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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 47661 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #6015 on: Jan 22nd, 2012, 09:01am »

LA Times

Germany has the economic strengths America once boasted

Germany with its manufacturing base and export prowess is the U.S. of yesteryear, an economic power unlike any of its European neighbors. It has thrived on principles America seems to have lost.

By Don Lee, Los Angeles Times
7:33 PM PST, January 21, 2012
Reporting from Elz, Germany


Every summer, Volkmar and Vera Kruger spend three weeks vacationing in the south of France or at a cool getaway in Denmark. For the other three weeks of their annual vacation, they garden or travel a few hours away to root for their favorite team in Germany's biggest soccer stadium.

The couple, in their early 50s, aren't retired or well off. They live in a small Tudor-style house in this middle-class town about 30 miles northwest of Frankfurt. He's a foreman at a glass factory; she works part time for a company that tracks inventories for retailers. Their combined income is a modest $40,000.

Yet the Krugers have a higher standard of living than many Americans who have twice that income.

Their secret: little debt, frugal habits and a government that is intensely focused on high production, low inflation and extensive social services.

That has given them job security and good medical care as well as well-maintained roads, trains and bike paths. Both of their adult children are out on their own, thanks in part to Germany's job-training system and heavy subsidies for university education.

For instance, Volkmar's out-of-pocket costs for stomach surgery and 10 days in a hospital totaled just $13 a day. College tuition for their son runs about $260 a semester.

Germany, with its manufacturing base and export prowess, is the America of yesteryear, an economic power unlike any of its European neighbors. As the world's fourth-largest economy, it has thrived on principles that the United States seems to have gradually lost.

It has tightly managed its budget and adopted reforms — such as raising the retirement age — that some other Eurozone nations are just now being forced to undertake. And few countries can match Germany's capabilities for producing and exporting machinery and other equipment, or its infrastructure for research, apprenticeships and financing that support manufacturing.

"German industry is strong," said Volkmar, speaking in halting English as he occasionally looks up translations on a laptop. "People work good. That's why the German economy is best in Europe."

Indeed, Germany was the only major Eurozone nation to escape the credit downgrades that have hit its neighbors. And the country continues to anchor the continent's economy.

Still, Germany has its share of challenges.

Income inequality, while less pronounced than in the U.S., is rising. Most workers, including the Krugers, have seen little or no real wage gains in recent years. And the nation's population is declining.

And now, with Europe on the ropes, Germany faces both a declining market for its exports and the prospect of having to cough up tens of billions of dollars more to help bail out profligate Eurozone neighbors.

Even so, German business and consumer confidence has held up well. The nation's jobless rate fell last month to a two-decade low of 6.8%, considerably lower than in much of Europe and the U.S.

And though its industrial production is starting to soften, Germany so far has maintained an impressive trade surplus with the rest of the world, including China.

Germany's economy looks like that of the U.S. a generation ago.

In 1975, manufacturing accounted for about 20% of the United States' economic output, or gross domestic product, about the same as in Germany today. Since then, U.S. manufacturing's share of GDP has slid to about 12%.

In 1975, the U.S. budget deficit was a manageable 1% of the economy, about the same as Germany's now. Last year, the U.S. deficit was about 10%.

American families in the 1970s and early '80s typically saved about 10% of their take-home pay, about the same as in Germany today. The U.S. savings rate these days is in the low single digits.

Germany, like China, fiercely promotes its exports and has been reluctant to ramp up domestic spending, frustrating Washington, which wants to sell more American goods abroad.

That may be good for Germany, but many critics say the country's lack of consumption causes unhealthy imbalances for the regional and global economies, much the way America's overconsumption and borrowing does.

But Germany's economic practices and lifestyle are deeply ingrained in a culture that fears debt and inflation. In many ways, for instance, the nation discourages consumerism. Its streets aren't plastered with the billboards that dot the U.S.. Taxes on goods and services are high. Many shops and restaurants in Germany are closed Sundays.

Many smaller stores don't even take credit cards. Volkmar laughed about how consumers in other countries pull out plastic for the smallest of purchases.

"In France you pay for your croissant with your credit card. In Germany, they don't like it," he said, referring to both merchants and consumers.

Since paying off their home loan recently, the Krugers have almost no debt. They sock away money for old age and summer trips, and they rarely eat out.

Household liabilities in Germany have been rising, but remain lower than those in other developed countries. By one common measure, Germany's household debts were 97.5% of total after-tax income in 2010, compared with 125% for the U.S.

Still, the Krugers and other Germans are seeing a rise in freewheeling spending, especially among the young. Volkmar said he gets a lot of credit card offers. More marketing, however, doesn't mean that a lot of consumers are getting credit.

"In truth, it's not easy credit," said Fasun Batmaz, a manager at a TeamBank consumer unit whose name, Easy Credit, belies the rigorous process and strict requirements. "Only a handful come in and may get it."

Easy doesn't describe the Krugers' lives either. On weekdays and every few Saturdays, Volkmar is out the door by 5 a.m., driving 45 minutes to his factory. Vera also works some Saturdays. But neither gets paid more when they work additional hours, nor do they get paid less when they work fewer hours. Over time, the hours balance out.

A similar idea is behind a work-sharing system that many experts said helped Germany avoid the mass layoffs that swept the U.S. during the Great Recession. A company might reduce the hours of all workers to avert laying off an employee.

Germany's lower unemployment rate also reflects its orientation toward formal vocational training.

The Krugers' older child, Thorsten, was interested in books from an early age, and prepared for a university education. Their daughter, Nadine, got a vocational diploma in social work that included three years of schooling after high school, with the final year being on-the-job training at half pay.

About one-fourth of all German businesses take part in this apprenticeship program; six of 10 apprentices end up getting hired permanently, said Dirk Werner of the Cologne Institute for Economic Research.

The practice, he said, is a key reason why Germany has one of the lowest unemployment rates for 15- to 24-year-olds, about 9.7%, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. In the U.S., the comparable rate is about twice that.

Volkmar and others attribute part of the lower unemployment rate to the German work ethic. Yet Germans, on average, work far fewer hours a year than Americans, thanks partly to five or six weeks of vacation.

The amount of the Krugers' vacation time is typical for most Germans.

When they go to France, the Krugers take an old Volkswagen camper, but still expect to spend about $3,000 over three weeks.

Over the recent winter holiday, they took the 45-minute train ride into Frankfurt to buy Christmas presents. They picked up practical gifts: a breakfast tray, cutting board and sleeping gown for Nadine. For Thorsten, the couple bought a tool kit made in Germany.

Volkmar laughed when asked why he bought tools for his son. Thorsten asked for them, he said, adding a bit sheepishly, "The Volkswagen camper needs repair."

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-germany-middle-class-20120122,0,3874773.story

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« Reply #6016 on: Jan 22nd, 2012, 09:12am »

KM3NeT


KM3Net, an European deep-sea research infrastructure, will host a neutrino telescope with a volume of several cubic kilometres at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea that will open a new window on the Universe.

The telescope will search for neutrinos from distant astrophysical sources like gamma ray bursters, supernovae or colliding stars and will be a powerful tool in the search for dark matter in the Universe.

An array of thousands of optical sensors will detect the faint light in the deep sea from charged particles originating from collisions of the neutrinos and the Earth.

The facility will also house instrumentation from Earth and marine sciences for long term and on-line monitoring of the deep sea environment and the sea bottom at depth of several kilometers.

http://www.km3net.org/home.php

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« Reply #6017 on: Jan 22nd, 2012, 09:17am »

Reuters

Islamist insurgents kill over 178 in Nigeria's Kano

By Mike Oboh
KANO | Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:54am EST

KANO (Reuters) - Gun and bomb attacks by Islamist insurgents in the northern Nigerian city of Kano last week killed at least 178 people, a hospital doctor said on Sunday, underscoring the daunting challenge President Goodluck Jonathan now faces to prevent his country sliding further into chaos.

A coordinated series of bomb blasts and shooting sprees mostly targeting police stations on Friday sent panicked residents of Nigeria's second biggest city of more than 10 million people running for cover.

The scale of the carnage makes this by far the deadliest strike claimed by Boko Haram, a shadowy Islamist sect that started out as a clerical movement opposed to western education but has become the biggest security menace facing Africa's top oil producer.

"We have 178 people killed in the two main hospitals," the senior doctor in Kano's Murtala Mohammed hospital said following Friday's attacks, citing records from his own and the other main hospital of Nasarawa.

"There could be more, because some bodies have not yet come in and others were collected early."

Boko Haram has been blamed for killing hundreds of people in increasingly sophisticated bombings and shootings, mostly targeting security forces, establishment figures and more recently Christians, in country split roughly evenly between them and Muslims.

Apart from a handful of forays into the capital Abuja, the sect's energies have been concentrated in the majority Muslim north, far from the oil producing facilities along the southern coast that keep Africa's second biggest economy afloat.

Explosions struck two churches in the northern city of Bauchi on Sunday, witnesses said, destroying one of them completely, although there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Jonathan, a Christian southerner who helped broker a deal that largely ended an insurgency by militants in the oil-rich southeast, has been criticized for failing to grasp the gravity of the crisis unfolding in the north, and of treating it as a pure security issue that will fizzle out by itself.

UN CONDEMNS ATTACKS

The government has announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Kano, an ancient city that was once part of an Islamic caliphate trading riches on caravan routes connecting sub-Saharan Africa with the Mediterranean.

Worsening insecurity has led some to question whether Nigeria isn't sliding into civil war, 40 years after the secessionist Biafra conflict killed over a million people, though few think an all-out war splitting the country into two or more pieces is a likely outcome.

A spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks in a statement.

"The Secretary-General is appalled at the frequency and intensity of recent attacks in Nigeria, which demonstrate a wanton and unacceptable disregard for human life," it said.

"The Secretary-General also expresses his hope for swift and transparent investigations into these incidents that lead to bringing the perpetrators to justice."

European powers and the African Union have also condemned the attacks.

Boko Haram became active around 2003 in the remote, northeastern state of Borno, on the threshold of the Sahara, but its attacks have spread into other northern states, including Yobe, Kano, Bauchi and Gombe.

Boko Haram, a Hausa term meaning "Western education is sinful," is loosely modeled on Afghanistan's Taliban, but analysts say the anger it channels reflects a perception that north has been marginalized from oil riches concentrated in the south.

The sect originally said it wanted sharia, Islamic law, to be applied more widely across Nigeria but its aims appear to have changed. Recent messages from its leaders have said it is attacking anyone who opposes it, at present mainly police, the government and Christian groups.

It has become increasingly deadly in the last few months.

At least 65 people were killed in the northeast Nigerian city of Damaturu, Yobe state, in a spate of gun and bomb attacks in November.

A bomb attack on a Catholic church just outside the capital Abuja on Christmas Day, claimed by Boko Haram, killed 37 people and wounded 57.

In a Reuters interview in late December, National Security Adviser General Owoye Andrew Azazi are considering making contact with moderate members of shadowy sect via "back channels," even though explicit talks are officially ruled out.

(Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Giles Elgood)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/22/us-nigeria-violence-idUSTRE80L0A020120122

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« Reply #6018 on: Jan 22nd, 2012, 09:27am »

Seattle Times

Originally published January 21, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Ferndale Marine killed in Afghanistan crash

One of the six Marines killed in a U.S. helicopter crash in Afghanistan this past week has been identified as a 27-year-old man from Ferndale.

The Associated Press

One of the six Marines killed in a U.S. helicopter crash in Afghanistan this past week has been identified as a 27-year-old man from Ferndale.

The Department of Defense says Capt. Daniel B. Bartle was one of six who were aboard the CH-53D helicopter that crashed Thursday in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand.

The Marines were based in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

The cause of the latest crash is still being investigated, but a statement issued by the NATO international military coalition said there was no enemy activity in the area when it happened.

Thursday's crash was the deadliest in Afghanistan since August, when 30 American troops died after a Chinook helicopter was apparently shot down in Wardak province in the center of the country.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017297644_apwaafghanistanhelicoptercrashwashington.html

r.i.p.

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« Reply #6019 on: Jan 22nd, 2012, 5:31pm »

Gizmodo.com


By Casey Chan
Jan 22, 2012 1:00 PM


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Anonymous Just Deleted CBS.com and Took Down Universal

Taking a shorter break than their last vacation, Anonymous is back at it already. Reports are coming in that they had completely knocked out CBS.com and are continuing their revenge spree. The CBS takedown wasn't your regular DDoS attack because if you went to CBS.com at the time Anon attacked it, there was nothing except an index page with a single file. That's it. Basically, Anonymous gained access to CBS.com and deleted EVERYTHING.

CBS.com has managed to put itself back up but we'll be on the lookout of Anonymous' next move. This is going to be interesting. Last time Anon went on a revenge spree, well, the DOJ, RIAA, MPAA, Universal, EMI, FBI and others all got a piece of the takedown fun.

Update: Looks like they just took down UniversalMusic.com again too!

Update 2: Anon is now going after websites in Brazil. The Hacker News: http://thehackernews.com/
reports that websites of Brazil's federal district, the city of Tangara da Serra and popular Brazilian singer Paula Fernandes have been brought offline in a DDoS attack. Anonymous' message on the affected websites? "If Megaupload is down, you are down too."

Update 3: Vivendi, a French media company involved in music, film, TV, video games, etc., has been brought down too. Vivendi used to own Universal.

http://gizmodo.com/5878238/anonymous-deleted-cbscom

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« Reply #6020 on: Jan 22nd, 2012, 5:46pm »

"Anonymous Just Deleted CBS.com and Took Down Universal

Taking a shorter break than their last vacation, Anonymous is back at it already. Reports are coming in that they had completely knocked out CBS.com and are continuing their revenge spree. The CBS takedown wasn't your regular DDoS attack because if you went to CBS.com at the time Anon attacked it, there was nothing except an index page with a single file. That's it. Basically, Anonymous gained access to CBS.com and deleted EVERYTHING."




All of us in Florida watching the Ravens/Patriots game today on CBS via Direct TV missed most of the first quarter!? They said "technical difficulties".....

COINCIDENCE??!!
shocked
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« Reply #6021 on: Jan 22nd, 2012, 7:29pm »

on Jan 22nd, 2012, 5:46pm, Swamprat wrote:
"Anonymous Just Deleted CBS.com and Took Down Universal

Taking a shorter break than their last vacation, Anonymous is back at it already. Reports are coming in that they had completely knocked out CBS.com and are continuing their revenge spree. The CBS takedown wasn't your regular DDoS attack because if you went to CBS.com at the time Anon attacked it, there was nothing except an index page with a single file. That's it. Basically, Anonymous gained access to CBS.com and deleted EVERYTHING."




All of us in Florida watching the Ravens/Patriots game today on CBS via Direct TV missed most of the first quarter!? They said "technical difficulties".....

COINCIDENCE??!!
shocked


I would bet not. Interesting.

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« Reply #6022 on: Jan 23rd, 2012, 08:53am »

LA Times


European Union bans Iranian oil
January 23, 2012 | 3:54 am
by Henry Chu

REPORTING FROM LONDON -- The European Union formally approved an embargo on Iranian oil Monday to punish the regime in Tehran for its nuclear program.

The boycott takes effect immediately, canceling any new or proposed oil contracts between EU countries and Iran. Existing contracts can run through the end of June but then must be suspended.

The tough new round of sanctions was adopted by EU foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels after weeks of discussion and preparation. The U.S. already has a similar embargo in place.

"This shows the resolve of the European Union on this issue and of the international community," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in Brussels. "It is absolutely right to do this in view of Iran's continued breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions and refusal to come to meaningful negotiations on the nuclear program."

Hague called it "an unprecedented set of sanctions" that should encourage other nations to ban Iranian oil as well.

The EU is Iran's second-largest oil market after China. European officials hope that the crackdown will cause enough economic pain to force Tehran back to the negotiating table over its nuclear program, which Western countries believe is aimed at developing a weapon and not just nuclear power, as Iran insists.

Tehran has threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, in retaliation against boycotts of its oil.

But analysts regard such a drastic step as unlikely. The U.S. has warned against it and sent an aircraft carrier through the narrow strait Sunday. The carrier was accompanied by ships from the British and French navies.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/01/european-union-bans-iranian-oil.html

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« Reply #6023 on: Jan 23rd, 2012, 08:56am »

Wired

MIT Genius Stuffs 100 Processors Into Single Chip
By Eric Smalley
January 23, 2012 | 6:30 am
Categories: Big Data, Tiny Chips, Data Centers, Hardware, Microprocessors, Servers, Spin-offs

WESTBOROUGH, Massachusetts — Call Anant Agarwal’s work crazy, and you’ve made him a happy man.

Agarwal directs the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s vaunted Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, or CSAIL. The lab is housed in the university’s Stata Center, a Dr. Seussian hodgepodge of forms and angles that nicely reflects the unhindered-by-reality visionary research that goes on inside.

Agarwal and his colleagues are figuring out how to build the computer chips of the future, looking a decade or two down the road. The aim is to do research that most people think is nuts. “If people say you’re not crazy,” Agarwal tells Wired, “that means you’re not thinking far out enough.”

Agarwal has been at this a while, and periodically, when some of his pie-in-the-sky research becomes merely cutting-edge, he dons his serial entrepreneur hat and launches the technology into the world. His latest commercial venture is Tilera. The company’s specialty is squeezing cores onto chips — lots of cores. A core is a processor, the part of a computer chip that runs software and crunches data. Today’s high-end computer chips have as many as 16 cores. But Tilera’s top-of-the-line chip has 100.

The idea is to make servers more efficient. If you pack lots of simple cores onto a single chip, you’re not only saving power. You’re shortening the distance between cores.

Today, Tilera sells chips with 16, 32, and 64 cores, and it’s scheduled to ship that 100-core monster later this year. Tilera provides these chips to Quanta, the huge Taiwanese original design manufacturer (ODM) that supplies servers to Facebook and — according to reports, Google. Quanta servers sold to the big web companies don’t yet include Tilera chips, as far as anyone is admitting. But the chips are on some of the companies’ radar screens.

Agarwal’s outfit is part of an ever growing movement to reinvent the server for the internet age. Facebook and Google are now designing their own servers for their sweeping online operations. Startups such as SeaMicro are cramming hundreds of mobile processors into servers in an effort to save power in the web data center. And Tilera is tackling this same task from different angle, cramming the processors into a single chip.

Tilera grew out of a DARPA- and NSF-funded MIT project called RAW, which produced a prototype 16-core chip in 2002. The key idea was to combine a processor with a communications switch. Agarwal calls this creation a tile, and he’s able to build these many tiles into a piece of silicon, creating what’s known as a “mesh network.”

“Before that you had the concept of a bunch of processors hanging off of a bus, and a bus tends to be a real bottleneck,” Agarwal says. “With a mesh, every processor gets a switch and they all talk to each other…. You can think of it as a peer-to-peer network.”

What’s more, Tilera made a critical improvement to the cache memory that’s part of each core. Agarwal and company made the cache dynamic, so that every core has a consistent copy of the chip’s data. This Dynamic Distributed Cache makes the cores act like a single chip so they can run standard software. The processors run the Linux operating system and programs written in C++, and a large chunk of Tilera’s commercialization effort focused on programming tools, including compilers that let programmers recompile existing programs to run on Tilera processors.

The end result is a 64-core chip that handles more transactions and consumes less power than an equivalent batch of x86 chips. A 400-watt Tilera server can replace eight x86 servers that together draw 2,000 watts. Facebook’s engineers have given the chip a thorough tire-kicking, and Tilera says it has a growing business selling its chips to networking and videoconferencing equipment makers. Tilera isn’t naming names, but claims one of the top two videoconferencing companies and one of the top two firewall companies.

An Army of Wimps

There’s a running debate in the server world over what are called wimpy nodes. Startups SeaMicro and Calxeda are carving out a niche for low-power servers based on processors originally built for cellphones and tablets. Carnegie Mellon professor Dave Andersen calls these chips “wimpy.” The idea is that building servers with more but lower-power processors yields better performance for each watt of power. But some have downplayed the idea, pointing out that it only works for certain types of applications.

Tilera takes the position that wimpy cores are okay, but wimpy nodes — aka wimpy chips — are not.

Keeping the individual cores wimpy is a plus because a wimpy core is low power. But if your cores are spread across hundreds of chips, Agarwal says, you run into problems: inter-chip communications are less efficient than on-chip communications. Tilera gets the best of both worlds by using wimpy cores but putting many cores on a chip. But it still has a ways to go.

There’s also a limit to how wimpy your cores can be. Google’s infrastructure guru, Urs Hölzle, published an influential paper on the subject in 2010. He argued that in most cases brawny cores beat wimpy cores. To be effective, he argued, wimpy cores need to be no less than half the power of higher-end x86 cores.

Tilera is boosting the performance of its cores. The company’s most recent generation of data center server chips, released in June, are 64-bit processors that run at 1.2 to 1.5 GHz. The company also doubled DRAM speed and quadrupled the amount of cache per core. “It’s clear that cores have to get beefier,” Agarwal says.

The whole debate, however, is somewhat academic. “At the end of the day, the customer doesn’t care whether you’re a wimpy core or a big core,” Agarwal says. “They care about performance, and they care about performance per watt, and they care about total cost of ownership, TCO.”

Tilera’s performance per watt claims were validated by a paper published by Facebook engineers in July. The paper compared Tilera’s second generation 64-core processor to Intel’s Xeon and AMD’s Opteron high end server processors. Facebook put the processors through their paces on Memcached, a high-performance database memory system for web applications.

According to the Facebook engineers, a tuned version of Memcached on the 64-core Tilera TILEPro64 yielded at least 67 percent higher throughput than low-power x86 servers. Taking power and node integration into account as well, a TILEPro64-based S2Q server with 8 processors handled at least three times as many transactions per second per Watt as the x86-based servers.

Despite the glowing words, Facebook hasn’t thrown its arms around Tilera. The stumbling block, cited in the paper, is the limited amount of memory the Tilera processors support. Thirty-two-bit cores can only address about 4GB of memory. “A 32-bit architecture is a nonstarter for the cloud space,” Agarwal says.

Tilera’s 64-bit processors change the picture. These chips support as much as a terabyte of memory. Whether the improvement is enough to seal the deal with Facebook, Agarwal wouldn’t say. “We have a good relationship,” he says with a smile.

While Intel Lurks

Intel is also working on many-core chips, and it expects to ship a specialized 50-core processor, dubbed Knights Corner, in the next year or so as an accelerator for supercomputers. Unlike the Tilera processors, Knights Corner is optimized for floating point operations, which means it’s designed to crunch the large numbers typical of high-performance computing applications.

In 2009, Intel announced an experimental 48-core processor code-named Rock Creek and officially labeled the Single-chip Cloud Computer (SCC). The chip giant has since backed off of some of the loftier claims it was making for many-core processors, and it focused its many-core efforts on high-performance computing. For now, Intel is sticking with the Xeon processor for high-end data center server products.

Dave Hill, who handles server product marketing for Intel, takes exception to the Facebook paper. “Really what they compared was a very optimized set of software running on Tilera versus the standard image that you get from the open source running on the x86 platforms,” he says.

The Facebook engineers ran over a hundred different permutations in terms of the number of cores allocated to the Linux stack, the networking stack and the Memcached stack, Hill says. “They really kinda fine tuned it. If you optimize the x86 version, then the paper probably would have been more apples to apples.”

Tilera’s roadmap calls for its next generation of processors, code-named Stratton, to be released in 2013. The product line will expand the number of processors in both directions, down to as few as four and up to as many as 200 cores. The company is going from a 40-nm to a 28-nm process, meaning they’re able to cram more circuits in a given area. The chip will have improvements to interfaces, memory, I/O and instruction set, and will have more cache memory.

But Agarwal isn’t stopping there. As Tilera churns out the 100-core chip, he’s leading a new MIT effort dubbed the Angstrom project. It’s one of four DARPA-funded efforts aimed at building exascale supercomputers. In short, it’s aiming for a chip with 1,000 cores.

http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/01/mit-genius-stu/

Crystal

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« Reply #6024 on: Jan 23rd, 2012, 09:02am »

Telegraph

Iran threatens to close Strait of Hormuz over EU oil sanctions

A senior member of Iran's parliament said on Monday the Islamic Republic would close the entry point to the Gulf if new sanctions block its oil exports, reiterating a threat made by officials a month ago that caused a temporary oil price spike.

23 January 2012
By David Blair, Chief Foreign Correspondent

"If any disruption happens regarding the sale of Iranian oil, the Strait of Hormuz will definitely be closed," Mohammad Kossari, deputy head of parliament's foreign affairs and national security committee, told the semi-official Fars news agency.

The threat came after European Union nations agreed on an oil embargo against Iran as part of sanctions over its nuclear programme.

Diplomats in Brussels said the EU foreign ministers would officially adopt the measures later on Monday that were hashed out by the 27 ambassadors.

The measures include an immediate embargo on new contracts for crude oil and petroleum products while existing ones are allowed to run until July.

"I am confident that the EU will give a resolute answer today to Iran's refusal to fulfill its international obligations on the nuclear programme," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said ahead of the official adoption by the foreign ministers.

Foreign Secretary William Hague urged Iran to "come to its senses" and resume negotiations on its nuclear programme after Britain, America and France sent six warships through the highly sensitive waters of the Strait of Hormuz.

He said the EU oil embargo was part of "peaceful and legitimate" measures and not designed to trigger conflict.

Any bid by Iran to block the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf, through which 20 per cent of the world's oil exports pass would be "illegal" and "unsuccessful", Mr Hague warned.

Mr Hague said an oil embargo was designed to persuade the Iranian government to launch "meaningful" talks with the international community on its nuclear intentions.

Britain, America and France delivered a pointed signal to Iran, sending six warships led by a 100,000 ton aircraft carrier through the highly sensitive waters of the Strait of Hormuz.

The naval deployment, led by an aircraft carrier, defied explicit Iranian threats to close the waterway. It coincided with an escalation in the West's confrontation with Iran over the country's nuclear ambitions.

The EU embargo on Iranian oil exports, amounts to the most significant package of sanctions yet agreed. They are also likely to impose a partial freeze on assets held by the Iranian Central Bank in the EU.

Tehran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation. Tankers carrying 17 million barrels of oil pass through this waterway every day, accounting for 35 per cent of the world's seaborne crude shipments. At its narrowest point, located between Iran and Oman, the Strait is only 21 miles wide.

But Monday's ramping up of measures reflects concern that Iran is developing nuclear weapons under the guise of a nuclear energy programme.

Mr Hague commented: "These (sanctions) are peaceful and legitimate measures. They are not about conflict.

"I hope Iran will come to its senses on this issue and agree to negotiate."

He added: "Any attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz would be illegal, and I believe would be unsuccessful."

Mr Hague said an oil embargo was designed to persuade the Iranian government to launch "meaningful" talks with the international community on its nuclear intentions.

Europe's foreign policy chief Baroness Catherine Ashton also insisted the sanctions were needed to bring Iran back to the negotiating table.

An offer to Iran three months ago to begin new talks has gone unanswered, she pointed out.

But concern remains that sanctions designed to hit Iran will inevitably hit some EU member states as well.

Last month, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the Iranian navy, claimed that closing the Strait would be "easy," adding: "As Iranians say, it will be easier than drinking a glass of water."

But USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear-powered carrier capable of embarking 90 aircraft, passed through this channel and entered the Gulf without incident on Sunday. HMS Argyll, a Type 23 frigate from the Royal Navy, was one of the escort vessels making up the carrier battle-group. A guided missile cruiser and two destroyers from the US Navy completed the flotilla, along with one warship from the French navy.

All three countries retain a permanent military presence in the Gulf, but a joint passage through the Strait of Hormuz by all of their respective navies is highly unusual. The flotilla will have passed within a few miles of the Iranian coastline.

A western official denied this was a provocative move intended to increase the pressure on Iran. The goal was simply to "illustrate international resolve" to guarantee free movement of shipping through a vital artery of the world economy, he said.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed that "HMS Argyll and a French vessel joined a US carrier group transiting through the Strait of Hormuz to underline the unwavering international commitment to maintaining rights of passage under international law."

The spokesman added that Britain maintains a "constant presence in the region as part of our enduring contribution to Gulf security". Royal Navy warships have been patrolling the region continuously since 1980.

Abraham Lincoln's entry into the Gulf came in defiance of an explicit warning from Iran. Earlier this month, General Ataollah Salehi, commander of the country's armed forces, threatened to respond with "full force" if any US carrier ventured into the region's waters. "We don't have the intention of repeating our warning, and we warn only once," he said.

The Islamic Republic then held a naval exercise in the Strait of Hormuz. More Iranian military manoeuvres, code-named Exercise Noble Prophet, are expected in the waterway later this week.

Another carrier, USS Carl Vinson, has been in the Gulf and the surrounding region for several months. Abraham Lincoln's arrival means a return to the two-carrier deployment that America has retained in the area for many years.

Each of these Nimitz class vessels carries a complement of fighter aircraft with more striking power than the entire Iranian air force. Their presence widens the options open to Western governments should Tehran attempt to retaliate for tighter sanctions by harassing international shipping lanes.

Iran could do so by laying launching attacks using warships or land-based anti-shipping missiles. Each of these threats could be countered using carrier-based aircraft.

However, officials believe that the balance of forces against Iran makes any such move against the Strait of Hormuz highly unlikely. Iran has an interest in talking up the possibility because this can raise oil prices and increase its own revenue at a time when its economy is in severe difficulties.

One official added that no government should dismiss these threats, pointing to Iran's actual disruption of shipping in the Gulf in the late 1980s. Another option that would fall short of launching classic military strikes would be for Iran to lay mines in shipping lanes.

All US warships deployed in the Gulf, the Red Sea and the western half of the Indian Ocean are controlled by US Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain. The Royal Navy also has a small permanent staff based in the Gulf kingdom.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/9032948/Iran-threatens-to-close-Strait-of-Hormuz-over-EU-oil-sanctions.html

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« Reply #6025 on: Jan 23rd, 2012, 09:08am »

Hollywood Reporter

Megaupload Co-Founder Kim Dotcom Remanded in Custody After Dramatic New Zealand Arrest
12:07 AM PST 1/23/2012
by Pip Bulbeck

The FBI has accused Dotcom and others involved in the “Mega conspiracy” of receiving over $175 million in criminal proceeds from worldwide online piracy.

SYDNEY - The co-founder of internet filesharing service Megaupload, Kim Dotcom was remanded in custody for four days by a New Zealand judge on Monday after his arrest in a dramatic FBI-led sting on Friday, during his 38th birthday party being celebrated inside his rented $30 million Auckland mansion.

Dotcom, a German native who reportedly changed his name legally from Kim Schmitz in the last decade, has been charged with criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

He appeared in the North Shore District Court today. for a bail hearing, with the Crown asking that bail be refused on the grounds that he is an “extreme” flight risk and risk of reoffending.

During the raid on Friday Dotcom was reportedly found in a “panic room “ inside the mansion with a gun ,which it was revealed today had been illegally modified.

Arrested at the same time were Bram van der Kolk, 29, from the Netherlands but is a New Zealand resident, and Finn Batato, 38, and Mathias Ortmann, 40, both from Germany..

Computers and documents were also retrieved and more than NZ$10 million ($8 million) was seized from financial institutions.

Luxury cars including a pink Cadillac and a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, were removed from the property, which Dotcom had been blocked from buying by NZ authorities last year as he did not meet a “good character” test.

The FBI said that those arrested are accused of “running an international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works through Megaupload.com and other related sites”.

The alleged copyright theft generated more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and caused more than half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners. “This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime,” the FBI said.

The FBI shut down the Hong Kong-based website, megaupload;com, posting an anti-piracy notice on the site which says that the domain name has been seized and a federal grand jury has indicted several individuals and entities and is charging them with conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering and criminal copyright infringement.

According to the NZ Herald Dotcom’s lawyer Paul Davison told the ourt today that Dotcom will not try to restart Megaupload or any other website while he is on bail and the matter is before the courts.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/megaupload-kim-dotcom-arrest-283933

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« Reply #6026 on: Jan 23rd, 2012, 09:12am »

Gizmodo

NASA Tells UFO Hunters To Stop Saying Words
11:00AM January 21, 2012
by Jesus Diaz





Deja vu! Like on December 2011, UFO hunters claim they have found proof of a spaceship entering the solar system in NASA’s own video footage. This time, the spaceship has a triangular shape, so it must be an Imperial Star Destroyer.
The alleged starship looks huge, the size of a planet according to these UFO hunters:

NASA is trying to hide the situation now but you can still see the first two days of the object’s entrance at the lasco site. Click link below then input behind H12 for the telescope and the 26th through the 1st for the dates.

Comparing it for size to the planetary objects that are seen in this telescope, if my calculations are correct, that thing is enormous.

Except it’s not. It’s not enormous. It’s not a spaceship. Like the last time, this is an technical glitch. NASA had to publish a note explaining what happened. The answer is very simple: it’s an optical effect.

The answer lies on the exact opposite side of the image. At the same time as this strange-looking feature starts being visible, the very bright planet Venus enters [STEREO'S] field-of-view from the lower left. This is not a coincidence. The strange-looking geometrical ‘object’ is actually an internal reflection of the planet Venus within the telescope optics. This effect has been seen many times before.

Case closed. Do you guys really think that NASA — the guys who have spent quite a bit of time actually trying to find life and habitable planets outside Earth — would not announce an Imperial Star Destroyer the size of a planet entering the solar system? One available to see to everyone in public footage?

Come on, UFO hunters. You can do a lot better than this. Until then, please stop saying words.

http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/01/nasa-tells-ufo-hunters-to-stop-saying-words/

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« Reply #6027 on: Jan 23rd, 2012, 09:44am »

Don't ya just hate it when boring old physics (physics, fer chrissakes) wrecks a good conspiracy? It's enough to make you want to go look around the Denver airport for signs of the scheduled apocalypse. But then every time I do that, some smart alec asks me why they'd put the information right there for all the world to see and interpret. Then I have to spend several days trying to cobble together a scenario that supports my beliefs, and some of those are not structurally sound at all so they just fall apart. What a waste of time!

Maybe I'll head on up to Montana. It's a good time of year to spot transparent mammoth triangular motherships cruising past. If you want to get good video, then some kind of satellite orbit tables are a big help. You can just download a program onto a laptop or one of those newfangled key fob computers and you don't need an internet signal or anything. Montana's full of places where you can't get a signal. I like Montana.

on Jan 23rd, 2012, 09:12am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Gizmodo

NASA Tells UFO Hunters To Stop Saying Words
11:00AM January 21, 2012
by Jesus Diaz





Deja vu! Like on December 2011, UFO hunters claim they have found proof of a spaceship entering the solar system in NASA’s own video footage. This time, the spaceship has a triangular shape, so it must be an Imperial Star Destroyer.
The alleged starship looks huge, the size of a planet according to these UFO hunters:

NASA is trying to hide the situation now but you can still see the first two days of the object’s entrance at the lasco site. Click link below then input behind H12 for the telescope and the 26th through the 1st for the dates.

Comparing it for size to the planetary objects that are seen in this telescope, if my calculations are correct, that thing is enormous.

Except it’s not. It’s not enormous. It’s not a spaceship. Like the last time, this is an technical glitch. NASA had to publish a note explaining what happened. The answer is very simple: it’s an optical effect.

The answer lies on the exact opposite side of the image. At the same time as this strange-looking feature starts being visible, the very bright planet Venus enters [STEREO'S] field-of-view from the lower left. This is not a coincidence. The strange-looking geometrical ‘object’ is actually an internal reflection of the planet Venus within the telescope optics. This effect has been seen many times before.

Case closed. Do you guys really think that NASA — the guys who have spent quite a bit of time actually trying to find life and habitable planets outside Earth — would not announce an Imperial Star Destroyer the size of a planet entering the solar system? One available to see to everyone in public footage?

Come on, UFO hunters. You can do a lot better than this. Until then, please stop saying words.

http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/01/nasa-tells-ufo-hunters-to-stop-saying-words/

Crystal
« Last Edit: Jan 23rd, 2012, 2:22pm by Festus » User IP Logged

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« Reply #6028 on: Jan 23rd, 2012, 1:27pm »

on Jan 23rd, 2012, 09:44am, Festivus wrote:
Don't ya just hate it when boring old physics (physics, fer chrissakes) wrecks a good conspiracy? It's enough to make you want to go look around the Denver airport for signs of the scheduled apocalypse. But then every time I do that, some smart alec asks me why they'd put the information right there for all the world to see and interpret. Then I have to spend several days trying to cobble together a scenario that supports my beliefs, and some of those are not structurally sound at all so they just fall apart. What a waste of time!

Maybe I'll head on up to Montana. It's a good time of year to spot transparent mammoth triangular motherships cruising past. If you want to get good video, then some kind of satellite orbit tables are a big help. You can just download a program onto a laptop or one of those newfangled key fob computers and you don't need an internet signal or anything. Montana's full of places where you can't get a signal. I like Montana.

cry cry sad cry



Don't worry Festivus,
Some hang on to their theories come hell or high water!
Can you say Conformers? grin
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« Reply #6029 on: Jan 23rd, 2012, 1:31pm »




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