Archive for the ‘Computer Networking’ Category

What the heck is Folding@home? That’s what I thought when I stumbled across a forum talking about “folding”. People on this forum were talking about their computer’s specs and processing power and how much folding they had done. It got me curious so I kept reading to see what they were talking about. I finally made my way to Stanford University’s website talking all about folding and what it is. It is very interesting.

Folding refers to protein folding and misfolding and how that relates to various deseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Mad Cow, Cancer, and a bunch of other deseases. When proteins do not fold correctly, there can be serious consequences  such as these and other deseases and conditions. In order to study the folding process, a lot of processing power is needed to do molecular simulations and calculate all that biological stuff. So, rather than spend millions of dollars building or renting time on a super computer, they have created one of the fastest super computers for free. It is made up of thousands of individual computers around the world. At the time of this writing, there are over 350,000 active CPUs which contribute to the project. That is quite a few CPUs considering that the project has been around for just under 10 years.

So, I decided to join the movement and contribute to hopefully finding cures for some of these deseases. It is fairly simple to help out, you simply download a small program from Standford’s site and install it. It will ask you some questions about how you want it to install and you are able to choose a username (not required) and can even join a team (also not required). If you would like to join my team, put in team number 183338 when asked. You can then track how much our team is helping and see your own stats for your username.

I have an old server down in my basement that doesn’t do much but sit there and drain my electricity. So, I thought I would put it to use doing something worthwhile. It is now crunching away on it’s first folding project. After you have installed the software, your computer automatically downloads a project from Stanford’s servers which needs to be computed. Your computer then crunches away on that project and does whatever calculations are needed. Once your computer finishes with the project, it uploads it back to Standord’s server and begins working on the next project. It can take days for your computer to finish a project. You’re probably wondering what kind of drain this has on your computer resources, well, it drains it a lot when the computer doesn’t have any other tasks to do but drains it very little, if any, when your computer is busy with other tasks. You see, the process is set at a very low priority. So, any other processes on your computer take higher priority than the Folding@home process. So, when your computer needs the processor to convert a movie file, or run your browser, it is able to take just as much of the processor as it would have without Folding@home being installed. Folding@home will drop to 0% processor usage if needed so that your computer can do any other tasks it needs to. On the other hand, when you are not using your computer for any processor intensive tasks (probably about 95% of the time), it will use as much of the processor as it can. So, you may see your processor at 100% whenever Folding@home is working on a project. Don’t be alarmed, it will allow any other task to use as much CPU as it wants to immediately if needed. So, it won’t slow down your computer at all.

So, why not give all of that idle processor power over to something useful and rewarding for everyone by doing your own folding. You’ll feel better about being a part of something so important and it it doesn’t really hurt you or your computer to help out. And agin, if you want to be part of my team, use team number 183338 when you install your software. Together we can be a part of the solution.

Call Santa

Author: Steve Martin

SantaOnce again I have obtained a direct line to Santa’s workshop. It is December, so of course Santa is VERY busy. Unfortunately he does not have time to answer thousands of phone calls personally. But, you can leave a message for him so he’ll be sure to know what you want for Christmas. His Direct line is:

801-738-0668

 

 Let him know your name, how old you are, and what you would like him to bring you for Christmas. And, if you would like to have a recording of your message e-mailed to you, send an e-mail to Santa at santa@claus.fami.ly with the date and approximate time of your call as well as the child’s name and age and Santa will do his best to send your message back to you for your own enjoyment (Ask your parents for help with this part).

Pass this along to your friends and family so they can call Santa too.  http://stevemart.in/2009/12/10/call-santa/

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Gift Pick 2

Author: Steve Martin

Ok, so I’ve found a few more of the 15″ Digital Picture Frames. There are a few different brands and I can’t say if they are any good or not. If I were in the market to be purchasing a new frame, I would still go with the Viewsonic I wrote about in a previous entry because I trust the name. But, these others may be equally good if not better, so who knows.

Pandigital PAN1502W02 15 Digital Picture Frame $149.97

Ok, so it’s sold out but maybe they’ll get more in stock. It was selling for $149.97. We had purchased a Pandigital as a gift once and the quality really was nice.

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SmartParts SP15MWA 15 Walnut Wood Digital Photo F $119.99

I have a client with a SmartParts digital frame that his wife gave him for Christmas and it also looks very nice.

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Smartparts 15 4:3 Ratio Digital Photo Frame $119.99

I tend to see a lot of the SmartParts frames available from many sites. Hopefully that means that they make a good product.

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Sunpak SF-150-42001SL 15 TFT LCD Digital Frame – $81.97

I’ve never heard of these guys but the price is sure right. Hopefully the quality is at least decent.

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I just double checked the prices before posting this. They could always change by the time you read this and they could sell out. Enjoy.

Christmas Gift Pick

Author: Steve Martin

ViewSonic VFM1530-11 15

This beautiful, extra large digital multimedia frame plays music and supports most video formats. Choose the ViewSonic VFM1530-11 with a high resolution 1024×768 LCD panel for clear and crisp photo images. The 4:3 aspect ratio gives you minimum distortion or data loss. It’s equipped with a USB connection for easy content download and remote control. Handy brightness and contrast ratio adjustment and energy savings with programmable on/off, keep your photos right within view. This makes a lovely gift for special occasions and for anyone wanting a grand view of all their images. Effective Viewing Area: 12″ x 9″ (304mm x 228 mm) Brightness: 400 cd/m2 (typ) Contrast Ratio: 500:1 (typ) Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Viewing Angle: 120° (H) / 100° (V) Memory Card Supported: SD/SDHC, MMC, MS/MS Pro, CF Image File Format: JPEG Video Format: MJPEG, MPEG 1, MPEG 4.

This is my gift pick for this Christmas holiday. I bought another 15″ digital picture frame similar to this for my wife for Mother’s Day. She loves it. The reason I pick this one is that, as of this writing, it is selling for $139.99. Also, it is made by Viewsonic. I have always been happy with Viewsonic products in the past. And last but not least, it is large. A 15″ frame mounts nicely on the wall. We have so many digital pictures just hiding out on a hard drive that we don’t get to see very often. This allows us to be able to see the pictures and enjoy them. So, check it out and snag one before they are gone. I have already watched Amazon sell out of them and I’ve watched the price fluctuate up to $199, so get one ordered while you can still get it cheap and while it will still make it before Christmas.

opendns.com

Author: Steve Martin

opendnsI am a big fan of opendns.com. You may not have even heard of it. Most people don’t even know what DNS is and would therefore have no idea why they would need something called opendns.com. Well, DNS is how your computer is able to figure out how to load each website you visit. When you type in http://stevemart.in as you frequestly do, DNS is what takes that address and figures out what the underlying IP address is for it. The IP for http://stevemart.in currently happens to be 65.254.250.110. If a switch hosts, that IP will change. DNS would be able to find the new address. If we had a DNS engine in our own brains, it would be like someone who has no idea where I live say “I want to go to Steve Martin’s house”. His little DNS engine would give him my exact street address so that he could go there. Wouldn’t that be nice? I could go through the process DNS uses to obtain the IP addresses of domain names, but for this article, it’s not that important. So, let’s continue.

Any ISP you use has DNS servers setup for their customers to use. Usually everyone just uses them without thinking about it because it is automatic and they don’t know they even have an option. Well, you do, and opendns.com claims that they do a much better job at DNS than the ISPs. If it were as simple as that, that may be enough reason to start using opendns.com but there is SOOOOO much more to it than that. Opendns.com is a way to actually control the DNS for a computer or network. Let’s say you don’t want the people in your home to be able to go to a particular website or even a particular catagory of websites. Can you imagine a scenario where that might be possible? If so, you would create an opendns.com account and program the opendns.com IP addresses into your router so that whenever someone connects to your network, all their website requests go through opendns.com instead of your ISPs DNS. Then you customize your opendns.com account to block certain catagories of websites or even individual websites as you see fit. Now anyone on your network that tries to visit a site that is in a blocked catagory will not be successful in visiting that site. They will get a page that lets them know the site is in a blocked catagory. Pretty nifty eh?

If you choose not to setup an opendns.com account, you can still simply program your router to use opendns.com or even individual computers and at the bare minimum, they will be a bit more protected against certain threats online. You see, opendns.com actively blocks many of the domains that certain viruses are known to “phone home” too when a computer gets infected.

I have opendns configured at several of my clients’ locations as well as my home and it does a great job of resolving DNS requests. And, we get a little bit of extra protection to boot. You’re probably wondering how much an amazing service like this costs as it is quite useful and would be so nice to use. Well, the greatest thing about it is that it is 100% FREE. That’s right, you get everything completely FREE. As of tomorrow, they will be launching a new enterprise version which I assume with carry some new bells and whistles but it will be a value added service which you won’t have to use. So go to http://www.opendns.com and check it out. You have absolutely nothing to lose and quite possibly a whole lot to gain.

I haven’t really gone through the nuts and bolts of actually setting up opendns on your network as I really just wanted to introduce it. You can get great instructions from their site but if you have specific questions, let me know.

I’ve received this award AGAIN!

Author: Steve Martin

Once again I have been “honored” with the Best of Riverton Award. All I have to do is send these guys a bunch of money to ship the plaque to me. What a business. I’m surprized they haven’t been investigated. But, I guess they aren’t really doing anything illegal. If someone is stupid enough to send them money for a fake award, too bad for them.

2009 awardPress Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Smart Technology Receives 2009 Best of Riverton Award

U.S. Commerce Association’s Award Plaque Honors the Achievement

WASHINGTON D.C., June 8, 2009 — Smart Technology has been selected for the 2009 Best of Riverton Award in the Computer Consultants category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA).

The USCA “Best of Local Business” Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2009 USCA Award Program focused on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USCA and data provided by third parties.

About U.S. Commerce Association (USCA)

U.S. Commerce Association (USCA) is a Washington D.C. based organization funded by local businesses operating in towns, large and small, across America. The purpose of USCA is to promote local business through public relations, marketing and advertising.

The USCA was established to recognize the best of local businesses in their community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to be an advocate for small and medium size businesses and business entrepreneurs across America.

SOURCE: U.S. Commerce Association

CONTACT:
U.S. Commerce Association
Email: PublicRelations@us-ca.org
URL: http://www.us-ca.org

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How to land your next job

Author: Steve Martin

I thought this was a pretty funny video on how you can land that next job you are trying to get.


Pepsi Max Job Interview Funny CommercialFunny bloopers are a click away

A friend of mine posted this arrangement by Jon Schmidt on facebook a little while back. I thought I would share it here for anyone that might be intersted in listening to it. It is really good. As soon as he makes it available in mp3 format, I am going to snag it. Apparently he has some legal hoops to jump through before he can sell the mp3 version.

JohnSchmidt

I frequently recommend to my clients that they do not use the “free” e-mail accounts that their ISP offers them when they sign up for Internet service. At first glance you may think your ISP is being really generous to you, their new customer. I mean, who can beat free, right? For no extra charge, you can create and begin using several different e-mail accounts all @yourisp.com. You start thinking of the possibilities, myname@yourisp.com, or nynickname@yourisp.com. Too many to choose from. Well, let’s re-think creating them in the first place.

First of all, before you create even your first e-mail account @yourisp.com, think. How much are you paying your ISP each month for Internet service? Now, if you decide to stop paying your ISP for your Internet service, do you think they will still let you use your “free” e-mail account with them? That’s right, the answer is a big fat NO! Those “free” e-mail accounts are anything but free. It is a marketing ploy by your (and every other) ISP. They want to “give” you those e-mail accounts with the hope that you will actually start using them. They want you to give all your friend’s, family and clients your new e-mail address so that you become deeply entrenched in the use of their e-mail. Then, when you get that advertisement for competing Internet service at half your current cost, you will throw it away thinking “then I would have to change my e-mail address, what a pain”. And yes, what a pain indeed. You may have used that e-mail address with your online bank account, your prospective clients (what if they try to e-mail you), All your friends and aquantences. Even your family (Hmmm, that one might not be so bad….kidding (but only kind of)). If you switch your ISP, they will all get a bounce back message that the user account no longer exists. so, it is probably best that you never switch ISPs right? Wrong!

Even if you decide to stay with your current ISP, make the e-mail switch now. Stop using their e-mail addresses. You can create free e-mail accounts that truly are free, no matter who your ISP is. Use services such as yahoo.com, gmail.com, hotmail, or dozens of others. Most of them are browser based, which means you can access them through an Internet browser window using just about any ISP. So, if you were to switch ISPs, it would not affect your new e-mail accounts one bit. If you prefer to use an e-mail client like Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, or Thunderbird, you may want to look at gmail as I know they offer this capability (not all free e-mail services do). Just get away from your ISP e-mail addresses. They are only “free” if you continue to use them as your ISP. If not, they will remove your e-mail account the day you stop paying them for their service.

So, do yourself a favor and switch to a truly free e-mail account. In the long run, you will be very glad you did.

Windmill Poles

Author: Steve Martin

powerlinetowerThe craze these days is to green up our lives. We are supposed to buy hybrid cars, put solar panels on our roof, buy more energy efficient appliances and light bulbs, in addition to buying only organic food (thanks John and Kate plus 8). I think it’s great. I am not a tree hugger or anything like that, not that I have a problem with those of you that dedicate yourselves to saving the planet. I think we really should be good to the planet that we all enjoy. I am just not fanatical about it. I do my part by recycling, but only because our city charges me for it whether I actually do it or not. And it doesn’t take any extra effort really. So yes, I’m doing my part.

I have been working on a project for a new company recently. The company is looking to distribute a brand new windmill technology that is much more efficient than the ones we are accustomed to seeing all over the place. So, I’ve had windmills on the brain and have had to do a little research into the benefits of wind electrical generation. It’s pretty interesting stuff.

Anyway, I was standing on my back deck looking out at the Salt Lake valley since the weather has been so nice. I looked out at the west part of the valley and noticed a big long line of power poles which I assume carry our electricity across the state, possibly into neighboring states. These aren’t the little utility poles we see in the neighborhood, these are the giant ones that are really tall and have lots of power lines on them similar to the ones in the picture.

It made me think of a GREAT idea. When a windmill is installed somewhere, a big chunk of the cost is the big tall pole that must be installed in order to get the windmill high enough to reach the higher, faster, more consistent winds. Well, why not use those poles that are already there? Lets stick a smaller sized windmill on each and every power pole out there. They are already pretty darn tall and typically in less populated areas with less wind obstructions. AND, you have a bunch of power lines to tap into right there. Each of those towers should be generating a bit of electricity as they carry the power to their various destinations.

I am guessing that there is at least a little power loss trying to send power over such long distances. By placing a highly efficient windmill on each tower, you could compensate for that loss and probably end up with more power at the destination than you initially put in at the source. The first portion of building a wind farm is already in place which means a lot of the initial cost is eliminated. And with the new generation of free power, we will all save some change each month on our power bill (my favorite part).

Now, all I need to do is get an investor or a grant from the government and make it happen. Anyone want to invest in my idea? It sounds like a winner to me.