Daily TIPs: Will Wi-Fi Rule?, Blogging from the Top, Nanotech Safety, & More

7/30/08

AT&T to Shut Off Wireless Peer-to-Peer Users

While the Federal Communications Commission is deciding whether to reprimand Comcast for slowing down the broadband service of customers sharing files over peer-to-peer networks, AT&T says it will completely shut off any of its wireless customers it catches sharing. IP Democracy says the company filed a letter with the FCC saying its policy was spelled out in its terms of service. The site says one FCC commissioner is likely to vote against sanctioning Comcast, on the grounds that slowing down services isn’t as severe as cutting it off completely.

Will WiFi Rule Home Networking?

A study from ABI Research of Scottsdale, AZ, says that various in-home networking technologies, including WiFi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee will peacefully co-exist within homes. But a blogger at GigaOm opines that WiFi will dominate the market with everything else forced into niche applications. As evidence, she cites Cisco’s investment in a WiFi-based wireless video transfer company, and Intel’s inclusion of WiFi on its Centrino chips.

Cabinet Secretary Blogs His Way Around the Press

US Department of Health and Human Services head Michael Leavitt spoke at a panel about being the first cabinet secretary to have his own blog. He says he finds it a useful way to communicate about policy without the formality of a press conference, where reporters choose the topic. Ars Technica says a follow-up panel discussed blogging, and agreed that a lack of editors can cause some bloggers to “go off half-cocked.” (Not a problem here—Ed.)

EPA Studies Corporate Nanotech Safety

A number of chemical companies are supplying data to the Environmental Protection Agency so it can assess whether nanoscale materials used in their products may pose health risks. Scientific American reports that 13 companies, including BASF and General Electric, have provided data to the EPA, and another 17 are expected to do so. Some scientists worry that nanoparticles or carbon nanotubes could interact with human tissue, perhaps having an asbestos-like effect on the lungs.

Waste-to-Ethanol Could Degrade Soil, Researcher Warns

It seems like a natural idea to take agricultural waste products left lying around in wheat fields and use them to produce ethanol. But Ann Kennedy, a soil scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, says that may not be a wise move. Decomposing crop residue, left in the field, provides nutrients, holds water, and helps prevent wind erosion, and taking it away could make fields less productive, Kennedy tells the Associated Press.

Intel Continues Moving Toward Solar Cells

Intel Capital continued its investment in solar-related companies this week with a $12.5 million pledge for Voltaix, a Branchburg, NJ company that makes chemicals for producing semiconductors and solar cells. This follows a $37.7 million investment earlier in July in Sulfurcell, a German company working on thin-film solar modules, and a June investment of $50 million to spin off solar cell maker SpectraWatt, in Oregon. CNET News says Intel wants to promote innovation in the manufacturing of integrated circuits and complementary technology such as photovoltaics.

Cars Have Each Other’s Backs in Anti-Theft Network

Car thefts could be reduced by having the cars in a parking lot keep tabs on each other, according to a plan by Sencun Zhu, a professor at Penn State University. MSNBC reports that Zhu would equip cars with small sensors that would wirelessly communicate with nearby parked cars, forming a mesh network. When the owner used his key to drive away, the car would send a goodbye signal, but if it stopped responding the other cars would send an alert to the parking lot owner.

Easy Carbon Credits Going Away

Carbon-offsetting credits may not be so easy to come by in the future, according to energy research firm New Carbon Finance. The reason is that some of the easiest projects paid for by the credits, such as capturing nitrous oxide from flue gases, have been mostly completed, reports Earth2Tech. Projects to capture carbon dioxide will be more expensive and take more time, leading to lower return on the credit invested.

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