With $95 Million in Series D Round Funds, Docker Leads the Industry Using Cloud Container Technology

Mobile cloud connection

A San Francisco-based company called Docker, which is trying out the concept of a cloud “container,” recently completed its Series D funding round with a whopping $95 million, coming from big-name investors like Insight Venture Partners and Goldman Sachs.

The company, which was formerly called DotCloud, found a niche in a cloud computing industry by specializing in “container technology.” As Fortune describes this product, it is “a type of virtualization that supposedly makes for more efficient application development and data center operations.”

Virtualization first grabbed the spotlight in the cloud industry back in 2009; the concept of using specialized software to make one computer perform similar to multiple smaller computers on multiple networks became very popular because, as Fortune noted back then, this system would allow businesses to save on hardware and on electricity.

Virtualization isn’t an old concept, but the technology of earlier, simpler cloud hosting systems and data sources is now considered obsolete and inefficient. Docker has only been operating for a few years, but as a recent article on Wiredpoints out, the company already has plenty of competition from cloud computing businesses that provide newer cloud hosting systems using ultra-efficient containers.

“The future of cloud computing trends towards containers. Docker with its latest round of fundraising, proves an important fact for tapping into the cloud when required,” says Robert Joseph, CEO, Step Ahead Solution. “Cloud hosting is not a big thing today, because that is what everyone is doing. If you need to stand out of the crowd, then you need to think different and reach out to the silver linings of every cloud that is out there as and when needed.”

According to Fortune, Docker just completed a Series C funding round back in September 2014 with $40 million; following the latest Series D round, Docker has raised more than $150 million. The company is estimated to be worth around $1 billion now.

Although the company may not be able to dominate the cloud container sector for much longer, it’s clear that investors and business owners are pretty excited to see what this groundbreaking technology can offer in the future.

Thailand’s Energy Consumption Reaches Alarming Levels — And Protesting It Can Be Deadly

New life
In Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, luxury shopping is a way of life. The city’s central Sukhumvit Road boasts more than half a dozen luxury retail centers in one short three-mile stretch. At EmQuartier, the district’s newest high-end mall which opened March 27, you can shop at Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Prada and likely any other high-fashion brand you can think of.

But all this luxury comes with a price.

According to a recent Quartz article, the air conditioning systems at Bangkok’s malls are consuming energy at an immense rate; keeping shoppers cool in one of the world’s hottest big cities isn’t easy. The Siam Paragon mall alone consumes more than twice the energy as Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province, which is home to 25,000 people. It is probably safe to say that this mall isn’t changing the filters on its air conditioners every 90 days, as recommended by professionals.

On April 21, Thailand’s power consumption hit a record level of 27,139 megawatts. Deputy Energy Permanent Secretary Tawarath Sutabutr said the new record is a result of both the country’s persistently brutal heat and the growth of its shopping malls, Thailand’s The Nation reported.

“Primarily, the power consumption increased due to air-conditioners,” Sutabutr said.

With natural gas in short supply, Thailand increasingly has to rely on electricity from environmentally-damaging dams along the Lower Mekong River, along with coal-fired power plants.

Yet in Thailand, becoming an activist to protest against these environmentally-harmful energy practices isn’t safe — in some cases, it can even cost you your life.

According to Al Jazeera, 16 Thai environmentalists have been murdered between 2002 and 2013, most likely by hit men linked to local business leaders keen on protecting their interests.

Jintana Kaewkao, a charismatic environmental activist who famously blocked the construction of major coal-fired power plant in the small fishing village of Ban Krut a decade ago, still has to be escorted by armed police officers wherever she goes. Armed assailants have shot at her house four times over the last 10 years.

“I’m lucky not to be dead,” Kaewkao told Al Jazeera.

Regardless of what environmentalist do, it seems the Thai government is showing no signs of pursuing alternate energy sources to fuel its grotesque appetite for electric power — which is why Kaewkao and her fellow activists remain vigilant for any efforts to re-introduce the abandoned Ban Krut power plant project.

“Despite environmental concerns or issues caused by coal-fired power, the [Thai energy authority] is considering increasing coal-fired generation as a means to reduce dependency on natural gas imports for electricity generation,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration wrote in a November analysis.

Chevrolet Ad Blurs Line Between Print and Digital Advertising

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Anyone who says print marketing is dead simply isn’t paying attention to the numbers, as business community website Customer Think reminded readers April 23. Around 67% of Americans prefer to actually hold promotional materials and direct mail notices in their hands, according to research done by Chief Marketer; that’s on top of findings from Marketing Sherpa that consumers trust print more than any digital source.

Linking a tactile experience to a brand can drive up sales, and experts suggest that businesses can see even more conversions by integrating print communications and digital ones.

Most of the time, an integrated campaign attempts to use print ads to direct viewers to digital content, or vice versa. But a Chevrolet ad in this month’s editions of Esquire and Popular Mechanics went a bit further: actually embedding digital video in a print ad.

“We had these awesome digital films that we created for the Colorado [truck model] launch and we thought, why not … put video in print,” Jill Mida, manager of Chevrolet truck advertising, told Advertising Age regarding the campaign.

Around 10,000 subscribers for each magazine received copies that had an embedded player which, when they flipped the page to the ad, began playing a video.

Only readers deemed likely to actually be interested in purchasing the truck were targeted. Mida shared that they “leveraged” all the consumer data Hearst — the owner of both magazines — had in order to choose the 20,000 that ended up seeing the ad.

Of course, it’s unlikely the digital-in-print model will become widespread, at least in the near future, and old-fashioned printing services aren’t on the edge of obsolescence just yet. While Mida declined to put an actual figure on the ad’s cost, she told Ad Age that “the unit is obviously expensive.”

“As inboxes become overloaded and overlooked, email marketing has become less effective,” explained Howard Sturm, CEO of Apple Visual Graphics. “Meanwhile, direct mail has started to regain a foothold where it had previously been retreating. The relative scarcity of print marketing allows it to command more attention than does the ubiquity of email.”

In Drought-Stricken California, Lawns Are Out

Summertime garden
For homeowners in many parts of the country, spring gardening conjures up images of nursing a lawn back to health or planting rows of daffodils. In California, however, more and more homeowners are ripping up their once-prized lawns and ditching thirsty flowerbeds in the face of the state’s worst-ever drought.

Gov. Jerry Brown even announced earlier this month that water use reductions would become mandatory for the first time in the state’s history. While water won’t be shut off if water districts exceed their allotted amounts, prices will rise sharply. As of now, about 5% of the state’s water usage goes to keeping lawns green, meaning that watering is likely to get expensive in the near future.

And that’s not the only financial incentive California residents have to replace grassy areas with less demanding alternatives: rebates are making it a smart short-term move as well.

Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District has paid more than $34 million in turf removal rebates since last summer, offering a rebate of $2 per square foot of turf removed; another $120 million in rebate applications has been approved.

So far, about 2,600 Los Angeles homeowners and 60 companies have ripped out their lawns, the LA Times reported earlier this month.

California’s water situation may be more dire, and better publicized, than shortfalls in other states, but homeowners and landscapers all across the country might want to be thinking about how to conserve outdoor water usage as well.

A report from the Government Accountability Office found last year that a full 40 out of 50 states are expected to experience freshwater shortages in at least one region sometime in the next 10 years.

That transition doesn’t have to be painful, however, landscaping experts are saying; there are plenty of drought-resistant plants that aren’t the spiny cacti most people think of first. And while plain old mulch might be an affordable option for homeowners really looking to cut back, there are other non-plant groundcovers that can be quite attractive, such as crushed granite or multi-colored gravel.

“Once considered plentiful, water is now becoming scarce in some areas and this concern may spread across all areas,” said Don Saunders, President of Saunders Landscape Supply. “The time to consider alternatives is now in order that this issue does not escalate into a crisis.”

Illinois Attorney General Warns Homeowners Against Roofing Scams

Man Examining and Repairing Rotten Leaking House Roof
After a series of tornadoes in northern and central Illinois, Attorney General Lisa Madigan has warned Chicago and other Illinois residents to be on the alert for roofing and home repair scams that often pop up in certain seasons and after such storms.

“The communities hit by these tornadoes face a long recovery process,” Madigan said in a news release. “During this challenging time, I encourage area residents to be cautious and on alert for scammers trying to take advantage of people in need of assistance.”

She noted that these scammers often use the pressure of recent damage to persuade homeowners to make impulsive, expensive decisions regarding roofing and other cleanup and construction work.

The attorney general’s office also announced that lawsuits have been filed against four businesses that apparently previously scammed suburban Chicago and central Illinois homeowners out of around $220,000.

“In some of these cases, homeowners are faced with the possibility of liens being placed on their homes all because they put their trust in the wrong people,” Madigan said. “Be wary of anyone who knocks on your door offering services and make sure you obtain written copies of all contracts and warranties.”

Madigan encouraged any consumers to check out prospective workers by calling the attorney general’s consumer fraud hotlines (numbers are available online), and warned against paying in cash.

It’s important to check out the reputation of any company in advance and get a written contract; some fraudsters will appear to start satisfactory work but cut corners along the way in order to move on to other projects, leaving homeowners with far less recourse (installing a new roof on top of the existing one to save time, for example, cuts the life of the new roof by 20%, according to expert estimates).

Though Madigan’s warning is aimed specifically at Illinois residents, it’s a sentiment many homeowners across the country should probably heed as they look to repair damage from summer and spring storms; even typically mild cities such as Austin have seen serious storm damage in the past weeks.

German Researchers Aim to Make Energy-Efficient Vehicle Air Conditioning Systems

Cars
The air conditioning systems used in many of today’s residential homes are more energy-efficient than ever before. In fact, today’s air conditioners consume 30 – 50% less energy on average than those manufactured in the 1970s.

But what about the air conditioning system in your car? How can these systems maintain a comfortable temperature within your vehicle while still maintaining a high level of energy efficiency?

A team of German engineers recently tried to find the answer by studying air conditioning energy efficiency in electric vehicles.

According to a Phys.org article, researchers at Munich’s Technische Universität München (TUM) sought to find a solution on creating a subjectively comfortable climate for passengers without skimping on energy efficiency. Because electric vehicles largely adopted concepts from combustion-engine vehicles, their air conditioning systems have thus far placed a huge dent in their ability to consume electricity efficiently.

To solve this problem, the researchers took an entirely new angle to in-vehicle air conditioning, throwing everything they knew about combustion-engine vehicles out the window. They ultimately found that cooling in direct proximity to the passenger’s body, rather than cooling the entire cabin, provided the most energy-efficient solution.

“Our trials showed that uniform climate control is not necessary,” Marius Janta, staff member of the Chair for Ergonomics at the TU München, explained. “When we heat the seat of a passenger on cold days, passengers find it pleasant. With only a small amount of energy we can significantly reduce the sense of discomfort.”

Phys.org reports that the researchers also boosted electric vehicle efficiency through integrating the car’s performance electronics into a system of holistic thermal management. This means that during the winter, waste heat generated by the engine and performance electronics are used to warm the passenger cabin. Conversely, excess air conditioning capacity could be used to cool the car’s performance electronics during the warmer months.

And this solution isn’t exclusive to electric vehicles — the researchers explained that these energy-efficient concepts can be applied to combustion-engine vehicles, as well.

Sea Monster Inspiration Appears Suddenly, Disappears Mysteriously

oarfish

A rare, bizarre-looking ocean fish, which marine experts say may have been the origin of some sea monster legends, washed up on the shore of a New Zealand beach recently, and then mysteriously vanished.

According to the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre and Aquarium, the nearly 10-foot-long oarfish washed ashore on the Aramoana Spit at the entrance of the Otago Harbor on April 16. The local who discovered the strange looking beast called Department of Conservation service manager David Agnew, who said it was the first time he’d ever found such a creature in his 20-year-long career.

“They are usually found in deep water in tropical temperatures but I think they do come up to feed on the surface,” University of Otago NZ Marine Studies Centre manager Tessa Mills said, which is why it was strange that it’d been found washed ashore in a cold water area.

Even stranger, the oarfish is also known to be self-amputating. Research has found that oarfish will bite off their own tails, though it’s still unknown why.

The strangest thing is, though, that the washed up oarfish vanished.

Otago Museum researchers lacked the resources to remove and preserve the oarfish’s entire carcass. Instead, they took some samples of the fish for study, and left it there. Days later, the oarfish was nowhere to be seen.

Agnew told the Otago Daily Times that it might have been washed away, or taken by someone.

Myths and legends have surrounded the oarfish, as not much is not known about it. People around the world have mistaken the massive, strange creature for a sea serpent, and some have even suggested that the Loch Ness Monster may be an oarfish. This is definitely not the type of fish that you would find fishing in a river on your average fishing trip.

If someone did take the quasi-mythical beast, Agnew advises them not to eat it, as it probably won’t taste good, and is likely quite gelatinous by now.

Breakthrough in Artificial Photosynthesis Could Herald New Clean Energy Source

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Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a system that achieves artificial photosynthesis in a way that could change the energy landscape of the future.

“We believe our system is a revolutionary leap forward in the field of artificial photosynthesis,” Peidong Yang, a chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and a lead author on a study of the new system, said in an April 16 news release. “Our system has the potential to fundamentally change the chemical and oil industry in that we can produce chemicals and fuels in a totally renewable way, rather than extracting them from deep below the ground.”

The team’s system, made of nanowires and bacteria to mimic natural photosynthesis, works by capturing carbon dioxide emissions and, using only solar energy, converting them into “valuable chemical products” such as liquid fuels, biodegradable plastics and even the bases for pharmaceuticals.

This is significant in the wider energy and sustainability field largely because carbon emissions are a driving force in climate change. As carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, the atmosphere becomes warmer. The current concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide is the highest it has been in at least three million years, with most scientists agreeing that the burning of fossil fuels (including those used for electricity generation) is a major factor in these emissions.

While other research projects are searching for alternatives to these high-emissions fuel sources, it appears that fossil fuels will remain a part of the energy landscape for some time. Separate projects have worked to sequester carbon emissions before they can be released into the atmosphere, but a major obstacle for these projects is that all that carbon must then be stored.

This new artificial photosynthesis technique therefore represents a significant step forward in that it offers a path for both using carbon before it contributes to rises in atmospheric levels and produces fuel in the process.

“The testing and development of alternative sources of energy is a big win for our planet,” says Duane Gereski, Marketing Director, Starion Energy. “The extensive research and variety of paths now being explored to discover sustainable energy sources bodes well for green energy in the future.”

The DOE Office of Science provided the majority of the funding for the project. A paper describing the system and what the team has achieved using it so far has been published in the journal Nano Letters.

North Carolina Utility Authority Launches Cease the Grease Campaign

Oil lickign from pipe
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA), which serves the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County, NC, recently re-launched its ‘Cease the Grease’ campaign in an effort to keep grease, fats and oils out of its sewer system.

According to an April 6 Port City Daily article, the CFPUA will be handing out 15,000 plastic can lids to customers at its two customer service offices, located at 235 Government Center Drive and 305 Chestnut St., Wilmington.

Along with tree roots in sewer lines, grease, oils and fats produced during cooking are the most common causes of sewer line clogs and residential drainage problems. Many people mistakenly pour cooking grease down their kitchen sink, thinking the grease will stay in its liquid form; however, this grease eventually hardens and clings to other debris, creating a clog that often requires professional help to remove.

Rather than pour one’s cooking grease down the drain, it’s often suggested to pour the grease into an empty can, allow the grease to cool and harden, then throw the can in the trash once it’s full. The CFPUA’s plastic lids are intended to fit over cans used to hold this excess grease, preventing any spills.

CFPUA Spokesman Mike McGill said that if each of these 15,000 lids is used only once, they will keep more than 150,000 ounces of fats, oils and grease out of the local sewer system. These lids also help protect the environment by preventing sewage spills stemming from blockage, according to the Port City Daily.

“Sometimes the simplest ideas can have the greatest impact,” CFPUA Executive Director Jim Flechtner said.

Local Clothing Donation Bins Attract Some Cute and Not-So-Cute Surprises Over the Weekend

Charity Worker Collecting From Couple In Street
Apparently those clothing donation bins around town can lead to some strange surprises.

Yet one of those incidents will leave people shaking their heads: two men in Shelton, CT, were arrested over the weekend for allegedly stealing donated clothing from a charity bin.

According to police, Joaquin Gonzales and Mardo Pineda drove up in their van to the Kiducation donation bin, located at 898 Bridgeport Avenue in Shelton, and began loading the local clothing donations into the back of the vehicle.

The incident occurred on the night of Saturday, April 11. Police became involved when a witness contacted them around 8 p.m. that evening.

The officers arrived at the scene to find the van stuffed with clothing.

Gonzales, 39, and Pineda, 23, are both New York state residents. They allegedly have nothing to do with the charity.

Gonzales, the driver, did not have a valid driver’s license or an insurance card for his van. He was arrested on charges of sixth-degree larceny, driving without insurance and driving without a license.

Pineda was also charged with sixth-degree larceny.

Both men were released from jail but are due in court on April 27.

Police say that this isn’t the first such crime in the area. Over the past few months, several other local donation bins have been robbed.

Yet this incident wasn’t the only recent strange occurrence around these clothing donation boxes.

In Pennsylvania, a cardboard box was found next to another clothing donation bin, and it turned out to contain a very cute surprise — baby foxes.

A local woman found the box and turned the foxes over to the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Stroudsburg, PA. The five boys (or dogs) and two girls (or vixens) are currently being nursed back to health.

The babies were just 10 days old and only weighed around six ounces each. All were dehydrated but otherwise in good health.

Workers at the center gave the foxes rabies vaccinations and fed them Pedialyte fluids and fox milk, according to the center’s director Katherine Uhler.

The foxes are so young that they aren’t even red yet but brown, with only small white tails.

No crime is suspected in the incident involving the foxes, but the kindness of the people who nursed the animals back to health, and the good Samaritan who found them near the donation bin, goes a little ways in restoring faith in humanity.

The overall cost to nurse the fox cubs back to health and care for them in the coming months is about $1,000. The center plans to release them into the wild in July.