Daily TIPs: Google Goes Geothermal, Demi-Disclosure Deleterious, Butterfly Ballots Back? & More

8/21/08

Best Energy May Be Under Our Feet

Everybody talks about wind and sun as among the most promising new sources of energy the world can tap. But speaking at the National Energy Summit in Las Vegas this week, Dan Reicher, director of climate and energy initiatives at Google, said the “killer app” of energy may be enhanced geothermal systems, which use artificial means to get heat from under the Earth’s crust. The New York Times science section offers a video interview with Reicher on its site

Google Says It’s Committed to Health-Data Privacy

Google has its thumb in a lot of pies these days, including the medical world with its Google Health application, which consolidates users’ medical data. Eric Sachs of Google spoke this week at the Harvard Privacy Symposium, and assured listeners that Google is committed to keeping users in control of their health records. He reiterates that point at Google’s Public Policy blog.

Packet Scanning Raises Privacy Concerns

Web surfers concerned about their privacy have a new worry with the recent rise in deep packet scanning, which service providers use to track their customers’ habits so they can better target sales pitches. The Washington Post says deep packet scanning only recently became practical, thanks to increases in processor power, and that lawmakers are starting to question the use of the technology

Full Disclosure Important to Security, Expert Argues

The recent case in which a judge (temporarily) quashed a presentation by MIT students on vulnerabilities in Boston’s public transportation system has raised the hackles of both computer security experts and First Amendment supporters, who argue that the injunction was unconstitutional prior restraint. Writing in Wired, the chief technology security officer of BT Global Services argues that secrecy is a fragile safeguard against hacking attacks, and that responsible disclosure is in everyone’s best interests

Wind Fights Coal on Mountain Top

Global warming experts will say wind is a superior energy source to coal because it doesn’t release the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Now a grassroots group in West Virginia is also arguing wind beats coal–at least on Coal River Mountain, where a planned coal mine would tear up the mountain top. The group hired a wind energy consultant, which argues it would be more economical to install 220 2-megawatt wind turbines on the mountain top, Earth2Tech writes. Not answered: Would you be proud to be a wind farmer’s daughter?

Economist Holds Online Energy Debate

Do you think the world’s energy problems can be solved with existing technologies, or must there be breakthrough innovations to move us beyond our dependence on coal and oil? You can read the pros and cons on that question and then voice your own opinion in an online energy debate at The Economist‘s website. Votes may be cast until August 29.

Comcast Will Throttle Some Internet Users

The Federal Communications Commission ruled earlier this month that Comcast violated the law when it slowed down data speeds for peer-to-peer file transfers. Comcast has responded by saying it won’t throttle down Internet access for specific applications. Instead, CNET News reports, it will target heavy bandwidth users, throttling their speeds for up to 20 minutes at a time

States Ditch Computer Voting

Break out the butterfly ballots. After a number of states spent $2 billion to replace old-fashioned voting systems with touchscreens, several of those states are reversing course and getting rid of the electronic voting machines ahead of the November presidential election. Ars Technica reports that states including Alaska, California, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Tennessee, and New Mexico will get rid of their voting machines in favor of old-fashioned paper ballots

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