Today in Cleantech

Brad Plumer of The Washington Post reports on data from the carbon tax that’s been in place since 2008 in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The tax began at $10 per ton of carbon, increasing $5 a year. This translates into about 8-cents a gallon of gasoline, rising each her. A follow up analysis from the University of Ottawa’s Sustainable Prosperity group finds that per capita GHG emissions from those subject to the tax dropped 9.9 percent versus 4.6 percent for the rest of Canada, and per capita consumption of petroleum products dropped a whopping 15.1 percent versus a 1.3 percent rise for the rest of the country. But the real kicker is that the economy in the British Columbia actually grew at a faster rate than the rest of Canada (1.78 percent versus 1.64 percent). It gets hard to argue that the tax had a negative impact on the economy, though it’s possible that BC might have had even more robust economic growth, absent the tax. But given that BC used the tax to lower both its local corporate income tax and the tax rate of the bottom two income brackets, there’s reason to do more fine grained analysis to see if the tax actually helped the economy.

Canada’s Got a Carbon Tax, Eh?

North America’s first carbon tax is set to roll out this coming Tuesday in the Canadian province British Columbia. This means British Columbians can start expecting to pay even more at the pump and to their utility as the tax will apply to transportation fuels and home heating oil starting July 1.

With oil prices setting record highs the past few weeks, the timing for this tax couldn’t be worse. The tax isn’t designed to raise revenue for the government and will be accompanied by a one-time C$100 rebate as well as tax cuts elsewhere. Still, critics are not thrilled that a new gasoline tax will send prices at the pump even higher. Opposition have already organized “axe the tax” initiatives and have proposed to modify the tax to apply only to business and industrial emitters, sparing the individual consumer.

Originally announced in February, the tax will start by tacking on a C$10 per ton of CO2 charge to fossil fuels, increasing by C$5 per ton per year for four years. Although it comes at a painful time, a carbon tax is thought by many to be a more effective measure to reduce carbon emissions, compared to the more politically palatable cap-and-trade approach. Similar proposals have been made in the U.S., but so far with little traction.

Dell XT Tablet PC launches today

We confirmed that Dell would be launching the XT Tablet PC today and our information is correct as Dell has done so as expected.  The Latitude XT is a real powerhouse mobile PC with a dual digitizer allowing both pen and touch interaction as expected.  Those folks at GottaBeMobile have the full details along with the press release and Linda Epstein of Tablet PC2 has done her usual great job and gotten some hands-on photos of the Dell.  The big boys at Engadget have gotten a brief hands-on session with the new Dell and have written up their impressions.  They found the new Dell to be very solid and well constructed (the word sexy was used) and seem overall to be impressed.  What has surprised everyone, myself included, is Dell’s announced pricing.  They have stated that the XT Tablet PC will start at $2499.  Say what?  That is $700 more than I paid for my HP 2710p that is fully loaded!  Ouch.

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NTV Live Video Recap: Ralph de la Vega, AT&T

Ralph de la Vega, group president of AT&T, keynoted NewTeeVee Live and told us he sees a big opportunity in AT&T partnering with “entrepreneurial production of content.” To that extent, the company recently signed a deal with ON Networks to show the startup’s content on its U-verse IPTV and HomeZone satellite services. De la Vega said AT&T is looking to make more deals:

“We’re not interested in just licensing established content. Where I think the business is going is with those content providers that I would call non-traditional talent…. There is a huge pool of talent that is waiting to get on prime time that can’t make it. We have 120 million customers between our various properties that are looking for that talent.”

Then later, upon questioning from Om, de la Vega admitted he himself doesn’t watch such content: “I don’t go to the videoblogs,” he said. But de la Vega thinks his customers may be interested in niche programming, provided it is licensed onto all platforms, available in high definition, and high quality.
Want to see the speech and Q&A for yourself? Here it is on video, in two parts. De la Vega starts at about 18:30 into the first clip and continues through to the end of the second.


For more coverage of the speech, which included a number of demos of yet-to-be-released AT&T Labs products, such as live streaming video from handsets to TVs, see also:

Fix for Wireless Networks Not Recognized in Leopard

Since I installed Leopard, I’ve been noticing some strange behavior with my wireless networks. When my Macbook Pro wakes from sleep, I get a window warning that none of my preferred wireless networks can be found, and offering me a choice of the various ones it can see.

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One of these, oddly, is my house network. I have a WPA2 encrypted network, so I enter the key, check ‘remember this network’ and click join. So far so good – except that this happens every time my laptop wakes up. (This all wouldn’t be nearly so annoying if my WPA key weren’t twenty or so mostly-random characters long, but I digress.) I have rebuilt and repaired my keychain, deleted and recreated the key for my wireless network, and deleted all the associated preference files, all to no avail. Every time it wakes up, there’s the window again.
Frustrated, the other day I chose ‘cancel’ instead. The window vanished and, on a lark, I tried connecting to my network from the normal airport menu. Surprisingly, that worked without a blink.  Evidently, the key is being remembered somewhere, it just hasn’t reached whatever process is responsible for this little box.
The support.apple.com forums lead me to believe that I am not alone in this strange forgetfulness; that’s where I got the above fixes, in fact. While this little workaround doesn’t fix anything permanently, others may find it useful.  And who knows – perhaps 10.5.1, supposedly rolling later this week, will fix this.

Palace coup at Blinkx?

Very often, I have come across promising start-ups, that have a world on a string, and can capture the minds and hearts of early adopters, only to stumble and whither away? I see their bigger rivals, with mediocre and somewhat insipid technology come from behind and take market share. Is that the case with Blinkx, a desktop search company that only a few brief months ago, knocked my socks off. Remember I compared them to Google in the early days. However, things are getting a bit dodgy out there in Blinkx-land. Microsoft’s desktop plans, Apple’s upcoming desktop launch, and Google’s move into the space, has me worried about Blinkx and its future. They have come out with a new version, Blinkx 2.0, and it has been received with generally good reviews. It has cool new features like saving peer-to-peer searches and smart folders. My readers have given the product two thumbs up. But in this applause, lies some worrying news. For instance, co-founder Kathy Rittweger is no longer with the company.
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