A coffee maker that lets you connect with the Fair Trade grower

Coffee roasted

Americans love their coffee. Just look at any metropolitan area and you’ll see java places abounding. But with the high cost of our favorite brew, many of us are turning to ways to make it ourselves.

Those of you who’ve followed my work for a while have seen me feature various new crowdfunding ventures. A new one just launched today on Kickstarter I think could be exceptional if it’s funded.

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BP’s debacle laid out in new documentary

BP Gulf oil disasterJust saw a documentary produced by or for the BBC on the disastrous Gulf oil spill of 2010. This hour-long documentary features the five major attempts and failures to avert this enormous environmental disaster and the key players involved in the oil company’s eventual success.

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Streaming Movies is Now Portable with mUVichip

The mUVichip could make DVD’s obsolete!

Some of us remember VHS – those big plastic boxes we used to record and watch movies and our favorite TV shows on. Then came DVD’s and CD’s, which allowed for more portability and higher quality viewing, although there’s still a lot of plastic involved.

At the recent Sierra Nevada Innovation Challenge, a small start-up company called Flixchip may well make those devices obsolete – and put a lot more fun in movie watching.

To learn more about this truly innovative technology and how easy and fun it will be to use, check out bit.ly/NF9s3m.

Auto Toilet Could Save Water by the Millions

The innovative Auto Toilet will be six times more water efficient than current low-flow models

In 2009, then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought. That same year, a young company called New Age Hygienic Systems was selected as one of The New California 100 Businesses for its remarkable, water-saving Auto Toilet.

Inventor Dan Andreiu, New Age Hygienic Systems’ founder and CEO, created the Auto Toilet. He says that this invention is the first update to the fundamental design and operation of the toilet in 200 years.

To learn more about this innovative toilet and its potential for water savings, go to http://bit.ly/MPHoed.

This App Can Fight Forest Fires

FireWhat app delivers the latest fire updates, rather than firefighters working off data that’s 12 to 24 hours old

For firefighters, timely information truly is of the essence. FireWhat Inc., a start-up company founded by two firefighters and an MIT graduate, has developed a free, game-changing mobile platform for the Fire Service. Its Web site and mobile app give firefighters the latest information on fires, rather than having to depend on “updates” that can be 12 to 24 hours old. This helps save lives and, in some surprising ways, the environment.

To learn more about this timesaving, innovative resource that’s helping both firefighters and homeowners help get ahead of pending fire disasters, go to http://bit.ly/MAn1kd. And to find out about its more local impact in northern California, see http://bit.ly/MSLoxA.

Future highways could charge electric vehicles

Tesla’s sporty all-electric car has Americans dreaming of EVs, photo by Mike Finnegan

Electric vehicles have captured the American imagination. There’s a secret hunger and fascination about the prospect of owning one, particularly as the prospect for more sporty models keep growing. But the issue of keeping them charged over longer distances has been a thorny one.  The best of them can only travel up to 100 miles before needing to recharge (with the exception of Tesla’s Roadster)

Researchers at Stanford University recently made a discovery related to wireless technology that could provide the solution.

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LED bulbs brighten up with SWITCH

SWITCH Lighting's new LED builb draws a line in the sand with other LED's

Recently, SWITCH Lighting gave me a personal demonstration of their new LED bulbs, and it convinced me that incandescent light bulbs’ days are numbered with this new technology coming out next month.

Right now we have to choose between compact florescent bulbs (CFLs), which contain a measure of toxic mercury, and expensive, not-quite-bright-enough light-emitting diodes (LEDs). SWITCH Lighting’s new LED bulbs, however, draw a line in the sand from any other bulb I’ve tried.

To find out how strikingly bright and affordable these new LED bulbs are, see the full article at http://bit.ly/wQr1Jy.

“Urban Future” – where urban mobility isn’t a straight line

Urban Future sees cars and pedestrians safely sharing the same road

While the lines between science and science fiction are constantly being blurred, those between sidewalks and urban streets haven’t been.  At this year’s Design Miami/ international design show, one display showed this too is an idea that’s about to change.

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The Benefits and Challenges of Smart Meters

Editor’s Note: This is the second of three stories about the Smart Grid, its components, and the issues related to its implementation.

The Smart Grid is a catch-all name for a number of technological fixes to the current electricity grid that would merge new technologies with changing energy needs and drive U.S. electricity generation, transmission, and distribution into the 21st century, according to Don Van Dollen, IntelliGrid programs manager for the Electric Power Research Institute.

A key component of the success of the Smart Grid is the SmartMeter.

For more on the issues surrounding SmartMeters, see http://bit.ly/rAzPGl.

Farm Sanctuary and the National Conference to End (the cruelty of) Factory Farming

Factory farms confine animals in cages so small they can't even turn around

For those who don’t know – and many consumers don’t – much of the meat products that Americans eat come from factory farms. These “factories” are places where an often staggering number of animals such as chickens and turkeys are forced to endure extremely cramped confined spaces their entire lives, often stacked on top of each other – tighter than shelving in a garage – with no room to move around or nest in, much less any dirt to peck at. And cows and pigs endure even worse, many never seeing grass in their lifetime.

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