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The newsletter of the SIE de Investigación y Enseñanza N. 22 - October 2007

SIEminar: "GPUs: supercomputing in a desktop PC" - 24 October at 12.30

A recent paper on using Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) for calculating N-Body simulations woke up our curiosity for these monster crunching creatures (you can see a Real-Time N-BODY simulation accelerated by GPU at YouTube), and we invited two experts (and regular IAC collaborators) to give us a primer on this field: Dr. José M. Rodríguez Ramos and Ing. José G. Marichal Hernández (ULL)
They will give us an introduction to GPUs and how they can be used not only for graphical applications, but also for general programming, and how we can turn an ordinary PC into a 1 TeraFlop machine by just adding 2 graphical cards, for less than 1000 Euros. As an example of their use for scientific programming they will show how to calculate FFTs for an Adaptive Optics problem. You can get more information (in spanish) about this talk at the SIE Talks and Courses page.

IRAF is dead ... no, it's still alive and kicking

As you have propably already heard, a couple of years ago NOAO slashed its official support to IRAF, whose development continued thanks to the efforts (on a voluntary basis) of some of the IRAF developers and with an important community participation through the website and forum. Now NOAO has resumed its support to IRAF, and major revisions and new functionalities are planned, as described in and presented in the IRAF BoF at the ADASS XVII Conference in London a couple of weeks ago. In particular, a new 2.14 beta release will be soon available, with a stable, final 2.14 release expected for early next year: this version will contain various improvements to the core system, plus new packages, in particular one to access data archives and catalogs from within IRAF. The new Ximtool display will work, at last, in 24-bit depth. Not only regular IRAF users, but even President Bush and his staff have been quite impressed by these very good news:,14169/!

KDE quirks and solutions

While being a great Desktop Environment, from time to time KDE may display some bizarre behavior. So far we have detected a couple of major problems, luckily both with a easy and quick solution:
  • Upon loggin in from the console, the message "Your session only lasted less than 10 seconds" appears, and the login screen is showed once again. The solution is to select KDE from the session options, and, after we have logged in, execute the command: switchdesk KDE. This should fix the problem once and forever.
  • All of sudden, windows become "fixed". When clicking on the edge of the window or on the window bar, the cursor changes to the correct shape (for instance an arrow) and it moves as expected. However, the windows themselves can not be moved or resized (though they can be minimized), something which can become quite annoying. If this happens to you, just type in any terminal: kwin --replace &, and Bob's your uncle!

KompoZer, a new Web authoring tool

First it was Mozilla Composer. Then, after Mozilla Composer was no longer developed and supported, NVU came, with the ambition of becoming a powerful, open source alternative to such professional tools as Dreamweaver or Frontpage. Unfortunately, NVU only went so far as version 1.0 in March 2005, then it just stopped there. Now, a new project called KompoZer tries to build upon NVU's experience, and looks quite promising. We have not tried it out though - just had a quick look -, but we invite anybody interested in it to download and play with this package, which is available for Windows, Linux and MacOSX as well. If you think KompoZer is good enough that it should be installed IAC-wide, just let us know.
SIE de Investigación y Enseñanza :: N. 22 - October 2007 - Contact: