Tesla runs out of gas

We at CDN have written about the potential market for solution providers in the automotive space, but we’ve never really discussed a car made because of technological breakthroughs.

Well, the blog is good place to start.

The Tesla Roadster by Tesla Motors of San Carlos, Calif. is not yet ready for the road. It first has to pass the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. Canada is a future story. The company has already sold out its line up of US$90,000 models.

What makes this car unique is that it’s an all-electric car. Can you imagine dropping $90,000 and then never having to fill your gas tank with gasoline?

Doing some simple math that would be a savings of more than $4,000 in gas over a four-year period.

Tesla says its cars can significantly reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil. And, the lion’s share of American oil use (nearly two-thirds of consumption) is tied directly to transportation.

The Middle East, where most of the OPEC nations hail from, has been unstable and in a constant state of unrest for as long as I have been alive. Tesla says if ever there was a time when a gasoline-free car was needed, that time is now.

Batteries with the same lithium-ion technology used in the Tesla are the same as in electronic devices such as cell phones, camcorders, MP3 players and other digital devices. Unlike previous-generation nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal-hydride batteries, lithium-ion batteries have no “memory,” and are good for 500 complete charge/discharge cycles before replacement may be required.

There are 6,831 non-moving parts in the car that are cells slightly larger than a typical AA battery. The large number of small cells allows Tesla engineers to create an energy storage system around fixed points on the chassis, ensuring optimum efficiency in packaging.

The Energy Storage System (ESS) provides power to the entire vehicle, including the motor. It comprises a durable and tamper-resistant enclosure, the 6,831 cells, mechanical structure to mount the batteries, electrical interconnection between the cells, interconnection to the power electronics unit, a network of microprocessors for maintaining charge balance and temperature monitoring, a cooling system, and an independent safety system that is designed to isolate high voltage outside the enclosure under a variety of detectable safety situations.

A cooling system is controlled by the vehicle’s electronics. It uses a secondary loop in the cabin air conditioning system to provide chilled coolant, which is circulated throughout the ESS. A resistive heater is used to heat the batteries in extreme cold conditions.

Tesla Motors was founded only a few years ago and built an executive team with diverse expertise in the electronics, automotive and software industries.

One quick hit before I go: There is a chance Microsoft will acquire Web video sharing site Revver. This on the eve of the company launching its own site called Soapbox.

— Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 2/23/07, 10:45AM, [email protected]

Cuba and computers

The Cuban government is now snubbing its nose at Microsoft.

Cuba’s communications minister, Ramiro Valdes, recently gave a speech endorsing open source.

The main beef the Cubans have against Microsoft is the high cost of its products. I have said this many times that emerging countries cannot afford Microsoft applications, or any other type of commercial software North Americans produce. So they are forced to use pirated software.

But there is a catch. Some customers actually purchase the legitimate software from a legitimate dealer as a group buy. Then they distribute the software to the group. That is illegal. Each user should have his or her own licensed copy.

Now, I have interviewed a few of these people and the reason they give is high cost – can’t afford it. But I believe a business case can be and should be made for helping these buyers by Microsoft, Adobe, Corel, Autodesk and others.

A few years ago I met with some American VARs who managed to visit Cuba, wanted to be philanthropic and donated old PCs to Cuban schools. Well, guess what: The schools got some old 286 PCs while the Cuba government took the Pentiums even some 486s.

One quick hit before I go: Frances Allen will be named the first woman to win the Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery. Allen is a computer scientist at IBM and won for developing Ptran (Parallel Translation), a specific method for running a program over multiple processors to improve speed and efficiency.

With the award comes a big cheque for $100,000. Congratulations, Frances.

Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 11 a.m., 2/22/07

[email protected]

More on the Canadian copyright issue with IIPA

Internet consultant Russell McOrmond writes in about my blog the other day on the IIPA’s dumb pressure tactics on the Canadian government.

Here is what he wrote: “Thank you for taking up this issue on your blog. This is such hypocrisy given the only reason the USA itself isn’t on this list is because the list is managed by the USA. It is largely based on misinformation on the status of Copyright in Canada where distributing camcorder videos is illegal, unauthorized P2P is illegal (but requires evidence to get a court order to get past our stronger privacy legislation), and there are many ways in which US law is more “liberal” than Canadian law (i.e.: we have limited fair dealings, while they have Fair Use which better protects the interests of average citizens from excessive control by copyright holders). Canada has severe (many say excessive) statutory damages, potentially putting into bankruptcy private citizens who carried out activities that many Canadians consider as serious as jay-walking.

“What these private and public sector lobbyists from the USA are asking for isn’t protection for creativity or innovation, but protectionism for specialized business models and methods of production and distribution that are currently dominated by US firms. The best thing that Canada can do to protect the Canadian economy is to reject their protectionism and enact laws, which benefit Canadian creativity and innovation!”

Thanks Russell for the comments and I am glad I am not the only one here. I have a feeling the IIPA is working on an island these days.

One quick hit before I go. Ontario Provincial Police recovered the body of Semiconductor Insights CEO Melvin Douglas Smeaton from the St. Lawrence River on Monday, a day after the Kanata executive apparently drowned in a scuba-diving accident.

Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 11 a.m., 2/21/07

Comment: [email protected]

Remote remembrances

I pride myself on knowing a lot of things. It really is what we do as journalists. We collect knowledge and try to communicate it to others.

So I was shocked to learn that Dr. Robert Adler co-invented the TV remote control. He died yesterday in Boise, Idaho at the age of 93.

I know this will sound harsh, but I am surprised he lasted this long. You see, the remote control, which Adler invented in 1955 with fellow Zenith Electronics Corp. engineer Eugene Polley, has led to more fights, shouting matches, disagreements, unhappiness and down right bitterness for so many people that I wonder why some crazy nut whose wife changed the channel showing a football game in the fourth quarter with score tied to watch a soap opera or an infomercial on skin care didn’t track Adler down somewhere and strangle him.

I remember watching TV in black and white without a remote control. You had to physically get up off your Lazy Boy recliner or sofa and walk a few steps to the TV and turn a dial clockwise to find a program that everyone in the family enjoyed.

I am serious. It was really like that. My Dad or older brother or even me as a little boy sometimes changed the channel when the family decided whatever was on the 15 or so channels was not worthy of our attention. And together we would settle on one show and sit down and enjoy it, with the commercials.

The first remote control I ever saw as at my future sister-in-law’s house. I thought they were rich because only the wealthy could afford a TV with remote control.

My God, when she showed me how to work it I thought I was in outer space. I mean, it was cutting edge technology. It had four buttons. One to turn the TV on, one to change the channel upwards, one for down and the fourth one I can’t remember.

But as soon as we got a remote control for our TV – which was wired, by the way – the battles started.

I liked sports, my brother didn’t. We were at war and my Dad was the U.N.

When I got married, my wife and I decided to hold off on buying a TV until later. The six weeks without a TV were harmonious. Then we got a unit with super remote control that did everything but wash the screen. Well, you guessed it, the fights started. I like sports; she didn’t.

I knew a girl who went out and purchased a universal remote control just so she could go over her boyfriend’s house and change the channel on him. She was very disappointed to learn it did not quite work that way.

So while it is sad that Adler died of heart failure, I am sure some around the world are not mourning his passing.

Two quick hits before I go: Looks like Sirius, the satellite radio company that features shock jock Howard Stern will acquire rival XM. I wonder what the anti-trust goons have to say about this one.

Industry Minister Maxime Bernier said he will keep an open mind on whether the government will set aside space for a new wireless spectrum. Looks like there will be auction held for the wireless spectrum licenses in early 2008.

Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 11:00 a.m., 2/20/07

Comment: [email protected]

Canadians crack the quantum computing challenge

I love it when Canadians do well. And you have to hand it to D-Wave Systems of Vancouver for building the world’s first commercial quantum computer.

This new system may be a breakthroughs in medicine, business applications and expanded use of digital computers.

Quantum computing offers the potential to create value in areas where problems or requirements exceed the capability of digital computing, the company said. But D-Wave explains that its new device is intended as a complement to conventional computers, to augment existing machines and their market, not as a replacement for them.

Company officials formally announced the technology at the Computer History Museum, in the heart of Silicon Valley, in a demonstration intended to show how the machine can run commercial applications and is better suited to the types of problems that have stymied conventional (digital) computers. Quantum-computer technology can solve what is known as “NP-complete” problems. These are the problems where the sheer volume of complex data and variables prevent digital computers from achieving results in a reasonable amount of time. Such problems are associated with life sciences, biometrics, logistics, parametric database search and quantitative finance, among many other commercial and scientific areas.

According to D-Wave, the idea of a computational device based on quantum mechanics was first explored in the 1970s and early 1980s by physicists and computer scientists such as Charles Bennett of IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Paul Benioff of Argonne National Laboratory, David Deutsch of the University of Oxford, and Richard Feynman of the California Institute of Technology. But to make the technology commercially applicable required the full-scale, full-time business effort of an interdisciplinary team such as that organized by D-Wave Systems.

D-Wave overcame this challenge in part by using the processes and infrastructure associated with the semiconductor industry. This and components such as a new type of analog processor, one that uses quantum mechanics rather than the conventional physics associated with digital processing, to drive the computation.

D-Wave’s approach allows the building of “scalable” processor architectures using available processes and technologies. In addition, its processors are computationally equivalent to more standard devices. Any application developed for one type of quantum computer can be recast as an application for the other.

A few quick hits before I go. Microsoft has hired Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg as Enthusiast Evangelist to help it with its Vista marketing challenge.

Larry Zulch, the former vice-president and GM of SMB products at EMC, has resigned.

Looks like there is someone who does want to work at Dell. Motorola’s Ron Garriques has moved over to run the consumer business for the direct seller.

Posted by Paolo Del Nibletto, 11:10AM, 2/19/06, [email protected]

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