Thursday, October 28, 2010

COMPUTERS - The Really, Really FAST Supercomputer

"Supercomputer in China super fast: U.S. computers feel inadequate" by Melissa Bell, Washington Post Blog 10/28/2010

They own all sorts of credit lines with the world. They make our light bulbs. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are pretty sure they'll take us over by 2030.

And now, China may have the world's fastest supercomputer.

On Thursday, China unveiled the Tianhe-1A, out-powering the previous supercomputer record holder, the Cray XT5 Jaguar, by computing at a rate 43 percent higher.

The computer is "another sign of the country's growing technological prowess that is likely to set off alarms about U.S. competitiveness and national security," Don Clark at the Wall Street Journal writes.

Here's what Mashable has to say about it:

Tianhe-1A was designed by the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in China, and it is already fully operational. To achieve the new performance record, Tianhe-1A uses 7,168 Nvidia Tesla M2050 GPUs and 14,336 Intel Xeon CPUs. It cost $88 million; its 103 cabinets weigh 155 tons, and the entire system consumes 4.04 megawatts of electricity.

To put that in Luddite speak: The computer is fast. Really, really fast.

A petaflop is the measure of one thousand trillion operations per second or (ops). Most consumer computers are lucky to get a few billion operations per second.

In computing, speed is of the utmost importance. Most supercomputers are used for the toughest scientific problems, such as simulating drug products and designing weapons.

The computer, though constructed in China, still uses materials sourced from Intel and Nvidia, two California-based companies. One major shift in the computer's construction is its use of Nvidia chips -- the graphic chips are more commonly found in video games instead of computers.

Although some see the release of the computer as an affront to the U.S. lead in computing, others see it as a "wake-up call," as Jack Dongarra, a supercomputer expert told the Wall Street Journal, similar to when Japan released the Earth Simulator supercomputer in 2002. It took the U.S. two years to regain the crown.

Plus, there could be more surprises in store. The Top 500 list of supercomputers around the world has yet to be announced. A computer faster than the Tianhe could be unveiled before the list is released in two weeks.

Monday, October 25, 2010

SOFTWARE - Oracle's NON-Support of OpenOffice

"Oracle Demonstrates Continued Support for" Oracle Press Release 10/13/2010

News Facts

  • Further demonstrating its commitment to the community, Oracle today announced that it is participating in the ODF Plugfest, being held in Brussels, October 14-15.

  • On the fifth anniversary of the Open Document Format (ODF) becoming an International Standard, Oracle applauds the community and OASIS for its efforts and renews its commitment to the ODF-based productivity suite.

  • Oracle’s growing team of developers, QA engineers, and user experience personnel will continue developing, improving, and supporting as open source, building on the 7.5 million lines of code already contributed to the community.

  • Oracle demonstrates its commitment to with new versions of this free product in collaboration with the community – 3.2.1 and 3.3 Beta – both representing advances in features and performance advancements with the introduction of new tools and extensions. Significant community contributions include localization, quality assurance, porting, documentation and user experience.

  • Oracle’s ongoing support for reinforces its commitment to developing software based on open standards, providing IT users with flexibility, lower short and long-term costs and freedom from vendor lock-in.

  • By investing significant resources in developing, testing, optimizing, and supporting other open source technologies such as MySQL, GlassFish, Linux, PHP, Apache, Eclipse, Berkeley DB, NetBeans, VirtualBox, Xen, and InnoDB, Oracle is invested in their future development and contributing back to the communities that produce it.

  • With more than 100 million users, is the most advanced, feature-rich open source productivity suite, and continued contributions through will only improve this already popular software. Oracle views ODF as critical to providing with a complete, open, and modern document format, empowering interoperability and choice on the desktop.

  • Oracle invites community participation in the conference, ODF Plugfests, and discussion groups, and welcomes contributions to the code base.

Bold-blue emphasis mine

Typical corporate behavior. NOT understanding that WAS an open-source community, NOT corporate owned. They think their engineers can do a better job than the open-source community that originated the software, the same arrogance that Microsoft demonstrates.

Note my previous post on this subject.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

WINXP - Utility Recommendations

Have 2 new Utilities to recommend.

  • WinBootInfo from GreenVantage

  • (click for better view)

    The screenshot shows you most of what you need to know about this utility (especially the summary block in the middle). The printed report is just as good.

    There is one drawback. GreenVantage uses a funky authorization key process and getting them to answer is a hassle.

  • Icon Phile (freeware)

  • This is an oldie but goody. Allows you to change icons shown by Explorer (My Computer) even those that normally cannot be changed (like the icon for TXT file types).

    The screenshots on their page says it all.

    NOTE: The download is a ZIP file that contains the entire utility. You copy or extract the contents to a folder of your choice (C:\Program Files\IconPhile for example), then create a shortcut to run it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

SECURITY - HTML 5 a Privacy Threat?

"New Web Code Draws Concern Over Risks to Privacy" by TANZINA VEGA, New York Times 10/10/2010


Worries over Internet privacy have spurred lawsuits, conspiracy theories and consumer anxiety as marketers and others invent new ways to track computer users on the Internet. But the alarmists have not seen anything yet.

In the next few years, a powerful new suite of capabilities will become available to Web developers that could give marketers and advertisers access to many more details about computer users’ online activities. Nearly everyone who uses the Internet will face the privacy risks that come with those capabilities, which are an integral part of the Web language that will soon power the Internet: HTML 5.

The new Web code, the fifth version of Hypertext Markup Language used to create Web pages, is already in limited use, and it promises to usher in a new era of Internet browsing within the next few years. It will make it easier for users to view multimedia content without downloading extra software; check e-mail offline; or find a favorite restaurant or shop on a smartphone.

Most users will clearly welcome the additional features that come with the new Web language.

“It’s going to change everything about the Internet and the way we use it today,” said James Cox, 27, a freelance consultant and software developer at Smokeclouds, a New York City start-up company. “It’s not just HTML 5. It’s the new Web.”

But others, while also enthusiastic about the changes, are more cautious.

Most Web users are familiar with so-called cookies, which make it possible, for example, to log on to Web sites without having to retype user names and passwords, or to keep track of items placed in virtual shopping carts before they are bought.

The new Web language and its additional features present more tracking opportunities because the technology uses a process in which large amounts of data can be collected and stored on the user’s hard drive while online. Because of that process, advertisers and others could, experts say, see weeks or even months of personal data. That could include a user’s location, time zone, photographs, text from blogs, shopping cart contents, e-mails and a history of the Web pages visited.

The new Web language “gives trackers one more bucket to put tracking information into,” said Hakon Wium Lie, the chief technology officer at Opera, a browser company.

Or as Pam Dixon, the executive director of the World Privacy Forum in California, said: “HTML 5 opens Pandora’s box of tracking in the Internet.”

Representatives from the World Wide Web Consortium say they are taking questions about user privacy very seriously. The organization, which oversees the specifications developers turn to for the new Web language, will hold a two-day workshop on Internet technologies and privacy.