Tim O’Reilly: Why I’m fighting SOPA

The proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has drawn the ire of many tech industry leaders for its potential to squash innovation. GigaOM talked to O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilly about why SOPA is wrong and what the tech industry can do to stop it.

U.S. Smart Grid Players Drop In On Copenhagen

On the final morning of the Copenhagen climate talks, as world leaders have but a few hours left to reach some kind of agreement, the smart grid will get a bit of attention. Chris King, the Chief Regulatory Officer of smart meter software company eMeter, plans to speak to about 20 U.S. Congressional delegates that have arrived in Copenhagen in recent days, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Harry Waxman, and Congressman Edward Markey. The subject: how the U.S. stimulus is boosting the smart grid market and creating U.S. jobs, and how more needs to be done so that countries like China won’t be able to wrestle away a lead in the smart grid market.

King, who arrived in Copenhagen on Thursday night, told me in a phone interview that he will be explaining to the delegates the size of the global smart grid market, which he says is estimated to be worth $500 billion by 2020, and the potential for the U.S. to add 300,000 jobs in the smart grid industry. “Green jobs” should perk up the ears of the Congressional delegates — as Pelosi said during a press conference at the summit on Thursday, “We come here about one word: It’s about jobs. It’s about jobs that are sustainable for the future. New jobs, new technology, new green jobs for a green revolution.”
Read More about U.S. Smart Grid Players Drop In On Copenhagen

Today in Cleantech

Let’s see. Is there any big news today? Oh, right: the climate bill is set for a House vote today. The vote is widely expected to be close, though many (including Grist’s Kate Sheppard, who has done an excellent job of covering the bill’s progress to date) expect that the bill will pass under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s guidance. You can watch the proceedings happening on CSPAN and track some happenings on Twitter; good searches include #climatebill and #ACES.

3 Clever Little Mac Apps for Web Workers

Sometimes doing things via web apps is great. Everything is in one place: your browser. Even so, sometimes having everything in one place isn’t ideal. A browser crash could kill all of your work, not just one component, and it can be harder to keep your focus appropriately segmented if your tools are all mashed together. Here are a few great Mac (s aapl) applications that give you access to your web apps, but do so in nice, native software packages.

Picture 5Propane

It’s a fine way to power a BBQ, but it’s also more than that. Propane is a new piece of beta software that does what I previously did using a Fluid browser instance. Specifically, it runs Campfire-based chatrooms, which are a popular tool for people who need to collaborate in real-time with a distributed team. I use Campfire rooms to coordinate with other writers at various blog sites where time and scheduling is a primary concern, but that’s just one possible use.

Like with a Fluid instance, Propane provides Campfire with the bare minimum of browser chrome, so that it does in fact look like a native OS X app. It also provides some nice bells and whistles that allow you to customize the how and why of notification sounds and messages, including Growl notifications. There’s also great tools for better file sharing, including automatic source detection when you drag content (text and images) from a Safari window into your active chatroom in Propane.

Picture 1Mailplane

I’m not actively trying to rhyme these app names, it’s just working out that way. Gmail (s goog) is great, and Mail.app is nice enough, but I’d rather not use the two together if possible. I love Gmail’s web interface, but I’m not crazy about trying to manage my email activities in a browser window. Maybe that makes me old school, but I grew up on Outlook (s msft), and old habits die hard.

Mailplane delivers all the Gmail interface goodness with a nice, native app wrapper. Basically it, like Propane, is just a browser instance with some additional features specific to the web app in question that makes it easier to use. It’s those features that make the app worthwhile, though. Mailplane takes advantage of Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts to allow you to view and create new messages, reply, attach media, and more using convenient buttons located along the top of the app window. It also badges the app icon in your dock with the number of unread emails, and can notify you of new mail using sound and Growl.

Those with Google Apps and multiple accounts are also in luck, because it supports easy account switching and storage. There’s also an option to display an icon in the menu bar, including new mail count. You can try it out for free for a month, but it is a paid program, and will set you back $24.95 if you do decide to purchase.

Picture 7Gdocsuploader

This is less an app and more of a handy little applet, but the single, focused service it provides is incredibly useful: a simple drag-and-drop interface for uploading documents to Google Docs. It may not seem like much, but it saves a lot of steps vs. the traditional method, which can quickly add up if you do most of your document editing in Google Docs, like I do.

All you have to do to use it is keep the app icon in your dock, and then drag any document onto the icon to upload it. It’ll prompt you once for your Google name and password, and afterward it’ll just work. If you prefer, opening the app will automatically take you to a file browser for selecting a file to upload manually.

None of the above apps does anything that you can’t do using the web, but they do offer time-saving and usability enhancements that you won’t necessarily get using only the corresponding app for each in a normal browser window. Just because web apps are often convenient and user-friendly doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be more so with a more solid connection to your desktop.

Have any tips on how to make web apps more native? Share them in the comments.

Nancy Pelosi to Turn On Solar-Powered Radio Station

UPDATED: Politicians are lining up to appear alongside renewable energy projects these days — yesterday it was Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, and earlier this month it was California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This morning it’s Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who plans to officially turn on three solar arrays created by solar startup SolFocus that will partly power the transmission tower for local radio station KGO Radio in San Francisco.
Update: Pelosi flipped on the switch at the radio station a little after 10:30 and declared solar “the future.” Here’s our photo of the events in the radio studio; the bright lights in the second photo lit up after she turned the solar system on.

KGO says it will be the first major broadcast media outlet in California to reach its listeners by solar power. The festivities will happen on the Ronn Owens show at 10:30 this morning in San Francisco, where Pelosi will turn on the system. The arrays are actually at KGO’s Fremont transmitter site, but a video will be streamed live for the studio audience in San Francisco.
Read More about Nancy Pelosi to Turn On Solar-Powered Radio Station

Democrat’s Energy Bill: Offshore Drilling for Clean Power

The Democratic leadership unveiled its energy package yesterday with the no-nonsense title the “Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act.” But the emerging bill was a swap meet-style process, bundling plans to open up huge chunks of the Atlantic seaboard to offshore drilling with a number of incentives for renewable energy. The bill is scheduled for consideration next week, giving the House an opportunity to vote on offshore drilling, which Republicans and the President have been calling for all summer.

There’s three possible big gains for cleantech: 1) Yet another attempt to extend the renewable energy tax credits, which help solar and wind energy development, 2) the creation of a federal renewable portfolio standard that would mandate all utilities generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, and 3) the creation of a Strategic Renewable Energy Reserve to invest in and offer incentives for plug-in hybrid cars, as well as energy-efficient homes, buildings and appliances.

Paying for all this, however, has always been the sticking point. Democrats propose repealing tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and revamping the royalty system, forcing oil companies to pay for their existing leases. Democrats got some ammo on this front this week when reports came out that the Mineral Management Service, the agency in charge of collecting these royalties from the oil companies, was rife with corruption.
Read More about Democrat’s Energy Bill: Offshore Drilling for Clean Power

Happy Birthday to Us. Thanks All, for Everything

Structure 08 is over and folks are already asking us about Structure 09. I’m happy to report that our first official GigaOM conference not only sold out but got a big thumbs-up from attendees. I want to thank a lot of people for making this event a success: The speakers; the sponsors; the attendees; the fine folks at Marketing Alchemist (especially Erin and Stacey); Alistair Croll, our magnificent MC; and of course, the GigaTeam. In particular a big shout out to Surj Patel, Joey Wan, Chancey, Mike & Nick! They worked extremely hard to make my dream into an idea, and then a reality. Here is a list of our live blogging from today.

I have some other good news. We are two years old today (though I got outed by Valleywag a bit earlier than June 25) — so below is a little video that shows how we were then and and how we are now. The lessons I’ve earned in these first two years will turn into a really long post someday.

I am planning to take some time off tomorrow, so no posting! Good night all!