Monday, October 26, 2009

Singapore's first Zero Energy Building launched today

This is an article from AsiaOne, and Yes! Singapore's first environmental friendly and self sufficient building. After hearing it 2 years ago, until now, we're finally doing our part. =)


It is the first building in Southeast Asia to be retrofitted with green features and technologies. -AsiaOne

Mon, Oct 26, 2009
AsiaOne

Singapore's first retrofitted Zero Energy Building (ZEB) located at the BCA (Building and Construction Authority) Academy was officially opened today by Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development.

The ZEB, a flagship R&D project by the BCA, is also the first existing building in Southeast Asia to be fully retrofitted with green building design features and technologies.

It houses fully functioning classrooms, a library, multipurpose hall and offices, and is used as a test-bed for innovative building designs and energy efficient building solutions, especially for existing buildings.

The building underwent a very energy efficient re-design of the facade, the roof, the M&E system and other building components to reduce its energy needs, and was retrofitted at a cost of $11 million.

The Zero Energy Building is expected to be about 40-50% more efficient than an office building of similar layout. Although the building is connected to the grid, it is expected to generate as much electricity as it consumes over a typical year.

Solar panels installed on the roof and other prominent areas will tap the sun's energy to generate about 207,000 kWh of electricity a year - enough to supply power to 45 four-room HDB flats.

The building is also fitted with a a single coil twin fan ventilation system - an NUS invention - to reduce utility bills that often go into air-conditioning. This controls the flow of fresh and recycled air separately - according to demand - in the building. Fresh air is only channeled to rooms that are occupied as it consumes more energy to chill compared to recycled air.

The launch kickstarted the inaugural Singapore Green Building Week (SGBW) which celebrates the achievements of Singapore's efforts towards sustainable development through a series of local and international activities.

Dr. John Keung, BCA's CEO, said: 'The Singapore Green Building Week is not just about showing the fruits of our efforts but is also an opportunity for us to learn and share our experiences and knowledge in sustainable development.

We hope that the success of the Zero Energy Building will spur the industry on towards incorporating green building design and technologies into their developments. All of us have a part to play in protecting the environment for future generations.'

Sunday, October 25, 2009

10 Tips on how to drive more efficiently


1 Drive smoothly

If you drive aggressively, you can burn up to a third more fuel than if you drive smoothly. Avoid accelerating or braking too hard and try to keep your steering as even as possible.






2 Use higher gears

When you drive in higher gear, you’ll use less fuel, so change up a gear whenever you can.

3 Keep the windows closed

Wind blowing through an open window can slow you down. And, to compensate, you’re likely to speed up. Instead of opening windows why not use your car’s internal ventilation system, just so long as this doesn’t make you feel drowsy.


4 Use cruise control

Using cruise control on major roads can help you maintain a constant speed and helps you make all those drops count.

5 Avoid excess idling

Stuck in a jam? Idling gets you nowhere, but still use up fuel. Turn the engine off when you’re in a queue until you need it. As a rule, if you’ve stopped for over 10 seconds, switch off your engine.

6 Avoid over-revving

Change gear in good time when you pull away or when you’re accelerating. Never ‘redline’ the rev counter.

7 Avoid high speeds

The faster you go, the more wind resistance you’ll encounter and the more fuel your vehicle will consume just to maintain speed. Remember that according to the UK Department of Transport figures, at 70mph you could be using up to 30 per cent more fuel than at 50mph. So keep it slow.

8 Use air-conditioning sparingly

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid using your air-conditioning, but remember that it does put added strain on your engine on hot or cold days. And, it can increase your fuel consumption by up to 8%. On temperate days, you can always use your car’s internal ventilation system instead.

9 Avoid rush hour

If you can travel outside of peak times, you’ll spend less time stuck in traffic and use less fuel as a result.

10 Keep a constant speed

Instead of coasting when you reach a downward slope, maintain steady engine revs. This will help you to maintain a constant speed rather than picking up speed and is likely to have a positive effect on your fuel consumption.

10 Tips for you and your car



1 Service your engine

Did you know a poorly maintained engine can increase your fuel consumption by up to 50%? Just replacing dirty spark plugs can improve your fuel consumption by up to 5%.

2 Keep your tyres at the right pressure

If your tyres are under inflated by just 1psi, your fuel efficiency can be reduced by up to 3%. So pump up those tyres up once a week or whenever you fill up.

3 Avoid carrying excess weight

For every extra 100 lbs (45 kg) you carry, your fuel efficiency can drop by 1-2%. So clear your car of unnecessary items that just add weight to your vehicle when you can.

4 Take the roof rack off

If you’re not using your roof rack or your roof box, remove it. A roof rack can affect the aerodynamic efficiency of your vehicle, creating drag which can result in your car using up to 5% more fuel.

5 Check the air filters

Air filters keep impurities from damaging your engine. Remember to check and replace your air filter if clogged.

6 Use the correct oil

Using the manufacturer’s recommended lubricant can help improve fuel efficiency by 1-2%. Higher quality motor oils can also help your engine operate more efficiently.

7 Check the seal on your fuel cap

Fuel evaporates every time you open the fuel cap. Make sure your cap is properly screwed on every time after every fill up

8 Plan your trips

Cutting down on the time spent in the car is the easiest way to conserve fuel. To reduce driving time, combine all your short trips and errands into a single journey or call ahead to avoid wasted journeys.

9 Keep hydrated

Don’t forget to drink water. When you’re well hydrated, you concentrate better. Keep a bottle to hand as you drive and make sure you drink your recommended eight glasses a day.

10 Keep calm

That way you’ll be able to drive smoothly and anticipate what’s going on ahead of you. When you keep calm, you also drive with plenty of distance between your car and others.

Power to Change



This is an initiative from HP in doing their part in making our place a greener one. Do visit it, and experience the change. Help spread the word too!

http://www.hp.com/powertochange


Here is a link to their blog that started from the simple thought that small changes can make a big difference. Do visit it too!

http://blog.hppowertochange.com/

Nanxiang Steamed Buns Restaurant


Located at Bugis Junction, Level 2, Unit 53.

Nanxiang Xiaolongbao arrives in Singapore in all its authentic glory. It is a culinary icon and stalwart in Shanghai for more than a century, Nanxiang is an established brand that has gained international recognition, awards and undisputed popularity for their xiaolongbao, that it has become the benchmark Shanghai xiaolongbao.

In their bright and light space, Singapore's Nanxiang at Bugis Junction presents a welcoming face to customers. There is booth seating, which overlooks the busy North Bridge Road and regular tables, which take in the hustle and bustle of this Shanghai franchise.
For those who are no stranger to food travel TV programs, you would have seen well-known chef-author and now Discovery Travel + Living host Anthony Bourdain coming to grips with the xiaolongbao and sipping on the big soup bun through a straw at Shanghais Nanxiang in his show No Reservations.

I guessed their Crab Roe and Pork Filling Steamed Buns, & Fresh Pork Filling Steamed Buns are few of the better dishes. here In general, there are still differences in their standards with the Main restaurant in Shanghai. The noodles are quite nice too.

The staffs are jovial, and fun to talk to. I remembered that my visit yesterday was well greeted by many aunties. That's right, they employed quite a number of them, and they were quite chatty too.

It is worth to pay a visit, if you have yet to try out the authentic Fresh Pork Filling Steamed Buns in Shanghai. Whether it is worth it, only you can tell.

Opening Hours

Mon - Fri: 1130am - 10pm

Sat, Sun, and PH: 11am - 10pm

Friday, October 23, 2009

Asus Eee PC 1005 HA Seashell

It might seem at first that it is just another Eee PC from Asus but if you give it a closer look you’ll find very delicate improvements or rather, I should say, refinements of their popular lineup of products. This one is fine tuned for excellent battery life and also offering standard performance, nice keyboard and standard build quality which you should expect from a portable netbook. Though it feels to have a higher resolution screen and better graphics, the configuration that you get is worth its price tag.


Processor, RAM and HDD

It uses Intel Atom N280 Processor 1.66GHz (667MHz FSB) Processor with 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM (667 MHz). The N280 processor is slightly faster than the N270 CPU which is commonly being used in many other netbooks available. Though it is not exactly a speed demon, it would be enough for normal computing tasks such as web browsing, watching movies or working with some office softwares and so them simultaneously. There is also an option to over clock or underclock the CPU which you can use to run it faster or use less power. The 160 GB 5400 rpm SATA HDD is also fast enough for normal usage.

Graphics

As with many other netbooks, this system also comes with the same Intel GMA 950 graphics, so don’t expect to play games on this device. But you can enjoy web videos from Hulu or YouTube and even HD movies on it. Though it can play 720 p videos in number of formats, the bitter truth is it chokes on 1080p videos. Also it should be noted that this netbook is not made for watching full 1080p videos in its 1024X600 screen.

Ports

On the front and back, there are no ports. On the left side there is power jack, VGA Out, USB 2.0 port, security lock slot and a heat vent. On the right side there is a 4-in-1 card reader, a headphone jack, a microphone jack, two more USB 2.0 ports and a Ethernet. The total list of ports is very satisfying for a netbook.

Battery Life

Battery is the main feature of this netbook. Though it may sound crazy but it is true that the 1005 HA can deliver as much as eight hours of runtime under normal usage in power saver mode with its six cell battery. Under heavy usage expect it to run at least six hour with continous net surfing over WiFi in full bright screen. Unlike the Asus Eee PC 1008 HA, this battery is removable which means you can carry in an extra battery if you still need some extra life out of your system.

Pros

  • Build quality is good for budget netbook
  • Battery life is amazing
  • Port Layout is good for a netbook

Cons

  • Thick for a modern netbook
  • Weak integrated graphics
  • Bad touchpad buttons

It's selling at SGD688 locally in Singapore, and the price is 10% cheaper in Tebrau City, Johor.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Go Go Gadget Recycling!

How can my blog about gadgets not blog about recycling gadgets? Here is a post from washingtonpost.com.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's hard to imagine life without cellphones, computers and iPods. And as technology advances, so does the rate at which we buy gadgets just to keep up. While constantly upgrading your electronics is hard on the wallet, it's also harmful to the planet -- and possibly your health.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 1.5 million to 1.9 million tons of unwanted electronics (also called e-waste) was deposited in U.S. landfills in 2005. Not only is this a waste of resources, but these items contain hazardous chemicals and toxic metals such as flame retardants, arsenic, mercury and cadmium; an average of four pounds of lead is inside each cathode-ray tube TV and computer monitor. These chemicals can leach from landfills into drinking water reserves, or, if incinerated, they're released into the air.

Recycling is the obvious solution, but even it must be approached with caution. The Basel Action Network, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that studies the global toxic waste trade, estimates that 50 to 80 percent of U.S. electronics set aside for recycling are smuggled to India and China, where environmental and health regulations for recycling are lax. A study by the Chinese Academy of Sciences published this year in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that the air in Guiyu, a Chinese city that hosts many of the country's e-waste recycling facilities, has the highest documented levels of two toxic chemicals -- polychlorodibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorodibenzofurans (PCDFs) -- in the world.

Most municipalities have drop-off sites for household electronic waste, but these public services are often contracted out to private recyclers, which may or may not be reliable. If you choose this route -- or use a private recycling service directly -- do your homework and ask questions. "A reputable recycler can talk you through what happens to your electronics and provide references," says Elizabeth Wilmot, president of Turtle Wings, a Maryland-based e-waste recycling service. For a fee, Turtle Wings (1771 Olive St., Capitol Heights, 301-583-8399, http://www.turtlewings.com) will pick up from households; it also takes drop-offs at a lesser cost.

Some other e-waste recycling tips:

- If your goods are only a few years old and still work, see whether a school, charity or church could use them.

- Most electronic brands accept their own products for recycling, although you'll have to pack and ship the items yourself. "A company with a reputation is absolutely trustworthy," Wilmot says. "If you're a corporation, you're not going to be dumping monitors." The EPA's eCycling program lists Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy and Apple among its retail partners accepting household electronics. Most cellphone service providers accept used phones in their stores or via mail; check with your provider for details.

- The most effective long-term solution is for the gadgets themselves to get greener. Many electronics companies have pledged to reduce or eliminate toxic materials in their products, so as the eco-movement gains momentum, look for easily recyclable goods with longer life spans. In the meantime, be a green consumer: Don't replace your phone or TV just because a shinier, newer model is available. Stick with what you have for as long as it's useful.

New Template for my Blog


I have decided to change the layout template for my blog, to go green. =P
After hearing from the news a few days ago, I have started to post some recycling tips, and so on.
I've got the tips from other websites, and hope that by putting it on my blog, more people get to read them.
We need to save our Earth, and what we can start doing now is to reuse, reduce, and recycle. Recycling is an excellent way of saving energy and conserving the environment. Did you know that:
  • 1 recycled tin can would save enough energy to power a television for 3 hours.
  • 1 recycled glass bottle would save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.
  • 1 recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 3 hours.
  • 70% less energy is required to recycle paper compared with making it from raw materials.
Let us do our part in saving our Earth for our next generation.

www.recycling-guide.org.uk


A large percentage of UK household's still do not recycle enough and throw everything that they consider 'rubbish' into their ordinary bin.

Much of this waste can be recycled and should be disposed of separately to general household waste. Look inside this rubbish bin to see how much of the contents should actually have been recycled.

Do visit here for more details.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Top Recyling Tips


1. First things first, a little R & R & R
The aphorism is so tired it almost might seem like “reduce, reuse, recycle” should go without saying. But in fact, most of us have only really heard the last third of the phrase, and they’re ranked in order of importance. Reducing the amount that we consume, and shifting our consumption to well-designed products and services, is the first step. Finding constructive uses for “waste” materials is next. And tossing it in the blue bin is last. (The garbage can is not on the list, for good reason.) Through a balance of these three principals you can easily see your landfill-destined waste dwindle fast. A good example of recycling is setting your empty water bottles in the bin on the curb. But by using a water filter and reusable container you can reduce or completely eliminate your need for disposable plastic bottles.

2. Know what you can and can't recycle
Read up on the recycling rules for your area and make sure you don't send anything in that can't be processed. Each city has its own specifics, so try to follow those guidelines as best you can.

3. Buy recycled
The essence of recycling is the cyclical movement of materials through the system, eliminating waste and the need to extract more virgin materials. Supporting recycling means feeding this loop by not only recycling, but also supporting recycled products. We can now find high recycled content in everything from printer paper to office chairs.

4. Encourage an artist
If you know someone interested in making art from recycled materials, offer to provide supplies. Many school children need items like paper towel tubes for art projects. Older artists use everything from rubber bands to oven doors. If you know someone who teaches art classes, suggest that an emphasis be put on making art from trash. While you're at it, remind them to use recycled paper and biodegradable, earth-friendly glues, paints, and pencils whenever possible. See below for inspiration and groups that connect artists and students with useful “trash.”

5. Recycle your water
If you're a homeowner, consider rearranging your plumbing so that rainwater or wastewater from your shower and tub is used to flush your toilet. If you have a garden, water it with leftover bathwater or dishwashing water (as long as you use a biodegradable soap). For more on water recycling see How to Go Green: Water.

6. Recycle your greenery
William McDonough and Michael Braungart, authors of the groundbreaking Cradle to Cradle, envision so-called “waste” divided into two categories: technical nutrients and biological nutrients. Biological nutrients are those that, at the end of their useful life, can safely and readily decompose and return to the soil. Composting is one of the simplest and most effective recycling methods. Both your garden cuttings and your green kitchen waste can go into an outdoor or indoor composter (with or without entertaining a population of worms). If you don't have a garden yourself, find neighbors or a community garden that can make use of your soil. Composting food scraps will mean your regular kitchen wastebasket fills up more slowly and also won’t smell. Hotter, more active compost heaps can also consume tougher stuff like newspaper and paper napkins. After Christmas, many cities also have programs for turning your tree into mulch.

7. Recycle your robots
Electronics recycling is becoming more common in many urban areas, battery recycling is ubiquitous (rechargeable batteries are ecologically sounder, but even they wear out after a while), and there are a number of non-profit organizations that will take computer parts and turn them into working computers for others. Companies like Ebay have also developed programs to help your electronics find new homes. Other groups will gladly recycle your cell phone or give it to a senior citizen, as even without a contract it can still make emergency calls. If you have a major appliance that doesn't work and you'd rather replace it than try to fix it, offer it to local repair shops, trade schools, or hobbyists to tinker with. Many cities now offer hazardous waste recycling days when they will take not only hazardous waste, but electronics.

8. Anticipate recycling
In addition to buying recycled goods, keep a keen eye out for recyclable goods. Whenever you purchase something packaged, think about how you can reuse the packaging, return it to a shipping store for reuse, or try to otherwise recycle it. If you get something likely to run down or wear out over time, such as an electronic component, give preference to the model that can be easily upgraded or cannibalized for parts so that you don't have to junk the whole thing if one part breaks. Products that are impossibly fused together are often called “monstrous hybrids” and are, while often cheaper up front, frequently unfixable and unrecyclable.

9. If you don’t love something, let it go
Lots of charities welcome your donations. Groups like Freecycle and Recycler's Exchange exist to help you get rid of useful objects that you just don't want to make use of. If you're in a Craigslist city, make use of the "free stuff" section. Give away clothes that don't fit, the boxes you used in your last house move, or scented soaps that don't appeal to your sensibilities. Make it a rule in your house that nothing useable goes in the trash until you've given the community a fair shot at it.

10. Become a waste-stream analyst
To better understand the kind of materials that enter and leave your home, office, or school, consider conducting a waste audit. Set a span of time like a week or a month, and separate your waste categories. Weigh the different kinds of material flows that go out the door (landfill waste, organic compost, aluminum, recyclable plastic, reusable material, etc.). Design a “material recovery” program that minimizes the amount going to the landfill. This is a great exercise to do with kids but can be very convincing to corporate higher-ups, too, especially since most companies pay to have their trash hauled away and can get money for recycled paper, containers, toner cartridges, corrugated cardboard, and such.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Green Shopping Tips

General Considerations

Being environmentally conscious when shopping, we should only buy items which are actually needed.

  • If you prepare a shopping list before buying, you can avoid purchasing redundant or unnecessary items, which will reduce waste.
  • Family-sized products require less packaging and generally cost less.
  • Overall, if you only purchase products with minimal packaging you will not only save resource, but also help to decrease the amount of energy used during the packaging process.
  • Bring an environmentally friendly shopping bag rather than taking plastic bags each time you purchase.

When Buying Food and Drinks

Food and drinks tend to be heavily packaged, but more environmentally friendly alternatives are available.

  • You can cut down on take-away food, which uses more disposable packaging, and choose to eat at home.
  • Buy drinks in returnable bottles where possible.
  • You should avoid laminated beverages, the containers cannot be recycled.
  • Try to use durable tablewares instead of disposable ones such as foam containers, paper cups, disposable plastic cutleries and wooden chopsticks.

There are also ways in which you can protect nature when purchasing food.

  • Try to buy fresh local food, which requires little packaging and reduces energy consumption and pollution because no long-distance transportation is required.
  • When organic food is available, choose it to lessen the harm caused by chemical pesticides and fertilisers to both the environment and your health.
  • Do not consume products containing endangered animal parts or plants because they help to maintain the biodiversity that keeps the environment in balance.

When Buying Daily Necessities

Our daily necessities are often the most polluting, but there are always more environmentally friendly alternatives that are easy to find or make.

  • Buy ant or cockroach traps instead of fluorocarbon sprays; they are less polluting and can reduce insect populations effectively.
  • Minimise your purchases of products such as aerosol sprays that contain ozone depleting substances.
  • Replace non-rechargeable batteries with rechargeable batteries, old rechargeable batteries can be recycled.
  • A simple solution of vinegar and baking soda is an effective multi-purpose cleaner, which is more environmentally friendly and much cheaper than cleaners containing chemicals.
  • Handkerchiefs are more environmentally friendly than tissues.

When Buying Clothes

The process of manufacturing of materials for clothes might cause harm to the environment.

  • Choose clothes that are made of non-bleached materials because waste water generated from the bleaching process affects the marine ecology.
  • Choose clothes made of materials which do not crease easily, thus less energy is consumed for ironing.

When Buying Electrical Appliances

Think green when buying electrical appliances. Always choose refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines, tumble dryers and other electrical appliances with Grade 1 Energy Efficiency Labels; these products consume less energy than those with higher grade energy labels.


10 Things You Can Do to Help Save the Earth

1.­ Pay attention to how you use water. The little things can make a big difference. Every time you turn off the water while you're brushing your teeth, you're doing something good. Got a leaky toilet? You might be wasting 200 gallons of water a day [Source: EPA]. Try drinking tap water instead of bottled water, so you aren't wasting all that packaging as well. Wash your clothes in cold water when you can.

2. Leave your car at home. If you can stay off the road just two days a week, you'll reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,590 pounds per year [Source: EPA]. Combine your errands -- hit the post office, grocery store and shoe repair place in one trip. It will save you gas and time.

3. Walk or ride your bike to work, school and anywhere you can. You can reduce greenhouse gases while burning some calories and improving your health. If you can't walk or bike, use mass transit or carpool. Every car not on the road makes a difference.

4. Recycle.You can help reduce pollution just by putting that soda can in a different bin. If you're trying to choose between two products, pick the one with the least packaging. If an office building of 7,000 workers recycled all of its office paper waste for a year, it would be the equivalent of taking almost 400 cars off the road [Source: EPA].

5. Compost. Think about how much trash you make in a year. Reducing the amount of solid waste you produce in a year means taking up less space in landfills, so your tax dollars can work somewhere else. Plus, compost makes a great natural fertilizer. Composting is easier than you think.

6. Change your light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) last 10 times longer than a standard bulb and use at least two-thirds less energy. If you're shopping for new appliances or even home electronics, look for ENERGY STAR products, which have met EPA and U.S. Department of Energy guidelines for energy efficiency. In 2006, the ENERGY STAR program saved energy equivalent to taking 25 million cars off the road and saved Americans $14 billion in utility costs [Source: ENERGY STAR]. (Learn more about proper disposal of CFLs.)

7. Make your home more energy efficient (and save money). Clean your air filters so your system doesn't have to work overtime. Get a programmable thermostat so you aren't wasting energy when you aren't home. When you go to bed, reduce the thermostat setting -- you won't miss those extra degrees of heat or air conditioning while you're asleep.

8. Maintain your car. Underinflated tires decrease fuel economy by up to three percent and lead to increased pollution and higher greenhouse gas emissions [Source: EPA]. Underinflation also increases tire wear, so it will save you money in the long run if you're good about checking your tire pressure.

9. Drive smarter. Slow down -- driving 60 miles per hour instead of 70 mph on the highway will save you up 4 miles per gallon. [Source: Consumer Guide Automotive]. Accelerating and braking too hard can actually reduce your fuel economy, so take it easy on the brakes and gas pedal.

10.Turn off lights when you're not in the room and unplug appliances when you're not using them. It only takes a second to be environmentally conscious.

Friday, October 9, 2009

iBike Rider Case

When I saw the iBike Rider case, I didn’t think of a cool iPhone accessory for bikers – even though that’s what it is – I thought what a cool space suit wearable computer accessory. And when you consider that the iPhone is just that, a computer that happens to make phone calls, it makes one wonder doesn’t it? I can see the commercials now. Walking on the moon? There’s an app for that. Searching for water on Mars? There’s an app for that…

Okay, fantasy over. Let’s look at the cool reality of this accessory. The iBike Rider Case is a wrist mounted, waterproof case which is pictured with optional headset microphone for your helmet so that bikers can go easy riding and still connect via their iPhone. It’s really pretty cool and I can even see using this in the car. With it’s clear plastic face, users can navigate apps, make phone calls, the works. And using a GPS app like AT&T Navigator, the iBike makes it easy to follow without taking your eyes off the road much.

With the optional helmet mounted headset, handsfree communication is safe and secure.

With the optional helmet mounted headset, handsfree communication is safe and secure.

It’s completely functional. And keeping it attached to your wrist makes keeps the phone safe and secure (unless you lay down the bike, that is).

Price for the iBike Rider is $42 for the case, with the optional helmet mounted headset running $85

Dow Solar Cells

The cool thing about solar panels is that they save you money on electricity and are incredibly “green.” The not so cool thing is that they’re unsightly and incredibly inefficient in converting solar rays into electricity. But they’re getting better. And thanks to Dow Solar Solutions, form is improving right along with function.

Dow has worked out how to not only make solar panels into rooftop shingles but also that they blend in with a house’s existing roof, and cost about forty percent cheaper than the roof top solar tiles we reported on last year. And the best part is, because they are built into the conventional shingle design, there’s no real specialized knowledge required to install. That means that weekend warriors and your average roofer can put these up with the same wack of a hammer and tack nails as they do right now.

And since these cells blend in with the existing roof shingles, those heads of home owners associations (you know, the guys with Napoleonic complexes who get off telling you how to take care of your own property) probably won’t even notice them.

The downside? They’re still only 10% effective, meaning that most of the sunlight won’t power your home. But hey, it’s a start.

LaCie Starck HDD


Ever seen products designed by the famous Philippe Starck? If you’re a huge fan of this work, then you might want to consider his latest collaboration with hard drive manufacturer LaCie, where their teamwork has resulted in the LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive and the LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive. Both of these new models will offer much more than Starck’s iconic touch – they’re intelligent designs through and through, and here’s Starck’s artsy-fartsy explanaiton of his work, ““Technological genius explodes exponentially, each time with incredible power whose limits are yet to be known. The power remains, never abating, symbolically characterized by the sculptural magma that one attempts to cleave, to master within this geometrically perfect strongbox. A symbol of strength mastered, of freedom guided, of incandescent magma heeding to the form of its cast. The interpretation is free. But the mystery remains.”

The LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive and LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive will both come encased in aluminum that is tough enough to handle the everyday rigors of work, boasting a durable exterior that protects the hard drives within from shock and overheating – perfect for you to access your data whenever you need it, wherever you are. The LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive comes with a status LED that will resemble Starck’s signature symbol, glowing in the all-too-familiar orange or green color to point out the current activity taken by the hard drive. As for the LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive, you get a built-in USB cable that is uniquely placed for convenient storing and data accessibility.

Both models will connect to computers using the USB 2.0 interface – sorry folks, you’ll just have to wait for some time more if Starck decides to dream up of another design that will cater to USB 3.0 fans. This makes it PC and Mac friendly, and will ship with LaCie Backup Assistant and LaCie Desktop Manager software to help you format, back up and customize your hard drive any way you like. The LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive will come in in 1TB and 2TB capacities, retailing from USD$129.99 onwards. As for the LaCie Starck Mobile Drive, you can choose from 320GB and 500GB capacities, with prices starting from USD$99.99 a pop.