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* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

2527 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Flying Spaghetti Monster's works spotted in space

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pity I did not hear this yesterday.

I was accosted by evangelical Christians yesterday evening and was asked what I believed in. I pointed to Venus, Jupiter, and Mars in the sky stating that my Goddess of Love, Father of Gods, and God of war were all now visible in the sky, so who was I to doubt. They were genuinely shocked.

On the other hand, if I started out about the FSM they would probably know immediately I was pulling their leg (which I was of course), so suggesting belief in ancient gods is probably the better ploy.

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SUPERCOMPUTER vs your computer in bang-for-buck battle

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Cool!

I will test the 64 core 512GB single box (4U rack server) we are getting shortly (for processing large astronomical and remote sensing images rapidly). I will compare the cents per MFLOP/s to the figures here. We already know it will kick the backside of the 32 processor Cray SV1e we used to have performance wise, at less that 1% of the cost. I am really curious what the figures will be. Linpack has its limits of course, but it is still nice to know where you stand, even roughly.

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GRAIL lunar orbiters get down to business

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Is it just me?

But whenever I hear the name of these orbiters, I have an image of John Cleese as "Tim the Enchanter" from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The way he bawled "GRRRAIL!!" in a Scottish accent at Graham Chapman as King Arthur is forever etched in my memory.

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Sun belches wonking solar flare

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I just hope we get some clear skies

Maybe there will be some aurora activity.

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Mammoths, sabre-tooths MURDERED by second giant space boulder

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Mexico again

Maybe they like enchiladas?

Mine is the one with the sombrero

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Nano diamonds

The perfect gift for fashionable protozoans?

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STUNNING NEW APPLE DEVICES that will follow the iPad 3 HD!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: if this is what you have for the 7th of march

Isn't that when they release the iFool?

Sorry, couldn't resist

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coffee/keyboard

"The Jobsian legacy calls for a new product thrust into every niche in your life."

Sounds painful

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: or maybe laying on the chaise longue

Eggs?

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Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Diesel-electric? Should it not be called U3008?

I'll get me coat.

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UK.gov holds summit to stop satnav-driven smash-ups

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: Foreign lorries @Matthew 3

1.80m

But then I do not live in Blighty

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AOL pulls the plug on Brizzly

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: picture sizes?

I just got me a 2 Terabyte disk for picture backup, which should keep me in business for a while. I might put some stuff in cloud storage for cloud processing, or access when not at home, but I will certainly keep local backups.

Given the price of a NAS, you can store shed-loads at home for very little.

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Bletchley Park gets personal with new Alan Turing exhibition

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Men were real men in those days

This is proven by the fact that the Delilah speech scrambler shown in the picture was called "portable".

By implication, we assume women were real women, and small furry creatures from alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from alpha Centauri.

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No 10 develops Terminator iPad app 'to fire ministers'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

How many of us want that app?

Could get messy if everyone could fire a minister, but I know we have all wanted to at times.

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Giant stick insect saved from extinction

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Perhaps we should equip them

with FRICKIN' LASERS.

That'll show the rats!

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Space FIREBALL over Blighty sparks hunt for rich meteorite

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Somethings wrong here...

Glare can cause a non-circular object to appear round quite easily.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Re: Spectral Analysis

Usually the brightest fireballs show up red and green N2 and O2 lines. A very bright one may show other traces, but it might have been difficult to get spectral readings on such a fast moving object.

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3D processor-memory mashups take center stage

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Kudos to these guys!

The lot of them. Really interesting stuff is being made out there.

One caveat: Igors disapprove of near threshold computing:

"Tethting the printhiple? Thtick a bolt of lighting through it! Igorth alwayth make thythtemth that need more power!"

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Daniel Craig like Connery, Skyfall helmsman suggests

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Re: Perfectly plausible

Ah, now you are talking. Proper Bond movie with no fewer than 7 James Bonds (well, 6 and one Jimmy Bond).

"Who is this le Chifre?"

"Nobody knows. Not even le Chifre."

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Apache releases first upgrade to HTTP Server in six years

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

UNIX has a card in its hand:

I ATEN'T DEAD!!

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Cameras roll on 'blockbuster' new Who series

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Spinners?

Where they using procrastinators to get the filming done quickly?

Mine is the one with "Thief of Time" in the pocket

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Crap PINs give wallet thieves 1-in-11 jackpot shot

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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5 digit PINs are being introduced here

I would have no problems remembering 5 digit or longer ones.

Regarding blacklisting, given that your bank knows your date of birth, surely they could forbid you to use a number derived from that date? That would not prevent you from using your wife's, or kids birthday, but those are not printed on your ID, as a rule, so at least some security is added.

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CRACK made by quakes FOUND ON MOON

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Cool!

or actually, not that cool (the moon, that is, not the science).

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Exascale by 2018: Crazy ...or possible?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Re: Re: I could use such power

Many image processing tools are easily broken up into small loads. The tools we develop are so-called connected filters in which data from all parts of the image may influence all other parts. Often you want to avoid this, but e.g. for analysis of complete road networks, you cannot predict which parts need to communicate with which other parts. To cut communication overhead down you need comparatively coarse grained parallellism.

We have been able to device a scheme (which we are now implementing) which cuts down local memory requirements from O(N) to O(N/Np + sqrt(N)), with N the number of pixels and Np the number of processor nodes. Normally you just require O(N/Np) per node. Communication overhead can be dropped from O(N) to O(sqrt(N) log(N)). This has moved the problem from the impossible to the "possible, but you need a coarse-grained cluster."

Of course, the first (shared memory) parallel algorithm for this filters dates from 2008, so we still have much to learn. Other problems in science can also require global interaction between particles (gravity has infinite reach). A lot of work is done cutting communication down, but this is often at the expense of accuracy.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I could use such power

We are looking at terapixel scale image processing. One aim is compute the entire aerial photography data set of the Haiti earthquake for damage assessment. We aim to do this in a few hours. This can still be done at the multi gigaflop rates provided by decent size clusters. For the 2004 tsunami, we would need orders of magnitude more compute power to handle all measurements required (we are talking petapixel range). These are computations that cannot possibly wait. Though exaflop processing might not be needed yet, as image resolution increases, so do the data rates. Compute power will have to keep up. Real-time emergency response requires real-time processing of vast amounts of data. The size of each compute node of the EC2 and similar cloud systems is far too small for our purposes (we need to have at least 32 cores (preferably 64) cores per node and between 128 GB and 1 TB of RAM per node).

So, yes, I can see real-world, life and death applications for these kinds of compute powers. Other applications include large scale scientific simulations (think evolution of galaxies, or the cosmic web, but also earthquakes, ocean currents, or even the blood flow through a sizeable chunk of the vascular system).

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Tiny transistor stays where it's put

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

-196 C is cold, but

it is "merely" liquid nitrogen (LiN) level. Not everyday, but not nearly as impractical as previous devices requiring liquid helium (LiHe) temperatures. Think of the Josephson switch, which was hailed as a breakthrough in high performance computing once. LiHe cooling requirements.

If we can build qubit devices based on this, the potential gains might outstrip the cost of LiN cooling.

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Dick estate gets stiffed

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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One thing is odd

They (the studio, producer, whatever) enter into an agreement with the estate, and now in retrospect they don't want to pay? Can a written agreement be ignored so easily?

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LOHAN flashes fantastical flying truss

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Despite the reservation about stability

Two balloons seems more fitting for LOHAN

I know, I know, I'll get me coat

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Apple antagonist Proview unveils its own iPad

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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All ProView has is their iP

sorry, I'll get me coat

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Europeans turn backs on Ultrabooks

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Re: HP DM1

There is a very positive review right here on the reg

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Cloudy bigshots eclipse open source

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Users might not care, but what do they know?

If all OSS products were withdrawn or crippled in one fell swoop, how much of the internet would be left standing? Users do not care about the fact that Apache is OSS, or that their home wifi router runs Linux, but unplug all OSS products from the net, and the wails of anguish would be deafening. Much of open OSS (or software in general) is not sexy. It just sits in the background doing some vital job. That means people only begin to care when something fails.

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Chip boffins demo 22-nanometer maskless wafer-baking

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Good point!

Small runs become much more interesting this way. Ultimately, one might envisage chip making to be commoditized like 3D printing is becoming a commodity. One off parts are becoming affordable (see LOHAN). Imagine designing your own ASIC chip from scratch rather than going the FPGA route. Design a schematic, send it off, have a wafer-full made, mounted and sent to you.

Far fetched now, but maybe some day.

What do you mean "a man can dream"? A man should dream!

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OCZ out-flashes EMC's Lightning

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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OMG I want one!!!

or two, or three!

Devices like these could SERIOUSLy boost the performance of some seriously big image processing chores (multi terapixel stuff). We require both massive storage and rapid access to LOTS of data.

Aren't we living in wonderful times, technology wise.

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Pope's PR says Vatican in grip of WikiLeaks-style scandal

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coffee/keyboard

"The steady stream of embarrassments are being seen as evidence of a power struggle within the church as one group of elderly men pits itself against another group of elderly men to replace an even more elderly man. Possibly with an elderly Italian."

Loved that bit to bits! It almost sounds like the bad old days at the Unseen University (dead men's shoes and all that).

On the plus side, if we wait just e bit longer, maybe nature will take its course and all these elderly men will start falling over from old age. Whether or not they will meet the maker they would expect (or would have us believe to expect) is another matter entirely

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Shuttleworth remixes Ubuntu... for biz users

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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It may have been the 11.x version that would not boot on various NVidia powered laptops (specifically), not just mine. I then got the older Kubuntu (maybe Gnome versions worked better) which on occasion froze, until that fateful evening when it froze 4 times in quite quick succession (whilst writing some LaTeX in emacs, not a graphics or CPU intensive load). Later a patch was made available for 11.X, but by then I had switched back. New version might be fine, and we work with some Kubuntu derivative at work on my desktop machine, which seems happy enough with the NVidia support. It just did not get along with my old Vaio SZ.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Seconded

Kubuntu 10.04 crashed on my NVidia-powered laptop 4 times in one evening (complete freeze of the desktop, lost quite some work that evening). The 10.10 version would not even boot on NVidia (beta testing apparently done by end users of the so-called stable version). Switched back to OpenSuse 11.2, no worries since.

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HP gives sysadmins a little mobility

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Simon will want one

You just know it. Better still, rig the Boss/head of IT's smartphone/fondleslab to remotely mess things up, with an easy trail leading to said Boss/head of IT. Just one more way of getting rid of a boss.

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Microsoft probes IE8 dll AWOL hell

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Alternatively,

it is Microsoft trying to persuade users not to use IE at all

Not likely, I must admit, but it is an alternative explanation.

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CERN boffins to lift LHC beam power

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

But the question we ask ourselves

How many femtobarns in a nano-wales?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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"They couldn't hit the broadside of a barn at this dist ..."

Here we modified that to:

"They couldn't hit a barn if they were standing inside it."

With a femtobarn, this would create difficulties of course.

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Car crash model cushioned by 38KKK Bulgarian airbags

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Somehow

a whole new meaning of "bipolar" springs to mind watching that video.

Or is it just me thinking that

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Muscle pants give girls that skin-stripped look

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Nice looking girls, but why

do both front and rear of the dress show the front of the skeleton?

Mine is the one with the anatomical atlas in the pocket

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US Navy preps railgun for tests

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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My thoughts exactly

The 16" guns used shells in the order of a ton in weight, which left the barrel at supersonic speed (820 m/s) yielding some 688 MJ of kinetic energy.

Of course, this is just a prototype being tested.

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Ancient cave girl genome could crack Man's genetic puzzle

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Just splice in some frog DNA?

Why are you assuming the Denisovans were related to the French?

Monsieur, you offend me, we French are related to the tall, graceful Cro-Magnon!

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Not medieval

And anyway, as Pratchett and Gaiman (1990) have stated, bishop Ussher was off by at least 15 minutes

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Russians drill into buried 20 million-year-old Antarctic lake

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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The Thing

was on my mind more, but then I am that old

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Huawei's Ascend P1 headed to China in March

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Thinner != better

6mm might still be OK, but I would start to worry at some point that the thing would break, and given where I carry my phone, that would leave gorilla-glass shards in my groinal area.

The eyes water at the thought

Coat, for that is where I should keep an overly thin phone.

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Upgrade eliminates Atlantis from Google Earth

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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The surface of the moon is not covered in a couple of miles of water.

Just over half of the moon's surface is visible from my back garden with my telescope (given enough time, and the various wobbles that allow us to see a bit more than half). Using bigger kit, and the odd lunar orbiter, you can see a lot more. It is also a lot easier to walk on the moon's surface (ask Neil), than on the bottom of the oceans, thousands of meters below (ask any scuba diver). Getting to the bottom of the ocean is relatively simple, of course. Getting there alive is quite a different matter.

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Printed jaw lets woman swallow again

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

I hope they did not bite of more than they could chew

runs for cover

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Scientists weave battery into clothing

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Don't you just

plug the iron into the shirt

Mine is the one with "Danger, High Voltage" on the back

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