Wikileaks confirms AFACT acted as a front for the MPAA in the iiNet case

Via a tweet from iiNet, who were sued by AFACT in the Australian Federal Court, this comment on the case from a US cable released by Wikileaks:

Despite the lead role of AFACT and the inclusion of Australian companies Village Roadshow and the Seven Network, this is an MPAA/American studios production. Mike Ellis, the Singapore-based President for Asia Pacific of the Motion Picture Association, briefed Ambassador on the filing on November 26. Ellis confirmed that MPAA was the mover behind AFACT’s case (AFACT is essentially MPAA’s Australian subcontractor; MPAA/MPA have no independent, formal presence here), acting on behalf of the six American studios involved. MPAA prefers that its leading role not be made public.

It also appears the Australian companies involved needed some persuasion to be involved – I wonder if it involved any of the folding paper/plastic type of persuasion ?

AFACT and MPAA worked hard to get Village Roadshow and the Seven Network to agree to be the public Australian faces on the case to make it clear there are Australian equities at stake, and this isn’t just Hollywood “bullying some poor little Australian ISP.”

They also go into the expected reasons why they picked iiNet – mainly that they weren’t Telstra (they were scared of them).

Comment on Social Media and Social Unrest

My good friend Alec Muffett has written on ComputerworldUK about a discussion on the pros and cons of social media in light of the riots in the UK. He puts it really well:

I support that some people might want to use Blackberries to organise riots. If people want to use a cellphone or social media to conspire, that’s fine by me. I also believe that young lovers should be able to whisper sweet nothings to each other in secret, I believe that rape victims should be able to communicate in private, and that pregnant girls should be able to seek abortion advice without state, corporate, or parental eavesdropping. Cancer sufferers should be able to share in private their illness with the people who care for them, and I believe that dissidents should be free to communicate political opinion.

I believe all of these things because I discriminate the ability to obtain privacy from the exercise of criminal intent, and I believe that the ability to have a private conversation – something that 200 years ago was easily guaranteed – is a valuable asset to the individual. Plus I further believe that a state which has been too lazy, too profligate, or too cheap to police what people are doing rather than how they talk about doing it, is in no position to argue that ability or secrecy of communication should be inhibited because the problem is too expensive for them to address otherwise.

This is even more appropriate these days given that David Cameron, the UK PM, has now said:

We are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it will be right to stop people from communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.

I guess because it worked so well in Tunisia, Egypt, etc…

I would also suggest you watch his video “On Cyberspace, Social Media and Censorship“, recorded before the UK unrest.

Peter Norman, Australian Ostracised Olympic Hero

In the 1968 Mexico Olympics a famous image of Tommie Smith and John Carlos who had won gold and bronze in the 200m giving the black power salute on the medal podium was taken.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos give the black power salute at the 1968 Mexico olympics

It has become an iconic image of that time, but little is known these days of the role of the silver medalist in that photo. Peter Norman was a new star in running and broke the world record in the heats, but he was also brought up in a Salvation Army family and to think about looking after his fellow humans. This excellent BBC news article about both the 40th anniversary of the event and the 2008 film “Salute” says, his choice on that day had lasting effects:

The three were waiting for the victory ceremony when Norman discovered what was about to happen. It was Norman who, when John Carlos found he’d forgotten his black gloves, suggested the two runners shared Smith’s pair, wearing one each on the podium. And when, to the crowd’s astonishment, they flung their fists in the air, the Australian joined the protest in his own way, wearing a badge from the Olympic Project for Human Rights that they had given him.

The American’s were kicked out of their olympic team immediately, but the repercussions for Peter Norman were more subtle. As the article says:

Seen as a trouble-maker who had lent a hand to those desecrators of the Olympic flag, he was ostracised by the Australian establishment. Despite qualifying 13 times over and being ranked fifth in the world, he was not sent to the following Munich games, where Australia had no sprinter for the first time in the Olympics. Norman retired soon afterwards without winning another title.

This continued right through to the 2000 Sydney Olympics where Peter Norman was the only Australian Olympian excluded from the VIP lap of honour, 36 years after his original action. Whilst the Australians may have ignored him others decided that this was too much.

But the US athletics team were not going to ignore this omission. They invited Norman to stay at their own lodgings during the games, and welcomed him as one of their own. In an extraordinary turn of events, it was hurdling legend Ed Moses who greeted him at the door, and that year’s 200m champion Michael Johnson who hugged him, saying: “You are my hero.”

He died in 2006, after that having seen an early version of the film his nephew had made bringing all three athletes together for the first time to tell the story of that iconic event. Both Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave eulogies and were pallbearers at his funeral.

Iran’s New GPU Powered Supercomputer(s) ? (Updated x 2)

ComputerWorld has an article about Iran claiming to have two new supercomputers, fairly modest by Top500 standards, but lament the lack of details:

But Iran’s latest supercomputer announcement appears to have no details about the components used to build the systems. Iranian officials have not yet responded to request for details about them.

However, looking at the Iranian photo spread that they link to (which appears to be slashdot’ed now) the boxes in question are SuperMicro based systems (and so could be sourced from just about anywhere), with some of their 2U storage based boxes with heaps of disk and both 2U and some 1U boxes which are presumably the compute nodes. The odd thing is that they’re spaced out quite a bit in the rack, and the 1U systems have two fans on the left hand side (which indicates something unusual about the layout of the box). Here’s an image from that Iranian news story:

Iranian Supermicro GPU node

The nice thing is that it’s pretty easy to find a slew of boxes on SuperMicro’s website that matches the picture, it’s their 1U GPU node range which are dual GPU beasts, for example:

SuperMicro SuperServer 6016GT-TF-TM1

The problem is that this range goes back to a few years, for example in an nVidia presentation on “the worlds fastest 1U server” from 2009. HPC-wire describe these original nodes as:

Inside the SS6016T-GF Supermicro box, the two M1060 GPUs modules are on opposite sides of the server chassis in a mirror image configuration, where one is facing up, the other facing down, allowing the heat to be distributed more evenly. The NVIDIA M1060 part uses a passive heat sink, and is cooled in conjunction with the rest of the server, which contains a total of eight counter-rotating fans. Supermicro also builds a variant of this model, in which it uses a Tesla C1060 card in place of the M1060. The C1060 has the same technical specs as the M1060, the principle difference being that the C1060 has an active fan heat sink of its own. In both instances though, the servers require plenty of juice. Supermicro uses a 1,400 watt power supply to drive these CPU-GPU hybrids.

According to the HPC-Wire article the whole system (2 x CPUs, 2 x GPUs) is rated at about 2TF for single-precision FP. nVidia rate the M1060 card at 933 GF (SP) and 78 GF (DP) so I’d reckon for DP FP you’re looking at maybe 180 GF per node. But now that range includes ones with the newer M2070 Fermi GPUs which can do 1030 GF (SP) and 515 GF (DP) and would get you up to just over 2TF SP and (more importantly for Top500 rankings) over 1TF DP per node.

Now if we assume the claimed 89TF for the larger system is correct, that it is indeed double precision (to be valid for the Top500), they measured it with HPL and assume an efficiency of about 0.5 (which seems about what a top ranked GPU cluster achieves with Infiniband) we can play some number games. Numbers below invalidated by Jeff Johnson’s observation, see the “updated” section for more!

If we assume these are older M1060 GPUs then you are looking at something in the order of 1000 compute nodes to be able to get that number Rmax in Linpack – something of the order of 1MW. From the photos though I didn’t get the sense that it was that large, the way they spaced them out you’d need maybe 200 racks for the whole thing and that would have made an impressive photo (plus an awful lot of switches). Now if they’ve managed to get their hands on a the newer M2070 based nodes then you could be looking at maybe 200 nodes, a more reasonable 280KW and maybe 40 racks. But I still didn’t get the sense that the datacentre was that crowded…

So I’d guess that instead of actually running Linpack on the system they’ve just totted up the Rpeak’s then you would get away with 90 of them, so maybe 15 or 20 racks which feels to me more like the scale depicted in the images. That would still give them a system that would hit about 40TF and give it a respectable ranking around 250 on the Top500 IF they used Infiniband to connect it up. If it was gigabit ethernet then you’d be looking at maybe another 50% hit to its Rmax and that would drop it out of the Top500 altogether as you’d need at least 31TF to qualify in last Novembers list.

It’ll be certainly interesting to see what the system is if/when any more info emerges!

Update In the comments Jeff Johnson has pointed out the 2U boxes are actually 4-in-2U dual socket nodes, i.e. will likely have either 32 or 48 cores depending on whether they contain quad core or six core chips. You can see that best from this rear shot of a rack:

Rear view of a 4-in-2U rack

There are mostly 8 of those units in a rack (though rack at one end of the block has just 7, but there are 2 extra in a central rack below what may be an IB switch), so that’s 256 cores a rack if they’re quad core. There are 8 racks in a block and two blocks to a row so we’ve got 4,096 cores in that one row – or 6,144 if they’re 6 core chips!

The row with the GPU nodes is harder to make out we cannot see the whole row from any combination of the photos, but in the front view we can see 2 populated racks of a block of 5, with 8 to a rack. The first rear view shows that the block next to it also has at least 2 racks populated with 8 GPU nodes. The second rear view is handy because whilst it shows the same racks as the first it demonstrates that these two blocks coincide with a single block of traditional nodes, raising the possibility of another pair of blocks to pair with the other half of the row of traditional nodes.

Front view of GPU node racks Read view of GPU nodes Different rear view of GPU node racks

Assuming M2070 GPUs then you’re looking at 8TF a rack, or 32TF for the row (assuming no other racks populated outside of our view). If the visible nodes are duplicated on the other side then you’re looking at 64TF.

If we assume that the Intel nodes have quad core Nehalem-EP 2.93Ghz then that would compare nicely to a Dell system at Saudi Aramco which is rated at an Rpeak of 48TF. Adding the 32TF for the visible GPU nodes gets us up to 80TF, which is close to their reported number, but still short (and still for Rpeak, not Rmax). So it’s likely that there are more GPU nodes, either in the 4 racks we cannot see into in the visible block of GPU racks or in another part of that row – or both! That would make a real life Top500 run of 89TF feasible, with Infiniband.

Be great to have a floor plan and parts list! 🙂

Update 2

Going through the Iranian news reports they say that the two computers are located at the Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT) in Tehran, and Esfahan University of Technology (in Esfahan). The one in Tehran is the smaller of the two, but the figures they give appear, umm, unreliable. It seems like the usual journalists-not-understanding-tech issue compounded by translation issues – so for instance you get things like:

The supercomputer of Amirkabir University of Technology with graphic power of 22000 billion operations per second is able to process 34000 billion operations per second with the speed of 40GB. […] The supercomputer manufactured in Isfahan University of Technology has calculation ability of 34000 billion operations per second and its Graphics Processing Units (GPU) are able to do more than 32 billion operations per 100 seconds.


Amirkabir University’s supercomputer has a power of 34,000 billion operations per second, and a speed of 40 gigahertz. […] The other supercomputer project carried out by Esfahan University of Technology is among the world’s top 500 supercomputers.

So is the AUT (Tehran) system 22TF or 34TF? Could it be Rpeak 34TF and Rmax 22TF ? Is the Esfahan one 34TF (which would just creep onto the Top500) or higher ?

Unfortunately it’s the Tehran system in the photos, not the Esfahan one (the give away is the HPCRC on the racks). So my estimate of 80TF Rpeak for it could well give a measured 32TF if it’s using ethernet as the interconnect (or if the CPUs are a slower clock in the 2U nodes). Or perhaps the GPU nodes are part of something else ? That and slower clocked CPUs could bring the Rpeak down to 34TF..

Need more data!

PPP Dialup’s for People in Egypt #Egypt #Jan25 – Updated x 6

I’ve noticed two PPP dialups being published for people in Egypt who are struggling to get online due to the cutting of many Internet links into the country.

They are this one seen on a blog on the Internet blackout:

by Anon on January 28th, 2011 10:30 pm
“free” PPP dial-up access on Madrid, Spain:
+34 912910230
We are Legion.

and this seen on Michael Moore’s twitter feed:

People of Egypt! Use this dial-up provided by friends in France 2 go online: +33172890150 (login 'toto' password 'toto') #egypt #jan25

Update #1 – a massive list of dialups listed here –

Update #2 – instructions on dialup and more numbers are here –

Update #3seen on the telecomix Twitter feed:

One more modem dialup account on Swedish number for #Egypt user/pass tcx/tcx +46850009990 #Jan25 #Jan26

Update #4 – Again via the telecomix Twitter feed:

Another modem dialup number (unconfirmed if works) +46187000800, user: flashback pass: flashback #Egypt #Jan25 #Jan26

Update #5 – Not dialup related, but SMS info from the telecomix Twitter feed:

Vodafone users in Egypt: change your Message Ctr to +20105996713 able to send SMS pls spread #Egypt #Jan25 #Jan26

Update #6 – another dialup number via telecomix feed:

Anonymous dialup service provided by #FDN on +33172890150 login/pasword toto/toto #JAN25 #Egypte |Please RT

If you know of others please leave a comment here with the details!

New Victorian Government – Where’s the Science ?

So it appears that us Victorians have a new State Government in the shape of the Liberal/National coalition. I decided I’d try and look through the Victorian Liberal Party policies to get an idea of what might be in store for science in this state given that the ALP has been a strong supporter.

I can’t find anything. Not a sausage.

Even searching their 2010 budget response – not a mention of the word science. The website of their science minister seems to be devoid of any policy outlines, let alone detail.

Oh well. At least us people of the Yarra Ranges will get new bus shelters under this government, and the schools of that well known destitute institute the Catholic church will get more taxpayers money.

The Pope, Atheists, Nazis and Reality

So on his official visit to the UK the Pope apparently said:

we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society […] As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century

Now compare that with some quotes from Hitler (who knew a thing or two about Nazi Germany) on atheism:

We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.

We have put an end to denial of God and abuse of religion.

National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious, but on the contrary, it stands on the ground of a real Christianity.

Finally this classic from the lead up to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933:

Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.

Doesn’t sound very atheistic to me..

Please Vote Formally

In Australia voting is compulsory, but often people who can’t be bothered do an “informal” ballot, one which does not meet the criteria for a definite vote. Apparently the former Labour leader Mark Latham was asking people to vote informaly “to send a message” – but that doesn’t make any sense at all. Robert Norris’s post on why he’s voting Green has a nice quote from the Conscience Vote blog:

And when you go to the polls tomorrow, don’t – don’t, I beg you – cast an informal vote. If you can’t stand either of the major parties, put your vote where your heart is – and don’t let anyone tell you that it won’t count. Because you can bet that when the figures finally come in from the Electoral Commission, strategists and analysts from both sides will be going over the fine detail. Every vote that bleeds to the Greens or a minor party is a signal of discontent with the status quo.

And you’re not “sending a message”, regardless of what Mark Latham tells you. You’re just lumped in with every ballot paper that was incorrectly filled in, illegible or just plain doodled on. If you want to send a message, do it with a valid vote.

Every single vote matters.

So no matter who you want to vote for, go do it, and do it properly.

Why I’m Voting Green on Saturday 21st August

This coming Saturday, 21st August 2010 will be my first opportunity to participate in Australian democracy. My citizenship came through a few months after the last election, had I’d been able to vote then I’d have cast my vote for Labour and against John Howard.

However, with the Australian Labour Party (ALP) lurching to the right on a number of issues such as immigration, continuing the failed intervention in the Northern Territory, failing to legitimise same-gender marriage, and their crazy idea of mandatory Internet censorship combined with a new do-nothing strategy on climate change (“let’s hold a citizens assembly to tell us what to do, just like we did in 2008!”) means my conscience does not permit me to give them my first preference. They at least have some vision with the NBN, but that’s about it.

As for the Coalition, well they’re just laughable. A leader who doesn’t understand science or technology, policies that promise to deliver half the current speeds of ADSL2+, obscene exaggeration and fear-mongering about refugees coming in by boat (here’s some much needed facts on the matter), wanting to make bible classes compulsory in schools (I suspect aimed at the even more right wing Family First to whom they are directing preferences) and even worse policies on climate change and greenhouse gases. Even more FAIL than Labour. 🙁

So, I’m voting Green because:

  • They want to enshrine basic human rights in law (Australia is the only western democracy without legal protection of freedom of speech)
  • They’re against the mandatory Internet censorship scheme
  • They take the science of climate change seriously, and the challenges it poses
  • They believe that people who love each other should be able to get married, irrespective of orientation
  • They wish to treat refugees as people, not some mythical threat
  • They understand free, open source software and use it themselves

Most importantly I’m voting Green because THEY WANT YOU TO THINK! Not just about their policies, or other parties policies, but to think about how you direct your preferences. Sure they have preference deals, but what most impressed me was when they were announced Bob Brown said:

I don’t like back room preference negotiations with other parties. In fact I’m sick of it. And I think that we should be very well aware here that voters can get misled into believing that they should put their preferences where the Labor party or the Liberal party or the Nation party or the Greens or somebody else says. No that’s not true. People have a right to put, and I think an obligation to think about it, and put their preferences where they want to. That’s what’s important.

Watch the video on that ABC news article to hear that, it’s sadly not in the text of the report. They also have the best election advert that never was – The Gruen Transfer has been getting two advertising agencies a week to do an advert each for a political party and this one won the week they did The Greens.

Now I’m not under any illusions that they’ll form the next government, but voting for them will send a signal that I’m not happy with either of the major parties, and they should (hopefully) get the balance of power in the Senate.

AEC Obfuscates on Voting Rules

Update: Antony has kindly clarified his reasoning in a comment on this article, and so I have now sent a follow up query to the AEC based on this.

Update 2: After much too-ing and fro-ing (see the comments) with Antony Green and the AEC it appears that the AEC would rather obfuscate on the whole issue than bring clarity to it, and Antony makes a very convincing case about why it is valid to do both. What I’d love to see is a comment from someone involved in the voting process with one of the OIC guides to confirm that it says that those votes are handled as Antony says. I somehow doubt anyone would dare though.. 🙁 After that enlightening discussion with Antony I’ve changed the title of this article from “Do Not Vote Both Above and Below the Line in the Senate! (Updated)” to “AEC Obfuscates on Voting Rules” as that seems to be fairer to both Antony and the AEC. 😉

Update 3: Just found this on the AEC website describing how voting works:

However, if the elector completes both sections formally, the below the line section takes precedence.

So it is really valid, despite what the AEC have been telling me! Thanks to “GetUp!” for providing the link to that AEC page on their voting page.

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