Google has long been an advocate of saving energy where possible, and now they’re bringing that same policy to their users with the recent introduction of the Google PowerMeter, a gadget that allows you to track your home’s power consumption.
The gadget will track your juice use by pulling information from your power company, just so long as it’s one of their partners. Their partners include: San Diego Gas & Electric (California), TXU Energy (Texas), JEA (Florida), Reliance Energy (India), Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (Wisconsin), White River Valley Electric Cooperative (Missouri), Toronto Hydro–Electric System Limited (Canada), and Glasgow EPB (Kentucky).
Currently the feature will only be handed out a small group of customers with each utility company, but this is purely for testing. They plan on making it more available once this process is taken care of.
If you’re interested in finding out more, be sure to check out the PowerMeter home page here.
Earlier this week Hitachi Ltd. and Hitachi Vehicle Energy Ltd. announced a new battery that they claim has the world’s highest power density.
The new lithium-ion battery has 4,500W/kg power density, a number that clocks in at about 1.7 times the output of their current batteries. The increase in power allows for smaller size, and is thanks to a new manganese cathode and a unique battery structure. The structure employs thinner electrodes, a new power collection method, and more effective configurations.
Hitachi plans to make this technology available for notebooks and cell phones once the automotive industries have had a chance with it, but there’s no official word as to when we could see this technology implemented on a grand scale.
It’s expected that Microsoft’s search engine rebrand will soon make its official debut.
The official announcement for Kumo is expected to come at the D: All Things Digital Conference next week, where CEO Steve Ballmer is currently scheduled to appear onstage.
With the rebranding Microsoft hopes to gain a new foothold in the search engine market that they currently only have an 8.2 percent market share in. They’ve got some pretty stiff competition as well, considering that Google’s search engine market share is a whopping 64.2 percent.
We like where this is going. NEC this week introduced the first USB 3.0 host controller chips for PCs and other digital gadgets, which should help accelerate the technology coming to market.
Checking in at 10X the speed of USB 2.0, NEC's µPD720200 chip ups the data transfer ante to 5Gpbs, while also maintaining full backward compatibility with previous generation USB protocols, NEC promises.
The USB Implementers Forum finalized the specifications for the USB 3.0 standard almost six months ago, which in addition to offering faster data transfer rates, will also provide more power output. That means you'll be able to recharge your MP3 player and other gizmos quicker than before.
Samples of NEC's chip will be available in June for $15 each, with production expect to hit one million units by September.
AMD already offers a handful of chips built on a 45nm manufacturing process, but if what motherboard makers are telling news and rumor site DigiTimes turns out to be true, the No. 2 chip maker will fully embrace 45nm for its desktop parts next quarter. These include dual-core Phenom II X2 500 series and Athlon II X2 200 series in June, followed by quad-core Athlon II X4 600 series and triple-core Athlon II X3 400 series in September.
In addition, AMD has a few new CPUs on tap for an end of Q2 / beginning of Q3 release. DigiTimes says we'll see the Phenom X2 550 and 545 both launch by the end of the second quarter, and the quad-core Phenom II X4 945 (95W) and 8xx (95W), triple-core Phenom II X3 7xx (95W), quad-core Athlon II X4 630 and 620, triple-core Athlon II X3 435 and 425, and dual-core Ahtlon II X2 250, 245, and 240 all in the third quarter. This in addition to 10 low-power CPUs.
Mozilla announced it will start giving away Jetpacks to users, but you can't use them to fly around your neighborhood or to stir up general mayhem. So what exactly can you do with it?
Oh. Well that's cool too, we suppose. Apparently, Jetpack will be the tool for building the next generation of add-ons, and according to Mozilla, they can be written "in under a dozen lines of code." But it's not just developers who should be excited.
"More importantly, from a user-perspective, Jetpack will allow new features to be added to the browser without a restart co compatibility issues, resulting in little to no disruption to the online experience," Mozilla added.
Brian Toder, former defense lawyer for Jammie Thomas, dropped a bombshell earlier this week when he asked to be removed from the case. He did so saying he was owed nearly $130,000 "that will never be recovered, coupled with the likelihood that a similar, additional amount will be incurred if ordered to continue representation of defendant."
Stepping in to take Toder's place is a trio of former Harvard University classmates who feel confident they can take on, and defeat, the RIAA.
"We are going a for a jury verdict of zero," said Kiwi Camara, one the three Texas lawyers who replaced Brian Toder on Wednesday. "We are going to convince a jury that the RIAA should not bring these cases."
Doing so will be anything but easy. With a retrial scheduled to begin in just three weeks on June 15, the trio said they will not seek a delay, and instead plan to attack the RIAA's litigation strategy, Wired reports.
"We think the jury is going to reject this strategy," Camara said. "The RIAA strategy here is not to try any of these cases."
Brian Toder wished Thomas well in her ongoing fight.
As if Geek Squad, the PC repair portion of mega electronics chain Best Buy, needed any more damage to its geek cred, it went and got punked by a local Oregon Fox News team. But what's most surprising is how easily the undercover news team did it.
Taking a problem-free PC, the investigators pulled the IDE cable out of the hard drive and told local PC repair shops in the Portland-Metro area that the system wouldn't boot. This included a pair of Geek Squad locations, the first of which identified the problem and fixed it free of charge. Kudos then, right?
Wrong. The second Geek Squad location charged $70 off the bat for a diagnosis, which isn't particularly egregious. But after two days of waiting, a tech called back to inform the undercover team that their hard drive was broken. If that weren't bad enough, the tech claimed it would cost up to $580 to fix the problem! That's not all. Geek Squad said it found a virus and suggested that the 'owner' buy a new PC instead of having the 'broken' one repaired.
"We take any misdiagnosis very seriously, and I personally feel horrible that we missed this opportunity to be consistently accurate," Steve Carter, Geek Squad District Manager, wrote in a statement. "I'm working closes with my Geek Squad agents going forward to ensure that the highest level service is maintained consistently for our customers in Portland."
The Tripticon laser mouse isn't nearly as awesome as the Ravage USB flash drive, nor does it look particularly ergonomic. And at only 800 dpi, there's not much more here than meets the eye. But it is another Decepticon peripheral for your PC, which makes us wonder where the Autobots have been hiding (here's one!)
At last count, BigBadToyStore.com was offering almost half a dozen Transformer peripherals, the coolest of which just might be the Blaster USB hub (hey, another Autobot!).
Catch the full lineup here, then hit the jump and tell us which one is your favorite.
First thing’s first: Team Fortress 2’s Sniper vs. Spy update is live. Hunting bows, new levels, and mother-themed pistols can all be yours after a bit of unlocking. And speaking of unlocking, Valve’s drastically decreased the amount of elbow grease needed to up your arsenal. That’s right – if achievements aren’t your cup of tea, you can now play the game normally and still have a shot at scoring some new gear.
"Items now drop randomly, in addition to the old (pre Spy/Sniper unlockables) achievement tied weapons," Valve’s Robin Walker told Shacknews. "We're going to release info on the new system on the blog tomorrow."
So then, about the whole urine thing. Valve recently blew the lid off the Sniper’s final item, and well, we sort of wish they hadn’t. See, it’s pee. Um, yeah.
You thought the hunting bow was old school? Now the Sniper can fling his bodily fluids about like some kind of primate. Just pop a jar of his patented “Jarate” on your foes and they’ll absorb 35% extra damage for a little while. Also, if you live by the Laws of the Wild, they’ll forever be marked as your territory. Your damp, odorous territory.
Better still, fire doesn’t stand a chance against Jarate. And for your buddies who don’t stand a chance against fire, well, being covered in the Sniper’s yellow stuff is definitely the lesser of two evils.
So, what are you waiting for? The update’s completely free, and – until Monday – the game is too. Or, if you’re ready to commit, Valve’s knocked 50% off its price. Try and then buy. Or don’t. You really can’t go wrong here.