Do American developers fear parallelism?

Is skill in parallel programming a cultural phenomenon? Do most real-world computing problems parallelize easily? For a heated discussion on these and other pressing multi-core issues, visit Slashdot and check out "More Interest In Parallel Programming Outside the US?"

The thread started today in reaction to a blog post from Intel's James Reinders, who claims that developers in the U.S. and Europe are falling behind when it comes to embracing parallelism. He also states that programmers with <15 years' experience show significantly more interest in parallelism than programmers with >15 years' experience. Fighting words!

If you're an American developer, you don't have to take this lying down. You can still register for the Multicore Expo, which goes from April 1 to April 3, and prove to the world that you embrace your inner parallelism. Lots of multi-core hardware/software vendors will be there, including Intel, QNX, Freescale, Sun, and Texas Instruments. (I work for QNX, so, yes, this is a shameless plug. :-)


QNX blasts off into space... again

This morning, at 2:28 a.m. EDT, the Space Shuttle Endeavour lifted off, carrying three technologies of note: 1) a Canadian-built robotics system that will enhance the International Space Station's robot arm; 2) the first section of Japan's new space-based laboratory; and 3) the Neptec LCS, a QNX-based 3D laser camera system that is mandatory equipment on every NASA shuttle mission.

The LCS is the world's highest-flying safety feature. It allows NASA to detect tiny fractures in the shuttle’s heat shield and determine whether they pose a threat to the shuttle crew. According to Neptec's website, "...the LCS captures direct 3D measurements to create accurate, full scale, three-dimensional models, allowing astronauts and the engineers at Mission Control Center to work together to assess any areas of damage."

A couple of years ago, I cowrote an article on the LCS and its use of the QNX Neutrino RTOS. To view it, click here.

For a corporate video of the LCS, go here.


The (humongous) snow dump of 2008

What does 50+ centimetres of fresh snow look like? Well, here's what I could see of my cars when I woke up yesterday morning...

And what does 50 centimetres of fresh snow look like when it's piled on top of 365 centimetres (12 feet) of existing snow? Well, here's what I could see of my two-storey house when I trudged out onto the street...

So much snow has fallen on Ottawa this winter that, today, a crew will use snowblowers to clean the roof of QNX headquarters. Too crazy to be true? Well, here's photographic evidence from the last time we had to do it, in December...

Mind you, there are benefits to having more than 411 centimetres (14 feet) of snow. For one thing, it's great for skiing and snowshoeing. And it can offer some cool photographic possibilities, such as this snowbank in the QNX parking lot. Pile of snow or otherwordly mountain landscape?

Visit DanC's blog for more pix of Ottawa's latest snow job.


10 QNX systems that could save your life

Well, to be honest, 9 systems. Because I'd like you to fill in the 10th.

A few years ago, a colleague of mine was manning a tradeshow booth that showcased a QNX-based blood collection system. A guy walked up to her and said, “If it weren’t for that device, my son would be dead today.”

It’s pretty emotional when someone tells you something like that. But the fact is, QNX-based systems have been helping to save lives ever since QNX shipped its first OS in the early 1980s. So without further ado, here are my 9 all-time life-saving QNX-based systems — add your own to make it a perfect 10:
  1. Crisys emergency dispatch system — Its phone number might be 911, but its uptime is closer to 99.9999%. When you turn this system on, it stays on. More

  2. DuPont RiboPrinter microbial characterization system — There are “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria. This system helps ensure that the bad ones don’t end up in important things. Like your dinner. More

  3. Senstar-Stellar intrusion detection systems — From airports to nuclear plants to military bases, Senstar-Stellar's security systems help keep the bad guys out. Except for prisons, where it keeps them in. More

  4. Siemens AXIOM Artis angiography system — According to the brochure, this system provides “unprecedented cardiac imaging performance and an expansive range of diagnostic and interventional applications — from cardiac angiography to ECG-triggered fluoroscopy.” But from the patient’s perspective, here’s the standout feature: A comfy, form-fitting mattress. More

  5. Burdick Quest electrocardiograph (ECG) stress testing system — This device won’t do you any good if you’re in the middle of a major heart attack. But it can predict whether you’re a candidate for one. More

  6. Bio-Rad BioPlex 2200 diagnostic platform — This “fully automated multiplexing immunoassay platform” can, among other things, diagnose vasculitis, a disease in which your immune system attacks your own blood vessels. The faster you detect vasculitis, the better the patient's chances, so it’s a good thing that the BioPlex can whip out 2200 test results per hour. More

  7. [Censored] air traffic control systems — Without reliable ATC systems, planes would be banging into one another like there’s no tomorrow. I’m not at liberty to tell you which airports use QNX-based ATC systems, but there are lots of them, worldwide. More

  8. AECL monitoring & control systems for nuclear reactors — Atomic Energy of Canada isn’t the only organization that uses QNX for nuclear plants, but they’ve probably been doing it longer than anyone else — since the 1980s, as far as I can tell. More

  9. Neptec laser camera system (LCS) for the Space Shuttle — Okay, so this one won’t save your life unless you’re an astronaut. But if you are an astronaut, the data this system provides can help you avoid becoming, well, part of the void. More

  10. Fill in the blank — Leave a comment and share your candidate for the all-time life-saving QNX device!