Data Centers That Will Follow the Sun and Chase the Wind

[qi:_earth2tech] A plan to combine cloud computing, fast broadband and renewable energy could reduce the demand data centers place on the electrical grid and save companies money on power costs. Data centers’ ability to suck up inordinate amounts of electricity is turning them into the Hummers of the computing world. And much like Hummers, their power-guzzling ways means they are becoming increasingly costly to run. To read about the plan being worked on by Andrew Hopper, head of the Cambridge University Computing Lab, head over to Earth2Tech.

Photosynthesis on a Chip

Most solar companies use silicon to turn solar energy into electrical energy, but researchers at the University of Tel Aviv have recently moved to go green in more of a literal sense. Rather than silicon, they’re using bio-engineered plant proteins to build their PV base. This is very cool, and they aren’t the only ones.

Researchers at Cambridge University, MIT, Stanford and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are also trying to bio-engineer photosynthetic chips to convert the sun’s rays to AC or DC power. A company called BioSolar is trying to use plant-parts to replace the petroleum-based plastics in solar systems.

The Israeli team claims that they can convert up to 25 percent of the sun’s energy to electricity compared with 14 percent for silicon-based PV cells. They also say they can do this for $1 per square meter, whereas the same amount of silicon substrate would cost $200.

If this research makes it out of the lab, the benefits would be significant. Silicon doesn’t face as much of a shortage anymore, but the cost advantages of a plant substrate would still be substantial. It’s possible that thin-film solar advances will render the silicon-based panels obsolete in a few years, but mass production has been an ever-moving target for the thin-film guys. For now we’re still playing with the sun and sand.

Google Docs Adds PowerPoint Export and Saved Searches

Google Docs is a definite blessing to web workers.  It allows for easy document creation with only a web browser and includes collaboration tools that enables you to have co-workers view and edit your documents, all with version control.

Save as PPTGoogle Presentations, Google’s attempt at a Microsoft PowerPoint-like application was recently launched.  To enhance cross-office collaboration, users can now export to PowerPoint.  To use this feature, chose “Save as PPT” from the File menu from within Google Presentations.

Also, you can use now save your searches.  So if you’re looking for a document from a particular person named “Joan”, you can save your search for future use for quick file reference.

[via Google Docs Blog]

AppleGeeks Interview – Part 2

Following up on part 1 of my interview with the creative minds behind AppleGeeks.com, here’s what Ananth Panagariya had to say about his role in writing AppleGeeks.

TAB: I’m not sure which one of you came up with the idea, but where did the idea of AppleGeeks come from?

Ananth: Hawk’s older brother Mohammad had the domain lying around, and we’d been talking about starting a comic strip on the web. Hawk and I are both Apple fans, but for me it’s a preference and a fondness – for him, it’s a passion (maybe an obsession, hahaha).

TAB: Where do you get your material for each comic?

Ananth: Real life, often times. Sometimes it’s internet news, especially Apple news. At other times, it’s just stuff that comes out my imagination. Doing Applegeeks can be a fluid process – there’s times when Hawk will suggest ideas and I’ll suggest layouts.

TAB: Can you walk us through your creative process to write a comic?
Read More about AppleGeeks Interview – Part 2

Mirra for Mac?

mirra_personal_server_magic.jpgWe have all seen Mirra, the connected storage drive, and some of us have liked it as well. And that despite the fact that it works only with Windows. I complained about this to the company’s senior executives recently. Actually badgered them about why Mac users should miss out on the whole digital drive thing. After all it was Steve Jobs who woke up the entire industry to the “opportunity.” Why then there is no Mirra for Mac? Doesn’t Mirra founder and chairman Tim Bucher now work as senior vice president for macintosh system development at Apple? Now Mirra folks are genuinely nice people who gave into my repetitive questioning and told me that “they were working on a Mirra for mac.” No there is no beta, when I asked, “can I try one?” But they promised that there will be a beta soon? What about the real thing? No answers, except Santa isn’t gonna stuff this one in your stocking!