Monthly Archives: June 2008

the lunchological congress

apologies to Joshua Schacter’s The Futurological Congress

lunch 2.0 – silicon valley employee recruitment w/free lunch as enticement

lunchblogging – “kind of like pie blogging, from the Berkman lunch series

lunchcasting – Lunchcasting at UPEI’s New Media Institute (on

lunchchalking – “Lunchchalking: Schlotzky’s Deli to offer free wireless ‘Net access”


Northern Michigan spiders (and other inverts): the Backyard Arthropod Project from Atlantic Mine, MI

Every once in a long while, you run across something so wonderful you have to share.

I have been tracking hits to the Google search Michigan spiders, ever since an odd combination of page text about automated web browsing tools unearthed a bunch of folks trying to identify the spiders crawling across their day lilies.

Today’s search logs turned up this amazing resource, the The Backyard Arthropod Project
A Field Guide to the North Side of Old Mill Hill, Atlantic Mine, MI
. The author writes:

This started out as a typical ranting blog over on Livejournal, but it turns out that, overall, I’m a happy sort of guy and don’t really have that many things to rant about. As of February 2007, it has instead turned into a project to document every arthropod that I can find on our property (about 9 acres on the north slope of Old Mill Hill in the Keeweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan). This includes insects, spiders, other arachnids, crustaceans, and pretty much anything I find with an exoskeleton. There should be at least one new arthropod every week, for as long as the variety holds out (which could be years). I’ll also randomly inject whatever thoughts happen to occur to me at the time, although I’ll try to stick with at least some connection to the topic at hand. When I run out of arthropods, maybe I’ll start in on the plants.

While I have always been interested in insects and other arthropods, I unfortunately have zero formal training in entomology (I am an extractive metallurgist by profession), so I’m basically trying to learn arthropod taxonomy as I go. I will doubtless make many mistakes, please don’t hesitate to correct me when I am wrong.

Go, look. There are pictures, there are bugs – arachnids, isopods, diptera, cutworm moths, crickets, katydids. There are tags: found in house and found in yard stand in equal prominence. 9 acres in the UP yields plenty of bugs, in season, and season is year-round, as the presence of the snow fly – Chionea valga will attest.

This is why people live in the UP! Bugs, all with Latin names!

kilowatts per terabyte, or terabytes per kilowatt: a measure of storage energy efficiency

A measure of the efficiency of data storage; the equivalent would be W/GB (watts per gigabyte).

The range measured below is 0.4 TB/KW (RAM) to 500 TB/KW (Blu-ray disks), with a corresponding range in access speed and update times.

Some estimates or measures:

If you are using solid state memory (no disk; just memory, configured as disk) from Texas Memory Systems, expect to have 2.5 KW/TB, or 0.4 TB/KW:

The Tera-RamSan incorporates specially designed 4-Gbit Fibre Channel or 4x InfiniBand interfaces that include performance-enhancing hardware to reduce I/O latency to under 14 microseconds. With I/O requests being served so quickly, an order-of-magnitude more requests per second are executed by a single Tera-RamSan interface as compared to other Fibre Channel interfaces. By scaling SSD modules up to 8 units (8 Fibre Channel links per unit or 4 InfiniBand links per unit), the Tera-RamSan is the ultimate storage solution for high-performance applications in total IOPS and total bandwidth. Also, because the Tera-RamSan is DDRRAM based, there is NO penalty for RANDOM accesses. Data requests need not be tuned for performance. User access time is not compromised, even if tens of thousands of users access the system simultaneously. Extreme performance is the key feature of the Tera-RamSan.

From 2005, Pierre Devries: including cooling about 1 KW/TB, or 1 TB/KW:

Working off Barroso, Dean and Hölzle’s paper on the Google cluster architecture, I infer that the energy consumption for storage is approximately 1W/GB: a dual 1.4-GHz Intel Pentium III server with a two 80GB drives draws 120W per server. Adding Google’s estimate of about 40% for cooling, gives 165 W per 160 GB, or 1 W/GB (watt/gigabyte).

in the comments to that post, using the architecture: 50W/TB, or 20 TB/KW:

Capricorn tech clains that their Petabox storage, which they built for, runs as little as 50W/TB. I don’t think that number includes the power consumption of the required air conditioning.

updating Capricorn’s Petabox to the current (2008) web site, we see 27W/TB, or 37 TB/KW:

The PetaBox is completely scalable, from individual terabyte nodes to petabyte clusters. A single 19-inch rack can support up to 120TB of raw disk space. This density is achieved through an economy of design that consumes as little as 27 watts per terabyte.

Computer Weekly in 2007 talks about metrics but doesn’t actually measure:

An individual drive uses 5W to 15W of power depending on its capacity, rotation speed, form factor and operating state, but “you can’t just multiply the number of drives in an array by some average power rating to get a total,” says Mark Greenlaw, senior director with storage marketing at EMC. The power consumption of the array is more than the sum of the power used by the individual drives. Controllers and other components consume power. Copan Systems proposes two metrics for archival data storage: storage density measured in terabytes per square foot and terabytes per kilowatt.

A COPAN Systems press release from 2007; naturally, take press releases for what they are worth. The range from 4 TB/KW (Fibre Channel), 17 TB/KW (SATA), and 100 TB/KW (COPAN’s sooper stuffs):

COPAN Systems has taken a “revolutionary” approach in how it has engineered its products over the past 4 years to deal with power and cooling issues in the data center. The low power requirements of COPAN’s enhanced MAID architecture integrated with the extremely large storage density delivers in excess of an impressive 100 terabyte (TB) per kilowatt, the highest in the industry. This compares to an average power density for Fibre Channel disk products of approximately 4 TB per kilowatt and an average rate for standard SATA disk products of 17 TB per kilowatt. The savings are significant with estimates for power and cooling savings between $5.7 million and $7.8 million over a four year time period.

MAID, or “massive array of idle disks”, if you don’t know it, is an architecture where the drives are usually powered down; you wouldn’t use it for active hot storage, but for mostly offline stuff it’s a possible solution.

For the weird, here’s a read-mostly solution: a Powerfile array of Blu-ray optical drives, at 500 TB/KW.

Appliance Leverages Next-Generation Blu-ray Disc™ Technology to Deliver 70 Terabytes per Rack, 120 Terabytes per Appliance, and Industry-Leading Energy Efficiency of 500 Terabytes per Kilowatt

Fire maps – Michigan, California, and global


Drought Severity Index by Region from NOAA for the week ending 21 June 2008

It’s fire season (at least in the places where it isn’t flood or landslide season) and the best way to be ready for a fire is to not have the fire start at all.

Here’s a collection of Michigan fire maps, and some additional resources to help get to current information about what’s going on.

Michigan fire maps

If there’s a wildfire or forest fire in Michigan, you’ll get information about it from the Michigan DNR and from the USDA Forest Service MODUS Fire Mapping system. The DNR’s information reflects for the most part information from the ground, and MODUS is satellite based.

the flying proletarian / Mayakovsky

via the V. V. Mayakovsky bio in the Encyclopedia of Soviet Authors:

In 1925 Mayakovsky also made one of his few forays into the sphere of utopian science fiction with his poem Letaiushchi Proletarii (“The Flying Proletarian”). As described by Victor Tarras in his biography of Mayakovsky, The Flying Proletarian was:

…set in the year 2125 and features a giant air battle, with death rays and such, between the Soviet proletarian and the American bourgeois air forces. The latter prevails until an uprising of New York workers against their government turns the tide. Mayakovsky’s communist future is all comfort and electric ease: electric razors, electric toothbrushes, everybody with his own private airplane (Moscow no longer has any streets, just airports). Labor is wholly mechanized, so that a worker merely operates a keyboard. Altogether, Mayakovsky’s utopia is written from the viewpoint of a laborer who is tired of backbreaking, dirty work. . . . There are no kitchens, no housework. People eat in aerocafeterias and amuse themselves with cosmic cinemas, cosmic dances, and such–all nonalcoholic (alcohol is served by prescription only). The sport of the future is avio-polo–football has long since been abandoned as crude and boring.

There’s a new work on Mayakovsky out: Night wraps the sky : writings by and about Mayakovsky / edited by Michael Almereyda (AADL link). (amazon link).

mechanical blueberry harvesters

If you’re serious about harvesting blueberries (as opposed to just picking them), you mechanize the operation. Here’s an example of a blueberry harvester from Nova Scotia

Doug Bragg Enterprises Ltd. Mechanical Blueberry Harvester consists of a reel-type picking head. The head is side mounted to a tractor in such a manner as to allow the picking head to follow contours of the ground. The reel rotates within the head in the same direction as the tractor wheels. This rotation is at a speed in ratio to the forward motion of the tractor. As the comb type-picking bars rake the blueberries from the plants they are carried around the reel and deposited in a conveyor. This conveyor delivers them to another longer conveyor, which carries them to the rear three-point-hitch mounted loading platform. As the berries fall from the conveyor a blower cleans them.

The harvester was invented by R. Douglas Bragg (1930-1996):

Doug Bragg always maintained a strong interest in the blueberry industry. Not only was he a manufacturer of the patented wild blueberry harvester and a blueberry producer himself, but he was an active member of the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia. From 1979 to 1981 he served as a Director and was an active member of the Research Committee from the time of its inception until the fall of 1996. He was a Founding Director of the Nova Scotia Blueberry Institute and was instrumental in the early days of its development and building of the research field station at Debert. In 1995 Doug received the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia Award of Recognition.

There’s a set of patents on blueberry harvesters. Here’s what US Patent 5365403, Lowbush berry harvester has to say about the Bragg patented harvester:

A later development is reported in Canadian Pat. No. 1,249,727 of Bragg Lumber Company. According to the patent, this harvester mounts a picking head, almost identical to the Chisholm-Ryder head, on the side of a farm tractor, but in such a manner that the picking head is “towed ” by the tractor. The arrangement ostensibly accommodates variations in the ground by allowing for pitch and roll of the head during operation. As with the Chisholm-Ryder head, the tines of the Bragg harvester are controlled by a cam and cam follower arrangement. In the Bragg harvester, as the tines approach top dead centre of the reel they are caused to flap rapidly to dislodge the berries carried thereby for easy deposit on the internal conveyor.

On my favorite blueberry-picking grounds, there’s way too many ferns, jack pines, jack pine cones, bits of lichen and moss to ever make it suited for mechanical harvesting; just as well.

(pictures needed)

vacuum microwave dried blueberries, a quality report

Whenever I come across some topic related to both blueberries and the title of this blog (vacuum), I am compelled to post it. In this case, we have “vacuum microwave drying” or VMD, a food preservation technique using a vacuum chamber and a microwave energy source instead of a typical hot air or freeze drying.

Ziba Vaghri, Christine H. Scaman, David D. Kitts, Timothy D. Durance, and David A.J.

Vacuum microwave drying has great potential to produce high quality food products with greater retention of heat and oxygen sensitive bioactive components. Blueberries have recently been noted for their high antioxidant activity. The components that are likely to be responsible for this activity are the phenolic compounds and vitamin C content. This study compared the effects of vacuum microwave, air, freeze, and a combination of air/vacuum microwave drying on vitamin C, anthocyanin, phenolic, and antioxidant activity of two blueberry cultivars. In addition the color characteristics of the berries were assessed. Vacuum microwave dried berries retained higher amounts of vitamin C, anthocyanin, and phenolics than air-dried berries. All blueberry extracts exhibited antioxidant activity which was positively correlated to anthocyanin, total phenolic and vitamin C content. There was no significant difference between the antioxidant activities of vacuum microwave dried and freeze-dried blueberries.