‘Planktos Corp.’ Closes Shop, ‘Planktos Science’ Funded?

The ongoing saga of Planktos, which claimed to have had its ocean seeding plans dashed by environmental groups, took another turn this week. Yesterday, publicly-traded Planktos Corp., which is separate from the recently-launched Planktos Science led by founder Russ George, updated shareholders stating that the company would “suspend operations in order to seek out an alternative near-term business opportunity.” That includes a name change, restructuring, a consolidation of its stock and supposedly an undisclosed acquisition. Solar Energy Limited, the lead investor and issuer of the release, has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

The original founder of Planktos and current head of the reformed Planktos Science, Russ George, told us in a phone interview he was “very glad to hear the guys who bought the residual shell of Planktos Corp. have gotten around to changing the name. It’s the end of that painful saga. A tragedy for the planet.” George added that Planktos Science, which he says has most of the technology, intellectual property and personnel from the original Planktos Corp., has raised some venture capital. Though he declined to say how much or from whom he added, “We’ll be back. We are back. Planktos will rise again.”

We’re not sure who would give George funding, but it’s probably a little different than what Planktos competitor Climos has managed to secure, raising some $4 million from the likes of Tesla Chairman Elon Musk and Braemar Energy Ventures. And George is clearly still smarting from what he calls an “orchestrated conspiracy” of environmental groups and media outlets who scuttled his endeavors with Planktos. But he tells us that the new Planktos Science and its new funds will continue on its original course with the intention of making the ocean’s plankton populations thrive.

Gemini Division a Litmus Test for Old Media, New Media

When Gemini Division premieres on Monday, the show won’t just be the debut series for NBC’s new digital studio; it will be a litmus test for whether old media can play successfully in web video.

This web show has the weight of the traditional media world on its shoulders: In my opinion, the success or failure of Gemini Division will be critical for the web video economy in general and for traditional media in particular. CBS owns Moblogic, Sony inked a distribution deal just last week with Rocketboom, and for such marriages to continue, Gemini Division must thrive.

Read More about Gemini Division a Litmus Test for Old Media, New Media

Planktos Is Back, and This Time It’s Got Science!

Some of you might remember the beleaguered company Planktos, which was looking to fertilize the world’s oceans with iron in an attempt to stimulate phytoplankton blooms and reduce carbon emissions. Come on, you remember — its dreams went dead in the water back in February due to what it called a wave of “anti-offset crusaders” that waged a “highly effective disinformation campaign.” Critics on the other hand said the company flopped because of its lack of scientific practices. Well, like a bad horror movie sequel, it’s baaack. And it’s brought along a shiny new friend: “science.”

The newly named Planktos Science is based in San Francisco and consists of the original company’s science team and its founder, Russ George. According to its web site, Planktos Science has no business affiliation with the original Planktos Corp., which was publicly traded, nor its partner, Solar Energy (hat tip GreenCarCongress).

The launch post says that George was allowed to recover rights to the technology and use of the Planktos name, and that the company can now proceed with its work of seeding the oceans with iron. Planktos repeatedly describes that goal with the pleasant-sounding term “ecorestoration.” We’re not sure what the “new” Planktos will do to reassure investors and the science community that it will proceed differently, but likely stamping its moniker and web site with “science” won’t do the trick.

We appreciate the fact that ocean seeding has enough potential to merit scientific study. Startup Climos is pursuing the same objective — to investigate this technology’s potential — and has managed to convince high profile investors Elon Musk and Braemer Energy Ventures to invest in its plan. But as to whether or not ocean seeding is effective in reducing global warming, the jury’s still out.
Read More about Planktos Is Back, and This Time It’s Got Science!

On Her Majesty’s Web-Based Workforce

With Gordon Brown‘s fiscal reputation following Dubya‘s own battered rep into a swirling black hole of oil prices and crunchy credit, it’s heartening to know that (sometimes) Her Majesty’s government can still do its subjects a few financial favours here in Blighty.

A couple of weeks ago, the UK’s tax authority – Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs Service – announced a number of measures that may benefit Britain’s web workers, and more broadly, any Brits working from home.

Those working from home whom have a portion of their residence setup as a dedicated work area or office can claim that portion as a tax rebate. Also, they no longer have to pay capital gains tax on the sale of their home.

Read More about On Her Majesty’s Web-Based Workforce

Ocean Seeding Banned Until More Research

Here comes a potential hiccup for companies in the business of ocean seeding like startup Climos, which just last week we reported was looking to raise more funding. Delegates at a U.N. biodiversity convention on Friday decided to call for a temporary ban on the practice of seeding the world’s oceans with iron, which can potentially boost carbon-sucking phytoplankton blooms. After 12 days of discussions at the convention, representatives from 200 countries agreed to “a moratorium” on the practice according to reports, until scientists have better studied its impact on the environment.

Climos’ CEO Dan Whaley sent us over a response to the groups decision (also printed on Climos’ website) that basically says the company agrees to a very cautious approach of fully researching the practice of ocean seeding before starting any projects:

“. . . the CBD statement calls for additional scientific research, a precautionary approach and appropriate regulatory controls for OIF [Ocean Iron Fertilization] activities — objectives that have been shared by Climos since its inception. . . . Climos agrees that OIF activities should proceed only where there is an adequate scientific basis to justify them, including assessing associated risks, and should be subject to an appropriate regulatory framework including any permits required pursuant to the IMO LC process.”

According to reports from the convention delegates were concerned that carbon dioxide and nutrients could make the oceans more acidic, which could harm animal and plant life. While Climos has said all along that it will only go forward with its plans if there is science to back up the projects, the UN group’s suggestion does add more controversy to the practice. We’re not sure if that will hurt the company’s ability to raise that $8 million to $10 million Series B round — but it certainly can’t help much.

Ocean Seeding Startup Climos Looking to Raise More Funds

Ocean seeding startup Climos said back in March that it had become the world’s first venture capital-backed startup planning to attempt the controversial technique of fertilizing the oceans with iron to fight climate change; Climos was able to convince Tesla Chairman Elon Musk and Braemar Energy Ventures to fund its carbon-storing plan. Now Climos’ CEO Dan Whaley (who we named in our 25 Who Ditched Infotech for Cleantech) tells us the company is looking to raise another round in the fall to help it meet regulatory hurdles to start testing its project.

According to a pamphlet from the Dow Jones Environmental Ventures conference, Climos is aiming to raise between $8 million and $10 million in a Series B funding round that it will look to close in the first quarter of 2009. The round will be open to new investors. Whaley told us in March that its next round could be as high as $12 million to $14 million.

Research into iron ocean seeding has been largely done by government scientists in the past, and another startup, Planktos, which had similar aims as Climos, actually went dead in the water because it was unable to raise any funding.
Read More about Ocean Seeding Startup Climos Looking to Raise More Funds

Tempo Adds Integration

ScreenshotWe’ve mentioned the Tempo time-tracking application before. Although it’s only been a couple of months since we looked at their innovative timeslip-based recording, they haven’t been standing still. Their most recent release focuses on a pile of useful integrations:

  • Export invoice data to Blinksale or Quickbooks
  • Import projects from Basecamp
  • Track time via Twitter

They’ve also added timer-based tracking to their timeslips focus. Signup for a single user remains free, with paid accounts starting at $5 per month.

Web Worker Tips and Tricks: A Blast from the Past

After recently accidentally stumbling across a good, though older, post here by Leo Babuta on boosting Gmail efficiency, it struck me that some readers may never have seen some of the tips on popular web worker applications that this blog has run. Some of these have drawn a lot of really useful input from readers, and are worth revisiting. In this post, I’ll round up several to look into. Hopefully, they can help you work more efficiently.

How to Crank Through Your Gmail. Here’s that older post from Leo. Check out the more than 60 comments from readers.

Read More about Web Worker Tips and Tricks: A Blast from the Past

Hook a USB device to your Nokia N810 thanks to USB-On-The-Go

N810_otg1aThanks to Joel for the tip on this one. He shared a link to a Nokia Developer Forum that has a tasty little mobile tidbit in it pertaining to USB. Apparently, the Nokia N810 supports the USB-On-The-Run-Go supplement which, if you have the right USB cable, can expand compatibility of your Internet Tablet. Here’s an excerpt of this mobile goodness:

“In Slave role N810 acts as a FAT-format memory card or with g_ether driver as a USB networking card. In Slave mode you can connect your tablet to your PC and it shows up by default as external memory card. Using USB-OTG host mode you can connect your USB memory stick to your tablet, you can also connect tablet to various other memory devices like digital cameras, memory card readers or even to a external hard disk. The N810 can supply limited amount of power to external USB device and no extra powered hub is needed.”

The needed cable is nearly identical to most mainstream USB cables except for one slight difference: a single pin that dictates slave mode when open and master mode when grounded. Folks are apparently hacking their own although I’ve read reports that some online retailers carry this type cable connection. This of course doesn’t mean full compatibility with every USB device under the sign, but it shows potential. Thanks Joel!

Skooba Design bags, cases discount

34_imageshtle_black_blue_maCan’t say I’ve used a Skooba Design bag yet, but after reading Gear Diary’s review of the Skooba Shuttle backpack last month, I was definitely interested in the product. Perhaps you’re interested, but on the fence? How about a special discount for jkOnTheRun readers!Yup, the kind folks at Skooba Design are offering up a 25% discount on any order of $50 or more plus free UPS Ground shipping! Just hit the Skooba Design site, pick you bag(s) and then enter TECHREADER as a coupon code for the discount. Hey, this applies to already discounted items too, so perhaps you can turn an already good deal into a great deal. You’ve got until the end of February to take advantage of this special offer, so if there IS a new Mac notebook announcement later today, you might find a Skooba Design product to fit it by then. There’s an abundance of choices, ranging from backpacks, skins, satchels and more!