Daily Sprout

Recession Presents Opportunities for Auto, Battery Makers: Battery company and aspiring electric car maker BYD Auto and Tata Motors, maker of the ultra-efficient Tata Nano, are part of a larger trend of cost-cutting companies in China and India that are finding opportunities to expand into foreign markets in the global recession. — The Economist

China’s Solar Roller Coaster: Most major Chinese suppliers of polysilicon feedstock and photovoltaic equipment in the solar industry have reported negative first-quarter earnings this month. But Chinese solar companies have been among the strongest performers in recent weeks, and they may end up acquiring less fortunate counterparts based in Europe. — Greenwire via NYT

Senate Republicans Heart Nuclear: Nuclear power proponents, including several Republican Senators, are ratcheting up their rhetoric and calling for a huge buildout of nuclear power plants. — WSJ’s Environmental Capital

How to Get Noticed by Quercus Trust: David Gelbaum’s Quercus Trust is famously stealthy. Want to get on the firm’s radar? Then publish a paper in a peer-reviewed journal, troll the 21Ventures web site and be a small, publicly traded company. — Greentech Media

Cool Options Pulled for UK Prius?: Just-announced prices for the upcoming third-generation hybrid are pretty much the same as the second-generation for the UK market, but possibly without some of the gadgets and features available in other markets. — AutoblogGreen

Recession Avoidance Tactics

“I’d rather keep working in the hope of getting paid than stop working and know I’m not going to get paid.” These words, from a friend of mine who’s not getting paid by the company she’s freelancing for — the only project she has right now — might shock you if you’re on a nice steady cashflow. But if your income isn’t so stable, you might be able to relate to her sense of desperation. Though I know no one’s immune from a recession, this conversation made me think about my own approach to the financial side of what I do. I started to think about what, if anything, I could do to try to cushion myself from the current (and future) economic turmoil…

Oh Canada! Canucks Watch a Ton of Online Video

Americans tend to glom onto certain Canadian stereotypes (Aboot! Free health care! Geddy Lee!) and beat them into the ground. Well now you can add “global leader in online video viewing” to that list of Canadian quirks. ComScore released new numbers today that showed 21 million Canadians watched 3.1 billion online videos in February, for an average of 10 hours each.
Here’s how the Great White North compared with the U.S. in February.

Stat Canada United States
Percent of Web Audience
Watching Online Video
88 75.5
Minutes of Online Video
Watched by Avg. Viewer
605 312
Videos per Viewer 147 90
Average Video Length (mins) 4.1 3.5

Of course, in terms of sheer size, the U.S. dominates, with 145 million unique viewers watching 13.1 billion videos in February. But pound for pound, that 88 percent figure represents the highest penetration among the five countries (Canada, U.S., UK, Germany, France) on which comScore Video Metrix reports. Take off, hoser! Online video in Canada is a beauty way to go! (OK, that was the last one.)

Thanks to our jkOnTheRun Sponsors!

We’d like to say thanks to this month’s jkOnTheRun sponsors.

  • WunderRadio: WunderRadio plays thousands of streaming Internet radio stations and other audio streams
  • Mozy: Backup your photos, music, and files with Mozy for as low as $4.34 per month.

LaidOffCamp: A User-Generated Conference for the Recession

laidoffcampThe very first LaidOffCamp — think BarCamp for those who have lost their jobs due to the recession — kicks off tomorrow, March 3, at 9 a.m. at Temple in San Francisco. It’s billed as “an ad-hoc gathering of unemployed and nontraditionally employed people (including freelancers, entrepreneurs and startups) who want to share ideas and learn from each other.” You don’t have to be unemployed to attend.

Over 20 discussion sessions are planned for the day on many topics that might be of interest to web workers, such as “Networking 101,” “Building Your Personal Brand” and “How to be a Freelance Consultant.” There should also be plenty of networking opportunities, including an after-party.

LaidOffCamp is being organized by recently laid off consultant Chris Hutchins. Tickets are free, although attendees are encouraged to make  a donation that suits their budget. LaidOffCamp is expecting between 300 and 500 people to attend; according to the event’s Facebook page, there are more than 280 confirmed attendees so far.

Further events are planned in Dallas, New York and Miami, with more cities in the pipeline.

Are you planning on attending LaidOffCamp?

Doing the Job With Obsolete Hardware in a Recession


While my new unibody MacBook is pretty state-of-the-art, and indeed the most contemporaneously avant garde computer I’ve ever owned, I’m still a fan of good older hardware and getting a lot of useful work out of my two nine-year-old Pismo PowerBooks.

The Pismo, for a variety of reasons, has proved an extraordinarily long-lived machine in terms of practical usefulness, thanks in no small part to its expandability, connectivity, and upgradability, representing what was arguably the all time high-water mark for those qualities in Mac laptops. It also has a really good keyboard, which makes it a continued tactile pleasure to work with.

Both of mine have been upgraded with G4 550 MHz processors, replacing the original 500 MHz G3s, and 8x dual-layer DVD-burning SuperDrives. The also have 576MB and 640 MB of RAM respectively (and would support up to 1 GB), larger capacity 40 GB and 100 GB hard drives, plus Wi-Fi and FireWire 800 PC Cardbus adapters. They’re running Mac OS X 10.4.11, which is as far as I intend to go with system software notwithstanding the potential for hacked Leopard installs. Pretty modest by today’s standards, but they’re lively enough as to not be at all frustrating for the sort of basic text and web-based stuff I do with them.
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Water Management Startup HydroPoint Seeks Cash

Water management company HydroPoint Data Systems is looking to raise between $4 million and $8 million, Chief Strategy Officer (updated: and former CEO) Chris Spain told us recently, and he expects the round to close in the second quarter. HydroPoint is open to adding new investors if it brings “real strategic” additional value, he added.

The Petaluma, Calif.-based company has raised $35.9 million from three earlier fundings, as well as an additional undisclosed sum from Citi’s Sustainable Development Investments in 2007. Other investors in those previous rounds include RockPort Capital Partners, Firelake Capital Management, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, Monitor Ventures, J.F. Shea Venture Capital, the venture capital arm of homebuilder Shea Homes, and The Toro Co., a landscaping firm.
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What If It’s Worse Than We Think?

[qi:115] When the financial crisis reached full bloom last fall, it took many technology companies some time before they were able to appreciate the impact it would have on them. This year, we’re seeing the fallout in the form big losses or shrunken profits, layoffs and other signs of retrenchment.

Alongside the pain, however, there’s a sense of optimism — that the worst is over and the tech industry just has to muddle through until the economy recovers. But the worst may not, in fact, be over; Financial Meltdown 2.0 might be lurking around the corner to deliver a second, possibly harsher blow. Read More about What If It’s Worse Than We Think?

Do You Do Web Work During Weekends?

I called one of my friends earlier this week and asked her if we could have lunch on Sunday. I was surprised that she said she couldn’t make it, since she had to work. “What kind of evil forces are making you do this?” I asked her. Then again, who was I kidding? I was planning to write a couple of blog posts on Sunday evening. Like my friend, I was going to work during the weekend.

As I reviewed my own work habits, as well as those of other web workers, it became evident that working during the weekends is becoming more common.
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