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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Rosh Hashana!

I would like to wish all of my readers ראש השנה (or Rash Hashana). Here is a video below courtesy of Aussie Dave (of Israellycool fame) that will hopefully bring a smile to your face during these "exciting times."

Posting will resume tomorrow. :-)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bees: Has Israel Found A Cure For Colony Collapse Disorder?

(Image Credit: Jon Sullivan)

If there was one insect that was considered vital to the human race, it would have to be bees. While they are often known for their tasty bee spit (also known as honey ), this tiny creature is responsible for pollinating about 25% of our food supply.

Unfortunately it seems as if bee colonies are slowly disappearing, an event scientists are calling Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD). Although many scientists have different conclusions as to what is causing this phenomenon, a small group of scientists from Beeologics thinks that a virus is to blame.

(Israel 21st Century) At Beeologics, scientists are convinced that IAPV is the primary cause of CCD. "If you look how the disease spreads, it's very reminiscent of flu. Flu also starts in the fall and hits hard in the winter, the same is true of this bee virus," explains Paldi. "It's very contagious like a flu. In our opinion, we have something that's interacting very strongly with the environment to cause CCD. It could be interacting with pesticides, with improper nutrition, general stress - but that's not what's killing the bees. What's killing them is a virus and we believe that virus is IAPV." [...]

Beeologics' solution, Remebee, utilizes a mechanism called RNA interference (RNAi, also known as gene silencing) a mechanism that inhibits or hinders gene expression. "The technology is based on naturally occurring biological agents. Conceptually, we're introducing the factor that prompts the silencing response," Paldi tells ISRAEL21c. "We didn't invent gene silencing. However, as far as we know we are among the first to use it commercially on non-humans."

According to the company, the patent-pending Remebee provides protection from IAPV and other bee viruses. The technology is potentially applicable to all bee viruses, precludes the possibility of virus breaking resistance, is non-toxic and leaves no residues in either honeybees or their honey.

Hopefully Beeologics vaccine is the solution to CCD, as the last thing we need is food prices (especially apples and oranges) to skyrocket due to lack of supply.

While other scientist around the world pursue other paths to find out what is causing CCD (and to eventually cure it), its good to see Israeli scientists helping to cross out one potential cause of CCD off the list--if not curing these bees entirely (note: assuming the virus is the cause in the first place).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Video: Paul McCartney Rocks Out Tel Aviv!

Paul McCartney, one of the two surviving band members of The Beatles (the other being Ringo Starr) decided to defy the death threats and perform a live concert in Tel Aviv!

There are even more videos on YouTube for you to enjoy! If only I could have been there. :-(

Video: Peace In The Middle East (Via Girl Power)

While the environmentalists use trees, the jocks use sports, and the geeks use virtual operation systems to help bring about peace in the middle east, these ladies use something that most guys dare not speak in public about--a woman's waist line.

(Israel 21st Century) Starting after Ramadan and the Jewish New Year, a group of Palestinian and Israeli women will be meeting face to face in Jerusalem. Not for political reasons, not to cast blame on who's right or wrong in the Middle East conflict - these women will be focusing on their waistline, and sharing a simple and common desire to lose weight. [...]

"Before, the only Israelis I knew were soldiers at checkpoints, I thought they were all brutal," Palestinian student Enas Smoom told news service Reuters: "But in the group, we forget we are Israelis and Palestinians - we are just women talking about nutrition."

Since the film was released, the concept has grown wider into a community project, funded until next year by UK charity, The Charities Advisory Trust, with four different groups of women having met over the last year in Jerusalem: "We have some women who are overweight and ones who just want to be healthier," Luttwak tells ISRAEL21c.

We need to see more of this. While is always good to see scientists or film makers cooperating from both Israel and Palestine, it is even more encouraging to see ordinary people coming together--even if they only agree on a few things (as it beats exchanging rocket fire with each other).

Exit Question: So, does anyone have any great ideas on how to get a bunch of guys together? I was thinking Rugby. ;-)

Israeli Tech Firms In Atlanta?

It looks like 13 Israeli tech firms will be visiting (note: or rather have visited) the US in order to meet with government officials from Georgia (the US state, and not the country).

(Globes Online) Thirteen Israeli technology companies will meet major US companies in Atlanta this week, as part of a groundbreaking conference focused on harnessing Web 2.0 applications by businesses. The conference, U.S. - Israel Web 2.0 Business Exchange: "Empowering the Connected Enterprise," has been organized by the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Region (AICC) and is intended showcase the latest Israeli and American innovations. [...]

"From politics to natural disasters to business, it's clear that Web. 2.0 tools represent the next generation of interactive technology," says Tom Glaser, president of the American Israel Chamber of Commerce. "Home Depot used Twitter to send storm tips and store info to Gulf Coast residents when Hurricane Gustav hit demonstrating that Web 2.0 tools have today reached the business mainstream."

Its good to see more recognition of what Israel is doing online--especially from US state governments. Hopefully this will spread and other neighboring regions will choose to partner with Israeli tech firms.

The Israeli companies who attended were:

  • Worklight: Basically they help make popular internet tools corporate friendly for businesses.
  • PlyMedia: This company makes video captioning a reality. See TechCrunch for more details.
  • Kenshoo: A search engine marketing company.
  • Pando: A file sharing service.
  • FlixWagon: Helps you broadcast your life to the world from your mobile phone. They even have an iPhone version (note: sweet!)
  • Zend: When it comes to PHP coding, these guys (and gals) are guru's.
  • JumpTap: Its basically like Google for your mobile phone.
  • Unisfair: Helps companies save money (and time) by providing mobile events where people can "see" and talk to each other. Think SecondLife gone corporate.
  • Boxee: Its still in Alpha, but it seems to be video social network of some kind. See Lifehacker for more details.
  • AdYouNet: They basically help businesses monetize their customers better online.
  • MB Technologies: (note: I think this is their site) Hosting and web design company.

Hopefully more companies will be able to "cross the pond" and visit the US, as this is probably one of the best ways to change the perception of Israel as a place full of "faith and conflicts" (instead of a modern country like--America!).

Monday, September 22, 2008

Israel: A Happy Fish Is A Tasty Fish (Fish Farm Tech)

Depending on who you talk to, if you mention the phrase "fish farm" you will usually get three reactions--smiles and drooling, an ugly rebuke (note: they are probably an environmentalist) or a shrug on the shoulders (they have no clue what you are talking about).

While fish farming helps satisfy the craving for sea food, it does have its darker side with many critics slamming the practice of caging fish in small areas with little current (or momentum) in the water, causing many fish to die from outbreaks--forcing companies to use drugs to keep them alive (which makes them unattractive to us humans).

In order to help satisfy the corporations, environmentalists and the fish loving masses, one company called Subflex has found a unique way to raise fish en masse without compromising their overall health.

(Video: Explaining Subflex's technology, Credit: Subflex)

(Israel 21st Century) Unlike moored competing systems made of more rigid materials, the Subflex system is allowed to "roam" from its mooring point in any direction necessary, reducing stress on the cages and enabling natural diffusion of fish waste into the open sea. And, because of its modular nature, new cages can easily be added to a Subflex system to expand capacity when necessary.

One of the biggest problems with deploying a deepwater fish farm is the potential for inclement - even wild - weather that buffets the cages about, with the fish bumping into and damaging each other, causing wear and tear on the cages from the heavy waves, and, with enough stress, possibly causing the whole thing could come apart.

But the Subflex system has that covered, too, says Shapira. "When bad weather arrives, the crew can submerge the whole setup as far as necessary - up to 200 meters - thus keeping the fish out of reach of the heavy waves and winds." Close to the surface, Shapira says, the Subflex system has proven to be stable in surf of up to four meters - "but if necessary, the option exists to drop the cages, and raise them back up after the storm passes."

Subflex has already begun implementing their system for Royal Fish, who (according to Israel 21st Century) noticed that their fish were much tastier than usual, allowing them to charge premium prices (as the fish were in higher demand).

Hopefully Subflex's can export their methods internationally, as this could help not only help meet our planet's ever growing population demand for sea food, but allow us to eat healthier as well.

Video: First Israeli Apple Store Opens! (And The Crowd Goes Wild!)

(Image: Eager fans checking out iPods and Macs, Credit: iDigital via Facebook)

After waiting many moons, it looks as if Mac fans in Israel will finally have their very own Apple store, courtesy of iDigital.

After taking over the Israeli Mac market, iDigital began pursuing the creation of its very own Mac store (as selling Macs and iPods online is not complete without a physical location).

Hopefully we will see many more stores in the future (not to mention an iPhone as well).

Improving Wind Power From Good To Awesome (Israeli Tech)

(Image: Wind Turbines, Credit: IQWind)

Wind Power (which is a near cousin of the Windmill) is one of the few green energy technologies that is not only "easy" to build, but also does not produce any harmful waste (i.e. like nuclear).

Unfortunately the technology has not always been too efficient, with the blades turning at the same RPM (or revolutions per minute) regardless of how hard the wind blew, giving some the impression that this green technology was full of hot air (note: pun intended).

Instead of simply over looking this issue by creating more wind turbines to compensate for the lack of power generated, it looks as if a company called IQWind has developed a way to allow the turbines to spin following the emotions of the wind by simply changing a few gears.

(Israel 21st Century) "IQWind has solved a painful problem in wind turbines, and allows them to work in an efficient way while significantly reducing the costs. Because when you add our gears in, other components become redundant, and can reduce the price of building a wind turbine by 25 percent," IQwind founder and CEO Gideon Ziegelman, tells ISRAEL21c.

Astorre Modena, a general partner at Jerusalem-based Terra Venture Partners, a major investor in IQWind, adds that the technology is "an elegant, smooth and solid gearbox that allows you to change gears without disconnecting the transmission," he says, noting that "there is much more meat," to the technology's innovation that he can't disclose.

It might not take long to get a sneak peak of IQWind's gears in action: Modena says that the company expects to have a beta test site in Israel - possibly outdoors, or in a lab - within the next six months. It will take another two years before the gearbox goes into production.

While improving efficiency will help make wind power more attractive, its probably IQWind's ability to reduce the construction cost that will draw attention to the industry (and help make it more competitive against coal and natural gas).

Update (9/25): Fixed coding error.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Eurobasket: Israel Destroys Czech Republic

Perhaps "destroys" is a bit of an over statement, but it looks as if Israel surprised many fans and foes alike by defeating the Czech Republic in the EuroBasket.

( Israel overwhelmed the Czech Republic 98-61 last night in EuroBasket qualifying play, winning a spot in next year's tournament despite coming into the game with the odds of advancing decidedly against it.

Some 8,500 fans turned out for the team's sixth and final qualifier at Tel Aviv's Nokia Arena. Its performance until last night had been below expectations, failing to log even a single away win.

Even with the win, Israel needed the basketball stars to align just so in order for it to advance to the biennial tournament, to be held next year in Poland.

Those stars may be aligning themselves, as France was recently defeated by Turkey. Hopefully we will see Israel advance (as basketball is the dominant sport in the kosher state).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Video: Israel Embracing An Electronic Car Future?

Even though visions of electric cars dominating the US, Europe, etc. may still be just that--visions--it looks as if Israel is slowly embracing a future powered by electronic cars instead of gas guzzlers.

(Video Credit: Israel 21st Century)

I am not too surprised to see this, as Israel has been trending green for quite some time now.

One of the main players behind this idea, Project Better Place, has been attracting a lot of attention regarding their idea, with one company investing over $15 million in order to ensure that this project is a success.

Hopefully Israel is able to prove to the world that an electronic car industry is a better alternative, as the last thing we need is everyone fighting over oil (which is becoming more expensive now-a-days).

ParveOMeter: Another Kosher iPhone App

After previously creating iBlessing (which they are now charging users $1 USD or NIS 3.6 instead of giving it away for free), the Jewish Learning Group has created a second iPhone app that informs you when you can eat meat after drinking/eating milk and cheese (or vice versa) in order to help keep you kosher.

The cool thing about this iPhone app (aside from being free) is that users can select how strict they are observing kosher law (at least with the milk) which then adjusts the clock to determine how long you have to wait before devouring the other food group.

There is no word on whether the Jewish Learning Group will be charging for this iPhone app in the future, although I do hope that they will consider creating more (as they are not only beautiful, but very user friendly).

Instant Roads (Via Israeli Honey Combs?)

Roads are like the blood vessels of a country: they not only help connect everything together, but they also allow critical supplies to reach far away destinations.

Unfortunately maintaining them can be expensive, especially if one has to build a long winding road to a remote area (especially if trucks travel on them).

Fortunately an Israeli company is leading the way in not only finding an inexpensive alternative, but one that is environmentally friendly as well.

(Israel 21st Century) Schary, who's consulted for Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry on Sustainable Development, speaks with ISRAEL21c about the innovation. Represented in 40 countries, the company's product is "actually low-tech, high tech and cleantech all in one," he says. "Although the product is fairly dry, it's a soil stabilization solution for civil engineering projects, and inherently sustainable."

Developed as an advanced polymer, Neoweb can be laid out on land, and then filled with local soil, or recycled materials to form a road, or as infrastructure for landscape architects. Schary says the material - which holds promise for developing countries where one billion people lack access to all-weather roads - does not leach into groundwater, can withstand the scorching desert sun, the coldest of Siberian winters and is earthquake resistant due to its inherent flexibility.

Founded in the '90s, and used widely today by the oil industry, for the past five years Neoweb's been in Siberia to help trucks access oil fields. Neoweb plays its environmental part to an otherwise polluting industry by ensuring minimal damage to local terrain. With oil located thousands of kilometers in the middle of nowhere, it spares the companies from having to ship in mountains of aggregates, a traditional material used to create roads and infrastructure.

Even though this technology would probably not replace most of the roads we have in existence today (such as highways and other made for heavy traffic roads), these roads could make it easier for small towns and individuals living in rural communities to create stable and strong roads--without paying a fortune for material and labor.

Note: I wonder if Israel can use this to help build bridges with its neighbors in the middle east? (pun not intended)

Update: You can find more information regarding this technology over at PRS's corporate website.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Israel Tech: TuneWiki's Android App Puts iPhone's iPod To Shame (Google)

Android, a mobile software platform developed by Google is seen by many in the "geek world" as a way to bring some of the iPhone's best features to power a variety of  mobile devices.

In order to compete against Steve Jobs beloved iPhone, Google is giving away $10 million in prize money in order to attract developers to create powerful software applications (aka apps) for Android.

While many of the apps featured will probably not be able to compete against the iPhone, there is one that give the iPhone's iPod app a "run for its money." (note: some images and songs in the video may not be "kosher" for kids).

This music app was developed by an Israeli startup called TuneWiki, who was one of 20 finalists to win prize money from the search engine king for creating an app that (in my honest opinion) actually puts the iPhone's music player to shame.

Even though I am still hoping that Israeli's will be able to acquire the iPhone in the near future (as they now have an official Apple store within the holy land), they may not need Steve Jobs glorious tool--especially if other Israeli startups develop interesting software to power these devices.

Aliyah News: 235 Jews Come Home!

Jacob Richman, who blogs over at Good News From Israel (as well as the Solar Energy in Israel weblog) has informed everyone that over 200 Jews have left their former homelands in order to begin a new life as Israeli citizens.

(Good News From Israel) On Monday morning, September 8, 2008, I was at Ben-Gurion airport to greet the new olim that made aliyah from North America to Israel.

There were 235 olim on the flight including 91 singles (including 18 joining the IDF) and 34 families with 53 children. The youngest oleh in the group is three months old and the oldest oleh is 85 years old. The flight also included 10 dogs.

He also took hundreds of pictures (note: I wonder what type of camera he has?) which have also been uploaded to Facebook. :-)

While this is an impressive number to enter on Israeli soil, I am still hoping that more will consider moving to Israel, especially with the government making it easier for olim (or immigrants) to migrate towards the holy land.

Peace Through Employment? Industrial Park For Israelis, Palestinians

Can business interests help bring peace to a troubled region? That is what a few individuals are hoping by constructing an industrial park located somewhere in the northern Gilboa region

( The enterprise, which will cost $200 million and occupy some 350 acres of land, was approved on Monday by a joint Israeli-American committee, and will be built under the auspices of the American ambassador to Israel James Cunningham, the U.S. special envoy to the Mideast General James L. Jones and the U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority Keith Dayton.

The industrial park is said to offer 10,000 jobs for Palestinians and 2,000 for Israelis.

Several other companies have also partnered with Palestinians, ranging from independent films to "web 2.0" (or is it 3.0 now?).

While nobody expects this industrial park to bring about an immediate peace to the area, it can help break down stereotypes between the two groups (at least in the short term).