Feeds

* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2556 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Spies in the sky: The leaps and bounds from balloons to spook sats

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Just found the link to an interesting application which uses methods we are working on:

Global Human Settlement Layer

This aims at mapping human habitation to keep track of changes, help in planning, and also disaster relief efforts.

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

It is one thing to take the pictures (essential first step), but it does not end there. What is easily as important is automating the analysis. With the glut of data available, manual analysis is often unacceptably slow. This is one reason we are working together with European partners on massively parallel analysis of huge image data sets. This would allow rapid analysis of damage in the aftermath of disasters, among other applications.

1
0

Cambridge boffins reveal prehistoric prawn monster

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: "prehistoric prawn monster"

Given that it was found in China, stir frying with ginger, garlic and a variety of vegetables is more appropriate. Just add a dash of light soy sauce and rice wine vinegar at the end.

Darn, now I am hungry

4
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

At least he does not shovel it into his nose or ears.

0
0

Strategic SIEGE ROBOTS defeated by 'heavily intoxicated' man, 62

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Machines as dull

Going berserk as a warrior served a similar purpose against human opponents in the past.

Could well work against robots (and perhaps also Vulcans, or anybody else thinking logically)

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Mushroom

Alternatively

Nuke from orbit, it's the only way to be sure!

;-)

3
0

Hey, software snobs: Hardware love can set your code free

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: There is a reason for Software Smugness

@ the spectacularly refined chap

My statement is indeed a bit broad (and to generalize is to be an idiot). I was talking about when there is a bottleneck. If there is no bottleneck, there is no need to throw resources at it, hardware or software. The examples I gave are cases with severe bottlenecks.

In your example of the one-off job you are actually also thinking in terms of algorithmics: which one is simpler to implement (and therefore easier to get right). That is why for one-off jobs or experiments I like to use scripting languages (MatLab most of all for my work). Only when heavy lifting is needed (and we have established firmly what we want to compute) do I go for C(++).

You are of course right that there is always a balance to be had between implementation time and total CPU time used. In the very old days CPU time was costly, software development and maintenance time was comparatively low, because code was comparatively compact. Now CPU time is cheap as chips, but code development and maintenance is not, what with the dramatically increased complexity and interconnectedness.

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Nowadays, the farmer first glues on some horns and sells it to the abbatoir as a cow.

5
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

There is a reason for Software Smugness

You haven't heard of the reverse boast "only by throwing software at it" because of a very simple fact: If I can get more performance out of the same hardware, by designing an O(N) algorithm to replace an O(N^2) I am being smart. Throwing more hardware at a problem when a better algorithmic solution exists is stupid.

I have seen people use weeks of wall-clock time on a 512 core segment of a big machine, simply because their code was bad. My colleague coded the thing properly in C++ and had the code running on his desktop and finishing in a few minutes (O(2^N) vs O(N log N) if I recall correctly). Only throwing hardware at a problem is often wrong. Thinking about better algorithms is never a bad idea.

Once you have really thought about the algorithmics, then you can start throwing more hardware at it (and once you do that, you must rethink the algorithmics again, especially when doing parallel stuff). So in our massive image processing stuff (Gpixel and Tpixel), we first minimize communication and disk-access overhead, and then move to SSD or Fusion-IO stuff.

8
3

Brit biz stops coked-up moist pocketstrokers ruining your pub lunch

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Ye cannae change the laws of physics Capt'n!!

"The coating is "invisible" and it can be applied to screens and lenses without causing an optical effect."

That is a curious claim (I am being politic about things, just this once), unless the coating has an index of refraction of 1.0 (unlikely) and/or the coating is thinner than a very small fraction of the wavelength of light (some tens of nanometers at most I would guess). I suppose it could be integrated into the design of an anti-reflection coating, but just spraying it on afterwards will change the anti-reflection properties of the coating in general.

1
0

Microwaves thrash fibre on speed... if you like two-nines uptime

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Going Postal

When people "explain" finance to me, I always refer to Going Postal. At the end of that book, financiers enter the fray. There is a brilliant passage which reads (approximately):

And they saved the city with gold more easily than any hero could have with steel. .... But it was not so much gold, or even the promise of gold, but more the dream that gold would be there at the end of the rainbow. Provided you did not go and look, of course. And that is called Finance.

You are a wise man, Terry Pratchett.

11
0

New social network is for DEAD PEOPLE

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Has Reg Shoe joined yet?

The one with "Jingo" in the pocket, please

2
0

Microsoft's own code should prevent an Azure SSL fail: So what went wrong?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Just goes to show

The old adage:

Nothing is foolproof for a sufficiently talented fool

still holds true

0
0

Look out! PEAK WIND is COMING, warns top Harvard physicist

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

One question I have always asked myself

If the flapping of the proverbial butterfly wing has an impact of the weather, how come scientists could claim with a straight face that extracting several tera-Watts of power from the climate system will have no effect?

This scientist seems to be asking that self-same question.

This does not mean I am against wind power, I just think we should not blithely assume it does not impact climate in some way.

And of course, as Mustrum Ridcully would say, lets find those bloody butterflies that are causing all these storms

31
7

Trekkies detect Spock's Vulcan homeworld ORBITING PLUTO

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

I would have voted for names like Arthur Dent or Ford Prefect

but then I never was a Trekkie

0
0

Climate scientists link global warming to extreme weather

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Mushroom

All I want

is for the clouds to sod off and let me see the comet C/2011 L4 PanStarrs in March (and comet C/2012 S1 ISON in November and December).

I do not know why I have had such a dismal run of lousy weather preventing me from spending more than a single night per month watching the stars (or indeed whether this is exceptional), I just want some clear skies!!

0
0

Xyratex thrusts a Lustre cluster knuckleduster at Intel's bluster

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Riposte

Touché!

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Lets hope the cluster bluster does not end like Custer

Sorry, I'll get me coat

The blue one with the cavalry sabre, please

1
0

North Korean citizens told: Socialist haircuts are a thing... go get some

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Big Brother

All haircuts are equal, but some haircuts are more equal than others

16
0

Razzie voters drive stake through Twilight

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Love the razzies

They prevent me from accidentally going to films which are as much fun as attaching your hand to the wall with a staple gun ...

repeatedly.

0
0

Quantum computer one step closer after ‘true’ quantum calculation

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Was the answer 42?

Well, was it?

OK, time to go

Mine is the one with the cassette tapes of the radio play in the pocket

1
0

BOFH: Climb the corp ladder - and use your boss as a bullet shield

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Defragging Management

Brilliant phrase, must implement that soon

0
0

Playmobil punts bank-heist set to wide-eyed kiddies

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Uproar?!

Playmobil re-enactment or it didn't happen!

I'll get me coat.

0
0

Curiosity raises mighty robotic fist, punches hole in Mars

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Fortunately

Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged is not in control of Curiosity. Otherwise he would use that punch to write a very rude word indeed (like Belgium)

0
2

Bit9 hacked after it forgot to install ITS OWN security product

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coffee/keyboard

Who guards the guardians?

Nobody, it seems

1
0

Dead Steve Jobs 'made Tim Cook sue Samsung' from beyond the grave

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Well I never...

but, but, but.....

WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE LAWYERS!!

Anybody?

...

Anybody?

...

Apparently not

2
0

Review: HP Spectre XT TouchSmart

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Unhappy

No nVidea == no use to me

Me is CUDA user.

3
0

Curiosity photographs mysterious metal object on Martian rock

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: We should ignore it ---- Why?

Door handle? Also looks like the flushing handle in our toilet. If Curiosity pulls it, it might find the resulting evidence of water overwhelming

1
0

El Reg contemplates the ultimate cuppa

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Has nobody mentioned water?

It is important! I am very fortunate to have just about the best water possible coming out of the tap.

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: The ramsay way

Should that last line not be

F***IN ENJOY!!!

1
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

My versions

Basic work version:

1. Take one wire-mesh tea-strainer spoon, and insert one good teaspoon of Keemun Black tea (Twinings Prince of Wales at a pinch).

2. Nuke water in big mug in industrial-strength microwave oven until it really boils

3. Add tea-strainer spoon.

4. Infuse as long as desired, or alternatively forget about it whilst coding and drink arbitrarily strong

4b) add milk and sugar if you must

Keemun black tea is very dark by nature, and never turns bitter, so forgetting to remove the tea only makes it stronger, but never renders it undrinkable.

On the road version:

replace tea strainer egg by Twinings Prince of Wales tea bags

Working in region with hard water:

Replace Keemun Black by good quality Assam and keep infusion time down. Assam takes hard water better than most

1
0

Now UK must look out for crappy SPACE weather - engineers

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

The horror, the horror

of not being able to use twitter, facebook, ......

Oh, wait. I don't have accounts there.

but wait. No REG!!!!

AAAARGH, WE ARE DOOMED!!!!

3
0

Earth-like planets abound in red dwarf systems

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: If there is life out there, they're keeping quiet

Cricket, they do not like cricket at all. They find it very offensive, and are ignoring us for the barbarians we are

1
0

GNOME project picks JavaScript as sole app dev language

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Dear God

And they have added frickin' lasers to the sharks

5
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: I love programmer snobbery.

I have written well-structured programmes in assembler.

Likewise, it is possible to write good code in Javascript (no doubt, I have not written any)

Whether either of the above is what I would want to do is another matter entirely. This is not a matter of snobbery, it is a matter of practicality. Scripting-based languages are very valuable for quick prototyping, or for portability, when top performance is not required (and JIT compilers go quite a long way to address performance issues). However, C and C++ are still my preferred tools, for development of high-performance code and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

11
0

Euro boffins plan supercomputer to SIMULATE HUMAN BRAIN

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Devil

or a chartered accountant

1
0

Sick software nasty uses child abuse pics to extort infected victims

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

isn't the official phrase "sexecution" ?

0
0

How to destroy a brand-new Samsung laptop: Boot Linux on it

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Ah UEFI.

Remind me, does UEFI stand for Users Expect a Fuck-up Instantly?

2
0

'Gaia' Lovelock: Wind turbines 'may become like Easter Island statues'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: If your names not down your not coming in..

"I'd much rather we had green energy from nuclear powerplants"

Precisely, you cannot beat nuclear for that nice green glow

7
8

You thought watching cat videos was harmless fun? Think AGAIN

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Boffin

Sounds a bit too much like model data being presented as facts, not that I doubt that (feral and domestic) cats cause a lot of damage.

In my own modelling of (microbial) ecosystems I always was suspicious if my algorithm gave surprising results. Almost always I had found something new. In most cases it was a new bug in the code. In rare cases there was something interesting to report. In all those cases I went and checked the literature to corroborate my findings with observational data (or failing that, suggest how biologists could falsify my findings)

4
0

Revealing new pics of galactic princess Andromeda

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Amazing to think ...

"that each pixel in the picture is a sun!"

M31 contains some 1,000,000,000,000 stars. You would need terapixel images to make the above be true.

The universe never ceases to amaze.

3
0

Always wanted a robot: why not DIY?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Nice!

Maybe I should get some students to build one.

0
0

Yay for iOS 6.1, grey Wi-Fi iPhone bug is fix- AWW, SNAP

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Maybe, maybe not

The towel tricks works by calming the wifi chip by protecting it from the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

Mine is the one with the towel

4
0

Huddled immigrant masses face 'British values' quiz

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Answer me these questions three, before your passport you will see!

I don't know that

AAAAAAAAAAAARRRGGGHHH!!!

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Answer me these questions three, before your passport you will see!

1. What is your name?

2. What is your quest?

3. What is your favourite colour?

OR

3. What is the capitol of Assyria

OR

3. What is the average airspeed of an unladen swallow?

I know, I know! The one with Monty's Encylopythonia in the pocket, please

6
0

Stanford super runs million-core calculation

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Quite impressive in term of size but am I alone in wondering.

Dead right. Getting a million cores running effectively is very hard!! It is not just Amdahl's law that can get in the way (i.e. the max speed-up is limited by a section of the code that is sequential), it is communication overhead. We are working on a problem that, if implemented naively, would required O(N log N) communication, with N the number of pixels, which in practice means that the largest data set we have to work on (1.5 Tpixel) requires in the order of 120TB of data traffic. We are trying to get that down to O(G √N log N), with G the number of grey levels, which boils down to in the order of 240 GB of traffic in our case. Still a lot, but it should bring the algorithm into the realms of the possible.

I do not see compilers take over this sort of redesign of the code automatically any time soon

5
0

Spammers joyride Doctor Who's Twitter TARDIS, turn man into Shirley Temple

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Shirley not?

And stop calling me Shirley!

Mine is the one with the Naked Gun DVD in the pocket

0
0

Brit 2.5-tonne nuke calculator is World's Oldest Working Computer

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Yeah...

More likely it will crush the blender!

0
0

‘That’s not art’ says Apple as it pulls nudes from AppStore

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

But I thought it was OK as long as there are urns, or cherubs in the picture?

Shows it must be art, dunnit?

That's what Sgt Colon told me

0
0
Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Priorities

"Guns are granted by the constitution, tits - no so much.

The sheer truth is that porn lobby is just too weak."

Should the porn lobby give stiffer opposition?

Sorry couldn't resist

2
0