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Ebooks– the Way of the Future?

Ebooks– the Way of the Future?

In yet another attempt to launch the idea of Star Trek style reading on the world, Sony has released the Portable Reading System, an electronic book reader sporting a new screen technology and capable of holding 80 books. It is a small device about the size of an average paperback, about half an inch thick, weighing nine ounces, and having a six inch screen. The release of this ebook reader is the first in several years, after makers the new technology found that it wasn’t catching on as planned. Although the Sony PRS-500 sports a new screen technology designed to mimic paper, its prospects sound doubtful at best.

The Portable Reading System’s claim to fame is its E Ink® technology, a mechanical system working in a similar manner to the flipping schedule display boards at train stations. Rather than using a liquid crystal display screen, as cell phones, laptops, and previous ebooks do, the E Ink® system uses tiny beads, black on one side and white on the other, to display text. The beads are rotated by an electric charge, displaying text with a feel that is allegedly similar to paper. With this system, a page can be displayed indefinitely without using battery power. The only operation that drains the battery is turning pages, which the PRS-500 can do 7,500 times on a charge.

Sony’s website claims that the reader can hold about 80 titles in its 64 megabytes of internal memory, convenient to be sure, but prompting the question of where these titles will come from. Sony suggests that users buy books from the CONNECT eBookstore™, at a price not much lower than the price of physical books. Short of doing that, one could load free public domain books onto the reader, using, for example, the project Gutenberg online library, taking advantage of the reader’s compatibility with a number of formats. However, as has been the case in the past, readers would quickly come up against a lack of reading material.

It is not that the technology to digitalize text does not exist. Google has recently built a gigantic searchable library of books from numerous academic libraries, using machines that can turn books’ pages, take pictures of them, and convert the resulting images into text. However, copyright issues have not been resolved, and the bulk of this text is unavailable to the would-be ebook owner.

As has been the case with other ebook readers before it, the PRS-500 may be doomed not to catch on. Several years ago, another company, NuvoMedia’s Ebook Gemstar launched a line of somewhat more primitive ebooks, hoping to start a new trend of space-age reading. It did not. Perhaps because of the lack of reading material, and perhaps because people just prefer the feel of an old fashioned book in their hands, Sony’s Personal Reading System is likely not to catch on.

Wind Power: The Cutting Edge Alternative Energy

Wind Power: The Cutting Edge Alternative Energy

Wind power is 2006’s cutting edge of alternative energy compared to the cutting edge technology of 2006, solar power. There are at least a dozen U.S.-based companies that have a smaller version of the industrial sized wind turbines for the private sector that can be easily placed in anyone’s backyard.

This type of news is great for such owners as Andy Kruse founder of Southwest Windpower based in Flagstaff, Arizona. Andy Kruse teamed up with scientists at the National Renewable Energy Lab after raising $10 Million in financing to create a sleek 33-foot turbine that has a blade span of six feet that is designed to work in wind speeds as low as nine miles per hour. The Skystream 3.7 can provide up to 80 percent of a household’s electricity.

During the first couple of months of production there were 150 of the Skystream’s shipped at the whopping price tag of $13,000 each. While turning down numerous investors, Mr. Kruse is projecting $24 million in revenues for 2007. The revenues estimated for 2007 are based on the fact that worldwide people are taking heed to the uses of Windpower as a source of energy for home use.

Andy Kruse’s major target for marketing the Skystream is to those who live on large plots of land. This targeted group basically consists of 13 million Americans who are wealthy consumers who live on a half acre or more of the land.

The targeted market for Southwest Windpower could change dramatically if the newly elected Congress passes a bipartisan bill providing tax credits up to 30 percent of the cost of the wind user’s turbine. There are already states that offer such credits to users of wind turbines. Those consumers will also have the opportunity to sell any excess power to utility companies such as Xcel Energy.

Where Tax Credits or Rebates are Being Offered

The following states in the U.S. are already offering such credits or rebates: Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and California.

The following countries allow consumers to collect credit or cash from their governments for excess kilowatts are: Germany, Spain, and Canada.

Peter Edwards, a partner at the Altira Group and investor at Southwest Windpower, sees more opportunities for makers, dealers, and installers of efficient batteries. These types of batteries are capable of storing excess wind energy for at least two days.

With more and more opportunities for wind turbines opening up across the U.S. and around the world, the ability for the average Joe to purchase their own wind turbines may not be that far out of reach.