Nest should thrive under Google

Nest makes a learning thermostat that helps you conserve energy. It learns your lifestyle and adjusts the temperature in a room based on your needs. If you’re not there or you’re sleeping, Nest automatically changes the temperature settings. You can also control it from a variety of devices. It’s part of the new “Internet of Things” movement where everyday devices become “smarter” by being connected to the Internet, your smartphone and other devices.

Nest was founded by Tony Fadell, one of the Apple guys who worked on the original iPod, and now it’s been acquired by Google for a whopping $3.2 billion. This article sums up the transaction and offers some insight on the future of this company and products like the thermostat that we’ll be able to control in the future.

Turn your bike electric with the Smart Wheel By FlyKly

Here’s another wildly successful Kickstarter project. Check out the video above and you’ll be amazed at the opportunity to revolutionize biking with the Smart Wheel. It works with practically all bikes. You replace the back wheel with the Smart Wheel and all of a sudden you have an electric bike that you can control with your smart phone. FlyKly has not yet set a price, but I suspect this will be wildly popular.

Review of 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Offers 26 MPG Combined Fuel Econom

The stereotype of hybrid cars is slowly becoming obsolete as more vehicles are offered with hybrid options. With the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid, consumers can now purchase a full-sized CUV with real towing capacity while enjoying the improved gas mileage offered by hybrid vehicles. Sure, you won’t approach the MPG numbers of smaller hybrid vehicles, but you’ll you’ll have a real advantage over gas-powered large vehicles.

I traveled to Nashville and had the opportunity to drive the new Pathfinder Hybrid and came away impressed. When driving the vehicle it feels very much like the gas-powered version. The Hybrid was designed to introduce the new hybrid powertrain system to enhance fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions but with no reduction of driving performance, passenger roominess or cargo capacity. The designers used a space-saving Li-ion battery fitted under the 3rd row seat which preserved Pathfinder’s 2nd row sliding functionality and easy access to the 3rd row. You get all of the roominess and comforts of the new Pathfinder without making sacrifices for the hybrid technology.

The Pathfinder’s standard 3.5-liter V6 is replaced in the Hybrid by a new supercharged 2.5-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor paired with a compact Lithium-ion battery. The 15 kW electric motor and gas engine were designed to work in tandem to provide performance similar to the conventional Pathfinder. The Hybrid system is rated at 250 net horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque while the 3.5-liter V6 has 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. These similar numbers are evident in the driving experience when you compare both vehicles.

The result, however, is improved fuel economy as the Hybrid is rated at 26 MPG combined (25 city and 28 highway), an increase of 24 percent over the standard Pathfinder. Like the gas model, the Pathfinder Hybrid has a large 19.5-gallon fuel tank for a highway driving range estimated at more than 546 miles. These MPG numbers won’t challenge smaller vehicles but have to be evaluated in light of the size and performance of this vehicle. For example, the hybrid can tow up to 3500 pounds when properly equipped which is less than the gas-powered Pathfinder’s 5000-pound towing capacity but is still very useful.

Like all hybrids the Pathfinder has a regenerative braking system that automatically recharges the battery by converting the vehicle’s kinetic energy that would be otherwise lost in braking. Still, I would have liked to see more features in the dashboard gauges showing me how well I was using this system and the electric motor as these features are a big selling point in other hybrids.

The Pathfinder Hybrid offers an appealing option for consumers looking for a large vehicle, as now you can get all the benefits without being stuck with a gas guzzler. Take it for a test drive and you’ll see immediately that you’re not sacrificing performance or comfort for the gas mileage boost.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Offers 26 MPG Combined Fuel Econom

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Offers 26 MPG Combined Fuel Econom

Rising waters threaten South Florida coastline and Everglades

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Spend some time in the harbors of beautiful Miami and you’ll quickly get a sense of how this region would be threatened by rising sea levels. The area is spectacular but incredibly vulnerable. Many experts are starting to sound the alarm:

In the most dire predictions, South Florida’s delicate barrier islands, coastal communities and captivating subtropical beaches will be lost to the rising waters in as few as 100 years.

Further inland, the Everglades, the river of grass that gives the region its fresh water, could one day be useless, some scientists fear, contaminated by the inexorable advance of the salt-filled ocean. The Florida Keys, the pearl-like strand of islands that stretches into the Gulf of Mexico, would be mostly submerged alongside their exotic crown jewel, Key West.

Read the entire article and you’ll see how little politicians in Florida are doing to prepare for this potential scenario. Climate change is just one of many polarizing issues we face today and battle lines are drawn. One side does not want to acknowledge the potential risk at all, which makes it hard to debate how we might address this threat. One harsh reality, however, is that at some point there is no amount of engineering that can help. If we ever get to the point of a two-foot rise in seas levels, the entire area would be at risk. It’s a sobering thought.

Nissan LEAF sales continue to impress

2013 Nissan LEAF

Hybrid cars have been growing in popularity for years, but now we’re starting to see the demand for electric vehicles increase as well. The Nissan LEAF is a good example. October sales set a record at 2,002 vehicles, an increase of 26.8 percent over last year’s numbers. LEAF deliveries are up 166.2 percent in 2013 and have set 8 consecutive monthly sales records.

If you’ve been considering an EV, not might be a good time to start looking as prices have been coming down. That has helped to fuel LEAF sales. Of course when considering an EV it’s all about lifestyle. What ranges will you be driving and can the EV handle that. As we get more electric charging stations the issue of range anxiety will start to go away, but for many people that is still an issue.