Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Earth Day: Use Technology to Reduce Your Home Energy Use

Your appliances and devices may be sucking you dry while you sleep. In fact, the idle charger you keep plugged into the wall is drinking up electrical juice and probably costing you a few extra cents right this second. This is what we call "vampire energy" (sometimes referred to as "phantom power").

It's not new; energy efficiency programs have been spending billions for years to make consumers aware of just how much they're spending (and wasting) on electricity. Maybe it's even working. A couple of years ago the Institute for Electric Efficiency (IEE) reported that in 2011 energy efficiency programs in the United States saved 107 terawatt hours of energy nationwide compared with the previous year. That's enough to power almost 9.3 million homes for a year. (Earth Day bonus: that in turn saved 75 million metric tons of carbon dioxide generation at power plants.)

Utility companies offer many programs and tools to get you started; these programs comprised 86 percent of the savings mentioned above according to the IEE. If your company offers tools for saving power you'll save both money and energy, the latter of which could go to others who need it more...

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Advice for struggling PC software vendors

Despite all the headlines where teenage app makers sell their barely pubescent products for millions, being an independent software vendor — especially in the old-school PC world — is not an easy gig.

I'm talking especially about the makers of specialty PC software, particularly those who make what we used to call "utilities" or "power tools." In a world where PC sales drop precipitously, and our operating system makers seem to be dumbing everything down to an Angry Birds least common denominator, makers of deep, rich power tools are having some dog days.

These are the makers of the incredibly feature-rich text editor, developers of the screen capture program with 400 feature, authors of the thumbnail viewer that's really a full digital asset manager, creators of the file copy program that has more features buried in its graphical UI than the Linux shell has in all its arcane commands, and coders of the development environment that can do the craziest sorts of cross-platform live debugging.

Many of these vendors have been in business for a decade or more. They've been making money on one main piece of software and have continued to refine it, improve it, add customer-requested features, and chugged along, providing a unique value to a select set of customers with unique needs...

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Windows XP's looming retirement won't shake PC business out of sales funk

Computerworld - The looming retirement of Windows XP won't stem the dramatic drop in PC sales this year, but it may help bolster Microsoft's revenue, analysts said today.

Although experts expect some business laggards to buy new hardware as they try to replace the 12-year-old XP before it's retired in April 2014, the quantities won't be enough to move the PC shipment needle to the positive side of the meter.

"Replacements for Windows XP won't be enough to offset the declines on the consumer side," said David Daoud, an analyst with IDC.

Earlier this week, both IDC and rival Gartner released estimates of PC shipments for the first quarter. Both said sales had plummeted, with IDC pegging the contraction at 14%, a record in the 19 years since the firm began tracking shipments. Much of that decline was due to consumers ignoring new Windows 8 PCs, said IDC...

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