Want a supercomputer for about the price of a mini? Take a look at what scientists at the National Centre for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois have done. Researchers there have taken 100 Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2) systems (70 active units and 30 in reserve) and Sony’s Linux Kit for PS2, added some message passing interface and cluster scheduling software, and created a system they claim can deliver potentially up to half a teraFLOP of performance (a system capable of 500 billion floating-point operations per second). Total cost of the system is about $US50,000. The system is experimental at this time. And to take advantage of such processing power, scientific applications would need to be ported and optimised to run on the system. Still, the group feels that given the processing power in many off-the-shelf graphics systems, their approach may offer a low-cost alternative for scientific computing in the future.


After top management lays off every programmer in the department except him, overworked IT worker takes a vacation day. When he returns, he finds out his manager is in hot water with the boss. The complaint? IT groans, “They said she wasn’t providing adequate programming coverage for the department.”

What’s in a name? Plenty according to Dell shareholders who last week formally agreed to change the company name to reflect its expansion into services and other products such as printers. Dell Computer Corp will now be Dell Inc effective immediately. Name changes are always tedious with business card reprints, new signage, rebranding and on it goes.


InstallShield Software has filed a lawsuit against Wise Solutions alleging that the company engaged in electronic espionage on at least 903 occasions. InstallShield, which filed the suit in the US District Court in Chicago, is asking for unspecified damages, according to Tyler Sheffield, the company’s CFO. Both InstallShield and Wise Solutions develop and sell tools to software development companies. The US Attorney’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating although a criminal complaint is yet to be filed. In its civil complaint, InstallShield contends that Wise obtained access to InstallShield’s file transfer protocol server using the usernames and passwords of two InstallShield employees, as well as with an “anonymous” account.

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