Daily TIPs: Cow Patties and Corncobs, Insecure Banking, Google Drives Green, & More

7/24/08

Companies Developing Wireless HD Standard

As wireless high-definition video emerges, various groups within the industry are competing to create a standard on which wireless HD devices will operate. Ars Technica says that Hitachi, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp, and Sony have come together to support a standard being developed by Israeli startup Amimon. The company says its Wireless Home Digital Interface standard will surpass other technologies in range and bandwidth.

Security Holes Widespread in Bank Websites

More than three quarters of websites for banks have design flaws that could be exploited by criminals, a new University of Michigan study finds. Information Week reports that the study, being released this week, found a variety of flaws that aren’t fixable with a simple patch. The authors cite another study, which found that $16 million was lost to computer intrusions in the second quarter of 2007.

There’s Gold in That Thar Cow Plop

Converting cow manure into methane and burning that instead of coal could cut greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by about 4 percent, according to scientists at the University of Texas at Austin. The researchers tell Discovery News that the plan is a two-for-one win. Switching from coal to cow patties not only cuts the use of fossil fuel, it also keeps methane and nitrous oxide — two very powerful greenhouse gases produced by the decay of manure — from entering the atmosphere. Get out the shovels.

Garbage-to-Fuel Making Gains

Scientists have long considered converting garbage and crop waste into biofuels, but until gasoline hit record high prices it didn’t make economic sense. Now, the New York Times reports, several companies are building plants to convert waste into fuel, and their products could be on the market within months. Big-name companies such as Honeywell, DuPont, and General Motors are starting to invest.

DuPont Backs Cellulosic Ethanol Project

A major problem with using corn to make ethanol for fuel is that it eats up material that could otherwise be used to feed livestock or humans. Now DuPont has joined an initiative to use non-edible materials such as corn stalks and switchgrass, that are high in ethanol-producing cellulose as a feedstock. The Associated Press says the initiative is managed by the University of Tennessee and includes Genencor, a subsidiary of the Danish company Danisco.

Should Homeowners Buy Their Own Internet Hookups?

U.S. consumers are used to leasing the conduits that bring information into their homes – the telephone line, the cable for the TV. But an analyst at Google’s Public Policy Blog wonders why it shouldn’t be the other way around, with users buying a fiber connection to their homes and Internet service providers hooking up to sell them access. He argues it might save consumers money, give them more choice of provider, and make their houses more valuable.

Could Expiring Subsidies Push Solar Investment?

The renewable energy industry wants the U.S. government to make tax credits for clean energy more permanent, saying it’s hard to build an industry on two-year subsidies. But a writer at the Wall Street Journal argues that short-term subsidies may actually boost the industry, as consumers rush to install solar panels before the tax credit expires.

Google Gets Into the Green Car Business

Google has begun investing in green-car startups, announcing $2.75 million in funding split between green-car maker Aptera Motors and ActaCell, which develops rechargeable batteries for the cars. Earth2Tech calls the move “significant” as it starts to position Google as an incubator for the next generation of electric vehicles.

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