Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

eScience & Technical Computing - Web Services and Scientific Research

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Virtual Earth in full view


    Now this is a way to view Virtual Earth – talk about an immersive experience.  I would like to see how WorldWide Telescope would look on this display…

    PDC2008 ShowOff Entry: Multi-channel Virtual Earth
    Multi-channel Virtual Earth
    This video shows a multi-channel version of the Virtual Earth control running on a custom curved screen that provides a 180 degree horizontal field of view. The screen is created using eight high-end full 1080p projectors with a professional warping and blending system.  The code is a modified version of a sample project with a custom camera class to properly adjust the FOV and camera offset for each projector and some code to synchronize the camera position across the network.  The system is being controlled with a wireless Xbox 360 controller.

    PDC2008 ShowOff Entry: Multi-channel Virtual Earth | briankel | Channel 9

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Electric Vehicle Conversion Project


    It’s great to run across professors that try ideas out – especially outside of their field.  Last week I was at Purdue University attending the Dept of Computing and Information Technology Industrial Advisory Board meeting – and found out about Mike Kane's (heads up the Bioinformatics Lab) conversion of a ‘73 Bug to Electric for $4500.  It’s perfect for commuting to/from campus :-)

    First EV Conversion: 1973 VW Bug (Summer, 2008)

    The first project was funded/completed by Professor Michael Kane and involves a 1973 VW Bug. The VW cost was $1,500 (without the engine) and had already been renovated (interior and exterior, looks great!). The conversion involved adding a 12-hp* DC motor to the existing VW transmission, as well as a dedicated potentiometer (i.e. throttle box), controller, contactor, shunt, and batteries (deep-cycle marine/RV batteries). The batteries cost $600, and the motor and controlling electronics cost $2,400. Note that the design of this EV was aimed at a "low cost" conversion rather than "high performance", and there are many different components and configurations that allow you to best balance cost-to-performance.

    Total cost: $4,500

    Video - WLFI television coverage


  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    University of Washington eScience Institute Rollout Event


    Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure to participate and present at the UW eScience Institute kickoff event.  I really enjoyed the event and and the vision laid out by Ed Lazowska.  The talks by David Baker, Martin Savage and Andy Connolly really highlighted the need for resources to help in the eScience space.  While the effort is still spinning up, it will be a great resource for scientists at UW to utilize in their efficient adoption of computing technologies.  I look forward in continuing to work with UW as we’ve been doing with the Dynameomics project and with the Trident Workbench.

    University of Washington eScience Institute Rollout Event

    Presentations by:
  • Phyllis Wise, Provost
  • Ed Lazowska, Computer Science & Engineering
        (Interim Director, eScience Institute)
  • Dan Fay, Microsoft Research
  • David Baker, Biochemistry
  • Martin Savage, Physics
  • Andy Connolly, Astronomy

    Rollout Event for the University of Washington eScience Institute

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Accessible Research blog


    Sam Stokes has spun up a blog to make research more accessible toimage students and though's of us that are learners for life.  His latest post is looking at a project Sensor touch: Fun in reaching out using Xbox controllers…sounds like fun – would also be interesting to see if there is a way to use the Xbox Messenger Kit – maybe to text to IM or twitter or even a remote LCD panel.

    Sam Stokes on Research in your life and studies

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    New drop of .NetMap available


    Graph6.gifThere’s a new release ( of .NetMap available – which includes both the Excel Template and the class libraries.  The big feature in this drop is the ability to do Directed or Undirected graphs.  This determines whether arrows are drawn on the graph.  Also take a look at the discussion on using the class libraries in other apps.

    .NetMap - Home

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    F# – Sept CTP available and units of measure checking/inference


    clip_image001The September 2008 CTP of F# is now available for download.  F# is a functional programming language for the .NET Framework and really should be looked at by scientists/researchers.  Also check out the F# Developer Center on MSDN for more info and resources. 

    There are a lot of new features in this release – here’s a sampling:

    • Broadly improved Visual Studio 2008 integration, which allows F# users to scale from scripting and explorative development, up to large-scale component and application design, all within Visual Studio.
    • Improvements to the F# language and libraries to make them simpler and more regular.
    • An exciting new language feature, Units of Measure, which extends F#’s inference and strong typing to floating point data.

    The Units of Measure checking and interference feature is very exciting feature and potentially most scientifically revolutionary programming language features around - scientists and engineers to check out.  This is because the F# compiler knows the rules of units

    When values of floating-point type are multiplied, the units are multiplied too; when they are divided, the units are divided too, and when taking square roots, the same is done to the units. So by the rule for multiplication, the expression inside sqrt above must have units m^2/s^2, and therefore the units of speedOfImpact must be m/s.

    Take a look at the SolarSystem sample -  A Solar System simulation application, taking advantage of Units of Measure in F# to do physics simulation.  Andrew Kennedy, who researched, architected and implemented this feature has all the details.

    Other F# resources:F# for Scientists

    Microsoft F# Developer Center

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Data Mining Services in the Cloud – Mine your Data, Any Place, Any Time


    This is great news - Software-plus-Services that any scientist/researcher could use.  The SQL Server Data Mining folks have a Data Mining Service in the cloud they are testing out…I posted previously [OLAP and Scientific Data & Data Mining Addins for Office 2007 (Excel & Visio)] about the Excel addins that allow anyone with Excel to do Data Mining on Excel tables.  Nowimage the team is testing out SQL Server Data Mining Services – from which you can do the data mining directly from Excel 2007 or even upload a csv file. 

    So for fun – I downloaded a csv file of a stream gauge near Redmond into Excel and ran the “Highlight Exceptions” tool to find outliers in the dataset – it read the table, uploaded it to the service and in seconds returned the results - which included the number of outliers - in this case air temperature and it also highlighted in the table the imagerows.  It was so easy.  I can see it being used for many scientific datasets - even to clean them before doing other analysis, charting, graphs, uploads, etc.

    The Table Analysis Tools included are:

    • Analyze Key Influencers
    • Detect Categories
    • Fill from Example
    • Forecast
    • Highlight Exceptions
    • Scenario Analysis
    • Prediction Calculator
    • Shopping Basket Analysis

    Microsoft SQL Server Data Mining Services

    Mine your Data, Any Place, Any Time

    The SQL Server Data Mining team is working to extend the power and ease of use of SQL Server Data Mining to the Cloud. Our goal is provide services that allow you to build rich, predictive applications without worrying about server infrastructure, and showcase these services with cool applications that give you a glimpse of what’s possible. We bring you a technology preview of our work below. Enjoy!

    Current Projects

    Table Analysis Tools for the Cloud

    Build powerful predictive reports on your data with just a few clicks!
    - No data mining expertise required
    - No server installation required
    - All you need is your Internet connection


  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    HPC Server 2008 Experience Counts Academic Program


    Great opportunity to get a special academic discount on Windows HPC Server 2008.  

    Windows® HPC Server 2008 Experience Counts Academic Program

    Share your HPC experience and get a special academic discount.

    You know the value of high-performance computing (HPC). No matter the topic - the inner workings of the universe or the economy; the spawning of a hurricane or urban development - HPC has become a key driver of the type of research that leads to groundbreaking insights.

    Microsoft Higher Education - Experience Counts

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Windows HPC Server 2008 cracks Top 10 in Top 500 list


    The latest Top 500 list was released at Supercomputing Conference (SC08) in Austin, Texas today and Windows HPC Server 2008 was part of the #10 placed machine [Dawning 5000A] from Shanghai Supercomputer Center.  This is the top machine outside of US – amazing job by the Windows HPC team.

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Carole Goble receives 1st Jim Gray eScience award


    Carole Goble wins first Jim Gray e-Science award

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Thank-you Fargo!!!


    CityOfFargoLogoSo here I am in Austin attending SuperComputing’08 posting about WALL•E and WWT and then noticed that my post about needing someone from North Dakota to visit the blog has been fulfilled :-) - Thanks to Fargo – all 50 states are checked off :-)

    Some interesting facts about Fargo:

    • The city's average high temperature is 16 degrees in January and 82 degrees in July.
    • Fargo has two sister cities: Hamar, Norway and Vimmerby, Sweden.

    Now onto Canada – just need Yukon and Saskatchewan.  Northwest Territories is checked off thanks to Yellowknife :-) 

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    GrayWulf (on SQL Server) wins SC’08 Storage Challenge



    Congratulations to Alex Szalay and his amazing team at JHU for winning the SC’08 Storage Challenge – with the entry GrayWulf:Scalable Clustered Architecture for Data Intensive Computing. GrayWulf – is implemented with SQL Server 2008


    Data intensive computing presents a significant challenge for traditional supercomputing architectures that maximize FLOPS since CPU speed has surpassed IO capabilities of HPC systems and BeoWulf clusters. We present the architecture for a three tier commodity component cluster designed for a range of data intensive computations operating on petascale data sets. The design goal is a balanced system in terms of IO performance and memory size, according to Amdahl’s Laws. GrayWulf pays tribute to Jim Gray who stimulated the system and its design. The hardware currently installed at JHU exceeds one petabyte of storage and has 0.5 bytes/sec of I/O and 1 byte of memory for each CPU cycle. The GrayWulf provides almost an order of magnitude better balance than existing systems. Our benchmarks are based on date from the petascale Pan-STARRS project, building the largest sky survey to date. The benchmarks involve sequential searches over hundreds of terabytes.

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    eScience 2008 Unconference Signup


    The signup for the Unconference session at the 2008 eScience Conference is available.  Unconferences are participant driven events – so attendees get to decide what, who, gets to present.  This Unconference bridges the 2008 Microsoft eScience Conference and the 4th IEEE International Conference on e-Science

    The Unconference will be Tuesday, December 9, 2008 7:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M. at the Conrad Hotel. 

    Add your name/slot to the list on the unconference wiki….

  • Demos Only - no slides allowed - only demos
  • 5 min talks- (2 Slides Max)
  • Open topics - what do you want to talk about
  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Interesting Papers from MSR – Nov 2008


    Papers from the November 2008 drop Microsoft Research I found quite interesting.

    Txt-it Notes: Paper Based Text Messagingimage
    Stuart Taylor - November 2008

    Text messaging or SMS (Short Message Service) has be-come a ubiquitous form of communication, particularly amongst the younger generations. However, older members of society (and technophobes in general) are often excluded from communicating in this way. In an attempt to overcome this problem, and to try and help foster social relationships among family members, we have designed and implemented a paper based system for sending and receiving text messages. We describe the underlying technologies used, along with the design of the paper user interface, the simplicity of which allows the system to be used by young and old alike.

    Migrating enterprise storage to SSDs: analysis of tradeoffs
    Dushyanth Narayanan; Eno Thereska; Austin Donnelly; Sameh Elnikety; Antony Rowstron - November 2008 

    Recently, flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs) have become standard options for laptop and desktop storage, but their impact on enterprises has not been studied. Provisioning enterprise storage is challenging. It requires optimizing for the performance, capacity, power and reliability needs of the expected workload, all while minimizing financial costs. This paper, through analysis of a number of enterprise workloads, provides insights as to when, and how, SSDs should be incorporated into the enterprise storage hierarchy. We describe an automated tool that, given device models and a block-level trace of a workload, determines the least-cost storage configuration. It analyzes the factors that drive the configuration choice, and computes the price points at which different SSD-based solutions will become cost-effective. Our optimization framework is flexible and can be used to design a range of storage hierarchies. When applied to current workloads and prices we find the following in a nutshell: for many enterprise workloads capacity dominates provisioning costs and the current per-gigabyte price of SSDs is between a factor of 3 and 3000 times higher than needed to be cost-effective for full replacement. We find that SSDs can provide some benefit as an intermediate tier for caching and write-ahead logging in a hybrid disk-SSD configuration. Surprisingly, the power savings achieved by SSDs are comparable to power savings from using low-power SATA disks.

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    InfoMesa Project – Whiteboard for your data


    One of neatest apps I’ve see lately is InfoMesa – a project by Sam Batterman – the example is InfoMesa allows any kind of data or visualization to be added to the Whiteboard. 

    The folks at RENCI are using it in their Social Computing Room (SCR) w/ a 360 degree desktop. 

    You can download the implementation and code and test it out.


    What is it?

    InfoMesa is a project to allow scientists to do more science and more discovery in a collaborative and data-rich environment. The metaphor that we have elected to use as the underlying fabric of the InfoMesa is a Whiteboard.

    InfoMesa allows any kind of data or visualization to be added to the Whiteboard. Far from static, these tools are interactive, allowing data to be absorbed from data sources like Oracle, SQL Server, Excel Spreadsheets, XML or even Cloud-based web services. InfoMesa, when complete will support imagery, video, 2D connected models, 3D models (lit in a photo realistically manner), web searches, results from web service calls, Image Tile Maps, ScatterPlots, Sticky Notes, Ink Notes, Rich Annotations and Associations.

    An Example of a typical InfoMesa Whiteboard is shown here:


    Welcome to the InfoMesa Project - Official Launch - Windows Live

  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    100 hours of Astronomy at Galaxy Zoo – Join in



    As part of IYA - Galaxy Zoo is working on 1 million classification clicks in 100 hours – ends on Sunday April 5th.  Right now they are just over halfway there…join in and help out. 

    Celebrating 100 hours of Astronomy

    The International Year of Astronomy is celebrating 100 hours of astronomy this weekend. There are events taking place right across the globe, but here at Galaxy Zoo we have a challenge for you. Can we make 1 million classification clicks in the 100 hours? The clock started at 12:00 GMT on Wednesday, April 1st and so the challenge will end at 16:00 GMT on Sunday April 5th. Get clicking!

    Galaxy Zoo 2


  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    Wow - DeepZoomPix Technology Demo – Azure, Silverlight and Deep Zoom


    DeepZoomPix LogoJust tried out the DeepZoomPix Technology Demo – it’s pretty amazing – brings together Azure, Silverlight and Deep Zoom.

    I tested it out with some Astronomy photos…


  • Dan on eScience & Technical Computing @ Microsoft

    “Cophenhagen” – a user experience concept video


    Just saw some of these great UI concept ideas by Cullen Dudas’ on istartedsomething and it’s a fun watch.

    Also – some some footage that shows off some of the previous Windows launches.

    Copenhagen User Experience from Copenhagen Concept on Vimeo.

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