Monthly Archives: December 2007

Treo 650 vs. RAZR2 v8

I have been a Palm OS user since the original Palm Pilot (1000), having also owned/used a Palm Professional, Palm V, Palm Vx, Treo 600, and Treo 650. I’ve also used a couple of Windows CE/Mobile devices, and hated them.

Palm OS has always been very usable. The simple interface combined with a touch screen was easy to get around, and Graffiti handwriting input was fast enough for use in taking class notes. Somewhere along the way, though, Palm got lost. I jumped from Palm OS 3 to Palm OS 5 when I got the Treo 600. Palm OS 5 felt odd — the addition of data and phone capabilities left something of a “seam”. It was a pretty good PDA, but not a great phone. It crashed a bit. Upgrading to the 650 provided a few extra features, but the software was less stable still.

The Treo devices are also bulky. I had no choice but to wear them on a belt holster, as there was no way to comfortably put them in my pocket. The features of the hardware were not being upgraded in line with other phones on the market, nor were the dimensions and weight suitably reduced. When my contract with Sprint was up (or should have been — perhaps I’ll write another post on that later), I went looking for a replacement phone with the following criteria:

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Connectivity Heaven

Today has been a good day for my connectivity in various ways:

  • I upgraded to the Total Internet package from T-mobile. For an additional $16/month, I get T-Mobile HotSpot access on WiFi and unrestricted access on (and through) my phone. I also hacked on my modem script for my phone a bit. It turns out my computer kept asking for an IPv6 address, and the T-Mobile server would say, “Homie don’t play dat!” and kick me off of the line. This little command let me get a connection through my phone over bluetooth: sudo networksetup -setv6off Bluetooth.
  • Finally got bluetooth stereo headphones, the Plantronics Voyager 855. Doubles as a mono bluetooth earpiece and stereo headphones. I can now use A2DP from Mac OS X and my phone to listen to music wirelessly. I can also change tracks, pause, play, adjust the volume, and flip between Skype and iTunes (on the computer) or the MP3 player and the phone (on my cell phone). Very groovy baby.

I have been waiting so long for stereo bluetooth headphones — I’m happy to say I finally found a pair that work well, and are well worth what I paid for them.

Whew! Jobs running on the cluster. (And travel.)

I’ve been totally absent from most of my life the last week as a result of some problems we had with our code on the cluster. My jobs kept dying, taking down compute nodes in the process, for no apparent reason. After a while I narrowed it down to the time when restart files (from a previous simulation) are read. It turns out that the way the files were read (and that way for a good reason) was really brutal on the network. It involved way too much communication. This was okay for smaller models, but I currently have the largest model we’ve ever run in the lab.

After a conversation with our current programmer and one with our former programmer, and about 6 hours of coding last night, the restart files are now read in a less naughty way, and my jobs are reliably running.


Tomorrow I am leaving for about two and a half weeks in New Orleans and Mandeville! I have an early flight, preceded by an even earlier train ride to the airport. I should be hooked up to the “tubes” and (New Year’s resolution here I come) updating the blog more often with the blow-by-blow as I try to get enough data for a Heart Rhythm conference abstract in time for the deadline, despite all of the sundry delays with the cluster.

*gasps for breath*


Also, Penguin liked my cluster video so much that they put it on their front page.

System Administrator Wanted

I am currently the system administrator for our cluster, but we’re looking for someone to tend it and other machines full time.

The job is posted on the JHU jobs site here. Key information is excerpted below:

General Description: Position will provide systems administration to the Institute for Computational Medicine. The Institute’s mission is to understand the mechanisms and to improve the diagnosis, prediction and treatment of human disease through applications of mathematics and computational science. This individual will be responsible for operating and maintaining high-performance computing equipment in support of the mission of the Institute. Responsibilities include setting up new high-end compute clusters and installing new software releases, and analyzing and resolving problems associated with server hardware and applications software. The individual will be responsible for installing and maintaining commercial and open source software used in the Institute, and modifying the programs/scripts whenever needed. For this purpose, a basic knowledge of shell scripting, file system permissions, security, and UNIX/Linux best-practices is essential.

Qualifications: Bachelors degree; 4 years experience in a support environment or equivalent combination of education and experience. Knowledge of UNIX/Linux systems administration best practices. Extensive knowledge of Linux, specifically Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 – 5, Fedora 6 – 7; Rocks Cluster software, and components such as Sun Grid Engine, LAM/MPI, and MPICH. Knowledge of Windows 2003 Server and Windows XP operating systems is also required. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are necessary. Candidate must possess the ability to work professionally with faculty, staff, students, collaborators and vendors within and outside of JHU.

If you are interested, please apply directly through the linked JHU jobs site. If you have any questions about what the job currently entails, feel free to comment or otherwise contact me.