Saturday, December 15, 2007

McTool is a multithreaded Move and Copy Tool

The very first program I wrote in C (about 20 years ago now) was a program that appended one file to another. It evolved into a file copying program (DCOPY) that I shared with a few people. Since then, I have used a number of good utilities to move files around on various systems (XCopy, xXCopy, RoboCopy, TotalCopy, etc.). No one tool does everything everyone needs, but all together, perhaps they can come close. Anyway, when I couldn't find any file copy tools that supported multithreading and worked well with large numbers of small files, I wrote one.

Basically, I had tons of relatively small files (images, mp3 files, etc.) that I wanted to move around and I needed a program that could run multiple copies at once. Many systems nowadays are capable of handling multiple requests at a time (even single drives have NCQ). You no longer have to have an expensive fiber-attached SAN in order to benefit from running more than one thing at a time (a dual core processor is not even needed). Starting multiple instances of any of the tools I listed above works well to speed things up, but it was a hassle to keep things straight and I didn't want to have to bother with that all the time. Plus, at times when I have had really large sets (I've worked with millions of files, and multiple terabytes at once), the other tools just weren't able to handle it and I ran into problems.

More details and a free download link.

I rewrote McTool in C# to learn about handling threading and it uses the Microsoft .NET framework under current versions of Windows (including 2003 server, XP, Vista, 32 & 64 bit). I have not made any effort yet in putting together an installation package of any sort since it only requires two files and I think it is pretty easy to use. If I'm proven wrong by getting some feedback, that could change.

I'm pretty excited about it because it seems to work well enough in the limited testing that I've done (5-10 times faster in my tests), but I wanted to share it with others in order to see if there are any problems left that need to be fixed or other features that should be added. It seems to work for what I've been doing, but if you find this page and want to snag a copy to try out and let me know whether it works for you, that would be great! I would appreciate the feedback, and you might be able to use the tool...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

UPS mods, Tree removal, etc.

Some pretty random stuff here (this isn't a single subject blog by any means)...

UPS modifications continue

I collected another dozen UPS units from the recycling center at work over the past year and converted them to use an external power source.

We gave away 6 of them at the Utah County ARES (UCARES) picnic last night.

They can be used as chargers (about 1 amp max) or maintainers (floats at about 14.0 volts) for almost any sealed lead acid (SLA) battery and also as Uninteruptible Power Supplies (funny huh, since they were originally intended for UPS use!) and as (semi) portable inverters*. Hopefully there will be a few more happy batteries in happy valley. I hope to get more, but never know what the winds of change will bring...

*You do have to know how to turn them on when the AC mains are off. Hold (don't push and release) the power button until it starts beeping. While it is still beeping, release it. It should turn on and, if the battery can provide enough power for the load, it should stay on.
Neighborhood cat killed

Itok killed another cat the other night. We found it lying in the grass the next morning. (I didn't include any pictures for this event.) It was completely intact with no blood showing on the outside. I think this is the third or fourth one now that hasn't survived (at least one did when it made it up a tree and I went out and saved it - at 1:30 in the morning!). He doesn't tear them up or anything, he seems to just play with them. Anything that runs is apparently fair game. I don't know why these cats come into our completely fenced (6 foot high all the way around) back yard, but I guess they just can't help it.

People, don't let your cats run around - they get into my bushes and flower beds and use them as a litter box! If they come in my backyard (as they seem prone to do), they'll probably die.

Tree removal

When we moved into our West facing house 11 years ago, the front lawn was barren, so we planted a tree - a Navajo Globe Willow.

We loved it. It grew fast covered the entire front of our house with shade, gave the kids a place to swing, we hung a hammock from it for a number of years, etc. Unfortunately, Willows are generally considered "trash trees" because they drop a lot of junk in your yard. This one was no exception. Two or three years ago, wind took off a chunk of it and it took quite a while for us to cut it up and haul it away. It didn't seem to hurt the tree much (you couldn't even tell from the road in front because the tree was so big) other than the place on the trunk. Well, Sunday, the wind took off another piece of it and since it has been smelling funny (people tell me they tend to do that when they get old or infected), it was time to take the whole thing out.

It was quite a job and I'm quite sunburned. Luckily, a neighbor around the corner was having a tree removed the same day (for some reason I didn't think they'd be working on Labor Day) and I was able to convince them to let me pay them to haul my mess away and grind the stump down. Since I had felled it and cut it up already, it was a relatively small job for them even though the tree completely filled their 8 ton truck.

I'm glad that's over!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My blog is not People Ready

A page sponsored by Microsoft on Federated Media's web site talks about businesses being what they call "People Ready."

This article on ValleyWag derides the companies for using bloggers (reporters?) in what is basically a Microsoft advertising campaign. They seem to say that it's wrong for the bloggers to appear to be objective when really they're getting paid for writing as they do. Funny, I thought that's how it always worked. They can pay me for writing about it if they want - I have no objections!

PC World got into the act also (see Harry McCracken's post). Like most businesses, they're in it for the money. So now here they are profiting (I found the article by searching for it and it displayed plenty of ads to me) from writing about a controversial subject and saying that their type (journalists) shouldn't "get involved in a project that involved contributing to a marketing campaign." I don't have a problem with it (hey, I have ads on this site), I just think it's funny that it's creating a stir.

Partial Disclosure Notice follows:
["Partial" because I don't feel like writing (and I'm sure you don't feel like reading) everything about me in this silly little blog posting.]

I just wanted to make note that my business is not People Ready mostly because I don't have a business. I was also curious to see what kind of traffic would come to my page because of a simple unsponsored, obscure little blog posting. Gee, I suppose if I get a lot of traffic and someday start a business, I'll have to think about making it a People Ready Business (PRB :) ...

Monday, June 18, 2007

The spelling of Timpooneke

This is just one of my many pet peeves. I shouldn't let it bug me, but it does.

Timpooneke is the name of a campground and a trail in the
Mt. Timpanogos area in Utah County, Utah.

I don't know why, but many people say (and write) "Timpanooke" instead. I guess it's close, but as far as I know, it's not right. I find it funny that local folks (including the press) have a hard time with this name. I'm not going to look up all the history and stuff behind the name (perhaps there is an explanation for this confusion), but here are a few examples:

1) From the Daily Herald on June 06, 2007, 03:43:04 pm:

A man is stranded on the Timpanooke trail on Mount Timpanogos, and weather is keeping searchers from finding him. Utah County Sheriff's Lt. Yvette Rice said police do not know the man's name. The man's wife went looking for him when he didn't return from a day hike.
To their credit, the Daily Herald constantly updates their articles as more information becomes available and during one of their edits, the spelling was corrected. Here is the current version.

2) From a
description page on the TERT web site:

From Aspen Grove Trail Head to Timpooneke Trail Head - go 5.7 miles on 92 and turn off at Timpanooke and go about 0.5 miles.
TERT is a great organization and one in which I have membership. This just shows the extent of the confusion.

3) In the original incarnation of an article about a boy who was killed by a black bear,
KSL used the Timpanooke spelling repeatedly. It appears that they corrected it in the current article, now that they also have a picture of the campground sign on their site:


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

2007 Squaw Peak 50 Mile Trail Run

For several years now, I've been helping out at various aid stations for a couple of Ultra Marathons put on by John Bozung. Last Saturday, for the third year, I went to Windy Pass with a group of Aid Station people as their communications person. This year, I wasn't alone. There was another radio person to help this time which was a huge help! I actually had some time while there at the station to do something other than track in and out times of all the runners (201 passed through our station this year).

Since it was a low water year and the spring where we normally collect water for the runners was running very slowly, we filtered about 15-20 gallons of water with a hand pump so we would have enough for everyone. The other 30 gallons or so were collected directly from the pipe (installed by the Forest Service?) leading from the spring. The water from the spring runs into a trough which did a good job of collecting the water, it just had some pretty nasty looking stuff in it. Without pumping, we would have run out early, so I'm glad I brought my water filter with me (an MSR WaterWorks). The Katadyne Backcountry filter the other people had there was pretty well clogged (and useless) after they had pumped 3-5 gallons. They told me that it was new when they brought it up for this trip (glad I didn't buy that one!). The water itself looked clear (it was just sitting there in the trough - not zipping down a muddy stream or anything), but I had to clean my filter after every 2-3 liters to keep it running fast, so there must have been a lot of stuff suspended in it.

The runners had completed 40 miles when they got to our station and had just climbed 2000 feet up to us (at about 9000 feet) from the last aid station on a hot south facing slope. They were pretty tired. One guy at the end had the worst time of it. The course sweeper stayed with him until he made it to us, and for about 30 minutes alternated between laying down and leaning over a tree puking. He finally was able to drink a little of my still-frozen Powerade that I had stashed and some of an electrolyte drink called Emergency (reference needed) from some of the other aid station people. Although the Utah County Search and Rescue team was already busy on another couple of calls, they did send a team to assist us in case there was a problem. We knew we needed to either get him moving and have the SAR team help us with him if he couldn't make it or just call a helicopter to evacuate him before it got dark. He started feeling a little better and decided to try to get down on his own.

Here he is leaving the aid station. My red shirt looks absolutely huge on him but he sure looks a lot better than he did when he arrived.

After descending some and drinking more of the electrolyte drink, his condition improve quickly and soon he was running down the mountain ahead of the sweep. I believe he even finished the race.

Way to go Phil!

It was a lot of fun and between myself and another aid station person, we got a lot of pictures of the runners. I don't know if we got everyone, but we came close. I hope to be back up there for the Kat'cina Mosa 100K this August.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Yikes! 6 Months!

It looks like I ought to use this a little more. Here's a quick update just to make sure that my blog doesn't get flagged as "inactive" (as if it ever was anything else).