First they feared it would cause the end of the world. Once the particle beams were injected into the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), even though things didn't go as well as expected, the world was evidently as it was before, except perhaps a bit warmer, more polluted and as violent as ever, all for reasons that had nothing to do with the LHC. Now we have the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG), which combines over 140 computer centres from 33 countries, to help manage and analyse over 15 million gigabytes of LHC data every year.
This, the biggest computing challenge of all time, will tackle the biggest data crunch ever in the history of mankind from the earth's most powerful accelerator. To make all this possible, 15 universities and 3 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories combined their power to the huge project.
Particle physics projects such as the LHC have been a driving force for the development of worldwide computing grids and benefits from these grids are being reaped in areas as diverse as searching for extra terrestrial life and drug discovery.
So what will Grid Computing do for the future? It will allow people and groups all over the world to combine their resources and collaborate across continents to achieve their goals. Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and colleague Justin Rosenstein, who will be leaving Facebook to start working on this new project, said the company will build tools to facilitate collaboration within the enterprise. Inspired by the challenges the two had helped solve at Facebook, the project will use Facebook Connect as its user authentication system.
And while on the subject of the enterprise and collaboration, IBM expanded its cloud computing efforts last week, debuting new on-demand services for Independent Software vendors and customers. The company said these would make it easier for businesses to adopt cloud computing practices for improving collaboration, better managing data and reducing costs.
IBM's vision is that businesses will ultimately have a mixture of applications and data that reside in both the data centre and the cloud. To that end the company is developing its own branded cloud services portfolio, providing cloud-computing environments for businesses, helping Independent Software Vendors design and build cloud services and helping customers integrate cloud services into their business operations.
While all this was going on, Microsoft seems to have been busy trying to claw its way back. Redmond unveiled its latest attack against Google's search empire: SearchPerks!, a programme that rewards users with tickets for searching that can later be redeemed for prizes. Given that their largest customer base in the US elected George Bush (twice!) the idea has potential, but the software giant stumbled when it came down to execution.
Microsoft likely decided to launch SearchPerks! based on its impression of how well Live Search Cashback, which went live in May, was doing. The cashback programme lets searchers use Live Search to find the cheapest store that a product is being offered at, and then also get back a portion of the purchase price from Microsoft (based on a percentage determined by the retailer). The results for Live Search Cashback weren't too bad one month in, and new data shows the service is now starting to pick up.
We can easily use Microsoft search for cash, except we might never be able to find anything worthwhile on the Internet. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think.
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