Archive for February, 2005

Spotlight on Dan Reed

Friday, February 25th, 2005

A very complimentary article on Dan Reed and his efforts to launch and grow the Renaissance Computer Center appeared in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education. I especially like his vision for providing high-performance computing resources beyond the science and engineering communities, to artists and humanists, for example. Combine the unique, and somewhat different, creative abilities of a high-end technologist and an artist, and who knows what you’ll get? By the way, Dan is a contributor to the first issue of CTWatch Quarterly.

This article, “High-Tech Renaissance,” is available online at

This article will be available to non-subscribers of The Chronicle for up to five days after it is e-mailed.

The article is always available to Chronicle subscribers at

Federal Task Force Report on High-end Computing

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005

A federal report, created by the High-End Computing Revitalization Task Force (HECRTF), was released recently (May 2004) and offers some compelling insight into the government’s position and direction on high performance computing in the United States. This task force was formed by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which was established by congress nearly 30 years ago to advise the President and others in the Executive Office about the impact of science and technology on US domestic and international affairs.

The report, appropriately titled “Federal Plan for High-End Computing”, calls for (among other things) significant increases in government funding (compared to that of ‘04) for systems engineering and prototypes as well as for software evaluation and testing, but minimal increases in funding for similar areas of hardware.

A copy of the report can be found here:

Bills target pubilc broadband and wi-fi

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005

The Tallahassee Democrat (of all places) brings word of an attempt to stymie Florida municipalities’ efforts to build public broadband and wi-fi networks. According to the story:

The bill would stop local governments already in the communications business from acquiring new customers until certain steps had been taken.

It would bar cities…from acquiring new customers for existing systems and make any other city go through a lengthy review process before it could start broadband or Internet service.

(Hat tip to Slashdot)

A similar effort is underway in Indiana, the Indianapolis Star reported on February 1. In that story it’s a clash of the titans, lobbyist vs. consultant:

“What’s the right approach?” said Mike Marker, a lobbyist for SBC. “For cities and towns to partner with private companies? Or to create public subsidies so that cities and towns can get into the risky business of telecommunications?”

While the bill has received little public attention, it could have broad ramifications for consumers. Critics say the bill would…virtually eliminate the only real option that some rural towns have to move beyond sluggish, dial-up access to the Internet.

“If people don’t have these services, then these communities fall behind economically,” said Bunnie Riedel, a Maryland-based consultant who often represents municipalities on cable and telecom issues.

Sun’s on demand computing

Monday, February 21st, 2005

Computerworld reports that early this month Sun rolled out:

pay-per-use computing power and data storage and new software packages tailored for specific projects, the latest move in the network computer maker’s turnaround strategy.

At least the accounting’s easy. One hour of processor time runs you $1. One gig of storage is a buck per month. The first large-scale users are purported to be from the financial and oil and gas sectors. No word on who the first users to pull out due to security concerns will be.

Watch the Sun King (or at least the Sun President) give a demo. Or if you’re not into tech company royalty, read the product page.

NSF science and engineering statistics

Friday, February 18th, 2005

With the NSF website redesign, comes a page a new page…or at least unearths a page that was more hidden before. The science and engineering statistics site includes publications, data, and analysis. Trends in academic R&D spending and quantitative data on public perceptions of science and technology, for example.

Some of it’s long in the tooth, but some of it looks like a promising source for dropping a stat or sound bite from the horse’s mouth into your next proposal or presentation.

National Weather Service triples computing power

Friday, February 11th, 2005

This week NOAA’s new high-performance computers became fully operational.

There are three separate systems, all IBM-manufactured: the primary system (Blue) and backup system (White) provide uninterrupted weather and climate forecast services, while the research and development system (Red) is used to integrate new new research results into the operational models and provides for a more rapid improvement of all forecast products delivered to the public and private sectors.

According to Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of the NOAA National Weather Service, the NWS is going “from making 450 billion calculations per second to 1.3 trillion calculations per second,” making it possible to continually increase forecast accuracy and run increasingly sophisticated, high-resolution severe- and extreme-weather predictor models.

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