World's largest solar thermal plant is on the grid

While the East Coast feels the brunt of yet another winter storm, Southern California's abundant sunshine is getting put to good use. On Thursday, the world's largest solar thermal plant began delivering electricity to customers.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System -- jointly owned by NRG Energy, Google, and BrightSource Energy -- can produce 392 megawatts of solar power at full capacity. According to NRG Energy, that's enough "electricity to provide 140,000 California homes with clean energy and avoid 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, equal to removing 72,000 vehicles off … Read more

This 3-in-1 slow cooker promises to cook just about anything

Slow cookers are renowned for their ease of use. Just dump your ingredients in, choose between low and high for your cooking temp, and go about your day. Set it and forget it. How do you improve upon that without compromising the simplicity?

With its three-in-one "cooking system," Ninja claims to have found the answer. As a slow cooker, it still boasts those familiar preset controls, but like any good ninja, it's ready to adapt to new situations, too. Turn the knob over to stovetop mode, and you'll be able to use it like a pot … Read more

Adobe Photoshop honcho takes over Google photo editing

Google has hired John Nack, an Adobe Systems executive who for years helped run Photoshop, to help manage its photo editing tools.

Nack, formerly principal product manager for Photoshop at Adobe, has in recent years been more involved with Adobe's push to mobile devices. Adobe's business is chiefly with creative professionals, but Google aims for a much broader, less expert audience.

Nack announced his move to Google on his blog on Monday after 14 years at Adobe.

"Why make this move? Merlin Mann once asked me, 'What do you want ten times more of?' I knew the … Read more

Reversing course, Google rejects Adobe Web publishing tech

It can be hard to say no to an idea with some merit -- especially after already saying yes.

But that's the position Google is in with an Adobe Systems technology for bringing more sophisticated, magazine-style layouts to Web publishing through a technology called CSS Regions. Google changed its mind after deciding that it was too complex and that it would hamper one of Google's top 2014 priorities, making Chrome faster on mobile devices, according to Google Chrome programmer Eric Seidel.

Adobe had been working on CSS Regions for years, developing the idea as part of its effort … Read more

Ingredients for life hitching ride on space dust, study says

For years, astronomers have been scanning nearby asteroids, the moon, Mars, and deeper space for evidence of the building blocks of life.

Now, a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that both water and organic material could actually have our planet surrounded, floating around space on ubiquitous interplanetary dust particles that constantly rain down on Earth and the other bodies in our solar system.… Read more

Adobe revamps its basic Photoshop app for Android 4.4

Adobe Systems released a new version of its Photoshop Express for Android app Thursday that brings optimizations for Android 4.4 KitKat, new editing options, more direct to effects filters, and a new engine for processing photos.

"We have made every effort to fine-tune the app for Android. As an example, Android users will appreciate accessing and processing images saved on the SD card faster than before," Adobe's Manu Anand said in a blog post Thursday.

The new Android app includes a new image-rendering engine for handling photos. "This engine greatly improves performance and enables handling … Read more

Piper DIY security systems now available for purchase

We were quite taken with Blacksumac's $239 Piper home security system during our recent review. It was one of the very first DIY products of its kind to grace Indiegogo and actually become a living, breathing preorderable product. As of today, Piper is available for general purchase in the United States -- that's an impressive turnaround for a crowd-funded project.

Piper is similar to the $199 Canary security system. In fact, Canary's Indiegogo campaign started about a month before Piper's and earned a whopping $1,961,862 compared with Piper's $309,119 (both had a $… Read more

Amazon to ship things before you've even thought of buying them?

Whenever I think of the predominant sound emerging from Amazon, I decide it has to be a snigger.

First, the company intimated that it will soon be delivering your intellectual and household items by drone.

Now it's decided it's become so familiar with your predilections that it's going to ship the things you want to buy before you've even thought of buying them.

Somewhere in the Bay Area, executives at Google ululated with envy.

As TechCrunch reports, Amazon has filed a patent called "Method and System For Anticipatory Package Shipping."

The essence is this: Amazon believes it has a good idea which item of clothing, electronics or beauty product you will covet next. … Read more

China Operating System sets sights on iOS, Android

China Operating System, or COS as it's become known, is poised to take on foreign-born operating systems that are gaining control in China.

That's the word from China's Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which, along with the Chinese government and company Shanghai Liantong, announced COS on Thursday to customers across the country.

China has long taken issue with American-based companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Google controlling its software market. Last March, in fact, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that Canonical's Ubuntu Linux would be the official state-endorsed operating system. … Read more

Review: Protect your PC with ZoneAlarm Free Firewall

ZoneAlarm Free Firewall protects your Windows PC from intrusions and online threats. It's easy to use and works alongside your antivirus and other security tools, including many other firewalls. Its Auto-Learn feature conforms to your computer use. After you've allowed your frequently used apps, ZoneAlarm mostly works in the background, only appearing when something changes, like when you install a new program -- or some hacker tries to.

To install ZoneAlarm Free Firewall, you must opt for an IE toolbar and search provider (which keeps ZoneAlarm free of charge), though they uninstall with a click; or (like us) … Read more