Europe s fastest supercomputer, which can make 40 trillion calculations per second, booted up for the first time at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center. The MareNostrum, built by IBM, boasts 40 teraflops of speed. It can make more calculations in one second than a human pecking at a calculator could make in 10 million years. Its memory is equal to the combined memories of nearly 20,000 personal computers, and its storage system has a capacity of 233 terabytes, the equivalent of the information in 29 million books.
MEETUP AND PAY
Meetup.com, the Web site, best known for bringing together supporters of Howard Dean during last year s presidential election, is instituting a $19 monthly fee for new groups. Current groups can pay a $9 monthly rate at least through the end of the year. The formerly free service brings like-minded people together by letting visitors pick an interest, like speaking Japanese, then enter a ZIP code to see if there s an event at a coffee shop, bar or other nearby venue.
MAKE THE FIX
Microsoft s Encarta encyclopedia is testing a system that lets everyone be an editor in theory. Readers can suggest edits or additions to entries, although the changes are vetted by editors before they reach the page. Encarta is not requiring such novice editors to identify themselves, said Gary Alt, Encarta s editorial director. But it is asking them to reveal the source of their information if possible, and the editorial staff will check for both factual errors and evidence of bias. This is in contrast to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which lets anyone instantaneously make changes, even delete entries.
Online journalists and bloggers filed a brief this week supporting three Web site reporters who wrote about a top-secret product Apple Computer claims was protected by trade secret laws. In December, Apple sued 25 unnamed individuals possibly Apple employees whom it claims leaked confidential product information to three Web publishers. In Apple s attempts to identify the source of the leaks, the company subpoenaed an Internet provider and demanded it turn over some of the reporters e-mail records. After a judge in San Jose upheld the subpoena last month, the reporters appealed. The Center for Individual Freedom, First Amendment Project, Media Bloggers Association, Reporters Without Borders and several individual online journalists, bloggers and other groups submitted a brief this week asking that the online publishers be allowed to keep sources confidential. The groups said the judge s ruling, if upheld, would discriminate against journalists who don t work for mainstream newspapers or other large publications. The reporters in the Apple case write for the Web sites Apple Insider and PowerPage.
In the hands of a pre-teenager, a cell phone can be a double-edged sword. It can give parents a sense of security, but it can also cause anxiety because they do not know what else the child is doing with it burning up the family s minutes, perhaps. The Firefly, a new phone from Firefly Mobile, is meant to help reduce parental angst. Aimed at children age 8 to 12, it is a voice-only phone that gives parents control over how their child uses it. The Firefly, which weighs about 2 ounces and is about the size of a small calculator, has only five keys. Parents enter a PIN to program as many as 22 phone numbers. Calling can be limited to those numbers, which the child chooses from a list (plus speed-dial keys for Mom, Dad and 911). The phone includes 12 ring tones, and the liquid-crystal display can be customized with various animations and background colors. Beginning next month it will be available nationally through fireflymobile.com for $100, including 30 minutes of prepaid calling. By July, the phone will be available in Target stores.
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