Jobs? Hewlett Packard opens Rio Rancho center

Hewlett-Packard Co. has opened a customer service and technical support center in Rio Rancho, NM, making good on a commitment to provide 1,300 jobs that pay at least $40,000 in exchange for more than $20 million in incentives.

Gov. Bill Richardson and HP president and CEO Mark Hurd led a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday in front of the three-story, 218,000-square-foot building as politicians, business leaders and employees of the computer firm waited in the cold.

The governor told the crowd the opening was good news, given that New Mexico and the rest of the nation are grappling with economic uncertainty and high unemployment.

However, the expected economic boost of having HP in New Mexico came with a price. New Mexico invested millions of dollars in the form of tax incentives, job training and capital outlay funds to attract the Fortune 500 company to the state.

Some of the Republican whiners are too funny – even knowing they’re duty bound to oppose anything that looks like stimulus funds are achieving anything. 600 folks are already trained and start work, next Monday.

One favorite chuckle is that Rio Rancho is only charging $1 for the land. If you saw the land beforehand – it was mostly noted for tumbleweed attacks.

I’m happiest that construction beat the stereotypes of mañana that are often the standard around here. The building came in under budget and two months ahead of schedule.

The Green Car of the Year is a diesel – again.

For the second year in a row, Green Car Journal has named a German diesel Green Car of the Year.

The 42-mpg Audi A3 TDI topped a field that included three hybrids and two diesels to take the award presented today at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The judges praised the cars “exceptional fuel economy and low emissions” and hailed it as “stylish” and “fun to drive…”

There’s no shortage of awards and honors doled out in the auto industry, but this one actually means something because all of the cars considered are vehicles you can buy right now. The jury includes greenies like Carl Pope, head of the Sierra Club, and Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of the Ocean Futures Society. But it also includes certified gearheads like Jay Leno and Carroll Shelby to ensure the candidates are cars you’d enjoy driving…

The finalists included the Honda Insight hybrid, Mercury Milan hybrid, Toyota Prius and Volkswagen Golf TDI. Last year’s winner was the Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

Ah me. I only wish more of the diesels – especially small to medium pickups – built by brands with significant presence in the U.S market were offered here. I’d trade in Ruff Boy in a flash.

BTW – if you haven’t tried it – production diesel cars and trucks run better on biodiesel than they do on the stuff from the Oil Patch Boys.

“The automobile industry simply can no longer rely on oil”

The news from Bob Lutz’s opening keynote address for the LA Auto Show was that GM would be working with some California utilities to test a fleet of 100 Volts. But there was a lot more delivered in that speech and, in the best Lutz-ian tradition, the message was clear and simple: the Volt is GM’s most important product. Oh, and he would not be addressing the abrupt resignation of GM CEO Fritz Henderson.

[Poisonally, I think Henderson blew up the Saab sale]

At times, Lutz sounded like a regular ABG reader, name dropping Fisker and Coda and saying he was thankful to Tesla Motors for “furnishing the proof that was needed by those of us who championed the Volt in the corporation that other people believed in lithium-ion technology as well.” Now that pretty much every automaker has at least a small li-ion project, he feels vindicated for his early support of the Volt, even though he apparently took some heat for it back then.

How confident is he? He said that he predicted that the market for plug-in vehicles would be about 250,00-300,000 in five years, with maybe half of those being GM vehicles…

At GM, we deeply believe that, in an energy-constrained world marked by dramatic growth in developing markets, it is critical that the global automotive industry – as a business necessity and as an obligation to society – develop alternative sources of propulsion based on diverse sources of energy. … Going forward, the automobile industry simply can no longer rely on oil to supply 98 percent of the world’s automotive energy requirements…

Three years ago, when the Volt was announced, there were many critics (especially the Japanese competitors, he said) who said that li-ion would never work in an automobile. Now, three calendar years and countless testing years later, Lutz said that GM is confident that the 16 kWh pack in the Volt will be more than up to the task of powering the Volt. The batteries are being designed to perform as advertised for ten years, but if the battery fails in the 11th year, the customer would need to bring it in and have it replaced, which will likely cost about as much as an engine overhaul on a traditional gasoline-powered car, Lutz said. “I don’t see why it should cost more than that.”

RTFA to see the details. It contains links to a recording of the keynote.

The single-chip cloud computer = 48 cores!

Intel has unveiled a prototype chip that packs 48 separate processing cores on to a chunk of silicon the size of a postage stamp.

The Single-chip Cloud Computer (SCC), as it is known, contains 1.3 billion transistors, the tiny on-off switches that underpin chip technology.

Each processing core could, in theory, run a separate operating system.

The chip has won the “cloud” name because it brings together the computing resources typically filling several racks in a data centre…

In a bid to keep power consumption down, the tiles making up the chip can be divided into islands of different sizes that run at separate voltages.

“Over time, I expect these advanced concepts to find their way into mainstream devices, just as advanced automotive technology such as electronic engine control, air bags and anti-lock braking eventually found their way into all cars,” said Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer.

Intel said the SCC would be made officially available during the first half of 2010.

I don’t need one. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t care to be involved in developing appropriate uses for such a critter. Of course.

Judge postpones trial in Toxic courthouse

Coughing fits, watery eyes and burning noses are becoming a common thing in some courtrooms at the new Washington County Justice Center, so much so that a judge has cancelled an upcoming homicide trial.

Ever since Criminal Court Judge Lynn Brown began holding court at the new courthouse on Jackson Boulevard last month, he and other court personnel have been afflicted with allergic reactions — apparently to a chemical in the carpet…

County Mayor George Jaynes said the building checks out as environmentally sound, but there is a chemical that has caused the allergic reactions.

He said the problems are coming from formaldehyde found in the carpet. Formaldehyde is a colorless gas compound that can irritate eyes and the upper respiratory system…

During court Tuesday, Brown said he didn’t want to bring a jury into the building to sit in a trial for a week…

It appears to be a toxic courthouse,” he said.

Idiots. We have known about problems with unsafe products like formaldehyde in building materials and floor coverings.

Perish the thought some purchasing agent should take sound scientific advice.

Texas inmate in wheelchair escapes – on foot – WTF?

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The man who oversees Texas’ criminal justice system called for a shake-up as authorities searched for a prisoner in a wheelchair who escaped on foot Monday from two armed guards as he was being transferred between prisons.

“I just think enough’s enough,” said state Sen. John Whitmire, a Democrat from Houston who is chairman of the state Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee. “We need a complete shake-up of the leadership of our prison system and/or an outside review by third parties,” he said of the escape of Arcade Comeaux Jr., 49. “We just can’t have security breaches of this nature.”

The 6-foot, 200-pound Comeaux was serving a life sentence for aggravated sexual assault and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

A van containing him and two correctional officers left the Estelle prison in Huntsville about 5:45 a.m. Monday…Comeaux was shackled and in a wheelchair, “which he had claimed was needed for mobility.”

About 45 minutes into the trip, as they were driving through Conroe, 40 minutes north of Houston, the prisoner pulled out a pistol and ordered the guards to drive south to Baytown, east of Houston. There, he took one of the guards’ gray uniforms, handcuffed the officers together and left them in the rear of the van, Michelle Lyon’s statement said…

Law enforcement officers found the unharmed officers an hour later.

The senator said. “He’s a con; he’s a manipulator, and he’s outfoxing the people who are charged with the responsibility of keeping him securely incarcerated.”

RTFA. It doesn’t get any better.

Obviously, Comeaux is brighter than the people assigned to guard him.