From Dell to Apple: the story of the “big Mac”

It started as an effort to circumvent the lag time associated with using U.S. Department of Energy computers, according to Dr. Srindhi Varadarajan of Virginia Tech's Terascale Computing Facility, speaking at the O'Reilly Mac OS X Conference. The project was to build an academic supercomputer. Budget contraints caused him to envision a linked system of off-the-shelf 64-bit processors, bound together with an off-the-shelf backbone. His first call was to Dell. Negotiations for 64-bit Intel Itanium 2 processors fell through. And IBM said that its PowerPC 970 wouldn't be available until 2004. Quotes of $9 million to $11 million, well over budget, eliminated AMD and HP. The unlikely project savior appeared in June, when Apple announced the G5. Three days later, Varadarajan was on the phone with Apple and the next day, on a plane to Cupertino. When Apple representatives asked Varadarajan how long he'd been using Macs, the answer was "never." He said, "I'm probably one of the few people who came to the platform by reading the kernel manual." …continue reading →

Copyright “offense” ruled invalid

The U.S. Copyright Office has ruled that Lexmark, the second largest printer company in the U.S., cannot invoke the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in its lawsuit against Static Control Components (SCC). The opinion is not binding on the Federal Court that is reviewing the case. SCC, a small North Carolina firm, sells a chip that allows Lexmark printer owners to use third-party, recycled toner cartridges. The firm contends that Lexmark is trying to use copyright and the DCMA to eliminate competition from the toner cartridge market. The company insists it engaged in "legitimate" reverse engineering, a claim substantiated by the U.S. Copyright decision. Lexmark says the Copyright office decision is irrelevant. It's not the reverse engineering that they are complaining about, it's the "theft" of intellectual property, the software that tells the cartridge that it is empty and must be replaced. This saga began in December 2002, when Lexmark…continue reading →

Info deluge

The worldwide production of information has increased by 30 per cent each year between 1999 and 2002, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. The team started measurements with terabytes, but quickly found that insufficient; they also measured information by exabytes, each equal to a million terabytes. In 2002, we produced about five exabytes of information on paper, film, optical and magnetic media, equal to about half a million new libraries, each containing a digitized version of the print collection of the U.S. Library of Congress. This was twice the volume produced in 1999. The telephone accounts for the largest percentage of information flow, with e-mail (including spam) placing second. Links: Globe & Mail; San Jose Mercury News; cNet; 2003 Study, 2000 Studycontinue reading →