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Aaron Harper
Works at Issyroo Farms LLC.
Attends American Public University System
Lives in Walsenburg, CO
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Aaron Harper

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I have been limping along with my old PC for a while now.  What was once a high end Dell workstation, now a frankenputer, has served me well for years.  Last week it started having hardware trouble that indicates the fault is either the CPU or motherboard.  Additionally, my needs have evolved and will continue to do so.  

I need a new computer and I want to hear what others think I should use.

I am not married to any particular architecture or brand, but I use open source software and hardware where possible as both a cost control measure and for transparency.  I have a strong interest in reducing power consumption (the new lab will be off grid), but not at the cost of capability.  My current and future uses for a computer are as follows, in order of priority, not necessarily frequency of use:

1. CAD / CAM workstation.  My models have moved from simple geometries to multipart assemblies with articulations and structural analysis.  It is likely that I will add 3D scanning and vision processing within the next 2 years, increasing the computational and memory demands considerably.  I use dual monitors for this type of task.

2. Spreadsheets. Yeah, I know that this is usually no big deal, but the spreadsheets I make range from financial / economic analysis (no big deal) to communication link budgets for deep space probes and sensor data correlation and analysis (a big deal, especially if a fourier transformation is required).

3. Research.  When I am doing research I will generally have many PDF documents open, a word processor, a spreadsheet or two (see above), and a web browser with a ton of tabs, etc.  It adds up quickly and the longer it takes to get the data and move it, the slower the progress.  I use dual monitors for this type of task.

4. Coding.  We haven't done much coding for projects, but once projects reach a certain maturity this will change.  While compiling a program for the system itself or other platforms (I do embedded Linux work), I need the ability to continue working without a major slowdown.    I use dual monitors for this type of task.

5. Magnetic field and CFD analysis.  This has become much more complex over the last 2 years.  My current PC has been crunching the same 18-26GB dataset for 2 weeks and was only 30% done.  More analysis tasks with more detail are coming for future projects over the next 2-3 years.  This task usually runs in the background.

6. Virtualization.  Unfortunately much of the software I need to run is not available on the same platform as the other important software.  While much of this is a choice and preference, some is not.  As an example, I need to run GNU Radio and GPredict under Linux and AGI's Satellite ToolKit (STK) under Windows concurrently, sharing data.

7. Video processing.  As my projects mature, I would love to share the build, testing, and documentation in both written and video format.  Doing a little post production on the videos would make them better, and I would not mind publishing a weekly vlog.  I see this becoming a large amount of the work volume over the next year to two years.

8. Software defined radio and similar spectrum processing tasks.  While not terribly intensive over a long term, these tasks can be quite computationally intensive in bursts.  I don't anticipate a change in the moderate amount of work I do in this area, though the complexity may increase, and with it the computational requirements.

9. Communication and data entry.  My use of social media and email for communication is fairly typical.  Neither this nor data entry tasks are a major factor in the selection of the new PC since much of this will be automatic and/or involve a tablet, chromebook, or smartphone.

I am evaluating 4 different options in meeting my computational needs over the next 3-5 years.  The possibilities are as follows:

1. Do I buy a new PC, and if so, what?  I have a fairly generous budget in mind, but this would remove funds from other projects, delaying them further.

2. Do I build a PC, and if so, what specs / components?  I am no stranger to building a PC from components, having been a PC tech and modder since the original IBM PC.

3. Do I build a computer using a different architecture (eg. ARM / cell processing supercomputer), and if so, what specs / components?  I can do this, but the system's capabilities must be compelling to offset the time spent on learning curves and tweaking.

4. Do I build / purchase multiple PCs dedicated to specific tasks, and if so, how are the tasks split and how is the communications between them handled?  This is a possibility, but the increased cost and energy consumption must be offset by parallel speed and reliability.

Please cast your vote and comment below.  If you have another solution, please comment as well.  Thanks for the time. :)
16 votes  -  votes visible to Public
Buy a new workstation
Build a new workstation
Build a supercomputer
Buy or build task specific machines
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Cool. Then should all work.
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Aaron Harper

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                      A Life Has Ended

A life has ended, with the passing of a friend,
the memories of times, have come to an end,
their threads wove the fabric of an earlier day.

A life has ended, with the passing of a friend,
sunrises and sunsets, bright days and dark nights
circled again and again, and gave context to this life,
moment after moment, their life was lived each day.

A life has ended, with the passing of a friend,
lives have been touched by the dear one's journey,
laughter, tears, hopes, fears, a life has come to an end 
memories hold their spirit alive, in my own life.

A life has ended, with the passing of a friend,
the loss of future moments, that will not be,
grateful for moments shared, that nourished me,
moments lived, in casual belief, they would never end.

A part of me has ended, with the passing of a friend,
be they gone from the earthly plane, their spirit soars,
to renew again, in summerland, heaven or another life,
I know not where, but their love remains with me,
for in this life, we friends, did share.

I miss my friend, but they will always be near, inside
of me, inside you, and all who took time to hear,
the music of this life so dear, a life now silent,
living only in the memory, of those who survive.


John Thomas, TSgt USAF, Assistant director of the Spanish Peaks Library District, aka. Juan del Oso in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), Father (step, adopted, and natural), and dear friend passed away at 3am this morning.  Brother, may you rest finding peace and happiness among the warm breezes and soft grass of the Summerland until you are ready to climb upon the wheel to go round once more.

Poem courtesy of Abby Willowroot from Life Changes, InterFaith Prayers & Blessings by Abby Willowroot (c) 2009
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+Barb Hewitt thanks. I'll take all I can get.:)
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The host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight has delivered an expletive-filled defence of French values in the face of the ‘bankrupt ideology’ of the terrorists
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Just when you think you know...
It's going to be okay.

Normally, anything from The Oatmeal goes in my humour collection, but not this one. 
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Lori K
+Jim Carver true...but as Dan said entertainment/fiction certainly has merit. ;)
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Novena: A Laptop with No Secrets
How we built a laptop with nothing but open-sourced hardware and software
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Aaron Harper

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Please help and/or spread the word!

As many of you know, John Thomas, A disabled veteran, cancer survivor, Assistant director of the Spanish Peaks Library District, aka. Juan del Oso in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), Father (step, adopted, and natural), community builder, and dear friend to all passed away early on the 21st of this month after a sudden and catastrophic illness.  

His fiancee, Beth has been saddled with many bills, but because they were not married, she does not stand to receive any benefits despite their long relationship.  Further, their accounts and benefits are unavailable to her now that he is gone, even though they were due to wed this August.  Please help Beth through this crisis if you can.
Our dear friend, John Thomas, was a Disabled Veteran and cancer survivor that never let his physical issues slow him down. He worked at the Spanish Peaks library wearing many hats. John was the computer go-to guy, the walking reference on Science Fiction, and he always had a hug or smile for thos...
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A dear friend of mine, family for all intents and purposes, is in ICU and has practically no chance of survival.  Warm thoughts, prayers, energy, and whatever else your cosmology calls positive support for the family is greatly appreciated.

On a related note:  I will probably be unavailable or at least have limited availability over the next week.  If I don't respond, I am neither dead in a ditch nor ignoring you. :)
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John Thomas, TSgt USAF, Assistant director of the Spanish Peaks Library District, aka. Juan del Oso in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), Father (step, adopted, and natural), and dear friend passed away at 3am this morning.  

Brother, may you rest finding peace and happiness among the warm breezes and soft grass of the Summerland until you are ready to climb upon the wheel to go round once more.
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Quite a useful device, though control of the load is not an option, only measurement.
PowerBlade: a plug-load power meter that communicates to smartphones over BLE

We are interested in the power consumed in our homes, in our offices, and throughout our lives. We purchased several off-the-shelf plug load meters like Kill-A-Watt, and although these devices are highly accurate they are not particularly useful. The main drawback is size – they are simply so large that they block adjacent outlets. Even with 5+ in my apartment it felt overwhelming, how was I going to get the 50 needed to measure every load? And that doesnt even count the cost of these units, both in up-front purchase price and in power consumed while in use. 

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An ARM based system that beats an i7 in raw power*, and of course in power consumption!

* in certain benchmarks.  Fortunately, these benchmarks actually matter to me. :)  h/t to Slashdot
Phoronix is the leading technology website for Linux hardware reviews, open-source news, Linux benchmarks, open-source benchmarks, and computer hardware tests.
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Got it in...  now to have the time to dink with it.
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50 shades of gray for seniors

Back and forth... Back and forth. .In and out... In and out. A little to the right, a little to the left.  She could feel the sweat on her forehead,
between her breasts, and, trickling down the small of her back.

She was getting near to the end. He was in ecstasy with a huge smile on his face as his wife moved. Forwards then backwards...  Forward then backward... Again and again.

Her heart was pounding now.Her face was flushed. She moaned, softly at first, then began to groan louder.  Finally, totally exhausted,she let out a piercing scream:

"OK, OK, you smug bastard, I can't parallel park. You do it!"  

h/t to +Carolyn Sudar 
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Issyroo Farms is now the proud owners of a piece of lakefront property. While it is not ideal for the farm due to it's long and narrow aspect, and that it is zoned residential, it can be made to work, and the price was right.

Once all the legalities are dealt with, we will evaluate whether to resell it for a profit or use it ourselves.
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Be happy to help out where I can.
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I build things that makes science fiction a reality.
Electronic, Mechanical, Aerospace Engineering / Economics, Workforce, and Economic Development
  • Issyroo Farms LLC.
    Technical Lead, 2012 - present
  • Ahead Research Corporation
    CTO, Chief Designer, 1988 - 2013
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Walsenburg, CO
Cut Bank, MT - Bozeman, MT - Tucson, AZ - Carmichael, CA - Worms, Germany - Hampton, VA - Nashville, TN - Lacey, WA - Cocoa Beach, FL - Mobile, AL - London, UK - Kalgoorlie, WA - Christchurch, NZ
Per scien et fortitudae ad plurum mundi inter astra.

My name is Aaron Harper, and I am self-employed. If this sounds like an Alcoholics Anonymous or other support group introduction, perhaps it is. What started out as a plan to create my own business has become a source of incredible opportunities.

As a young boy, my father took me to see the last Apollo launch. I can still remember feeling rather than hearing those five F-1 engines light off and watching those three brave men being accelerated through the night sky on a pillar of flame. So began my obsession with aerospace. I earned a degree in Electronic Engineering specializing in communications and robotics. During the eighties NASA wasn't doing much that I was qualified for and civilian aerospace didn't exist the way we know it now. I started a small aerospace company to address the needs of the civilian aerospace companies that I knew were just around the corner... but that took another 15-20 years to materialize. In the mean time, the closest I could get to space was the Air Force, so I joined. Up to this point, the business was largely used as an intellectual property holding company.

After I left the military, I moved to a sleepy little southern Colorado town in 2002. I brought that little aerospace firm with me and shifted gears. We reorganized in order to manage and develop the intellectual property I and others in the organization had worked on over the years.  The low prices in the area allowed us to expand more than we would have otherwise, using several buildings and resources in the area for office, lab, and test facilities. Once testing started we quickly discovered that the relative isolation of the town was a boon to research. Things progressed much more quickly than we had even hoped. Preliminary tests of our assemblies were overwhelmingly positive, and even the couple of catastrophic failures we had in the lab and on the pad gave us much more data than they cost.

Soon after, I was appointed to the regional Colorado Workforce Investment Board to represent my region to state leadership. While performing my duties I proposed “out of the box” solutions with clear and measurable results. I was elected chairman of the South Central Colorado Workforce Investment Board, and currently serve on the Colorado Rural Workforce Development Council on the Executive, Economic Development, and Technology committees.  During this time I studies economics, ran an IT shop, cultivated the aerospace business, and home-schooled my daughter through her high school years.

Finding that I need the knowledge of a Space Studies Degree, I enrolled in American Public University's Space Studies program. Over the next five years I will fully develop the aerospace products we have designed over the years into products and service offerings that will make spaceflight less expensive, less risky, and commonplace. My goal thereafter is to retire by age 60, which is coming up much faster than I had planned.  

In retrospect I find that I'm not doing all of this for my ego, nor am I motivated by money. When my state's unemployment numbers drop it makes me smile, thinking I was responsible for some small part of that. When a project I have been working on for a long time works better than I had dreamed, it puts spring in my step. These all pale to the times when my sixteen year old daughter, who is a biology major in college now, looks at me and says “Daddy, I am proud of you”. That makes it all worthwhile at the end of the day.

Bragging rights
I change my world.
  • American Public University System
    Space Studies, 2012 - present
  • ITT Technical Institute
    Electronics Engineering, 1985 - 1986
  • University of Arizona
    Electrical Engineering, 1986 - 1988
Basic Information
Aaron Harper's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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On this episode of Tech Talk, a panel of experts reviews the flaws of the new iPhone 5 until more unexpected guests show up.


Michael "Egil" Hubbard is an Asatru musician, artist, runeworker.

Michael Hubbard

Michael Hubbard Lyrics, Songs, Music, and Videos by the band Michael Hubbard at ReverbNation

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See Don Pettit play with LEGOs! See him make sparks! See him make a block of styrofoam orbit a Van de Graaff generator like a little square

NASA - LED Lights Used in Plant Growth Experiments for Deep Space Missions

A group of plant biologists is seeking the answers as it works on one of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Habitation Projects.

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A list of free apps recommended by the STaRT Education Department

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opening the frontier of space to all of humanity

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Kaspersky Lab Discovers ‘Gauss’ – A New Complex Cyber-Threat Designed to Monitor Online Banking Accounts

When in haste I chose the wrong board, but didn't have time to return it and receive the correct one, their support staff went above and beyond assisting me in getting the OS and my proprietary application loaded. It worked, the customer is pleased, and so am I. A big thanks to Logic Supply and especially Jim Dines!
Public - 11 months ago
reviewed 11 months ago
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