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Lithium battery company files for bankruptcy protection
Lithium-ion battery technology company Ener1 has filed for bankruptcy protection, citing an electric vehicle market that was slower than expected. The company has reached an agreement on a restructuring plan that will significantly reduce its debt and provide up to US$81 million to recapitalize the company, which is not expected to close its battery plant in Indianapolis.
Ener1 had received a Department of Energy government grant for $118.5 million in 2009 to develop batteries for Volvo and electric car company Think, along with $11.1 million in other government funding and tax credits. Think stopped accepting battery shipments in early 2011 as it tried to deal with a backlog of unsold cars, and filed for bankruptcy in June 2011. With the loss of this customer, Ener1 obtained $4.5 million in short-term debt financing from its largest shareholder in November 2011 to continue its operations while it worked to reorganize itself.
Ener1 has manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and Korea, and also develops commercial fuel cell products and nanotechnology-based materials. The company said that the restructuring plan provides for the continued normal operation of its subsidiaries, including EnerDel, EnerFuel, NanoEner, Emerging Power and Ener1Korea, all of which will honour their customer commitments and will continue to pay their suppliers. Ener1 also said that no jobs are expected to be cut as a direct result of the filing, but that it will “continue to monitor market conditions and make adjustments to the workforce as appropriate.”
“This was a difficult but necessary decision for our company,” said Ener1 CEO Alex Sorokin. “We are extremely pleased to have the strong support of our primary investors and lenders to substantially reduce the company’s debt. We moved aggressively to reduce costs and shift focus when the marketplace did not evolve as quickly as anticipated. Our business plan was impacted when demand for lithium-ion batteries slowed due to lower than expected adoption for electric passenger vehicles. That pressure was exacerbated by volatility in the debt and equity markets that further limited our borrowing ability and the loss of a major customer, Think Global, which filed for bankruptcy in June 2011, and for which we were exclusively providing commercial lithium-ion battery packs.”
25 Worst Passwords of 2011, Hackers can easily to break
“Password” ranks first on password management application provider SplashData’s annual list of worst internet passwords, which are ordered by how common they are. (“Passw0rd,” with a numeral zero, isn’t much smarter, ranking 18th on the list.)
The list is somewhat predictable: Sequences of adjacent numbers or letters on the keyboard, such as “qwerty” and “123456,” and popular names, such as “ashley” and “michael,” all are common choices. Other common choices, such as “monkey” and “shadow,” are harder to explain.
- 1. password
- 2. 123456
- 4. qwerty
- 5. abc123
- 6. monkey
- 7. 1234567
- 8. letmein
- 9. trustno1
- 10. dragon
- 11. baseball
- 12. 111111
- 13. iloveyou
- 14. master
- 15. sunshine
- 16. ashley
- 17. bailey
- 18. passw0rd
- 19. shadow
- 20. 123123
- 21. 654321
- 22. superman
- 23. qazwsx
- 24. michael
- 25. football
“Hackers can easily break into many accounts just by repeatedly trying common passwords,” Slain says. “Even though people are encouraged to select secure, strong passwords, many people continue to choose weak, easy-to-guess ones, placing themselves at risk from fraud and identity theft.”
- 1. Vary different types of characters in your passwords; include numbers, letters and special characters when possible.
- 2. Choose passwords of eight characters or more. Separate short words with spaces or underscores.
- 3. Don’t use the same password and username combination for multiple websites. Use an online password manager to keep track of your different accounts.
7 Reasons Why Your Next Mobile Phone Should Have an NFC Chip
With the launch of Google Wallet in September, contactless mobile phone payments are finally available in the United States. Despite its hype, this technology won't be replacing your wallet anytime soon. But its convenience, ease of coupon redemption and receipt storage, and promise of more uses to come mean you should still consider it for your next mobile phone -- or maybe even the one you already have.
Rather than type in a mobile payment text (SMS) message or pull a credit card out of a wallet, shoppers using Google Wallet can wave their phones near a MasterCard PayPass device or other near field communications (NFC) receiver at the checkout counter. The device receives the signal and charges the correct amount to the shopper's credit card, or a virtual prepaid Google card.
You can use Google Wallet today if you have a Samsung Nexus S 4G mobile phone on the Sprint network, and it works at any of the 140,000 PayPass receivers at cash registers in the United States and the 200,000 more in the rest of the world. Many more options will appear soon, both from Google and from Isis, a formidable joint venture of Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. Here are seven reasons why it's time to give this technology a serious look:
1. It's more secure than a plastic credit card. If you lose a plastic credit card, a thief can easily use it to make purchases. Google Wallet requires you to enter a personal identification number (PIN) and locks if the wrong one is entered five times, according to Google representative Nate Tyler. And the odds of a third party hacking into that wireless signal are small. "It will only work within three to five centimeters," Tyler says. That's a maximum distance of less than two inches.
2. Special offers are redeemed automatically. Participating merchants can use Google Wallet to offer special deals to users via Google Offers, the company's deal-offering site. The nice thing about it is you don't have to do anything. Andrew Schrage, editor of the personal finance blog MoneyCrashers, was pleasantly surprised that when he waved his smartphone to make a purchase at a CVS store, it offered him a discount automatically. "It recognized me as a CVS customer," he says.
More ways of redeeming offers are on the way. "If you get a coupon in an email, you'll be able to clip it and save it to your mobile wallet," says MasterCard's Vice President of Emerging Payment in the United States Mario Shiliashki. "You'll be able to receive coupons by text message or by scanning quick response (QR) codes with your phone's camera. And we're working with Google to deploy smart posters with NFC tags in them, where you can get a coupon by tapping your phone on the poster."
3. It's easy to track your spending. The Google Wallet app keeps an ongoing record of your expenses that you can check from the app any time, though it may take a little while for full details to show up. "When the transactions first took place they said 'PayPass Merchant' or something similar," reports Derek Aitken, a Google Wallet user in San Francisco. "By the next time I checked, about a day later, it had listed the name of the shop and offered a Google Maps link to the location." Google Wallet also automatically stores your receipts.
4. It's quicker than a card -- when it works correctly. "I've probably used it 20 times, and it didn't work about three or four of them," Schrage says. When it did work, he says, the experience was enough of a convenience to keep him coming back. "I want to use it more down the road," he says. If you do hit a snag, he adds, don't expect much help from the cashier. "The times it didn't work, they weren't able to troubleshoot," he says. But he's confident that the service, which is just a few weeks old, will become more reliable as it gets better established.
5. You can use a prepaid card to control spending and avoid credit card interest. With Google's prepaid card, you don't have to run up credit card debt, and you can limit your contactless spending potential if you want to. And you may want to. "A credit card is a buffer between you and the money you're spending," says Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. "Many studies show that people spend more freely when they use credit cards than when they use cash. Mobile phone contactless payments can be even more dangerous because they're more of a buffer, and people will be able to purchase even more quickly. The longer it takes to buy something, the better the chance that you'll avoid an impulse purchase."
6. You may not have to buy a new phone. Many current smartphones models -- and most to be sold in the future -- are already equipped with NFC technology, and should work with Google Wallet or other contactless systems as they are launched and expanded. But what if you don't have an NFC-enabled phone and still have lots of time left on your contract? You may soon be able to retrofit your existing phone with contactless payment technology, if it has a slot for an external storage card or "smart card." Tyfone is one of several companies developing micro SD cards with NFC capability built in. "It will all happen within the next 12 months," says Siva Narendra, president of Tyfone.
The big exception is the iPhone: Currently available iPhones have neither built-in NFC nor card slots. But the iPhone 5 is widely expected to arrive sometime in 2012 and be NFC-enabled.
7. Many more uses are coming. Replacing credit cards is just the beginning. In time, Google Wallet may be able to store everything from gift cards to event tickets to boarding passes -- it might even act as your car key.
"We can imagine a day when you walk into a store and tap your phone to a poster to let the retail staff know you're there. They can look up your buying history and offer personalized service," Shiliashki says. "Or you could tap on a tag to get detailed information about a product. We're improving the entire shopping experience, not just the payment portion."
Alienware M18x Preview– Lighter, Cheaper, has 3D Built-in and Optimus Works
The Alienware systems are specially engineered pieces of hardware that are destined to bring you to a world of surreal gaming. Or at least that is what the company hopes to have done. Whether it delivers is what this article is about.
The Alienware M18x is the latest massive mobile gaming rig that Dell has released. Available with it is an option to go for AMD Radeon 6990M or an NVIDIA solution by way of a GeForce GTX 580M. And they come in twos — CrossFire or SLI setups.
Another piece of awesomeness is that Alienware M18x systems feature 3 pre-defined BIOS settings for the overclock. For those of you who are more demanding, they also offer a custom tuning option wherein you have the chance to make your Alienware perform perfectly or to become a really expensive heater.
You can get the spec list from alienware, but we’ll cover the gems here.
The M18x comes with the i7-2920XM – a power house that starts at 2.7GHz and turbos through to 3.7GHz on a single core. On quadcore mode you would get 3.4GHz. This monster is backed up by 16GB DDR3-1600 spread in 4 SODIMMS. The HDD, whatever you get, I’d recommend upgrading to a hybrid or an SSD – the difference is humongous! The stock systems come with Seagate Momentus 750GB HDD in RAID 0. A Momentus XT would have been so much more pleasurable.
By now you would have realized that this unit is capable of plaing all modern games. There’s nothing that can make a 580M in SLI sweat.
The Alienware rigs have this cool capability to turn the discrete GPU card ON or OFF by using muxes for the AMD Radeon’s, but when you are riding a NVIDIA you should get to use the much more superior Optimus technology. This would let the M18x do trivial tasks without gobbling up the battery. But Optimus is not available for the M18x yet so you’ll have to make do with those switchable muxes. Mind you, they take over 15 secs to switch – powering down te discrete card, unloading drivers and loading Intel drivers – it’s time consuming.
Considering all of this, I would conclude that if you want a laptop that can handle any games that come your way with the highest of settings, go for the M18x. Else if you are looking forward to also use your laptop in classes or for other non-gaming ‘work’, you would be far better of with a M17x-R3. It’s lighter, cheaper, has 3D built-in and Optimus works.
Few Tips Before You Say Goodbye to Your Old Laptop?
There are many tech treats that were on holiday wish lists recently, and if you now have that fancy new Macbook Air or tablet in your hands, you may now be faced with a dilemma: what to do with your old laptop?
The pace of technology can make it seem like your old machine is obsolete, but sometimes donating it is the perfect solution; non-profits can use a working laptop by either selling it or using it for daily operations. No matter if you're recycling your laptop along with your old phone or donating it, check out a few tips before you say goodbye to it — and let me know what you plan on doing with your new one, if you were so lucky — after the break.
- Do your research. Make sure you are donating or recycling with a reputable operation. Check out recycles.org in order to be anonymously matched with a charity looking for your specific type of laptop, or search online for a recycling point near you.
- Erase it! This is the most important thing you can do with old laptops or computers that you are giving away. Run a program that wipes your hard drive clean before you pack it up, or try out some of these tips for securely deleting your info.
- Do some clean up. If you are donating to a charity, take a few minutes to wipe down your laptop's monitor and keys. The extra time you take to clean off all those fingerprints and crumbs will be much appreciated!
Were you lucky enough to receive a shiny new notebook for the holidays? What did you get, and what will you be doing with your old one?
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