Google had two abortive attempts at social networking, Buzz and Wave. Both got a bit of buzz then disappeared beneath the waves. Google+ is different. It’s fun to use, powerful, has features Twitter and Facebook don’t, and perhaps most importantly, shows no sign of slowing down a few weeks after it was introduced.
The early adopter geeks, unlike with Wave and Buzz, are still using Google+. What’s more, they are enthusiastic about it, their followings are growing, and they are getting more comments on Google+ then on their other sites or Facebook. Techies aren’t the public at large but clearly something is happening here.
Respected tech blogger Robert Scoble says that the enthusiastic response by users has spurred the Google+ team, who will be introducing new features soon. Some of his posts on Google+ get several hundred comments. Chris Pirillo, another techie with a large following, practically lives on Google+ now. This is a marked difference from the reaction to Wave and Buzz.
Scoble also says Google+ has made Twitter boring, and maybe Facebook too, I might add. I expect both of them will introduce new features soon. This benefits all of us.
If you want an invite to Google+, send me your email address.
CoolPlanetBiofuels has received $20 million in funding from Google Ventures and other venture capital funds. The Camarillo-based business is developing innovative mobile refineries that turn biomass, agricultural leftovers, and wood processing byproducts into useful biofuel.
This is quite separate from biofuel originating from corn, which has deservedly come under attack for being expensive, unworkable, environmentally unfriendly, and quite possibly lethal as well. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons says biofuel from land formerly used for crops will lead to higher food prices which in turn condemns those in Third World countries to “chronic hunger,” poverty, and an increased death rate. In other words, biofuel from farmland leads directly to people dying from starvation and malnutrition. A rise in food prices here in the US might be unnoticeable to many, but to a family in the Third World making $1.50 a day, it can be devastating.
Furthermore, to create biofuel from corn, the corn has to be trucked long distances to the refineries, something which increases costs as well as environmental impacts. It’s difficult to see how corn biofuel benefits anyone except agribusiness which receives large subsidies for it.
However, the approach taken by CoolPlanetBiofuels has none of those drawbacks. They produce the biofuel from waste at processing plants, not from crops grown on arable land. Nothing needs to be trucked. Instead, the refineries go to where the waste products are. Thus, instead of trucking the waste to a landfill or burning it, it becomes an income stream. Everyone wins. The processing plant company has turned an expense (disposing of the waste) into profit.
Initially, the mobile refineries will produce an additive that will help gasoline refineries meet California’s stringent new low-carbon standards. They then plan to make biofuel that can run directly in engines, with a test one million gallon per year refinery coming soon. Amazingly, they also say they can sequester carbon in the process and use it as soil enhancer for crops or even as a coal substitute. Such a process is at least carbon-neutral and may even provide carbon sequestration, which makes it even more environmentally friendly than wind and solar power.
Turning waste into useful products is not only friendly to the environment because it lessens what is dumped into landfills or burned, it also provides income for those with the waste. The key here is what CoolPlanetBioFuels is doing. They are bringing the refinery to where the waste is, and no cropland is used in this process.
We’ve invested $168 million in an exciting new solar energy power plant being developed by BrightSource Energy in the Mojave Desert in California. Brightsource’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) will generate 392 gross MW of clean, solar energy.
Increasingly people are finding their searches on Google leads to spam sites gamed to appear at the top of the results. Google needs to change this, and fast, says entrepreneur turned academic Vivek Wadhwa in a TechCrunch post that is attacting major attention.
Is Google the Next Yahoo? asks Silicon Valley Insider, noting it is a major warning signal when techies start grumbling. Indeed, I saw this happen with Microsoft, and now it’s happening with Google.
I use Google less now. Twitter and Facebook have useful search, as does Google News, which has no spam. Ditto for my Google RSS reader. But these are primarily searches for news. Searches on other topics are much more problematic. Wadha said his students were not easily able to find info on the founders of tech startups on Google because of huge amounts of spammy search results. Paul Kedrosky had the same experience. He repeatedly tried then gave up trying to find info on appliances on Google and used Consumer Reports instead.
In their different ways Blekko, Quora, and Hunch are next-gen search that avoid spam. Check them out!
Gimme a “Double Irish” and a “Dutch Sandwich” please, says Google and other tech companies. These tax ploys allow them to pay tiny amounts of tax as they shuttle profits around the world, sometimes through companies that have no employees. All this is quite legal, utterly unfair, and shows how our taxes need tightening. This is especially true now when the tens of billions in lost revenue could help balance the budget deficit.
The interactive Bloomberg graphic explains how it’s done. However, their article has one misrepresentation. They say the IRS made a “secret pact” with Google when in fact all taxpayer information is strictly confidential and disclosing it is a firing offense. The IRS is not the problem here, they enforce the tax laws that Congress passes. The problem is with lobbyists and a Congress beholden to big money.
Why do hugely profitable corporations get to pay minuscule amounts of tax while private taxpayers pay far higher percentages of their incomes?
Google Goggles is now available as an iPhone app (for 3GS running iOS and 4) as part of the Google Mobile App. Just tap the camera button and it will analyze the image and return search results. Right now it works mostly for landmarks, logos, and books, but in a couple of years, it will no doubt identity all sorts of things. Hmmm.
As we learned when studying the case of the dancing hippie, it’s the first follower that “transforms a lone nut into a leader.”
May many more follow. Freedom is always better than repression and coercion.
China has every right to set rules about what happens inside its borders. However, companies working there also have every right to leave if they don’t like the government’s policies.
Google recently stopped censoring its sites inside China in defiance of the government’s orders and now GoDaddy will no longer do new domain name registrations there because of onerous – and retroactive – new government regulations requiring extensive documentation of registrants, including photos.