SETI@home and WordPress

Well, I stopped running SETI@home on the PC and switched the iMac from the graphical version to the command line version. I really don’t care about watching the fancy graphics or crunching lots of numbers. Running SETI@home is just something for the iMac to do when I’m not using iTunes to listen to my music collection. By the way my collection is currently 2202 songs, 5.9 days of music, 10.78 gigabytes of music in either 192 kbps MP3 or 128 kpbs AAC format.

And in other news I installed WordPress 1.2 over at greeneweb. It seems be pretty equal to Movable Type. I really just want MT 3 final to be released. That and the new version of w.bloggar.

SETI@Home and distributed computing

SETI@Home turned five years old on May 17. Five years yielding very little of interest. And as of today I have completed 520 data units. That’s more than 92.496 percent of their users and puts me in 374,784th place out of 5,000,834 users. Which means most people don’t do much but the top 10 percent crunch a lot of numbers.

Slashdot noted the anniversary and asked why SETI. Good question, it is rather pointless. The chances of us contacting ET life are slim, if any life even exists. That’s why I’m looking forward to the official release of BOINC, the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. This software will let you crunch numbers for several projects, not just SETI@Home.

The battle against spam

As I noted back in January, my email address receives a lot of spam and I was using a spam filtering add-on for Outlook Express to combat it. But this seemed to me like mopping up the water but never fixing the problem. The previous host of greeneweb had recently implemented some spam fighting measures but now wants to charge extra for them. The disk space quotas were also a bit on the low side, 25 megabytes for my plan, so a decided to look around for other hosts.

I had gotten my girlfriend an account with bloghosts, so I decided to go back and take a look at their anti-spam features. They use the Spamhaus Block List and Exploits Block List to block spam and other unsavory email and include SpamAssassin with all their accounts. And they offer 4 times the disk space and many other features over the previous host. So is now at bloghosts and the spam I receive is down to a trickle.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking

I just installed Dragon NaturallySpeaking today. While my typing speed was pretty good, considering that I was typing with three fingers, I decided to try Dragon to see if things could go any faster. So far, I’m not impressed. While it seems to be doing a pretty good job, it makes errors often enough make things frustrating. I guess I’ll have to do a lot of training to get good accuracy rates.

SETI@home – Mac vs. PC

I recently started running SETI@home again, first on my Pentium 4 3 GHz and then on my G4 800 MHz iMac. The SETI@ home website says that the the program uses about 16 MB of RAM while running and that above 64 MB will not affect how quickly data is processed. Since my iMac has 768 MB of RAM and my PC has 1024 MB of RAM memory, that isn’t an issue.

However, the SETI@home web site says that running the program in graphical mode can cause it to be slower. Here my PC clearly has the advantage, it has a ATI Radeon 9800 Pro video card with 128 MB of RAM. The iMac has a NVIDIA GeForce2 MX video card with 32 MB. However, Apple has always maintained that Macs and faster than PCs, even with the megahertz speed gap. But in the time it took my PC to process 10 data blocks from SETI, roughly 48 hours, the iMac had only processed 4 data blocks. So at least in terms of data processing power, a Pentium 4 beats a G4 no contest. I wonder how a Pentium 4 versus G5 SETI@home contest would go?

I’ll admit my test might have been a little unfair. But when Apple claims, “Even the single-processor 1.6GHz Power Mac G5 was 21% faster than the 3.2GHz Pentium 4-based system”, I would expect the systems to be a little more even.

Explanation of Library Monk and some real library monks

This site is called Library Monk, because yes I have been known to dress as a monk on occasion. Ask anyone who in the summer 2002 Genre Fiction class at UT’s School of Information Sciences. The reason I was dressed as a monk then was to talk about my favorite book, A Canticle for Leibowitz. Canticle tells the story of a post nuclear war world. People have turned against science and learning and life has reverted to a medieval existence. And as they did in the Middle Ages, Roman Catholic monks preserve what scraps of knowledge remain.

The name Library Monk is a homage to that book and grateful acknowledgement of the fact that if not for those monks in the Middle Ages, libraries in Europe and the Americas might not exist. Western Civilization is built on the work of those monks.

And monks are still preserving knowledge today. According to this New York Times article, monks at the Monastery of St. Catherine in Egypt are using a 75 megapixel camera to preserve ancient manuscripts. Almost makes you want to go to Egypt and help out.

New Report on Libraries and the Digital Divide

In partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a number of other national civic organizations, The Pew Internet & American Life Project served as research advisors for a new report finding that public libraries have helped close the digital divide by providing free, public access to computers and the Internet, particularly for people without access at home or work.

The report, “Toward Equality of Access: The Role of Public Libraries in Addressing the Digital Divide”, also identifies significant challenges libraries face in sustaining and improving this service and recommends the public and private sectors work together to ensure that libraries can continue to provide this vital access to technology for years to come.

Toward Equality of Access” is available online at the Gates Foundation Website.

Upgraded to Mac OS X Panther

I upgraded my iMac to Panther last night. It took forever but only because I was overly cautious and made sure my system was in perfect shape before I installed the upgrade. The new Finder and Expose alone are worth the upgrade price. Upgrading to Panther is also the only way to get the latest version of Safari.

Tennessee’s Super DMCA is back

The Tennessee Super DMCA is back for the 2004 legislative session. The House version, HB 3391,was passed on February 10. Senate Bill 3101 is currently in committee. While not as vicious as last year’s version, this bill still makes it questionable, if not illegal, to use things like firewall hardware and software and virtual private networking.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Tennessee Digital Freedom have more information on this and other Super DMCA laws.

Spam and instant messenging

I recently decided I’d had enough spam when the spam outnumbered the real email by 10 to 1. I guess that proves that I’ve had my email addresses too long and they’ve ended up on everybody’s lists. Even with it’s flaws I still use Outlook Express. I’ve used OE since 2000, before that on the Windows side I used Eudora, Pegasus Mail and Netmanage Chameleon. (anybody remember that one?) I considered using Mozilla Thunderbird because of its spam filtering, but it’s still at version 0.4 and doesn’t look quite ready yet.

And then I found Spam Bully, a spam filter add-in for Outlook and Outlook Express. It took about a day to train but after that all my spam is out of my inbox and safely diverted to a spam folder. So far I’m pleased and will probably buy the program after the evaluation period is up.

One piece of software that I did buy is Trillian Pro. I’ve used the free Trillian off and on for instant messenging , as well as GAIM and the standard clients. (AOL, ICQ, MSN, etc.) The free version of Trillian crashed on me some, as did GAIM, and I went back to using the standard clients. But after hearing good things about Trillian Pro I took the plunge and paid $25. The result? I got a rock solid multi-service IM client that does everything I need.