Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fortress of Solitude

Locked away in the Fortress of Solitude, Wyoming for the last couple of months. The test platform is getting complete and I am writing final drafts of database crawlers, lesson generators, and app servers. It's so quiet and cold and I can hear myself think here, which is a blessing.
The Dude is here to supervise. He makes sure I'm not wasting any time. If I'm not coding , I could be playing ball with him so he's very observant about that. We are Dudewalking the neighborhood and getting familiar with all the people and places.

Putting a demo lesson on Curriki for feedback.
 Come down to civilization every Thursday to have lunch with Werner.  If you're in Northern Colorado on a Thursday afternoon you're welcome to join us.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Happy Birthday, Ya Dude! This little guy turns 5 today and he has become an all-round good fellow to have around.

Not so little anymore, either

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Live broadcasting by UstreamThe Orionids meteor shower is peaking  Here is a feed in case you can't go outside to see it.T Orionids are the debris from a comet striking the earth's atmosphere and burning up.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Long Time Gone...

Summer was pretty busy and very hot!  Lots of updates!

The team has expanded and brought in new engineers and advisory board members.  Everything's speeding up. 

Bob is revamping our core database for better performance.

I am completing a demo lesson on Black Holes that will be posted on Curriki next month.

 Now moving to Wyoming with my trusty Dude.  

The entire Dev and Test platforms have been revamped with newer higher-end systems thanks to an infusion of cash money.

More to come...

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Dr. Kiki and The Science Hour

I am a fan of Dr. Kirsten Sanford and her endeavor to provide popular science journalism in media where good coverage is pretty rare.

Unfortunately, has made the decision to cancel her weekly Science Hour show.  I understand the business.  Times are tight, the numbers weren't there and I'm told Twit is not planning on carrying any science content in the near future.

But there are precious few media venues for the kind of journalism Dr. Sanford provides.  I remain a big fan.

Science in My Backyard, This Week in Science, Weekly Science Chat.  Let's help keep it all going.

We at ComputeSpace love what you do, Dr. Kiki!  Hope to see more of you soon!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Windows Azure Recipe: High Performance Computing
One of the most attractive ways to use a cloud platform is for parallel processing. Commonly known as high-performance computing (HPC), this approach relies on executing code on many machines at the same time. On Windows Azure, this means running many role instances simultaneously, all working in parallel to solve some problem. Doing this requires some way to schedule applications, which means distributing their work across these instances. To allow this, Windows Azure provides the HPC Scheduler.
This service can work with HPC applications built to use the industry-standard Message Passing Interface (MPI). Software that does finite element analysis, such as car crash simulations, is one example of this type of application, and there are many others. The HPC Scheduler can also be used with so-called embarrassingly parallel applications, such as Monte Carlo simulations. Whatever problem is addressed, the value this component provides is the same: It handles the complex problem of scheduling parallel computing work across many Windows Azure worker role instances.


  • Elastic compute and storage resources
  • Cost avoidance


Here’s a sketch of a solution using our Windows Azure HPC SDK:


  • Web Role – this hosts a HPC scheduler web portal to allow web based job submission and management. It also exposes an HTTP web service API to allow other tools (including Visual Studio) to post jobs as well.
  • Worker Role – typically multiple worker roles are enlisted, including at least one head node that schedules jobs to be run among the remaining compute nodes.
  • Database – stores state information about the job queue and resource configuration for the solution.
  • Blobs, Tables, Queues, Caching (optional) – many parallel algorithms persist intermediate and/or permanent data as a result of their processing. These fast, highly reliable, parallelizable storage options are all available to all the jobs being processed.


Here is a link to online Windows Azure training labs where you can learn more about the individual ingredients described above. (Note: The entire Windows Azure Training Kit can also be downloaded for offline use.)
Windows Azure HPC Scheduler (3 labs)
The Windows Azure HPC Scheduler includes modules and features that enable you to launch and manage high-performance computing (HPC) applications and other parallel workloads within a Windows Azure service. The scheduler supports parallel computational tasks such as parametric sweeps, Message Passing Interface (MPI) processes, and service-oriented architecture (SOA) requests across your computing resources in Windows Azure. With the Windows Azure HPC Scheduler SDK, developers can create Windows Azure deployments that support scalable, compute-intensive, parallel applications.
See my Windows Azure Resource Guide for more guidance on how to get started, including links web portals, training kits, samples, and blogs related to Windows Azure.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Space Junk 3D About to Hit Colorado

 Melissa Butts' documentary Space Junk 3D is coming to the IMAX theater at Denver's Museum of Nature and Science on July 13th, 2012. This is an excellent film, narrated by Tom Wilkinson, on a subject we were discussing all the way back to my college research days. Are we reaching the tipping point of space debris floating around at Clarke orbit altitudes?

If you're in this neck of the woods, come on down for the show! Here's a link to other theaters showing the film.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Ray Bradbury

Well, it seems Ray Bradbury has left us and the entire world seems a bit more silent, less poetic, more dreamless, and forever October-less without him in it.  

I started reading his work when I was nine and it opened a up a visionary world of possibilities and feelings that were outside the norm in my home.  He taught me a lot about the art of being a human being through his work.

In the early part of my life I pursued the arts and one lesson I learned through Bradbury was the limitations of media like film to communicate literary nuance and shading.  Not only in the films attempted based on his original work, but also in the excellent screenplay adaptations he himself wrote like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Moby Dick.  

But my admiration wasn't always from afar.  By the time I was 22, I was lecturing on planetary science at the California Museum of Science and Industry (now the California science Center) and imagine my delight to find Ray Bradbury among the museum docents.  It was a truly awesome experience (as in the correct use of the word) to provide text about an astronomy exhibit that Ray Bradbury was going to read through.  He was generous, always. 

I had kept all the books and short stories and later shared them with my children and Angie, and anyone else who would listen.  It's always a joy to see someone fall in love the way you once fell in love.

I know he had gone through some illness for a while after I left California but I knew he had worked on an indie film with a young crew and hoped he'd never actually go away.  After all, if Bradbury could pass away, what hope is there for the rest of us.  

Thanks for the Martian, skin Illustrations, Dark Carnivals, and youth without youth, Mr. Bradbury.  I couldn't have been me without them.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Frustrated by going months without receiving unemployment insurance after she was laid off, Angie tried working her way up the ladder to more and more influential people.  The trail ended with a letter to the White House. 

Sorry, Republican friends, but it turns out your federal government actually does work for you.  The White House forwarded her letter to HHS.  HHS contacted California EDD and Angie got calls from the Employment Department to straighten things out and make certain she got eveything, but also suicide prevention ( must have been a very hot letter!). 

Congrats Angie on a successful execution of power as a citizen.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dr. Cortada

Happy Birthday, Dr. Cortada! And many, many more...

Happy 2nd Anniversary!

A big Happy Anniversary to Sebastian and Jorjanna on anniversary number 2.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Challenger 26

Today is the 26th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. One brief memory:

I had left astronomy a few years earlier and was teaching school when it happened.  I only knew one of the astronauts, Dr. Ron McNair.

In the late 70s I was lecturing in space science at the California Museum of Science and Industry.  One day, my college buddy, musician Joe Ransfer stopped by for a visit.  We chatted and he told me "There's this guy I know who's a lot like you and I want you two to meet.  Dr. Ronald McNair".

McNair was working as a physicist at Hughes Research Labs out in Malibu.  Coincidentally, the computer-savvy among us on staff were using a terminal (unknown to management) in the museum basement to hack into Hughes Research regularly.  Not to steal anything. Mostly to see whatever the physicist/science-fiction author Robert Forward was working on and leave him messages how to better secure his account.

McNair also played sax and Joe wanted to get us together to play some "cosmic slop" as well.
When we chatted, I skillfully neglected to mention my youthful hacking indiscretions to Dr. McNair.  He asked what I wanted to do and I replied galactic astronomy was my thing.    We talked about the shuttle program which was pretty behind schedule.  I had the opportunity to visit the first "drop test" of shuttle Enterprise out at Dryden.  It was cool, but I was definitely a part of the robotic space exploration camp.  We resented all the budget dollars going into manned space.

He was only a few years older than me but spoke to me in a fatherly way and gave me the appropriate advice to dream big and get out there and do it, the implication being life is short.

A few years later, he flew as a mission specialist aboard STS-41B (Challenger), launching satellites and controlling the manipulator (that big robotic arm).

Ronald McNair lost his life 26 years ago today when the Shuttle Challenger disintegrated over the Atlantic on STS-51-L.  He had planned on doing a live sax recording from space with composer Jean-Michel Jarre.

On a visit back to L.A. about 10 years ago I ran into Joe's uncle who informed me he had passed away while sitting at home one day from an un-diagnosed heart problem.

Of the three of us, I'm the only one remaining.  And while here, I'm dreaming big and getting out there.  Because, no matter how much of it you get, life is short.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Now a Socializing Dude!

Angie reports she's had a tough time getting the Dude to socialize with the other dogs at the park.  He just wants to play ball.  She throws his ball away and he searches out all the balls in the park the other dogs have lost!  Today he recovered two balls from the snow which she promptly heaved over the fence.  Without his favorite pastime, a dapper Dude introduced himself to a nice lady dog at the park and they spent the morning doing a bit of that frolicking-thing!  Bravo, Dude.  Have a treat on me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dark Days and SOPA/PIPA

A lot of providers on the Net hav gone dark today.

I've been working with the Internet for a long, long time.  I was on it when it was still a DARPA project in the 60s.  Yeah, I'm crazy old...

If I had to vote on SOPA and PIPA my vote would be no.  But then again, I don't have a vote and neither do you.

Ping your congress-person and tell them to vote no.  And if he/she asks why, have them explain DNSSEC to you. Can't do it?  Then tell 'em to trust you and vote no.


Happy Birthday Peter Mark Roget!

Why is Roget one of my heroes? 

He was by all accounts a brilliant physician who went on to co-found the Univerity of London.  He invented the slide rule, which was still being taught during my freshman year of college. 

Might be better known in America for a project he picked up after he retired, Roget's Thesaurus.