Archive for the ‘programming’ Category

Very Simple Awstats Install for 1and1 Hosting accounts

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

I’ve had an automated install for the Awstats package for a while. I cleaned it up today to make it user friendly and made it available for download. It works only for 1and1 linux hosting with the business or developer package.

The instructions for doing this by hand are so difficult as to make it impossible. I had to automate it because I could never get it right twice in a row.

Now I am happily installing awstats on the 20 or so websites that I have hosted at 1and1. It takes about 3 minutes for each install.

Very Simple Awstats Install for 1and1 Hosting accounts | Blogs Eye.

100 million cores by 2018

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

There is an article in Computer World about the future of super computers. They are talking about Exaflop systems.

Rudy Rucker, in his Software/Wetware books, discussed the future of computation and he felt that Teraflop machines would be common in the 2020s. Currently the fastest machines are Petaflop supercomputers.

The next highest step, Exaflop or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s 18 zeros) floating point calculations per second is due around 2018.

No matter who you ask, an Exaflop exceeds the computing power of a human brain. Of course these super computers won’t be programmed to emulate a human brain, but they will be given problems that human genius cannot solve just by thinking.

The article talks about the Energy Department using this computer for Grid control and possibly designing an Atomic Fusion power generator. (This on the day it was announced that we are running out of Uranium for fission reactors.)

The computers will be used for the very complicated systems computing used to predict weather, but I think that analysis of the human genome and the modeling of human biology with the idea of curing disease will be important. The computer will be capable of designing billions of possible drugs and then testing them on genetic models refining the results so that shortly after these Exaflop computers appear there will be cures for all diseases.

2018, by the way, is right in line with estimates for the Singularity. I want to believe!

Supercomputers with 100 million cores coming by 2018.

Blogs Eye – Ideas

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

I have had some success writing Facebook apps and WordPress plugins and widgets. (By success I mean that I’ve written programs that work, not that they are popular.).

I decided to make an idea page so that I can set goals for the things that I’d like to write. I have one of these already for my short stories and now I have made one for Facebook apps and WordPress plugins and widgets.

Drop by and add you ideas to the comments.

Blogs Eye – Ideas.

Permalink Finder Plugin Released

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

I put a few of my programming projects on my domain I decided to use it to keep my programming projects separate from the rest of my work.

The stuff that I wrote for this blog in order to correct the migration problems that I had with going from blogger to WordPress is working well. I cleaned it up and formalized it. The next step is to get it listed in WordPress’ repository.

You can read about the plugin here:
Blogs Eye – Permalink Finder Plugin Released.

I will now go on to build a bunch more of these. I have ideas and they are going to make me millions.

Personal Desktop Supercomputer

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Silicon Graphics has released a desktop workstation that qualifies as a super computer. My guess that it can be configured at about 50 teraflops. (A teraflop is a trillion floating point arithmetic operations per second.)

Hans Moravec estimated the computing power of the human brain at 100 teraflops, although some other researches have placed it out at 1,000 times higher. Regardless, we are in the right neighborhood if a desktop computer can even approach the speed of a human brain.

The human brain, in addition to the computing power of billions of neurons, has some fancy programming going on that will not be accurately simulated for a while. The fact that we are creating computers now which are nearly as powerful as a human brain does not mean that anyone has been able to make a computer that thinks like a human. That is ways off (not too far, though).

If trends hold then the computers should continue to increase in capacity and power exponentially, doubling every 18 months. There are some physical limits to the current technologies, but that doesn’t mean that new technologies will not appear to keep the growth on track.

In 2015, then, desktop computers should be at least 16 times more powerful than they are now. Super computers which are a few orders of magnitude more powerful than this desktop, will have the capacity a dozen human brains. Within our lifetimes there will be cheap computers that are smarter than ourselves living in our cell phones.

What will happen, and I am sure of this, some clever programming will result in a human equivalent intelligence program that will be several thousand times smarter than the smartest human who ever lived. There will be lots of these computers working on the difficult unanswered questions of our time. They will solve health issues for us resulting in very long lives. We will get free energy and perhaps even the ability to travel to the stars.

It all starts around 2015, but may be as late as 2025.

Until then, be nice to your computer.

SGI Unveils Octane III Personal Supercomputer.

My WordPress Configuration

Monday, September 21st, 2009

I wrote up all the details of what I’ve done to get this blog running on WordPress. If you have a WordPress blog, you might read it. It is quite a bit of reading, though.

My WordPress Configuration | Wanderings.

COBOL turns 50

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Happy Birthday COBOL

COBOL or Common Business-Oriented Language was invented in an attempt to standardize a language for the Department of Defense. One of the inventors of the Language was Grace Murray Hopper (the woman who invented the term “bug” to describe programming defect.)

COBOL code survives to this day, although there are many fewer COBOL jobs. It is estimated that as much as 75% of all computer programs running today are written in COBOL. COBOL runs incredibly fast compared to all modern languages. It is used in large applications like banking and airline reservations systems.

The first program that I wrote as a professional programmer was written in COBOL. I learned how to code it from reading books and looking at the code of other programmers. A programmer named Charlie Hannes had taken classes where he learned Structured Programming and I was greatly influenced then and even to this day by his clean style. I learned the tricks from another programmer, Vinnie DeLuca, who wrote “old style” spaghetti code. He learned to program as a CIA analyst on computers that had less than 10,000 bytes of RAM. He did things like write initialization routines using the input/output buffers where it would be erased when files were read, but after they had done their work. I used such trick extensively in my career as an assembly language coder.

I taught COBOL for 20 years at several colleges, until the last college dropped COBOL from its curriculum.

I wrote my final COBOL program at Lockheed about 1988. COBOL is probably the great Mother Tongue of computer languages and has influenced modern programming even more than other ancient languages such as ALGOL or FORTRAN.

COBOL has been good to me. It kept me in beer and cat food for half of my life and since then, the lessons that I learned from COBOL programming have kept me fat and padded my 401K.

Today, if you find a moment, and there is a bar within walking distance, stop and raise a pint to the COBOL programmers. Most of the original ones have retired or died at their green screen terminals. COBOL programmers are becoming a legend of the Iron Age of computers when bits were stored on magnetic rings and program lines were written by punching holes in paper cards.

COBOL turns 50

This and That

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

The house was too warm last night. The heat is working much better, although not balanced. It seems to only do one zone at a time and I am fiddling with the thermostats to set the heat on and off in different areas to keep the house comfortable. Last night it was a little cool downstairs, but comfortable. Upstairs was actually too warm, after a couple of weeks of being 62°. I am going to go on Google and see if there is a home thermostat with built in wifi and the ability to program from a remote site.

My brother Larry broke down and paid for cable internet. He got all three, Cable, Phone and Internet for the $99 package deal. It works for him because Mom can get on the phone to her sister in Florida and do $20 of gossiping without thinking. He is actually saving money. I have been collecting cheap wireless routers with the idea of flashing them with a super router software and reselling them on the internet, but I never have time. I gave him one that I bought for a $1. He no longer has to aim his antenna out the window at a weak signal to an open router. He is amazed at his speed and for the first time he can surf YouTube. He is taking lessons from a guitar player from Croatia that he says is the best teacher he’s ever had. Mom has rediscovered Turner Classic Movies and Larry says that she has been watching black and white movies 12 hours a day.

Electric Spec held my story “RepFix” for vote. They keep, so they say, about 20 stories and pick a few from these for the next issue. I submitted to Electric Spec because I saw Tyree Campbell there. If Tyree is submitting there then they might like my stuff because Tyree often accepts my stories. I read on the SamsDot discussion area that Tyree has also been held for a vote. At this moment our stories are duking it out in a cyber death match chamber.

My blogging software has made considerable progress. I still need to add all the standard blog features like rss, archiving, comments, pings, image upload, and link backs. This will be a lot of work. I have to do security next. I spent several days over the holidays working on this, but everyone is back into “work” mode here and the adult supervision has started again, so I may not get to it for a little while.

Koch called me. He is home, but goes to physical therapy at Burk three times a week. He has three vertebra fused in his neck and he can’t turn his head from side to side. He is feeling much better and says that he is coming back to work in a few weeks. If I were him, I would take this as a sign to retire and collect disability. He sent me his son’s laptop, which is so full of viruses and spyware that it stopped booting. He wants me to format the disk and reinstall XP. I will try to get to it one night this week.

I started working on my iPhone app. I discovered that to actually test on the iPhone I would have to pay Apple a $99 registration fee to be a certified developer. I have been testing the sample code apps on their emulator. I guess if I ever get my apps written that I will have to pay the fee.

The Home Inspection course that I wanted to take has been discontinued. It might not have worked out anyway because to be a certified inspector you have to have 40 hours of experience working with another certified inspector or else a PE license. I want to go back to school, but I am not sure what course to take. I don’t think that I want to take any more computer courses, unless it is for something fun. I am way over educated for what I do. I would like to have a fall back career in case the bottom falls out of programming. I don’t want to go back to work in the City.

The Closet of Lost Technology

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Every once in a while Justine cleans out her closet, and I get a shot at some neat pieces of old hardware that she doesn’t want anymore.

Justine, Erica and I went down to New York City to do the Christmas Dinner thing at the NY Athletic Club on Central park South. It was, as usual, very classy, although this time, it seemed a little raucous. This may be because we had a 12:30 seating, and there were lots of kids running around the ballroom.

We started with champagne and I had the Salmon. (I was turkeyed out, and I don’t eat beef, now). Everything was good.

On the way home Justine handed over a computer bag from her Closet of Lost Technology. When I got home I discovered a MacBook Air, an older Apple iPhone, and a fancy Blackberry phone (no charger).

I am not normally an Apple guy, although I got used to the Mac OS when I was teaching. These are very, neat toys, however, and I’ve already thought of ways to put them to use.

First, iPhone apps are extremely hot and if you can program using the iPhone’s arcane SDK you can name your own price. iPhone programmer is the top paying job in my field right now, so I downloaded the SDK and I am going through the tutorials. I should be able to write an real app before New Years Day, and after that I can see if I can pick up a few gigs.

One good thing about having the MacBook Air is that the SDK requires a Mac to run it (my only Apple at the moment is a ten year old Blueberry Mac). I will have to puzzle out the Mac OS and connect to the internet so I can install the SDK on the Air. I will be able to design my apps on other computers, compile them on the MacBook and then test them on the iPhone.

Another interesting use of the iPhone is that you can convert stories to the the eReader format and upload them to the iTunes store, where they sell well. I read somewhere that readers are downloading 10,000 stories a month in eReader format for the iPhone. At 99 cents a story, I might be able to make some money. The conversion utilities are all free so I am going to give it try.

The iPhone has a little time left on it, and I have been getting Justine’s phone calls. It runs out some time in January, so I have a window to do some testing. After that I will probably hook it up with a goPhone plan at $5 a month, just for testing. I don’t make many calls, and I can’t see myself using the iphone to check email that often. I have another cell phone that I want to convert over to pay-as-you-go, but I think that I might just retire that phone and go with the iPhone.

Netflix Prize

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

I like programming and I am especially good at working on large sets of data. I’ve always had a job where I have to work on fuzzy information and distill it down to a few essential nuggets. One of my first programming jobs was for the old Western Union (the original one that sent telegraphs, not the current “send money to Nigeria” one). I was on the SWAT team for making special reports. I had to learn a half dozen odd computer languages in order to extract weird information from their huge databases. I used tools like Snobol, Maxis and Ramis, which are long forgotten, to sort through data and summarize it.

The Netflix Prize is an award of $1,000,000 to the person who can improve on their algorithm to predict which movies a person will like based on their previous purchases.

I have some ideas that might or might not work. I’m going to give it a try.

A bad thing is that I have been given 5 new projects in the last week and each one is due yesterday. Screw that, I am badly in need of nice crunchy programming problem.

Netflix Prize: Home

Programmer Fan Mail

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

I don’t make it easy to contact me. My email is often hidden, missing or obfuscated. I still get about 300 spam messages a day in my gmail spam folder, which I have to check just in case.

I just checked my spam and found a message from someone who likes my Craigslist telecommute job search at my site

Marianne wrote:

I love you Keith P Graham! Ok not literally, but this search form rules!!! If I get the job I want from this experience I’ll name something of importance (to me) after you. :-) You get good karma points.

Programmers don’t get that much respect. Mostly because there is always something wrong with out code. It is nice to hear something nice for a change.

Buying Books by the Pound

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Some of the 57 booksI bought 57 books on eBay – about 14 pounds. (picture is of a random sample) They arrived today. These are great books, most from the 1960s and 70s. Many are unknown or little known authors. I don’t think that I’ve read about three quarters of them. This is going to last me until around Thanksgiving.

As I finish these, I’m going to put them up for sale. I am well on the way of writing a world class storefront system in PHP (no database required). My system is unique in that it is for small stores with a small inventory that don’t want to have a complex database but still want a full featured system. I also want to to be easy enough to use that it will make selling one-of-a-kind items easy. I want to support only PayPal (and maybe Google Checkout) because I believe that accepting credit cards directly is too expensive for the average small store.

I was searching around for more books, and I found a web site that sells science fiction books by the pound (I am keeping its URL secret). An average paperback weighs about 4 ounces so that’s 4 books to the pound (including packing material.) At $2 a pound, that’s right in my price range. You can make an offer for less, so I will see it they go for $1 a pound for 50 pounds (200 books). The good news is that these are new books, and I probably have not read any of them. The bad news is that they include those ubiquitous D&D, TV show (trek, Dr. who, Buffy et al), Vampire, Zombie, and 6 part series books in the count and you don’t get to choose.

You can expect many more badly written book reviews in the next few months.