MTI’s Fuel Cell Dreams are Running on Empty

Mechanical Technology, Inc. (s MKTY), the Albany, N.Y.,-based parent of fuel-cell developer MTI Micro, said late Monday it’s voluntarily delisting its shares from Nasdaq. In a statement, MTI said its low share price (95 cents at Monday’s close) and the zombie-like trading activity – 21,000 shares a day on average over the last year, or less than a half a percent of its outstanding shares) just weren’t worth the expense and glamor of a Nasdaq listing.
Of course, it also didn’t help that, just last Tuesday, MTI received a letter from Nasdaq warning of an impending and involuntary delisting. So MTI is quitting Nasdaq just in time to avoid getting kicked off (the company said it was thinking of delisting even before Nasdaq’s warning).
Nasdaq pretty much bends over backwards to make it easy for companies to stay on the exchange. Once a stock is listed, it needs to meet at least one of three criteria: Net income from continuing operations of $500,000 in the last fiscal year, $35 million in market value of listed shares, or $2.5 million in stockholders’ equity. MTI had a net loss of at least $9.6 million for the past three years, a recent market cap below $5 million and, as of December 2008, $1.5 million in stockholder’s equity.
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MTI Shows Off Fuel Cell With Removable Cartridge

mtifuelcartridgeFuel cell maker MTI Micro has a habit of making a lot of little announcements on its long march toward commercialization, which won’t happen til the end of 2009. The Albany, N.Y.-based company — a subsidiary of MTI (s MKTY) — says this morning it has reached another milestone: developing a prototype of a fuel cell charger that has a removable cartridge. That means the fuel cell can charge consumer electronics like cell phones and MP3 players for about 25 hours of use and when the fuel is all used up, the cartridge is removed and replaced with a new one; basically, this means the consumer doesn’t have to refill the cartridge manually.

On one hand, this is an achievement, making fuel cells easy to use for for consumers. Fuel cells have made very little headway into the consumer electronics market and making the product as easy to use as possible is necessary to spur adoption. As an MTI spokesperson explains to us, “MTI Micro strongly believes that asking consumers to fill up with methanol via a squirt bottle is simply too cumbersome and time consuming. By developing the cartridge, the user experience will be both more appealing from a convenience standpoint, and practical.”

MTI is probably spot-on in its assessment that the cartridge will likely be the more popular way to operate the fuel cell in the mobile world. These fuel cell chargers are targeting people who are on-the-go and would carry an extra cartridge in their bag as a backup — I couldn’t envision carrying my own supply of methanol that I would periodically inject into the device.

But on the other hand, removable fuel cell cartridges add more waste into the system than refilling cartridges. Disposing of a cartridge after 25 hours of use — which is charging a cell phone battery over 10 times, listening to 10,000 songs on an MP3 player or taking 6,000 pictures — can equal a significant amount of waste over a year. The cartridges are meant to be recycled, however, so there is an end-of-life plan.
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Don’t forget the HP Magic Giveaway!


We’ve been so very busy but it’s important to take time to remind you that various sites have contests underway for the HP Magic Giveaway.  Our contest will kick off on December 16 but right now you can enter the contests underway at these participating sites:

The Gadgeteer 02-Dec 08-Dec
Gotta Be Mobile
I Started Something
Down-to-Earth Mama 03-Dec 09-Dec
moosh in indy.
La Bitácora de Erwin Ried
Carlos Alberto
Geeks To Go! 04-Dec 10-Dec
One Day, One Job 05-Dec 11-Dec
Techie Diva 06-Dec 12-Dec
Techmamas 07-Dec 13-Dec
merlot mom
Noticias Tech

MTI’s Fuel Cell Chip Beefs Up & Slims Down

Fuel cells, whether they’re made for your car or your cell phone, always seem just around the corner, but MTI MicroFuel Cells [s MKTY] hopes to put full cells in your hand soon. The company announced today that it has improved the power performance of its Mobion chip by 25 percent and decreased its size by an equal measure compared to the previous iteration. This is the third generation of the Mobion chip, which debuted at the start of 2007, but a commercial version won’t been seen until at least 2009, when the company hopes to start selling its micro fuel cell to OEMs who could put them into devices ranging from GPS units to cell phones to MP3 players. Read More about MTI’s Fuel Cell Chip Beefs Up & Slims Down

MTI Shows Off Fuel Cell GPS

Fuel cell maker MTI Micro is showing off a prototype of a GPS system with an embedded fuel cell at a fuel cell conference in Atlanta this morning. The company, which is based in Albany, New York, says its fuel cell-connected GPS system can provide 60 hours of usage, which it says equals three times as much energy as GPS that are powered by four traditional AA batteries.

MTI CEO Peng Lim told us that the GPS is designed to be used by hiking enthusiasts and the mountaineering types that want “truly” mobile power for a long period of time. For now, MTI isn’t announcing manufacturing partners for such a device, how much the device would cost, or even when it could be available. Just that yes, the company has designed such a product.

Fuel cells have a reputation for being perpetually 12 months away from hitting the market, and MTI plans to start selling its first fuel-cell devices some time next year. But this week, methanol-based fuel cell makers (like MTI) got a boost when the U.S. Department of Transportation said passengers on flights could take methanol-based fuel cells onboard planes.

Call your carrier when you hear about service price drops


Just got a note from jkOTR reader Steve, who referred back to our post on T-Mobile’s lower unlimited data add-on service. Back in September, T-Mo dropped the price from $29.99 to $19.99 a month. That’s all well and good, but if you were expecting the carrier to automatically lower the price on your monthly bill, you’re likely expecting too much. Always, always, always call in to your carrier when you hear about price drops on your existing services. Steve finally did and he’s now saving the $10 a month. As he says: “I’m sure a price increase would be automatic.” and he’s 100% correct. Unfortunately, you could be flushing money down the drain if you don’t call to ensure the price adjustment if one is available. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to check what your carrier is offering in terms of plans and price on a fairly regular basis: these plans change all the time and you might score a change in your favor simply by watching for one and calling in.While we’re on the subject, don’t forget about the many ways you can score a discount on your cellular bill with a new contract.

MediaDefender Laid Bare, Leaks to Continue

Over the weekend a group calling themselves MediaDefender-Defender published nine months’ worth of internal e-mails, an audio file of a recorded phone call and server data from the internal network of anti-piracy company MediaDefender, whose bread and butter is populating file-sharing networks with spoof files — files with names of popular content but irrelevant data. It is working to leverage this technique as an advertising and branding effort for clients.
For those of you who aren’t following the cat-and-mouse game between the technologists in the employ of rightsholders and computer hackers, this is the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers and Nixon’s White House tapes rolled into one. Everything from the mundane reminders to clean moldy lunches from the shared company fridge to discussions of ‘renting’ IPs from adult web sites in order to circumvent PeerGuardian blacklists is discussed in the released e-mails. Among the server data that was released is a database from MediaDefender’s effort to compromise the Gnutella network behind such P2P services as LimeWire. The e-mails are dated as recently as Sept. 10th, and MediaDefender-Defender says it will continue to release internal information from the company.
TorrentFreak reported in July that MediaDefender’s Miivi site was a likely honeypot for entrapping the IP addresses of file sharers. Its allegations were denied by the company, which said the site was just an internal test accidentally made public. But TorrentFreak has combed through the leaked e-mails and found plenty of evidence that prove the official company statements were ‘spin,’ to put it diplomatically.
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Is World of Warcraft really the most popular MMO?

Probably not, as it turns out; certainly not in the Western hemisphere, anyway. Working with publicly-known figures, veteran MMO developer Raph Koster recently made this observation on his blog:

[I]t may be possible that World of Warcraft is actually sitting around #4 or #5 in the top MMOs in North America and Europe.

This is because while Blizzard claims 8.5 million subscribers (as of January 2007) only 3.5 million are based in the West. Let’s be generous and assume the game’s recent expansion pack boosted that to 4 million– even then, WoW would be trailing far behind the top Western MMO. [digg=]

So which virtual world rules this region? The name will surprise you – but here is a clue: it is based in Finland, and doesn’t involve bashing Orcs in the head.
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UNE-P’s first victim, ZTel

Supreme court decision that put the stake through the UNE-P, has all but taken toll on Z-Tel Technologies, a small CLEC based in Florida. The company announced that it is going to cut its head count by 150. The company has been delisted from the NASDAQ and only recently president and CEO Greg Smith and CTO Charles McDonough, quit Z-Tel to “form a new company based on an enhanced service platform that had been under development at Z-Tel’s Atlanta facility,” reports Light Reading. Z-Tel was the company that powered MCI’s local “Neighborhood” service and in the good times, the company had about 175,000 consumer and 45,000 businesses as its customers. The company is trying to transform itself from a phone company that leased lines from giants (under UNE-P model) to a facilities based IP provider. Z-Tel has just launched its VOIP service in Tampa, Fla., and Atlanta. New York, is next.