Google’s Place on Your Top Ten

Posted 3 December 2009 by n9kju
Categories: Online Tools

Tags: , ,

I do appreciate the usefulness of Twitter.  I noticed that @ChrisBrogan was posting some tweets about GoogleWave today.  I am experimenting with Wave to try and understand its potential.  I have accounts on the public beta as well as the developers sandbox.  I’ve built up quite a list of contacts who also have Wave accounts.  That’s the first thing one needs in order for Wave to be of any real use.

One of Chris’ tweets was to a neat blog post by @deepakdas.  The author shared his thoughts on Google’s “product proliferation strategy”.  It reminded me of the old days when people talked about how Apple computers were in all the schools in hopes that student’s would graduate having experience with Apple and buy those over PCs.  It also reminded of another strategy I had discussed several months ago.  That one was focused on Starbucks Coffee.

I was sitting with a friend who works for a distributor that delivers product to Starbucks stores.  My friend explained to me that Starbucks had a goal to (as she put it) “become your third place”.  I’ve heard this same idea elsewhere, so I’m sure it is no secret and it may be a topic for various case studies.  The basic premise is this:

We all spend time in various places.  The top two places for most people are their home and their work.  If you count the time spent sleeping, most people spend most of their time at home.  And it is easy to see that where you work would be the next most common place for you to spend your time.  There may be a third place which stands out as the place where you spend the next most significant portion of your time.  The idea is that Starbucks wants you to be so comfortable meeting people or just hanging out at a Starbucks store.

Personally, I believe my church is my third place.  But I must admit that Starbucks must be in my top ten.  And at the same time, I think Google (Gmail, GoogleWave, Google Reader, etc.) is very likely my forth place. OK, so it is not a physical place, but it is where I spend a bunch of time. On the whole, Google is obviously trying to move up everyone’s list of “places” where we spend our time.  They are adding services constantly and getting themselves inserted into as much of our on-line experience as possible. (Look at today’s announcement of Google’s Public DNS service)

So Twitter has once again led me to some valuable information on topics that I am already thinking about and trying to understand.  I suppose that TweetDeck is another of my top 10 “places” where I hang out.  I wonder how long it will be before Google tries to buy up Twitter.  Or might they just find a way to assimilate it into Google Wave.

Where do Google and/or Twitter fall on your list? Your thoughts and comments would be appreciated.


Let’s Talk Following

Posted 1 December 2009 by n9kju
Categories: Online Tools


I have a question for my fellow Twitter users.  It seems I have new people following me every day.  Now that should not be a bad thing.  But lots of these people are folks I have never met or heard of.  It’s not like like text messages where I have to pay for messages posted to Twitter based on the number of people that the message is delivered to. And it is not like I post anything in an open tweet that I am worried about who does or does not read it.

How should I  decide who to block and who to report as SPAM?

I suppose in part, the answer to the question depends on how and why I use Twitter.  One has to ask who do I hope my tweets are getting too.  I have a network of friends, peers and community members.  I found Twitter quite valuable at events like the recent #LISA09 conference. And I have met some really great contacts through Twitter.

I read nearly every tweet that comes to my TweetDeck screen. It keeps me up on what’s going on with those I follow. And it keeps me up on news and hot topics. I’ve learned a lot since joining Twitter.  Mostly by following very interesting folks like @CaliLewis, @Pogue and @ChrisBrogan.  I keep up on #HEP (High Energy Physics) by following @CERN and @USLHC.

I’m sure that folks @ThinkGeek want followers as a way to promote their products to as many people as possible.  I understand that.  It is good marketing.  And I follow them back to watch for sales.

At present, I have no commercial interest in Twitter.  My blog generates no income and I have no affiliations that bring me any sort of compensation.  Still, I’d like to think that by tweeting each new Blog post I may pick up some new followers, or the Blog or my tweets.  I do appreciate when someone finds a Blog post interesting enough to mention in a tweet to their followers

I am careful about who I do and do not follow on Twitter.  I do not automatically follow anyone who follows me.  I do not even check the profile of everyone who follows me.  I do not see the numbers of how many I follow or how many follow me as at all significant.  Am I unique in my careful approach to followers?  It certainly seems that minority of the Twitter users  who follow me are in it for a numbers game.  I can’t believe they read every post by everyone they follow.

I have blocked people whose follower count is up in four digits while there posts are counted with one or two digits.  I have reported some people as SPAM when the majority of the posts I find on their profile are obviously sales hype. But I don’t have time to review everyone who starts following me.  Some who follow me are disabled by the time I go to check their profile after others reported them as SPAM.

I have used tools like @Foller.Me to help me prune my followers. I can’t get to TwitBlock any longer.  I just wonder if even that is worth my time. I expect to write a blog post on SPAM fighting tools some time soon.  I’d love to hear what your favorite such tool is.

How do you decide who to block and who to report as SPAM?  Please share your opinion via a comment.

The TOP500 Supercomputer List

Posted 29 November 2009 by n9kju
Categories: High Performance Computing

Tags: , ,

The TOP500 Supercomputer list is published twice a year in June and November.  The November release comes out in time for the annual SuperComputing conference.  The newest version of the TOP500 list was formally presented a couple weeks ago at SC09 in Portland, Oregon.

The National Labs here in the US are well represented.  The Jaguar Cray XT5 Supercomputer at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility  is the new #1.  Jaguar has bumped the  Los Alamos Roadrunner system down to the #2 slot.  Note that the Roadrunner was the world’s first petaflop/s supercomputer,  topping the June 2008 list. These ratings are based on Linpack benchmark results.

Let’s talk about what makes a supercomputer.  Back in the day, a big monster computer was more often than not a large IBM Mainframe.  It was one computer with lots of hardware that could do lots of processing and talk to lots of users through lots of terminals.   It was designed for size, not speed.  In 1960, Seymour Cray designed the first supercomputer, engineered  for high capacity and high speed processing.  Today’s supercomputers are sometimes a large system like Jaguar, a Cray XT5.  But more often todays supercomputer is actually a large cluster of smaller systems, configured and tuned for tightly coupled multi-processing cluster performance.  An example would be the rendering farms that were used by Weta Digital for CG work on films like the Lord of the Rings.  They have five cluster listings around #195 on the current TOP500 list.

I work at Fermi National Accelerator Lab in the HPC (High Performance Computing) department.  We support several experiments, primarily the LQCD project.  LQCD stands for Lattice Quantum Chromodynamics.  Lattice QCD calculations allow us to understand the results of particle and nuclear physics experiments in terms of QCD, the theory of quarks and gluons. The 7N cluster at JLab is also used by this collaboration.

I get to work as part of a team supporting Fermilab’s HPC systems which are  used for running large scale numerical simulations.  Our J/PSI cluster is made up of 856 nodes, each running an instance of Linux.  They each have two 2.1 GHz Quad Core Opteron processors.   That’s 6720 cores altogether, tightly coupled with a double data rate Infiniband switch.  Our Linpack results were 37.42 TFlops maximal performance achieved.  That put our cluster at #141 on the TOP500 list published earlier this month.  On the list that was published just 12 months ago, that same result would have placed us as #69.

Supercomputing and HPC in general can be  a mind boggling field.  I’m fairly new to this arena having only started with this department about 12 months ago.  I find this stuff pretty exciting.  We expect the J/PSI cluster to more than double in size in the next 12 months.  I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

More later,

Ken S.

Claim your ID Follow-up

Posted 12 November 2009 by n9kju
Categories: On-line Identification and Privacy

Tags: , ,

Already with a follow-up. I got an e-mail telling me something I did not know related to the ClaimID service. They have a Best Practices page on their website. Every web service should have a page like this.

Now while I did not know that the page existed, I was aware of some of these tips. I have had Google Alerts searches in place for over a year now. Not just searching for my own name, but also for my wife and two kids. I first learned that my wife set up a page at LinkedIn because of the Google Alert. And of course I quickly checked that it really was by her and about her. Whether or not you use ClaimID, running such searches on a regular basis are an important step in protecting your on-line identity.

And if you own a domain, don’t forget to check regularly to see what the search engines have that is pointing to your domain. Regrettably, when I search for, I get hits on every page/article that discusses Smallmouth bass fishing. I guess that with my domain name, that’s not a bad thing.  I do need to keep up on that topic. 🙂

The ClaimID Best Practices also has a nice description of ways to improve a search by changing your search string. And while I rarely use search engines other than Google, they do give a good list that you can use.

One would think that a lot of these best practices would obvious just as good common sense. But even those of us who are interested in on-line identity protection can learn a new trick. You would think that as much as I depend on a spell checker, I would think of the value of searching for things by using common misspellings. While you may not get any interesting hits this way, I’d rather not miss something just because I assume everyone knows how to spell my 10 character last name.

If you have a suggestion for another best practice that could be applied here, please leave a comment. You might also consider e-mailing it to the ‘info’ at ‘’ address.  Their page does say that will keep this list of best practices updated.   Pages like this are a very good thing.  And let’s not forget that the internet is more valuable when we all share our best practices.

More later, Ken S.

What to expect

Posted 10 November 2009 by n9kju
Categories: General


As I start this Blog, I guess I have more than a few things to comment on. But I want to set expectations properly right up front. It is my expectation (and intention) to publish between one and three posts each week on average.  In the next couple days or maybe weeks, there may be more posts.  This blogging is still new for me, so I am riding a wave of enthusiasm right now.

My goal in writing all this is to share information about the cool stuff I have come across or to explain a confusing topic in simple terms.  Since I work at Fermilab and I work with HPC (High Performance Computing) clusters, some of the “cool stuff” may be of interest to only the geekier among those who follow this blog.  If I miss the mark and my explaination fails to make the concept clear, please leave me a comment so that I can try and correct the failed explanation.

If you have read any of my other web pages or postings, you will have figured out by now that I tend to “use lots of words”.  My goal in my writing is to explain things, sometimes teach and sometimes clarify.  I have a passion for teaching.  And when I am teaching, I want to make sure my point is made well and clearly.  I tend to err on the side of “thorough” at the expense of “to the point”.  I’m working on being more succinct and staying focused.  Constructive feedback is always appreciated and encouraged.  Feel free to send me an e-mail as opposed to more public comments where appropriate.  I want to write in a way that others want to read.

Would you like to hear more about Fermilab and/or computing for High-Energy Physics research? Or would you like more on internet services like or on-line privacy?

More later, Ken S.

Claim your on-line identity

Posted 8 November 2009 by n9kju
Categories: On-line Identification and Privacy

Tags: , ,

I went through high school thinking that I could be the last Schumacher. I’m the only son of an only son. Teachers back then seemed to find my last name difficult. I was sure they had not heard it before. Then I got to college and I found out that Schumacher is as common a name among Germans as Smith is to the English. Even knowing that, I was still surprised to find that there are eight Ken Schumacher’s in Illinois alone.

I have enjoyed writing web pages for many years. I would practice developing HTML by writing about my many hobbies.  As I begin writing this Blog, I need to update my listing.  The listing has links to and short descriptions of the pages out there on the internet that are either by me or about me.  Where possible, has also verified that I as the owner of the listing really are the person in control of that web page.  I verified most of the pages by putting a unique MicroID into the header of my web pages.  When I add the code, it demonstrates that I do have write access and/or control of the site I am verifying.

Do you see the value in maintaining this type of listing on  If I went on a job interview, I would expect a potential employer to do a Google search at the very least.  If I was hiring someone, I would want to make sure that the information I could find on-line agreed with what I learn of the candidate from his/her resume or after an interview.  Or let’s say you read one of my pages about on-line privacy.  It would hurt my credibility if you came across a site where someone else who shares my name had posted rantings about how good he is at breaking passwords.

My point is that since I do maintain a page at, I am not concerned about my on-line integrity.  My integrity is tremendously important to me.  If you read on a web page where I mention how important my family is to me, I know you will find the same sentiment on all the other web pages I have written.

In simple terms, I see the site/service to be a form of on-line identity protection.  No, it does not protect my social security number or other IDs.  But it does allow me to make it quite clear which pages one will find on the internet are mine and which are not. I recommend all web developers and bloggers use their service.  Their free service protects my integrity, and like I said, that is very important to me.

More later,  Ken S.

Disclosure: Other than being a verified and satisfied user of their site, I am in no way affiliated with

Update 12 Nov 2009: Please see the Claim your on-line Id follow-up posting.

Why ‘de N9KJU’?

Posted 7 November 2009 by n9kju
Categories: General


I am a ham radio operator, albeit not very active lately. My callsign is N9KJU.  I have used this callsign on occasions where I need a short, simple and/or unique username or handle that identifies me.  For example, you can find me on Twitter as @n9kju.  It seems appropriate to use the callsign as the unique part of the URL for this blog.

So what’s with the ‘de’.  Ham radio operators have passed messages for years.  We pass them as something like amateur telegrams. This started in the medium of morse code where keeping the message short is important.  More recently these messages are passed via RTTY (Radio TeleType).  One thing that is commonly done is using abbreviations as a form of shorthand.  Also, when hams communicate via morse code, they have common abreviations.  An abbreviation I have used when signing messages I delivered was “de N9KJU” which translates as ‘this is N9KJU’.

So this blog is about my thoughts, opinions and ideas.  If you visit this log over time, you will get to know a bit more about me and the way I think.  So the more you visit, the more you know.  Over time, you may come to the point where you will say “So… this is N9KJU”.

More later.  Ken S.

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