Revisiting the ‘P’ in HPC

21 June 2012

“Don’t ask me about the ‘P’ in HPC…” is something that I’ve said a lot over the last half decade.

Readability.com::The Era of Pervasive Computing

The article uses the phrase “the Era of Connected Devices”, but I like the phrase “the Internet of Things.” I won’t bother listing the “things,” but the Readability.com posting was specifically focused on “sensors and devices that will monitor and sense our environments, collect data and provide timely and critical feedback.”

I like this quote: “Everything that will benefit from a connection will be connected.”

The following is something I wrote on 1 April 02009…

About the ‘P’ in HPC

HPC stands for High Performance Computing. Historically, the ‘P’ in HPC stood for “performance;” however, these days it stands for much more.

The following is my attempt to define HPC in one sentence.

HPC is a highly pervasive computing environment that
enables highly productive computing via a highly persistent
cyber-infrastructure that exploits highly parallel computing
to provide highly powerful computation.

With less than two years left in decade zero of the 21st century, HPC is really HP^6C — High Performance, Productivity, Pervasive, Persistent, Parallel, Powerful Computing.

HPC systems not only provide peta-scale computation, but they also provide powerful storage systems and, in many cases, powerful visualization systems (e.g. ASU’s Decision Theater).

HPC systems (which for the most part are hardware) need software and these days the software is way behind the hardware. In other words, today’s software is not even close to exploiting the power of HPC systems.


Human Genome; Autonomous Vehicles; Supercomputing; SpaceX

1 June 2012

From a sociopolitical perspective the 21st century has been a dud, but ignoring that…

Human Genome Project completed in 02003; DARPA Grand Challenge successfully met in 02005; DARPA Urban Challenge successfully met in 02007; TOP500 top supercomputer tops petaflops in 02008; IBM’s Watson wins Jeopardy! in 02011; SpaceX successfully completes its first mission in 02012.

[update::02012.06.01] This posting should have included the following… Yesterday (02012.05.31) the front page of the Arizona Republic had the following headline: “U.S. broadening cyberwar strategy”. Today the New York Times has a news story titled “Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran”. My gut tells me cyberwarfare, which I think is in progress, is going to be uglier than ugly.


Beyond Today — Peter Diamandis and Larry Page

24 May 2012

Technologies riding Moore’s Law… “Infinite Computing, Networks & Sensors, Robotics, 3D Printing, Synthetic Biology, Digital Medicine, Nanomaterials, Artificial Intelligence”

Quoting Peter Diamandis: “…technology has been the mechanism for turning scarcity into abundance.”

Near the end of his talk Diamandis predicted that by 02020 there will be “three billion new minds” on the Internet.

YouTube.com::Beyond Today – Peter Diamandis – Zeitgeist 2012

Next up is Larry Page: “…the pace of change is really accelerating.” Page told his audience that for many people in the world “their smartphone will be their first computer.”

I use and like Google+ (G+). Google+ has grown from zero users to 170 million users (April 02012) since it launched on 28 June 02011 (i.e. 11 months ago).

With respect Google Search, Page says the company needs to get to the point where they can “represent knowledge” and that they are “really looking at synthesizing knowledge.” In a nutshell: Semantic web.

Larry Page likes the University of Michigan slogan have a healthy disregard for the impossible.

YouTube.com::Beyond Today – Larry Page – Zeitgeist 2012


Ubiquitous Sensing I Get, But What’s Nanodata?

11 April 2012

The Computing Trend that Will Change Everything had the sub-title “Computing isn’t just getting cheaper. It’s becoming more energy efficient. That means a world populated by ubiquitous sensors and streams of nanodata.

Ubiquitous sensors imply streams of data. That I get. But what’s nanodata?

Harvesting background energy flows, including ambient light, motion, or heat, opens up the possibility of mobile sensors operating indefinitely with no external power source, and that means an explosion of available data.

An “explosion of data” implies to me yottadata (as in yottagoo). Again, what’s nanodata?

According the MIT Technology Review article, nanodata is “customized fine-grained data describing in detail the characteristics of individuals, transactions, and information flows.” To me it seems as if nanodata is a form of metadata (i.e. data about data).

I still don’t get the term nanodata, but I consider that okay. Bottom-line: It’s possible ubiquitous sensors is our future and that implies infinite data being piped into an Infinite Computing environment.


“Abundance” Chapter One Review

18 March 2012

I have finished the first two chapters of the book “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think” by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler.

The following are some quotes from Chapter One.

“When seen through the lens of technology, few resources are truly scarce; they’re mainly inaccessible. Yet the threat of scarcity still dominates our worldview.”

I agree. U.S. politicians excel at using scarcity FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) to get elected.

“The high-tech revolution created an entirely new breed of wealthy technophilanthropists who are using their fortunes to solve global abundance-related challenges.”

It’d be fun, fun, fun to be a technophilantropist.

“[…], but it’s the combination of the Internet, microfinance, and wireless communication technology that’s transforming the poorest of the poor into an emerging market force.”

I liked this phrase…

“[…] amplified by exponentially growing technologies […]”

Chapter One ends with the following.

“Imagine a world of nine billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and nonpolluting, ubiquitous energy.”

The authors of “Abundance” think it’s possible and so do I.


Three Tweets by @compufoo

25 October 2010

On 25 October 02010, the @compufoo Twitter account had 515 tweets, 21 followers, and was following zero.

The @compufoo Twitter account was setup to support my “Computer Science For Non-CS Majors” class. I asked the students to follow @compufoo, but I did not require them to do so. More than half of the students were not Twitter users; consequently, only about half of the class started following @compufoo.

The following are the last three tweets tweeted by @compufoo prior to writing this blog posting.

[02010.10.25] Computing students should follow Dan Reed. RT @HPCDan HPC and the Excluded Middle http://bit.ly/dj0B8s

Dan Reed is a supercomputing guru. In 02006, President George W. Bush appointed Dan Reed to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

[02010.10.25]“Dawn of a New Day” by Ray Ozzie http://goo.gl/ti6w via @robinwauters & @techcrunch

On 18 October 02010, Ray Ozzie — one of the creators of Lotus Notes — stepped down as Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect.

[02010.10.23]What will the Internet look like in 10 years? http://www.isoc.org/tools/blogs/scenarios/

The Internet Society (ISOC.org) is a non-profit that was founded in 01992 to “provide leadership in Internet related standards, education, and policy.”


KKK (Kapor, Kurzweil, Kay)

26 August 2010

02010.08.26: Day two of the Introduction to Computer Science class.

[Note: This posting uses 5-digit years.]

Rewind three weeks…

02010.08.03 at 2:10pm @mkapor tweeted:

I’m grouchy that so few people (except us old-timers) have even heard of Ted Nelson http://bit.ly/cGbsWC (Wikipedia bio)

Observe: Mitch Kapor hyperlinked into the Wikipedia.

02010:08.03 at 2:11pm @mkapor tweeted:

All of the web is in essence a pale shadow of just one of Ted Nelson’s dreams. Now do I have your attention?

Hmm… Who is Mitch Kapor?

2010.08.03 at 2:15pm @nanofoo in reply to @mkapor:

I’m going to make sure my CS1 students learn a bit about Ted Nelson this fall. They’ll come in knowing Gates & Jobs, but not Nelson.

@nanofoo never got reply from @mkapor, but @rossk did…

02010.08.03 at 2:48pm @rossk in reply to @mkapor:

where should the Nelson-newbie start?

02010.08.03 at 8:07pm@mkapor in reply to @rossk

Read “Computer Lib” by Nelson. Also see the Wired article on him for a dissenting view

Mitch Kapor did not provide his followers with hyperlinks, but here they are: Computer Lib/Dream Machine (dot-pdf) and Wired.com: The Curse of Xanadu


This posting uses 5-digit years and that is because I am a member of the Long Now Foundation. [Follow on Twitter @longnow.]

In 02002, Mitch Kapor made the first Long Bet (By 02029 no computer – or “machine intelligence” – will have passed the Turing Test.) with Ray Kurzweil. Hmm… Who is Ray Kurzweil? [Follow on Twitter @KurzweilAINews.]

02010.08.25 at 12:00pm @compufoo tweeted:

I agree with Ray Kurzweil that “exponential growth is the reality of information technology.” #future

I learned a lot from reading reading Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near.

In a nutshell, Kapor and Kurzweil are futurists whose last names start with the letter ‘K’. There another futurist whose last name starts with the letter ‘K’ and that is Alan Kay. In the Introduction to Computer Science we use the C++ programming language. C++ supports object oriented programming (OOP) and Alan Kay is considered one of the fathers of OOP.

Alan Kay was once quoted saying: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

The following picture of the Foundation Building at Arizona State University was taken during early August of 02010.

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." -- Alan Kay

An Example of the Power of Twitter

25 August 2010

2010.08.24: During the first day of the Introduction to Computer Science class, I asked the 26 students the following question: How many of you use Twitter?

My question prompted some gentle giggling, but a couple of hands were raised.

I shared with the class about how I’ve been trying to turn students on to Twitter, but that my current grade would be an F-.

I shared with the class that for me the power of Twitter was in whom I followed. I told the class that the first thing I do when I log into my computer is scan my un-read tweets. I pointed out that if the “right” people are followed, then Twitter can be a treasure trove of great stuff.

Student (sitting in row one): Give us an example.
Me (excited): Did I pay you to say that?

The following example was then presented…

On 2010.08.20 at 6:14am @compufoo tweeted:

RT @hrheingold Doug Engelbart & Ted Nelson came to dinner (14 min vid): http://bit.ly/cprNC8

Student (excited): Doug Engelbart?
Me (yet more excited): Yes. Do know about Doug Engelbart?
Student: Yes, he invented the computer mouse.
Me: How do you know that?
Student: I learned it last semester from Peter Martin. Engelbart was his idol.

Back to the tweet…

RT @hrheingold Doug Engelbart & Ted Nelson came to dinner (14 min vid): http://bit.ly/cprNC8

I explain how my tweet was a re-tweet (RT) of a tweet by @hrheingold (i.e. I follow Howard Heingold on Twitter). Howard Heingold lives in Silicon Valley and he’s a visiting lecturer at Stanford and UC-Berkeley; a research fellow at the Institute for the Future; and a guru when it comes to understanding “virtual communities” (and these days “social networking”). Howard Heingold tweets; he is a user of Twitter. In his Twitter biography, Howard says he’s an “online instigator, educator, offline gardener.”

I click on @hrheingold and we see (which at that time was) Heingold’s most recent tweet.

Thank you! @jimmy_wales for great interview on collaboration. Will publish video eventually.

Wow! Look at that… It appears as though Howard Heingold has interviewed Jimmy Wales and he’s going to share the interview with the world. Question to the class: Who is Jimmy Wales? There’s a pause, so I tell the class that if they use the Wikipedia, then they should give thanks to Jimmy Wales. I also point out to the class that they too can follow @jimmy_wales on Twitter.

Back to the tweet…

RT @hrheingold Doug Engelbart & Ted Nelson came to dinner (14 min vid): http://bit.ly/cprNC8

I point out the class that the power of Twitter is significantly amplified by the ability to insert hyperlinks into tweets. Hyperlinks make the web the World Wide Web (WWW) that it is. But well before the WWW (almost 30 years before), one technologist was thinking about hypertext. Question to the class: Whom do think this technologist was?

“It felt like having Newton and Galileo over for dinner,” wrote Howard Heingold on having dinner with Engelbart and Nelson.

At this point, this power of Twitter example is over. With one tweet I was able to introduce Ted Nelson and Doug Engelbart to the students in an introductory Computer Science class. In addition, the students were introduced to Howard Heingold and Jimmy Wales.


Doh! It turns out this power of Twitter example isn’t over. On 2010.08.26 (i.e. day two) of class, the following was presented.

Let’s rewind three weeks to a tweet by Mitch Kapor.

2010.08.03 at 2:10pm @mkapor tweeted:

I’m grouchy that so few people (except us old-timers) have even heard of Ted Nelson http://bit.ly/cGbsWC (Wikipedia bio)

Observe… Mitch Kapor hyperlinked into the Wikipedia.

2010:08.03 at 2:11pm @mkapor tweeted:

All of the web is in essence a pale shadow of just one of Ted Nelson’s dreams. Now do I have your attention?

2010.08.03 at 2:15pm @nanofoo in reply to @mkapor:

I’m going to make sure my CS1 students learn a bit about Ted Nelson this fall. They’ll come in knowing Gates & Jobs, but not Nelson.

@nanofoo never got reply from @mkapor, but @rossk did…

2010.08.03 at 2:48pm @rossk in reply to @mkapor:

where should the Nelson-newbie start?

2010.08.03 at 8:07pm@mkapor in reply to @rossk

Read “Computer Lib” by Nelson. Also see the Wired article on him for a dissenting view

Mitch Kapor did not provide his followers with hyperlinks, but here they are…

Computer Lib/Dream Machine (dot-pdf) and Wired.com: The Curse of Xanadu

Ted Nelson

Ted Nelson

Hmm… Who is Mitch Kapor and more…


Who is Howard Schmidt?

24 December 2009

Howard A. Schmidt has been named Cyber-Security Coordinator of the Obama Administration (i.e. Cybersecurity Czar). Schmidt was a cyber-adviser in President George W. Bush’s White House.

The only thing I know about Howard Schmidt is that he is not the father of Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt.

When it comes to computer security I try to listen to Bruce Schneier, Gene Spafford, Phil Zimmermann and Edward Felten; therefore, I am interested in what these computer security gurus have to say about Howard Schmidt. To date (as of 02009.12.24), I haven’t been able to find much, but I did find the following.

From Schneier.com…

Reporters are calling me for reactions and opinions, but I just don’t know. Schmidt is good, but I don’t know if anyone can do well in a job with lots of responsibility but no actual authority. But maybe Obama will imbue the position with authority — I don’t know.

From Spafford via TheCommandLine.net…

Well, to be correct about it, neither Bruce nor I was ever contacted about taking the position or about suggesting anyone to fill it.

I find it beyond amazing that President Obama did not seek out advice from Schneier and Spafford.

Spafford continued via TheCommandLine.net…

This may or may not say something about the search itself. I do not know of anyone with a primarily cyber technology background who was contacted — only people with business and/or military backgrounds. This is another factor that made me believe that the view of this position is skewed in a direction that will limit its effectiveness.

Keyphrases… Schneier: “a job with lots of responsibility but no actual authority.” Spafford: “this position is skewed in a direction that will limit its effectiveness.

Barack Obama himself has been quoted saying that a computer can be morphed into a “weapon of mass disruption.” Catchy words, but I’m not convinced President Obama knows what he’s doing when it comes to cybersecurity.


The power of twitter

4 November 2009

I was reading what some psychologist had to say about Facebook and Twitter and the following quote caught my attention.

“On Twitter you receive an endless stream of information, but it’s also very succinct,” Dr Alloway said. “You don’t have to process that information. Your attention span is being reduced and you’re not engaging your brain and improving nerve connections.” (via news.com.au)

I understand Dr. Alloway to an extent; however, tweets can contain hyperlinks that in turn, if clicked, take us to a constantly growing world wide web of information. In other words, tweets can exploit the power of the hyperlink.

I think of tweets as expanded headlines/titles/subject-lines and the effective use of these communication objects can be a powerful tool.

In a nutshell, for me right now, the power of Twitter is in who I follow.