Greg Hullender writes: "Indian utilities plan to use 23,000 acres of land to build the largest solar power plant in the world, at 4 gigawatts of power, bringing prices and production of solar energy closer to competitiveness with coal."
This would be a solar plant on the scale of a nuclear power plant. First phase (1GW) by 2016, selling the power for ~9-cents-US/KWH. No indication of any technical breakthrough; the plan appears to be simply to benefit from economy of scale. That and the fact that coal is rather expensive in India.
Greg Hullender writes: "Former weatherman Anthony Watt, who runs the major climate-change-denial website "Watt's Up With That," today posted a press release announcing he and associates have found a major problem in the NOAA temperature records over the 1979 to 2009 period. He claims that 70% of NOAA thermometers are poorly placed, causing them to report higher temperatures than they ought to, and, further, that NOAA's attempts to correct for this have actually increased the error. Watt argues that this data series has been important to so many analyses that this discovery invalidates most of the climate science done in recent years. Previous work by Richard Muller (http://berkeleyearth.org/pdf/station-quality-may-20.pdf) showed no significant difference in mean temperatures at urban vs. rural stations, but Watt uses a new methodology for separating "good" from "bad" stations and claims a factor-of-two difference in the change over time."
Greg Hullender writes: Former MS VP Dick Brass (full disclosure: he was my boss for a while) writes in today's NY Times that Microsoft has lost its edge due to a combination of internal politics and lack of vision. He describes how ClearType took ten years to get into MS products because some groups simply didn't want change at all while at least one group would only accept it if the whole ClearType team was transfered to them. He describes some of the troubles of Tablet PC, in particular the Office team's fierce resistance to it. (To this day, it's hard to use Office on a Tablet PC.)
I note that he omits at least one problem that he himself caused; one of the biggest headaches with Tablet PC was simply logging into it. Trying to use handwriting recognition to input a password was nearly impossible. The most natural solution would have been signature verification, but one of the key members of Dick's staff was determined to use fingerprint recognition instead, and successfully blocked any attempt to even evaluate signature verification. As is often the case at MS these days (meaning, the last ten years), no amount of rational argument had any impact on this person, nor could upper management be bothered to take a position. Ultimately, nothing at all was done, and that pattern repeats all across the company. Dick definitely got that part right