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Chrome for Mac Imminent, Why We Should Care

It has been a long time coming. Google’s (s goog) Chrome web browser has been available on Windows for over a year, while Mac users have been left with three options — take their chances with a nightly build of the open-source fork of Chrome (dubbed Chromium), use Google’s developer release, or wait for an official Google release.

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler reported yesterday that Chrome for Mac is just a handful of bugs away from a release — specifically, seven bugs, in case you’re counting. But in order to reach their end-of-year deadline for release, the code-jockeys at Google had to do a bit of a hatchet-job on the Mac version of their browser.

So far, Siegler says, all signs point to the exclusion of the Bookmark Manager, App Mode (which emulates the single-window web app functionality offered by Fluid), Task Manager, Gears, Sync for Mac (for syncing bookmarks across Macs), Multi-touch Gesture support, Full Screen Mode and Extensions. Read More about Chrome for Mac Imminent, Why We Should Care

Daily Sprout

BP Drops Jatropha: BP has “given up on jatropha, the shrub once touted as the great hope for biofuels, and walked away from its jatropha joint venture for less than $1 million.” — WSJ’s Environmental Capital

Palin Climate Smackdown, Round 2: After Sen. John Kerry lambasted Sarah Palin for ripping the climate bill now moving through Congress, Rep. Ed Markey joined the smackdown today, writing that Palin is ignoring the impact of global warming in her own state and blindly proposing more oil drilling. — Boston Globe’s Political Intelligence

Next Up: Sea, Clouds, Extreme Weather: Cloud formation, sea level rises and extreme weather events are among areas set to get more attention in the next UN report on climate change due in 2014. — Reuters

DOE Opens Spigot for Algae Fuels: The Department of Energy has released guidelines for $85 million in stimulus funds for the development of algae-based biofuels and advanced, cellulosic biofuels that will work with existing infrastructure. — Green Car Congress

Green Power Program Flops: Austin Energy, which runs the nation’s largest clean power program (customers can opt to power their homes and businesses with renewable energy), has seen enrollment fall far short of expectations as its wind power prices have soared. — Austin American-Statesman via NYT’s Green Inc.

Daily Sprout

Photos: Tesla Roadster Sport: If you want an electric sports car and the Tesla Roadster isn’t fast or expensive enough for you, here’s what an extra $20,000 can get you. — Jalopnik

Palin on Obama Energy Plan: Soon-to-be-ex governor of Alaska Sarah Palin says in an op-ed today that “President Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan..would inflict permanent damage.” — Washington Post via WSJ’s Environmental Capital

Divvying Up CO2 Reductions: A group of climate and energy scholars at Princeton say a post-2012 climate framework must acknowledge that the world’s population includes about 1 billion high emitters, and not all of them live in developed nations. — NYT’s Green Inc.

Diesels, Hybrids = Savings: “Even as automakers develop cars that run on something beyond gasoline, the argument continues over whether hybrids and alt-fuel vehicles save you money in the long run. A new study says they do – with a diesel leading the way.” — Wired’s Autopia

Enemy of My Enemy: “A curious thing happened at Tuesday’s morning meeting of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee when the panel’s infamous climate-change skeptic, James Inhofe (R-Okla.), cited NASA climatologist Jim Hansen in his screed against the House climate bill.” — Grist

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.

Daily Sprout

China Mulls Carbon Tax: Government researchers in China are expected to issue preliminary proposals for a carbon tax within a month. Yes, carbon tax. In china. — Reuters

Gov. Palin Rejects Stimulus Bucks for Energy: — Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has rejected stimulus funds for the state energy office out of concern that it would obligate Alaska to enact more stringent energy efficiency requirements for buildings. NYT’s Green Inc.

So That’s How He Does It: Better Place founder Shai Agassi “is the best salesman in the technology industry after Steve Jobs of Apple. Like the charismatic Mr. Jobs, he seems to possess a ‘reality-distortion field’ that enables him to convince listeners to believe whatever he says.” — The Economist

OriginOil’s Algae Scheme: Los Angeles-based OriginOil says it has developed a simpler, cheaper and more efficient way to extract oil from algae combining ultrasound and an electromagnetic pulse. — Technology Review

Shifting Energy Fortunes: Clipper Windpower chairman James Dehlsen’s effort to build a turbine company reflects the ups and downs of oil, the economy and enthusiasm for alternative energy. — Wall Street Journal

Daily Sprout

Planet-Cooling Plants: New research suggests planting crops that reflect more sunlight could deliver summertime cooling of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit across central North America and a wide band of Europe and Asia. — New York Times

Tesla Jacks Up Roadster Price: Tesla Motors has informed customers who pre-ordered Roadsters that they must pay for previously standard features and re-select options or else lose their slot in the much-delayed production line. — Autoblog

Financial Crisis Slows Energy Investment: From Bahrain to Ontario, companies are scaling back spending and delaying projects, with expensive ventures in the Canadian oil sands hardest hit. — Reuters

“Drill, Baby, Drill” No More: Governor Sarah Palin has unveiled a plan for Alaska to get half its electricity from renewables by 2025. — NYT’s Green Inc.

No PHEV Love from the Taxman: Although the government gives tax breaks for hybrids and alternative-fuel vehicles produced by major automakers, it doesn’t provide any relief to those who convert their existing cars to plug-ins. — Wired’s Autopia

New Year’s Resolutions For the Internet: Station Conversation

NTV StationAs 2008 comes to a close, Liz Shannon Miller and Jill Weinberger look forward to improving themselves and the Internet in the New Year. Find out their New Year’s resolutions and their recommendations for others in online video in today’s Station Conversation!

Liz: Happy New Year, Jill!

Jill: Happy New Year! You’re ready for all the revelry?

Liz: Yes! And I have a New Year’s resolution to kick things off: I resolve to give web series that are longer than five minutes more of a chance. I have long been a cranky lady about 10-minute episodes, but how much of that is due to my innate laziness is yet to be determined. So I’m going to learn to sit still for slightly longer. It’s a challenge, but one I’m up for. How about you?

Jill: I am going to work out and become a badass. And how is this relevant to online video, you ask? Because I am going to do so using the online videos of Ford Model Chris Comfort!

Liz: Wow, Chris Comfort got his start in 2007! Is he STILL making workout videos?

Jill: Yeah, well, everything old is new again. And why shouldn’t I have something pretty to look at while I work out? Look — abs. Read More about New Year’s Resolutions For the Internet: Station Conversation

Palin Says Obama Plans to “Bankrupt” Coal

On the eve of election day, the debate on clean coal vs. no coal has reared its head again, injecting back into the campaign anxiety over what a cap-and-trade program will mean for America’s huge coal industry. Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, campaigning along the Ohio-West Virginia border, today attacked Obama, claiming that the Democratic presidential candidate plans to bankrupt the coal industry. With coal-producing states like Pennsylvania, Virgina and Colorado being hotly contested in this election, such attacks carry extra weight.
Palin cites an audio clip, from an interview Obama did with the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this year, released promoted online Sunday. In the section she cites, Obama explains the impact his cap-and-trade carbon scheme will have on coal power: “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can,” Obama said. “It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” The Obama campaign responded, calling the quote “wildly edited.” That hasn’t stopped the RNC, which has reportedly already incorporated the sound byte into a new robocall.
Read More about Palin Says Obama Plans to “Bankrupt” Coal