Aug 042014
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From August 2nd to 3rd 2014, the YC Hacks event was held in Mountainview, California to gather developers under one roof and develop tomorrow’s technology.

YC Hacks

The 2014 YC Hacks event.
Image obtained with thanks from ychacks.tumbler.com, you can find many more photographs of YC Hacks there.

The winners of the YC Hacks Hackathon were (in order of place 1 = first place, etc):

  1. Athelas: This technology is a smartphone accessory that allows you to analyse your blood so you can detect diseases and cell counts cheaply and quickly (within seconds). This lens attachment enables magnifies your blood so you can see it using your smartphone camera, and the developers ‘implemented computer vision to algorithmically count and identify cells in the bloodstream to automatically diagnose disease/conditions’. An example of how significant this is: Malaria is a lethal disease which is killing many people around the world, as well as in impoverished regions in Africa where access to medical equipment is limited. Early detection of Malaria using this low-cost technology could save lives.
  2. nunchuck.js: This is a library that enables developers to integrate mobile browser controls into desktop websites.
  3. Vrniture: Have you ever had to shift heavy furniture around over and over again because you just can’t find the right position for it? Vrniture helps you to visualize exactly how the furniture would look in various places with using an Oculus Rift (virtual reality technology) and a Myo armband. Afterwards, you can actually purchase the furniture from IKEA within the app. According to the Vrniture submission: ‘The Oculus gives you a true-to-life way of exploring your space, while the Myo lets you cycle through furniture options with the flick of a wrist’.

ListeningPost: This one didn’t win, however, I appreciate it because it searches for terms spoken (vocally) in real time, which could help you to quickly find the definition of what people are saying during speeches, so you won’t have to write down a list of words to Google. It’s always best to find out right away so you can follow the speaker throughout the entire speech. This is kind of technology i’ve been waiting for!

YC Hacks is a Y Combinator Hackathon hosted with the assistance of Kathrina Manalac, Dave Fontenot, Sam Altman, Tara Perillo, Justin Kan, Alexis Ohanian, and Nick Sivo.

Main Source: Y Combinator.

Read more technology-related news in the technology category, and technology reference articles in the technology library.

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Jul 212014
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The 2014 Greylock Hackfest kicked off on July 19, 2014 at the Medium headquarters building in San Francisco, California, and brilliant minds showcased their new technologies to a panel of five judges. The judges were Pooja Sankar (founder and CEO of Piazza), Gerald Fong (he has two Greylock Hackfest wins under his belt), David Sze, Daniel Clancy (VP of engineering and product design at Nextdoor), and Josh McFarland (the CEO of TellApart).

The 2014 Greylock Hackfest/hackathon in San Francisco

Wizzy’s presentation at The 2014 Greylock Hackfest in San Francisco.
Image obtained with thanks from Dave Fontenot.

The top ten technologies showcased at the 2014 Greylock Hackfest were:

  1. Wizzy: This app adds a random song to each video you record. You won’t know which song was added until you share the video.
  2. Copycat: This automatically plays songs you refer to on Spotify.
  3. Tabspace: This can render a 2D graph of the tabs you are browsing in.
  4. LangYouTalk: This can translate phone conversations to other languages in real time.
  5. Standby: This can automatically preload popular content from some of your favourite websites including reddit and more, so that you can browse them offline when you’re travelling or in a remote region.
  6. MDFS: A cloud management system that automatically converts and uploads your files to multiple cloud services to safeguard them against data loss.
  7. WhenDo.io: A plug and play hardware development system aimed at making hardware development easier.
  8. Hyperink: This will stream video of you drawing, and hide your hand (as well as everything else in the background).
  9. Cumulonimbus: This is a distributed cloud file system that stores your data over multiple cloud services. It enables you and others to edit them, but stay in sync.
  10. Sense.js: This enables websites to take advantage of devices’ accelerometer, motion, and gesture data, a major step forward for website functionality.

My personal favourites were LangYouTalk, Sense.js, and Standby. If LangYouTalk is accurate, it would be a tremendous breakthrough as people currently must have a person translate for them during voice conversations. Sense.js enables websites to achieve functionality which I have never seen. This may enable websites to adjust their layouts to fit screens based on whether they are in landscape or portrait mode, to play games using gestures, and much more!

The Winners Of Greylock Hackfest 2014

The winners of the 2014 Greylock Hackfest were:

  • First place: Copycat. The grand prize winner gets to play the Hacker Cash-omatic game,collect as many $100 USD bills as they can, and meet Ev Williams, David Sze and Josh Elman.
  • Second place:WhenDo.io. The second prize is a Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter.
  • Third place: MDFS. The third price is a GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition, a waterproof camera designed for sports enthusiasts.

Source: Dave Fontenot, the founder of Hackmatch’s live report of the event.

Read more technology-related news in the technology category, and technology reference articles in the technology library.

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Jun 302014
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Originally published on Green Building Elements By Nicholas Brown.

NORESCO’s Sustainability Services group guided a Green Build terminal expansion at SDIA (San Diego International Airport), earning it a LEED (Leadership In Energy And Environmental Design) Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC®), which is the highest LEED certification there is. That means that relatively speaking, this is a stupendously energy-efficient structure!

NORESCO managed Terminal 2 West during its design and construction phases. This project, which is the airport’s largest upgrade yet, comprises 10 new gates, a 460,000 square-foot expansion of Terminal 2, and an additional 1.3 million square feet of space for taxiing and aircraft apron.

Other enhancements include high-performance glazing, an efficient baggage management system, increased natural lighting which saves energy by reducing the need for electric lighting, materials selection, landfill waste reduction (from construction) in excess of 90%, a commitment to monitor energy usage, and improved views on top of their existing award-winning recycling program.

Apart from that, Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC, said, “San Diego International Airport’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership. The urgency of USGBC’s mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before, and the Green Build serves as a prime example of just how much we can accomplish.”

This demonstration of leadership is proof of concept as well. Other airports are probably more likely to undergo this expansion now that it works (provided that it didn’t cost too much). Being the first to make a major investment is risky, so everyone else waits for someone else to take the risk first so they can learn from it.

SDIA proves it is possible for atypical buildings to achieve the highest levels of LEED, setting an example for the aviation industry to promote resource conservation. “Involvement in this prestigious achievement with SDIA has been extraordinary,” said Troy Walters, vice president and general manager, NORESCO Sustainability Services. “SDIA is paving the way for other airports to reach for excellence in sustainability and operational efficiency.”

The team initially aimed to exceed the LEED Silver rating, but they ended up blowing past it!

Source: Aviation Pros

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Jun 212014
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Originally published on Cleantechnica By Nicholas Brown.

President Barack Obama recently attended a commencement ceremony for the University of California, Irvine at the Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California. With the students, he mentioned the cold, hard reality that there are many politicians that deny climate change’s existence altogether. This compromises climate change mitigation efforts (which is most likely their goal).

He mentioned that people didn’t deny the science behind space travel which was used to get to the moon, despite concerns that space travel would be too expensive. Yet today, ignorant politicians deny the vast majority of the scientific community’s conclusion that climate change is real. That marks a new-found lack of respect for science which is reminiscent of flat-Earthers.

As Obama said:

When President Kennedy … set us on a course for the moon, there were a number of people who made a serious case that it wouldn’t be worth it … but nobody ignored the science. I don’t remember anybody saying that the moon wasn’t there, or that it was made of cheese. Today’s Congress, though, is full of folks who stubbornly and automatically reject the scientific evidence about climate change. They will tell you it is a hoax, or a fad.

Some others avoid the issue by asserting that they’re not scientists, which isn’t very helpful when they could simply listen to the scientists.

I don’t think travelling to the moon entailed a major change in the status quo, however, or threatened any industry’s profits. Do you? The mitigation of climate change of course does.

Several years ago, Republicans said they were skeptical of climate change mitigation efforts because they thought climate change was exaggerated, while others said it was because climate change is not anthropogenic (caused by humans). That didn’t stop many people from cutting back on gasoline and diesel purchases, as people would rather trust scientists than politicians. Therefore, they have started denying climate change altogether, citing varying reasons such as “it’s a hoax’, ‘a scam to make money,” and “another way to gain control of your life.”

Obama added:

I’m not a scientist either, but we’ve got some really good ones at NASA. I do know that the overwhelming majority of scientists who work on climate change, including some who once disputed the data, have put that debate to rest.

Stu Ostro is one senior meteorologist (not a climate scientist) at The Weather Channel who denied climate change and has now changed his mind, and admitted that he was just being stubborn. There are just a few people left who haven’t come around to reality. But some of those people are very rich and powerful.

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Jun 182014
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Originally published on Cleantechnica By Nicholas Brown.

On a patch of land owned by the SDSU lies the newly-built 6 MW (AC) Community 1 solar power plant, which comprises 25,000 solar panels that span 37 acres. This plant is large for a reason — it powers 2,200 households when operating at its maximum capacity.

The Community 1 solar power plant. It occupies 37 acres of SDSU land. Image Credit: Business Wire.

This solar power plant was developed by Sol Orchard in collaboration with the Center for Energy Sustainability at San Diego State University’s (SDSU) Imperial Valley Campus. Boeing provided engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) for this project.

While I advocate capitalizing on rooftop solar energy the most (because it conserves a great deal of land — 37 acres in this case), the Community 1 solar project is still a step in the right direction and centralized solar power plants such as these can power buildings which lack roof space. They can also reduce the electricity demand burden on local power plants.

The Imperial Irrigation District will purchase all of the solar power plant’s electricity via a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) and sell it to interested customers via a community solar programme.

“At NRG, we challenge the status quo, joining forces with the best to push the industry on innovation and new design, all with consumer needs in mind,” said Randy Hickok, senior vice president of NRG. “We’re truly excited to empower the Imperial Irrigation District’s community solar program which brings pioneering spirit and clean technology to their customers while doing something that will help ensure the future of our planet.”

Indeed! Solar isn’t just about saving money. We can’t move to another planet. Even if we could: we can’t keep causing problems and running away from them. We have to face them. That is how we mature as a civilization.

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Mar 192014
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By: Rachel DiFranco, Sustainability Coordinator, City of Fremont

The City of Fremont has made a number of local headlines this month for reports on the high number of electric vehicle owners living within its boundaries. With a population of 221,986, Fremont holds 14.3 percent of Alameda County’s 1,554,720 residents.1 But with 3,870 electric vehicle rebates issued in Alameda County since 2010 under the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, Fremont, with its 1,143 rebates to date, represents 29.4 percent of all-electric vehicles owned within the County.2

Pie Chart

Fremont's EV Rebated By Month

The reason for the heightened media attention is that many people were surprised that this southern Alameda County suburb could be “the East Bay’s epicenter for electric vehicles,” questioning, “What makes it so special?” The news of increasing EV ownership in Fremont, however, is less of a surprise to those responsible for City development. As the City’s deputy director of Community Development, Dan Schoenholz, stated when pointing out that a slightly larger number of electric vehicle rebates had been issued in Fremont than in San Francisco, “San Francisco has the reputation for being a super-green city, but this shows that Fremont is quietly pushing the envelope.”

The story, in fact, fits nicely into the future vision that the City has created for itself. This is a future of sustainable urbanism, one in which Fremont has evolved beyond its early agricultural roots and post-war suburban sprawl into a center for clean technology, a mecca of cultural diversity, and the home of eco-conscious citizens. Beginning in 2011 with the City’s award-winning General Plan that strategically positioned “Sustainability” as the opening chapter for its 2030 vision, and gaining momentum with the adoption of its Climate Action Plan in 2012 to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25 percent by the year 2020, the City of Fremont continues to challenge the conventional model of development with an alternative one that places the health and well-being of future generations at the forefront of policy-making.

Continue reading »

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Dec 272013
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Santa Clara County (in California) has mandated that new homes, and non-residential buildings be pre-wired to accommodate electric vehicle charging stations during their construction. This prevents owners from having to pay up to $2,000 to redo wiring in a building that has already been constructed. Pre-wiring for the chargers only costs up to $200.

2014 Toyota RAV4 EV Interior. Image Credit: Toyota.

2014 Toyota RAV4 EV Interior.
Image Credit: Toyota.

The pre-wiring is for Level 2 EV charging stations, which operate at 220-240 volts, and can charge electric vehicles in four to seven hours.

“Despite their growing popularity and environmental benefits, lack of charging infrastructure remains a barrier for many wanting to purchase an electric vehicle,” said Supervisor Ken Yeager, President of County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “This ordinance makes it easier for residents to replace conventional cars with electric vehicles, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in this county.”

Sheldon Haynie, outgoing president of the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley Marketing Association, opposes this ordinance, citing that small wineries may not be able to afford the installation of EV charging stations, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Transportation will likely be electrified at some point, whether it is within the next decade, or century, as electric vehicles are the longest lasting option, as they can use any electricity source, including the inexhaustible solar and wind.

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h/t: Plugin Europe.

Image Credit: Toyota.

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