Finally, a Triton

UC Berkeley has bear statues, UCLA has their bruin statue, UC Irvine even has an anteater. Now UC San Diego has a Triton!

Tour de France

As I walked to lunch I saw the unveiling ceremony ending while the UCSD band (we have a band?) played the UCSD fight song (we have a fight song?). Below the statue there is a few streams of bubbly water and a plaque which explains that the Triton doesn't get to use his awesome trident, he just blows really hard on his conch which scares all the other gods and baddies away.

I, for one, am now waiting for the UC Santa Cruz banana slug statue.

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SDSC Optiportal

My adviser Professor Mike Norman, as part of his job at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, purchased an optiportal system for the new SDSC building which is opening today. An optiportal system is a wall of monitors powered by networked computers such that the screens behave as one monitor. Very high resolution images and movies can be tiled across the screens, as you can see below. Movies and animations can also be tiled across the screens.

Optiportal

My labmates and I (Rick Wagner in particular) spent the last week feverishly building the system. The primary work was to build the monitor rack. It has many bolts and sliders and adjustments. We arranged to have two holes drilled through the wall for the monitor cables. The 30-inch screens require a very particular kind of cable and getting enough of the right kind that were long enough to reach all the screens was surprisingly difficult.

My main task was to convert some of the publicly available high-resolution astronomical images into tiled TIFFs. Tiled TIFFs break the data up into easy to scale tiles, which is essential for the optiportal. I used many of the images from this page (link broken), including the 403 megapixel Carina Nebula image linked there. It was quite frustrating. I tried half a dozen computers and iterations of ImageMagick and VIPS before I finally got a combination that worked.

In some ways, this is worse than a projector. There are gaps between the screens. This requires multiple expensive computers and many, many cables. However, there are some big advantages to this setup. There is no projector that has anywhere the same resolution as this optiportal (2560x1600x20 = 81.92 megapixels). Just one of the monitors is better than all but the most specialized and expensive projectors. The screens are bright and clear, even in normal lighting conditions. Unlike a projector, standing in front of the screen doesn't shadow the image. It has to be seen for yourself; twenty 30-inch monitors are awesome to behold.

Each four-monitor column is powered by a HP xw8600 workstation with one 4-core 2.33GHz Xeon processor, 4GB of RAM, two NVIDIA Quadro FX4600 768MB video cards with dual output, running Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. There is a sixth identical workstation that serves as a head node which sits in front of the screens and controls the output on the wall. There is also a HP ML370 server that has a 1TB RAID5 disk array, and has room for an additional 1TB. Eventually, all the machines will be connected by a 10Gb CX-4 network using a ProCurve 6400cl-6XG switch, and the head node and disk server will be connected to the outside world with a 10Gb optical connection. The monitor array is controlled using CGLX which is developed at Calit2, which is here at UCSD.

Science will not be performed on the optiportal, at least the major calculations won't. Instead, visualizations of simulations run on supercomputers will be displayed and analyzed. The human eye and brain is still a superior judge of the accuracy and meaning of data than a set of conditional equations. It is often necessary to actually see the raw data as clearly as possible. The point of the eventual 10Gb optical connection is that various parallel visualization programs like VisIt and ParaView will be practical. These programs do the data analysis on a remote supercomputer and the visualization is sent to the optiportal in real time for display. In this way, terabytes of raw data don't have to be transferred off the supercomputer, and the computationally intensive part of the visualization takes place on the supercomputer, which has far more processors, RAM and disk space than the optiportal. I hope to someday have some of my data displayed in this fashion.

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Poorer than a CEO

Poor

Above is a graph showing my net worth since January 2007. I have removed the actual dollar values for the bars because I'm ashamed of how poor I am. Or wealthy I am. I'm not telling. But remember that I'm a grad student, not a former CEO of a failed investment bank - you get the idea.

I've put two numbers in orange on the graph. If in my richest half month I had one dollar, now I have 68 cents. Put another way, I'm now about two-thirds of my former self, and this took five months. The graph above includes my cash accounts, which haven't gone down, so my investments have declined even more than a third. Luckily, I don't need that money any time soon (I have to graduate before that), but it's a bit depressing.

It's also an opportunity to buy some really cheap bank stocks and hold them until they recover. Which would more or less cancel out the inevitable tax increases my generation will have to pay to bail out our selfish parents.

At least I can say that I'm ahead of the curve on the grad school thing.

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The Experiments End

1 min 6 sec, no sound

My beard experiment has ended. As part of the journey, I did an experimental time lapse, above. As you will see, I slowly shaved my beard and rotated the chair. I should have thought more about exposure consistency between frames. Doing it inside would have worked better but I thought the outside view was more interesting.

I admit that a few hours later I am still occasionally reaching up to stroke my beard, and finding nothing there.

I took a break when my mustache was in full flight and posed with Melissa. As you can tell by her expression, she loved the `stache.

stache

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Failed Time Lapse

Two days ago Melissa and I drove from Berkeley to San Diego. We drove on US 101 for most of the way, but used Hwy 1 between Monterey and San Luis Obispo. The weather was fantastic and the scenery beats I-5 any day, even on 101. It does take longer, but it's worth it if you don't have arrive at the destination at any particular time. I wanted to record the journey, as I have before, but this time looking forward. Using the Canon A620 my father gave me and my laptop connected to it using USB, I managed to do this without too much interference. However, the batteries on the camera died early on, so I didn't capture the whole trip, or even the most scenic parts of it. In the future I'll need to use an external power source.

I am sharing it because there's no harm. It's not very good, so I didn't bother to add any music.

The video lasts 1 minute 44 seconds, is 5.6 MB in size, and the frames are separated by eight seconds.

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"Real" Medal Count

As a follow-up to the announcement that all judged sports are being eliminated from the Olympics, I'm publishing below an updated medal count. Unlike the medal counts you've seen, this one only counts the "real" medals; events that aren't ridiculous.

You'll notice that China, which leads the gold rankings by a fair amount in the link above, is by far the most affected by this correct ranking. Indeed, only three of the American golds are improper, while 25 Chinese golds are trash, which is just less than half their total. Eliminating judged sports is not anti-China, it just happens that China focuses on those kinds of events. Many other nations, including the USA, lose a fair number of overall medals due to this modification.

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Gateway Cycling

BMX

I recorded the BMX races last night out of curiosity. (I've included some HD screen grabs of crashes for your enjoyment; click on them for the full size image.) BMX has been introduced to increase the interest of young people, those who like Xtreme sports. NBC even has a BMX crashes compilation (link broken) for you to watch while you drink your Mountain Dew or get another tattoo.

BMX

This is the first year BMX is being contested at the Olympics and I'm conflicted about it. While I support any kind of cycling, in order to introduce this kind of cycling, the Olympic Organizing Committee cut two track events (the men's 1000m and women's 500m time trials) to make room for the BMX events. This was done to conserve the number of cycling events. According to this page (link broken) there are 18 cycling events. Swimming has 34 events. So increasing the number of cycling medals wouldn't have given it a ridiculous number of medals (unless you think swimming has a ridiculous number of events, which I in fact do). Granted, Olympic cycling isn't as popular as Olympic gymnastics, and that only has 14 medals, but at least gymnastics takes place on different equipment. The cycling events range from 40 seconds to over six hours on four different kinds of venues that require very different types of skills and strategies. Each medal rewards a clearly different set of accomplishments. All but two of the swimming events are in the same damn pool (the 10K open-water swim is new this year) with the same equipment, only the strokes and distances change, and the distances vary by far less than cycling. It's not clear that adding BMX is a net gain for cycling in the Olympics, and they could have very easily increased the number of cycling events, in my opinion.

Of course, cycling has the Tour de France every year, while swimming has ?

BMX

I think the best thing that can happen is if BMX becomes a kind of gateway drug into cycling. Get the young ones into the sport and then push them into the real hard stuff, like the velodrome and road cycling. Then they'll really be hooked and there's no going back.

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Cancelled Olympic Events

Olympic Rings

Breaking news: These sports will be immediately eliminated from the Olympic games, due to the fact that they are incredibly lame and arbitrary. Any sport that is judged is "inherently flawed and unfair," the UN ruled today, and subjecting the worldwide public to these events will be deemed an "act of cruelty." Any medals already awarded in these sports in the undergoing Olympics will be reclaimed and turned into equipment for legitimate sports, like weights or shot puts (much like turning "swords into plowshares").

  • Boxing: A borderline event, it does have a clear scoring system, but matches can be called when "in the referee's opinion, (a boxer is) being outclassed or excessively punished." Also, boxing is brutal and thuggish.
  • Diving: Until and unless the diving competition becomes quantifiable (e.g. splash height and distance in the belly flop competition), diving is prohibited from the Olympics.
  • Equestrian: While this isn't always judged, any Olympic sport that uses another animal is so obviously disqualified it needs no further comment.
  • Gymnastics: The king of judged sports. Incredibly popular world-wide. This event pits tiny men and girls (and they're almost entirely girls, see the "16" year-old Chinese girl) in events where grace and style are actually part of the scoring. There have been scoring controversies every year. Until and unless scoring can be done by an objective computer, this event is banished to the WE channel between reruns of Hallmark movies.
  • Judo & Taekwondo: While these are awesome events, they are judged. An electronic scoring system, similar to fencing, would be acceptable.
  • Modern Pentathlon: See equestrian, above.
  • Rhythmic Gymnastics: See gymnastics, above. Also, no real sport needs a ribbon which one twirls artistically.
  • Synchronized Swimming: While the world loves a pool full of young women in swimsuits (see Baywatch), any sport set to music and that has choreographers is clearly eliminated from the Olympics. Dancesport isn't in the Olympics, and Synchronized Swimming shouldn't be either. (*)
  • Trampoline: Most don't even know this is in the Olympics. So most won't miss it.

The UN also ruled that in evaluating future Olympic sports, the IOC will only consider events that Stephen Skory cares about.


(*) With apologies to my good friend Chris S., it seems to me that Dancesport is hijacking the word "sport' like so many humanities hijack "science.' If dancing was obviously recognizable as a sport, it wouldn't need to append the word at the end. We don't call it Baseballsport. Or Physicsience.

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Cray Coolness

I'm back on the new supercomputer in Tennessee: the Cray XT4 Kraken. The coolest command on the computer, in my opinion, is xtshowcabs. Below is the (anonymized) output. This shows which job is running on each node (each processor has four cores in one processor). The lower-case letters correspond to jobs listed at the bottom. Each vertical set of symbols (eight wide, twelve high) is a physical cabinet of nodes*.

What you see below is one job running 8192 cores (a), another running on 4096 (h), one with 2048 (k) and a smattering of smaller jobs. My jobs are i and j, running on 8 cores each. The computer is just about full here, about 96% usage.

This also allows me to know who to blame when my jobs are sitting waiting to start for days.

Compute Processor Allocation Status as of Fri Aug  1 18:14:16 2008

     C0-0     C0-1     C0-2     C0-3     C1-0     C1-1     C1-2     C1-3     
  n3 -------- -------- hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh SSSaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaak 
  n2 -------- -------- hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh    aaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaak 
  n1 -------- -------- hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh    aaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaak 
c2n0 -------- -------- hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh SSSaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaak 
  n3 SSSSS--- -------- hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh SSSSaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2      --- -------- hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh     aaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1      --- -------- hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh     aaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c1n0 SSSSS--- -------- hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh SSSSaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n3 SSSSSSSS -------- --lihhhh hhhhhhhh SSSSaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2          -------- --ljhhhh hhhhhhhh     aaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1          -------- --ljhhhh hhhhhhhh     aaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c0n0 SSSSSSSS -------- ---lihhh hhhhhhhh SSSSaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
    s01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 

     C2-0     C2-1     C2-2     C2-3     C3-0     C3-1     C3-2     C3-3     
  n3 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c2n0 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n3 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c1n0 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n3 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c0n0 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
    s01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 

     C4-0     C4-1     C4-2     C4-3     C5-0     C5-1     C5-2     C5-3     
  n3 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c2n0 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n3 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c1n0 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n3 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c0n0 hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
    s01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 

     C6-0     C6-1     C6-2     C6-3     C7-0     C7-1     C7-2     C7-3     
  n3 hhhhcccc cccccccc bbbbbbbb gggggggg aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 hhhhcccc cccccccc bbbbbbbb gggggggg aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 hhhhcccc cccccccc bbbbbbbb gggggggg aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c2n0 hhhhhccc cccccccc bbbbbbbb gggggggg aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n3 hhhhhhhh cccccccc bbbbbbbb bbbbgggg aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 hhhhhhhh cccccccc bbbbbbbb bbbbgggg aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 hhhhhhhh cccccccc bbbbbbbb bbbbgggg aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c1n0 hhhhhhhh cccccccc bbbbbbbb bbbbbggg aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n3 hhhhhhhh cccccccc ccccbbbb bbbbbbbb aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 hhhhhhhh cccccccc ccccbbbb bbbbbbbb aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 hhhhhhhh cccccccc ccccbbbb bbbbbbbb aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c0n0 hhhhhhhh cccccccc cccccbbb bbbbbbbb aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
    s01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 

     C8-0     C8-1     C8-2     C8-3     C9-0     C9-1     C9-2     C9-3     
  n3 ggggffff ffffffff eeeeeeee dddddddd aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 ggggffff ffffffff eeeeeeee dddddddd aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 ggggffff ffffffff eeeeeeee dddddddd aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c2n0 gggggfff ffffffff eeeeeeee dddddddd aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n3 gggggggg ffffffff eeeeeeee eeeedddd aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 gggggggg ffffffff eeeeeeee eeeedddd aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 gggggggg ffffffff eeeeeeee eeeedddd aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c1n0 gggggggg ffffffff eeeeeeee eeeeeddd aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n3 gggggggg ffffffff ffffeeee eeeeeeee aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 gggggggg ffffffff ffffeeee eeeeeeee aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 gggggggg ffffffff ffffeeee eeeeeeee aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c0n0 gggggggg ffffffff fffffeee eeeeeeee aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
    s01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 

     C10-0    C10-1    C10-2    C10-3    C11-0    C11-1    C11-2    C11-3    
  n3 ddddkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 ddddkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 ddddkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c2n0 dddddkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n3 dddddddd kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 dddddddd kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 dddddddd kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c1n0 dddddddd kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n3 dddddddd kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkXkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n2 dddddddd kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkaaaa aaaaaaaa 
  n1 dddddddd kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk Xkkkkkkk kkkkaaaa aaaaaaaa 
c0n0 dddddddd kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkkkkk kkkkXkkk kkkkaaaa aaaaaaaa 
    s01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 01234567 

Legend:
   nonexistent node                 S  service node
;  free interactive compute CNL     -  free batch compute node CNL
A  allocated, but idle compute node ?  suspect compute node
X  down compute node                Y  down or admindown service node
Z  admindown compute node           R  node is routing

Available compute nodes:       0 interactive,   149 batch

ALPS JOBS LAUNCHED ON COMPUTE NODES
Job ID     User       Size   Age              command line
--- ------ --------   -----  ---------------  ----------------------------------
 a  155793 xxxxxx      2048  9h00m            xxxxxxxx
 b  156058 xxxxxxxx     128  0h50m            xxxxxxxx
 c  156060 xxxxxxxx     128  0h50m            xxxxxxxx
 d  156062 xxxxxxxx     128  0h49m            xxxxxxxx
 e  156064 xxxxxxxx     128  0h49m            xxxxxxxx
 f  156066 xxxxxxxx     128  0h48m            xxxxxxxx
 g  156068 xxxxxxxx     128  0h48m            xxxxxxxx
 h  156080 xxxxxxx     1024  0h33m            xxxxxxxx
 i  156085 sskory         2  0h22m            enzo.exe
 j  156087 sskory         2  0h21m            enzo.exe
 k  156089 xxxxxxxx     512  0h04m            xxxxxxxx
 l  156091 xxxx           4  0h02m            xxxxxxxx

(* I'm pretty sure that's the layout. I could be wrong, so don't invade a medium-sized oil-producing country based on that intelligence.)

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No, You Are Not Cool

Car

I've seen this Lotus Elise parked on campus often, but recently it got this "007" sticker. Putting the double-oh-seven on your car is about as bad as putting random Japanese characters on your windshield. James Bond did drive a Lotus Esprit in The Spy Who Loved Me, but it went underwater. This Lotus doesn't even have a roof. And yes, this is the same parking lot where I saw the Hawaiian GT-40.

After I took this photo, the driver came up and I chatted briefly with him. I did not say to his face that he's a doofus, but I was thinking it the whole time. Apparently he has the numbers on because he took the car to a race course, but there are 998 other three digit numbers he could have chosen that were less ridiculous than 007. He said his other car he races has "666" on it and he calls it "The Beast."

In the same lot today I saw this Smart Car. While I disagree with the color choice (red? on a 71 HP car?), the owner of this car is ever so much cooler.

Car

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Huzzah!

Tour of California 2009

I have previously groaned about the Tour of California ignoring everything south of Los Angeles. But today it was announced that next years tour will visit San Diego County! The final stage is Rancho Bernardo to Escondido. They must plan a circuitous route as those communities aren't very far apart.

I'm excited.

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Car Pit

Rusty Car

Rusty Car

Rusty Car

Rusty Car

Today Steve Lynch and I did some exploring off Peñasquitos Park and came across these derelict cars dropped into a small gorge. A VW Beetle, Audi and Ford Explorer (high gas prices, you know) were ones I could identify. There were two others rusted beyond recognition. It looked like after the cars had been shoved into the pit, they had been sledgehammered, to make sure they were really dead, of course. The Beetle was missing its motor, among other things, while the Ford didn't have any seats in it. The Audi was probably a nice car once upon a time, it had a sun roof (or moon depending on trademarks).

I like to imagine this is what might happen if the world order collapses. People just junking once useful and valuable things when you can no longer get gasoline or electricity. Kind of like Mexico.

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Tour de France Fantasy Pool

For the last few years I've participated in a friendly Tour de France fantasy pool with some friends. We get together, have a barbecue, and pick teams of riders. It's very much like fantasy football or baseball teams. Each team pays $20 to enter, which goes to the winner (naturally). However, the winner is obliged to use that money for a party after the Tour, so everyone wins in the end.

Some years ago an Excel spreadsheet was written to help calculate the scores. It's kind of clumsy and surprisingly un-automated. So I threw together a Python script in an afternoon which is much more automated and puts the results on the web for easy viewing.

Graph

Above is the graph of how each team is doing as a function of stage. Along with three friends I formed two teams, "Storky's Bitches" and "The Pump Handles." Neither names were my first choice; I blame Kris Wells. I've never done very well at the Tour Pool, and it's looking like this year will be no different. Of course, it's early, so things may change.

Take a look at the full results page, and check back each day throughout the Tour to see how things are progressing.

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Supercomputers

Faithful readers will remember me posing with my favorite supercomputer about a year ago. Datastar is going to be turned off in a few months. When it was turned on three years ago, it was the 35th fastest computer in the world, it has since slipped to 473rd. Despite the fact it's no longer the fastest thing around, it works wonderfully, and as I write this, there are at least sixty people logged onto this machine. Everyone I know loves Datastar, and wishes it wasn't going to be turned off. I am starting to move my work and attention to the newer machines. They are faster, and have many more processors, which makes queue times short (which is the time it takes for a job I request to run)

A few months ago, Ranger was turned on. It is a Sun cluster in Texas with 63,000 Intel CPU cores. It is currently ranked fourth fastest in the world. Datastar has only 2528 CPUs (but those are real CPUs, while Ranger has mutli-core chips which in reality aren't as good). By raw numbers, Ranger is an order of magnitude better than Datastar, except that Ranger doesn't work very well. Many different people are seeing memory leaks using vastly different codes. These codes work well on other machines. I have yet to be able to run anything at all on Ranger. For all intents and purposes, Ranger is useless to me right now.

If you look at the top of the list of super computers, you'll see that a machine called Roadrunner is the fastest in the world. Notice that it is made up of both AMD Opteron and IBM Cell processors. The Cell processor is the one inside Playstation 3s. Having two kind of chips adds a layer of complexity, which makes the machine less useful. The Cell processor is a vector processor, which is only awesome for very specially written code. The machine is fast, except it's also highly unusable. I don't have access to it because it's a DOE machine, but a colleague has tried it and says he got under 0.1% peak theoretical speed out of it. Other people were seeing similar numbers. No one ever gets 100% from any machine, but 0.1% is terrible.

Computers two and three on the list are DOE machines, so I don't have access to them. On the near horizon is a machine called Kraken, in Tennessee. It's being upgraded right now, but when it's complete it will be very similar to, but faster than the fifth fastest computer on the list currently, called Jaguar. It is a Cray XT4 that runs AMD Opteron chips. I got to use Kraken recently while it was still an XT3, and it was awesome. Unlike Ranger, it actually works. As an XT4, it should be even faster than Ranger. It will also have a great tape backup system, unlike Ranger.

I am predicting that Kraken will be come my new favorite super computer, replacing Datastar. However, I think it's a shame that Datastar is being turned off even though it's still very useful and popular. When it's turned off to make way for machines like Ranger and Roadrunner(*), that's just stupid.

(*) The pots of money for Ranger, Datstar and Roadrunner are different, but you get the point. Supercomputers aren't getting better; in some cases, they're getting worse!

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Hawaiian GT-40

Ford GT

Ford GT

Parked in front of my building this morning is a Hawaiian Ford GT, which retails for the suggested price of $139,995. Someone has to be serious about their car to bring it all the way from Hawaii. They even have driving gloves that match the seat belts.

Ford GT

This is the first time I've seen one parked, I never realized how deep the vents behind the radiator are in the hood.

Ford GT

Like all expensive cars, the motor has its own window.

Ford GT

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