November 18, 2009

Free Airport Internet Access

In case you did not know about it, Google is currently providing air travelers at 47 US airports free Wi-Fi internet access. The free service began on November 10 and runs till January 15, 2010. It particularly includes Las Vegas, San Jose, Boston, Baltimore, Burbank, Houston, Indianapolis, Seattle, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, St. Louis and Charlotte. At Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) and Burbank (BUR) airports, the service will continue indefinitely. During the same period, all passengers on Virgin America airline will also have free in-flight internet access in their airplanes as a gift from Google. Google just asks to make voluntary charitable contributions [which they said they would match up $250K] in lieu of connectivity payment to some charities. And of course, you have carry your own laptop- it's not time yet for complimentary in-flight laptops- so far you can only count on head phones, and some airlines may charge you even for them.

November 5, 2009

Medical Power Supplies: New Efficiency Standards are Ahead

This week the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has published a notice of proposed rule on its "Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products: Determination Concerning the Potential for Energy Conservation Standards for Non-Class A External Power Supplies." In this document, DOE proposes to determine that energy conservation standards for so-called non-Class A external power supplies (EPS). Class A in DOE terminology refers to single output EPS with nameplate power under 250 watts.

For reference, currently there are three domestic programs that mandate certain minimum efficiency levels of external power supplies: the Federal mandatory standard for Class A EPSs, the EPA’s voluntary ENERGY STAR standard, and California’s mandatory standard for so-called ‘‘State Regulated EPSs.’’ They all apply to low-power single-output units and particularly exclude medical supplies. Did you think the government would let anything to be unregulated? Nah! The DOE is now is trying to regulate efficiency of four more types of external power supplies that do not fall under class A: (1) Multiple output EPS (2) EPS above 250 W, (3) EPS for medical use, and (4) EPS for battery charging. The new proposed rule can affect power supplies for a wide variety of applications such as amateur radio equipment, Xbox 360, nebulizers for home use and other medical equipment, cordless power tools, etc. Note that this rule does not set any specific standards yet; it only positively determines that future standards may be warranted and should be explored in an energy conservation standards rulemaking. DOE will be accepting comments by December 18, 2009, after which it will make an actual determination.