Saturday, November 27, 2010

CIS(theta) Meeting VI (2010-2011) - pelican HPC the movie!

pelican HPC the movie!

DavidG, HerbertK, JoshG, RyanH

Building Parallel Programs, Chapter6


We went a little cuckoo this week and watched all the Pelican HPC related videos we could find online!  We wanted to see that other peeps were getting Pelican to work and how they did it.  Maybe we missed something?  We started with a series of four:

Then we viewed the tutorial video from the Pelican website:

We found two more on YouTube:

OK, here's the CbN (Cluster by Night) video too.  This one is nice as it uses a CD for the Master Node and multiple CDs for the worker nodes.  So, this solution does not use PXE+openMPI+Octave, it uses ssh+openMPI+Ruby!

Well, that's all for this week.  I hope you enjoyed our movie night!  Next week, we're going to bring in our own cables, switches, routers and laptops to see if we can get Pelican to work in our lab....

Happy Clustering,

Saturday, November 20, 2010

YouTube Wednesday: "Now, you're the show!" (4 weeks of Kermit the Frog???)

YouTube Wednesday is alive and kicking over here at good ol' Baldwin Senior High!  Except that for the last 4 weeks, I turned the tables on my students... now, they're the YouTube!

OK, I had a certain filk song in mind for my students to record.  You know, filk?  I see filk artists every year at I-CON.  Filking is like Karaoke, except you take a popular folk song and change the words.  Usually, a filk song pokes fun at something or is satirical.  At I-CON, you'll see filk making fun of science and science fiction.  Look up Tom Lehrer, Voltaire, Tom Smith, Marc Gunn and Rob Balder on YouTube to get an idea.  Take a look a my favorites on for math related filk and for computing related filk!

So, 4 weeks ago I showed this video to my students to get the tune into their heads.

Then, 3 weeks ago, I showed them this video to get the tune into their brains for good!

Last week, I gave them the words:

A Stable Connection

To the tune of "Rainbow Connection"
by Paul Williams & Kenny Ascher

Why are there so many lost instant memos,
And badly downloaded files?
Firewalls configured and ports we must forward
So people can’t see inside?
Online there’s gold if you manage to reach it
Through all of the iPods for free…
Someday we’ll find it, a stable connection,
The hackers, the coders and me.  

Who said that every ping would be heard and answered
When sent down your cable line?
Somebody 419s, and someone believes it,
Now spam chokes the mail grapevine…
Warcraft expandeth to suck up our bandwidth
So orcs can grow cute little trees,
Someday we’ll find it, a stable connection,
The gamers, the lamerz and me…
Cable or ADSL,
I’m sure it’s a marketing hat trick…  

Have you been on the verge of scoring a cyber,
Then dropped out and lost your mate?
Have you successfully completed a torrent?
Well neither have I, to date…
I’ve pinged out too many times to ignore it,
Even when on a T3…
Someday we’ll find it, a stable connection,
The flamers, the fanboys and me…  

La, da da deee da da daa,
La la la la la dee daa doooooooo…

This week we recorded the video for YouTube, using the webcam from my Dell Studio 1710 Multimedia Laptop, with Rob Balder singing in the background.  You can get an audio clip of Rob Balder singing "A Stable Connection" from
or buy the CD "For Amusement Only" from

The first version of the video below is embedded from YouTube after I converted it from *.avi to *.mp4 via for upload to YouTube.  The second version is the original *.avi file from my webcam.  The third version is an *.mp4 file I made using to download it from my YouTube page!


I didn't post all the recordings on YouTube (all 5 classes participated) as my mic was not working correctly.  Well, the mic wasn't too bad 1st period, so you'll see that sample recording above!  However, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again!"  So, we'll be back....  BTW, stay tuned, in the weeks to come there's going to be a lot of preCalculus and Calculus related filk and carols!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

CIS(theta) Meeting V (2010-2011) - pelican HPC CD on Overdrive!

pelican HPC CD on Overdrive!

DavidG, HerbertK, JayW, JoshG, RyanH

Building Parallel Programs, Chapter5

pelican HPC website
pelican HPC tutorial
pelican HPC forum
pelican HPC article
pelican HPC based
pelican HPC based
pelican HPC like
pelican HPC like

This week we went into pelicanHPC overdrive!  pelicanHPC was developed by Michael Creel at the University of Barcelona for his research in Econometrics using Octave and MPI.  We downloaded the ISO and burned one CD.  We then booted one of our 64bit dualcore AMD Athlons to try out pelicanHPC.  We booted the remaining 24 PCs (total of 50 2GHz cores) from that CD via PXE or netboot.  The video above follows the tutorial on the pelicanHPC website.  Take a look at the BIRG website with a version for Bioinformatics and protein folding.  It also has a tutorial.  Kestrel looks interesting too but it has to be installed on a hard drive and I don't think I want to give up the Ubuntu desktop we use in class during the day.  Our clustering experiments will be conducted after hours.  Take a look at CLuster By Night which uses ssh instead of PXE and Ruby instead of C++ for MPI jobs!

We ran into a bit of a SNAFU, however, as the client PCs got stuck somewhere in the middle of the boot process via PXE (so PXE boot works at least).  So, I dragged out a CrossOver Ethernet cable ( I had spliced together ahead of time for just such an eventuality.  

This way we can fool 2 PCs (4 cores on the Athlons or 8 cores on the Xeons) into "thinking" they were still on an isolated LAN (PXE boot only works over Ethernet on a network with no other DHCP servers). 

We attached the Ethernet cards on eth1 (we also have eth0 for a public Windows LAN) that we usually use for the private Linux LAN, but ran into the same problem!

We also discussed using pelicanHPC or parallel Java "out of the box."  In other words these clustering solutions work fine on multicore PCs, the problem is networking more than one node.  We should have no problem making pelican or PJ use 1 or 2 cores on one of our AMD Athlons and 1, 2 or 4 cores on one of our Intel Xeons!

Well, "That's All Folks," for this meeting. We'll tackle the new server again next meeting in 2 weeks. Check our new Facebook Group, CIS(theta), for our next event!  BTW, this 1 hour meeting every 2 weeks is mandatory.  

Happy Clustering,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Teachers Teaching with Technology at Molloy College 2010

Welcome to Molloy College and T^3 2010!  Here's the program: and  This is the third T^3 Conference, sponsored by and and at Molloy.  I've presented at all three speaking on the following topics.

2004: Programming the TI-83 for Fun and Profit! (using TI-83/84)
2007: Never Fear, Slope Fields Are Here! (using TI-89/92/200)
2010: Look, Ma, No Calculator! (using SAGE)

T^3, or T Cubed, stands for Teachers Teaching with Technology.  T^3 grew out of a Texas Instruments out-reach originally called T-FAST (Technology For All STudents).  Now, T^3 is there to help train teachers to use the latest TI hardware and software in math and science classes.

The keynote speaker was Frank Sobierajski (  Frank is a math teacher after my own heart!  He's retired now, but he has been teaching with technology since 1979, much as I have.  He really set the tone for the rest of the conference!  His presentation was all about using technology in the classroom more and more since we are teaching "digital learners!"  This presentation dovetailed perfectly with my own.  He used a nice Lenovo X201 Tablet PC, "gotta get me one of these!"  He demostrated examples of using cell phones (ie: txt messaging to gather data) and iPods (math apps like a graphing calculator in full color on a high resolution, high contrast screen - imagine that!) constructively in and out of class.  He even discussed the "inverted classroom."  In this model, the teacher records the lesson and puts it on iTunes, TeacherTube or YouTube for the students to view BEFORE class.  Then the students are free to do the "homework" in class with the teacher or the students have more time for an exploratory activity or lab or group work, etc.

I attended a couple of great presentations in the morning.  The first talk was given by Jo Ann Miltenberg ( and was about a PC application called TI-Interactive which turns your SmartBoard into one big computing platform!  It's funny, she reminded me of myself when she said, "I'm the one that dragged my whole department out of the dark ages kicking and screaming into the 21st century using technology in the classroom!"  We even used TI-Interactive in combination with the new CBL2 and CBR2 probes.  So, even TI is moving toward the PC Desktop....

The second talk was given by Ann Davidian ( and was a great intro to using the TI-Nspire in Algebra 2 & Trig classes.  I don't know if this is true, but it seems to me that the TI-Nspire was, in fact, inpired by TI-Interactive.  The TI-Nspire seems to me to be a hand-held implementation of TI-Interactive. Is TI scared of losing the hand-held market to the PC Desktop?

My presentation was entitled "Look, Ma, No Calculator!"  I've been using a combination of Virtual TI (VTI) and SAGE for some time now, so I really don't use a hand-held calculator anymore!  I spoke about the transition from hand-held Graphing Calculators with and without a Computer Algebra System (CAS) to Scientific Computing and CAS using PCs and which I can even use on my iPod Touch!  The only drawback to using SAGE on an iPod is that Safari does not support Java (JRE) or Flash.  SAGE uses Java to render 3D graphs.  There's a way of making 3D graphs on SAGE without Java, using Tachyon, so its not a big deal.  The absence of Flash on the iPod does not affect SAGE either, it just bugs me as it affects YouTube and a lot of other sites on the web.  I use SAGE instead of Mathematica, Octave instead of MATLAB and R instead of S-plus.  BTW, SAGE can be used offline as well via a live Linux CD or by installing SAGE on your own Linux box.  All of this is FLOSS (Free Linux Open Source Software) available free for the download.  Just surf over to and download a CD image (ISO) or the full installation package!

I also demonstrated how I use to record my lessons for YouTube!  I had a few minor glitches:

(1) my son Skyped me during my introduction (blogging for 1 year, youtubing for 2 years, screencasting for 3 years and smartboarding for 4 years; teaching programming since 1975, teaching high school math and science since 1984 and teaching college math since 1990; started teaching AP Computer Science A/AB in 1988 and AP Calculus AB/BC in 1993),
(2) my Smart Airliner Tablet was not charged and I left the power cord at home (I really, really need that Lenovo = one device with an integrated mic and tablet) so I actually used a chalkboard for the first time in at least 12 years and
(3) Molloy's wifi (PC Podium) and LAN (Student PCs) were a bit slow.

Otherwise, all went well. 

Wow, come to think of it, I've been a bit busy speaking at conferences and presenting at art shows these last few years, maybe its time to sit back a little?

1980s: AP Computer Science Round Tables (Wheatley High School)
1990s: AP Calculus Round Tables (Valley Stream High School)
2001: AP Computer Science Round Table (Massapequa High School)
2002: Never Fear, Slope Fields Are Here! (Limacon, SUNY Old Westbury)
2003: DiffEqs, Graphical, Numerical, Analytical and Numerical! (Limacon, SUNY Old Westbury)
2004: Programming the TI-83 for Fun and Profit! (Teachers Teaching with Technology, Molloy College)
2005: Programming the TI-89 for Fun and Profit! (Limacon, SUNY Old Westbury)
2006: Programming the TI-89 for Fun and Profit! (AP Calculus Round Table, Oyster Bay High School)
2007: I-CON 26 Art Show (SUNY Stony Brook)
2007: Never Fear, Slope Fields Are Here! (Teachers Teaching with Technology, Molloy College)
2008: I-CON 27 Art Show (SUNY Stony Brook)
2008: Programming the TI-83 for Fun and Profit! (Limacon, SUNY Old Westbury)
2008: PI-Day Art Show (Suffolk County Community College, Grant Campus) 
2009: I-CON 28 Art Show (SUNY Stony Brook)
2009: Look, Ma, No Calculator (Staff Development Day, Baldwin SHS)
2010: Look, Ma, No Calculator (Limacon, SUNY Old Westbury)
2010: I-CON 29 Art Show (SUNY Stony Brook)
2010: PI-Day Art Show (Suffolk County Community College, Grant Campus) 
2010: Intro to SAGE (Staff Development Day, Baldwin SHS)
2010: Look, Ma, No Calculator! (Teachers Teaching with Technology, Molloy College)

A. Jorge Garcia

Teaching with Technology,