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WEEK 12 2006

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Saturday 25 March 2006

Saturday - I borrowed some software from my friend Tim to move the contents of my old hard drive onto a new drive a while back - but hadn't quite gotten around to it. Perhaps it's time, as there wasn't enough space on the C: drive to download all the pictures from my camera:

full hard drive
The black line is free disk space remaining.

Went over to my brother's for dinner. I trounced the 14 and 12 year olds in SCRABBLE! I felt victorious at first, then just a bit guilty. But then, they crushed me like a bug last time...

Friday 24 March 2006

Friday - I've been looking at Python, as I said before. It's an interesting language in itself, but we are thinking more along the lines of using it as a "glue" to bind together software packages running across a network of computers. The CFD code on the cluster, the NASTRAN code on the Sun Solaris box, the Matlab control toolbox on the desktop PC's, and so on. Talking to the sysadmin he says that they should all support 'remote procedure calls', or RPC's, which can be used via Matlab, C, or Python. Matlab is proprietary (Did you know you have to pay for every 'worker' instance on a MDCE cluster? Ridiculous!), C is ubiquitous but would require interfacing with other codes and packages for the GUI bits. Python might be a nice choice, free, a moderate amount of graphics built in, lots of free add-on packages.

Indeed, a co-worker dropped a copy of "Python Scripting for Computational Science" on my desk Thursday. I would have preferred "Python for Dummies" at this point...

Thursday 23 March  2006

Thursday - once a year the comics have a week where the artists use characters from another strip in their own strip. It's meant to create comradeship and harmony among the cartoonists. Unfortunately Stephen Pastis of the Pearls Before Swine cartoon strip heard about this and decided to join in...

I got "Merry" to work on the home cluster tonight. For some reason the /etc/hosts file had all wrong IP addresses. Obviously I must have changed it at some point, but I can't think of any reason why. None of the other machines were changed. A long ago prank by a co-worker? I added a case exhaust fan to "Frodo" as well. But I'm too tired to do anything else.

A cat peed in my clothes basket while I was doing laundry this evening. The empty basket. It's not the first time either - this is an old cracked and broken basket, repaired with duct tape, that I replaced the nice spiffy new basket ruined last time. What is it about the basket? They've never peed on my clothes, despite my rather slovenly habit of leaving old shirts laying about. Just the baskets.

Wednesday 22 March 2006

Wednesday - not a lot to say. Tired still. I may have just the slightest head cold, or perhaps I'm just tired from the trip. Put in a ten hour day. Mostly grid generation practice. It's starting to come together a bit.

It occurs to me that this is the blog's four year anniversary! Happy blogiversary to me!!

Books This Year:
#1 The Italian Secretary
#2 Gravity Dreams
#3 Master and Commander
#4 I've Been Around
#5 Homeward Bound
#6 Post Captain
#7 The Battle of Brooklyn
#8 Napoleon: A Penguin Life
#9 Wildtrack
#10 Fastnet, Force 10
#11 Shadow of the Giant
#12 Old Soldiers
#13 The Pirate Coast,
#14 Black Bodies & Quantum Cats
#15 H.M.S. Surprise,
#16 Sailing the Wine Dark Sea
#17 The Secret Life of Lobsters

Tuesday 21 March 2006

Tuesday - back at work, doing the Gridgen tutorials. The sysadmin for the cluster got OpenGL to work, by reinstalling the Nvidia drivers and recompiling the kernel. Way to go, Knut!

Since I was tired after the long weekend the opportunity to just run the tutorials was a blessing. What a change from hand rolled grids - night and day! It's a bit clunky, like running Autocad or something, but powerful.

In the evening I finished Book #17, "The Secret Life of Lobsters", by Trevor Corson. I think I mentioned last week being about half through reading it. This is an entertaining examination of American Lobsters, their history, fishing and husbandry. It's surprising how little was known of these creatures until the last couple of decades. And just how wrong scientists can be about things.

 Monday 20 March 2006

Monday - on the road, headed back south again. There was snow on the hills about Livermore - I've never seen that before. It rained off and on down the state. Fortunately I got over the Grapevine before it started snowing.

Book #16 was "Sailing the Wine Dark Sea", by Thomas Cahill, finished during the trip up and down state. It was a bit like taking a condensed Humanities course, interesting but mentally exhausting. I kept making mental notes on things to blog about - most of which I've forgotten already. I hadn't realized it was part of a series - I'd heard people mention liking it and bought it cheap on Ebay a while back. How the Irish Saved Civilization is another in the same series, and I've been trying to get around to it.

Update Friday 24 March: One thing that annoyed me about the tape is that early on Cahill mentions that the Parthenon was painted. This is the most serious drawback to the audio tape experience, no visual depictions. Anyway, I'd heard of this before, and found a depiction of a painted Pathenon here.

I actually had a library copy of Chichester's Alone Across the Tasman Sea with me, but the tapes were bad, mostly deteriorated to the point of incoherence. (If they are the 1988 audio edition it's no wonder.) But Tape 2 was oddly clear, and has a fine passage wherein an anxious clock-watching & minute-counting Chichester has to depend on a group of achronal Maori to refuel his seaplane - it's hysterical.

Sunday 19 March 2006

Sunday - not a lot to say. Did some chores around my Dad's place - replaced the garbage disposal, got the weather station working on his laptop, etc. A nice warm sunny day.

As we powered up San Pablo Bay we disturbed a number of ducks. I felt a bit bad after my brother informed me that the distant 'pop pop pop' was the sound of shotguns from duck blinds along the rivers' shore. Acckkk.

Along most of the bay it is illegal from smaller boats to cross the shipping channel, because the deep draft ships in the channel could not maneuver to avoid collision without running the risk of going aground. Indeed my brother pointed out that we were too far outside the channel markers ourselves, risking running aground. As I wrote to my friend Tim:

Nearly running aground. What happened was that we were staying out of the shipping channel - it's the law there - by staying to the outside of the buoys. So at one point we tested the depth of the water with a boat hook and found it was only about six feet deep. The boat draws about 3 & 1/2 feet so we weren't in any great danger. Indeed, since we left at low tide the water was as shallow as it ever gets.  But we were reminded that while we must stay outside the channel that we shouldn't stray too far outside!

Oddly, no beer was on board. I could have used a cold brewski by mid afternoon.

Picture of the Week

disturbed duck (goose?) on San Pablo Bay

Photo Notes: Motoring up San Pablo Bay we disturbed a number of fowl.

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