So can't you VPN in from here?



  • So, this morning I come into the office. Aside from my usual programming tasks I also do work with Solidworks and he asks me to create a rendering of one of our latest products I designed the enclosure for to be used in a magazine. This is quite a CPU intensive asks that can take a few hours to complete as the image contains multiple light sources, transparent materials, lots of reflection / refraction stuff. 

    So after playing around for about 15 minutes with low quality draft renderings getting things to look right, I start the high quality rendering process and walk over to my boss' office telling him it's in progress and it'll take a few hours. So he goes "great, but you can still work right?" and I'm like erm...no, my system is completely tied up. However, I have VPN setup at home and could just work from there while my office machine is busy. Note that I barely live not even 10 minutes away from the office.

    So his answer: Well can't you just VPN in from here? 

    Completely ignoring that he just aked me to VPN in from a computer already on the local network I ask "Using which computer"? Note that my workstation is a custom-built 2.4GHz Quad core with 4 gigs of DDR3 memory and 8800 GTX. The next available machine would be a Pentium with 64 megs of system memory.

    Needless to say I spent the time between then and lunch chatting with friends on the cellphone twiddling my thumbs and counting dots on the wall. I then had a nice subway sandwich for lunch.

     



  • You can't program while you render? 



  • Good stuff but @Kermos said:

    Needless to say I spent the time between then and lunch chatting with friends on the cellphone twiddling my thumbs and counting dots on the wall. I then had a nice subway sandwich for lunch.
    Ever notice that when something is "needless to say" they end up saying it anyway?



  • It sounds like you didn't bother to explain the situation clearly.  Perhaps I'm wrong, but your boss certainly sounds on the low-end of technical knowledge and would probably need things explained very simply for him to understand.  Then again, maybe he's just unreasonable. 



  • @AlpineR said:

    You can't program while you render? 

     

    Very very very bad idea. 

    Solidworks uses massive amounts of memory, every available CPU core and absolutely does not like being disturbed while rendering. I've done the whole "try to work while rendering" in the past only to have solidworks crash 3 hours into a rendering. So between that and the massive resource usage, it just makes no sense to even try. Luckily I only do this very rarely, else I'd need a dedicated station just for rendering purposes.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    It sounds like you didn't bother to explain the situation clearly.  Perhaps I'm wrong, but your boss certainly sounds on the low-end of technical knowledge and would probably need things explained very simply for him to understand.  Then again, maybe he's just unreasonable. 

     

    You're right, he is on the low-end of technical knowledge. Come to think of it, he's actually below the low-end. But still, I did make the point that there is nothing to do from the office quite clear and he did fully acknowledge he understood it. That was about it though...

    He is also the kind of person who'd rather see people sit at their computer playing games until exactly 5pm rather than just simply letting them go home when there is nothing left to do for the day. Usually the last half hour of the day or so, for the most part all you'll see on the computer screens in the office is either solitaire or some other casual flash based game...

     



  • @AlpineR said:

    You can't program while you render? 

    A better question is: Why don't you have a dedicated rendering box so you can still work?  You know, like most professional outfits do.



  •  @clively said:

    A better question is: Why don't you have a dedicated rendering box so you can still work?  You know, like most professional outfits do.

    Because this is like a once every couple of months occurence, not really worth it to buy a dedicated box just for that.



  • @Kermos said:

     @clively said:

    A better question is: Why don't you have a dedicated rendering box so you can still work?  You know, like most professional outfits do.

    Because this is like a once every couple of months occurence, not really worth it to buy a dedicated box just for that.

    I'm not sure what your hourly rate is, but if it killed just one day of your time it's cheaper to buy a new box.  A decent rendering station (like the one you outlined) can be had for about $500.

     



  • @Kermos said:

    He is also the kind of person who'd rather see people sit at their computer playing games until exactly 5pm rather than just simply letting them go home when there is nothing left to do for the day. Usually the last half hour of the day or so, for the most part all you'll see on the computer screens in the office is either solitaire or some other casual flash based game...

    He probably thinks morale will suffer if he lets one person go home, so he would rather endure the productivity hit.  What I always did in these situations was to take the employee out into a common area, give them a solid, sincere handshake and tell them loudly that I hoped their mother/father/sister/wife would pull through.  Not only can you send the employee home and thus squeeze more work out of him, but the other employees all get a morale boost because they know they will be going home to their loved ones while you will not.  Note: this only works for awhile before the ignorant cattle in your employ realize that nobody has bad enough luck to have every member of their extended family die in the same month. 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Note: this only works for awhile before the ignorant cattle in your employ realize that nobody has bad enough luck to have every member of their extended family die in the same month. 

     I had a friend who did have this happen to him.  father died of cancer, mother had a car accident (probablky due to grieving), brother shot himself from the grief. all within about 2 weeks



  •  @clively said:

    I'm not sure what your hourly rate is, but if it killed just one day of your time it's cheaper to buy a new box.  A decent rendering station (like the one you outlined) can be had for about $500.

    I completely agree with you on that. However, it seems that most management types don't seem to think that way.



  • @clively said:

    I'm not sure what your hourly rate is, but if it
    killed just one day of your time it's cheaper to buy a new box.  A
    decent rendering station (like the one you outlined) can be had for
    about $500.

    There's a lot more it than just hardware involved.  I'd guess a license for SolidWorks is around $2-3k US.  So factoring in other costs, I'd say the break even point is about 40 hours @ $100/hr which may not make sense if it truly is 4 hours every 2-3 months.

    Of course this assumes another license is needed.  If not, it probably is cheaper.



  • Just open a remote desktop connection to home, and [i]then[/i] VPN to work.

    Duh!



  •  @Kermos said:

    @AlpineR said:

    You can't program while you render? 

     

    Very very very bad idea. 

    Solidworks uses massive amounts of memory, every available CPU core and absolutely does not like being disturbed while rendering. I've done the whole "try to work while rendering" in the past only to have solidworks crash 3 hours into a rendering. So between that and the massive resource usage, it just makes no sense to even try. Luckily I only do this very rarely, else I'd need a dedicated station just for rendering purposes.

    I use 3ds Max myself, so I can't say 100% positively that this would work, but I don't see why it wouldn't.

    Ctrl - Alt - Del: Processes, solidworks.exe > set affinity, uncheck one core.

     I do that to Max when I need to use my rig yet while its doing rendering.



  •  This might be a foolish question, but doesn't the company keep laptops in storage for issue to employees going to conferences or whatever that you could sign out? Even if they didn't have SDKs installed, drafting some code in Notepad would have been better than doing nothing.



  •  @lpope187 said:

    @clively said:

    I'm not sure what your hourly rate is, but if it
    killed just one day of your time it's cheaper to buy a new box.  A
    decent rendering station (like the one you outlined) can be had for
    about $500.

    There's a lot more it than just hardware involved.  I'd guess a license for SolidWorks is around $2-3k US.  So factoring in other costs, I'd say the break even point is about 40 hours @ $100/hr which may not make sense if it truly is 4 hours every 2-3 months.

    Of course this assumes another license is needed.  If not, it probably is cheaper.

    Another license would not be required - the exisitng license can be transfered to the other station or the home use license could be used there instead. If it's network licensed, you wouldn't even need to do that.Which is good, becasue the license is around $6K for the version with PhotoWorks.

    With that said, a $500.00 box isn't going to run Solidworks reliably. The lowest-end video cards that are stable with Solidworks are around $300.00.



  • @rdamiani said:

    With that said, a $500.00 box isn't going to run Solidworks reliably. The lowest-end video cards that are stable with Solidworks are around $300.00.

    If the machine was going to be used to run the one program and nothing else, you could probably just about cobble the rest of the system together for $200 if you shopped around a bit and bought absolutely no more than the bare minimum necessary to run it, and were okay with leaving it to putter along overnight as a result. I wouldn't suggest this approach unless it wasn't needed every day and/or money was really tight, though.



  • @Jake Grey said:

     This might be a foolish question, but doesn't the company keep laptops in storage for issue to employees going to conferences or whatever that you could sign out? Even if they didn't have SDKs installed, drafting some code in Notepad would have been better than doing nothing.

    I disagree.  Doing nothing would actually be more productive than trying to write code in notepad.



  • @Spectre said:

    Just open a remote desktop connection to home, and then VPN to work.

    Duh!

    I realize you're probably joking, but I know there are people out there who might take this as serious - after all, a dumb terminal connection uses very little processing power, so is unlikely to disturb the render process much.

    1. Using what computer - we *really* don't want to disturb that render process.
    2. This assumes that the programmer feels sufficiently competent in his IT Security skills to be able to secure a computer with remote access enabled. (Ok, most programmers have that confidence level - but many of them should not.
    3. This assumes that the programmer has remote access software on the work machine that will connect to the home machine. Frequently, this is the case, but not always.
    4. This assumes that the VPN software does not block all other networking when it fires up. For security purposes, most of the VPN suites I've looked at do disable access to the non-VPN network. I wouldn't use one that didn't.

    I'm sure I missed many points. This is a very bad idea.

    A much better idea would've been to postpone the render process until the end of the day. However, sometimes deadlines don't allow this.



  • @tgape said:

    I realize you're probably joking, but I know there are people out there who might take this as serious - after all, a dumb terminal connection uses very little processing power, so is unlikely to disturb the render process much.

    1. "The next available machine would be a Pentium with 64 megs of system memory."
    2. Tunneling the preferd protocol thru SSH should be enough for most.
    3. MSTSC + PuTTy are normally enough, but yeah, there is some cases where even those are not available (or home box is running Linux, so you would need to install VNC client or X11 server on the work computer).
    4. This is a problem if the VPN software they are using is like this. However, it's possible to disable this in most of the VPN suites in one way or another (and I have a feeling they won't touch the current open connections. Not 100% sure tho). Tho, I probably wouldn't let employees install any software on their home comps that allows them to connect to work network (well, okey, SSLVPN that runs in the browser as long as it doesn't allow mapping network drives and such) as you cannot be sure how secure their system is.

    No idea about other people, but I have found that being able to access home computer can be really useful at times.



  • @Kermos said:

    So after playing around for about 15 minutes with low quality draft renderings getting things to look right, I start the high quality rendering process and walk over to my boss' office telling him it's in progress and it'll take a few hours. So he goes "great, but you can still work right?" and I'm like erm...no, my system is completely tied up

    I wonder what reslution you were rendering. 

    Magazine print is usng 72 dpi screen (means those repeating little patterns, not "display", mind you). Suppose, the printed picture size will be 10"x10". Thus, you could get away with rendering 1600x1600 picture, and upsampling it to whatever resolution magazine guys think they need.


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