Submerged Servers Are More Efficient Than Landlubber Servers

computer screen

A few years ago Microsoft decided to sink a data centre and see how well it performs. The short answer is: well, the underwater server farm did just fine. This is significant because it proves that underwater data centres are feasible and, to Microsoft’s surprise can be more reliable.

Data centres take a lot of energy to keep cool so by putting it in the water the cooling system uses the chilly waters surrounding it. The carbon footprint of these underwater systems is potentially smaller too since instead of running massive air conditioners (which consume a lot of energy) they are using their local environment.

Their first conclusion is that the cylinder packed with servers had a lower failure rate than a conventional data centre.
When the container was hauled off the seabed around half a mile offshore after being placed there in May 2018, just eight out of the 855 servers on board had failed.
That compares very well with a conventional data centre.
“Our failure rate in the water is one-eighth of what we see on land,” says Ben Cutler, who has led what Microsoft calls Project Natick.

Read more.

Play Games and use Your Computer to Fight COVID-19

lab

Without a doubt these are exceptional times; I cannot think of another moment in history in which capitalist democracies basically put their economies on hold to protect people. COVID-19 is causing great harm and we have a chance to do all our parts to fight it. The most important thing is to practice social distancing as much as possible.

Use your work computer and your own to passively help researchers using BOINC. It’s a way to use your computational powers to help researchers run simulations to better understand the Coronavirus.

While you’re staying away from people you can play Foldit@Home to help researchers working on COVID-19. Previously Foldit successfully solved an enzyme problem which AIDs researchers were facing. So now is our chance to play games to help fight COVID-19.

Foldit is a free, online game that anyone in the world can download and run on their Mac, Linux, or Windows PC. The main drive of Foldit is our science puzzles. These are weekly challenges that we refresh every week . . . that are directly related to research we’re doing here in the lab at the Institute for Protein Design or in our other labs. Foldit players can participate in the science puzzles. . .  [which] are constructed in such a way that competing players who develop high-scoring solutions make meaningful research contributions.

Read more.

Thanks to Neva!

Dead Laptops are Fantastic Sources for new Projects

E-Waste continues to be a growing problem in our waste streams. This is unfortunate since it doesn’t need to be this way as people can use computers for longer, or, use the laptop for parts. In the video above you can get some really neat ideas for DIY projects all from reusing parts from a dead laptop. Some are practical like reusing the hard drive while others are more for fun. Either way, it’s worth a watch.

How to wire up laptop screen backlights: https://youtu.be/Y2KK4YiOO1o DIY Secondary Screen (from laptop screen): https://youtu.be/CfirQC99xPc Dual Screen Laptop Project: https://youtu.be/J2aY6cvk-WI DIY Smart Mirror: https://youtu.be/puFSdfIRNIw CCTV from laptop webcams: https://youtu.be/CouxmNqxO4A Media PC project: https://youtu.be/e3fnsGHe8eE

A Helping Hand for Shaky Mice

Almost everybody uses a computer daily, even those with involuntary muscle movements. The inability to effectively use a mouse as a result of a lack of muscle control bothered one programmer enough to create a solution. SteadyMouse is a Windows-only piece of software that makes it easier for people with Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis to navigate their computers using a mouse. Software solutions like this are always nice to see to make computers more accessible.

I was unable to find a Mac equivalent (although the built-in accessibility tools may cover this issue), nor a Linux version. If you find similar software please share in the comments.

SteadyMouse is assistive software, designed from the ground up to be your fierce ally against Essential Tremor and the variants that often accompany Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

By detecting and removing shaking motion before it reaches your cursor, and by blocking accidental clicks, the entire mouse experience goes from a chaotic battle to an enjoyable reality.

Check it out.

Compute a Little More Green

I tend to use computers daily and I like the environment, so I like to be as green as possible while on the ol’ computer machine. PC World has five tips for greener computing.

There’s also global shutdown day.

5. FIND A NEW HOME FOR YOUR OLD TECH
So you’re getting ready to upgrade to a new computer, but you’ve discovered that you have no room in the closet for the old one because it’s already filled with a decade’s worth of obsolete technology. What to do? One solution is to recycle your old gadgets by bringing them somewhere where they’ll be disposed of properly. You can find a list of services in your area by checking out Earth 911’s Web site, which tells you where to dispose of everything from batteries to toner cartridges to the 386 you’ve had knocking around since the first George Bush was in office.

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