A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With a Single E-bike

Stepping off the curb to cross a street in Chinese cities, sounds of squeaky brakes are the only signal you hear to warn that you are about to be hit by an electric bicycle. They travel quite quickly in comparison to foot travel, but congest traffic because they don’t move as fast as cars.

What does being hit by an E-bike in China have to do with Peak Oil and declining conventional oil supplies? In order to answer that question we have to take a look at electric infrastructure that is currently used to power transportation on a mass scale in Asia. More importantly, we have to ask whether it can work on a much larger scale.

Also known as E-bikes, electric bicycles are becoming more and more common in Chinese cities. They represent wealth – a status symbol for the middle class. It’s higher status than walking, riding a bicycle or taking the bus, but less than owning a car.

Chinese government statistics put the number of E-bikes at 28 million Expected sales in 2007 will add another 30 million units, almost doubling the entire countrywide ownership in just one year. Add to that half a billion bicycles and 80 million motorcycles and you can see that most of the people here do most of their traveling by two-wheeled vehicle.

Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Are E-bikes a first step in the transformation of the world’s transportation system? Maybe, but the challenges are enormous.

Infrastructure: With the addition of all of these new E-bikes, cities will also need to dramatically increase electricity infrastructure to keep the bikes re-charged and moving. E-bikes can be plugged directly into a wall socket for recharging with no specialized equipment, but the places to re-charge are limited to parking garages in apartment buildings, office complexes and some parks where you have to pay 2RMB (.23 cents) for a recharge. Electric sockets are like parking spaces: you need to go somewhere else when the spaces are full. Chinese cities are still building the somewhere else.

E-bikes are only used in cities with flat terrain or minor uphill grades. Hilly cities in the mountains – Chongqing and Lanzhou come to mind – lack e-bikes, simply because power from the batteries is not enough to climb steep hills.

So lightweight, two-wheeled vehicles have problems moving a single person up steep grades. Just imagine the difficulties in shifting the world’s transportation system to electricity! It would be essentially impossible for heavy trucks with over sized loads to move through the mountains by battery power.

In his book Geo-Destinies, Walter Yongquist sums it up:

Larger difficulties are foreseen in producing electric vehicles such as the great variety of trucks which have to travel many miles in remote areas on steep grades with very heavy loads, or semi-tractor trailers with two or three trailers on interstate highways and transcontinental hauls. Using heavy farm equipment or bulldozers in remote areas far from battery charging stations also presents problems.

Travel Bubbles: With the current limited range of electric powered vehicles, could a society exist in a 25-kilometer radius bubble for E-bikes and a 200-300 kilometer radius bubble for cars? If electricity is the final power source that our societies will transition to after we go through the compressed natural gas phase for our cars, buses and trucks around the planet, how will society accommodate the need to charge batteries and then continue on our journeys?

Electricity to power our vehicles sounds great in theory, but take into consideration the environmental problems. We have seen throughout history that lead is poisonous. With the amount of lead around us in our daily lives that would be required to keep our transportation systems functioning, the health effects would be staggering. The amount of mining, enclosed transportation, recycling and disposal of large amounts of lead are un-tested on such a large scale that would be required for worldwide implementation.

Many electric vehicle manufacturers tell of a rosy future dominated by specialized hybrid batteries made with cadmium-lithium, nickel-metal hydride, nickel-iron, sulfur-aluminum, zinc bromine, nickel-cadmium, lithium polymer and sodium sulfur, but in the real world where business takes place the cheapest methods and materials are used to maximize profit. Lead-acid batteries will continue to lead the pack. Currently, 95% of China’s E-bikes use them. Second- and third-generations of mass-produced electric vehicles may use those specialized batteries the car makers boast about, but that won’t happen soon.

Conventional lead-acid batteries have only one per cent of the stored energy of gasoline. As Walter Yongquist explains:
The extra energy required to move one ton of storage batteries in the car, as compared with the minute amount of energy required to move four litres of gasoline in the tank is hard to beat. A litre of gasoline provides at least 100 times the energy of a battery taking up the same space. The convenience of 60 litres of gasoline weighing less than 50kg which will allow a car to travel 700km at 100 kilometers per hour without stopping will be hard to replace.

It is possible that our societies could transition to compressed natural gas (CNG) to run our worldwide transportation network, but natural gas supplies in North America are already in decline. The major hope there is that Asia sits on vast quantities of it. So if by some miracle North America and Europe do change all of their cars to use CNG, they will have to import natural gas to keep everything running — a continuation of the practice of relying on imported energy. The only other choice is electric battery propelled transport, which presents its own gargantuan set of challenges. Since 97% of the world’s transportation uses fossil fuel in one form or another, do you see a problem?

Biofuels, which include ethanol and bio-diesel, are additives for gasoline and diesel that use nearly as much energy to produce as they give in return. If you are pinning your hopes on them and electric vehicles to keep our world economy running and expanding; I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn.

Brando Would Be Proud

When it comes to riding a motorcycle, whether the person is a weekend hobbyist or a lifestyler, the leather jacket is one of the most profoundly important articles of clothing to enter his or her possession. You’ll very very seldom see an experienced motorcycle rider without their jacket; the leather jacket is part and parcel of the life of a motorcyclist and it in many ways, it is quite indispensable.

Many motorcyclists refer to their leather jacket as their armor, and psychological and comfort benefits aside, it is easy to see why. Accidents will happen and many people on the road are aware of that. A good leather jacket can mean the difference between a few scrapes and bruises and the need for skin graft. Motorcycle riders have had their skins saved quite literally through wearing the appropriate gear and the black leather jacket is as much of a uniform as you are likely to see from the majority of motorcycle enthusiasts.

When it comes to leather, however, most people don’t just stop with their jackets. Leather is a wonderfully flexible, extremely sensual material, and there are plenty of places on your motorcycle that can be fitted with leather. Leather saddlebags, which can be attached to the rear of your bike, are an excellent way to keep your gear organized and in one place. If you are interested in having even more space to store your gear, check out the leather sissybar bags that are available. This type of bag often has enough space for a detachable bedroll on top and many zippered side storage containers, making them a great camping option.

Leather gloves are another excellent accessory for the discerning motorcycle rider. Look for gloves that are made out of good-quality leather. During the summer months, many motorcyclists use ubiquitous fingerless leather gloves, while the winter season often sees riders sporting well-insulated leather gloves that both warm the hands and give them room to breathe. If you are purchasing motorcycle gloves, remember to try them on if at all possible; gloves that are too loose can be problematic, not to mention dangerous, when you wear them on the road.

Whether you’re heading out for a summer of fun or motorcycles are simply a way of life for you, remember to take the time to make sure that you are prepared when you head out. Leather goods last a good while on the road, so try to make sure that you have the nicest gear that you can afford!

Choosing Best Linux Operating System – 5 Strategies to Help You In Selecting The Right Distribution

Which Linux distribution (distro) or Linux Operating System is the best?

In my opinion, there is no definite answer. There is no ‘best’ distribution that suit everyone and level of expertise.

From my past experiences, the ‘best’ Linux distribution is distribution that your comfortable-with. For example, I am a Red Hat Linux user since ver6.x. Since, I am so familiar with Red Hat-based distributions, I feel a bit hard for me to switch to Debian-based distributions. Again, this is nothing to do with learning curve is just my personal preference

Perhaps, most of the Linux gurus might already know the answer well for choosing correct Linux distribution for themselves. However, if you are new to Open Source or Linux, I would like to share with you 5 strategies for choosing the right Open Source distribution.

5 major key strategies for choosing correct Linux Distributions are:-

  1. Your Objective
  2. Hardware
  3. Popularity
  4. Roadmap, developers’ background and sponsors.
  5. Official Support or Commercial support

1. Your Objective

First and foremost, ask yourself what is the purpose of using Linux Distribution. Listed below are some examples that most of newcomer use Linux for:-

  • Replacing property Desktop Operating System?
  • Replacing property Server Operating System?
  • Target Group? Implement new Linux Operating System for kids? Senior citizens? Computer savvy?
  • Implement your Linux for web servers? File sharing? Firewall and router? Print Server?

Different Linux distributions for different needs; we need to check its functionality to see if particular Linux distribution fit our requirements.

2. Hardware

Most of Open Source Operating System especially Linux Operating System is not an ugly duck anymore. You will be amazed with powerful and stable Desktop Graphical User Interface. However, you must know type of hardware to be used. Linux Operating System that builds for servers are not suitable for netbook or embedded hardware.

3. Popularity

Popular Open Source Operating System has more support from community. The easiest way to check their popularity is to check on the Page Hit Ranking at DistroWatch.com. Other than that, you need to perform a little research on support forum and technical blogs.

-Any mailing list? How active is the mailing list?

How many online support forums?

-How active these forums?

– Response time for technical help? Anyone attend to the questions?

Mandrake, Freebsd, Ubuntu, Red Hat, Debian, Suse, Gentoo and CentOS are some of the popular- Open Source / Linux distributions.

4. Roadmap, developers’ background and sponsors list

If your Linux distribution is used for enterprise system, I would advise you to check on their roadmap, developers or organization background. We definitely need to look for something which is built on solid background and have a clear roadmap. Funders also play critical role on the product development and R&D.

5. Official Support or Commercial support

If your Operating System is planned long-term support or commercial use, please opt for Official Support or Commercial support. Please remember, the keyword ‘Free’ means ‘freedom’ and not ‘free in cost’.

I hope all 5 strategies will help you to choose your ‘best’ Linux Distribution and welcome to Open Source world!

The Importance of Content on a Website

Karen has a little son named Tommy. It is his birthday and Tommy has asked his mum if he can have a Spiderman birthday cake. Although it seems difficult, Karen understands that she must first bake a cake and then decorate it. Of course, she also realises that without the main ingredients, there will be no cake. She wants it to look good as well as taste good. So she sets out to bake the basic cake, using the main ingredients and then decorates the cake with trimmings to make it look like Spiderman. It is a success and little Tommy is very excited.

Now let’s imagine that Tommy has grown up and wants his mum Karen to build him a website. He is over Spiderman now and wants her to build a car rental website. This is fine for Karen because she has researched SEO websites and she thinks she has a good understanding of what is needed. One of the main ingredients she discovers is content. Content not only helps to build the base of the site, but it also helps to decorate the site, or it shows the search engines what the site is about. Karen knows that if she did not have the right trimmings on Tommy’s birthday cake years ago, she could have run the risk of it not looking like Spiderman. She also now realises that if she does not have relevant content on the car rental site, she runs the risk of the search engines not realising that Tommy’s site is indeed about car rental.

Content is King! If you are starting a website you need to ensure you are letting everybody know, both people and search engines, what exactly your website is all about. This can be done through the content you publish on the site. It would be useless for Karen to have information about Spiderman cakes on Tommy’s website if he wants to rent cars. The search engines will not find this relevant and it may not rank as well as it could.

Karen can become creative however and adds content that will assist people when renting cars, as well as give them information about the location that they will be visiting. The search engines will find this helpful to people who are visiting the site and this will help with the rankings.

Content should be spread throughout a website and not all jammed onto the homepage. This will increase the amount of time that people spend on the website, which is also taken into consideration when the search engines scan through. So Karen needs to ensure that the homepage is enticing and people will want to stay on the website accessing useful information about car rental. This is similar to Tommy’s cake, because it had to look enticing before anyone would then want to eat it and enjoy it.

Karen should also consider keywords that she would like Tommy’s site to rank for. She cannot fill the content with keywords relating to baking or decorating. They must be keywords that people would use to search on Google. People do not put the words ‘birthday cake’ in a search box when they want a rental car. Imagine if she had decorated Tommy’s birthday cake with pink ribbons and then said it was a Spiderman cake. This would have confused little Tommy, because what he would have seen is a pretty pink cake, not Spiderman. It may seem basic and you may understand it now, but when you begin your website, you may be tempted to just add content for the sake of adding more pages or words. This can be detrimental to your site.

Now it is also important to ensure that the keywords do not over take the other content on the site. This is called keyword stuffing. If Karen added too much of one of the main ingredients without balancing out the rest, she would have had a disastrous cake that would not have been worth decorating. If you just add words for the sake of having the keywords repeating on the site, this can be detrimental to your rankings. So ensure that the keywords are strategically placed throughout the content of the website.

So in review, content is important. But it must be relevant and it must be keyworded for your site to rank. Karen not only made her son a fantastic Spiderman cake, but she also presented him with a website that was full of informative, useful content that attracted visitors to the site and made the search spiders happy. Well done Karen, you should be presented with the MUM of the year award!