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Electric Vehicles’ Potential

December 13, 2009

Why electricity:

O dear! Fuel Prices have risen! Yeeha! Fuel Prices have fallen!! Well this sort of stuff really makes me sick. Fuel prices are ever rising and the costs of operating your own vehicle are getting higher-and-higher. Why not look for a cheaper, less polluting alternative? The answer is electricity! Over the past few years, due to continuous fluctuations in fuel prices, people have been encouraged to develop better and more advanced electric vehicles. Electric vehicles have become hugely popular especially in countries where fuel prices are pretty high like the UK and Ireland.

Electric Cars:

Until recently, electric cars have been tiny, their batteries were limited and were poor performer. Recently several new manufacturers like NICE Car Company, Reva Cars etc have been developing good sized, electric cars:

The Reva or G-Wiz:

The Reva or G-Wiz(in UK) is an electric car first developed in India and is the first electric car to have made its debut in India.  Reva is a 2-seat mini-vehicle, available at around 400K-500K Rupees in India. It has a reasonable range of 80-100 kilometres (45-60 miles) and can attain a top speed of 60 km/hour. Reva’s major setback was its high price (at the same price one could get a decent 4 seat car with a good sized boot in India). However over the long run, Reva can save you a lot of money. A few month ago, a new model of the Reva called Reva-i was released. This new Reva uses technology similar to a hybrid, by converting the energy released by braking, into electric energy.

The  NICE Mega City:

The NICE Mega City is considerably larger than the Reva. It is available in either a 2 seater or 2+2 seater combination. The Mega City uses maintenance-free lead batteries which give it a range of 100 km (62 miles). Right now it is only sold in UK from £10K . The considerably larger e-City Pro offers an even larger boot space of almost 800 litres (200 gallons). It is exempted from tax, congestion charge and is VAT free. This is an excellent alternative to a Fiat 500 (which starts from £8K) or any other 2 seater car at this price range.

The Fiat e500:

This car is an electric conversion of the poplar Fiat 500. It has a very high top speed (as compared to Reva/Mega City) of 100 km/hour (62 miles an hour) and a good range of 120 km (75 miles). It’s interior is quite similar to that of the 500 and this car too has congestion charge and tax exempt. It’s only problem is: Price. this car is priced at over £25K and only a real savy person would be ready to buy it.

The Quiet Car 2:

This is the first full-sized, family car that runs on electricity. It has five doors and can seat upto five people. It can attain a top speed of 50 miles an hour (85 km/hour) and has a maximum range of 60 miles (100 km). The manufacturer claims that every 100 miles run on this car will add just £1 to your electricity bills. The car costs £12K and has good sized 13″ tyres.

Major car-companies debut into the electric vehicle’s market:

In 2010, several major companies, like Chevrolet and Hyundai debuted into the electric car market. Chevrolet introduced an electric version of their Spark(known as Matiz in some countries) which is expected to release sometime in 2010. Hyundai on the other hand launched an electric version of it’s i10. Both these cars are expected to have a $2000-$3000 premium over the standard models. Although not much is known of the specifications of these cars, some details of the i10-electric however, have been leaked.

i10-Electric (Unconfirmed) Specifications:

49 kW motor

16 kWh Battery

Max range of 160 km (100 miles)

5 hours to fully charge; 15 minutes to 85% charge.

i10 Electric

Electric Trucks:

This field is not as developed as the electric cars field but some manufacturers such as NICE have ventured into manufacturing trucks. I for on believe this field may have huge potential and may cut down transport costs greatly.

NICE Mega MultiTruck:

The NICE Mega MultiTruck is available in several configurations. The versions available are Pick-up, Van, Tipper, Drop-Side, Skip-Tipper etc. The truck is available from £11K. It has a range of 100 km (62 miles) and a top speed of 45 km/hour (30 miles an hour). I think this speed should suffice for most operations. A more powerful variant is also available called MegaWorker, which can carry more payload. The truck’s running cost is about 2pence/mile. The only significant setback this truck suffers from is its range(of only 100km). It’s range will limit long-haul operations. An answer to this would be carrying an extra battery while battery changing could take anything upto 10 minutes. This practise could double the range.

The van variant of MegaTruck

The Future of Electric Vehicles:

In my opinion, electric vehicles have a huge future market potential. As fossil fuels become more and more scarce and expensive, electricity is the only worthy alternative left. Batteries are also being developed to last longer and carry more power. Electric vehicles would also become the ultimate emission-cutters. Businesses could save colossal amount of money if electric transport is used. Well an electric future awaits us!!

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The Ubuntu Experience

December 13, 2009

What is Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is an Operating System just like Microsoft Windows. It runs on the Linux kernel. Ubuntu’s greatest advantage over Microsoft Windows is that it is completely free (and legal)for anyone in the world! Also it is an open-source software so advanced users can even modify/tweak it to make it work better. Ubuntu is not only a free/open-source software itself, every single software that comes preloaded with Ubuntu is also open-source. Ubuntu contains a wide range of free necessary software, which you would otherwise end up paying for.

Useful tools:

OpenOffice:

Lately Microsoft has heavily priced the Office 2007 range of tools making it highly unaffordable for the average user. Open Office is a free office suite that contains most necessary office tools such as Calc(similar to Excel), Presentation(similar to PowerPoint), Word Processor (similar to Word) and Draw(similar to Visio 2007). The OpenOffice interface is largely similar to Microft Office 2003 making it easy to get used to.

Screenshot3

A sreenshot  of OpenOffice Word.

Photo Editor (GIMP and F-Spot Photo Manager)

The GIMP Image Editor Contains several tools similar to those of Adobe Photoshop Essentials. It can be used to modify, crop and do other advanced tasks with your images. The F-Spot photo manager works a lot like your usual photo mangers like Picasa and others. Both of these graphics programs are completely free and open-source.

Screenshot-F-Spot

A screenshot from F-Spot Photo Manager.

Rythbox Music Player and Movie Player:

The Rythmbox Music Player is a music player similar to iTunes. It can play all sorts of music formats (MP3, AAC) and also accept connections from your iPod, PlayStation Portable(PSP) and other devices. Rythmbox can also help you organize your library and buy music from the net. Movie Player works a lot like Windows Media Player and can play all sort of video file formats.

Browser and E-Mail Client:

Ubuntu comes with the web-browser Firefox and e-mail client Evolution Mail. Evolution Mail works lots like Outlook 2007 and can manage both your email as well as a calendar, memo, appointments etc.

Empathy Instant Messenger:

This instant messenger can be used with several instant message services such as GTalk, Yahoo! Messenger etc.

Screenshot-Contact List

Empathy Intsant Messenger

Other Tools:

The Brasro Disk Burner is a disk burning utility similar to Nero. Ubuntu is also capable of Remote Desktop Connections and also features Ubuntu One which is like your personal drive on the net similar to Window Live SkyDrive.

Why Ubuntu:

Ubuntu can be customized to any extent. If you don’t like the Ubuntu desktop looks, you can make it look like a Mac or Windows desktop. Ubuntu also comes with various desktop visual effects many similar to Windows Aero interface. Ubuntu and its software are completely free forever so you don’t have to worry about licenses getting expired and renewing software.

No fear of Viruses and Worms:

Ubuntu’s structure is completely different as compared to Microsoft Windows. No application is allowed to access the root directory unless it has user-authentication. This prevents any virus/trojan/worm attack. Also very few people (or perhaps no one) bothers to write viruses for Linux as it is so uncommonly used (an unfortunate truth). With no fear of viruses you don’t have to spend huge sums of money on anti-virus software (which will account for a huge saving).

Ubuntu Software Center:

The Ubuntu Software Center contains a large variety of free software. It includes 3-D games, Internet applications, programming accessories, educational stuff etc. Software Center makes it extremely easy to browse and download software from the net.Screenshot-Ubuntu Software Center

Ubuntu Software Center

Release Cycle:

Ubuntu releases a new version of the OS every six months. The version latest version is 9.10 Karmic Koala and the upcoming release is 10.04. Every new version adds new features such as faster boot times, improved software etc.

Boot Time:

The past two releases (9.04 and 9.10) have laid considerable focus on improving OS boot times. On my computer, which has a Pentium Dual core 1.87 GHz and 3 GB RAM, Ubuntu boots up in just hardly 1 minute.

How easy is it to install:

Ubuntu is very easy to install on your computer and you need not be a computer expert to be able to install it. You have the option of installing Ubuntu along with your previous Mac/Windows installation or completely deleting Window/Mac and replacing it with Ubuntu.

So why is’nt Ubuntu commonly used:

Reason 1. Over the past few years, people have developed a mindset that “free software never works” and “free software is dangerous” etc. Well if you look at Ubuntu, it is certainly not like that.

Reason 2. Canonical (Ubuntu’s creators) being a non-profit organization does not have sufficient funds to advertise Ubuntu enough. So many people of unaware of Ubuntu’s existence.

An Example of How customizable Ubuntu is:

I love the looks/theme of Apple’s Mac OSX. So i decided to dress my Ubuntu in the Mac OSX style. First I downloaded a program called Avant Window Navigator. You can download this program from the Ubuntu Software Centre. Next i downloaded another program called Mac4Lin from here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/mac4lin/ After it finishes downloading, just extract it and click on the install file. Voila! In barely two seconds the program will install and run the Mac OSX desktop theme! Here’s some screenshots:

(please click on the images for a better resolution)

If you wish to download and try Ubuntu, go here : http://www.ubuntu.com/