Daily TIPs: Volt on Deck, McCain on Piracy, Google on My Mind, & More

McCain Would Attack Internet Piracy, Cut Taxes

Republican presidential candidate John McCain recently issued a policy statement on various technology-related issues. He focuses on tax cuts, preventing new taxes on the Internet, and offering credits for research and development, according to a summary of the statement on Ars Technica. He’d also go after Internet piracy, work on improving the patent system, and prevent children from seeing online content he considers harmful.

Does the Internet Change How We Think?

With information easily available on the Internet and stored on devices like cells phones, could that be causing humans to devote less effort to remembering things? That’s what an essayist at Salon wonders. He jumps off an essay from a University of Chicago sociologist writing about whether the Internet changes how people think, which itself follows on an Atlantic Monthly piece entitled, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”

New Method Could Convert Natural Gas to Gasoline

Synfuels International, of Dallas, TX, says it has developed a cheaper, cleaner method to convert natural gas into gasoline. Technology Review reports that the company says its technology will allow the U.S. to tap smaller reserves of natural gas that hadn’t been considered economical before. The process relies on high temperatures and a catalyst.

Google Your Own Solar Energy

A new Internet tool called RoofRay can help homeowners figure out if their roofs would produce enough power to make adding solar panels worthwhile. The tool works with Google Maps, and bases its estimates on the area and slope of your roof, past weather conditions, and your monthly power bills. CNET News calls it “one of the smarter mashups we’ve seen.”

California Goes Solar in a Big Way

The California utility Pacific Gas & Electric has signed contracts to buy electricity from a pair of huge solar power plants to be built in Central California. The Associated Press says the two plants will produce more electricity than all of the solar-electric panels installed in the U.S. last year. PG&E plans to buy 800 megawatts of electricity, enough to provide a year’s worth of power to 239,000 homes.

Wind Power to Soar by 2020

Expect to be getting a lot of your electricity out of thin air by the year 2020. A report from the research firm Emerging Energy Research projects that wind will produce 150 gigawatts of power by then. Earth2Tech points out that, to meet the goal of 20 percent of all electricity from wind power that’s been proposed by oil magnate T. Boone Pickens, wind power would need to produce double that amount, 300 gigawatts.

Carmakers Focus on More Fuel Efficiency

Detroit is looking to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, as well as electric vehicles, to help pull it out of its current sales slump, Reuters reports. Chrysler, for instance, is launching a new car-based SUV, modeled after the Jeep Cherokee. Ford says it expects strong growth as it focuses on smaller cars that the company had not been pushing.

Volt Almost Ready to Roll, GM Says

General Motors has “essentially finished” the design of its first plug-in hybrid and expects to have prototypes ready for production within 10 days, the New York Times reports. GM is scheduled to start selling the Volt in 2010, and before then will have to significantly improve the batteries that store its power, as well as improve other technology. But the carmaker says completing the design is a milestone in its move toward greener automobiles.

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