If you keep up with the news, you probably know about the recent power outage in the county of India that affected more than 350 million people. You probably also assumed that you will never see something like that happen here in the United States.
Your assumption could very well be incorrect.this National Geographic article, it is more a matter of when than a matter of if. A solar storm big enough to cause massive power outages already happened. Fortunately, it was in 1859, long before electricity was an important part of our lives. When we have another solar storm of that magnitude, the results could be devastating for developed countries that are dependent on electricity for communication, transportation, and even for access to drinking water. Another storm like that one could cause widespread chaos, particularly in urban areas. It could very well bring about the end of our way of life.
I have attached a video from National Geographic explaining this in detail. Watch and learn.
The design of the solar oven in this video is based loosely on the “Minimum Box Oven” plans located at www.solarcooking.org/plans. Dimensions are about 15 x 24 (I’ll double-check this and possibly edit later).
First, I constructed the lid according to the plans, but instead of leaving the cardboard cut-out attached for use as the reflector, I removed it completely. Then I measured entire width and length of the cover and purchased the glass cut to size at my local hardware store. Then I made a second lid to fit snugly over the first one, with the glass trapped in between them as shown in the diagram.
The plans have three suggestions for improving efficiency, all of which I followed more or less:
Suggestion 1: Make pieces of foiled cardboard the same size as the oven sides and place these in the wall spaces.
My implementation: I followed this one, but I did not foil the cardboard. I just filled the space between the boxes with layers of cardboard. This makes the oven very sturdy.
Suggestion 2: Make a new reflector the size of the entire lid (see photo above).
My implementation: I followed this suggestion as well. You then have to make your props in a “U” shape instead of a “Z” shape as shown in the plans.
Suggestion 3: Make the drip pan using sheet metal, such as aluminum flashing. Paint this black and elevate this off the bottom of the oven slightly with small cardboard strips.
My implementation: I used some aluminum flashing I had laying around and painted it with black paint. I used the non-toxic type of paint that is designed for grills.
A final tip is that I have found water-activated packaging tape to work very well for cardboard projects. I bought a roll years ago, and I have built two solar ovens, a cardboard footstool, and a cardboard boat and there is still plenty of tape left on the roll. You just cut the length you need, brush on some water with a foam brush, and stick it on. It is very strong, paintable, and presumably less toxic than plastic packing tape would be.
At my place of employment we recently purchased a piece of software to design and print identification cards. We were planning to use the software to make employee badges. I did not have an opportunity to try out the software in advance because no trial version was offered. However, the vendor made a good sales pitch, so I shelled out roughly a thousand dollars to purchase the software.
It turned out to be one of the most difficult-to-learn software packages I have ever attempted to use. After laboring for five hours, I still had not figured out how to print a single ID card. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I’m not the dullest, either. There had to be a better solution. Not wanting to spend more money, I decided to build the software myself.
I started with a 2U rackmount case, the Norco RPC-230. I like this particular case for several reasons: First, it has a shallow depth that allows it to be mounted without rails, and it is sturdy enough that it won’t sag. Secondly, being 2U allows for a standard off-the-shelf power supply unit. I do not like scrambling to hunt down an odd-ball power supply when my server goes down.
I went with a fan-less mini-itx motherboard from Asus that comes with a dual-core Intel Atom processor already integrated. This is one of the few Atom boards that met my three qualifications: four SATA ports, no fans, and a decent price.
For storage I selected two identical Seagate 1 Terabyte drives. The data on these will be mirrored (RAID 1).
I finished it by installing the fabulous and open-source FreeNAS version 8 on a 8 GB USB thumb drive, freeing the entire RAID pair to be used for storage.
For reference, here is a list of all the hardware for the appliance, cleverly linked to my Amazon affiliate account:
- Norco RPC-230 rack-mount enclosure
- Antec Basiq BP430 Power Supply
- Asus AT5NM10T-I mini itx motherboard
- Two Crucial 2GB memory modules
- Two Seagate 1 TB hard drives
- Lexar 8 GB flash drive
I am a recent convert to the Google Chrome web browser. In my opinion, the speed and simplicity of this browser is unmatched by the other popular choices. Although Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 4 are fairly good as well, Chrome is still my favorite browser on both the Linux and Windows platforms.
For some time now I have been displeased with Adobe Reader. First of all, it seems bloated and launches slower than other PDF viewers I have used. To make up for the slow speed, recent versions also install a background process in Windows that presumably loads part of the application in advance. Little displeases me more than a software application that includes a background process, with the obvious exception of anti-virus programs that NEED to run in the background.
Lately I have been using the Google Chrome web browser more and more and my old favorite, Firefox, less and less. Unlike other web browsers, Chrome has a built-in PDF viewer, eliminating the need for the Adobe Reader plug-in. This makes viewing PDFs faster and more trouble-free than relying on the plug-in. I have never encountered a PDF document that did not display correctly in Chrome.
A few days ago it struck me that Chrome could be used to view PDF documents on my computer as easily as those on the web. All you have to do is set it as the default application for opening PDF documents. To do this in Windows 7, RIGHT-click on any PDF file and select Open With > Choose default program. A screen will appear with a list of programs. Select Chrome from this list (you may have to browse for it), check the box beside “Always use this program to open this kind of file”, and then click OK. In the future, Chrome will be your default PDF viewer. These steps will be very similar in Windows XP or Vista.