Several Web sites offer economic guidance on our efforts to shift away from reliance on oil.

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Al Gore and T. Boone Pickens are just two of the most prominent people calling for us to get off our oil addiction. But how will it hit our wallets to do that? These sites give some guidance.

Grid parity

The stock-market-watch site Seeking Alpha watches the energy sector, among many segments of the economy, and posts opinion and analysis from blogs and other sources around the Web. This entry from earlier in the year talks about “grid parity,” a term now bandied about as the point when alternative energy sources are as cheap — or expensive — as traditional sources. The article notes that such parity depends on many factors, but is inevitable.

Clean Edge

A report from “clean tech” research firm Clean Edge says solar power will reach cost parity with fossil-fuel sources by around 2015. The report offers a plan for the United States to get 10 percent of its power from solar by 2025.

Leonard’s world

At, Andrew Leonard writes “How the World Works,” a blog about globalization. This June installment says solar power is “just about ready for prime time,” based in part on the soaring production of photovoltaic cells — the building blocks of solar panels.

Pickin’ on Pickens

The libertarian Cato Institute posts a critical essay on oilman Pickens’ call for big subsidies on wind energy. “If wind energy were a sensible economic investment, it would not need the lavish federal and state subsidies already in place or the additional largesse sought after by Mr. Pickens,” it observes.

www.cato.orgThis is the site all about the “Pickens Plan.” Pickens presented his plan to a U.S. Senate panel recently.

Al Gore

And we shouldn’t leave out the all-things-Gore site, where you even can buy signed copies of photographs by his wife, Tipper.

The Professor Teaches Super Set


Every office has one: You know, the guy who can tell you how to put page numbers and footnotes on a document, or who can figure out why Windows is misbehaving. I know their secret: The Professor.

The good news for you is two of my favorite sets of Windows and Office tutorials, which formerly were on multiple CDs, have been combined and expanded on one DVD. Now you can learn how to use all recent versions of Windows and Microsoft Office programs (and much more) without shuffling CDs.

The Professor Superset DVD covers Windows Vista Basic, Business, Premium and Ultimate, along with all versions of XP and 2000, and throws in tutorials for home and small office networking.

All of the Microsoft Office 2007 programs are covered: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access and Outlook, with tutorials for Office 2003 programs as well. If that’s not enough, this DVD has tutorials for Photoshop CS2 and CS, Publisher, FrontPage 2003, Dreamweaver 8 and enough Web design tools, including HTML basics and an advanced course, to build a world-class Web site.

If you’re new to Windows, Office or Web design, the Professor will explain terms, give you real-life examples, show you how to do such mundane tasks as set margins and change type size, then encourage you to try more complicated tasks.

The videos are clear, the narrators don’t talk down to you, and when you start putting into practice what you’ve learned, you can always go back and find out what you did wrong. A help index is always at hand.

— Noah Matthews

McClatchy-Tribune News Service