Is Twitter Replacing the RSS Reader?

rssLast Friday, I was attending Portland’s weekly Beer and Blog event, and I stumbled across what later turned out to be an interesting trend. I had two separate, unrelated conversations about an hour apart with people working in the technology industry who once used RSS readers but had mostly abandoned them in favor of using Twitter to find news and interesting blog posts. I talked to a couple of other friends and posted the question on Twitter, which confirmed that many people are using Twitter as an RSS reader replacement. Read More about Is Twitter Replacing the RSS Reader?

Daily Sprout

Cap and Trade’s Biggest Losers: A new report by energy consultants Wood Mackenzie finds “cap-and-trade legislation will cost U.S. refiners about $100 billion a year by 2015 and put them at a competitive disadvantage to refiners in Europe.” — WSJ’s Environemental Capital

Bright Automotive Bags $1.4M Army Demo Deal: Anderson, Ind.-based Bright Automotive said today the U.S. Army plans to test the startup’s plug-in hybrid vehicle tech in non-combat situations as part of a $1.4 million demonstration project.

New World for Cleantech: “The race to cash in on the environmental technology wave just got a little more crowded on Monday with the founding of the New World Capital Group, a private equity firm focused on investing in companies in the nascent ‘green tech’ sector.” — NYT’s DealBook

Public Financing as Stimulus for Private Investment: A new report out today from the United Nations’ Environment Program suggests several public finance mechanisms to “help stimulate private investment in climate change solutions in developing countries.” — Reuters

What to Expect this Week from the Senate: The Senate is digging into debates over the climate bill this week. Here’s what to expect — WSJ.

Fisher Coachworks Raises Cash for Lightweight Hybrid Buses

It’s not just cars that are getting a cleantech makeover in Michigan; buses are getting a shot at cleaning up, too. Troy, Mich.-based Fisher Coachworks has raised $3.2 million for its new lightweight plug-in hybrid buses, according to a regulatory filing found by peHub.

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Hybrid buses are becoming a common sight in bus fleets around the world, but Fisher is developing a bus using lightweight stainless steel that it says is half the weight and gets at least twice the fuel efficiency of current hybrid models. The investors in the company were not disclosed, and the regulatory filing says the cash is part of a larger round of funding, expected to pull in a total of $4.25 million for Fisher.

That cash could come in handy, as the company is planning to invest $7 million to set up a factory in Livonia, Mich., to produce the new buses, creating 539 new jobs.

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Plug-In Car Conversion Startups Brace for New Rules

PHEV conversion companies — part of the nascent aftermarket industry that takes hybrid vehicles and turns them into plug-ins — may soon be required to run emissions tests and offer warranties competitive with big automakers in California. The state Air Resources Board, or ARB, will issue new rules for hybrid and plug-in emissions testing and aftermarket parts certification later this week.

While new rules would be designed to regulate smog emissions, plug-in advocates worry that an emerging technology for limiting greenhouse gas emissions could be squelched in the process, as the East Bay Express reports. We’re not sure aftermarket conversions would disappear entirely, although a shakeout seems likely.

Smog tests could cost startups like EDrive Systems, OEMTek, and Plug-In Conversions Corp. — which we’ve written about before — $20,000 to $125,000, depending on the number of cars ARB requires them to run through the paces. (Startups would have to pay for testing of at least one, and possibly several converted vehicles to have their technology examined and approved by regulators.) The proposed warranty mandate would be for up to a decade or 150,000 miles. We’ll follow news from ARB throughout the week.

Trick Out Your Prius With GP Batteries

Why wait for a plug-in hybrid when you can roll your own? Soon there will be even more places to get your Prius converted into a plug-in hybrid, now that Hong Kong-based GP Batteries International has taken an undisclosed stake in Poway, Calif.’s Plug-In Conversions. GP’s California-based subsidiary Gold Peak Industries North America will work with Plug-In Conversions to expand its sales of plug-in Prius conversion kits worldwide.

The strategic partnership will also allow Plug-In Conversions to produce kits for hybrids from other car companies, including Ford Motor (s F) and General Motors (s GM). Plug-In Conversions previously used batteries from Sweden’s Nilar International.

Plug-In Conversions says it’ll start its expansion in the U.S., with plans to add up to 10 new installers in 2009. The startup’s kits, which replace the Prius’ 1.3-kilowatt hour nickel-metal-hydride battery packs with 6.1-kWh NiMH packs, sell for $12,500, including installation.
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Avoiding Conflicts Within a Teleworking Team

It’s hard work to set up and supervise a teleworking team for some projects.  In the web content service I run, I need to gather work-from-home writers together and help them work as a team.  This is especially important for projects that require group cooperation and interaction, such as an ebook or a multi-authored blog.

One of the advantages of teleworking is that there’s less opportunities for workplace gossip and personality clashes.  Most teams approach their communications very matter-of-factly.  But I find that this isn’t always the case, especially when members each have very different working styles.

When managing a team of very different people all over the globe, what can you do to keep the team, and the work, from imploding?

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Duke, Progress to Test Smart-Charging Electric Cars

Duke Energy Carolinas and Progress Energy, two major utilities in the Southeast, have partnered to test a fleet of smart-charging plug-in electric Priuses in what they say will be the country’s first interstate electric car-charging scheme involving multiple utilities.

Signals From the Near Future: The Mobile Guru Panel

GigaOM Mobilize conference -- futurists panel

GigaOM Mobilize conference -- futurists panel

Chetan Sharma of Chetan Sharma Consulting: Let’s talk about the user experience. What does it mean to you in a product that gives you that zen moment for user experience?

John SanGiovanni, Zumobi: We look at the user experience as built on the cognitive theories of flow. User experience means graphic design and usability testing. But design with a capital D is an elegant solution to a hard problem on the front end. So when building a usability experience team, rather than a hiring a UI team,  creata a team that thinks about putting a smile on the user’s face at the end of the day.

Chetan: Search is the starting point of navigation on the PC. How is it going to be on a mobile? Read More about Signals From the Near Future: The Mobile Guru Panel

Don’t Miss the NTV Pier Screenings in L.A.

After the sizzling turn out at the San Francisco Pier Screenings earlier this month, we are looking forward to the first-ever NewTeeVee Pier Screenings Los Angeles edition. Join us on August 28 at Catchlight Studios for a night of online video-watching on a big screen accompanied by popcorn, beer and good people. We also have a special perk. Etchstar will be providing on-site etchings for attendees’ cell phones. NewTeeVee Screening in L.A. next week. It will be a great opportunity to meet the GigaOM and NewTeeVee teams, as well as other folks from the L.A. tech community. If you haven’t grabbed your free ticket, you had better do it quick!

Plug It In, Plug It In, Say West Coast Utilities

Portland General Electric's PHEV charging station

West Coast utilities Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and Portland General Electric announced this week a few initiatives aimed at bringing electric vehicles closer to the road.

Portland General Electric said it will focus on building out infrastructure for the electric vehicles through a network of charging stations throughout its service territory. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi signed agreements with both Southern California Edison and PG&E to test a handful of its i MiEV electric cars over a three-year period. Mitsubishi says the partnership will allow it to test its battery technology; utilities will get a chance to test out how the vehicles can be used to smooth electrical demand on the power grid.
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