Gravitational Acceleration and Steering of Spacecraft

If you have ever wondered how spacecraft can be accelerated toward their destinations simply by passing close to planets and moons, a brief explanation can be found here.

Plant a Tree--Save a World

A brief description of a simple way individuals can help curb global warming which might not have occurred to some is described here.

Stop Wasting CPU Cycles!

How much time does the CPU in your computer lay around doing nothing? If you are not familiar with any of the distributed computing projects currently running around the world, you might be surprised to find out just how much time your computer is wasting as it does nothing or waits for you to make that next key stroke or button click. Even the little personal computers people use at home are capable of performing millions (or billions) of instructions per second, so the CPUs in even these relatively simple machines are often doing nothing more than waiting for something to do. Larger computers may well waste even more CPU power while they do nothing at a much higher rate. If all of this wasted CPU power is added up, the fact becomes quite clear that a huge amount of processing could be performed if even part of this wasted power could be recovered.

The best use of these wasted CPU cycles I have found is distributed computing projects. These projects involve breaking huge processing tasks into large numbers of managable pieces, and then passing these little pieces out for processing on many computers throughout the world. The little pieces are usually processed at low priority so the processes can be easily pushed aside when another job needs CPU time, and then automatically continue operation when the CPU is no longer busy. In this way, a computer can be used as usual without wasting CPU cycles as it does nothing. As the little pieces of a project are completed, they are sent back to the central project server(s) for final processing and/or reintegration.

My favorite distributed computing projects are managed by because they offer clients which run on a wide range of computers and operating systems (even 80386 PCs running DR/MS/OPEN/PC-DOS are supported) as well as at least one game console. For various reasons, other people prefer to run other projects, but the idea is usually the same-- use spare/wasted CPU cycles to do some actual work. I hope you will consider running one or more of the available projects on computers where you can get permission to do such things. Who knows, you might be running the client which produces a discovery as profound as a cure for cancer, proves that aliens actually do exist in outer space, makes a new discovery in genetics, or you might even win a prize for running a client or completing a task. I encourage you to find a project which best suits your interests, and once you have obtained any needed authorizations, install and run it on as many computers as you can.

Setting up a distributed networking project of your own is possible, but the task can involve considerable time and effort. Not only will the program(s) need to be written to process the data, but user interfaces will likely have to be set up for installing and initializing the program(s) as well. Also, some sort of interaction (such as an email list) will need to be established so participants in the project can carry on discussions about installation, operation, and perhaps bugs which come up in the project. Producing some sort of statistics is also a good idea so participants can see how their efforts are helping the project move forward. You can get a small taste of what it takes to set up and manage a distributed project by looking at a little assignment I have put together.

Your Smelly Web Page(s)

Do you create web pages that are limited to viewing by one web browser on one operating system? How will you ever sell me anything doing something so silly? Try getting through your web site(s) with: firefox (or your own mozilla favorite), links (the chain), lynx (the cat), and msie. If you can exchange useful information via your web site(s) with all of these web browsers, you have a chance of attracting my business. Otherwise, you may be throwing away at least one sale or losing at least one informational exchange.

Bits of Ada

My little contribution to the Ada programming language (mostly through its use) is available. I encourage anyone who is working on any serious, large, or even barely significant computer program to consider writing the program in Ada.

Text Adventure/Interactive Fiction Games

If you like text adventure games, you should check out this page for some links to some interactive fiction sites containing IF games and info. I may include a game or two on my little IF page of my own eventually (if time allows).

Memorial Notice

  • A special memorial notice for someone I loved very much.

    Have a great day!