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December 15, 2010

Would you like side of grid with your meal? Now you can, at the French version of the Grid Cafe.

December 8, 2010

Wondering what a bag-of-tasks application, elasticity, or cloudbursts are? Read on to find out.

December 1, 2010

While many of our readers were focusing on preparing for SuperComputing 2010, the World Community Grid celebrated its sixth birthday.

November 17, 2010

  Link of the Week: Coming to an i-Phone near you Image courtesy Flickr under Creative Commons licence Since the story in iSGTW last year about Cinefilia, the grid-enabled film recommendation service, it creator and sole webmaster, Leandro Ciuffo, says his user base has increased by 27% — without any direct promotion or advertising. Once a user has signed up for a Cinefilia account they can review whether they like or dislike one of hundreds of films on the database. The system then ‘learns’ that user’s preferences and generates personalized recommendations accordingly. (But in order for the results to be accurate a minimum of 20 films must be rated by a user.)   Ciuffo aims to increase the amount of Brazilian films on the database because 95% of users on his site are Brazilian, possibly because there are currently no recommendation systems for Brazilian films. Ciuffo is looking for partners to help him improve the recommendation software algo

November 10, 2010

Link of the week - ImpactEarth

A screenshot of the ImpactEarth website. Click on the picture for a larger version.

The destruction of the Earth by an asteroid is among our favorite horror stories.
But what would really happen if an asteroid hit the Earth?
Jay Melosh and Robert Marcus of the University of Arizona, and Gareth Collins of Imperial College London created a web-based program to estimate the consequences of a comet or asteroid impact.
A basic version was created in 2005, but the version recently created by Purdue is much more attractive - and fun to use. Check it out at this week's featured link!
-Miriam Boon, iSGTW

November 3, 2010


Link of the Week: Physics for Poets

Woodblock print of ‘The Sea off Satta,’ from ‘36 Views of Mount Fuji’ by Hiroshige Utagawa. Image courtesy Wikipedia under Creative Commons license

At the scifaiku website, fans of science fiction can express their passion for time travel, spaceships and aliens in haiku.
The rules of this ancient Japanese poetic form are relatively simple: each poem is composed of a maximum of three lines, with 5 syllables on the first line, 7 on the next, and 5 on the last.
But while traditional haiku make a reference to nature; “scifaiku” call for a science fiction reference, such as:
Asteroids collidewithout a sound . . . We maneuver between fragments.
It seemed unfair that science fiction fans should have all the fun, so we tried our hands at this art, focusing on the theme of computing. This can be a challenge, given the distressing number of syllables in phrases such as “distributed computing infrastructur

October 27, 2010


Link of the Week - rolls out IaaS

Image courtesy of

Over a year ago the US General Services Administration launched, an online store where government agencies and bodies can shop for and purchase software as a service.
Now, the GSA has announced that will soon provide access to cloud storage, virtual machines, and other forms of Infrastructure as a Service. To learn more, read the original press release at our link of the week.
—Miriam Boon, iSGTW

October 13, 2010

Link of the week - GPU computing webcast

Image courtesy of Moi Cody.

A week from today, a free webcast sponsored by Scientific Computing and Dell Inc. will explore the use of GPU technologies in advanced computing contexts.
The announcement states:
The dramatic increase in more standardized capability, coupled with the delivery of exceptional performance envelopes, all within a lower cost band, positions GPU technologies at the forefront of the next wave of broad architecture adoption. GPU technologies have made tremendous advancements in overall capability, programming and toolkits, providing a much more compelling performance architecture model for complex and computationally intense environments – where performance and speed of delivery are the make or break points to competitive advantage or evolutionary breakthroughs and innovation.
Join Scientific Computing and a diverse panel of experts to discuss the many benefits of GPU technologies as performance accelerators for c

October 6, 2010


Link of the Week: Einstein@home bags a pulsar

Albert Einstein (c) Camera Press, K. of Ottawa

The Einstein@Home volunteer computing project, run on the BOINC platform to run distributed computing projects, usually   searches for gravity waves. (See previous iSGTW article.) However, a side project spotted a rare pulsar in radio observatory data.Pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars; their rapid rotation causes the emission from the poles to sweep across the line-of-sight to the Earth, creating a periodic flash. Initially, most pulsars are energetic, rotating rapidly and emitting radiation in the X-ray region. But, over time, they “spin down;” many only emit at the frequency of radio waves.This summer, a person at a home computer spotted PSR J2007+2722, later confirmed by ground-based observatories.An article in the journal Science praised the efforts of citizen scientists, saying that “This result demonstrates the capability of 'consumer' comput

September 29, 2010

Link of the Week - GPU Technology Conference

This photograph was taken at the 2009 GPU Technology Conference.
Image courtesy nVIDIA.

Last week, computing expert Greg Pfister told us why he thinks that cheap GPU-based supercomputing is coming to an end. And as iSGTW readers from around the world read that article, other computing experts gathered in San Jose for the GPU Technology Conference, an event with a very different underlying perspective.
Sponsored by nVIDIA, the GTC offered separate streams for researchers, developers, and industry.
NVIDIA created daily video recaps for the three-day event. The source aside, they are a quick and convenient way to find out about some of the most interesting presentations from the event.
You can go directly to video one, two, and three to watch them, or read more about the conference by browsing VizWorld posts tagged as “gtc” at our link of the week.

September 22, 2010


Link of the Week: When computers were human

Image courtesy David Grier

The photo at right may look rather ordinary but in fact this office is much more exciting than it seems. The men and women working away at these desks are in fact a sort of human computer, employed by the Mathematical Tables Project in New York City in the 1930s and ’40s under a Works Progress Administration program to fight the ravages of the Great Depression.The Mathematical Tables Project consisted of 450 ‘human computers’ — many of whom had been close to homelessness during the financial collapse. The large majority of the staff had not even completed high school, yet they were brought together to perform calculations for government and scientists in an era  before the first working general-purpose, electronic computer (generally agreed to be ENIAC, or “Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer”).The Mathematical Tables Office Computing Floor shown in the pho

September 15, 2010


Podcast of the Week - Alan Sill of OGF discusses standards, grids, and clouds

Open Grid Forum Vice President of Standards, Alan Sill.
Image courtesy of Alan Sill

It’s been a few months since Alan Sill took over the position of vice president of standards for the Open Grid Forum. Now that he’s had a chance to settle into his new position, Derek Stevens of Cloud Commons has posted an in-depth interview with Sill.
Currently, Sill is a senior scientist at Texas Tech University, where he helped to establish a CMS Tier-3 center and held key positions within TIGRE and PEGrid. He is a charter member of The Americas Grid Policy Management Authority, and has contributed to a variety of working groups within Open Science Grid and the OGF over the years. At the moment he participates in the LHC CMS experiment as a physicist, and contributes to SURAgrid on a regular basis.
According to Sill, a full set of standards for grid computing would necessarily address many of the s

September 8, 2010

iSGTW in Amsterdam

Image courtesy GridTalk. (Click on image for large, PDF version)

Coming to you from Amsterdam is the EGI Technical Forum, the first event after taking over the reins from EGEE. Thanks to GridTalk’s GridCast, you can now get (nearly) the same experience as those attending in person.You will be able to get the latest via twitter, see and hear events by podcast, and enjoy the highlights .Held from 14- to 17- September, this event promises to showcase grid technologies and connect developers, users and newcomers to distributed computing. The major theme of the meeting, achieved through technical sessions, a demonstration and exhibition area, networking space and events, will be to establish collaborations between the new and the current European Distributed Computing Infrastructure projects to meet the needs and requirements of the research community.
Can’t make it in person? With GridCast, you can be there in virtual form to catch the latest &mdas

September 8, 2010


Link of the Week: Live from the CCS

Image courtesy e-Science Talk

Last week, from 2 to 3 September, GridCast headed over to the Citizen Cyberscience Summit, held at Kings College London, to find out all the latest about volunteer computing.Their team of bloggers was on hand throughout the meeting to get the lowdown on the use of volunteer computing in everything from protein folding to searching for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.
Highlights include: 
• David Anderson, director of the SETI@home project, Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley;
• George Dyson, historian and philosopher of science and author of Darwin Among The Machines;
• Myles Allen, head of at Oxford University.But that’s not all! Take a look at more videos, photos and discussion from last week’s summit at the GridCast blog, especially François Grey’s thoughts on the event in this podcast.

September 1, 2010

Poll of the Week - Rock stars of scientific computing

Image courtesy of Gus Cunh.

Over the past few months, our esteemed colleagues at insideHPC have published a fun series of (almost) monthly profiles called "Rock Stars of HPC."
So far, they've celebrated five rock stars with well-written, in-depth profile interviews:

Bill Kramer, National Center for Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Ricky Kendall, National Center for Computational Science at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Thomas Sterling, Center for Computation and Technology at Louisiana State University
Marc Snir, National Center for Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
John Shalf, National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Every one of them is an accomplished and respected researcher in the field of high performance computing. But is that all there is to being a rock star? And if you slice and dic

August 25, 2010

Website of the Week - “. . . where physics and life collide”

The “no exploding cars” sign on Route Rutherford at CERN. (Presumably, it forbids vehicles of 30 tons or more from carrying inflammable loads.) Image courtesy

Face it, few physics, engineering or computing institutions resemble the fictional setting of “Angels and Demons,” in which marble-columned, ivy-covered, red-brick buildings placed upon rolling green lawns represent the geometrically symmetrical  grounds of a well-known physics research center.
In our experience, most such facilities bear more resemblance to the labyrinth of an eternal construction site — a style in which they seem to take a perverse pride. (Ever see the MIT Campus Subterranean Map?)
Consequently, in CERN’s case, visitors find themselves wondering why Building 58 is between Building 3 and Building 4.
Or why there is a viewing platform atop a water tower with a permanently locked

August 18, 2010


Link of the Week - TeraGrid ’10 Proceedings

People mingle as they browse the research projects on display at the TeraGrid ’10 poster session. Image courtesy of Miriam Boon, iSGTW.

Earlier this month, researchers and computer experts gathered in Pittsburgh for TeraGrid ’10, the annual conference organized and sponsored by TeraGrid.
Not everyone could attend, of course, so it’s a good thing that the proceedings are now available online at this week’s link of the week.
The conference included a wide variety of programming, including tracks dedicated to science, technology, science gateways, and EOT (education, outreach and training). A poster session and visualization showcase featured posters and visualizations related to computational biology, molecular dynamics, computational chemistry, signal processing, computer science, computational fluid dynamics, computational multi-body dynamics, computational materials (nano-composites), grid computing

August 11, 2010


Link of the Week - A new twist on summer camp: computing classes in the wild

Image courtesy Carlos Jaime-Barrios Hernandez

We’ve all heard of summer camp.But SuperComputing Camp (or SSCAMP, as it is known by its acronym in Spanish) is a little different.
Starting on the 15th of August, 46 undergraduates and masters students will learn about high performance computing, grid computing, volunteer computing and cloud computing — while staying in a hacienda near Panachi National Wildlife Park, just outside the small town of Piedecuesta, Colombia.The organizer, Carlos Jaime-Barrios Hernandez, says the idea is for students to learn in a natural environment, where they can explore and enjoy the great outdoors while having access to fully up-to-date facilities, including digital resources, projectors and live-video feeds to keynote speeches and online lectures. They will remotely connect to the grid infrastructure via the web. Hernandez — a research scient

August 4, 2010


Link of the Week - Move over, Deep Blue: Watson is here

Watson (center) competes against humans in a mock Jeopardy match. To see the video this image was taken from, click on the image.
Screenshot taken by Miriam Boon. Video courtesy of IBM.

To make artificial intelligence history, Deep Blue had to defeat chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov. Now those zany IBM AI researchers are at it again, pitting their latest experiment, Watson, against champions of a much more challenging game: Jeopardy.
Watson, which runs on a Blue Gene computer, uses a variety of separate algorithms to search its memory for answers to the clues posed on the show. Then, it combines the results each algorithm returns - taking certainty into consideration - to come up with an answer. This technique has made a huge difference, according to the team lead, David Ferrucci, as quoted in a great article that appeared in the New York Times in June.

Whether Watson will win when it goes on TV in a real “Jeop

July 28, 2010


Link of the Week: 62 Projects to Make With a Dead Computer

What to do with dead electronics? Image courtesy Mother Jones “Eco-Nundrums”

So, you want to deal with used electronics in an ecologically sensitive way.
Meet Randy Sarafan, a graduate of the Design Technology program at New York City’s Parsons School of Design, who has a fascination with technology, art, and all things green.
He has come up with new ways to deal with those dead PCs and laptops, old cell phones, broken printers, orphaned keyboards, irredeemable iPods, busted digital cameras, and tangles of cables and wires that we all accumulate.
A few of his solutions include the iMac terrarium, the laptop Digital Photo Frame, the Flat-Screen Ant Farm, the power strip Bird Feeder, and the Walkman Soap Dish, among others. 
Now a Virtual Fellow with the Free Art and Technology Lab, he has published a book called 62 Projects to Make With a Dead Computer, that tells novices how to safely take

July 21, 2010

Announcement - LiveChat a smashing success, new column launched

Submit a question to our new “Ask an Expert” column, and you too could look as enlightened as this man. Image courtesy brainloc

Over the course of last week’s one-hour live chat, over 60 of you tuned in to learn about what makes a resource and project a match made in heaven. You had a lot to say, too, submitting a total of 75 comments, questions, and insights. Some of you even made new friends, exchanging contact information.
You can still read the chat log on our website – and indeed, about twenty already have. But we also followed up with a question and answer session over at Nature Network.
What next? We’d love to do another live chat at some point, and as always, we welcome suggestions on topics and experts. But today, we have an exciting announcement to make. We are launching a new column which will appear periodically within iSGTW: “Ask an Expert”
With “Ask an Expert

July 14, 2010


Link of the Week: WLCG, Live from London

Image courtesy GridTalk

Last week, from 7 to 9 July, GridCast headed over to the WLCG workshop, held at Imperial College London, to find out all the latest LHC and grid related news.Their team of bloggers was on hand throughout the meeting to get the lowdown from Tiers 0 through to 3, as well as all the LHC experiments.Highlights from the blog include video interviews with Ian Fisk of CMS, and Jamie Shiers who leads the grid support group in the IT department at CERN. There’s also some great discussions on storage, courtesy of blogger James Jackson.But that’s not all! Take a look at more videos, photos and discussion from last week’s WLCG workshop at the GridCast blog.

July 7, 2010

Link of the week - GridCast blogs from HealthGrid 2010

Posters on display at HealthGrid 2010.
Image courtesy of Daniela Skrowny.

Last week, HealthGrid 2010 attendees gathered in Orsay, France to discuss the state of the art for integration of grid practices into the fields of biology, medicine, and health. Naturally, GridCast bloggers were there to cover it.
Over the course of the three-day conference, GridCast bloggers posted four videoblogs and six blog posts, including:

Daniela Skrowny, a computational medicine and grid computing researcher, writes about the highlights of a poster session.
Faustin Roman, a grid researcher, closes out the conference by sharing his overall impressions.
HealthGrid’s Executive Director Samuel Keuchkerian writes in response to Joan Dzenowagis’ keynote presentation.

Check it all out at the link of the week!

June 23, 2010


Link of the Week - EuroVis2010 blog posts

The EuroVis 2010 conference logo.
Image courtesy EuroVis 2010.

Here at iSGTW, we wish we could be at every major scientific computing conference, but it just isn't possible.
Earlier this month, we missed the EuroVis2010 conference, which took place 9-11 June in Bordeaux, France. Luckily, T.J. Jankun-Kelly, a computer science researcher at Mississippi State University, was in attendance – and blogging up a storm.
Jankun-Kelly's daily summaries of the conference were posted on Vizworld; you can see them by clicking on the links below.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3


June 16, 2010


Link of the Week: Linux versus E. coli

The Linux penguin. Image courtesy Matt McGee, Flickr, under Creative Commons license.

A recent post from science writer Carl Zimmer on his blog The Loom compared the programming networks in Linux and the E. coli bacterium.
Their similarities are interesting, as are their differences, says Zimmer:“The history of Linux has played out differently. A lot of the oldest functions in Linux are middle managers or master regulators, not workhorses as in E. coli. And while old genes in E. coli haven’t evolved much, programmers have heavily rewritten Linux’s old functions.
“Both networks developed, step by step, as increasingly sophisticated systems for operating things — computers or cells.
“But the Linux network was the work of programmers, while E. coli is the product of four billion years of evolution. The differences in the history and shape of the two networks emerge from the ways in which they deve