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January 30, 2008

Link of the week -  Global Grid User Support comes of age GGUS provides user support 24 hours a day, seven days a week to users of the EGEE grid across the planet.Stock image from  Providing a system that supports users of computing grids may not sound like the most exciting of challenges, but the team at Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe in Karlsruhe in Germany think otherwise, and is proud of their service: the Global Grid User Support System, or GGUS, pronounced “jee-guss.”“Helpdesk systems that work across a single enterprise are well understood,” explains Torsten Antoni, leader of the GGUS team. “However, the scale of grid computing means that the helpdesk system must work across many enterprises and span administrative domains, which is a very different challenge.” GGUS began in 2004 as an EGEE project designed to make it easy for grid users to find someone to deal with their needs, whether requesting a digital certificate or asking why the proxy server in Outer Mongolia is no

January 23, 2008

Link of the week - ORBIT Open Access Radio Grid Testbed The Rutgers University Wireless Information Networking Laboratory hosts the ORBIT facility, including this indoor lab with 400 programmable radio transceivers laid out in a rectangular pattern. It is used to test new mobile computing and communications technologies.Image courtesy of Carl Blesch, Rutgers University A unique facility for testing new mobile computing and communications technologies, known as the ORBIT Open Access Radio Grid Testbed, has scooped the Alexander Schwarzkopf Prize for Technological Innovation, recognizing a research team at the Rutgers University Wireless Information Networking Laboratory (WINLAB).The winning facility features a 400-node programmable radio transceiver emulation laboratory and an outdoor field trial system of short- and long-range radios on the university’s New Brunswick Campus.The ORBIT facility is the world’s largest open, programmable wireless network facility for use by academic and industry researchers worldwide.

January 16, 2008

Link of the week - ISSGC ‘07 joins the ICEAGE This presentation from Malcolm Atkinson outlines some issues involved in grid computing, and gives examples of some common scenarios and architectures.Image courtesy of ISSGC’07A collection of 28 presentations captured at the ISSGC ’07 grid computing school have been made available online in the ICEAGE library for the first time. The topics covered include: the basics of distributed computing,an introduction to grid security,using common middlewares, real applications of grids, grid software engineering, the future of grid computing, and more. This collection provides a fantastic education for students who are interested in using or studying grid computing, and allows students from around the world to hear presentations from world experts. Speakers include Malcolm Atkinson, Qian Depei, Erwin Laure, Miron Livny, David Snelling, to name just a handful. Distributing content on distributed computingIn the past few years the International Summer School on Grid Computi

December 19, 2007

Link of the week - GridRepublic performs at 700-plus teraflops GridRepublic makes it easy for anyone to volunteer their computer's spare time to distributed computing projects that contribute to scientific research on disease, climate change, gravitational waves and much more... Together these projects have 700-plus teraflops of power available.Screenshot courtesy of GridRepublic Want to be part of the world’s most powerful supercomputer? Try 700-plus teraflops of power on for size: that’s the aggregate power available from the 18 volunteer computing projects supported by GridRepublic.Powered by BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing), GridRepublic is a user-friendly portal that allows anybody with an Internet connection and a few minutes of idle computer time to start crunching real data.Making the impossible possibleGridRepublic volunteers exchange their ordinary, inconsequential screensaver for a downloaded screensaver that could save lives, change history or discover new life on other plane

December 12, 2007

Link of the week - Rosetta@home vid cracks 20,000 YouTube views Engaging with the computer-savvy YouTube masses, this clip promoting Rosetta@home makes an outstanding case for its cause; it had soared past 19,800 views when this iSGTW was published.Screenshot courtesy of YouTube The Rosetta@home volunteer computing project has created a superb communication tool in this popular YouTube flick. At the time of publishing this issue of iSGTW, the video had already soared past 19,800 views. At just under seven minutes long, the clip covers everything from DNA to interplanetary exploration, but more importantly, it takes the Rosetta@home message to a computer-savvy public. Neatly explaining the challenges of protein folding and the benefits of research enabled by Rosetta@home, the video also underlines the philosophy and theory of distributed computing, encouraging viewers to become involved with the project.The video was produced by Laura Lynn Gonzalez and covers research conducted at the University of Washington’s Baker

December 5, 2007

Link of the week - Sharkrunners Your ship is virtual, but the sharks are real. Real-world data gathered from a network of sensors offers gamers the chance to track actual great whites.Screenshot courtesy of Sharkrunners Sharkrunners, designed for Discovery Channel’s 20th Anniversary Shark Week, is a persistent game of oceanic exploration and high stakes shark research. Players take on the role of marine biologists who must outfit their boat, map its path and then ply the oceans in the search for great white sharks, all while keeping an eye on their fuel capacity and monitoring the skill, stamina and compatibility of their crew members.The game uses real-world telemetry data collected from actual sharks, using sensors and GPS units to provide the position and movement of the sharks in the game.  Boat movement is in realtime, and if you aren’t logged in when you encounter a shark, you’ll be buzzed with an email or text message that gives you three hours to log on, then three minutes to select your approa

November 28, 2007

Link of the week - International Journal of Grid Computing Elsevier Science’s Future Generation Computer Systems journal targets computer scientists, managers and policy makers in information technology.Image courtesy of Elsevier Want much more on grid computing? Get your teeth into something more technical and check out Elsevier Science’s Future Generation Computer Systems journal.Sporting the unwieldy but extremely descriptive subtitle “The International Journal of Grid Computing: Theory, Methods and Application,” the monthly journal covers new theory and advances in distributed system design, collaborative environments, high performance computing and high throughput computing.Sample papers cover grid programming, efficient bandwidth utilization, data mining in grid computing environments and grid filesystem functionality. 

November 21, 2007

Link of the week - Online learning: the International Winter School on Grid Computing The online International Winter School on Grid Computing requires 80 hours of commitment and is open to up to 30 participants. Applications are open now. This image comes from the summer school equivalent.Image courtesy of ICEAGE Can’t make it to the 2008 ICEAGE International Summer School on Grid Computing in Hungary in July? Why not study online instead? Enrolling in the summer school’s winter incarnation: the online International Winter School on Grid Computing, which kicks off 6 February 2008 and runs until 5 March. The International Summer Schools on Grid Computing—run by the ICEAGE project—were established in 2003 and have proven to be a great success, both for teaching staff and students. Introducing numerous grid technologies through lectures and practical exercises, the summer schools are a unique gathering place for globally recognised grid computing figures from all over the world. “[This sum

November 14, 2007

Links of the week - The latest on the Large Hadron Collider The LHC project is the first large-scale scientific endeavor to depend on the success of grid computing for its own success. Screen shot courtesy of US/LHC The latest on the Large Hadron Collider—which is set to become the world’s most powerful particle accelerator when it starts up in 2008—is increasingly available in living rooms around the planet.LHC news, updates and resources are now available from an international trio of Web sites produced by CERN, the UK and the most recent, released last month by the U.S.You can also track the progress of the project using LHC milestones. Coming to proton-crunch time For more than a decade, an international team of thousands of scientists, engineers, technicians and students has been designing, constructing and assembling the 27-kilometer-long LHC and the four huge experiments it will host. Alongside this effort, a slightly smaller, but no less dedicated, team of computer scientists and computing-savvy phy

November 7, 2007

Resources - Women in information technology Help turn traditional stereotypes on their head.Sticker image and design © Jinx, Inc The percentage of women in IT has declined from 41 percent in 1996 to 32 percent in 2004,1 with women comprising only 3 to 5 percent of senior management positions.2 What's going on? Find out more, access new resources and be inspired:GHC Women in Computing conferenceFocused on the research and career interests of women in computing, the 2007 conference was held last month and attracted 1400 women and men from 22 countries. The 8th GHC Women in Computing conference will be held 1-4 October 2008 in Denver, Colorado, U.S. Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology“Writing women into technical history,” the Anita Borg Institute coordinates a number of activities including the TechLeaders program, the Women of Vision Awards and the Systers email community, which comprises 2700 members in at least 54 countries. Also on offer are some great mentoring resources and inform

October 31, 2007

Links of the week - AIBO learns new tricks using grids The lab’s best friend poses with fifty of the thousand objects he can now recognise thanks to grid computing.Image courtesy of Intelligent Systems Lab Amsterdam This demonstration of color-based object recognition by a grid-connected robot dog will be on show at SC07 in Reno, Nevada, next month. What will they think of next?A team from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is teaching an AIBO dog new tricks, using the popular robot toy to showcase the value of grids in multimedia computing. The team have connected their robo-pooch to a wide-area grid system—encompassing computers at institutes in Europe, the United States and Australia—and are using these resources to teach color-based object recognition. The robot can now identify 1000 different objects, even under a diversity of imaging conditions, such as different shadowing and color variations. Interestingly, based on an experiment once published in Nature, this is far beyond the object l

October 24, 2007

Link of the week - reCAPTCHA: stop spam, read books, beat the bots About 60 million CAPTCHAs are solved by humans around the world every day. In each case, roughly ten seconds of human time are being spent, which means more than 150,000 hours are spent every day on this task. Images courtesy of reCAPTCHAreCAPTCHA is free program that protects you from spam while furthering the fine goal of digitizing physical libraries, one word at a time.CAPTCHAs (for Completely Automated Public Turing tests to tell Computers and Humans Apart) are used on many Web sites to distinguish between legitimate human users and automated “bots” that trawl the web to generate spam. Using the ability of human users to decipher distorted text, CAPTCHAs prevent bots from navigating to protected Web sites. Turning anti-spam in to a force for goodAbout 60 million CAPTCHAs are solved by humans around the world every day. In each case, roughly ten seconds of human time are being spent, which means more than 150,000 hours are spent every day on this tas

October 17, 2007

  Link of the week - Visualizing the state of your grid with GridMaps The GridMap prototype show the status of different sites in the Worldwide Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid. Green indicates the site is “OK,” orange indicates degraded service and red indicates that the site is down. Image © CERN openlab/EDSWhich of your grid sites are operational at any instant?How much does each site contribute to which virtual organization?How can you have all this information and more at your fingertips?With GridMaps, a top-level grid services monitoring visualization produced as a collaboration, initiated by EDS Fellow Rolf Kubli, between CERN openlab and EDS undertaken within the Grid Deployment Group at CERN.“This style of data monitoring requires much less space than conventional tables or bar charts,” says EDS senior engineer Max Böhm, architect and developer of the GridMap prototype. “It also allows you to page quickly through different points or focus on different metrics to help di

October 10, 2007

Link of the week - Pit your wit against the World Checkers Champion Canada’s WestGrid helped crunch 500,995,484,682,338,672,639 checkers positions to produce an unbeatable player: Chinook.Image courtesy of ChinookIn 1994 computer program Chinook won the World Checkers Championship, making it the first program to win a human world championship. Thanks in part to grid computing, Chinook is now officially unbeatable.Using the resources of Canada’s WestGrid, Jonathan Schaeffer and his team at the University of Alberta, have solved the game of checkers, sorting through 500 billion billion checkers positions to prove that if played perfectly, checkers will always end in a draw: Chinook cannot be beaten.Since it’s no fun to play an invincible opponent, Schaeffer has shackled Chinook’s powers and provided an online version of the program that you can play to win. You can also check out the fascinating history of computing’s bid to beat checkers, which began in the 1950s with the efforts of Arthur Samuel.West

September 26, 2007

Link of the week - One-stop shop for WorldWideScience Representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy, the British Library and the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information were observers at a signing ceremony to partner on the development of courtesy of is a global science gateway that allows users to search interconnected national and international scientific databases with the aim of accelerating scientific discovery and works by distributing a search query to its various constituent databases or portals. Each database independently ranks its own results and then returns these results to, which then ranks these results again to ensure the patron sees only the most relevant of the aggregated results. Databases currently represented include:African Journals Online (South Africa)Article@INIST (France)Australian Antarctic Data Centre (Australia)Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (Cana

September 19, 2007

Link of the week - Facetooth? Now you can share more than ever before with your friends.Stock image from sxc.huOfficially known as Cityware, although already earning an online reputation as Facetooth, this technology is the brainchild of scientists at Bath University in the UK, who have blended Bluetooth with Facebook to produce a physical map of where your webby pals are at any time.Cityware works by using various nodes that search the local area for Bluetooth devices, grab the IDs for these devices and then match them up with Facebook profiles. Bingo! You know who it is across the street, what they did on Friday night and their favorite flavor of icecream.Nodes have been set up in Bath, University College London and the University of California in San Diego. More nodes are planned for Sweden, Hong Kong and Sydney. If not incredibly useful, Cityware is at least very interesting. It’s part of a multidisciplinary research project into distributed systems, human-computer interactions and pervasive computing in urban spac

September 5, 2007

Link of the week - SciVee: YouTube for scientists? Science publishing goes podcast: SciVee provides the chance for scientists to communicate their results via webcast video.Image courtesy of SciVeeYour moment of scientific pop-glory could be here!Your research results need no longer be hidden away in university libraries or relegated to inch-thick papers. Instead, you can tout your breakthroughs directly to the masses using what some are describing as a YouTube for scientists: SciVee. Using SciVee, scientists have the chance to upload short videos along with their papers, publish podcasts featuring their work, join science groups and create professional profiles.The videos and podcasts provide the opportunity for researchers to bypass any offputting jargon and technical dressing by communicating their results directly—person to person.In this way, visitors to SciVee can get a quick overview of a variety of scientific research, delivered by the researchers themselves, making it easier for fellow scientists and the general publi

August 29, 2007

Link of the week - FennoGrid: gridding with the people Assembly is billed as a four-day non-stop party for computer enthusiasts. This shot shows participants in the FennoGrid challenge, battling wits in a huge multiplayer game that took place while the animation was rendering.Image courtesy of Antti Hartikainen What happens if you gather 5000 gamers, with almost 3000 personal computers, and ask them to hook together an ad-hoc grid at a massive gaming festival?FennoGrid recently found out.FennoGrid is a Finnish non-profit organization set up to share information about grid and peer-to-peer research.Our most recent event took place at Finnish computer festival Assembly, a great place to raise awareness of grids with computer-savvy future users.Mission: possible? The challenge: to build and operate a huge ad-hoc cluster for 15 minutes, recruiting as many participants as possible to help render a 3D animation, all while playing a big-screen multi-player computer game. The technology: We used Blender software to render the anim

August 8, 2007

Link of the week - DIY grid summer school Happy graduates from the Joint EGEE and SEE-GRID Summer School on Application Support, the teaching material from which is now available.Image courtesy of Gergely SiposMissed out on attending a grid summer school this year? Why not study at home using the teaching material from the Joint EGEE and SEE-GRID Summer School on Application Support, held 25-30 June in Budapest, Hungary, and organized and hosted by MTA SZTAKI, the Computer and Automation Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.The teaching material includes lectures, slides and notes for the hands-on practicals, originally presented by EGEE, SEE-GRID and ICEAGE representatives. The school aimed to introduce potential users to EGEE and SEE-GRID grid technologies, and to introduce methods for application development on EGEE grid networks. Its primary focus was on ways that end-users can apply gLite middleware to operate large-scale distributed applications on top of inter-organizational grids. Twenty-two people att

August 1, 2007

Link of the week - Open Science Grid: a collaborative approach Total jobs per Virtual Organization: Plot showing number of simultaneous jobs running on Open Science Grid computing facilities for a recent six–month period. Each color denotes jobs run by a distinct Virtual Organization.Image courtesy of Open Science Grid Open Science Grid: Building and Sustaining General Cyberinfrastructure Using a Collaborative Approach is a paper discussing the creation and operation of the Open Science Grid. Published in June in First Monday, it covers:An introduction to Open Science GridPractical lessons learned from operating a large cyberinfrastructureScalability, scalability, scalabilityChallenges faced by Open Science Grid“OSG’s experience broadly illustrates the breadth and scale of effort that a diverse, evolving collaboration must undertake in building and sustaining large–scale cyberinfrastructure serving multiple communities,” writes author Paul Avery, a professor at the University of Florida and resource m

July 25, 2007

Link of the week - Grids for kids at TryScience Yearn to save the world? Give it a go at!Image courtesy of TryScience.orgProblem: residents near Mt. Vesuvius in Naples, Italy, have reported minor earthquakes, but the Vesuvius Observatory sensors have not recorded any volcano activity. Is Mt. Vesuvius ready to erupt? Or is this just a false alarm? Your mission: discover the truth. You become the Grid Master and must use grid computing to model Vesuvius’ volcanic activity as quickly as possible, but without taking computing power from other important jobs. Think you have what it takes? Give it a go at “Grid Master” is just one of the grid-themed games TryScience have developed to teach future scientists the benefits and challenges of grid computing. Kids playing “Grid Master” must not only protect the residents of Naples, they must also decide which applications work best on the grid, and which projects should be given priority on their grid network. TryScience comes from

July 18, 2007

Acronym of the week - GridAE Evolutionary robotics problems such as the development of controllers for autonomous robots are being used as a test project for building a grid-based framework for Artificial Evolution application. Image courtesy of Erol Sahin Evolution. Survival of the fittest. It seems like a pretty efficient way to work out which combination of genes offers the best solution to the challenge of life under a certain set of conditions. In fact, evolution is such a clever system that we’re trying to simulate it. And it’s so complex that we need grid computing to power those simulations. Grid-based Artificial Evolution is the result: a relatively new approach to solving complex problems, inspired by the mechanisms of natural evolution.AE solves a given problem by first evaluating the “fitness” of each of a population of candidate solutions. This approach can be used to solve problems in fields ranging from engineering and robotics to social sciences and genetics. Like evolution, AE is inc

July 11, 2007

Acronym of the week - SE4SEE SE4SEE is an innovative grid-enabled search engine, developed in Turkey to specifically target countries in South-East Europe.Image courtesy of the Turkish National Grid Initiative TR-Grid Search Engine for South-East Europe is a grid-enabled, personalized, on-demand, country-specific, category-based search engine. It specifically targets countries in South-East Europe and differs from a traditional search engines in both its design philosophy and functionality. The main features of SE4SEE include: Personalized crawling: While traditional search engines crawl the entire Web every so often, SE4SEE starts an individual crawl for each user query, searching original copies of pages in the web to ensure the most up-to-date versions are evaluated.On-demand crawling: Traditional search engines crawl the Web continuously; SE4SEE only initiates a crawl when it receives a user query. Users can also control crawl conditions, such as the number of download pages or the duration of a crawl. This use is suited

July 4, 2007

Acronym of the week - NEESit The NEES network extends across 15 experimental facilities spanning the entire breadth of the United States. Image courtesy of NEESitGround-shaking computer-powered collaboration is the order of the day at NEESit, otherwise known as the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation Cyberinfrastructure Center. No wonder it needs an acronym! NEES is the slightly shorter version, standing for the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation. NEES is a shared national network comprising 15 experimental facilities, collaborative tools, a centralized data repository, and earthquake simulation software, all linked by the ultra-high-speed Internet2 connections used by the NEESgrid. This grid allows earthquake engineers across the United States to share data, collaborate with colleagues, and remotely participate in experiments.NEES research provides engineers with insight into the seismic responses of everything from buildings and bridges to coastal region

June 27, 2007

Link of the week - Power through your data with data turbine Like to linger over each piece of your data? Or do you prefer to cruise through at high speed? Now you can have your hare, and tortoise too.Image courtesy of Bruvvers Theatre CompanyEver wish you could record your data and then browse it later, both more quickly and more slowly than real time? You can. Data Turbine, a middleware tool for gathering remote sensor data, does for data what TiVo® does for TV.  Based on extensive development work in the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation Cyberinfrastructure Center at San Diego Supercomputer Center in the United States, the middleware is now being hosted in NEESforge at SDSC. Data Turbine is especially good at aggregating dissimilar data sources scattered across a network, and thus  it provides researchers with a way to work together on multiple kinds of data.This tool, originally developed by Creare, is now freely downloadable as open source for noncommercial use.