The Stupidty of Hoarding

I hoard stuff; much of it relates to computers.

What happens is several years down the line I dig out an item once stashed away “in case I might need it” and then realise it’s been over 5 years since I even saw one of them in operation, let alone needed it to fix a problem. The last clear-out I had was building my current PC, when I discovered an original ATA-33 cable in my box o’ bits (actually that was marked as ATA-XXXIII).

So tonight I decided that I no longer needed a floppy drive in my PC. I’d put it in simply because there was one in my last PC. This is despite the fact I can get more data onto the freebie USB memory sticks you get these days, and anything installable comes on CD or as a download. Step 1 (because I hoard stuff) was to make a virtual image of each of the disks I own (in case I might need it). Step 2: I inspected each virtual image and then threw away any that were just used temporarily at some point in the past. That was fairly easily done. Step 3 was removing the drive and powering-up. All was good.

The next step is the really stupid part – I realised that during the wheat / chaff sorting in step 2, I had actually kept the physical disks to one side, ready to be put into the cupboard “in case I might need them”. Why? The whole bloody point of the exercise was to get rid of the floppy drive: the only means I have of reading the damn things.

Hoarding things is stupid.

Latest Supercomputer Lists Announced

Twice a year, the top500.org website releases a list of the most powerful 500 (known) computers in the world. I say known, because it’s likely that there are government machines up there with the best, but their existence is on a need-to-know basis. IBM systems are traditionally up there, and this time round is no exception: number one slot is occupied by the BlueGene/L system, based at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US. Boasting 212,992 processors and 73,728 GB of memory, it has recorded a LINPACK* score of 478.2 teraFLOPS.

That’s quite quick, but what I find more amazing is the rate at which computers no longer become some of the fastest in the world. For example, the HP Cluster Platform 3000 BL460c system currently residing in 500th place on the list (which in itself is no slouch), has a maximum performance rating of 5929.6 gigaFLOPS (i.e. 5.9296 teraFLOPS). Had that computer been in place 12 months ago, it would have ranked at 115th place.

Current projected performance development of the supercomputer list expects that the world’s fastest computer will hit 10 petaFLOPS in 5 years’ time (i.e. 10,000 teraFLOPS). Put that another way, in 5 years’ time, the world’s fastest computer will be faster than all of today’s top 500 put together. For reference, my Intel Core 2 Duo system (which is a reasonably modern and quick system) would achieve around 1500 megaFLOPS, which is 1.5 gigaFLOPS, or 0.0015 teraFLOPS. That’s how far away from your average computer these machines are.

* Even for the very technical readers, the numbers mean very little apart from a means of expressing “how fast” a computer is. LINPACK is a way of measuring that performance.

The Free Festive Gift – Version 2!

After Si complained that version 1.0 didn’t fully utilise the CPU to its full warming potential, I’ve released version 2.0 of my pie-warming application. If he’d only read the section in the original blog entry which stated:

Version 2 will automatically detect how many CPU cores you have
and use all of them for optimum pie-warming capabilities.

He has a much-nicer-than-mine ThinkPad T60p, which has an Intel dual-core CPU. Sometimes I wonder why I bother writing user documentation.

You can download version 2.0 from here.

Dropped connections

Since being upgraded to the super-fast “upto 8Mpbs” broadband, I’ve ended up with a worse service.

I was previously getting a rock-solid 1Mbps downstream, 256kbps upstream. I’m now getting around 3.1-3.4Mbps downstream and 448kbps upstream. The problem is that the connection is regularly dropping out. Now this isn’t much of a problem when you are just surfing the web or reading e-mails, but when you’re working at home like I do, the VPN tunnel to the office falls over, plus then I lose my 3270 terminal session (I’m a mainframe man, you see).

It’s now dropped out 12 times in 24 hours. Time for a call to Pipex I think…

The Free Festive Gift

Well it’s now 6 weeks to Christmas and you’re probably starting to wonder what to buy for those people who have everything. Well I have something that is both practical and free!

There’s a whole raft of novelty USB gadgets knocking about at this time of year, from a USB Fridge to a USB Cup Warmer, but these things all cost money. What I have for all your Christmas present woes is the magical Mince Pie Warmer application. Simply place your mince pie next to the CPU cooling outlet of your laptop, download and run this app (no install needed!), and hey presto, your mince pie will be warmed to something slightly above room temperature. During the heating of the pie, your laptop battery may diminish, and other applications may feel sluggish as it does use 100% of the CPU to achieve the necessary heat output.

I must admit that I have succumbed to commercial pressures and hurried out a version 1 application in order to catch the Christmas rush. Version 2 will automatically detect how many CPU cores you have and use all of them for optimum pie-warming capabilities.

Just click here to download my mince pie warmer application.

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