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  • Data Storage Pioneer Wins Millennium Technology Prize

    jones_supa (887896) writes "The British scientist Stuart Parkin, whose work made it possible for hard disks to radically expand in size, has been awarded the Millennium Technology Prize (Millennium-teknologiapalkinto). Professor Parkin's discoveries rely on magneto-resistive thin-film structures and the development of the giant magnetoresistance (GMR) spin-valve read head. These advances allow more information to be stored on each disk platter. Technology Academy Finland — the foundation behind the award — justifies the prize by saying that Parkin's innovations allow us to store large volumes of data in cloud services." He is currently working on Racetrack memory, which would obsolete flash and hard disks (and probably even RAM).

    40 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Samsung Claims Breakthrough In Graphene Chip Design

    jfruh (300774) writes "Graphene, a carbon-based crystalline lattice that is extremely strong, lightweight, and an excellent conductor of electricity and heat, is coveted as a potential base for semiconductor chip design, and Samsung, working with the Sungkyungkwan University School of Advanced Materials Science and Engineering, has claimed a big jump towards that goal. With IBM also making progress in this realm, the days of silicon could actually be numbered."

    88 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Fifty Years Ago IBM 'Bet the Company' On the 360 Series Mainframe

    Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Those of us of a certain age remember well the breakthrough that the IBM 360 series mainframes represented when it was unveiled fifty years ago on 7 April 1964. Now Mark Ward reports at BBC that the first System 360 mainframe marked a break with all general purpose computers that came before because it was possible to upgrade the processors but still keep using the same code and peripherals from earlier models. "Before System 360 arrived, businesses bought a computer, wrote programs for it and then when it got too old or slow they threw it away and started again from scratch," says Barry Heptonstall. IBM bet the company when they developed the 360 series. At the time IBM had a huge array of conflicting and incompatible lines of computers, and this was the case with the computer industry in general at the time, it was largely a custom or small scale design and production industry, but IBM was such a large company and the problems of this was getting obvious: When upgrading from one of the smaller series of IBM computers to a larger one, the effort in doing that transition was so big so you might as well go for a competing product from the "BUNCH" (Burroughs, Univac, NCR, CDC and Honeywell). Fred Brooks managed the development of IBM's System/360 family of computers and the OS/360 software support package and based his software classic "The Mythical Man-Month" on his observation that "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." The S/360 was also the first computer to use microcode to implement many of its machine instructions, as opposed to having all of its machine instructions hard-wired into its circuitry. Despite their age, mainframes are still in wide use today and are behind many of the big information systems that keep the modern world humming handling such things as airline reservations, cash machine withdrawals and credit card payments. "We don't see mainframes as legacy technology," says Charlie Ewen. "They are resilient, robust and are very cost-effective for some of the work we do.""

    169 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Used IT Equipment Can Be Worth a Fortune (Video)

    This is a conversation with Frank Muscarello, CEO and co-founder of MarkiTx, a company that brokers used and rehabbed IT equipment. We're not talking about an iPhone 3 you might sell on craigslist, but enterprise-level items. Cisco. Oracle. IBM mainframes. Racks full of HP or Dell servers. That kind of thing. In 2013 IDC pegged the value of the used IT equipment market at $70 billion, so this is a substantial business. MarkiTx has three main bullet points: *Know what your gear is worth; *Sell with ease at a fair price; and *Buy reliable, refurbished gear. Pricing is the big deal, Frank says. With cars you have Cars.com and Kelley Blue Book. There are similar pricing services for commercial trucks, construction equipment, and nearly anything else a business or government agency might buy or sell used. For computers? Not so much. Worth Monkey calls itself "The blue book for used electronics and more," but it only seems to list popular consumer equipment. I tried looking up several popular Dell PowerEdge servers. No joy. An HTC Sensation phone or an Acer Aspire notebook? Sure. With price ranges based on condition, same as Kelley Blue Book does with cars. Now back to the big iron. A New York bank wants to buy new servers. Their old ones are fully depreciated in the tax sense, and their CTO can show stats saying they are going to suffer from decreasing reliability. So they send out for bids on new hardware. Meanwhile, there's a bank in Goa, India, that is building a server farm on a tight budget. If they can buy used servers from the New York bank, rehabbed and with a warranty, for one-third what they'd cost new, they are going to jump on this deal the same way a small earthmoving operation buys used dump trucks a multinational construction company no longer wants.

    In February, 2013 Computerworld ran an article titled A new way to sell used IT equipment about MarkiTx. The main differentiator between MarkiTx and predecessor companies is that this is primarily an information company. It is not eBay, where plenty of commercial IT equipment changes hands, nor is it quite like UK-based Environmental Computer, which deals in used and scrap computer hardware. It is, rather, the vanguard of computer hardware as a commodity; as something you don't care about as long as it runs the software you need it to run, and you can buy it at a good price -- or more and more, Frank notes -- rent a little bit of its capacity in the form of a cloud service, a direction in which an increasing number of business are moving for their computing needs. Even more fun: Let's say you are (or would like to be) a local or regional computer service company and you want to buy or sell or broker a little used hardware. You could use MarkiTx's price information to set both your buy and sell prices, same as a car dealer uses Kelley Blue Book. We seem to be moving into a whole new era of computer sales and resales. MarkiTx is one company making a splash in this market. But there are others, and there are sure to be even more before long. (Alternate video link.)

    79 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Microsoft Posts Source Code For MS-DOS and Word For Windows

    An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft, along with the Computer History Museum, has posted the source code for MS-DOS 1.1 and 2.0, and Word for Windows 1.1a. It's been a long time coming — DOS 2.0 was released for IBM PCs in 1983, and Word for Windows 1.1a came out in 1990. The museum, with Microsoft's consent, has made the code available for non-commercial use. They've also explained some of the history of this software's development: '[In August, 1980], IBM had already contracted with Microsoft to provide a BASIC interpreter for the PC, so they asked them to investigate also providing the operating system. Microsoft proposed licensing "86-DOS", which had been written by Tim Paterson at Seattle Computer Products (SCP) for their 8086-based computer kit because the 16-bit version of CP/M was late. When SCP signed the licensing deal [7] with Microsoft, they didn't know for sure who the computer manufacturer was. Paterson said "We all had our suspicions that it was IBM that Microsoft was dealing with, but we didn't know for sure." [1] He left SCP to work for Microsoft in 1981. "The first day on the job I walk through the door and 'Hey! It's IBM.'" Microsoft originally licensed 86-DOS in December 1980 for a flat fee of $25,000. By the next summer they recognized the importance of owning it and being able to license it to other companies making IBM-PC clones, so they purchased all rights for an additional $50,000.'"

    224 comments | about three weeks ago

  • IBM's Watson To Be Used For Cancer Treatment

    Beeftopia (1846720) writes "The New York Genome Center and IBM will investigate whether Watson can be used to parse cancer genome data and then recommend treatments. The trial involves 20 to 25 glioblastoma patients with poor prognoses. The article states, 'It should theoretically be possible to analyze [genomic] data and use it to customize a treatment that targets the specific mutations present in tumor cells. But right now, doing so requires a squad of highly trained geneticists, genomics experts, and clinicians. It's a situation that can't scale to handle the [number of] patients with glioblastoma, much less other cancers. Instead, that gusher of information is going to be pointed at Watson... Watson will figure out which mutations are distinct to the tumor, what protein networks they effect, and which drugs target proteins that are part of those networks. The net result will be a picture of the biochemical landscape inside the tumor cells, along with some suggestions on how clinicians might consider intervening to change the landscape.'"

    46 comments | about 1 month ago

  • IBM Distances Itself From the NSA and Its Spy Activities

    An anonymous reader writes "NSA surveillance has raised concerns among customers globally about the safety of their data from U.S. government spying. More organizations, companies and countries are looking for ways to distant themselves from the NSA activities to safeguard the information of internet users. IBM is the latest to fall into the category of companies that do not want to be associated with the NSA spy activities."

    61 comments | about a month ago

  • How Data Storage Has Grown In the Past 60 Years

    Lucas123 writes "Imagine that in 1952, an IBM RAMAC 350 disk drive would have been able to hold only one .MP3 song. Today, a 4TB 3.5-in desktop drive (soon to be 5TB) can hold 760,000 songs. As much data as the digital age creates (2.16 Zettabytes and growing), data storage technology has always found a way to keep up. It is the fastest growing semiconductor technology there is. Consider a microSD card that in 2005 could store 128MB of capacity. Last month, SanDisk launched a 128GB microSD card — 1,000 times the storage in under a decade. While planar NAND flash is running up against a capacity wall, technology such as 3D NAND and Resistive Random Access Memory (RRAM) hold the promise of quadrupling of solid state capacity. Here are some photos of what was and what is in data storage."

    100 comments | about a month ago

  • Volkswagen Chairman: Cars Must Not Become 'Data Monsters'

    Nerval's Lobster writes "While automakers from Tokyo to Detroit rush to sprinkle their respective vehicles with all sorts of sensors and screens, the chairman of Volkswagen Group has warned about the limits of data analytics for automobiles. 'The car must not become a data monster,' Martin Winterkorn told an audience at the CeBit trade show in Germany, according to Re/code. 'I clearly say yes to Big Data, yes to greater security and convenience, but no to paternalism and Big Brother.' At the same time, Winterkorn endorsed a closer relationship between tech companies such as IBM and the auto industry, and highlighted Volkswagen's experiments with autonomous driving—both of which will necessarily infuse automakers (and his company in particular) with more data-driven processes. The question is which policies from which entities will ultimately dictate how that data is used. Winterkorn isn't the first individual to voice concerns about how automakers (and their partners) store and analyze all that vehicle data. At this January's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, a Ford executive drew considerable controversy by suggesting that Ford collects detailed information on how customers use its vehicles. 'We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you're doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing. By the way, we don't supply that data to anyone,' Jim Farley, Ford's global vice president of marketing and sales, told show attendees. Farley later attempted to clarify his statement to Business Insider, but that didn't stop a fierce debate over vehicle monitoring—and certainly hasn't stopped automakers and tech companies from collaborating over more ways to integrate data-centric features to vehicles."

    89 comments | about a month ago

  • Major Wikipedia Donors Caught Editing Their Own Articles

    An anonymous reader writes "As reported before on Slashdot, one of the most terrible sins on Wikipedia is to edit articles for pay, or otherwise violate the 'neutral point of view' policy, per their co-founder Jimmy Wales. And yet, the Wikipedia-criticism website Wikipediocracy recently began a study showing that dozens of the Wikimedia Foundation's largest cash donors have violated that policy. Repeatedly, and wantonly. In short, they wrote articles about themselves or their companies, then gave the WMF big donations — and were not confronted about violating the NPOV policy." Do the proposed TOS changes address this? Note that they also found that many of the donors adequately documented their conflict of interest.

    125 comments | about a month ago

  • IBM Begins Layoffs, Questions Arise About Pact With New York

    dcblogs writes with news that the rumored IBM layoffs have begun. "IBM is laying off U.S. employees this week as part of a $1B restructuring, and is apparently trying keep the exact number of cuts secret. The Alliance@IBM, the main source of layoff information at IBM, says the company has stopped including in its resource action documents, given to cut employees, the number of employees selected for a job cut. The union calls it a 'disturbing development.' Meanwhile, two days prior to the layoffs, NY Governor Cuomo announced that it reached a new minimum staffing level agreement with IBM to 'maintain 3,100 high-tech jobs in the Hudson Valley and surrounding areas.' The governor's office did not say how many IBM jobs are now there, but others put estimate it at around 7,000. Lee Conrad, a national coordinator for the Alliance, said the governor's announcement raises some questions for workers and the region. 'Yes, you're trying to protect 3,100 jobs but what about the other 3,900 jobs?' The Alliance estimates that anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 U.S. workers could be impacted by the latest round of layoffs. IBM says it has more than 3,000 open positions in the U.S., and says the cuts are part of a 'rebalancing' as it shifts investments into new areas of technology, such as cognitive computing." Alliance@IBM has a page collecting reports from people terminated today.

    182 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Ray Kurzweil Talks Google's Big Plans For Artificial Intelligence

    Nerval's Lobster writes "Ray Kurzweil, the technologist who's spent his career advocating the Singularity, discussed his current work as a director of engineering at Google with The Guardian. Google has big plans in the artificial-intelligence arena. It recently acquired DeepMind, self-billed 'cutting edge artificial intelligence company' for $400 million; that's in addition to snatching up all sorts of startups and research scientists devoted to everything from robotics to machine learning. Thanks to the massive datasets generated by the world's largest online search engine (and the infrastructure allowing that engine to run), those scientists could have enough information and computing power at their disposal to create networked devices capable of human-like thought. Kurzweil, having studied artificial intelligence for decades, is at the forefront of this in-house effort. In his interview with The Guardian, he couldn't resist throwing some jabs at other nascent artificial intelligence systems on the market, most notably IBM's Watson: 'IBM's Watson is a pretty weak reader on each page, but it read the 200m pages of Wikipedia. And basically what I'm doing at Google is to try to go beyond what Watson could do. To do it at Google scale. Which is to say to have the computer read tens of billions of pages. Watson doesn't understand the implications of what it's reading.' That sounds very practical, but at a certain point Kurzweil's predictions veer into what most people would consider science fiction. He believes, for example, that a significant portion of people alive today could end up living forever, thanks to the ministrations of ultra-intelligent computers and beyond-cutting-edge medical technology."

    254 comments | about 2 months ago

  • With 'Virgin' Developers, Microsoft Could Fork Android

    colinneagle writes "Amid all the talk about Microsoft forking Android for a smartphone OS, one suggestion involves a look back to Microsoft's DOS days. Microsoft DOS was designed per IBM's specification to run exclusively on IBM's PC hardware platforms. Phoenix Technologies employed software developers it nicknamed 'virgins,' who hadn't been exposed to IBM's systems, to create a software layer between Microsoft's DOS system and PCs built by IBM's competitors. This helped Microsoft avoid infringing on IBM's patents or copyrights, and subsequently helped fuel the explosive growth of PC clones. Microsoft could use the same approach to 'clone' the proprietary Android components in its own Android fork. This would prevent copyright infringement while giving Microsoft access to Google Play apps, as well as Android's massive base of developers." Microsoft (or anyone) could generate a lot of goodwill by completely replacing the proprietary bits of Android; good thing that doing so is a work in progress (and open-source, too), thanks to Replicant. (Practically speaking, though, couldn't Google just make access to the Play Store harder, if Microsoft were to create an Android-alike OS? Even now, many devices running Android variants don't have access to it.)

    241 comments | about 2 months ago

  • IBM Employees Caught Editing Wikipedia

    An anonymous reader writes "Corporate employees editing Wikipedia articles about themselves or their employers sometimes commit major violations of Wikipedia's "bright line" against paid editing, devised by Jimbo Wales himself, to prevent 'COI' editing. (Consider the recent flap over the firm Wiki-PR's activities, for example.) Yet the Wikipediocracy website, run by critics of Wikipedia management, has just published an article about IBM employees editing Wikipedia articles. Not only is such editing apparently commonplace, it's being badly done as well. And most bizarrely, one of the IBM employees is a Wikipedia administrator, who is married to another Wikipedia administrator. She works on the Watson project, which uses online databases to build its AI system....including the full text of Wikipedia." Reading about edit wars is also far more informative (if less entertaining) than reading the edit wars themselves.

    112 comments | about 2 months ago

  • AOL Reverses Course On 401K Match; CEO Apologizes

    An anonymous reader writes "When we last checked in with Tim Armstrong, the AOL CEO was demonstrating 'Leadership with a Capital L' to employees of the company's Patch local news subsidiary by summarily firing an employee in the middle of a conference call for taking photos. Armstrong continued to serve up tasty material for tech bloggers this past week, blaming $7.1 million in extra expenses from Obamacare, and for $2 million in expenses for 'two AOLers that had distressed babies', for a decision to hold all matching funds for employee 401K programs until the end of each calendar year. After a small firestorm in the press, and a petition from AOL employees unhappy with both the policy change and the way it was presented, Armstrong reversed course, reinstating the per-period match and apologizing for mentioning the individual employee cases (TechCrunch is an AOL subsidiary). Incidentally, Armstrong was originally following in the footsteps of IBM, which made similar changes to its 401K program that went into effect last year."

    123 comments | about 2 months ago

  • IBM Looking To Sell Its Semiconductor Business

    jfruh writes "Having already gotten out of the low-end server market, IBM appears to be trying to get out of the chip business as well. The company currently manufactures Power Architecture chips for its own use and for other customers. Big Blue wants to sell off its manufacturing operations, but will continue to design its own chips."

    195 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Military Electronics That Shatter Into Dust On Command

    First time accepted submitter MAE Keller writes "Two U.S. companies are joining a military research program to develop sensitive electronic components able to self-destruct on command to keep them out of the hands of potential adversaries who would attempt to counterfeit them for their own use. From the article: 'Last Friday DARPA awarded a $2.1 million contract to PARC, and a $3.5 million contract to IBM for the VAPR program, which seeks to develop transient electronics that can physically disappear in a controlled, triggerable manner.'"

    221 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Eclipse Foundation Celebrates 10 Years

    msmoriarty writes with news that the Eclipse foundation is ten years old this week. Although Eclipse was released in 2001, development was controlled by IBM until the creation of the independent Eclipse Foundation in 2004. "According to Eclipse Foundation Director Mike Milinkovich, that's a major reason Eclipse was able to thrive: 'IBM....did an exemplary job of setting Eclipse free ... We became the first open source organization to show that real competitors could collaborate successfully within the community.' He also talks about misconceptions about Eclipse, its current open source success, and what he sees for the future."

    155 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Book Review: The Art of the Data Center

    benrothke writes "At first glance, The Art of the Data Center: A Look Inside the Worlds Most Innovative and Compelling Computing Environments appears like a standard coffee table book with some great visuals and photos of various data centers throughout the world. Once you get a few pages into the book, you see it is indeed not a light-read coffee table book, rather a insightful book where some of the brightest minds in the industry share their insights on data center design and construction." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.

    30 comments | about 3 months ago

  • First Evidence That Google's Quantum Computer May Not Be Quantum After All

    KentuckyFC writes "In May last year, Google and NASA paid a reported $15 million for a quantum computer from the controversial Canadian start up D-Wave Systems. One question mark over the device is whether it really is quantum or just a conventional computer in disguise. That's harder to answer than it sounds, not least because any direct measurement of a quantum state destroys it. So physicists have to take an indirect approach. They assume the computer is a black box in which they can input data and receive an output. Given this input and output, the question is whether this computing behavior can be best reproduced by a classical or a quantum algorithm. Last summer, an international team of scientists compared a number of classical algorithms against an algorithm that relies on a process called quantum annealing. Their conclusion was that quantum annealing best reproduces the D-Wave computer's behavior, a result that was a huge boon for the company. Now a group from UC Berkeley and IBM's Watson Research Lab says it has a found a classical algorithm that explains the results just as well, or even better, than quantum annealing. In other words, the results from the D-Wave machine could just as easily be explained if it was entirely classical. That comes on the back of mounting evidence that the D-Wave computer may not cut the quantum mustard in other ways too. Could it be that Google and NASA have forked out millions for a classical calculator?"

    224 comments | about 3 months ago

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