Got Me a Server Rack

I have been going through a process of tidying up! So I have got a server rack and put a load (3) of my computers in it. I got it free, thanks York University, and all it needed was a new wheel. Its working out pretty well. the Top one is my home server, the middle a Windows machine, and the bottom is my quad Opteron system that doesn’t get used much these days. Bit of a relic from the PhD days of ploughing though lots of simulations.


Computer Spring Clean and Updates

Every now and then you have to take things in hand and sort out computers. Its like spring cleaning, its also about as interesting as spring cleaning. I have recently got a new work computer. Long time overdue, but it was worth the wait. Should prove things massively. So, time for a computer inventory and some sorting out.

Retiring the old work machine means that I have an excellent case for my home server. It also has a much better power supply. The old PSU was having trouble starting all the HD up at boot and I wanted to add another 2TB. The new PSU and case is better, quieter and has enough power.

Possible upgrade to the server is on the cards. I think it would benefit from a new m’board and CPU/Ram. I am thinking a low power Celeron (35W). This would have a two fold effect on power consumption, as it would remove the need for it having a GPU (as it does currently), and the CPU would be less. Its main jobs are backup and music server, so its not over taxed. In the future I think it I will move some database tasks to it.

Current machines:

  • Work: Intel i7 3930K, 64GB, 120GB SSD, 2TB HD.
  • Home WS: 4x Opteron 8360SE, 32GB Ram, 150GB HD, 750HD.
  • Home Desktop: AMD Phenom II 1090T, 8GB Ram, 30GB SSD, 500GB HD.
  • Server: AMD Athlon 4050 (45W), 4GB Ram, 150GB Sys. 4TB Storage.
  • Windows Box: AMD Athlon 6000+, 4GB Ram, 320GB HD.

Possible upgrades. I have 3 500GB HD that I think I will add to the Home WS, I also have an ATI 6850 GPU that could go in that. The Home Desktop could do with a CPU boost, perhaps an AMD FX 8350. The Windows box is long overdue for an upgrade really. I just don’t use it very much at all. I am thinking of moving the GPU out of the WS into it. If I get back into music production then I might upgrade. That or I might save up for a Mac Mini. 😛

New use for post boxes…

I read on The Register that Spectrum Interactive are putting wifi hot spots into old phone boxes. Neat idea, not sure how useful it is unless you can sit somewhere nearby but it might work. However I had another idea. I’m currently sat in Starbucks where for the cost of a cup of coffee I am charging up my phone and laptop. So… why not public use power points in old phone boxes? You could sit squashed into a phone box doing some surfing while all the gadgets that you need to run your life get juiced up for another 8ish hours of 21st century life.

Text Message Alerts

I have long been interested in setting up my computer so that it is possible for it to tell me what is going on via sms messaging. This would be useful for both my day job and also to alert me to interesting things that it might detect. So I finally got round to setting it up.

Using an old Huawie E220 GSM modem and the linux package called gammu-smsd all of my software can now send me texts. I used to use the modem for mobile broadband but I upgraded to MiFi so I got an ordinary pay as you go sim card for the modem and set it up. These modems are perfectly capable of sending texts. I chose the gammu-smsd because it has the option of using a mysql backend. One tip is that the mysql tables are provided in a file which is included in the distributed source code. Also I ran tail on /var/log/messages (Opensuse – do the same for your version of linux) to see which device the modem is attached too. You can force it use the same one if you like. I might end up doing this if it causes a problem.

Using mysql is handy because you can send a message by directly writing the messsage details in the the outbox table in the database. Easy. I wrote a very simple Java interface to the mysql database that all of my programs can connect to. Any program can use the Java library to inject a message into the database and then it is promptly sent. The computer set up to send the sms messages doesn’t even have to be the computer that is running the simulation. One machine with an accessible database can provide a messaging service for any number of computers. There are alternative approaches but this seemed the easiest to set up quickly.

This is helpful because often simulations take a long time to run and it is useful to be able to leave them to it knowing that I will be notified when the task has completed, or if the task failed for some reason (there is nothing more annoying than finding out that a simulation stopped for some reason the minute you turned your back). I can then log back into the machine and either start the next simulation or whatever. I can also set it to alert me to interesting market events.

Too busy working to make any money…

Recently I have been working hard at my day job and not really felt like doing much out of work. This is partly due to the work I’m doing being really interesting. So its by no means a bad thing. Its not helping me on the quest to making enough money to buy a house without a mortgage. Which I think is the basic general plan. I haven’t really put a time scale on my adventure but I theory I would like to achieve this goal in about 4 years. I better get going I suppose.

New banner picture

I changed the banner picture to one I took of my computer screen. It’s some of the programs/data/output from the programs I have written to gather share price data. I finally got round to moving the scrubbing programs onto my rackpsace server. Saves me running computers all day, and rackspace is more reliable . I had problems with my internet connection dropping out etc etc. The basic cloud server isn’t expensive either, about $10 plus traffic a month.

Getting data is crucial to doing any sort of modelling on shares/markets. The way that data is tightly controlled by financial and trading companies is a very good indication of what it is worth. However, I often think that it might not be worth as much as they think. The raw price data alone is not that helpful. I think more information is required if you want to predict future market movements. Its all about the people involved, that it was you need the data on. Markets are unpredictable; large groups of people however, they are very predictable.

Take three(ish).

I have launched this site a least three times in the past. I never managed to keep up with it. I think its because I lacked time and wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with it. Well, this time I think I have the idea that will keep my interest. To provide a chronicle of my more adventurous work modelling complex systems. With a focus on financial systems, notably markets. Mainly for my own use as a time line of ideas, but it might prove interesting to other people.