slashdotlurker writes: "During all the talk about the new energy revolution, and need for moving off our oil habit, one aspect of this problems tends to get forgotten — conservation. According to Department of Energy statistics, the US uses almost 22% of all the electricity produced on lighting on homes, commercial buildings, factories, etc. The basic cause of this is the widespread use of the incandescent bulb. Though their use has declined, the compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) they are replaced with, only increase the efficiency by about 5 times, while potentially causing serious health hazards with mercury used in CFLs.
Light emitting diodes have long been presented as an alternative. They are almost 10 times more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and have much longer lifetimes than CFLs. The best part is — they do not use mercury. The problem is cost. Since silicon cannot be used as an LED material, and gallium used in gallium arsenide and gallium nitride is a rare element, it has been impractical to use these inorganic materials in commercial lighting. White organic light emitting diodes (WOLEDs) have been presented as cheaper alternatives, but the method of depositing the materials is often expensive, and wastes a lot of material.
In a paper just published in Soft Matter (subscription required), a team of US scientists partnering with a Japanese company may have finally broken this barrier. They combined some hybrid organic and inorganic materials to create a hybrid macromolecule, mixed it with a polymer, and then printed it to create extremely bright light emitting diodes. They claim a value of 10,000 candelas per square meter. For comparison, a computer monitor puts out about 300.
This is one of the first times that such high brightness printed light emitting diodes have been reported, using a process that wastes almost no material at all. The kicker is that since this was printed, this can be done over very large areas (think walls).
Is practical, cheap, efficient solid state lighting finally here ? I am already imagining walls of bright light emitting material, with no ugly electrical fixtures sticking out at all."
After all this brouhaha about the obscene levels of executive compensation, indications are that no such restrictions will come into force. Setting aside the dubious morality of giving bonuses/retention incentives/pay raises/ to executives who have led their companies into disaster (in good old times, such characters used to either resign or get fired), this is just the latest example of how nothing really changes in Washington. According to this Washington Post report, "Provisions to impose a penalty on banks that paid hefty bonuses and to cap pay at $400,000 for all employees at firms applying for additional government funds did not survive the compromise, sources said.".
One then has to either question whether Sen. McCaskill's tirade, or Rep. Capuano's angry remarks are just posturing or, our so-called moderate lawmakers have been purchased, lock, stock and barrel by these very same CEOs. The cynic in me does not see a real choice between those two choices.
slashdotlurker writes: I am looking around for a new laptop. I want this one to be a tablet PC which I can use to annotate my papers with (using xournal). I do not want it to be heavy, though I would like it to be a convertible type tablet (basically you can fold it into a conventional laptop when you want, or close it with the touch screen protected). I prefer to run Kubuntu on everything I use, so the stylus+touchscreen has to work with Linux. Any suggestions from the gurus here ? Do they make tablets in the netbook category (think EEEpc) ? Lower price is obviously better for my budget (hard limit at $1,100).
slashdotlurker writes: Lenovo has announced that it is going to start offering Linux pre-installed on laptopshttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/69338 59.stm.
This makes Lenovo the second major vendor to start offering Linux on its machines. Details are still sketchy on this yet, but if this is more extensive than Lenovo's previous stance of offering Linux only on high end laptops well out of the reach of common users, it indicates a significant shift in the computer industry's evaluation of Linux. Unlike Dell, Lenovo did not do this out of a response to something like IdeaStorm. Which might suggest that Dell's Linux sales have been more than surprisingly good, and Lenovo might know something about those numbers that the rest of the market doesn't.
slashdotlurker writes: The Senate voted 64-35 Tuesday to jump-start a stalled immigration measure to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants. This was after the failure a few weeks ago of the bill. Hidden in the bill are certain startling provisions :
The EB-1 category, used to help people with extraordinary abilities in sciences, sports, etc. to become legal residents of the US, is being abolished . In its place is a new points system where foreigners of extraordinary abilities (like Nobel Laureates etc.) will be treated under the same rules as low skilled workers, say from Latin America.
Public opinion polls have consistently put support for this bill (and any immigration measure that is not preceded by credible enforcement of borders) to be below 25% (which is below the current level of support for the Iraq war). Yet, it seems well on its way to being passed.
The question is — is representative system of government totally dead ?
slashdotlurker writes: "Senator Obama's supposed to be secret scoop on Senator Clinton and Bill Clinton's secret dealings with Indian interests was released to the media by the Clinton campaign and has made for some embarrassing reading given Senator Obama's previous commitment to indulge in a different kind of politics. The Obama campaign has tried to mollify the Indian-American community, but the impact of the episode is likely to be minimal given the low level of support he enjoys among Indian-Americans.
However, the scoop does raise some questions about Senator Clinton's record and the issue of outsourcing. This will probably need to be addressed and not just brushed aside."