Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!
We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).
Am following up with an email...
The Thinkpad was the best unit in terms of 'feel'- it was light, solid, with a good battery life. However, both the first and second models we got were sent back because of poor performance (very slow to boot up, high latency during operation, and a tendency to run very hot). The Fujitsu was too heavy, as was the Toshiba. The Acer (Travelmate C200) was great in terms of performance (dedicated 256MB Nvidia graphics, 2GB RAM, etc), but was a bit bulky due to its built-in optical drive. In addition, Acer's method of sliding the screen up from the slate position was stupid, locking it into one angle when using the unit as a notebook. I'm using that one as a gaming platform now (three years later!). The HP tc4200 was, quite frankly, the best tablet I have ever used. It's light, sturdy (not quite as solid-feeling as the Thinkpad), and quick. The lady who used it said she never felt it was annoying to carry it around her classroom for most of the day. In addition to the tablet, we gave her a wifi-enabled projector, so she could work untethered while moving about, and this worked perfectly.
My suggestion is to get one of the tc4200's- they are dead cheap these days, and you can upgrade the RAM and hard drive easily if you wish. I have seen them for $400. Not only that, but you can even shoehorn OS X onto them if you are bored- I did that with our for shiggles and it was awesome for a few days before I missed my Macbook Pro too much!
Most projectors these days have built-in wifi for wireless projection (at least from Windows computers!), and this can really make a huge difference for instructors.
From a pedagogical perspective, you can even justify the cheap route and buy a bluetooth-enabled Wacom tablet. Sure, you don't get a screen built in, but for $250 you get the mobility of the tablet, as well as all the functionality of the penabled software such as Smart or Promethean offer. You can mark up notes, documents, etcetera and save your notes, email them to your students, and so on.
But my money's on the tc4200.
I work a public school IT department, and we find little stashes of 30-year old computer gear often enough that it's not a surprise anymore- and that's in a tiny district with only four schools!
If your closet has an electrical outlet, even better. You can build a circuit to keep the BIOS battery charging the whole time and just leave it plugged in.
For redundancy, hide a few machines in some of these locations as well:
Above the ceiling tiles in the staff lounge
On top of the furnace/boiler in the basement
Beneath the bleachers in the gymnasium
Above the ceiling of the girls' change room (on second thought, bad idea. Some nerd will find them for sure, there)
On a shelf in the custodian's closet
Between two of your Dell blade servers in the NOC
In the closet with the overhead projectors and VCRs and filmstrip players- nobody ever goes in there anymore!
At a minimum, you need:
- A fair amount of 14- or 12-gauge wire (wire is expensive... go measure)
- wire from generator switch breaker to each device
- wire from generator to generator switch (needs to be underground / outdoors rated)
- wire from main service to generator switch
- instructions are generally with generator switch - study hard. Errors can be disastrous
- A 15A or 20A socket at each power location (fridge, furnace)
- A manual generator to line switch ($150 or so on Ebay)
- A generator. I suggest MINIMUM 3500 watts Even though a furnace doesn't pull a lot when running, at the time that the blower starts up, there can be a VERY large startup current. The fridge the same, to a lesser extent.
- A shed -- you can't put a gas generator indoors, generally speaking - very dangerous
- I strongly suggest a strong table to mount the generator on for maintenance
- Some way to bolt the table down, and bolt the generator to the table
- High temperature exhaust hose for the generator (actually kind of difficult to come by)
- high-temperature pass through for exhaust to go thru shed wall - hot!
You can get a lot fancier than this, but this will function perfectly as long as you are there to do the switching soon enough after power fails that your building doesn't get too close to pipe-freeze (I wouldn't want to go below 40 degrees f, pipes are often in walls that are cooler than the rest of the house.)
If that won't do, you're looking at an auto-start system with an auto-generator switchover, and the only thing I can tell you about that is prepare your wallet for deep excavation.
Sorry, fyngryz; but your reply needs to be downmodded for "Overkill", and "FUD".
Step 1) Buy a genset. Get 6000 watts or better, if you can afford it. Make sure it has a 220V twist-lock outlet on it, in addition to the usual dual-120V outlets.
Step 2) Buy a nice length of fat extension cable (10AWG or bigger), with a male twist-lock on one end, and a male dryer plug on the other. Your Home Depot or local electrical supplier can make it up for you if you lack the boxcutter-and-screwdriver skills necessary to assemble it.
Step 3) Bring it all home, fill the genset with gas. It will probably hold something like 20 litres (as you're in the States, I'll convert for you: ~5 gallons).
Step 4) Go to your breaker panel, and shut off the MAIN breaker, as well as any baseboard heaters and your hotwater tank. Those will all be 220V breakers (the double kind). Leave all the rest on, if you like. If you have sensitive electronics, feel free to shut off those breakers or unplug the devices- which you've probably already done anyhow, since when your lights went out, there was an accompanying surge which melted all your power bars, right?
Step 5) Plug the large plug into your dryer outlet. Yes, it might be awkward to reach. If you have the money and time, get an electrician to install a 220V dryer outlet on the outside of your house somewhere near where you'd park the genset. Your choice.
Step 6) Start the generator. Once it's running smoothly, plug the twist-lock in. If it stalls out right away, the chances are you forgot to shut off your mains breaker and are trying to feed power back onto the grid.
Step 7) Go inside and enjoy your warm, well-lit household. By being careful, you can use all the major appliances in your house, including your range and oven. If you run out of hot water, lower the rest of your load and turn the tank back on for a while. Just don't try and bake bread while your water tank is on (typical load for a hotwater tank is 3KW). You'll get a feel for it- if the generator bogs down really bad, it means you're overloading it. Back off a bit. Worst thing you can do (provided your extension cable is properly gauged) is stall the genset.
Step 8) In about 8 hours, go outside and feed the genset some more gas.
This response by fyngryz is ludicrous. Even in a professionally-installed backup power system, you never run feeds to each device, you merely use an automatic switch to shunt the mains from the utility to your genset. If you have money to burn, you shell out the $12,000 it costs and have a proper diesel or propane-powered generator installed (you don't need a shed, they come in their own housings these days). It will have an automatic starter so that within 3-5 seconds of the power failing, you'll be on backup.
When I lived in an isolated seaside village in northern Canada, where the power would go out regularly for days at a time, it would take me less than 3 minutes to bundle up, wade through the snow to the woodshed, pull the genset outside, plug in the cord, run it in through the back door to the dryer outlet, and be lights-on and surfing the web again. Backup power is NOT magic or scary or even expensive- you can get a 6KW genset for $500, brand new, add a couple hundred if you're lazy and want electric start.