Jordan Westhoff

Jordan Westhoff's Blog


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2015 Updates

Wow, 2015 was a busy year! Due to a lot of time commitments and several big projects I wasn’t able to update as often as I wanted to. Luckily, I’m back in Rochester after a wonderful Christmas and New Years break so I figured I’d catch y’all up!

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First off, I’m working on updating all of my pages, on this page and abroad. It’s been a while on some of them, and a lot of information needs to be updated. I’ll post notifications as they get updated but for starters I’ve updated my About Me page. This is a great look at what I’m currently working on as well as some of my upcoming projects.

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Cerberus – the mythical three headed beast.

The last several months have been filled with productivity for my thesis project. As well as making lots of imaging headway, I’ve been able to bring up several websites that point to the project. Each of these updates dynamically as the project is updated, thanks to the merits of rsync and GitHub Pages. The main page for the project can be found here, in the form of a wiki: Senior Thesis Wiki. Also, thanks to GitHub hosting, pages with information about the Cerberus cluster (the computational engine I designed to run my thesis software) have been posted that update as well: Cerberus Cluster Page. All of these pages have been written with simplicity in mind to make it easy to understand regardless of the computational awareness of the reader. I named the project Cerberus because it focuses on the collaboration of multiple ‘heads’ or computational assets to accomplish a singular goal.

That’s all I have for now, but check back soon! I’ve been crunching all of the data that I worked with in 2014 and I’m preparing a pretty cool stats page in order to make that data come alive through infographics. Thanks for reading!

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FreeNAS, woo!

Hello all,

The last couple weeks have been busy but I’ve made significant progress on a lot of the projects I posted about last and figured I’d share some of the gory details from the tech spehere.

First off, the FreeNAS server is finally up and running. FreeNAS is a freely distributed version of the FreeBSD operation built specifically for engineering a personal or enterprise level Network Attached Storage server (NAS). Since I have a solid array of computers and Dropbox is very limiting, I figured that with the insane bandwidth RIT offers student, it would be an infinitely valuable addition to my computing fleet.

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The welcome screen of FreeBSD based FreeNAS

I decided to repurpose a sever that I was running Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Edition on. Since FreeNAS is best run using the ZFS file system which requires 64 bit, I decided to utilize one of the blade servers from my rack – a Dell CS24-SC Cloud Server header. Dual Intel Xeon quad core processors will handle all of the work, and it has enough RAM (16 gigabytes) to handle all of the serving very capably. Installed are 6 Terabytes of information (2x2tb drives and 2x1tb drives) which should be plenty of storage to host all of my common files.

Since I am using all three major operating systems to access these files (OS X, Windows and Linux) I decided to also set up a variety of shares from within the freeNAS setup. This includes a Samba/CIFS share for Windows machines to access from (one of my personal laptops and two of my other servers), an AFP (Apple File Protocol) share for my personal workstation MacBook Pro and all of the school lab machines and a couple office machines, as well as a NFS share for Linux access.

On top of this, I decided to enable SSH and FTP/SFTP access so access from pretty much any device is guaranteed! A week or so ago I migrated all of my common data over to the server once it was running and I tested the validity of the drives. Let me tell you, moving 5.5 terabytes of information takes a loooooong time! Most of the slowdown was the result of moving files over LAN rather than something like FireWire, Thunderbolt or USB 3.0, however it still clocked along at a very good pace since my apartment is very well connected – RIT gives each of us several gigabit (10/100/1000) access jacks in each apartment and the network is full fiber! This makes accessing the files remotely very, very handy since the speeds support even the most intensive tasks (even streaming Blu-Ray content from computer to computer on campus!).

My final goal for the project is to open up a drive on the server to use for various Apple Time Machine backups, I’ll keep you all posted, thanks for stopping by!


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Mining

Recently, given the massive expansion of internet interest in crypto currency, I decided to start to explore the concept and application of “mining”. This process refers to the massive application of CPU or GPU power to determine and calculate very large numerical strings that can be used as currency across the internet. 

Since I run far more computing equipment than I do graphics work, I decided to go with Primecoin (XPM) and devote a significant amount of my computing resources for a day to the process and see what I could accomplish. The task overall wasn’t too complicated, after the creation of an account at ypool.net to get started (this was the pool that I decided to pick for simplicity’s sale) all I had to do was download a couple applications and get going! After downloading one of the more efficient miners <jhPrimeMiner T17v8> it was a simple matter of editing a couple Windows Batch files and slaving the units to my Ypool.Net account. This is what my setup looks like on screen now when mining at full bore.

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Snapshot of my desktop while CPU mining Primecoins

Here you can see that the miner is running in the command prompt under administrator. Task manager reports that each of my PowerEdge Xeon cores are running at full throttle which is actually surprising given the individual core temperatures reported by my CoreTemp utility. Since this is an enterprise level machine, cooling turns out to be the least of my worries, which was one of my biggest concerns going into the operation. In addition to this machine, I have three other machines slaved so we will see how profitable it becomes!

Got any questions about mining? Leave them in the comments section below!


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FreeNAS Adventure!

After a full day of work with RIT and a client of mine yesterday, I sat down in the evening and began work on one of the projects I’ve been planning for a while. 

Contrary to my initial goals, I decided to convert one of my Dell CS rack servers to a FreeNAS server instead of using the NZXT case that I had. This is because once racked, the unit has far better network connections (quad gigabit NIC!) and around the clock uptime since they are hosted from a datacenter and live under redundant power and power supply backups!

FreeNAS is an awesome software distribution I’ve used pretty frequently in the past, but with the update to Version 8, a lot of new features are available making it one of the most versatile systems to date. 

Once burned to a USB drive in a live ISO form, I was able to smoothly progress through the install phase! I chose to ran the new version with the ZFS+ file system, since the Dell server unit I have utilizes dual quad core Xeon’s and has 16gb of RAM. 

After the install, a beautiful interface was presented. Pretty impressive is that the system idle’s at %99.96 idle CPU load. Combined with 8tb of storage and I’d say we have a solid serving platform, accessible from Apple OS X, Windows and UNIX!

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Upgrades, Upgrades, Upgrades

Hey All!

With my return to Rochester, New York to spend a couple weeks working before the next academic semester, I’ll be posting a lot of neat content relevant to the assortment of projects I have planned! Here’s a quick breakdown!

Moving some servers around! I’ll be converting a Windows 7 server to a CentOS server to host this website on! I’ve been using WordPress for a significant period of time and it’s been great! The problem is WordPress’s business plan and pay per add on web features when you host through their web service. After some work with CentOS, I realized I have plenty of power to be hosting else where! I’ll still be running WordPress, the new version 3.8 is pretty snappy! But I want more power with hosting and SEO and back end programming, so hosting locally it is! As a note, if this site goes offline for a couple of days, don’t be alarmed!!

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Building another NAS! I have the parts, the case, (beautiful NZXT 210 Elite in sleek black) and the drives, but now it’s time for the build and setup! It’s going to be a real cool setup on the inside so I’ll be sure to post photos! I’ve been hosting somewhat of a local datacenter for my operations, clients and products but now it’s time to make a bit more of a contiguous storage pool, especially given RIT’s internet speeds here! The power supply is coming in in two days and then building will go forward pretty quickly! This should comfortably keep my storage ceiling around 20tb, even with redundancy and network shares!

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On top of this, I will also be setting up my final server as a general use server, with a file system and user access panel. Currently experimenting with Windows Server 2012 datacenter Edition, but also looking into Ubuntu Server and the possibility of adding in another CentOS machine! With all of these installs, I’ve tapped out all of our networking opportunities so I’ll be installing a mid sized rack switch and firewalls. Time to take this setup to a full blown cluster now that I have the capabilities for web serving, file serving and administration and distributed rendering and computational engines. Hopefully the setup starts to look a bit more professional as well, as compared to the humble beginnings of the project, shown below!

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The humble beginnings of my growing server setup.


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2014 Update!

Hey all!

It’s been a busy couple of months (okay, lot of months!) since I’ve posted recently, but I’m happy to say I’ll be back a bit more often now. I’ve been doing a large amount of back end server maintenance, as well as being loaded with coursework from the now past Fall Semester. I am still attending RIT in Rochester New York and recently completed one of my best academic semester to date. 

As a result of this, I have tons of new content to post! A lot of this is Matlab related, some of it is project related and a whole lot of it is systems administration and BackTrack related! Look for updates in the next couple days! Also, feel free to poke around the site, the infrastructure has undergone an incredible overhaul so there’s new content everywhere!