Daily TIPs: Broadband Bottleneck, Green Chemistry, Spammer Freed, & More

9/15/08

Most Countries Unready for Future Broadband Needs

A group of MBA students has developed a Broadband Quality Score for 42 countries and found that the only country with enough bandwidth capacity to meet its needs in the next three to five years is Japan. Ars Technica reports that the score includes upload and download speeds and other measures. The United States, the study found, has slightly more capacity than it needs right now, but not enough to handle future demands, which will include visual networking, high-density streaming, consumer telepresence, and large file sharing.

Comcast Explains Bandwidth Caps to Customers

Comcast has begun sending emails to its subscribers to explain its cap on bandwidth use, which is set to go into effect October 1. The company says it is trying to put its 250-gigabyte monthly cap into perspective, saying that amounts to 50 million plain text e-mails, 62,500 songs, or 125 standard-definition movies. GigaOm reprints the full text of the e-mail.

Chemists Make Common Products a Little Greener

New regulations, growing consumer demand, and a fear of future lawsuits are leading companies that make consumer products to find ways to make them less toxic and more environmentally friendly. The Los Angeles Times reports that green chemistry is emerging in a variety of areas, from plastics and pesticides to toys and nail polish. While some makers of cosmetics and household cleansers are leading the way, others are lagging behind.

Contact Lens Delivers Drugs to Eyes

Dosing eyes with drugs to fight eye diseases is difficult, as eyes are very good at washing out foreign substances. Now an engineer at Auburn University in Alabama has developed a new material to make contact lenses that can absorb greater amounts of drugs than previously possible and release them slowly into the eye. New Scientist says that he has set up a company, OcuMedic, to commercialize the idea.

Virginia Court Tosses Anti-spam Law

The Virginia Supreme Court has overturned that state’s wide-ranging anti-spam law, ruling that it violates First Amendment guarantees of free speech. The Washington Post reports that the ruling also overturned the conviction of a man described as a prolific spammer. The law had outlawed all forms of unsolicited email, not just commercial junk mail.

Airplanes Remain No-Call Zones

Airlines have started providing Internet hookups on their flights, but at least one says that passengers won’t be allowed to use voice-over-Internet-Protocol to make telephone calls over the connections. The New York Times says that service-provider Aircell and American Airlines block Skype, Vonage, and similar programs, because they worry the conversations will annoy other passengers. No airline so far plans to allow phone calls.

Researchers Beam Solar Power Across Space

Researchers have collected solar power on a mountain-top in Maui and beamed it 92 miles to the big island of Hawaii. The experiment, by former NASA executive and physicist John Mankins, demonstrates how an array of solar power collectors in Earth orbit could transmit energy to Earth, Wired reports. Mankins predicts that such an orbital system, where solar energy is undimmed by clouds and atmosphere, could be put up in 10 to 15 years.

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