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Submission + - GCHQ Builds A Raspberry Pi Super Computer Cluster (

mikejuk writes: GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA, has created a 66 Raspberry Pi cluster called the Bramble for "educational" purposes. What educational purposes isn't exactly clear but you do associate super computers with spooks and spies. It seems that there was an internal competition to invent something and three, unnamed, GCHQ technologists decided that other Pi clusters were too ad-hoc. They set themselves the target of creating a cluster that could be reproduced as a standard architecture to create a commodity cluster.
The basic unit of the cluster is a set of eight networked Pis, called an "OctaPi" — one thing you have to admit is that the Raspberry Pi name lends itself to silly variations. Each OctaPi can be used standalone or hooked up to make a bigger cluster. In the case of the Bramble a total of eight OctaPis makes the cluster 64 processors strong. In addition there are two head control nodes, which couple the cluster to the outside world. Each head node has one Pi, a wired and WiFi connection, realtime clock, a touch screen and a camera.
This is where the story becomes really interesting. Rather than just adopt a standard cluster application like Hadoop, OctaPi's creators decided to develop their own. After three iterations, the software to manage the cluster is now based on Node.js, Bootstrap and Angular.
So what is it all for?
The press release says that:
"The initial aim for the cluster was as a teaching tool for GCHQ’s software engineering community."
and then goes on to say:
"The ultimate aim is to use the OctaPi concept in schools to help teach efficient and effective programming. Watch this space for more details!"
The second point seems a bit unlikely.
Is it going to be open source?
Given that this is a GCHQ creation it seems unlikely, but we can hope.


PG&E Makes Deal For Solar Power From Space 392

N!NJA writes "California's biggest energy utility announced a deal Monday to purchase 200 megawatts of electricity from a startup company that plans to beam the power down to Earth from outer space, beginning in 2016. Solaren would generate the power using solar panels in Earth orbit and convert it to radio-frequency transmissions that would be beamed down to a receiving station in Fresno, PG&E said. From there, the energy would be converted into electricity and fed into PG&E's power grid."
The Almighty Buck

Should Good Indie Games Be More Expensive? 150

spidweb writes "Indie gaming blog The Bottom Feeder has an article on why independent games should be more expensive. The enforced low prices on XBox Live, Amazon, and iTunes might feel good now, but they'll kill off the variety and depth gamers are hoping indie developers can provide. From the article: 'Every year, life is getting more and more expensive. Insurance. Rent. Food. And, at the same time, games are getting cheaper and cheaper, sometimes as cheap as a dollar, as we engage in a full speed race to the bottom. This is not going to help developers stay in business. This is not how a healthy industry is maintained.'"

The State of UK Broadband — Not So Fast 279

Barence writes "The deplorable speed of British broadband connections has been revealed in the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, which show that 42.3% of broadband connections are slower than 2Mb/sec. More worryingly, the ONS statistics are based on the connection's headline speed, not actual throughput, which means that many more British broadband connections are effectively below the 2Mb/sec barrier. Better still, a separate report issued yesterday by Ofcom revealed that the majority of broadband users had no idea about the speed of their connection anyway."

Feed Official: Powerpoint bad for brains (

Menace of slideware

Anyone who's been a victim of "death by Powerpoint" - that glazed and distant feeling that overwhelms you when some sales droid starts their presentation - will be reassured by Aussie researchers who've discovered biological reasons for the feeling.


Submission + - DARPA planning liquid robots

moon_monkey writes: According to New Scientist, Darpa is soliciting proposals for so-called Chemical Robots (ChemBots) that would be soft, flexible and could manoeuvre through openings smaller than their static structural dimensions. They suggest that it could be made from shape-memory materials, electro- or magneto-rheological materials or even folding components. Does this sound like the T-1000 from Terminator 2 to anyone else? Yikes.

Submission + - Does GNOME interface need overhaul?

mutebargee writes: Although GNOME seems to be incrementally improved, Jono Bacon writes: "For a while I had been mulling over different concepts and ideas about how GNOME should work, and trying to distill them into core interactions for a desktop". "The problem with current desktops is that they are largely artificial. We have created modes of interaction that the user has to learn to understand the computer, instead of the computer trying to understand the user.""The next-gen GNOME needs to change this. It really, really does. What I want to see is an organic environment; one that is designed around human interactions, tasks and concepts that we find natural, intuitive and repeatable."

Is necessary for GNOME to re-invent the term desktop? Will KDE 4.0 give to GNOME a hard time?

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