime cybersecurity, is unpatched servers running Microsoft that attackers could exploit to take control of the servers. Although Microsoft released a patch in April, spot checks at 50 different maritime sites reveals that 37% of the servers running Microsoft were still vulnerable because they had not been patched.

"Complex systems, such as those provided by Microsoft, are often in need of software patching to plug security holes. Companies need their IT departments to be able to quickly install software patches, as the hacker community operates on decidedly short timeframes," CyberKeel CEO Lars Jensen told Splash24/7. "As an example, it took less than 12 hours from the point where Microsoft released the patch, until you could find simple instructions on the internet as to exactly how to exploit this weakness to cause a denial of service."


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Texas Passes Ban on Fracking Bans (Yes, You Read that Right) | Cole Mellino | EcoWatch

Texas Passes Ban on Fracking Bans (Yes, You Read that Right) | Cole Mellino | EcoWatch | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In response, citizens banded together to form Frack Free Denton to fight for home rule. The group has put together a powerful film, which premieres on Friday, documenting their fight to ban fracking within city limits in the heart of oil and gas country. The vote comes despite recent findings by a team of researchers from Southern Methodist University that linked the earthquakes in one area of Texas, which did not have earthquakes prior to the fracking boom..

Marketplace′s Kai Ryssdal and Scott Trang discuss Texas’s ban and other states considering similar bills. “The bill would provide what’s called state preemption and that is state law here would trump anything that local jurisdictions, cities and towns pass,” says Trang.

A similar bill, in Oklahoma, passed one chamber. “The sponsor of that bill said he wants to ‘get ahead of what we’re seeing in other states,'” reports Trang. Ryssdal asks if there is a group connecting all these state lawmakers. Trang’s response? You guessed it: ALEC.

Listen to the full story here:


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Facebook's Internet.org opens platform to other online services | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com

Facebook's Internet.org opens platform to other online services | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Facebook’s Internet.org has opened its free Internet access platform to any low-bandwidth online service that meets its technical guidelines for running on basic phones.

Internet.org’s goal is to provide underprivileged people in Asia, Africa and Latin America with access to select online services without mobile data charges.

However, it ran into trouble in India where it was criticized by local net neutrality activists for creating “walled gardens” that provide free access only to a few preferred content providers and services, including Facebook.

Under pressure from the activists, some of the 38 websites and services that had joined Internet.org and operator Reliance Communications for the project opted out of the alliance or signaled that they were ready to leave. These included the Times Group, which withdrew some of its media sites, and travel site Cleartrip.

On Monday, Internet.org said it had decided to give people more choice over the services they use and would welcome to its platform websites that were simple and data efficient. Websites will not pay to be included, and operators won’t charge developers for the data people use for their services.


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Zaller: There’s No Stopping The Move To IT/IP | Harry Jessell | TVNewsCheck.com

Devoncroft Partners' Joe Zaller is reluctant to make predictions about the media technology marketplace, even though he is a expert analyst of it. However, one thing he sees clearly is the inexorable movement of TV media from baseband video to IT files and IP infrastructure. The reasons for it, he believes, are many and compelling.

Zaller draws his insights from the two principal sources: The Global Market Valuation Report, a joint venture between him and the International Association of Broadcasting Manufacturers, which tabulates the sales of more than 2,500 tech vendors, and his own annual Big Broadcast Survey of media companies, which tries to ascertain technology trends and their technology spending plans.

Zaller was as busy as anyone at NAB last week honing his expertise by presiding at a series of panels with tech buyers and sellers on Sunday and by meeting with executives of tech companies throughout the week.


Last Thursday as the convention began to wind down, he took time to discuss the IT/IP future and other trends with TVNewsCheck Harry A. Jessell.


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Facebook’s Internet.org Isn’t the Internet, It’s Facebooknet | Josh Levy Opinion | WIRED

Facebook’s Internet.org Isn’t the Internet, It’s Facebooknet | Josh Levy Opinion | WIRED | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

This week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Internet.org, its marquee project to “connect two-thirds of the world that don’t have internet access,” is now inviting any website or service to join the program. According to Zuckerberg, this change—which follows criticism that the program violates Net Neutrality principles—would “give people even more choice and more free services, while still creating a sustainable economic model to connect every single person in the world.”

But when you examine how the program would work, it becomes clear that rather than improve a service that is already busy violating Net Neutrality around the world, the change actually makes things worse.

It sets Facebook up to serve as a quasi-internet service provider—except that unlike a local or national telco, all web traffic will be routed through Facebook’s servers. In other words, for people using Internet.org to connect to the internet, Facebook will be the de facto gatekeeper of the world’s information. And unfortunately, Facebook is already showing what a poor gatekeeper it would be.


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Romania: Mobile broadband users up 25% in 2014; half of fixed broadband users get 100Mbps-plus | GizMag.com

According to preliminary figures from Romanian regulator ANCOM, during 2014 the country’s mobile broadband users grew by 25% to around twelve million whilst fixed broadband connections saw 5%-plus annual growth to nearly four million by the end of the year.


ANCOM’s preliminary presentation added that around 10.7 million (nearly 90%) of the mobile broadband subscribers at end-2014 were using 3G services while it calculated that over 700,000 were active 4G users, with the average mobile broadband user generating monthly traffic of 260MB.

Of the fixed broadband total at end-2014 ANCOM said that 73% of lines were in urban areas, or 2.9 million connections – up by 4.2% year-on-year – whilst broadband lines in rural areas grew by 10.2% to 1.1 million.


Roughly half of fixed internet connections, or almost two million high speed lines, enabled speeds of over 100Mbps at end-2014. Speeds of 30Mbps-100Mbps represented 11% of the fixed broadband market, compared to 10Mbps-30Mbps (24%) and 2Mbps-10Mbps (15%).

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ReFlow reuses grey water, saves fresh water | Antonio Pasolini | GizMag.com

ReFlow reuses grey water, saves fresh water | Antonio Pasolini | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

"Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink." The famous line from the poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge rings increasingly true, as all over the world water shortages threaten the way of life people have grown used to.


Climate change and overpopulation have compromised water sources, a threat that calls for ingenious solutions to reduce demand. One of these is the ReFlow G2RSystem (or Re-Flow for short), a system that recycles grey water from the shower or bath to the toilet tank to flush waste.

Designed by a Vancouver-based team, Re-Flow performs a simple task: recycling and re-using the grey water in the same room. The system consists of a compact, decentralized grey-water collection unit, which is claimed to save up to 30 percent of an average household's fresh water consumption.

The collector nozzle connects at the juncture of the overflow drain of the bathtub, to reclaim the drained water back into the ReFlow's water storage tank. This reclaimed water is fed through a filter and disinfected before it's gravity-fed into the back of the toilet tank.


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World-first remote air traffic control system lands in Sweden | David Szondy | GizMag.com

World-first remote air traffic control system lands in Sweden | David Szondy | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Small airports are often in a no-win situation. They don't have much traffic because they don't have an adequate tower system, and they don't have an adequate tower system because they don't have much traffic. That could be about to change, with the opening of the world's first remotely operated air-traffic control system in Sweden. Thanks to the Remote Tower Services (RTS) system, the first plane landed last week at Örnsköldsvik Airport, but it was controlled from the LFV Remote Tower Centre 123 km (76 mi) away in Sundsvall.

The result of ten years development by the Swedish Civil Aviation Administration (LFV) and Saab, the RTS system was approved for operation last year by the Swedish Transport Agency. It uses a system of cameras and sensors that beam data to a remote control facility in real time, where it is displayed on monitor screens and air traffic controllers operate normally – as if they were at the field in a conventional tower.

According to the developers, RTS can control several airports or supplement large ones; operate on demand, at flexible hours, or around the clock.

LFV says that by parceling out the low workload of several small airports to a single control center, RTS can save on installation and running costs, adapt to changing traffic patterns, increase safety, and improve contingency operations in emergencies.


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Internet governance: What if the sky really is falling? | David Post | WashPost.com

Internet governance: What if the sky really is falling? | David Post | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

There is nothing, I have observed, that makes readers’ eyes glaze over quite like a discussion of “Internet governance.” It is entirely understandable; there has been a fair bit of hand-waving and even hand-wringing, about Internet governance over the past couple of decades – I have been among the guilty on this – and nothing much ever actually happens; governance talk turns out to be just that – talk – while the Internet seems to purr along quite well from one day to the next, with no more “governance” than it seemed to have ten or twenty years ago, thank you very much.

But something truly ominous is brewing on the Internet governance front, something with the potential to affect every one of the billions of people who now use the Internet on a daily basis, and not for the better. It is, unfortunately, buried pretty deep in some dense technical, and the legal, weeds, but here is the story in a nutshell.


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Internet 'rationing' needed as UK cannot keep up with demand | Ben Farmer | The Telegraph

Internet 'rationing' needed as UK cannot keep up with demand | Ben Farmer | The Telegraph | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Internet access may soon need to be rationed or restricted because the UK’s power supply and communications network cannot cope with consumers’ appetite for online video, the Royal Society will hear this week.

The Internet is already consuming at least 8 per cent of Britain’s power output, with the energy demand from data transmission and storage as well as smartphones, laptops and televisions. Demand doubles every four years, according to one estimate.

At the same time optical cables and switches are set to reach their capacity to carry data by the end of the decade.

The Royal Society will hear this week that the country’s communications networks face a “potentially disastrous capacity crunch”, as academics meet to discuss the problem.

"The Internet is already consuming at least 8 per cent of Britain's power output, equivalent to the output of three nuclear power stations, and demand is soaring," Andrew Ellis, professor of optical communications at Aston University, told the Sunday Times.


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Large Population of Right Whales Spotted in Cape Cod Bay | MPBN.org

Large Population of Right Whales Spotted in Cape Cod Bay | MPBN.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Federal fishing regulators say researchers have identified 61 critically-endangered right whales in Cape Cod Bay, including four mothers with calves.

NOAA Fisheries officials say the whales were spotted in the past two weeks through aerial surveys. The agency is asking boaters and fishermen to keep an eye out for the whales and go slow in the area. There's already been one report of a possible whale/boat collision near the western shore of the bay.

The group of right whales currently in Cape Cod Bay represents a significant percentage of the whale's entire world population, which numbers only about 500. NOAA regulations require boats at least 65 feet in length to travel at 10 knots or less in Cape Cod Bay and off Race Point to avoid collisions with the North Atlantic right whale, and NOAA is asking all vessels, recreational and commercial, to voluntarily comply with the restrictions.

Right whales don't have a dorsal fin and feed just below the surface of the water, so they're hard for boaters to see even at close range, officials say.


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Seattle, WA Just Put a Major Roadblock in Front of Shell’s Arctic Drilling Rig | Sydney Brownstone | The Stranger

Seattle, WA Just Put a Major Roadblock in Front of Shell’s Arctic Drilling Rig | Sydney Brownstone | The Stranger | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The City of Seattle, WA may have just seriously impeded Shell's ability to moor its Arctic drilling fleet in Elliott Bay—for now.

At the Climate Solutions annual breakfast this morning, Mayor Ed Murray announced that the city's Department of Planning and Development reviewed the 20-year-old permit allowing Shell to use Terminal 5, and found that hosting Arctic drilling equipment is not in compliance with it.

Mayor Murray said that the city has instructed the port to reapply for the permit to allow Shell's fleet on the Seattle waterfront.

"I have also urged the port this morning, as I did last week, that this is an opportunity to reconsider their decision, versus bringing in a huge symbol of everything that's wrong with our energy policy into our port," Mayor Murray told The Stranger.

"We haven't seen the [DPD's] interpretation yet," Port of Seattle spokesperson Peter McGraw said. "All I've gotten here is the press release from Ed and on [DPD Director Diane Sugimura's] letterhead here. We just have to take the appropriate amount of time to review it, and we'll go from there."

Paul Queary, spokesperson for Foss Maritime, the lessee shipping company working with Shell, said that the Port of Seattle told Foss that the activity the company was considering for Terminal 5 was consistent with the permit. Foss would proceed as planned, he said. "At this point, this is a dispute between the city and the port."

In March, the mayor and the city council expressed concern that the Port of Seattle's decision to host Shell might conflict with something called the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit, which was issued to the port over the use of Terminal 5 in 1996. The mayor instructed the DPD to review the port's new leasing decision.


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Facebook’s free Internet for the poor leaves out high-bandwidth sites | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica

Facebook’s free Internet for the poor leaves out high-bandwidth sites | Jon Brodkin | Ars Technica | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Facebook's Internet.org, which aims to give impoverished people around the world free mobile access to a selection of Internet services, is opening the platform to developers after facing criticism that the program's restrictions violate net neutrality principles.

The partnership with mobile operators gives free access to few dozen websites (including Facebook) through a mobile app available in parts of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Although the app is ad-free and companies don't pay to be part of it, several companies in India pulled out of Internet.org because it steers users toward a limited set of services.

In response, Facebook today announced the Internet.org platform, "an open program for developers to easily create services that integrate with Internet.org." Any developer will be able to build services that can be accessed through Internet.org, but there are limits on what they can offer.

Although Facebook's announcement said the goal is to let users "explore the entire Internet," that will not include high-bandwidth services.

"Websites that require high-bandwidth will not be included," Facebook wrote. "Services should not use VoIP, video, file transfer, high resolution photos, or high volume of photos."


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Popular pesticide draws bees to poisoned crops, then kills them, says a new study | Brian Palmer | onEarth.org

Popular pesticide draws bees to poisoned crops, then kills them, says a new study | Brian Palmer | onEarth.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Few public policy debates are as tired as the one about government’s role in shaping people's diet. Propose a soda tax and suddenly you’re knee-deep in clichés about the nanny state, the power of advertising, and the meaning of personal choice.

I’ve found a way to make that discussion interesting again: Replace “people” with “bees.”

Stay with me. There is a robust body of laboratory research showing that neonicotinoids, a popular class of insecticides that become integrated into the fibers of corn and other plants, are bad for bees. Eating neonicotinoid-laced nectar makes bees slow, disoriented, and bad at finding food. That makes for a tricky situation, since many bees’ entire lives consist of gathering nectar and returning to the nest.

Neonicotinoid apologists reject these studies, in part because the researchers force-feed neonic-laced food to the bees. The critics say that the most important thing for bees is freedom of choice. Give bees the right to pick their own nectar in the wild, they say, and they will eat a wide variety of foods that best suits their individual needs, mostly avoiding the poisonous plants. It sounds oddly like the talking points of soda manufacturers in soda ban debates: Let consumers “make the choice that’s right for them.”

The journal Nature published two studies today that disprove the “freedom of bee choice” theory. In the first, researchers offered bees two food sources: a pure sugar solution and a sugar solution laced with neonicotinoids. The bees did not avoid the contaminated food—they actually preferred it! The researchers then went a step further, testing the bees’ neural response to the insecticide. (Isn’t science amazing?) Although bee brains have bitter-sensing neurons that help detect poison (humans have them, too), this defense mechanism didn’t respond to neonicotinoids. In the end, the neonic-fed bees died earlier than their health food-eating peers, essentially poisoning themselves with junk.

The second study shows that this result is not limited to the lab. Looking at wild bees, rather than those in research colonies, the researchers showed that fields of neonic-treated crops host fewer bees, and the bees living in contaminated fields are significantly less likely to nest and reproduce. The results were dramatic: The neonic-fed bees barely nested at all.

So much for freedom of choice. It turns out that bees are no better than humans at constructing and sticking to a healthy diet.


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Fracking Chemicals Detected in Pennsylvania Drinking Water | Nicholas St. Fluer | NYTimes

Fracking Chemicals Detected in Pennsylvania Drinking Water | Nicholas St. Fluer | NYTimes | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

An analysis of drinking water sampled from three homes in Bradford County, Pa., revealed traces of a compound commonly found in Marcellus Shale drilling fluids, according to a study published on Monday.

The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, addresses a longstanding question about potential risks to underground drinking water from the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The authors suggested a chain of events by which the drilling chemical ended up in a homeowner’s water supply.

“This is the first case published with a complete story showing organic compounds attributed to shale gas development found in a homeowner’s well,” said Susan Brantley, one of the study’s authors and a geoscientist from Pennsylvania State University.

The industry has long maintained that because fracking occurs thousands of feet below drinking-water aquifers, the drilling chemicals that are injected to break up rocks and release the gas trapped there pose no risk. In this study, the researchers note that the contamination may have stemmed from a lack of integrity in the drill wells and not from the actual fracking process far below. The industry criticized the new study, saying that it provided no proof that the chemical came from a nearby well.

In 2012, a team of environmental scientists collected drinking water samples from the households’ outdoor spigots. An analysis showed that the water in one household contained 2-Butoxyethanol or 2BE, a common drilling chemical. The chemical, which is also commonly used in paint and cosmetics, is known to have caused tumors in rodents, though scientists have not determined if those carcinogenic properties translate to humans. The authors said that the amount found, which was measured in parts per trillion, was within safety regulations and did not pose a health risk.

Dr. Brantley said her team believed that the well contaminants came from either a documented surface tank leak in 2009 or, more likely, as a result of poor drilling well integrity.


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