Los Angeles Unified School District Is Leading the Way In Solar Education

With the current economic crisis, rising unemployment and dwindling oil reserves, many people including President Obama are talking about developing a green economy. One Los Angeles school district is well on its way to training tomorrow’s green workers. Check out the video.




Twitter..Life in 140 Characters or Less

twitter-window

Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. Hopefully by now, you’ve heard all about it. News on Twitter (the free microblogging service that let’s you send 140-character messages on whatever you want) is everywhere. It’s as if the media has twitter diarrhea because lately it’s all they are talking about. Reporters from all across the country are joining Twitter in droves and writing about their experiences like David Pogue of the NYT.

Now the media discussion has changed slightly from “hey, there’s this new service called Twitter” to it’s impact on the world of journalism. As Reuters reports, “News organizations are all a-twitter about Twitter: Is it a friend or a foe? Should it be embraced or eschewed? Will Twitter kill journalism or revive it?”

And then you have media outlets like the Financial Times that are trying to teach their readers about the culture and language of Twitter. You know, twitter messages are called “tweets.” The peeps who sign up to read your messages are “followers.” And when you send out someone else’s tweet, you are “re-tweeting.”(This is easily done by addressing your message to a follower by adding an “@” sign to their name, i.e., @faraichideya.)

And as interesting (or not) as this whole conversation about what Twitter is, the better question to ask is why are people using it? Why has Twitter caught on?

The media’s recent discussion and “discovery” is quite amusing to several of us (myself included), who has used Twitter for six months or more (called early adopters) because it used to be a new tool. There was something special about discovering it. Twitter’s long-time users have several reasons for loving and using the free, web-based service.

Like a lot of users, Danyel Smith (@danamo), editor of Vibe, (who I am a big fan of) started using the service because she was curious about it.

danamo

Others like novelist/music journalist/cultural critic Touré (@ToureX) thought it could help his professional writing skills.

tourex

BTW, he doesn’t really need any help in this area but it’s somehow endearing that he is continuously thinking about and working on his writing. It makes us think he is just like the rest of us, which is one of the beauties of Twitter. Unlike traditional media, which tends to be top-down or a one-way means of “them” telling “us” as readers something, Twitter creates a one-on-one conversation where anyone with a Twitter account can join in the conversation. It’s about two-way communication. Several journalists even started asking their Twitter followers if there were questions they wanted to ask in an important interview. Thus, it’s revolutionizing the way journalism is being done.

Many folks are joining because their favorite celebrities are on Twitter. There are few places in the world where you can talk to TV and movie stars like Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) and his wife Demi Moore (@mrskutcher)… and they might talk back. Twitter has given regular folks yet another window into the daily lives of stars through their Twitter streams. You can find all sorts of celebs from Britney Spears (@britneyspears) to Puff Daddy (@iamdiddy) to MC Hammer (@MCHammer) to Omarosa (@omarosa). They are all there – tweeting away!

twitterati

Gawker even started tracking Twitter accounts with their daily posting of the Twitterati. It’s hilarious and a reminder that people are broadcasting their thoughts out onto the Internet for anyone to read (unless you adjust your privacy settings). And now, a person’s tweets (Senators, writers, TV stars and regular people) have somehow become the news and fodder for the media? Interesting flip!

And there are thousands that are just like me, who also use Twitter because it helps us connect with people – new and old friends. It even helps you meet like-minded folks. Whatever you are into, there is someone on Twitter that likes the same thing. (And you can use Twitter’s search site to find posts on your favorite subject.)

Twitter also keeps you informed and quickly (if you follow the right folks). And you don’t have to check thousands of news sites or even go to a RSS feed service. If you are following @CNN or @Drudge_Report or other media sites and the reporters that have recently hopped on-board, you will be definitely be in the know. And if you downloaded Twitterific or Tweetie for your iPhone (or Twitterberry for your Blackberry), you have these conversations and breaking news at your fingertips.

And obviously, if you have something interesting to say or sell, you should be using Twitter. Except beware, no one likes a constant self-promoter. The Twitter world is all about the give and take of information… you know, sharing. It feels like a conversation (although at times a bit scattered), but a talk nonetheless.

The merits of Twitter and its impact on media will be debated for years to come. But with technology giants, like Google (@Google) joining the Twitter fray, isn’t it time you checked it out for yourself. Don’t take my word for it or the thousands of media folks ranting or raving about it. See for yourself.. You may become a Tweetering fool that neglects their Facebook account for a bit (or is that just me).

Note: post also appears on HuffingtonPost and Pop+Politics




More Kindle Love But Not from Stewart of “The Daily Show”

As many of you know (from an earlier post), I really want a Kindle. Although I’m a big booklover, I’d love to have my entire library at my constant disposal. Major Kindle bonus!! Well, Jeff Bezos of Amazon (& Kindle maker) appeared on The Daily Show recently to tout the Kindle 2. Jon Stewart couldn’t quite get with the idea of cozing up to a Kindle at night or the whopping $359 cost. (Oh yeah, and the electronic books cost $9.99). Nevertheless, I still want one. (Maybe graduation gift??) Check out the video.

Smooches,
The Caramel Bella

P.S. You can get one here.




New Wish List Item: Kindle 2

Okay… I want one – a Kindle 2, that is! If you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit of a tech nerd. I love technology, especially when it can improve my life. At first, I was really apprehensive about the Kindle, a wireless book reader because I love books. There is something wonderful about the smell of them and the weight of books (and magazines) in your hand. And the cost of $359 seems a bit pricey. Then, an author friend of mine told me the best benefit ever — the ability to take your library with you to the beach. That sold me instantly. I live near the beach and often wish I had brought a certain magazine or book with me during my many trips to gaze at the ocean. Engadget did this great post about the new Kindle (as did Fast Company).  Here’s the video.

Is the Kindle 2 on your wish list? If not, why?

The Kindle goes on sale February 24th. Get one here:

Smooches,
The Caramel Bella




CB’s Green Report: Stop Crying Detroit & Build Greener Cars

gmc_yukon_denalifront_left_view2007 Toyota Prius Touring Edition

GMC Yukon Denali vs. Toyota Prius Hybrid

Waaah Waaah Waaah Detroit
. Automobile makers are crying the blues at President Obama’s interest in imposing stricter emission standards on their vehicles. The president recently “ordered the government to reconsider whether California and other states could regulate vehicle emissions to help control greenhouse gas emissions, a reversal of a position taken by the Bush administration.” (At the moment, automakers say only the Toyota Prius hybrid and similar vehicles would meet those standards.)

In true Obama form, he emphasized his willingness to work with the carmakers to meet his administration’s goals: energy independence and stopping global warming.

“Let me be clear: Our goal is not to further burden an already struggling industry,” Obama said at the White House according to MSNBC. “It is to help America’s automakers prepare for the future.”

American automakers claim the emission modifications could potentially put them out of business because they would have to stop producing the larger, gas-guzzlers (read: more profitable vehicles). Although GM and Chrysler just borrowed billions of dollars from the federal government, it appears they were counting on the fat price tags of their less fuel-efficient and not low greenhouse gas emission vehicles like Cadillac Escalade (MSRP mid $60,000′s), Hummer truck (MSRP $60,000-70,000′s), and even the Saab 9-5 (MSRP $40,000′s).

“I think this is the pathway to their survival,” David Doniger of the National Resources Defense Council said to the New York Times. “If carmakers are going to survive in a world of volatile oil prices and global warming, they have to be making more efficient vehicles. When the economy comes back and people start buying cars again, they’re going to expect that gas prices are going to go up, and they’re not going to want the gas hogs that they used to want. Consumers’ tastes have changed in terms of what’s cool.”

Hey Detroit, you proved that you could make a hybrid Escalade. Surely, you can get to work on updating the technology for the rest of the cars, which gives options for larger families and is better for the environment. After all, Americans are paying for it – to the tune of $17.4 billion.

In other news…


Former Vice President Al Gore is urging Congress to support legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions. In his recent testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gore warned the government to not get so blindsided by the economic crisis that they forget to work on international global warming initiatives. In fact, he reminds them that “the economy, terrorism and the Iraq and Afghan wars are linked by a common thread – our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels.” In addition to the greenhouse gas emissions cap, there is another solution that both Obama and Gore agree on: the President’s economic stimulus plan. Obama’s proposal includes investments in clean energy and green jobs that Gore and others think will help the U.S. economy. Green thinking could add up to more green..dollars that is.

Check out Gore’s recent testimony before Congress on greenhouse gases.




A Browser for Black People, Huh?

Yes, it’s true. It’s called Blackbird (powered by Mozilla) and it was designed by African Americans for African Americans (kind of like FUBU). The free browser was developed with these Pew Internet 2004 findings in mind: “(1) there are 20 million African Americans online who need tools to build and foster community now more than ever, (2) 85% of African Americans prefer online news and information from the Black perspective, and (3) African Americans are twice as likely to be among the first to discover new trends and use advanced technology compared to the general population.”

Blackbird’s goal is to make it easier for black people to find African American news and relevant content online, interact with members of the African American community, share stories and comments, and watch videos through the browser.  The video section features content from online TV sites like DigitalSoulTV, NSNewsTV, UptownLiveTV and ComedyBanksTV. To me, the best part of the browser idea is the ‘Give Back’ program, which gives donations to several nonprofit organizations. Blackbird also plans to give 10% of its 2009 revenues to their nonprofit partners, which seems pretty generous.

This browser opens up an interesting conversation around “what is black content?” Is the content provider black? Or is it content written with black people in mind? And by the way, who is considered black? Will content by and for people of multi-ethnic and bi-racial backgrounds be included? Hmmm..

In addition to the questions surrounding a “black browser,” I’m not entirely convinced black people needed a “separate” black browser. (Maybe I just love my Firefox one.)  Who knows? It might be just what my life was missing.




CB’s Green Report: Post Turkey Day News

Free veggies anyone? More than 40,000 people showed up to pick free vegetables left over from the harvest at a Colorado farm about 37 miles north of Denver. The farm owners expected about 5,000 to 10,000 people to pick a few carrots and potatoes last Saturday. Instead, more than 11,000 cars showed up and the people picked the fields clean. Owner, Ms. Miller, told the Denver Post, “Overwhelmed is putting it mildly. People obviously need food.”

And in Los Angeles recently, Mayor Villaraigosa revealed his long-range plan to generate “enough solar power to meet one-tenth of the city’s energy needs by 2020.” His goal could be achieved if solar panels are installed on public and private energy generating facilities as well as on residents’ homes. This initiative will also help the city’s Department of Water and Power reduce its use of fossil fuels, like natural gas and coal, and benefit global warming reduction efforts. If the Mayor’s plan were successful, Los Angeles would become the “hub of the solar-energy industry.”

The White House may become a “green” house. In the recent Barbara Walters interview with President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, Obama said that he wants to make the White House green. He plans to work with the chief usher for house and evaluate his new home’s energy efficiency. When asked why the focus on greening the house, Obama said, “Part of what I want to do is to show the American people that it’s not that hard.”

Global warming is a global concern. Although the global economy is in the pits right now, HSBC bank’s second annual global poll found that 43 percent think climate change is a bigger problem than the financial crisis. And 78 percent of those polled want their countries to do their “fair share” of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Although the global citizens polled want their governments to fight global warming, invest in renewable energy (55 percent), and participate in climate talks (27 percent), as individuals, these people are less willing to change their own lifestyle than last year (47 percent in 2008 vs. 58 percent in 2007). Have they ever heard the expression that change begins with YOU?

So if you are a big greenie, where can you meet like-minded individuals? Funny you should ask. There is a new social networking site called Greenwala. The site is designed to help people learn more about being green, brag about their green works with family and friends.




Daily News Roundup: BlackBerries, Barack and Bombs

In technology news, the new BlackBerry Storm smartphone has a New York Times reviewer calling it the “BlackBerry Dud.” Unlike its predecessors, the BlackBerry Pearl and Bold, the Storm model doesn’t appear to live up to the BlackBerry tradition. According to the review, the new touchscreen (designed to compete with the iPhone) doesn’t respond well to touch. And its lauded email capabilities have been compromised on the new Storm. Hey BlackBerry makers, Research in Motion (R.I.M.) maybe you should have listened to the old adage: if it’s not broken don’t fix it….(Note: Blackberries still outsell iPhone).

With the U.S. economic problems looming, President-Elect Barack Obama named Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve Chairman to head his Economic Recovery Advisory Committee. Obama chose Volcker for his independent and fresh thinking. “At this defining moment for our nation, the old ways of thinking and acting just won’t do,” Obama said at a news conference in Chicago reported Bloomberg. This economic board will look for new ways to revive the U.S. economy.

In other President-elect cabinet news, sources tell CNN that Defense Secretary Robert Gates will keep his job for at least the first year of Obama’s administration. These sources also report “Obama is interested in some continuity at the Pentagon because he is entering office while dealing with two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the international financial crisis.” Other analysts claim the new president-elect is demonstrating his commitment to bipartisanship.

And if we haven’t noticed, the President-elect is making his cabinet picks fairly quickly. Obama is once again making presidential history with choosing his picks faster than most of the other presidents. Many political insiders are surprised because of the President-elect’s extensive candidate questionnaire and background check. Yet Obama appears committed to acting quickly to ensure a quick transition that will strengthen the economy and preserve jobs, which are on the minds of most Americans.

And if following up on his earlier threat to Obama, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said al Qaeda has sent a “plausible but unsubstantiated” report to Federal authorities that may have mentioned attacking transit systems in or around New York City. The DHS and FBI said Tuesday that the attacks would be waged with suicide bombers or explosives on trains and subways. Although the agencies don’t have details at this moment, they issued the warning because of a potential attack during the holiday season.




Six Apart Offers Bailout Program for Journalists — Including Me

With the economy in serious trouble, automakers and financial institutions are seeking a government bailout. And the banks and financial folks got one to the tune of $700 billion. Well, The New York Times recently reported that Six Apart, the maker of Moveable Type blogs called TypePad, has created a bailout program of their own: “The Journalist Bailout Program.” (Spoiler alert—they interviewed me!)

The new initiative is designed to help journalists who recently lost their jobs get back on their feet. Once accepted into the program, Six Apart will give 20 to 30 individuals a TypePad pro blog with full technical support (worth about $150 a year), inclusion in its advertising program (which is an opportunity to earn money) and his or her blog featured on Blogs.com, a blog aggregator site. Six Apart’s Moveable Type software and platform is used by some great sites like Barack Obama’s campaign site, The Washington Post, and NPR—just to name a few. This is a huge gesture and generous offering for struggling journalists who may need both financial and technical help to start blogging.

About a week or so ago, I saw a Tweet about the program. (I’m a bigger Twitter user and advocate.) So, I immediately clicked on the link and saw blogger and Six Apart vice president, Anil Dash’s, blog post about the opportunity.

(more…)




President-Elect Obama May Have To Lose His Crackberry Addiction

President-elect Barack Obama is hip and technology savvy. In fact, many political analysts contend that his use of technology and email during his presidential campaign contributed significantly to his win in the age of Web 2.0. Yet according to a recent New York Times article, as president, Obama may be forced to lose his favorite campaign device: his BlackBerry.

Because of the Presidential Records Act, Obama’s BlackBerry (a hacker liability) poses a national security risk. It also allows the president’s location to be trackable via GPS and cell networks. And the law makes all of his correspondence available for the public to review should they be subpoenaed by Congress. There is no “work only” clause either; his personal emails to his daughters, wife and friends would be combed through as well.

Unlike his self-proclaimed technophobic contender from the general election, Obama will definitely feel the loss. Like most of us (including this author), Obama’s BlackBerry has become a part of his life. For him, the device may have been one of his few escapes to the real world and a much needed lifeline to his friends and family.

“Given how important it is for him to get unfiltered information from as many sources as possible, I can imagine he will miss that freedom,” said Linda Douglass, a senior adviser who traveled with the campaign to the NYT.

In the transition days ahead, our president-elect may have to wean himself off his BlackBerry like he did cigarettes. The former may be harder than the latter.

Note: also posted on Pop + Politics




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my luvs

My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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