Energy and product review

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Solar Plane Completes 26-Hour Night Flight

PAYERNE, Switzerland – A giant glider-like aircraft has completed the first night flight propelled only by solar energy.

Solar Impulse, whose wingspan is the same as an Airbus A340, flew 26 hours and 9 minutes, powered only by solar energy stored during the day. It was also the longest and highest flight in the history of solar aviation, organizers said.

Bertrand Piccard, the Swiss president of the project, best known for completing the first round-the-world flight in a hot air balloon in 1999, said the success of the flight showed the potential of renewable energies and clean technology.

“We are on the verge of the perpetual flight,” he said.

Jubilant pilot Andre Borschberg told Reuters television: “It was unbelievable, success better than we expected. We almost thought to make it longer, but we demonstrated what we wanted to demonstrate so they made me come back, so here I am.”

Borschberg, a former Swiss air force pilot who has flown for 40 years, returned to a hero’s welcome at Payerne air base in the northwestern canton of Vaud, where hundreds gathered at dawn to watch the aircraft glide onto the Tarmac at 0700 GMT.

The success of this first night flight by a solar-powered plane is crucial for the further course of the Solar Impulse project,” it said.

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA, which has 12,000 solar cells built into its 64.3-metre (193-foot) wings, is a prototype for an aircraft that its creators hope will carry out its first circumnavigation of the globe from 2012.

The next milestone will be crossing the Atlantic using a second prototype which goes into construction soon.

Sponsors of the project, whose budget is 100 million Swiss francs ($95 million), include Belgian chemicals company Solvay SA, Swiss watchmaker Omega, part of the Swatch group, and German banking giant Deutsche Bank. France’s Altran is the project’s engineering partner.


Installing OS X on an Hard Drive Dock Firewire 800

One of the advantages OS X has over Windows is the easy ability to install OS X on practically any supported local volume, meaning that regardless of the hardware, if the volume can be mounted locally (as opposed to a network share) you should be able to install a copy of OS X to that volume and boot to it. Installing OS X to an external drive can be convenient for troubleshooting and being able to quickly move your whole OS installation around if needed; however, it does come with a few drawbacks:

1.Slower performance on Hard Drive Dock Firewire
An external drive will perform slower than an internal one. Even a fast FireWire 800 drive will not match the speed of the internal SATA BUS in the computer with hard drive dock firewire, so although you can get by with basic usage, if you are trying to run any tasks that regularly uses the disk you may see a notable performance hit.
2.More potential for interruptions
An external drive is more susceptible to interruptions than an internal drive for a few reasons. The first is that the connection is exposed and may be more easily disconnected. The second is that many people daisy-chain their external devices, which can cause conflicts, and the last is that many drives (especially higher-performance ones) require an external power source, which may be interrupted and cause the drive to suddenly unmount, resulting in a full system crash.
3. Internal drive contents more vulnerable
When you are booted off an external drive, the internal drive's contents loses its protection established by permissions and accounts. There will still be some limitations like hidden files not showing up, but all drive contents becomes far easier to access and manipulate, which may compromise OS installations or private data.

The benefits

Despite these drawbacks, booting off an external drive is invaluable when it comes to troubleshooting many aspects of the system, including hardware failures and drive corruption, as well as transferring, cloning, or otherwise migrating data. If you cannot boot from your internal drive, you may be able to quickly install to an external one and get your system up and running so you can run diagnostics on your internal drive or even retrieve important data off it.

Keep in mind that the majority of the benefits for using an external drive are for troubleshooting or transferring data, which means that they are temporary. If you decide to use an external drive as your working volume, then you risk encountering some of the drawbacks listed above.

1. If you have a cloning utility, you can regularly create and update a duplicate of your boot drive to the external drive, which will allow you to pick up right where you left off in the event of a hard-drive failure. To an extent this is similar to a mirrored RAID setup, where the drives are identical and provide seamless operation in the event that one drive fails; however, it has the added benefit of being able to update the drives independently. This means you can test a program (or OS update) after having cloned the working OS installation, and if things go bad you can quickly clone back to restore the previous OS installation.
2. Emergency boot drive
Though cloning a drive can serve as an emergency boot source, having a small partition on the boot drive that is as clean as possible (bare OS installation) ensures the system will boot properly to that drive. You can install a number of utilities to the drive, such as drive utilities and hardware diagnostics tools, which will then allow the drive to be used to troubleshoot problems and recover data if necessary.
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