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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2527 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Microsoft invades Iraq, installs first distributor

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Poor people

Now they have to worry about IE as well as IEDs

Sorry, couldn't resist, given all the trouble IE6 (aargh!) and 7 (less so) gave with our conference web site, which worked fine with Opera, Safari, Firefox, and passed W3C compliance tests.

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Self-driving Volvos cover 200km of busy Spanish motorway

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Worried

On the other hand, I would not expect computer to drive more dangerously than a large percentage of drivers (word used without prejudice) in Crete or Cyprus. Driving there was, let us say, an interesting experience, after which a quick bout of dodging charging bulls seems like a pick-nick.

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And the worst film NEVER made is...

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: And now something completely different

In relation to the earlier Streisand remark, I just read that as

The Barbrarians

and of course I had to think of Cohen the Barbarian (a.k.a. Ghenghiz Cohen)

Mine is the one with "Interesting Times" in the pocket/

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Passwords are for AES-holes

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Correct Horse Battery Staple = Insecure

That is correct because too many lusers are now using it because they heard it is secure

Fortunately one login for all except the HPC systems suffices here.

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LOHAN sucks 27 inches

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Units!

Those who love metric don't like mm Hg, they like Pascal.

El Reg readers like

millilinguine Hg

or Jubs/nanoWales

or Norris/nanoWales

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SpaceX does what it HASN'T done before: Dragon in close ISS flyby

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

SpaceX may be a health hazard

All this drinking to their success may start to stress livers (and brain cells) in many places

Brilliant stuff. Takes me right back to my childhood memories of the Apollo program.

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Special Projects Burro pops his hooves

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Sad news

He has joined the choir invisible

He has gone to meet his maker

It is an ex-donkey

RIP Aladdin

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The most dangerous job in America: Keeping iPhones connected

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Going Postal

was my immediate thought.

Terry Pratchett, you are a wise man, and clearly we all live on the discworld/

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Boffins cram binary data into living cells' DNA

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Speed might be OK, but the latency is killing

most likely

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Star Trek's Scotty boldly goes where he always wanted to

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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So maybe when a you see a meteor streak across the sky this time next year

you will imagine to hear it say

"More powerrr, we need more powerrrr!"

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

I will raise a dram to Scotty

Not the frothy kind! Distill the stuff I say. A glass of single malt to my fond memories of Scotty saying

Ye cannae break the laws of physics capt'n!

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Microsoft's FDS data-sorter crushes Hadoop

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

I will wait to see the scientific paper on this. A problem with these tests is that it mixes hardware and software performance measurement. Gaining speed by increasing communication bandwidth (and decreasing latency, for preference) just get the "duh" response it deserves.

The only ways to see if two algorithms differ is to (i) do a proper complexity analysis (computing time and memory/bandwidth use) to see how it should scale theoretically (both in terms of data size and number of processors), and (ii) time optimized versions on the same hardware (or different sets of hardware), using a variable number of processors or nodes.

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Ballmer says 500 MILLION 'users' to 'have' Windows 8 in 2013

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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"The visual effects are spectacular"

Oh really. I do not need spectacular visual effects on my desktop, unless I am playing a computer game, or running scientific visualization software. My OS should not try to dazzle me, I need to get work done. The best OS is the one you hardly notice. This may involve smart use of visual effects. Some visual effects I find useful (compiz-fusion has some things I find very handy, in particular in the area of switching desktops and looking for the right open app), but most are just battery-draining eye candy. It is telling that the spectacular visual effects are mentioned before the streamlined navigation (which is useful). I want substance, not bling.

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Core Wars: Inside Intel's power struggle with NVIDIA

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: New languages

I agree up to a point. Languages do need to change, and they are in fact changing. OpemMP is a sort of "bolt-on" solution for C(++) which allows the compiler to treat for loops as for-all statements, and provides various other mechanisms for syncing. A functional approach such as in Erlang is often proposed. I do have some doubts that we can solve all sorts of problems merely with new languages. We need to learn new ways of thinking about these problems. A good language can inspire new ways of thinking, of course.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

@Pperson

I have to disagree a bit here. Parallel computing is great, but at the same time it is hard work, and it is only useful in particular, data and compute intensive tasks. Memory access bottlenecks have been reduced greatly by getting rid of the front-side bus (guess why Opterons are so popular in HPC), but they are still very much present in GPUs, in particular in communication between GPU and main memory. There are improvements in tooling, but they are too often over-hyped. Besides, as with all optimization, you need understanding of the hardware.

Parallel computing is at the forefront of computer science research, and new (wait-free) algorithms are being published in scientific journals, as are improvements in compilers, languages and other tools.

Throughout its early history, physics simulation with its emphasis on matrix-vector work dominated the HPC field. Now a much larger variety of code is being parallelized. People are finding out the hard way that parallel algorithm design is a lot harder than sequential programming.

As I like to tell my students: parallel computing provides much faster ways of making your program crash.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Parallel code easily transfered to very different architecture?

Let me guess, they can easily parallelize adding two arrays together, or doing matrix vector stuff optimally. This covers some very important bases, but some parallel code needs to be rethought rather than just recompiled when porting to a very different architecture.

We have code which does not use matrix-vector stuff, and works best (40x speed up on 64 cores) on fairly coarse grained, shared memory, parallel architectures. We still have not managed to make a distributed memory version (working on it), and are struggling with an OpenCL version for GPUs (working on it with GPU gurus).

Every time I have heard people claim to have tools that take all the hard work out of parallel programming, they show me examples like "add these 10^9 numbers to another bunch of 10^9 numbers". These tools can indeed take a lot of the hard work out of parallel computing, but not all, by quite a long way.

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Apple's trial experts are 'slavish fanbois who believe in magic'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Pulled a rabbit out of the hat

I thought the Unseen University had prior art on that. Go ahead Apple, sue UU, they have a pond full of people who tried to sue them.

Doffs hat to TP

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

Re: "Use, Reuse, Overuse, Abuse"

Wasn't stage five "Light fuse"

see icon

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Why not ask

or for a more emotional (i.e., high blood-pressure) pitch, Steve Balmer

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Chrome spends a week at the top of the browser charts

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Android

Not sure about that. quite a few people (myself included) drop the default browser in Android for something with more functionality. My HTC Desire's default browser had no tabs, I tried firefox on Android briefly but was not impressed, and run Dolphin now. There may be better browsers out there for Android, but I rather like Dolphin, so won't change now.

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EMC pushes out FORTY-TWO products at megalaunch

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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42?

They just made a few extra to hit this number

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Brit knits jumper for NASA space chicken

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Brilliant, just brilliant!

Few people can say their knitwear was used by NASA, someone give her medal!

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Acer crosses Ivy Bridge with latest laptops

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Interesting spec

I can essentially live with the so-so resolution, I cannot do without an nVidia GPU to run many of our CUDA programs. A fairly portable 14" with a pretty nifty CUDA punch goes a long way to ticking all the boxes for my work.

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Zuck weds self to lady friend in surprise ceremony

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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100 "stunned" peopled attended the nuptials

Did he have to stun them in order to get them to attend?

Sorry, couldn't resist

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Windows Phone beats iOS sales in China

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

"Apple will also take heart from the fact that, as of yet, there are no reports of Windows Phone fanatics in China offering to exchange organs, or even their virginity, for a handset."

This could mean people are less enthusiastic for Windows Phone, it could mean the Windows phones are sufficiently cheap to be affordable without such extreme measures, or it could mean a certain proportion of the populace needs their brain seen to (or a combination of the three).

For those in need of having their brain seen to, I hear prof Gumby is a very well-known brain specialist (or was that bwain specialist?)

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SpaceX Dragon chokes at the last second

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

"I can't let you do that, Dave"

Wasn't that what the computer really said?

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Smoke-belching flash drive self-destructs on command

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Cue Q

"Please be careful with it Bond!"

I bet Simon Travaglia would like these. Paint the green button red and vice versa.

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Post-pub nosh deathmatch: Mealy pudding v migas

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Deep-fried pizza, anyone?

I have heard of this mythical beast, apparently hailing from Bonnie Scotland as well, but, much the cardiologist's delight, never encountered it in the wild. Should this not be researched?

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Inside Nvidia's GK110 monster GPU

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Fermi, Tesla, and Maxwell would all want one

Just one?

Physicists (and not just physicists) always want more compute power than currently available.

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Facebook's Eduardo Saverin: I'm not a tax-dodger

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Are the honourable members of the senate just jealous?

Being rich guys who cannot renounce citizenship without losing their jobs.

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What is SpaceX Dragon's secret cargo?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Think sideways

Tribute to the Goodies? Like a trandem (three-seater bike) as replacement for the three-man Soyuz capsule

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

A few bottles of Château de Chasselas from the four Yorkshiremen? To wash down the spam?

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Stanford boffins create light-powered artificial retina

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

"Steve Austin, a man barely alive"

You could go further back.

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Pre-Pet Commodore micro up for grabs on eBay

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

So if I a bunch of them

could I build a Kim cluster? Might even catch up with a 80486 if you put together a few hundred.

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Nvidia's Kepler pushes parallelism up to eleven

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Interesting developments, in particular the having multiple MPI tasks able to run simultaneously on a single Kepler chip. Great added flexibility.

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HP Envy 14 Spectre Ultrabook

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Intel Graphics == No use to me

I understand the why, it is just of no use to me. Others will probably be very happy with the machines

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Intel Graphics == No use to me

I will aim at a much cheaper, only slightly heavier 13.3" or 14" notebook with nVidia 520 or 540 graphics so I can run CUDA and openCL stuff (there are a few very nice ones from Asus, Samsung, and even Dell). The whole idea of an ultrabook is hobbled by the insistence on Intel graphics. For the prices they are asking they could put in a decent graphics chipset. Until Intel supports CUDA (i.e. when hell freezes over) I will steer clear of any machine with only Intel graphics.

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Nvidia launches Nsight CUDA dev tools into Eclipse

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Debugging thousands of threads simultaneously

Now there is an excuse for a HUGE monitor (or two, or three) if ever I heard one.

Seriously, nice toolkits are coming out for this kind of work. Much needed too, as parallel computing allows you to get things wrong MUCH quicker.

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Spy under your car bonnet 'worth billions by 2016'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

So why will cars in the US be smartest?

Some will say it is because the Merkin goverment wants to spy on them

Others will say it is because many American drivers cannot even handle a stick-shift.

Which is it?

Any suggestions?

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Fastest-ever hydrocarb scramjet hits Mach 8, doesn't explode

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Now that is rocket science!

Still like blowing things up though

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How to simulate a light armoured vehicle

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Where do I sign up for knobology training?

And after a PhD you become Dr. Knob?

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AMD: New Trinity laptop chips out-juice Intel graphics

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Interesting

I would be willing to try the chips (and other AMD/Radeon graphics), and the newer Linux drivers. Only problem is we would have to port quite a bit of stuff from CUDA to OpenCL (which might be a good idea anyway, similar performance and no vendor lock in).

Regarding the binary nVidia drivers, I have no problems there. I rather like the fact that after inserting a new nVidia card in my PC to replace the old nVidia card, Linux runs without any adaptation, whereas Windows needs a new driver.

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Road deaths spark crackdown on jaywalking texter menace

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Stupid rule!!

I must be allowed to keep up with the register anywhere, even whilst walking across the <SPLAT>

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Stuck in a dull conference? You need Verity's survival guide

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: The clever attendee.....

What, and miss out on free drinks and food, and any vendor freebees?

Think like a BOFH:

1. Go to the conference

2. Head for the bar

3. Wheedle/bribe/blackmail vendor into inviting you to another conference for free

4. goto 1

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SpaceX sets new blastoff date for Dragon: 19 May

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

You have got to admire these guys!

They are really getting the excitement in space exploration back to (near) Apollo levels.

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SpaceX and Bigelow sign deal for inflatable space stations in orbit

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Frobozz Magic Space Station

Unless you purchase the extra extended warranty, which extends for a further 74 milliseconds for a mere 25% surcharge!!

Only while stocks last!

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Just found a problem with that subhead...

Or "Budget Suites in SPAAAAAAAAAAAACE!!"

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Vote now for the worst movie NEVER made

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: So...

You do not have to sit through them. Using the DVDs as frisbees can bring hours of healthy entertainment. Experiments microwave ovens are encouraged.

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BOFH: Siri, why do users lie?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: PFY 1 BOFH 0?

Not long, rest assured, not long

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Shy Venus in rare Sun crossing next month

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Re: Dont purchase anything

You are right when talking about looking through CDs and glass blackened with soot. There are however perfectly safe solutions. My Thousand Oaks glass objective solar filter works fine on my 8" scope. I watched and photographed the solar eclipse in 1999 with that scope, and the previous transit of Venus in 2004. Baader Solar film is perfectly safe, if attached correctly in front of the objective lens. All eyepiece filters are an absolute menace. I have recently made a solar filter out of it for my kids 4.5" F/4.4 Newtonian, and my eldest son and I had a nice view of sunspots through it. All harmful UV is blocked, and the total energy levels remain quite low.

Projection is actually dangerous in most reflectors, and certainly Maksutovs, Schmidt Cassegrains, and other scopes with fast primary mirrors, as the secondary can shatter under thermal stress, and even in fast refractors I would prefer a filter as the thermal stresses might cause eyepieces to shatter. In slow refractors projection is fine, especially as multiple can watch simultaneously.

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