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This Is What America's High-Speed Rail System Should Look Like | Jalopnik.com

This Is What America's High-Speed Rail System Should Look Like | Jalopnik.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

America is a car country. We always have been, and we probably always will be. But as much as we all love driving, we have to recognize that there are some downsides to not having a first-rate rail system like Europe or Japan.

 

Let's face it — America's rail system is for shit. I can personally attest that Amtrak is decent if you're traveling up and down the East Coast, but it's hardly ideal for a cross-country trip. As Jalopnik writer emeritus Sam "Oversteer My Bagel" Smith once, wrote, we're one of the richest, most high-tech nations on Earth. So why can't do a little better at implementing a fast, affordable rail system? More commuters and travelers taking the train means fewer cars on the road for us gearheads, so it's a win-win.

 

Let's say our country decided to really get serious about high-speed rail. Well, America's a big place — what should such a system look like?

 

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Red tide off northwest Florida could hit economy | Jason Dearen | AOL.com

It's like Florida's version of The Blob. Slow moving glops of toxic algae in the northeast Gulf of Mexico are killing sea turtles, sharks and fish, and threatening the waters and beaches that fuel the region's economy.


Known as "red tide," this particular strain called Karenia brevis is present nearly every year off Florida, but large blooms can be particularly devastating. Right now, the algae is collecting in an area about 60 miles wide and 100 miles long, about 5 to 15 miles off St. Petersburg in the south and stretching north to Florida's Big Bend, where the peninsula ends and the Panhandle begins.


Fishermen who make a living off the state's northwest coast are reporting fish kills and reddish water.


"It boils up in the propeller wash like boiled red Georgia clay. It's spooky," said Clearwater fisherman Brad Gorst as he steered the charter fishing boat Gulfstream 2 in waters near Honeymoon Island, where dead fish recently washed ashore.


Red tide kills fish, manatees and other marine life by releasing a toxin that paralyzes their central nervous system. The algae also foul beaches and can be harmful to people who inhale the algae's toxins when winds blow onshore or by crashing waves, particularly those with asthma and other respiratory ailments.


In 2005, a strong red tide killed reefs, made beaches stinky and caused millions in economic damage. A weaker red tide in 2013 killed 276 manatees, state records show, after infecting the grasses eaten by the endangered creatures.


"This red tide ... will likely cause considerable damage to our local fisheries and our tourist economy over the next few months," said Heyward Mathews, an emeritus professor of oceanography at St. Petersburg College who has studied the issue for decades.


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MIT-bred technology would let cars help each other avoid traffic jams | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com

MIT-bred technology would let cars help each other avoid traffic jams | Stephen Lawson | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

If you get stuck in traffic a lot, your next car may be able to talk to other vehicles and help keep you off jammed roads.


Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used virtual tokens, cellphones and vehicle-to-vehicle wireless LANs to build a system for allocating the limited space available on major thoroughfares. It doesn’t require any physical infrastructure, such as tollbooths, so it could be implemented quickly almost anywhere, they said.


Instead of using cameras or electronic tollbooths by the roadway to detect cars passing a certain point, the MIT system, called RoadRunner, is based on GPS (Global Positioning System) information from the driver’s cellphone in each car. As more cars get connected to the Internet, the system may be able to go into the car itself, according to Jason Gao, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science who developed the system with Professor Li-Shiuan Peh.


RoadRunner is designed to solve the problem of congested roads, with or without a government charging tolls for driving in crowded areas during rush hour. Once it detects that a particular route is crowded, RoadRunner generates driving directions to approaching cars that recommend a different way to go.


At the heart of RoadRunner is a limited set of tokens that the system assigns to vehicles within the affected area. When the road isn’t crowded, every driver entering the zone receives a token, but as it fills up, later arrivals get the alternate driving directions instead. There’s nothing to stop a car from crossing the line without a token, but that action could trigger a fine if law enforcement wanted to impose one.


The system doesn’t track the precise location of each car. Instead, the server only registers whether a car is inside or outside the congestion zone and whether it has a token.


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IN: U.S. Steel scraps coke alternative at Gary Works | Joseph Pete | NWITimes.com

IN: U.S. Steel scraps coke alternative at Gary Works | Joseph Pete | NWITimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The largest steel mill in Northwest Indiana has abandoned a longtime plan to make a cheaper, more-reliably priced alternative to a raw material needed for steelmaking.


U.S. Steel won't pursue any further development of carbon alloy facilities at Gary Works, where it had invested an estimated $210 million over the last three years hoping to produce an alternative to traditional coke used in blast furnaces.


The newly constructed C Module, which would have made a carbon alloy material to be used in place of coke, will be permanently idled. Plans to build a second module at the steel mill have been scrapped altogether.


After a change in leadership last year, the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker has pursued a number of strategies — including laying off non-union managers and supervisors in Northwest Indiana — to improve its financial performance after failing to turn a profit for five years.


U.S. Steel also announced Tuesday its Canadian subsidiary, U.S. Steel Canada, would file for bankruptcy to restructure after losing $2.4 billion over the last half decade. It's also dropping plans to expand an iron ore pellet mining operations in Keewatin, Minn.


U.S. Steel would have needed to invest more than $800 million in Gary and Minnesota to complete the projects, the company estimated.


Since 2011, the steelmaker has been trying to use propriety technology from Texas-based Carbonyx Inc. at Gary Works to produce up to 500,000 tons of a coal-based coke substitute per year, which would have fulfilled about 20 percent of mill's coke needs.


Delays and operating malfunctions beleaguered the project. A U.S. Steel executive said this spring the company was still tinkering with Module C before attempting to get it online, because it was satisfied with what it was paying for traditional coke, which the steelmaker originally wanted to reduce its reliance on because it's subject to the ups and downs of the market. The company also has been trying to burn more natural gas, which is abundant and cheap.


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In Scotland, tech firms fear independence vote | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com

In Scotland, tech firms fear independence vote | Patrick Thibodeau | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The one sure thing a "yes" vote Thursday for Scottish independence will bring to its high-tech sector is a long period of uncertainty.


Scotland is not a major high-tech employment center, but it has good universities and entrepreneurial energy. About 70,000 people work in IT out of a total workforce of about 2.5 million, or about 3%. By contrast, financial services accounts for about 15% of employment in Scotland.


Scotland has 5.3 million people and is just a little larger than Colorado; in terms of size, it's almost as large as South Carolina.


A separation from the U.K. would be jarring and would bring big problems to solve, including currency and European Union membership issues to settle. Passions are high.


"Honest, I've never been so scared in my life," said Euan Mackenzie about the prospect of separating from the U.K. He runs a 16-employee start-up, 1partCarbon, in Edinburgh, a platform that builds medical systems.


Mackenzie believes that independence will make life "a whole lot harder" for multiple reasons. Capital and people, particularly senior managers in financial services, will relocate. Scotland will lose direct access to European Union markets until it gains EU membership -- and that's not certain. Some countries may veto Scotland's entry into the EU because "they do not want their own secessionist regions to go for independence," he argues.


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As Obama administration orders carbon cuts to fight global warming, it sells coal rights that could increase it | Michael Kranish | The Boston Globe

As Obama administration orders carbon cuts to fight global warming, it sells coal rights that could increase it | Michael Kranish | The Boston Globe | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The desolate stretch of Highway 133 crests a Rocky Mountain pass and settles into a valley where some of the world’s most valuable coal is located — and the landowner is the US taxpayer.


If there is a “war on coal” by President Obama, as his critics say, then this might be a place to wage it. Obama has, after all, approved regulations designed to cut global-warming carbon emissions by nearly one-third, and he is preparing to attend a Sept. 23 United Nations climate summit at which he will renew his call for world action to fight climate change.


But here in the Rockies and across much of the West, Obama may be the coal industry’s critical, if unlikely, ally. The administration has rejected calls to place a moratorium on leasing public land to mining firms — even though such leases account for 40 percent of coal mined in the United States. Nor is the administration much interested in blocking exports of coal from such leases to countries where it could be burned without antipollution controls. Or in significantly raising the price of the billions of tons of publicly owned coal now sold at what critics consider bargain rates.


This is war?


Hardly, said Senator Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who early this year called on the administration to place a moratorium on the coal leases. It is instead, he said, the story of “contradictory energy policies undermining the larger goal of having a reduction of greenhouse gases in America. The American taxpayer is subsidizing the coal industry.”


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All the Ways to Fight Fracking at the People’s Climate March | Linda Capato | 350.org

All the Ways to Fight Fracking at the People’s Climate March | Linda Capato | 350.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In the next 5 days tens of thousands of people around the world will be rallying for climate action from our world leaders.  For those of us who work on fracking, we’re especially excited to see how folks are starting to connect the dots between extreme extraction and climate change.


In California, we’re watching folks here battle a historic drought that’s been inextricably linked to climate change.  While citizens are being asked to curb their water use with shorter showers and not to water their lawn, we’re also watching fracking for oil get the green light.  While this is all happening people like Governor Brown get to ride his own coattails from 20 years ago as a climate champion despite his current actions to give the go ahead to expand extraction.


We know that fracking for gas and oil only makes climate change worse. We know that we’re choosing to frack because we’ve gotten to the end of the line.  Outside of just the climate impacts of fracking, we’re watching communities get sick, lose fresh water, and scramble to get answers from those they elected into power.


That’s why those of us who work to fight fracking are using the People’s Climate March as a rallying space for us to make sure our leaders hear stories from communities.  We want to make sure on the day after the march, people know that climate leaders don’t frack.


There are events all week leading up to the big rally on September 21st that will give you an opportunity to hear from different folks from all around the world about how fracking has impacted them.


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Netflix's secret weapon to conquer Europe: pay TV boxes | Janko Roettgers | GigaOM Tech News

Netflix's secret weapon to conquer Europe: pay TV boxes | Janko Roettgers | GigaOM Tech News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Netflix launched in Germany and Austria on Tuesday after going live in France on Monday, and the company is set to announce launches in three additional European countries later this week. It’s one of Netflix’s most ambitious expansions to date, and it’s coming with a new set of partners: In Germany, Netflix struck an alliance with Deutsche Telekom, and, in France, it teamed up with Bouygues Telecom.


These partnerships could be a key part to Netflix’s expansion in Europe and provide a blueprint for further growth in the U.S. In Germany, Deutsche Telekom is adding Netflix’s app to its Entertain pay TV platform. In France, the app is going to be available on Bouygues Telecom‘s Android-based set-top boxes starting in November.


This isn’t the first time Netflix has struck these kinds of alliances with pay TV operators. However, in the past, cooperations were restricted to operators that were leasing TiVo’s DVR to their customers. Now, Netflix is taking the next step and bringing its app to additional set-top boxes.


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Brazil's Indigenous Seek Out City, End Up in Slums | NYTimes.com

Brazil's Indigenous Seek Out City, End Up in Slums | NYTimes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

They huddle in a tight circle, shaking seed-filled maracas and shuffling in time to a rhythm that has pulsed through their tribes for generations. The dancers raise their voices in song, conjuring an ancient spirit that vibrates above the traffic roaring from a nearby expressway and the beat of funk music blasting from a neighbor's loudspeaker.


In this Brazilian favela, a dense hodgepodge of humble cinderblock homes filled with some of Rio de Janeiro's poorest residents, the indigenous people whose cultures predate recorded history are struggling to keep their traditions alive in the face of modernity. Seeking jobs and forced out of their native lands by loggers, miners and farmers, an estimated 22,000 Brazilian Indians now call the crowded favelas their home.


Deforestation continues to reshape the Amazon rain forest region that is home to a third of Brazil's indigenous people. The rate of deforestation rose 29 percent last year, compared with a year earlier, the Brazilian government reported last week.


"There are no more forests, no more fish. We've got to survive so we go to the cities. But they're so expensive, where can we live but the favelas?" asked Sandra Benites, a Guarani tribeswoman who moved to Rio's Complexo Sao Carlos slum in 2010 from the neighboring state of Espirito Santo. "Despite the problems, at least in the village you're surrounded by a community. In the city, you're alone."


Benites, a 39-year-old teacher who also uses her tribal name Ara Rete, joined other indigenous urbanites recently to celebrate a traditional ritual in Rio de Janeiro's Mare favela. The gatherings of about a dozen people, from as many tribes, provide a sense of community that helps them endure the "double discrimination" they face.


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Coca Cola, Heinz And Other Major Food Companies Warn Climate Change Threatens Business | Emily Atkin | ThinkProgress.org

Coca Cola, Heinz And Other Major Food Companies Warn Climate Change Threatens Business | Emily Atkin | ThinkProgress.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Back in March, popular burrito chain Chipotle made news when ThinkProgress reported that climate change could threaten its guacamole supply. That report was based on a statement Chipotle made in its annual report to its investors, filed with the Securities Exchange Commission.


Chipotle took issue with the story, noting that its language about how climate change could affect guacamole was routine for annual reports and other SEC filings. The SEC requires companies to tell investors about any business risk they face, no matter how small. Indeed, companies mention things like freak accidents and terrorist attacks in these reports as well. In all, Chipotle just didn’t want its customers to become alarmed about a guacamole shortage (and in fact, guacamole hasn’t budged from the menu).


But as ThinkProgress noted at the time, the real story was not a guacamole shortage, but the emerging reality of doing business in a warming world. While politicians continue to bicker over whether or not climate change exists, companies now have no choice in the matter — they must acknowledge the science and the risk and disclose the reality of that risk to their investors’ pocketbooks. Whether that risk actually manifests itself is another matter, but the fact that companies are increasingly putting climate change on their threat lists speaks volumes to the severity of the problem.


Here are seven other big food companies that disclose to investors that climate change poses a threat to their products and bottom lines.


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Who Pays For Green Dreams? | Loren Steffy | Forbes.com

Who Pays For Green Dreams? | Loren Steffy | Forbes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Renewable energy is coming to an economic crossroads, one that could have dire unintended consequences for some of the most vulnerable populations – the poor and the elderly.


As renewable energy expands, activists around the world are calling for programs that would supplant conventional fuels – coal, oil and, to a lesser extent, natural gas – with renewable sources such as wind and solar.


Programs such as the misguided fossil fuel divestiture movement, ignore the costs that forcing a move away from fossil fuels imposes on those who are slowest to embrace the change. While there are benefits to diversifying our fuel portfolio, in its current form, the growing use of renewables requires a subsidy from fossil fuels.


This isn’t a cost being foisted upon those who deny climate change.  Quite the opposite. In many cases, it is those who already face the biggest impact from global warming who are being saddled with the greatest cost for switching to renewables.


Caleb Rossiter, an adjunct professor with American University’s  School of International Service recently outlined his concerns with how the fossil fuel divestiture program could affect Africa:


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IL: Chicago's New Electric Garbage Trucks Give Trash the Silent Treatment | Andrew Tarantola | Gizmodo.com

IL: Chicago's New Electric Garbage Trucks Give Trash the Silent Treatment | Andrew Tarantola | Gizmodo.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

You know how I know it's garbage day? Because it's 5 am and it sounds like the trucks from Pump are getting busy on the curb. VROOOOOM, CRUNCH, SLAM, WAKKA WAKKA WAKKA, SLAM, CRUNCH, VROOOOOM. But some lucky Chicagoans will soon be able to sleep all the way through the night thanks to a new fleet of (mostly) silent dump trucks.


Built by Motiv, an electric vehicle company that first gained prominence with its electric school bus for Kings Canyon Unified School District in California, the new all electric garbage truck will run a 60 mile route while collecting and compacting an estimated 9 tons of trash every day. It is also expected to save 2,688 gallons of diesel and $11,000 in maintenance costs annually. Compact-y parts of the truck are still sure to make a racket, but the driving part will be mercifully whisper-quiet.


In all, Chicago aims to add at least 20 of these vehicles to its existing, 600-strong fleet over the next five years at a cost of $13.4 million. The electric truck will make its public debut on September 23rd at a Ride and Drive event put on by the CALSTART High-Efficiency Truck Users Forum—check it out before the vehicle is bathed in human refuse.


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European Commission Denies EU Public Right To Express Views On TAFTA/TTIP And CETA | Glynn Moody | Techdirt.com

European Commission Denies EU Public Right To Express Views On TAFTA/TTIP And CETA | Glynn Moody | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

One of the most glaring problems with TAFTA/TTIP is the lack of input from the public in whose name it is being negotiated. The great interest in providing feedback on the agreement can be seen from the one occasion when it was possible to voice an opinion -- the European Commission's consultation on the inclusion of a corporate sovereignty chapter.


And yet, even though an unprecedented 150,000 responses were received -- the vast majority of which were against any kind of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) measures -- a top European politician recently announced that there are no plans to take ISDS out of CETA, the almost-finished trade agreement between the EU and Canada that represents a kind of warm-up for TAFTA/TTIP.


Since the European Commission refuses to take into account the public's views directly, people have turned to another mechanism to make their voices heard: a special kind of EU-wide petition called a European Citizens' Initiative (ECI). If sufficient signatures are obtained from around the EU, the European Commission is obliged to respond, but the bar to make that happen is set quite high:


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Sprint, Windstream traffic routing errors hijacked other ISPs | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com

Sprint, Windstream traffic routing errors hijacked other ISPs | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Internet traffic routing errors made by U.S. operators Sprint and Windstream on the same day last week underscore a long-known Internet weakness, posing both security and reliability issues.


Both of the errors involved Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), an aging but crucial protocol that is used by networking equipment to route traffic between different providers. Traffic routes are “announced” using BGP, and the changes are then taken up by routers around the world.


But network providers frequently make erroneous announcements—known as “route hijacking”—which can shut off services, causing reliability issues or be used for certain kinds of cyberattacks.


For about a day starting last Tuesday, Sprint made a BGP announcement that directed Internet traffic from an ISP in Macedonia through its own network, wrote Doug Madory, a senior analyst with Dyn’s Renesys division, which monitors how global Internet traffic is routed.


On the same day, Windstream commandeered traffic destined for Saudi Telecom, and then a day later for networks in Gaza and Iceland, besides three in China, Madory wrote.


It’s not uncommon for operators to make such errors through misconfiguration. But Madory wrote that the problem of BGP route hijacking “has gone from bad to downright strange.”


“While we now detect suspicious routing events on an almost daily basis, in the last couple of days we have witnessed a flurry of hijacks that really make you scratch your head,” he wrote.


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China clamps down on dirtiest coal to curb pollution | Environment | New Scientist

China clamps down on dirtiest coal to curb pollution | Environment | New Scientist | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

CHINA is having a clean-up. The world's largest consumer of coal has announced radical restrictions on the importing and use of the stuff, in a bid to curb air pollution.


Across the country, the transport, mining and importing of coal with an ash content higher than 40 per cent and sulphur content higher than 3 per cent is banned, effectively ending the use of the poorest-quality coal.


Tighter restrictions will also apply to coal being transported more than 600 kilometres across the country. Such coal must now be less than 30 per cent ash and less than 2 per cent sulphur. The most stringent rules apply to coal burned in coastal and northern cities, where air pollution is at its worst. That must now be at most 16 per cent ash and 1 per cent sulphur.


The announcement will affect coal-mining globally.


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Intel teams with Indian firm to launch 'Eddy' tablet for children | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com

Intel teams with Indian firm to launch 'Eddy' tablet for children | John Ribeiro | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Intel has teamed with Indian education startup Metis Learning on an Android tablet that aims to keep children away from violent TV content and games on their parents’ smartphones.


Targeted at children aged 2-10 years, Eddy is priced at Indian rupees 9999 (US$163), and comes with over 160 apps selected by educators and experts to accelerate a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development, Intel said.


All content on the tablet is violence free, Intel said. The children’s market in India is seen as a large opportunity as most makers of tablets and other devices, targeting the education segment, have so far focused on higher education, said Bharat Gulia, co-founder of Metis.


Eddy is initially targeted at children from middle and upper-middle class homes, with knowledge of English, but the plan is to also look at content in Indian languages.


India’s tablet market was 860,000 units in the second quarter of this year, according to IDC. Android was the preferred operating system with close to 90 percent share.


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DOJ Proposal Would Let FBI Hack Into Computers Overseas With Little Oversight | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com

DOJ Proposal Would Let FBI Hack Into Computers Overseas With Little Oversight | Mike Masnick | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Ahmed Ghappour, over at JustSecurity, alerts us to a rather frightening proposal from the Justice Department that would enable law enforcement to hack into the computers of people who are trying to be anonymous online.


At issue is that current rules basically would extend the powers granted for terrorism investigations to everyday criminal investigations, concerning specifically the DOJ/FBI's ability to hack into computers. In the past, judges could issue warrants for such computer hacking if the target was known to be located in the same district.


But the proposed change would wipe out that limitation, and basically give the DOJ/FBI the power to get approval for hacking into a much broader range of computers. Without the geographical limitation, there's concern about just how broadly this new power would be (ab)used:


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MA: After delays, Worcester ‘smart grid’ now plugging along | Livia Gershon | WBJournal.com

After years of preparation and delays, National Grid's smart grid pilot program took a big step forward in February when the utility completed the installation of 14,800 smart meters in homes and businesses in Worcester.


Now, the next step is making sure customers know what the meters are all about. National Grid has begun sending information to pilot program participants about the meters, which provide much more detailed information on their energy-usage patterns than a monthly bill does, and about additional technology that can make the meters even more useful.


The participants will be able to get free delivery and installation of units that will allow them to more easily adjust their energy usage. That could mean a device that lets a homeowner turn off an appliance they mistakenly left on remotely with a smartphone app, or an add-on to climate control systems that automatically turns the air conditioning down a bit on hot days when the grid is getting maxed out.


"If you give more information to customers, customers will be more sensitive," said Carlos Nouel, director of customer strategy for the pilot program.


The plan is to get customers used to the technology before October, when National Grid will formally begin a two-year test to see if raising prices on high-load days can bring demand down.


The pilot program is the product of the state's 2008 Green Communities Act, which called for all utilities to experiment with ways to modernize electric grids. David W. Cash, commissioner at the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), said that even reducing demand just a little on the hottest summer days could have a big effect. That's because the total amount of generation capacity needed for the region's electricity system depends on how much is used on the hot summer days when demand peaks.


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UK: Virgin Media Sets 1-Gig Test | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com

UK: Virgin Media Sets 1-Gig Test | Jeff Baumgartner | Multichannel.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Virgin Media, the largest cable operator in the U.K., is tossing its hat into the 1-Gig ring via a small trial that will try out a new trenching technique that, it claims, can reduce deployment costs by 33%.

 

Virgin Media, a unit of Liberty Global, said it will use the technique – called “narrow-trenching” -- to bring 1-Gig speeds to about 100 households in the Cambridgeshire village of Papworth. According to the MSO, narrow-trenching reduces the width of the trench used to lay fiber from 40 centimeters to about 10 centimeters, enabling engineers to cover up to 100 meters per day, about twice as fast as current methods.

 

John Henry Group, a construction services company based in Cambridge, is teaming with the operator on the narrow-trenching project in Papworth.

 

The area being targeted by the trial is not an overbuild of Virgin Media’s existing cable plant, but will instead touch homes that are close to the MSO’s network, a spokeswoman said via email. ‘


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MA: Cape Wind signs lease for New Bedford staging area | MassLive.com

MA: Cape Wind signs lease for New Bedford staging area | MassLive.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Announcing a lease deal with Cape Wind, state officials expect the offshore wind farm developers, who are still fighting lawsuits and assembling financing, to begin operations at the South Coast Marine Terminal in New Bedford in January.


The Mass Clean Energy Center on Friday announced that under a two-year lease, Cape Wind will pay $4.5 million in rent to use the 28-acre facility. The lease deal terms include options for two, one-year extensions.


After breaking ground in April 2013 on a terminal designed to meet the heavy machinery needs of wind turbine construction, construction is 80 percent complete and officials expect to be finished in December 2014.


Cape Wind last week filed a "request for modification" of its construction and operations plan with the federal government to allow the use of the New Bedford terminal - the project has long been listing Quonset Point in Rhode Island as its staging area.


Audra Parker, president of the Alliance for Nantucket Sound, which opposes Cape Wind, said the project's federal permits "have always called for staging in Rhode Island" and said the project "must now undergo additional federal review for a move to a New Bedford location," adding to the legal and financial hurdles facing the project.


Project spokesman Mark Rodgers said Cape Wind officials hope to retain Quonset Point as a backup and opted for New Bedford because of confidence that the terminal project will be completed on time.


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NASA taps SpaceX, Boeing to carry astronauts to space | Dara Kerr | CNET.com

NASA taps SpaceX, Boeing to carry astronauts to space | Dara Kerr | CNET.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In a surprise move, NASA picked both Boeing and SpaceX to be the first private companies to shuttle astronauts to the International Space Station. The agency announced Tuesday that the aerospace companies were awarded contracts worth a combined total of $6.8 billion.


"We know going to space is hard," NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager Kathy Lueders said during a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Tuesday. "We are counting on them to deliver our most precious cargo."


Chicago-based Boeing and Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX beat their other competitors for the NASA contract, which entails building space taxis that will take astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit. The new contract is essential since NASA shut down its Space Shuttle program in 2011.


The spacecraft to be used by NASA are Boeing's CST-100 and SpaceX's Dragon V2. Both spacecraft can carry a crew of seven astronauts and launch on a variety of rockets. Boeing will receive $4.2 billion and SpaceX will get $2.6 billion. NASA said the difference in the amount of the contracts is based on the companies' proposals.


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ITV urges UK to implement US-style retransmission scheme | Michelle Clancy | RapidTVNews.com

ITV urges UK to implement US-style retransmission scheme | Michelle Clancy | RapidTVNews.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it
In the US, pay-TV companies are required to compensate free-to-air broadcasters to carry their content, in the form of retransmission fees. It’s an important revenue source for the likes of NBC, CBS and FOX in the US, and contributes to their budget for content carriage.



In the UK, ITV is now calling for a replication of the model in its home market, urging regulators to compel major pay-TV platforms to pay UK public service broadcasters fairly for the transmission of their channels.

Research carried out by NERA Economic Consulting concludes that introducing payments to broadcasters for retransmitting their content would end what is effectively a “multi-million pound subsidy to Sky and Virgin".“

In 2013, US free-to-air broadcasters received around $3.3 billion in retransmission payments, NERA noted, also claiming that the fees account for less than 3% of cable operators’ revenues, and “have little or no impact on pay-TV prices".

SNL Kagan meanwhile has found that retransmission consent fees add up to the equivalent of 8.9% of total fees distributors pay for basic-cable and regional-sports networks – and that percentage is expected to rise to just under 13% by 2017.   

The research house also noted that rising retrans fees are a factor in escalating programming costs – others were the additional expense of TV everywhere and digital rights agreements, increasing costs for sports rights and cable network programming, and additional channel launches.   

NERA said that UK public service broadcasters invest around $4.89 billion on programming – with ITV alone spending almost $1.63 billion a year – the vast majority of which is invested in original UK content, it argued.

“Introducing retransmission fees would have clear benefits to the UK creative industries and the wider economy - as well as to viewers right across the UK - by enabling PSBs to continue to invest in the original programming people love to watch,” said Adam Crozier, CEO at ITV.


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'Tiny banker' malware targets US financial institutions | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com

'Tiny banker' malware targets US financial institutions | Jeremy Kirk | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A banking trojan, known for its small size but powerful capabilities, has expanded the number of financial institutions it can collect data from, according to security vendor Avast.


Tiny Banker, also known as Tinba, was discovered around mid-2012 after it infected thousands of computers in Turkey.


The malware is just 20K in size and can inject HTML fields into websites when it detects a user has navigated to a banking site, asking for a range of sensitive information banks would never request during an online session.


A version analyzed by Avast showed Tiny Banker has been customized to target many new financial institutions, many of which are based in the U.S. such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase, wrote Jaromir Horejsi, an Avast malware analyst.


A screenshot bearing Wells Fargo’s logo showed how Tiny Banker asks for more information when a person logs into their account. It shows a bogus warning about a system update, asking users to provider more information to verify their identity.


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Netflix And Infringement Called Out During Australian Copyright Forum, But One Major Studio Admits Windowed Releases Are Stupid | Tim Cushing | Techdirt.com

Netflix And Infringement Called Out During Australian Copyright Forum, But One Major Studio Admits Windowed Releases Are Stupid | Tim Cushing | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Being a good Australian means waiting weeks or months for movies or software and then paying an exorbitant amount for them. It took all the way until 2013 for the Australian government to finally allow its adult gamers to buy games for adults, after years of deciding that if the content was too harsh for the (government's idea of a) 15-year-old's sensibilities, then no one could have it.

All sorts of IP-reform discussions by rights holders and government reps have taken place over the last several months. Not included (much): the public, which is expected to purchase content and abide by the new rules, whatever they end up being. The foremost subject is still piracy, despite the fact that the business model(s) suck. (See also: the Australian Tax.)

And it's still what's on everyone's minds, at least indirectly. ZDNet reports on some interesting comments from the Online Copyright Infringement Forum recently held in Sydney, Australia. But at least there's some admission that the business model is at least part of the problem.


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United Way Worldwide to begin accepting donations in Bitcoin | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com

United Way Worldwide to begin accepting donations in Bitcoin | Hayley Tsukayama | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

United Way Worldwide announced Monday that it will begin taking donations in Bitcoin, the digital currency.


Bitcoin users can now use the currency for donations to the United Way's Innovation Fund, a part of the United  Way dedicated to updating the organization through "technology, relationships and efficiency." Coinbase, one of the leading Bitcoin payment platforms, is partnering with the charity to let those interested donate directly from their digital Bitcoin wallets to the fund. According to a page on the United Way's Web site, anyone from around the world can donate to the fund using Bitcoin.


Bitcoin is making steady progress in gaining more mainstream acceptance, with companies ranging from Home Depot and Target to local food trucks jumping on board. eBay's PayPal announced last week that it will soon be offering developers of its Braintree payment platform the option to accept Bitcoin as a method of payment, also through a partnership with Coinbase.


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U.S., U.K. Could Spy on Deutsche Telekom Network: Der Spiegel | Bloomberg.com

U.S., U.K. Could Spy on Deutsche Telekom Network: Der Spiegel | Bloomberg.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The U.S. National Security Agency and its U.K. counterpart GCHQ gained secret access to the networks of German Web providers including Deutsche Telekom AG as it sought to peer into computers all over the world, Der Spiegel reported, citing documents provided by Edward Snowden.


The agencies conducted an operation called Treasure Map, which sought close to real-time access to individual routers as well as computers, smartphones and tablets connected to the Internet, Spiegel reported yesterday in an e-mailed preview of an article to be published tomorrow. The New York Times reported the existence of Treasure Map last year.


Deutsche Telekom said it’s investigating the allegations and hasn’t found evidence of manipulation or external access to its networks. The company, in an e-mailed statement, said it has informed German authorities and is reviewing its networks with external information-technology experts.


Access by foreign security agencies would be “completely unacceptable,” the Bonn-based company said in its statement.

Deutsche Telekom and Cologne, Germany-based Netcologne were marked on a leaked graphic with red dots, indicating surveillance access points, Spiegel reported. Netcologne didn’t immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment yesterday.


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