Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ansys Workbench: Tips and Tricks

Flowthrough / Continuous mesh
- This is accomplished in Ansys Classic through the use of the VGLUE command. It basically knitts the shared surfaces of two volumes forcing node-to-node continuity. In Workbench you simply select the desired bodies in the Design Modeler and use "Form new part." Now when you bring them into simulation contact will not be formed between them, instead the elements at the shared surface will be joined by sharing nodes.

"Failed to submit solve job"
- I'm not sure exactly why this error came about, as indicated by it's relative vagueness, but by simply closing other programs and remeshing I was able to get it to solve.

CAD/FEA Tips and Tricks

Being of generation Y, I have grown up using the web as my infinite help file, diy resource, and general question answerer. If I have a random thought or question my first "quick-glance" resource is to type it in a search engine in the form of a question, "how thick is a human hair?" Having recently entered the workforce I continue the same habit even when it invoves using much more advanced tools, "how do I [insert something relatively advanced/complicated] in [inster program]." When using programs like Solidworks, Unigraphics, Ansys Classic or Ansys Workbench the web is almost devoid (not entirely though) of usefull suggestions or explainations of even the most common problems. As a result, from now on when I figure out a unwebumented issue I'll try and post it.

Here is an index of the relevant tool/program posts: (if it isn't hyperlinked, that means it hasn't been created yet)

FTP Server Capacity Upgrade: Adding a Second Drive to the DNS-323

For the past couple months the server has been sitting at around 95-99% capacity, which on a 1TB drive means about 950-990GB of data. Six months ago was the first time the server filled up and as a result I was relegated to DVD burning duty for an entire weekend. As it becomes harder and harder to choose which programs/movies/shows to take of the server I decided (with the helpful funds of an anonymous contributor) to invest in increasing the capacity of the server by 1.5X. Here's the drive that I purchased:

Last night the server went down for a couple hours while I added and formatted the second drive. For those of you with a DNS-323 of your own be sure to remove the first drive or when asked to format it can wipe the original! After adding a second drive I now have a bit of a file structure issue. Because I'm not using any form of raid, both drives show up a separate volumes and as such, I need to chose which files to migrate to the new drive. The division needs to make sense and be somewhat functional. Decisions, decisions. In the meantime, the server is back up, happy downloading!

The addition of this drive brings my entire hard drive data space (if we include CDs and DVDs the number roughly doubles) to... 1TB+1.5TB+500GB+500GB+160GB+320GB = ~4TB!!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What Grinds My Gears - Take 4

Today's grind my gears is going to have a work related theme. I wonder why...

  • The use of stock clipart in business presentations. Seriously, are we in 5th grade still where this is acceptable?
  • The use of ridiculously large picture files in presentations when they are only going to be made the size of a thumbnail. Resize people! (20mb 5 slide presentation is unacceptable)

  • Out of control acronyms (Universities are just as bad sometimes)

  • Phrases like, "think outside the box," "exciting time to be in this business"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Ultimate Backup Solution

I'm not a stranger to data loss. I have had a total of 4 hard drive failures, 2 of which resulted in important (personal) data loss, of which one was successfully recovered by a data specialist company, one of which all hope was lost. Read: gone forever.

I definitely took these experiences in stride, and learned to adjust my data habits to be more resilient to hard drive failures, or freak accidents. Here is opinion of an ultimate backup solution:

1. Digital Backups - these are a must for catching small data losses in between the complete hardware backups
  • SyncBack - I can't say enough good things about this program. It is by far the most user friendly and quickest to set up, but at the same time remains completely customizable for power users like myself. And to top it off, it's FREE. Make sure to do test runs and periodically make sure it has completed runs. Haven't had a problem yet, but you can't be too sure.
  • Weekly - at a bare minimum they should be weekly backups, and if you're constantly taking pictures/movies or working on projects it should really be daily.
  • Completely Different Hard Drive - this is a must. If you just back up the data to a different location on the same drive you might save yourself from the most benign data corruption issue, but anything more and you're data is toast, along with your backup. If need be purchase a small external hard drive or at the rate thumb/flash drive capacities are increasing one of those might work.
2. Hardcopy Backups - If anyone tells you that having just a digital backup is adequate, they clearly haven't met Murphy. That and something called an electrical spike.
  • CD/DVD Media (Tape is even better if you have enough of it) - Make sure to get a decent quality brand. You'll know you don't have one if your recording fails more than once in 10 or so discs. (either that or you're trying to multitask too much or your computer sucks)
  • Twice A year / 6 Months - I have found this to be a sufficiently frequent yet not too consuming time period between backups. If it helps, use occasions such as the new year and then mid summer to remind that it's time to backup.
  • Bare Minimum - for this backup I recommend doing just the bare minium of My Documents/Videos/Pictures etc because you don't want to go through too many DVDs and make the task too arduous.
  • Protection - Be sure not to put these backup discs back on a spool (the 25-50 set holders) because they're too prone to scratching and other damage. Instead pick up a cheap $5 disc case and use that.
  • Firesafe or Emergency Box - This one isn't required but if you're like me and your entire life is stored in a digital library I recommend putting your hardcopy backups in a small firesafe or one of those emergency boxes with your important documents. It doesn't take up much space and you can grab it quickly in an emergency.
3. Cloud Backup - I have yet to find a cost effective and speedy enough service to place my digital files online for extended periods of time in the form of backups. But this is definitely an option and one that will be increasingly viable as we move towards cloud computing (all data online).

As any conscious netizen should do, please do your own research and make up your own mind. Don't blame me for anything that happens to your data, my suggestions are exactly that. That being said, I hope that I may have said something that will help your data be more secure.

What Grinds My Gears - Take 3

Another edition of what grinds my gears. Feel free to contribute your own and I'll post them in the next edition.

  • Guys who put on underwear/pants last (even after socks!) when changing
  • People who stand ridiculously close behind you when you're using an ATM
  • People who take up both gas pumps with their car
  • People who stop at a light really close to the car in front of them so they can't start moving until the car in front gets far enough away. (I may come up with a mathmatical model to prove how dumb they are)
  • People who assume a $200 camera will take as good a picture as a $2000 one... SERIOUSLY!?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cross-fire FTW: Benchmarks of Improvement

Yesterday I received a first-of-a-kind package, my first second GPU! This is quite the milestone in my book. I've always wanted to have two GPU's in one of my desktops and I finally decided it was worth it to put off an upgrade for 6-12 months. Here's what I ordered:

I decided to throw the fan in for good measure because one of my fans has been periodically turning off and with two GPU's I don't want to risk an overheat. Plus... it's BLUE!

My original card is:

For the love of me I can't figure out why I originally paid twice as much for the Diamon card when I could have gotten two Sapphire's for the same amount. Other than the fact that it had a full 5 eggs, takes up two expansion slots and is pretty (also possibly factory overclocked) they're basically the same card. So now I have the Diamond Viper Radeon HD 3870 512MB cross-fired with a Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 512MB. Just like Dyno-ing a stock car before you mod it (LINK TO POST ABOUT MODDERS), of course I had to benchmark my computer to get the before and after performance. I am more than happy with the percentage performance improvement for the given cost - compared to upgrading the system. Here are the numbers:

I'm not sure why the CPU scaled up at all but it's not that significant when compared to the overall score improvement which is ~35%. That's pretty huge if you ask me. I know it's not double, but I wasn't expecting perfectly scaled results. Who knows... maybe overclocking is what I need to get that CPU score somewhere respectable. [Insert diabolical laugh]

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

1st Wakeboarding Weekend - Summer 2009

Last weekend, June 6-7, was the first official wakeboarding weekend of summer '09. The original date that Andrew and I had planned for was almost a month prior... which given how cold the water was last weekend, would have probably resulted in minor cases of hypothermia. Henceforth, June shall be the earliest we go wakeboarding.

The weekend was not without mechanical glitches. Despite spending a small fortune to get the dog clutch gears, the shifter cable, points and condensor replaced (FUTURE LINK TO POST), and getting the boat to start out of the water on Friday, we still had troubles when we put it in the water Saturday morning. I should have known that something was amiss when Alan and I had to use the Xterra to jumpstart the boat to get it running on Friday. We left it running for a good 10-15 minutes to make sure that the battery would charge back up for the next day.

Come Saturday morning when everyone is anxious to get on the water, we put the boat in and already the battery was completely dead; the lower unit wouldn't even move. Fortunately a friendly boater lent us his jump starter so we could get it running (using the Xterra battery itself didn't work, and only served to drain it, later requiring a jumpstart from Andrew's WRX). After motoring around for a good 20 minutes we returned to the dock, just in case, to stop and start the engine. Guess what, she didn't start. We pulled the boat out of the water and tested the battery at a marina no more than 50 yards away. Just what you'd expect, completely dead. The fact that the alternator wouldn't charge the battery combined with it only producing 12V of power (compared the standard 13-14V) I decided to replace the alternator as well as the battery. A good $260 later we had a boat that started without even needing to give it gas. That is unheard of. The VIP hasn't started that well in around 5 years.

By the time we got back to lock 7, had a barbq and got out on the water, it was around 5pm. It was completely worth the time and price of the repair because the boat runs beautifully, now reaching 38.1mph versus 32.3mph before (using GPS). Plus, in the words of Alex, people seriously underestimate the value of peace of mind.

Check out the wakeboarding pictures and video here (FUTURE LINK TO GALLERY)

Stock Alerts and Dividend Reinvestment - Enough to transfer from Scottrade to Zecco

My original motivation behind opening an account with Zecco was the 10 free trades they offered every month. But after the stock market plummetted at the end of '08 they couldn't afford to continue to offer free trades. Instead they now offer trades at $4.50, still half that of Scottrade's $7 fee.

An online broker is about much more than just the trade fee. Since opening my Zecco account I have steadily been more impressed with thier offering. Two features that came to my attention recently that pushed them over-the-top in my book. Stock Alerts and Dividend Reinvestment. Depending on how busy things are at work or at home, I can sometimes go a couple days without checking on my stocks. In the past I have set up alerts using but they are not always on time. (Being notified 2 hours after a ralley isn't all that helpful) Zecco offers alerts based on, $ change, % change, volume increase/decrese from 15-day average, 52-week high/low and a couple other more advanced ones. In addition to a primary email they allow you to send alerts to a secondary location, be it another email... or a phone! (in my case an iPhone) This means that if I set my alerts correctly I don't have to constantly watch my stocks - or even be at my computer - to buy at a great deal or get out at a great profit.

Zecco also offers dividend reinvestment to those stocks that offer it a DRIP (Dividend Reinvestment Program). The caveat to this is that they only deal with whole stocks so if you get a dividend of $15 for a $10 stock, and you have it set to reinvest, you end up with 1 stock and $5 in cash to your account. That is worlds better than no offering at all like Scottrade.

I submitted my account transfer form (ACAT) via email yesterday to transfer all of my assets from Scottrade to my Zecco account. Because Zecco deals in only complete shares any partial shares will be liquidated, which isn't a big deal to me. Zecco also doesn't charge for transfer-in and Scottrade doesn't charge for transfers period so it all works out. Here's hoping it doesn't actually take the expected 20-days to go through!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sections of Future Site

The future site will not take the form of a blog. Instead it will be a sort of life portfolio with diy projects and trip documentation.

Sections of future site:

DIY Projects:

  • Boat
  • Car
  • Architecture
  • Circuitry


  • Architecture Models
  • CAD Models/Drawings
  • 3D Scenes/Renders


  • Family Vacations
  • Hiking
  • Snowboarding
  • Wakeboarding


  • Investing

More to come...