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  Current Time:April 20, 2019, 01:13:46 AM
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Topic: Handy crunching software tips! (Read 4300 times) Print

Group: Global Moderator
Position: Board Regular

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Posts: 236

Here is a thread for members to share any software tips with other crunchers.

Please only make recommendations on this thread. If you want to discuss the pros and cos of any of these items, please start a new thread in the Software forum.

My first one is this...

I have a number of laptops which I keep in a stack to keep them out of the way (with coolers in between of course). There are a couple of useful programs I use to access them:

Real VNC

This is a very useful application that runs as a server on the target devices and allows me to control them using a remote desktop. The refresh rate is very good, it can be passworded and even encrypted. I find that I can do anything I want to with the laptops using this application. Note that when VNC is in use and you are remote controlling your device it will take about 10-20% of the processing power away from your grid agent, but when you're not connected, it will sit there without any impact.

Another issue I have with my stack of laptops is that the power button is at the top of the keyboard. This is no problem if I'm shutting them down as I can do this using VNC, but I would have to open the lid to start them up which was fiddly and involved taking the stack apart each time.

To resolve this, I have loaded on an app called:

Beyond Remote

It is similar to Real VNC in that it allows you to remote control a device across your network by controlling the desktop. It isn't as good as VNC in my opinion, the refresh rate isn't as fast and it doesn't have the same functionality. It does however feature something that Real VNC does not, which is a "Wake-on-LAN" setting. For those who are not familiar with this, there should be a setting in the BIOS for wake on LAN which allows a remote computer to send a signal to the hardware address of the network card and prompt the machine to boot.

All that is required to run this is to enable WOL in the BIOS and to load the app onto the machines. There is no monkeying around with the registry, Power Management settings or hibernation settings as with some apps.

I tried 3 different apps with Wake-on-LAN functionality and this was the only one that I could get to work with my laptops.

Note: There should be no hardware requirements if you have a built-in network card (on the Motherboard). If using a separate NIC, you will need to ensure that the 3 pin WOL connection on the card has a connection to the WOL pins on the Motherboard. If using a PCMCIA/PC Card in a laptop, then it has to be Wake-on-LAN capable.

I use Real VNC for all remote control requirements and Beyond Remote just to boot up. The great thing about both of these apps is that they are free to use for personal/home use.

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Dark Angel

Position: Just Plain Smappy

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Posts: 16771

Only slightly cranky

A little tip I found useful:

If you're crunching on a machine, disable services that you are DEFINATELY not using. 
For example, I have two blind crunchers.  Obviously, having no monitors they don't require screen savers, so I disable them.  I never print from either of them, so I disable the print servers etc.  Neither unit has any need for sound, so I disable it's service as well.  Also, turn off power management.  Some laptops in particular will scale back the cpu speed if no process over a certain priority is running.  Since most DC projects work at idle priority they often fall below this level.

You will probably find that there is no need for the serial, parallel, firewire, USB, game or MIDI ports on systems like these as well.  Disable them in BIOS.  That way the cpu doesn't waste cycles checking for activity on those ports.  Also, allocate as little system memory to video as possible. 

Another little thing is to set your bios to return to previous state after a power failure and set the OS to automatically log the default user back in.  That's assuming you're not working as root/Administrator.  If you are  Shocked don't.

"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." -Terry Pratchett
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