You Say You Want a Cloud Revolution

structure_speaker_seriesTake yourself back for a moment to 1990, to the era of dueling operating systems: OS/2 and Windows. At the time, many people still used MS-DOS, and Windows was new (and klunky). Microsoft (s msft) had cooperated with IBM (s ibm) to create OS/2 to overcome the limitations of DOS by adding multitasking, protected mode, and enhanced video APIs. OS/2, they both trumpeted, was a revolutionary computing platform.

Oops. Guess what? Turns out no one wanted revolutionary. We all wanted those improvements, to be sure, but we wanted them delivered in a way that didn’t require redesigning and rewriting our applications, or limiting the devices we could use. Voila! Windows 3.0 brought us evolutionary OS advances, and we all know who won.

What does this have to do with cloud computing? Well, the same principle applies to cloud offerings today.  Read More about You Say You Want a Cloud Revolution

If Green Jobs Are So Hot, Where Are They?

In the economic downturn, “green jobs” has become one of the hottest political catchphrases. President Barack Obama has promised 5 million new green jobs as part of his energy and stimulus plans. Here in California, the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as the governor have made green jobs a priority. And states across the country, from Indiana to Washington, are considering bills to develop more green jobs.

This week as the sold-out Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference kicks off, and Congress sits down to vote on a new, pared-down stimulus package that includes billions for jobs in energy efficiency and clean power, “green jobs” are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. But the cleantech industry hasn’t proved to be recession-proof, and layoffs and hiring freezes are leading would-be green employees to question just how soon the jobs will arrive, and what kind of cleantech companies will be hiring. Here’s what we see:
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Certified Refurbished Macs One Way to Help Weather the Economic Storm

icon-mac

Apple (s aapl) is taking a lot of stick (even more than usual) about hanging tough with premium pricing despite the global financial meltdown, and it almost never offers discounts or sales. So how can budget-constrained Macheads economize on system upgrades? One solution is to buy a less-expensive model than the one you would have perhaps preferred. Another is get an Apple Certified Refurbished machine instead of going new.

If you’re not familiar with Apple Certified Refurbished (ACR) products, here are the broad strokes: ACR units are pre-owned (or in some instances, such as store demos, never-sold) Apple products that undergo Apple’s stringent refurbishment process prior to being offered for sale. Most of these units have been returned under Apple’s Return and Refund Policies, but according to Apple, only some of them are returned due to technical issues. In any event, all ACR units undergo Apple’s quality refurbishment process.

  • Full functionality testing (including burn-in testing).
  • Refurbishing with replacement parts and components for any defective modules identified in testing.
  • Thoroughly cleaned and inspected.
  • Complete repackaging by Apple, including appropriate manuals, cables, etc. (albeit in a brown cardboard carton rather than one with full color lithographs on the box)
  • Operating software that originally shipped with the unit and any custom software offered with that system.
  • A new refurbished part number and serial number.
  • A final QA inspection.
  • Quality testing follows the same basic technical guidelines as Apple’s Finished Goods testing procedures.

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Schwarzenegger Proposes Consolidated Cali DOE

Take the nine California entities that deal with energy — including public utility regulators, power grid operators and the state’s energy planning agency — and roll them into one streamlined Department of Energy helmed by a cabinet-level secretary. That’s what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed as one of 18 cost-cutting strategies meant to help close the state’s $42 billion deficit.

The plan revealed today would eliminate the California Energy Commission, which funds energy R&D and sets efficiency standards, among other things. The Energy Commission’s authority to approve sites for 50-megawatt-plus thermal power plants and set efficiency standards would transfer to the new CDOE. So too would the Public Utility Commission’s charge to site renewable energy projects and transmission infrastructure. While consolidation might streamline the permitting process over the long term, approval of Schwarzenegger’s proposal could mean upheaval in the state’s oversight structure — contributing to a backlog of clean energy projects.

The governor’s office said in an announcement today the following agencies would be affected:

  • California Energy Commission
  • California Power Authority
  • Electricity Oversight Board
  • California Energy Resources Scheduling Division (CERS)
  • Department of General Services
  • Office of Planning and Research
  • Office of the State Architect
  • Public Utilities Commission
  • California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO)
  • Fast Lane Daily Racks Up Serious Mileage With 500+ Episodes

    [show=fastlanedaily]There are those who assume that the automobile — at least when working properly — is merely a utilitarian machine that facilitates transportation from Point A to Point B. For this particular demographic, the mere existence of a daily web show devoted to everything cool on wheels might be baffling. What could there possibly be to talk about on an ongoing basis? Sure, some cars look nicer and go faster than others, but besides that…?

    And then there are those who believe with every fiber of their being that the greatest invention since the wheel was the invention of “wheels,” plural — also referred to as a “sweet ride” or “the sh**” if the machine in question is of a particularly high caliber. It is, of course, this audience that Fast Lane Daily seeks to serve with a five-times-a-week dose of the most up-to-the-minute news pertaining to cars and motorcycles, and the people who love them. Really, really, really love them. Read More about Fast Lane Daily Racks Up Serious Mileage With 500+ Episodes

    California’s Largest Solar Roof To Power Up

    UPDATED: Southern California Edison is set to hit a milestone today in its plans to install two square miles of solar panels in California — the completion of the largest rooftop solar installation in the state. Details on the size of the installation have not yet been released, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to hold a news conference this morning. Update: The warehouse roof is 600,000 square-feet and the solar project is using 33,700 thin-film solar panels from First Solar that can produce enough power for 1,300 Inland Empire homes.
    panels5
    Southern California Edison, part of Edison International (s EIX), originally announced its rooftop solar initiative in March, saying it would install 250 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic power covering more than two square miles of Southern California’s commercial building rooftops. At the time, the project was expected to cost $875 million and produce enough power for 162,000 homes.
    Today’s milestone follows some not-so-great news out of North Carolina in October, where a similar rooftop solar program was cut in half by Duke Energy (s DUK) after that company was criticized by the state’s utility commission over issues of cost recovery. Duke now plans to spend $50 million to install 10 MW of solar panels in North Carolina, down from its original $100 million initiative. Read More about California’s Largest Solar Roof To Power Up

    Western Governors to Obama: Invest Billions in Clean Energy

    “When I am president,” President-elect Barack Obama said in a videogram sent to a participants of a climate change summit organized by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week, “any governor who is willing to promote clean energy will have an ally in the White House.” And it was just one of several pledges he made. Governors from Western states have now issued a four-page letter to Obama calling for long-term commitment to clean energy in the U.S. While it is not a direct reply to Obama’s video (drafts have been in the works since June, according to Western Governors’ Association spokesperson Karen Deike), the letter amounts to a collective “Yes We’re Willing” from the states’ leadership.
    Sent last week, this message came as global leaders made final preparations for another set of climate change talks, known as COP-14, that kicked off today in Poland. As the first international conference on the issue since the election, COP-14 represents a re-entry for the U.S. into global climate change talks largely neglected since the country walked away from the Kyoto Protocol.
    Signed by leaders of the Western Governors’ Association, which represents governors from 19 states (including Alaska, of “Drill Baby Drill” fame), plus Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands, the letter includes calls for tens of billions of dollars in annual investment in clean energy and vehicle technologies, assistance for industries transitioning to renewable fuels and more efficient technologies, and rewards for utilities that reduce customers’ energy usage. Read More about Western Governors to Obama: Invest Billions in Clean Energy

    Can Obama Fight Climate Change and a Recession?

    President-Elect Barack Obama reaffirmed his commitment to addressing climate change this week, asserting that “few challenges facing America – and the world – are more urgent.” But the speech was notable for skirting that other urgent challenge facing the world: its tanking economy.

    Solar Power: Schwarzenegger, Sharp and Solar Industry Buzz Words

    There could have been a drinking game for the opening night of the Solar Power International convention: Take a shot when you hear “credit crunch” or “tax credits.” The current financial turmoil and the renewal of the tax credits for solar permeated both media events — California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speech and solar maker Sharp’s press conference — and could be heard throughout private conversation at the reception. The themes will likely linger all week.
    Schwarzengger said he was very happy that Congress finally got its act together and renewed the tax credits. He also emphasized his confidence that “solar is everywhere. It is the future,” despite the recent economic situation. Like Schwarzenegger’s recent speech at the Applied Materials solar parking lot, the governor highlighted the green job boom in the state and California’s leading share of cleantech investments.
    At Sharp’s press conference, Ron Kenedi, VP of Sharp’s solar energy solutions group, admitted that “credit is tight,” but despite that the company announced that it will be selling its next-gen thin-film solar in the U.S. “in the near future.” Sharp’s commitment to thin-film solar production is very aggressive — the company plans to increase production to 6 gigawatts of capacity over the next few years and this month will start volume production of its next-gen thin-film solar at its Katsuragi Plant, bringing Sharp’s current production capacity to 160 megawatts per year.