7 ways the military is embracing cleantech

The U.S. military has stepped up efforts to invest and use more cleantech at its bases and battlefields, including renewable electricity, energy storage and a host of energy efficiency technologies. Here is a list of plans and projects underway.

Backyard Batteries Test Price Points, Biz Models

Backyard batteries could help stabilize neighborhood grids and give residents the juice to ride through blackouts and peak power spikes. But with batteries so expensive nowadays, how can utilities justify the expense?

AEP: Deploying the Future of Backyard Batteries

Backyard batteries that back up nearby homes and businesses as well as the neighborhood grid could provide a lot of value to utilities and their customers, but they come at a high price. Utility AEP’s “community energy storage” (CES) pilot project should help see how the concept pencils out in the real world.

International Battery Bags $35M, Big Year Ahead

International Battery, a startup that just raised $35 million in third-round financing, is taking the Field of Dreams approach that so many energy storage startups are eying these days: If you raise funds and build a factory, the customers will come.

Kindle Storms the BlackBerry

Amazon has followed through on its promise to bring the Kindle reader app to the BlackBerry. The app works much like the iPhone version, with support for online e-book purchasing. Whispersync technology keeps the BlackBerry content in sync across multiple Kindle devices.

International Battery: Will $100M Fuel Car-Maker Deals?

Startups looking to sell the next generation of batteries for our electric and hybrid vehicles will have to grow big fast to grab lucrative deals with the automakers. While A123 Systems is preparing an IPO to bring in funds for growth, a startup called International Battery, which develops lithium ion batteries and power management systems for electric and hybrid vehicles, says it is looking to raise a massive $100 million in early 2009 to fuel an aggressive expansion.

John Kaufman, CEO of the four-year-old company, presented International Battery’s goals at the Dow Jones Environmental Capital Conference this week. Kaufman said $100 million in funding would help the company expand manufacturing 300 percent and ramp up its product sales. The company is already in the process of expanding, and earlier this month, the startup officially opened a plant in New Jersey. The company currently has 50 employees, but it plans to expand to 250 within several years.

International Battery actually got its start building battery technology for military applications and more recently moved into developing batteries for consumer and fleet electric and hybrid vehicles. Pesky oil-inspired wars aside, the military has been a prominent customer and investor in cleantech — particularly when it comes to buying battery technology for soldiers and vehicles.

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Gears are turning for offline Google Docs editing

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It’s almost sad that Zoho is using Google’s own Gears service to allow for offline document editing, but I expect that will change soon. Google Blogoscoped stumbled on to an experimental Google Docs page where Gears appears to be semi-implemented. It’s definitely a work-in-progress at this point and there’s no indication of when such an offline synchronization function would go public, but clearly Google has recognized the need for document editing while disconnected from the cloud.I’ve used Google Docs for my last two published articles, which worked very well, but I’d like the ability to cut the cord with and work offline as needed through Google Gears.

Living One Mac Generation Behind

When entering college in 1995, I purchased my first computer that was all mine – a Performa 631CD, with screaming 33 MHz performance and a 68040LC processor. Sporting 8 MB of RAM and 500 MB of hard drive space, I was good to go. But unsurprisingly, I was immediately lapped, not just by the next Mac upgrades, but by an entire processor family, as Apple moved from 68k Macs to PowerPC. In short time, I found many titles were written for PowerPC processors only, and my Mac was too out of date to participate.

More than a decade later, my go-to Mac is a PowerBook G4. Though the specs are much stronger than my first Macs, and the machine is tremendous, I’m seeing a similar gap between where I am and where the leading Mac developers are focused – as they code for Intel-based Macs, and some applications run only on Intel Macs, leveraging the power of Apple’s new chip partner.

Some of the most prominent Intel-only Mac developers are extremely visible, especially on the Web, including the Internet video playback software, Joost, and VMWare’s Fusion, a product so cool from a simple geek factor, that it has me trying to find reasons to upgrade.

Apple has made some big leaps of faith in recent years, from 68k to PowerPC, from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X, and from PowerPC to Intel. But those of us who bought late are quickly antiquated, despite using machines that work great. Should I be taking my PowerBook to eBay and making an upgrade? What else am I missing out on by not yet making the switch to Intel?

Spike SpikeSource

Web 2.0 is over! Good, I can go back to my early morning, caffeine fueled ranting. Today’s rant-a-special: you guessed it, SpikeSource. The blogsphere is fawning over Kim Polese and her marginal start-up, Spike Source. The company which made its debut at Web 2.0 for purely publicity purposes is nothing to really write home about. Compare to posts devoted to Spike Source, and Source Labs, another company which does precisely the same thing. Kim’s preaching to the audience said a lot of things, which are not new, and well basically don’t tell me a lick about this company’s business model. I have a few things I want to bring to your attention: there is no company in the open source space that is making a ton of money to justify VC dollars (at least if you use the illogical rules VCs use). Red Hat is a bit of a sink hole even now. Testing etc is good idea, but a business to justify KP dollars, I don’t think so. And as for Kim, well if you remember Marimba – good idea, over hyped and in the end a bit of a day old Coke can. Spike Source, ditto! Here is a software guy’s take on all this hoopla. Read this and see why this is not such a great idea after all!

Note: Agree with Fred on giving Microsoft the shaft. Not because it is not a great cash machine anymore… which it is… but because it doesn’t have the attention of the developers as it used to have.