2500 litres of biofuel a year tax free

I don’t know how it evaded my attention at the time, but somehow it did. Back in June, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs simplified rules for producers and users of biodiesel such that if you produce (or use) less than 2500 litres per year you are exempt from fuel duty, and from the requirement to fill out monthly returns.

This translates to a potential tax saving of £708.75 (28.35p duty per litre x 2500), and makes using vegetable oil as a diesel substitute a whole lot more attractive.

Vegetable Oil as a Biofuel

My friend Jake is currently trying out a blend of 20% vegetable oil, 80% diesel in his unmodified VW Polo and has so far driven 600 miles with no side effects!

Since Vegetable oil is about £0.55 per litre (compared to over £1 a litre for diesel), even this 1:4 mix is saving him around £4 per tank.

Google assembles army against Microsoft-Facebook alliance

Earlier this week Techcrunch revealed that Google were about to launch a new social network project called OpenSocial. Rather than push out yet another social platform, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) have decided to stick to their strengths and core mission, that is; to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Open Social Homepage

With OpenSocial they are building a set of common APIs that will allow developers to create applications that will work with any social network. I think this is a killer move, as it will mean that Google is involved no matter which social networks are the current fad, just like Google is involved in search no matter which websites you end up visiting.

Developers are likely sign up on mass to this new utility (just as they have with Google Maps) as it means their applications will be available to all networks without them having to write specific code for each one, and they can code in standard Javascript/HTML rather than having to learn another markup language such as FBML.

As of yesterday, OpenSocial received backing from MySpace, adding to e Orkut, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Ning, Hi5, Plaxo, Friendster, Viadeo and Oracle who have all also said they will participate. Given that Facebook’s API was one of it’s key advantages over MySpace, suddenly Microsoft’s investment seems even more expensive.