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Archive for February, 2009

Telkom Mega 105WR router

February 4, 2009 6 comments

When you sign up for a 2 year contract with Telkom’s DoBroadband ADSL offering, you get a free router as part of the deal. If you take the 4mb/s package, which is the most expensive, you get a Billion router with wi-fi, along with all the other bells and whistles you can expect from a decent brand name. If you take the cheaper packages though, you get the Mega 105WR, made on contract by a company called 2C Telecoms. This company is responsible for manufacturing a range of routers, but also physical phone receivers, as well as POTS filters and other devices.

The Mega 105 is compatible with ADSL2, had 4 ethernet ports, Wi-Fi, and also a USB connection for people who would want to dial up that way. When we got the router as part of the package mentioned in one of my earlier posts here, I was initially let down by the fact that we were getting the Mega router. I had believed that we were going to get the Billion, as I would have preferred a name brand. Also, I had read many a report of issues with the Mega router such as locking up, weak wi-fi signal and other bizarre incidents. I shouldn’t have let these things bias me before even testing the product, but such is how things are when you deal with Telkom. Fear and distrust.

After the trials and tribulations mentioned in the above linked post, the adsl had been working solidly for a month now. The router had behaved well, only needing to be rebooted twice due to lock ups. In both those cases I could still surf the net but couldn’t access the router configuration page, which is s fairly sure sign the router has run out of memory.

What I have to admit here is that I have been rather suprised by this device. It’s worked well, and had actually got more features than I had previously thought. The web interface is clean, and while not perfectly laid out, does a much better job of it than a Microcom router I had worked with before. It even has VPN passthrough, which is quite nice. Just wish I had an external source to test from, so I could learn how to actually use a VPN properly. For any home user, the router has just about every feature you could ever want or even need. Indeed, few people would even really scratch the surface of the device.

Here is a picture of the web interface: (click the image for a larger picture) router1

 

 

 

 

 

 The router also supports ADSL “bridge” mode, so it can be with Linux firewalls for example, to let the firewall directly “dial” the connection.

Overall, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this device, and that is a first for Telkom. I would’t hesitate to suggest that people get this router if they area home user with average needs.

Distributed Computing

February 2, 2009 1 comment

Distributed computing has taken off over the years, to the point now where one project, Folding@home, has the most powerful computing resources available to it in all of computing history. Users can run clients of various projects, whichever suits their fancy, and donate their spare computing time towards these projects. Those who love science may contribute towards SETI or other cosmological searches. For humanity, protein folding, Malaria control, AIDS research and other projects can hope to cure diseases or provide more efficient treatments. Who knows, one day it may save your own life? There are also mathematics challenges, as well as simulations for climate prediction and quantum computing.

Distibuted computing (DC for short) has always run on the CPU of a computer, but lately new stars are rising, the GPU that is found in modern graphics cards as well as Sony’s Playstation 3.

At this stage, only a few projects are making use of the GPU, while 2 are making use of the PS3. Not every type of project is suited towards GPU use, but for those who are, they are seeing some amazing processing power come into play. The reason for this is that graphics cards are designed to handle demanding games, with many computations done in parallel. This had lead to the creation of some really powerful cards, to which some say are more powerful than a high end CPU. This isn’t wholly correct, as the CPU can still do a wider variety of tasks than what a GPU can do. However, what they do is complement each other nicely.

I started using the BOINC client last year so that I could run multiple projects on my computer. Here is a screenshot of the Advanced view of the program: (click the picture for a higer resolution version)

boinc

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m currently taking part in the World Community Grid, as well as Einstein@Home as per the above shot, but I’m also involved in Seti@home and Rosetta@home. Some people have argued that some of the projects are pointless, such as SETI and that the resources should be used for more productive purposes. Well, those projects have sprung up and are doing well. However, SETI is still ahead of them all (except for Folding@home), proving it’s popularity.

I run my projects when my computer is idle or doing small tasks like writing this blog. I don’t run my computer 24/7, so I take longer to finish the work units in that sense. Others have computer “farms” that they use, often consisting of older low powered computers. Others run it at their place of work, with or without company permission. In most cases it is harmless, but in some places it’s a violation of policy.

In closing, I urge everybody to get involved, and take part in at least one project to which you think your spare computing time is worthwhile. The more we do, the better chance we have of a brighter future.