Better switchgrass, better biofuel

Using switchgrass to produce biofuel is one way to decrease the United States’ dependence on oil, but growing it and making it profitable can be complicated. It lacks qualities, such as high biomass yield, needed to maximize biofuel production. To combat this issue, and breed switchgrass that has the optimal combination of these traits, the researchers tried evaluating plants using the Smith-Hazel Selection Index. This index allowed the researchers to estimate and combine information on multiple traits. It also looked at the economic value of each trait, which further maximizes the rating.

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A 60-second fix for Lollipop’s heads-up notification nuisance

Lollipop brings an awful lot of good stuff to Android devices, from its fresh and distinctive Material Design motif to its bevy of useful new features. But it also brings some annoying quirks, not least of which is the way it handles certain kinds of notifications. 

I’m talking specifically about heads-up notifications — a new type of notification introduced in Android 5.0. Heads-up notifications make certain alerts appear as floating cards at the top of your screen, on top of whatever else you’re viewing. The idea is to provide a less distracting way for you to see pertinent information — but in reality, those pesky cards often do just the opposite.

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IDG Contributor Network: Microsoft: Beneath the Surface

Microsoft’s recent announcement of the new Surface Hub finds the company in an increasingly familiar and comfortable hardware development mode. But before getting into that, let’s look at Microsoft’s solution for group collaboration.

Basically, the Surface Hub is a large to majestic (either a 55-inch version for $6,999 or an 84-inch version for $19,999) multi-touch-enabled, wall-mounted display for group meeting rooms. The device supports a broad range of Microsoft software and productivity solutions, including Windows 10, Skype for Business, Office, OneNote and Universal Windows apps.

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Foxconn, Alibaba join SoftBank in global robotics push

Japanese mobile carrier SoftBank is teaming up with Apple manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group in a global push to manufacture and sell robots for the home and workplace.

Foxconn and Alibaba are each investing ¥14.5 billion (US$118 million) in SoftBank Robotics Holdings (SRH), for a stake of about 20 percent each of the company, with SoftBank holding the remaining 60 percent.

SRH is a holding company for SoftBank’s robotics business, which will begin sales of the carrier’s Pepper communications robot for Japanese consumers on Saturday. It plans to first sell 1,000 units, priced at ¥198,000 (US$1,600) with a monthly cloud connection fee of ¥14,800 (US$120)and monthly insurance of ¥9,800 (US$80). The hardware price is low for a robot as sophisticated as Pepper.

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Microsoft Lumia phones are DEAD (Satya said stop, but Nokia says go)

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s reorganization of the company is causing some serious head-scratching. Commentators — including this Humble Blogwatcher — are reaching the inescapable conclusion that the ex-Nokia Lumia business is dead (or, at least, mortally wounded).

Redmond certainly seems to be sidelining the perpetually loss-making Windows phone devices group. And the departure of two notable scapegoats seems to confirm the view: Yes, Stephen Elop is out, along with one of his trusted lieutenants, Jo Harlow. Do you hear echoes of the KIN débâcle?

But wait, what’s this? Nokia’s CEO says the Finnish company plans to start making phones again. Curiouser and curiouser… 

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Microsoft Lumia phones: DEAD (Satya said stop, but Nokia says go again)

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s reorganization of the company is causing some serious head-scratching. Commentators — including this Humble Blogwatcher — are reaching the inescapable conclusion that the ex-Nokia Lumia business is dead (or, at least, mortally wounded).

Redmond certainly seems to be sidelining the perpetually loss-making Windows phone devices group. And the departure of two notable scapegoats seems to confirm the view: Yes, Stephen Elop is out, along with one of his trusted lieutenants, Jo Harlow. Do you hear echoes of the KIN débâcle?

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers eulogize Lumia (but not Elop). Not to mention: Star Wars Wars… 

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Microsoft’s Lumia phone biz is DEAD (snarky Satya said so)

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s reorganization of the company is causing some serious head-scratching. Commentators — including this Humble Blogwatcher — are reaching the inescapable conclusion that the ex-Nokia Lumia business is dead (or, at least, mortally wounded).

Redmond certainly seems to be sidelining the perpetually loss-making Windows phone devices group. And the departure of two notable scapegoats seems to confirm the view: Yes, Stephen Elop is out, along with one of his trusted lieutenants, Jo Harlow.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers eulogize Lumia (but not Elop). Not to mention: Star Wars Wars… 

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