Google prunes some of its branches

It is that time again at Google when it has to prune some of its various branches. Since Google co-founder Larry Page took over the reins as CEO in April last year, Google has been reducing and trimming its projects to renew and regain focus.

Google has come under investor scrutiny as it is facing increasing competition from both Apple and Facebook.

This spring cleaning is part of the various cost cutting and refocusing efforts. In the latest cleaning exercise announced a few weeks ago, Google will be pulling the plug on seven of its projects.

1. Google Knol

Google launched Knol in 2007 to help improve web content and as a challenge to Wikipedia that enabled experts to collaborate on in-depth articles. Knol will be available till April 30, 2012, to enable users to download their Knols to a file and/or migrate them to the WordPress platform. After that till October 1, 2012, Knols cannot be viewed but users will be able to download and export content. After October 2012, the Knol content will no longer be available.

2. Google Gears

Google has closed the Gears browser extension for creating offline web applications and stopped supporting new browsers in March this year. From December 1, 2011, Gears-based Gmail and Calendar offline will not work across all browsers, and Gears will not be available for download from late December this year. Google announced that this is part of their effort to help incorporate offline capabilities into HTML5. Users can access Gmail, Calendar and Docs offline in Chrome.

3. Renewable Energy

Google has abandoned its ambitious plans to make renewable energy cheaper than coal. Google had started this project in 2007 as a means on driving down the price of renewable energy with a strong focus on solar power. Google announced that the head of the project, Bill Weihl (William E. Weihl) has left the company and it believes that other organizations were in a better position to take its efforts to the next level.

4. Google Wave

Google has earlier stopped further development on Google Wave. Now it has announced that as of January 31, 2012, Wave will be available as only a read-only version and users won’t be able to create new ones. This will be completed closed on April 30, 2012. Users can transfer individual waves using the existing PDF export feature.

5. Google Search Timeline

Google will be removing this feature that displays a historical graph of results for a search query. Users will now be able to restrict any search to particular time periods using the refinement tools on the left-hand side of the search page. Uses who wish to view graphs with historical trends for a web search can use Google Trends or Google Insights for data since 2004. If you need more historical data, the “Ngram Viewer” in Google Books offers the same information.

The Google Trends Product Logo

6. Google Friend Connect

Google Friend Connect, which is a social feature, will be discontinued from March, this is because Google wants people to start using the Google Plus social network instead.

7. Google Bookmarks

The feature will become unavailable from December 19, 2011. This enabled users to share bookmarks and collaborate with friends. The existing bookmark Lists will be retained and labelled to make it easier to identify. The other features of the Google Bookmarks will keep on functioning. The change won’t affect the non-English users as it was an English only feature.

This spring cleaning is only a sign that Google knows that it currently faces big competition, so it needs to make sure that it discontinues disused/inefficient services it provides.

Smart Meters are the future for your home electricity

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Smart meters are a clever new technology, that can help to improve the way your energy usage is monitored and recorded, but many people know very little about this new bit of tech.

Smart Meters

Smart meters are a technology that are transforming our understanding of energy, and how we use it. What they allow you to do is to work out how much energy you are using, and on what, much better than ever before.

Smart meters measure gas and electricity usage in your home, by replacing your old electricity and gas meter, with an all new one.

For more information, watch this useful British Gas video about smart meters 🙂

The Benefits

This new energy meter allows you to see much easier how much electricity you are using, due to their handy in-home display, which puts you in control  of your energy.

Thanks to smart meters you can see in real time how much energy you are using. You can check this on its user friendly energy monitor, either online or through our smartphone app. So if you have your kettle and TV on and you are using 1KW, then you know what those appliances use.

According to British Gas this gives you the potential to reduce your bills by around a fantastic 10%!  This is because thanks to smart meters, you can see what energy you are using, and therefore can start to make small changes to use less and save money on your bills.

Another handy thing about smart meters is that they report wireless, so there is no longer a need (or the hassle!) for you or an engineer to take readings. Furthermore, the readings sent will now be 100% accurate, for total piece of mind.

Installation

In the UK British Gas are aiming to provide smart meters in all homes in the near future – meaning that everyone can benefit from this new technology.

British Gas's Corporate LogoThey are starting the roll out now, with 120,000 homes in the UK already having a smart meter. This will grow to around 1.5million by the end of 2012.

Because they are so useful, the UK government has mandated that all households will need to have smart meters installed by 2019.

British Gas have already started to introduce smart meters to homes across the UK, in order to make sure that we are ready in time for 2019.

When your home is ready for an upgrade, British Gas will contact you and their highly trained Smart Energy Experts will change your meters, and explain how to use your energy display and save on your bills.

Head over to British Gas’s website and Facebook page to find out more about smart meters and how you can get yours installed!

What do you think about the new meters which could save you money? Do you have any questions on anything I haven’t covered about smart meters?

The existence of dark energy is confirmed

The universe is too light. What?! Well, scientists have worked out how much the universe should weigh and how much substance it should contain, given the weight of matter, the size (height, length and breadth) of the universe and the time of it’s existence.

But, there is a problem. It is too light, and doesn’t have nearly enough substance. It is thought that ordinary matter such as stars, planets and gases only make up around 4% of the total weight of the universe. So where is the rest of it coming from?


That’s what scientists very recently think they have discovered. For a long time now there have been theories about so called ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ making up the difference, but until now, no actual proof.

However, the results from a major astronomical survey, which used the latest in hi-tech scientific technology and research methods to observe over 200,000 galaxies, appear to have confirmed the existence of dark energy.

The existence of dark energy appears to explain why the universe is expanding at an increasing rate. From what I understand, this is because the energy to some extent almost defies gravity, so if you were to throw a tennis ball, instead of eventually slowing down to a stop, dark energy would continue to increase the speed of the ball.

Scientists now believe that normal matter makes up around 4% of the universes weight, dark matter makes up around 22% and dark energy makes up the other 74%.

The matter that makes up the universe

A pie chart showing the percentages of the substances that make up the universe

We now have some proof of the existence of dark matter and dark energy, however there is still a very long way to go yet, before we discover the true secrets of our universe…

That is if we ever do!