Beehome – Two weeks later

The beehome is standing since two weeks: the number of bees hasn’t increased by a lot. There are probably two or three bees which are flying in and out the small bamboo tubes, but there is no continuous buzz. On one hand I’m relieved, on the other I start wondering where all the other bees have gone. Already “installed” in the beehome, you should receive 15 bees as starting population.  Probably it will take some more time for them to completely develop.

In any case there have been impressive changes in the small hive: multiple tubes have already been closed by the bees with mud, which means that they are already filled with eggs!

20170402_Beehome_2WeeksLater
At least six bamboo tubes have already been completely closed by the bees. Inside the tubes the bees place eggs and once finished they “close the door” with mud.

As I was there checking the progression of the work and tube counting 😉 I had the opportunity of recording the following video, which is very sweet. I’m not sure if this behaviour is an exchange of information regarding flowers (direction, distance, …) or if it  is a part of the mating process, still is very sweet to look at. Enjoy!

Swiss Folding Team: riprende il sostegno alla ricerca!

Ho scoperto questo progetto quando ancora andavo all’università: si tratta di un’attività a fin di bene in cui si regala all’Università di Stanford la potenza di calcolo dei propri computer quando non sono in uso o quando non viene sfruttata al suo massimo: il progetto si chiama Folding@home (a volte abbreviato anche come F@H o FAH).

Come funziona?

Si tratta di installare sul proprio computer un piccolo programma che è in grado di collegarsi con l’università, recuperare i dati che devono essere elaborati (definiti come Work Unit) , eseguire i calcoli ed infine inviare i risultati al laboratorio. L’intervento dell’utente è richiesto unicamente durante l’installazione e serve per indicare il proprio nome/soprannome, il codice della squadra e una passkey (fornita dall’università) che permette di identificare univocamente l’utente.

Download

Per scaricare il programma si può usare questo link.

Swiss Folding Team – Numero di squadra: 3129

Per aggiungersi alla squadra Swiss Folding Team si può inserire il codice 3129 durante la fase di iscrizione. Ad oggi la squadra è piccola e necessita di nuovi membri, fatti avanti dunque 🙂 Sarebbe fantastico poter diventare un punto di riferimento a livello Svizzero e per raggiungere questo obiettivo è necessaria la collaborazione di tutti, anche di te che stai leggendo, sia per prendere parte attivamente al progetto o anche per condividere questa idea con altri amici!

Punteggio

Per chi volesse si può controllare il proprio punteggio o quello della squadra sul sito Kakaostats.

Un po’ si gioca, un po’ si compete…

L’università è stata brava a sfruttare la competizione per far diventare la donazione più accattivante: come avete visto poco sopra per ogni Work Unit (WU) completata si riceve un punteggio: tanto più in fretta si accumulano punti, tanto più si sale in classifica.

… ed un po’ si impara! Più in dettaglio, che cos’è Folding at home?

Si tratta di una ricerca scientifica, eseguita dal Pande Lab presso l’università di Stanford, che ha l’obiettivo di individuare il processo con il quale le proteine assumono determinate strutture tridimensionali.

Perché è importante studiare questo processo?

Malattie come il Parkinson, Alzheimer, il morbo della mucca pazza e diverse tipologie di tumori potrebbero essere causate da proteine che, durante il ripiegamento su se stesse, incontrano delle difficoltà e assumono strutture scorrette che impediscono lo svolgimento della loro funzione. Studiando il processo si vuole capire come mai succedono questi errori.

Cosa ha ottenuto la ricerca sino ad oggi?

Il gruppo di ricerca, il cui direttore è Vijay Pande, è riuscito, a simulare la corretta formazione della proteina NTL9:

Di seguito un altro video che racconta come si è evoluto lo studio delle proteine:

A questo link è invece possibile leggere a quali risultati si è arrivati su molteplici delle malattie trattate.

Ma l’università non ha accesso ad un super computer per poter fare queste simulazioni da sola? Non sarebbe più efficiente?

Ho provato a fare una brevissima ricerca, che non ha nessuna intenzione di essere esaustiva, ma solo quella di dare un’idea: da quanto descritto in Wikipedia, risulta che il Centro Svizzero di Calcolo Scientifico ha una potenza di calcolo pari a 16 petaflops.

La soluzione distribuita scelta dall’università di Stanford sembra aver toccato la soglia dei 90 petaflops. Anche con tutte le approssimazioni del caso trovo il distacco veramente molto, molto grande e a favore della soluzione del calcolo distribuito!

Heating system: pressure loss

It is a few weeks that I have noticed and increasing loss of water pressure. Everything started three weeks ago, when I decided to stop the heating of the house since it was getting warmer and warmer. In that occasion I discovered that the pressure was lower of almost 0.5 bar.

I have already spoken with the plumber but he is not too sure about the reason why our heating system is loosing so much water in such a short time without leaving any kind of traces on walls, floor, whatever.

Now I have filled the system again in order to reach a pressure of about 2 bar. I’ll keep observing the manometer and see how fast it declines.

I’m starting to think that the expansion vessel might be not working correctly anymore. The name of the make is Pneumatex, while the model is Statico SD80.3Here some further specifcations.

Many weeks later I decided to try to solve the issue: have a look at the follow up!

Marinella, the famous ties shop, is leaving Lugano

Past weekend I was walking through Lugano and while looking at the shop windows I saw that Marinella is closing. Until the end of March they will still be opened and they are liquidating their inventory and you might find some interesting.

The shop address is the following one:

Marinella, Via della Posta 2, 6900 Lugano

Link to tel.search.ch

The aim of this post is not really to publicise Marinella’s shop, but is more related to the devolution of Lugano. I have been reporting, on a more general scale about this phenomenon already in the past: What future for Ticino?

Marinella is not the only luxury brand which has left Lugano, Bulgari left almost one year and half earlier. What about the other luxury brands, will they have interest in staying in Via Nassa?

What intrigues me is what may come next, who will be interested in taking the spaces which are going to be left empty after Marinella closes?

Beehome: one week after 

Recently I have bought a tiny home for bees. The idea came from our gardener and when I understood the peculiarities of the Beehome idea I decided to go for it. Here is the homepage if you want to have a look at it: Wild biene und Partner. I decided to go for it for multiple reasons, here a short recap:

  • I love bees
  • This specific kind of bees don’t require particular care as they don’t produce any honey
  • They have a very little and soft stinger which they don’t use unless severely mishandled

The whole project is a spin off of the ETHZ and works incredibly well as in regard to organisation: when you place your order you can decide when to receive the bees: in my case it worked as planned. When you open the package you don’t have to worry as the bees still need to develop therefore they won’t attack you as soon as you set them free. On the contrary, as you open, everything will seem pretty silent.

Knowing that inside of the small house there are living organisms I decided to take it outside as soon as possible so that the bees could start breathing fresh air again.

And now, after one week of having them, I have already seen the first bee coming out one of the small holes and flying around on some kind of orientation flight.

As for the moment being it seems to be just one of the 25 that you receive I didn’t want to go to near and disturb it while on his orientation flight therefore I don’t have pictures yet: still the bee is pretty hairy, mid-sized, and makes a decent buzz while flying… I’m so in love!

The Beehome
This it the Beehome I installed on our balcony

A few hours later I was able to record a very short video.

Zyxel USG20W-VPN – Opening ports for “For Honor”

Although I thought of knowing how to open ports on a firewall I was proven wrong when I had to open the ports for the videogame For Honor. Therefore I have asked help to Zyxel which has been very kind and their answer successfully solved the issue. Downbelow how they suggested to proceed.

Network configuration

The network I was working on is configured as follows:

Modem –> Firewall Zyxel USG20W-VPN ~~~ Wireless Network ~~~ Gaming PC

Checking WLAN settings

As the gaming computer is connected through a wireless connection first of all it is necessary to check if the WLAN is sending the data on the right network, which in our case was LAN1. In order to do that proceed as follows.

Add the WLAN to the right zone:
Configuration> Object> AP Profile> SSID
Select the desired SSID and click on “Edit”.
Under “Local VAP Settings”, select “Off” for VLAN Support.
As an “Outgoing Interface”, select the zone to which the WLAN should connect to the Internet, eg: lan1.

ChoosingRightNetwork
VLAN support is turned off and the outgoing interface is LAN1

Assign a static IP address to the gaming PC

Next, you assign a static DHCP address to your game PC on the interface using the WLAN as an “outgoing interface”.
(Network> Interface> Ethernet)

StaticIpAddress1

Double click on “lan1”, activate the “Advanced settings” and scroll down until you find “Enable IP/MAC binding”. Activate the checkbox and in the “Static DHCP table” click on “Add”. Assign an IP address to the MAC address of the wireless or ethernet card of the Gaming PC.

StaticIpAddress2.png

Create an address object under Object> Address / Geo IP for your game PC with the Static DHCP address.

StaticIpAddress3.png
Adding 192.168.0.52 as an IP address to the Gaming PC

Creating ports and assigning to a service group

Under Object> Services> Services, create all ports that you do not already have.

CreatingPorts.png
In order to recongnize the port I have decided to name it ForHonor_13000: that way I understand that the port is dedicated to the game ForHonor and that the port is number 13000.

With the same procedure create the objects for the following ports:

TCP: 80, 443, 13000, 13005, 13200, 14000, 14001, 14008, 14020, 14021-14024
UDP: 3074, 3075

A list of the ports that should be opened for PC, PS4 and XBOX is found at this link.

Please note, however, that opening these ports will result in a significant security risk.

For later use it is very convenient to create a “Service Group” with the ports created before. In Object –> Service Group tab add

ServiceGroup.png
Give a name to the group and then select from the list on the left all the ports that we have created before. Once selected make them member of the new group you created by moving them to the right. The picture shows the already completed transfer, I’m now ready to press “OK” in order to proceed with the group creation.

Creating a new Virtual Server object

Under Network> NAT, create a new Virtual Server object
Original IP: Any
Mapped IP: Game PC
Port Mapping Type: Service Group
Original Service Group: Game Service Group

NAT.png
Adding a NAT Rule called “ForHonor”

Once added the table should look like this:

NAT_Table.png
In the table the rule FH which stands for “For Honor”. Because of privay concerns I was asked to grey out the other data.

Creating a security policy

Go to Security Policy> Policy Control and create a rule
From WAN To LAN1
Source: Any
IPv4 Destination: Game PC
Service: Game service group
Action: Allow

SecurityPolicy.png
Adding a security policy. Please note that when selecting the service you’ll have to look for the group we have created before: in order to do that you’ll have to scroll down almost the whole list, as the single objects (ports) are listed before of the groups.

Finally “For Honor” is displaying a green NAT Open.

ForHonor_NATOpen

I didn’t undestand why, but even if the game works and shows NAT Type open if the ports are tested with the site: www.canyouseeme.org the results are negative for each of the ports.

What future for Ticino?

It is a recurring question. It is, because economical conditions are worsening since the bank sector is reducing it’s importance in the whole of Switzerland. But for Ticino, which is a small territory and the bank sector was the main driver, this has even worse consequences. And, as if this wasn’t difficult enough there is a big neighbour, Italy, which has an even worse economical situation: there are almost 60’000 commuters coming from Italy every day, which are now working in Ticino, taking qualified jobs for a fraction of the Swiss cost. Still, since the Italian cost for living is lower, for Italians also a fraction of the Swiss salary is a decent alternative to staying home unemployed. For locals it is difficult to compete: therefore politics has taken some actions in order to reduce the phenomenon. Nevertheless I believe that protectionism, even though it is a natural reaction, it won’t solve the issue. Also because, I would like to remember, commuters is not the main issue: Ticino’s biggest business sector, banks, has taken a major hit. With what should we replace it?

Tourism could be an answer, although the strength of the Swiss franc doesn’t help.

It should be mentioned though that the few times I have visited some hotels in Lugano, either they are really expensive, or if you try something more accessible it is depressing: many are still from the sixties and never refurbished. Decadence all over the place! It is true though that some new hotels have been built in Lugano: I believe one is an Ibis hotel, which being very near to the motorway exit, is very convenient, but is not going to be the choice for someone who would like to stay a bit longer than one night.

I’m afraid that some new ideas should be found in order to promote Ticino and make it more interesting for companies, of course companies bringing value and not only warehouses, as it has happened in the past. Maybe companies of the technological sector?

I mean Ticino already has many things which are interesting for companies. Being in Switzerland there is a stable government, taxes shouldn’t be that high, infrastructure is available, bureaucracy is not as heavy as in other countries, … probably the main issue is that salaries are so expensive. Still, they are cheaper than in the rest of Switzerland, I would say! 🙂

Or someone has better ideas?

A personal challenge: increasing productivity

I’m so good at it! I believe there aren’t many others capable of procrastinating as easily as I do. And every time with a different excuse… which I tell myself and in which I actually believe in. And the most incredible thing is that I do all of this without even realising it.

I have been trying multiple methods in order to increase my productivity, but as you may easily imagine, there is not much that you can do, unless you don’t decide that to do what you have to do.

Still I may share some of the things that work for me, maybe they could work for you too.

  • Involve other people in what you would like to do: for example, if you have to study something, set an appointment with a colleague of yours in order to repeat together what you have learned. This appointment should have the same effect of a small exam, so that you feel like you have to get prepared;
  • For the period of time that you have to prepare alone, don’t stay home. There are too many distractions. Go where there other people learning, working. Like a library. Keep changing places: once the library gets too comfortable, change for another one. You should try to have the “new place” effect every now, in order to avoid routine.
  • While learning, try to give yourself a finite amount of time, were you will only learn/work. Any side thought which is keeping you from focusing? Write it on a piece of paper and leave it there: you will have time for that after. How can you choose how long you should concentrating on your work? Start small and when you get better make longer periods. Next time I’ll try with a 20 minutes shot.
  • Have decent amount of sleep, avoid going late to bed. Best is going to bed around 22.30 (I never manage to, but I know that when I do manage, I really feel better the day after). And if you manage to do it over a longer time period you will gain health too.
  • When you take pauses avoid all the addicting activities like watching youtube videos, tv, playing computer games, surfing the web. What I’m trying right now is to play some music. Maybe some physical activity could be great too. If you manage to avoid getting involved into addictive activities the chances that you start learning again after the pause, are higher.
  • I have decided, as a measure to defeat my procrastination habit, to write about it. Share your adventure with others in the good days and in the bad days.
  • One last trick that I have thought I should try, which I haven’t tried yet though, is, if you really don’t manage to stay away from those addictive activities, then measure the time you dedicate to them. And write it down on your diary or blog. I believe that in the long run, it will help you motivate yourself in reducing the time dedicated to being addicted and devoting in being yourself and making good use of the capabilities that were given to you.

The subject of this post is very personal, meaning that each person has a different way to deal with this kind of issue and sadly, there is no recipe working for each of us. You have to test, proceed by trial and error and with some effort you will manage to find the way that makes you increase your productivity and finally reach the goals that you wanted to.

As I mentioned before I have decided to write about it, because maybe it will give me more motivation in doing the things I have to do and at the same time, I hope to reach out to someone else with the same issue. Because the one thing that I have noticed is that people don’t talk much about this issues, probably because it is not interesting. But… hey, do you imagine how much you could achieve if you were going to spend the time you spend watching youtube videos, learning? Or doing sports? Or how many interesting stories you would hear by talking to random people in a bar?

If you feel like, just add your thoughts and advices about increasing your productivity. Right now I’m wishing it was already morning in order to go to work and have the chance to defeat my procrastination habit, at least for a day! I’ll come back to you and we shall see how it goes!

A long weekend on the mountains

… although it wasn’t decided neither confirmed we managed to have a free Friday and have a long weekend in Pontresina very near to St. Moritz. We had taken into consideration going to Liguria, to the seaside, but the weather forecast was announcing rain for Saturday and Sunday, so we opted for the mountains.

The Hotel we decided to stay is called “Hotel Schloss”: it is quite nice, the SPA, the pool as well as the rooms are new and definitely welcoming. We even tried the different kinds of saunas which I usually avoid since I don’t like walking through the hotel wearing a bathrobe and meeting other guests in the lift wearing usual clothes reciprocally exchanging stupefied looks. It promptly happened. There is another ground why I often avoid the SPAs and saunas: it is the naked thing. I understand that it should be done this way, and, although I did try to have a sauna and obediently left my towel out and after a while I noticed that it wasn’t that embarrassing anymore, at the beginning I always have to make an effort to overwhelm myself. Do I really need to do that?

The funny thing is, that this time, I finished being in a warm water pool were everyone was supposed to be naked, but no one was: beside me! I had a laugh at myself and quickly left the pool…

After a quick research on trip advisor we decided to go to the Restaurant called “Sport stüvetta” were we had very good fish: we spent 150.00 CHF, with just one glass of prosecco, water, soup as a starter and a coffee. I’m not shocked , since we know that here everything is expensive, and also because the food was really good as well as the service, still… it is expensive and it is a pity because it would be great to visit that restaurant more often!

We managed to ski both Friday and Saturday: snow was hard and icy, but really fast. So it was fun both for me and my wife.

Beautiful view seen from the Chamanna Restaurant

On Sunday we decided to go for a walk through Val Rosegg.

Panoramic picture of the valley

The walk takes about two hours, it is mainly plain, so, no difficulties at all. At the end of it there is a restaurant/hotel which is quite good, with huge selection of desserts. We have seen that many preferred to use the coach with horses instead of walking…

Coach to the Rosegg Restaurant

Once we finished our lunch we just took some pictures at the first European Stupa a structure made mainly by ice and we headed back for our car since we had to slowly realize that our weekend was quickly finishing.

First European Stupa

Dirt hog – Random speeding

Today I had one more chance to record some random speeding on the snow and on ice! 🙂 The car is the same model as mine, just different colors. Was fun!

And one more! There is also a little drifting moment! 🙂

And the third one, again on the ice!