* Posts by Dr_Jim

14 posts • joined 19 Jun 2009

StoneFly flies faster with Fusion-io


Seagate should by Stonefly

Fresh from his 3-heads-per-platter announcement, Steve Luzco should buy Stonefly and package their server into Seagate's new IP-drive. Can you imagine:- "EMC killer! iSCSI in a 2.5" form factor!!!!!"

Seagate triples up heads/platter ratio


It HAS been tried before!

Several companies have tried multi-actuator drives. The cost usually was 3 to 4x the standard drive!

So, if you want an HDD that gives 300 IOPS for the same price as an SSD drive, send Mr. Luczo at Seagateban email requesting a free sample. He'll remember this April 1!

Good reporting, Chris!!!

Calxeda boasts of 5 watt ARM server node


What was the problem we were supposed to solve???

5W sounds good, but let's compare apples and apples. This is a uni-server - no virtualization - so it can run only one instance. A typical dual core Westmere can run 96 virtual machines, so we need to compare 96 of these ARM units with 1 Westmere.

96 times 5 W is 400W, which is more than the Westmere board takes.

Price-wise, I can't see this at less than $125 in volume buys, which means that the box will run to around $12,000 to $14,000. The Westmere is around $3500 in volume buys. On top of the system cost, those 120 Gig-E or 10GE ports will need some switches, adding yet more cost.

So, the reality is the ARM approach means more power and more price than the mainstream alternative. That suggests the real play for the ARM unit may be low-end tablets and point-of-display systems, rather than HPC.

Fukushima is a triumph for nuke power: Build more reactors now!


Storm in a Murdoch teacup?

Finally, someone with facts and no axe to grind! Sadly, we have had the world excited by news hounds keen for a "real" story. As a physicist, I've been dismayed by the news coverage. CNN even brought out a rabid anti-nuclear "expert" who wanted to talk about the end of the world.

I think the article's assessment is correct. Good engineering, good planning, a willingness not to panic are all to be applauded. This is a major vindication for nuclear engineering. These reactors took two consecutive hits way beyond design specification and are still safe.

I did see a lot of oil tanks burning in the news coverage. I suspect these are doing more damage to the local environment than the nuclear reactors.

Parliament's expenses body spent £2.2m on IT


Don't you love sandbagging

Most US companies of the size of Parliament do their expense management with a written policy and a work-flow procedure. All it takes is a couple of PCs in the finance department, with a copy of Intuit or Excel. Of course, there are occasional "errors" too, but computers don't catch those. Diligent accountants do that.

Perhaps Parliament ought to sub-contract its IT functions out? I'm sure a US company will offer a better deal, never mind the Indians or Chinese!

Humans shamed in round two of Jeopardy! showdown


The robots aren't ready to take over

In a sense, Watson seems to have been given an unfair advantage. The computer has no finger to move, so it can avoid the delay before initiating movement, and the also the time to depress the button. That is sufficient to make it the winner.

A fairer test would be for the three contestants to write down the answers and then award based on correct or wrong, but that wouldn't be Jeopardy.

It also looks like the computer is good at "look-up" type problems. Again, it has been gamed to win, since we haven't seen ANY of the complex reasoning/verbal skills questions so beloved of Jeopardy.

Overall, this is very stage-managed. It is impressive as a performance, but it is a biased contest and somewhat misrepresentative of reality. Next time, let some computer-savvy people set up the contest.

Hefty physicist: Global warming is 'pseudoscientific fraud'


Scientific warming

With signs that we are heading into a Maunder temperature minimum (Mini Ice Age), the cries of denial and limitation of open discussion that we are seeing reflects the money goal over-riding scientific skepticism and the search for scientific truth. Professor Lewis is right. The scientific community has been suborned by mammon.

I suspect certain individuals in leadership roles jumped on the bandwagon and found themselves trapped in their own creative web. With so much on the line financially, clearly the path of least pain was to promote "warming". All the characteristics of a trip to Abilene are present. The choice of the trend starting point, for example, makes a huge difference to the rate of warming (or cooling). The extended solar quiet phase we are in also has been ignored by many pundits. On top of all this, two of the data clearing houses faked their reporting enough to bias the analysis dramatically, and an unspeakably large number of scientists appear to have generated their theses and reports second or third hand from this data. That's not science at its best!

It looks we aren't warming much; we may be cooling; and the cooling could be substantial; but - with all charity to the scientists, it could all be short-term statistical variation. Whatever it is, we are likely premature in starting a carbon futures market. What we do need to do is get real and prognosticate the price of oil over the next century as it gets scarce, and look at the impact of that on civilization.

Apple in 873-page legal claim to word 'Pod'


Apple patents Oxford English dictionary????

I think Apple may be over-reaching a little on this!

There is prior usage of the term pod in the computer industry. Going back to 1984, HP had a calculator pod used to connect external devices. I reference http://oldcomputers.net/hp75.html for details on the HP75D.

There is also a usage in http://www.ce.berkeley.edu/~glaser/documents/SSS%20terrascope.pdf

Here a 2inch by 4 inch pod is used.

Most appropriately, I believe Frederic Pohl, the famous SciFy writer, may (like Arthur Clarke with satellite TV) lay claim to conceiving the iPod. I quote "Each Heechee carries a microwave emitter in a storage pod between his or her legs. The pod is a trapezohedron shaped device and is also used for carrying equipment. The pods also explain why the seats on the ship have V-shaped indentations to accommodate the devices. " (This is from the Heechee page on Wikipedia) I think this one may go back to 1972 or earlier!

Mr Jobs may be dancing in a minefield with this idea!

Boffins build lie detector for crooked CEOs


And now, the politicians

This is very perceptive, and really useful conceptually. One implication is that the integrity of a response to a question can actually be measured by the semantic values in that response. Perhaps if this were added to voice stress analysis, we would have a relatively high accuracy of lie detection in real time.

That would really impact the moral quality of those CEO briefings, but what if the same method is applied to political speeches? I think we all intuit some of the mis-statements pols make, but the structured CEO-tester approach would improve the quality of our legislators no end. Maybe the research team should apply for CIA venture money for that one???

US puts $30bn of IT projects up for review


How can you spend $5Bn for any single project?

Today's servers have 12 computer cores in a dual-CPU system costing $3000. To spend $5Bn to get a program completed even with customized software smells strongly of how we did business in the 70's, not how its done today.The underlying causes are a) over-specifying by the buying agency (remember the $300 hammer); b) an unwillingness (perhaps a strong positive reluctance) to move to low-cost COTS technology; c) provider pressure to maximize solution complexity.

Making headway on this problem requires a directional dictat from the National CIO's office. One or more of these dinosaur programs should be refunded as a COTS-only program, biting the bullet on the software implications, which may be minimal if a rewrite is already planned. The implication is COTS acquisition costs, support costs and overall risks will much outweigh the dubious benefits from a unique, proprietary design.

COTS has worked very well for the commercial market. Oracle, for instance, converted all of their internal data centers, ironically, from Sun minicomputers to Compaq servers, saving a good deal of money and improving flexibility and stability as well as throughput per $$ and per watt. It is time for these lessons to apply to the government and military space, more than the small steps being implemented at this time.

Atlantis spacewalkers snapped through shuttle windows


Dr Jim

It wasn't the one-handed marking tool that caught my eye. There are two of the latest flight computers just below the center frame of the windows.

Of course, they are space-hardened, which is why they are 8 times the size of the pocket calculator i just bought at Walgreen's drug store. I bet they cost a lot more than the $5 I paid for mine!

Stick a fork in floppies - they're done


Demise of the Floppy

It's been a long time coming. As the guy who edited the first standard for the floppy (in Europe), I never thought the disks would last 36 years. Even the keyboard and the mouse have gone through several generations. Au revoir!

Federal boffins: 'Giant invading snakes' will soon rule USA



Texas and Florida, eh? Is there a Bush connection here?

Perhaps these are Republican snakes!

Intel clones your phone in the cloud


First the phone, then the PC?

The concept of using a phone as a terminal makes sense. It opens up huge amounts of computing power and data storage without loading cost onto the phone.

But why stop there? The same paradigm would work handily for the desktop.

Will there be a day soon when my TV is my "home computer" and all of the processing and storage is safe in the cloud?

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