Science & Technology
3 New Firefox Features PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Mozilla Firefox   
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 12:28
New Ways to
Boost Your Browsing

We're always working to make the Web easier, faster and more enjoyable for you to access and use. That's why we created thumbnail previews and a redesigned home page. You'll find them both in the latest version of Firefox for desktop.

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New Tab icon
Thumbnail Previews

Now when you open a new tab, you'll see thumbnail previews of the sites you visit most. You can even pin, rearrange or delete them to fully customize your new tab experience. Or, if you prefer, you can click the grid in the top right to turn the feature off.

Learn more about making this page look and work exactly how you like.

New Tab screenshot
Sync screenshot New Tab icon
That's Not All (Oh No)

If you use the Firefox homepage (about:home), you'll find a new look with quick and easy access to your downloads, bookmarks, plugins, Sync and more. You can learn more about the redesigned page or change your homepage to something else.

You'll also enjoy faster startup times when loading tabs from your last browsing session.

"All in" for Wind PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Elisha Smith   
Monday, 18 June 2012 15:30

By Paul Mansoor, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Center for Rural Affairs

People want wind energy, but don’t want to pay a lot more for it. According to a new study, they may be able to have their cake--and eat it too.

Wind energy is attractive for economic reasons. A robust wind industry could bring hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars per year into the economy, much of it in rural America.  But fear of higher prices has kept wind development grounded.

Although wind produces some of the cleanest energy, nobody wants higher electric rates. Wind towers are expensive. And in remote areas, developing new wind farms can require transmission improvements, which are necessary to send the electricity from producers to consumers. Power companies usually pass these costs onto ratepayers. This creates a bottleneck, stalling wind projects and keeping clean energy from getting off the ground.

However, introducing greater levels of wind together with smart system planning can decrease the annual market price relative to today. This means consumers would pay less for wind energy!

The key is to go “all in.” The savings accrue when healthy wind development is combined with transmission upgrades. Installing just a few turbines at a time will cost more, on average, than multiple developments.

The case for wind energy keeps getting stronger. Job creation, clean energy and lower electric bills?

Change is coming... you can feel it in the breeze.

Statement from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Today's Environmental Protection Agency Action allowing E15 to be Used by Model Year 2001 and Newer Passenger Vehicles PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by USDA Communications   
Friday, 15 June 2012 14:03

"Today, the last significant federal hurdle has been cleared to allow consumers to buy fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol (E15). This gets us one step closer to giving the American consumer a real choice at the pump. The public has a right to choose between imported oil and home-grown energy and today's action by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advances that goal. Today's action demonstrates that the Obama Administration is making good on its commitment to work to reduce foreign oil imports and increase domestic energy production, including production of renewable biofuels. In addition, the EPA has fulfilled its responsibility to the American public to ensure that E15 is a safe and reliable fuel. Home grown biofuels are providing sustainable rural jobs that cannot be exported. Today's action proves yet again that renewable biofuels are not a dream of the future, but are a reality, and are making a difference today."

To read more about the EPA's announcement see:


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

Loebsack Applauds Move to Make Broadband Construction Faster and Cheaper PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Joe Hand   
Friday, 15 June 2012 08:02

Calls on FCC to Support Rural Broadband

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement regarding the announcement that President Obama will make broadband construction along Federal roadways cheaper and more efficient.

“The future of rural development in Iowa and across the country depends, in large part, on the access to internet and specifically broadband.  I have met with many small businesses, farmers, and rural telecommunication companies who have told me the importance of expanding high speed internet access to rural areas.  This is critical to rural economic development, job growth, businesses, farmers, and families.

“While I applaud today’s announcement, I also call on the Federal Communications Commission to commit to expanding broadband for all Iowans by supporting broadband growth in rural communities so that this critical economic development tool is available for all Iowans, regardless of where they live.”

Specifically, the announcement will ensure that agencies charged with managing Federal properties and roads take specific steps to adopt a uniform approach for allowing broadband carriers to build networks on and through those assets and speed the delivery of connectivity to communities, businesses, and schools.


What to Do if Your Site Needs Surgery PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 11 June 2012 08:50
By: Joe Thomas of Left Brain Digital

... So the guy stands there with his mouth agape and says, "But Doc, why do you have to operate on my foot? The splinter is in my finger!"

Why am I leading off with a punch line? Because it applies to about 80 percent of people who can’t figure out why their website doesn’t “work.”

Pretend your website is the patient in my half-a-joke. Now toss in a "web guru" as the doctor. There are two main reasons why you’ve gotten surgery on a foot when a finger was the problem.

1. You didn’t correctly explain the symptoms. If your product or book is not selling from your website, don't tell the doctor you don't like the colors. Or that you need more Flying Thingies on the page. Tell the doctor that your product is not selling from your website.

Some people consult with their sister-in-law, best friend and lawn boy before seeking the help of a professional. Or, they guess at the cause of the problem themselves. When they finally consult with a professional, they tell him or her what they want: Use blue not red, make that picture bigger, add a joke of the day. For the right diagnosis, just tell the doctor, “The site’s not selling” and let him or her figure out why.

2. There are a lot of quack doctors out there! Let's be honest, a surgeon makes his living performing surgeries, and a web guru makes his living performing guru work on web sites. The moral? Without patients and web projects, the surgeon and the web guru go on unemployment.

In all aspects of business, and especially Internet marketing, some people may say whatever it takes to sell you on “surgery.” Proceed with caution! Before you hire someone to develop, design or "fix" your site, get referrals. Ask people you trust for recommendations.

Ask the “doctor” questions. If he or she can't take the time to explain every procedure, find someone who will. You need to understand the suggestions – and the reasons for them. Also, be warned there is no Standard Pricing Guide. My best advice is to avoid being sucked into the cheapest deal you can find, or being fooled by the "we are the best so we charge the most" designers.

If you're not getting the results you need from your site, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How does your site stack up against your competition? We'll assume you already have a website ... Whether you're an author, manufacturer, business or blogger, you have competition. Surf around and take a LOOK at the other guy’s site. How does his LOOK compare to yours? We're not talking about what the site says, just the overall aesthetics. Does yours look as good, or better?
  • When visitors open your site, do they know what you're selling? Obviously, you know your product or service, but is it plainly visible to visitors? Is the information your visitors are looking for easy to find and understand? Are the "calls to action," such as “sign the petition,” “read the blog” or “buy my cool book” easy to find?
  • Did you check your ego at the door? Who is your site trying to please? Are you trying to impress yourself or your customers? Too often, websites get hung up on self importance. While it IS important to show your visitors that you’re an expert, the product or service needs to be the focal point. If you're selling beans or bikinis, nobody really cares that you climbed Mount Everest in your pajamas last October.

Common sense is the most valuable tool at your disposable, but be smart enough to know what you don't know! Successful websites don't just appear. They’re properly developed, cultivated and then regularly watered.

Developing a successful website is hard work; finding the right surgeon can be even harder.

About Joe Thomas

Joe Thomas is the founder and owner of Left Brain Digital (, a web development company. He’s an award-winning web designer/developer with more than 18 years of experience in print and web design and development. Thomas' work became a major influence in graphic and web design in the "Y2K" era of the Internet's dot-com explosion.

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