Friday, February 10, 2012

INL, Fujitsu announce smart grid collaboration

Fujitsu Laboratories of America announced Thursday a collaboration with the Idaho National Laboratory on smart grid energy management.

Under the project's auspices, Fujitsu's security and ad hoc communications technology will be deployed at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies in Idaho Falls to monitor building power consumption and generate vital data on energy utilization. The data they collect will be used as a baseline for measuring efficiency and security with regard to wider smart grid deployments.

Smart grids couple physical power distribution equipment with the IT systems that manage it. Security is essential, since compromise in one could affect the other. Fujitsu will contribute advanced security and cloud services technology from Fujitsu Laboratories of America and WisReed, an autonomous distributed network technology that enables the automatic construction of a network.

"The CAES facility is a certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building, and we are trying to ensure we operate at maximum energy efficiency," said CAES Director J. W. Rogers. "Fujitsu's technology will provide us with real-time usage data to measure our efficiency and also supply our researchers with valuable information required for advanced energy system modeling."

"This collaboration will leverage INL's global leadership in industrial control and power system simulation test beds, and Fujitsu leadership in IT services," said Yasunori Kimura, President and CEO of Fujitsu Laboratories of America. "We are delighted to be part of this initiative by providing systems for real time data collection and cloud services for analysis and anomaly detection."

You and the mortgage settlement

Idaho borrowers will receive close to $100 million from the $26 billion agreement struck between government officials and five of the nation’s largest banks. That’s according to the Idaho Attorney General’s office. If you want the specifics, such as they are, go here:

The question you're undoubtedly asking yourself is "will this help me?" Nobody knows at this point. There's been a lot of writing done about it. Here's a digest:

The New York Times: “(The) settlement money will be doled out under a complicated formula that gives banks varying degrees of credit for different kinds of help. As a result, banks are incentivized to help harder-hit borrowers with homes worth far less than what they owe."

The Wall Street Journal: "The settlement will 'remove one cloud of uncertainty that has depressed bank stocks,'' but may do less to help the housing market."
The Washington Post: “The deal is the largest of its kind since a multi-state agreement with the tobacco industry in 1998. But that deal was worth around $350 billion in today’s dollars. It’s also not a lot of money compared to the $700 billion in underwater mortgage debt, or the bailout of the banks that issued and bought the debt in the first place.”

The number of foreclosures dropped in 2011, nationwide and in Idaho, which has had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the county since the start of the housing crisis. But that may be due to the feds putting the brakes on such abuses as "robo-signing," which this week's settlement also addresses. Now that the restraints are off, the foreclosure express could be rolling again.

The plain fact is in the last five years, home prices have fallen by nearly one-third, and the nation now has 11 million homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth, to the tune of $750 billion.

The most pessimistic assessment I've read comes from Dylan Ratigan, who offers this: "America simply has too much mortgage debt to pay back. Serious economic thinkers across the spectrum, from Democrat Alan Blinder to Republican Martin Feldstein to New York Fed President William Dudley, believe that there is only one solution -- writing down the enormous creaking mound of debt. This solution is currently off the table, because writing down these unsustainable debts could cost our fragile banks enormous sums of money and possibly lead to a restructuring of one or more of our major banks. Avoiding this clear policy choice has resulted in our economy falling into a Japan-style 'zombie bank' torpor, with debts carried on the books at full value which everyone knows will not be paid back at par."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Marketing Summit starts Feb. 21 at Idaho Falls Shilo Inn

Riverbend Communications and Lvate are holding a three-part Marketing Summit at the Shilo Inn, Idaho Falls, covering everything from branding and strategy to media buying to social networking.

The two-hour sessions start Feb. 21 at 8 a.m. and continue March 6 and March 20. Session 1 will focus on the buying process, which includes market identification, primary vs. secondary marketing messages and strategic business "tone." Session 2 is devoted to branding, measuring marketing success and comparing yourself to your competition. Session 3 will be about creating market awareness, leveraging the Internet and search engine optimization.

Cost of all three sessions is $99. For more information, contact Mike Sutton at 208-535-8327.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tips on naming a business and branding

Are you at the fateful stage of naming a business? This is a big decision, one that could make a big difference in how well you do, say Jay Conrad Levinson, Jeannie Levinson and Seth Godin in an story. What should you consider?

For starters, don’t listen to everyone. Names created by committee are usually losers, they say.

The first thing you want to do is list your attributes. Are you speedy, experienced, fun, daring, reliable, inexpensive, honest, unique or the best? This list is valuable when it comes to free associating a name that has straight-to-the-forehead memorability.

Consider Nike. What were they want to convey when they chose that name? In Greek mythology, Nike was the winged goddess of victory, in war and sport. Not everyone knows that, but they don't have to for a sense of what the company is about.

On the other hand, you've got generic names (General Foods) and descriptive names (Speedi-Mart). The thing is, whatever you choose, it's the product or the service that ultimately establish your brand. After all, John Lennon's friends thought "The Beatles" was the dumbest band name they'd ever heard.

Last of all, it is absolutely imperative that you do a legal name search to check your rights to the name. If there's anything worse than branding, it's re-branding.

For more on this topic, visit

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

EITC Dollars for Scholars online auction starts today

If you want to look to the right of this post, you'll notice the Dollars for Scholars online auction has begun. Yes, we are making easy for you to bid on some fabulous stuff (including a month's worth of advertising on BizMojo Idaho), all to benefit students with scholarships at Eastern Idaho Technical College.
Go to the link and see over 100 items, including:
  • A signed Boise State University Football
  • Hotel Packages that can be utilized in Idaho Falls, Las Vegas, San Diego, Salt Lake City and more
  • Fashion accessories, including Miche Bag, iPhone skins and jewelry
  • Entertainment, including season tickets for the Idaho Falls Chukars and tickets to the Idaho Falls Symphony
  • Advertising opportunities including and Social Eyes Marketing
  • Restaurant gift cards, including Pachangas, Texas Roadhouse and Chili's
  • Services, including oil changes, tire rotations and dry cleaning
Bidding ends Thursday at 7 p.m.

Nuclear Engineer named INL Fellow

Joy Rempe, a nuclear engineer with more than 25 years of research and development experience, has been selected as an Idaho National Laboratory Fellow. This is the labs's top scientific achievement designation, given in recognition of an individual's contributions to the scientific and engineering community. Only nine other people have been named INL Fellows.

 She holds a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  During her 23-year tenure at the INL, she has established an international reputation in severe accident analysis, high temperature testing and advanced in-pile instrumentation. She currently leads in-pile instrumentation development for the Advanced Test Reactor's National Scientific User Facility and Fuel Cycle Research and Development programs.

Since 2010, Rempe has been a member of the Advisory Committee for Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). In 2005, she was elected as a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society (ANS). She is completing a three-year term on the Board of Directors for the ANS. She has held a variety of offices and been professionally active in ANS, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Rempe’s own work is documented in 45 peer-reviewed journal articles and over 80 peer-reviewed conference papers. She also has three patents or patents pending relating to her research.
INL nuclear engineer Joy Rempe at work with a High Temperature Irradiation Resistant Thermocouple

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bonneville County Realtors see better times in '12

It may be that Jana Merkley took the helm of the Greater Idaho Falls Association of Realtors at the low ebb of the local real estate market.

At least Merkley, who came on as the association's CEO in June 2011, hopes that's true. She sees it as her job to be optimistic, and she says there have been signs this year that her optimism is warranted.

"We're getting more calls from agents who want lockboxes, we seem to be consumer confidence coming back," she said.

Merkley is also CEO of the Snake River Regional MLS, which is getting ready to post its annual statistics for 2011 on its Web site,

Across the board, the numbers were down from 2010.
In light of what has been happening in the rest of the country, "I just think it hit us later," she said. Given the encouraging economic numbers that have been coming out lately, combined with record low interest rates, there is cause for hope this year.

She encourages anyone looking to buy a home for the first time to take Finally Home! class, which is sponsored by the Idaho Partners for Homebuyer Education. "There is a lot you can learn from it, and a lot of mistakes you can avoid," she said. "Most people I talk to say, 'I wish I had taken this earlier in the process."