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Dual-Core Duel: AMD Beats Intel

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Hardware

Ready for the era of dual-core? You now have a choice of dual-core processors; and based on PC World tests, the winner is clearly AMD's new Athlon 64 X2, which handily outdistanced a dual-core Intel system we tested last month.

Our tests indicate that with both AMD's and Intel's dual-core chips you'll obtain the biggest performance benefit when you work with multiple applications at once or when you use multithreaded software, designed to recognize more than one processor.

Dual-core chips build in two processing cores, in effect giving you two CPUs in a single piece of silicon. You also get two L2 memory caches, one for each core; the 2.4-GHz Athlon 64 X2 4800+ chip that we tested, for example, had 1MB of L2 cache per core. The 64-bit Athlon 64 X2 chips ship in June, joining currently available dual-core Opteron server and workstation CPUs. Systems should soon be available from vendors such as Acer, Alienware, HP, and Lenovo.

PCs with the new chips, which will come in several variations, should be available now. Also, you should be able to upgrade your existing Athlon 64 PC to the new chips with just a BIOS change, whereas to convert an Intel unit to dual-core you'll need to purchase a new motherboard.

Speed Boost

We tested a reference system provided by AMD that ran Windows XP Pro. It came configured with 1GB of 400-MHz DDR memory; a 10,000-rpm, 74GB hard disk; and an NVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics card with 256MB of DDR3 RAM. (The Intel system we previously tested came with comparable hardware.)

The AMD machine was the second-fastest we've ever tested, with a 116 mark on WorldBench 5, easily surpassing the 95 posted by the 3.2-GHz dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition 840 reference system that we looked at earlier (see the accompanying chart).

The unit showed its prowess on the multitasking portion of WorldBench 5. Its time of 6 minutes, 44 seconds was an impressive 3 minutes, 42 seconds faster than the average of two Athlon 64 FX-55 systems, and about 3 minutes faster than the dual-core Pentium EE 840 reference PC's time.

If you want one of these powerful beasts, you'll have to pay dearly for it: AMD's 4800+ chips alone are priced at $1001 each in quantities of 1000, while Intel's 3.2-GHz Pentium EE 840 chips currently sell for $995. Entry-level Athlon X2 chips will cost only about half that much, however, so you can still get the benefits of 64-bit technology and dual-core processing without breaking the bank.

Full Story.

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Scrivener Writing Software has a Linux Version

In some ways, Scrivener is the very embodiment of anti-Linux, philosophically. Scrivener is a writing program, used by authors. In Linux, one strings together well developed and intensely tested tools on data streams to produce a result. So, to author a complex project, create files and edit them in a simple text editor, using some markdown. Keep the files organized in the file system and use file names carefully chosen to keep them in order in their respective directories. when it comes time to make project-wide modifications, use grep and sed to process all of the files at once or selected files. Eventually, run the files through LaTeX to produce beautiful output. Then, put the final product in a directory where people can find it on Gopher.

Gopher? Anyway …

On the other hand, emacs is the ultimate linux program. Emacs is a text editor that is so powerful and has so many community-contributed “modes” (like add-ins) that it can be used as a word processor, an email client, a calendar, a PIM, a web browser, an operating system, to make coffee, or to stop that table with the short leg from rocking back and forth. So, in this sense, a piece of software that does everything is also linux, philosophically.

And so, Scrivener, despite what I said above, is in a way the very embodiment of Linux, philosophically.

I’ve been using Scrivener on a Mac for some time now, and a while back I tried it on Linux. Scrivener for the Mac is a commercial product you must pay money for, though it is not expensive, but the Linux version, being highly experimental and probably unsafe, is free. But then again, this is Linux. We eat unsafe experimental free software for breakfast. So much that we usually skip lunch. Because we’re still fixing breakfast. As it were.

Details with Screen Shots Here

Anyway, here’s what Scrivener does. It does everything. The full blown Mac version has more features than the Linux version, but both are feature rich. To me, the most important things are: A document is organised in “scenes” which can be willy nilly moved around in relation to each other in a linear or hierarchical system. The documents are recursive, so a document can hold other documents, and the default is to have only the text in the lower level document as part of the final product (though this is entirely optional). A document can be defined as a “folder” which is really just a document that has a file folder icon representing it to make you feel like it is a folder.

Associated with the project, and with each separate document, is a note taking area. So, you can jot notes project-wide as you work, like “Don’t forget to write the chapter where everyone dies at the end,” or you can write notes on a given document like “Is this where I should use the joke about the slushy in the bathroom at Target?” Each scene also has a number of attributes such as a “label” and a “status” and keywords. I think keywords may not be implemented in the Linux version yet.

Typically a project has one major folder that has all the actual writing distributed among scenes in it, and one or more additional folders in which you put stuff that is not in the product you are working on, but could be, or was but you pulled it out, or that includes research material.

You can work on one scene at a time. Scenes have meta-data and document notes.

The scenes, folders, and everything are all held together with a binder typically displayed on the left side of the Scrivener application window, showing the hierarchy. A number of templates come with the program to create pre-organized binder paradigms, or you can just create one from scratch. You can change the icons on the folders/scenes to remind you of what they are. When a scene is active in the central editing window, you can display an “inspector” on the right side, showing the card (I’ll get to that later) on top the meta data, and the document or project notes. In the Mac version you can create additional meta-data categories.

An individual scene can be displayed in the editing window. Or, scenes can be shown as a collection of scenes in what is known as “Scrivenings mode.” Scrivenings mode is more or less standard word processing mode where all the text is simply there to scroll through, though scene titles may or may not be shown (optional). A lot of people love the corkboard option. I remember when PZ Myers discovered Scrivener he raved about it. The corkboard is a corkboard (as you may have guessed) with 3 x 5 inch virtual index cards, one per scene, that you can move around and organize as though that was going to help you get your thoughts together. The corkboard has the scene title and some notes on what the scene is, which is yet another form of meta-data. I like the corkboard mode, but really, I don’t think it is the most useful features. Come for the corkboard, stay for the binder and the document and project notes!

Community chest: Storage firms need to pay open-source debts

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Did Red Hat’s CTO Walk – Or Was He Pushed?

He went on to say that some within Red Hat speculate that tensions between Stevens and Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s president of products and technologies, might be responsible, although there doesn’t appear to have been any current argument between the two. Cormier will take over Stevens’ duties until a replacement is found. Vaughan-Nichols also said that others at Red Hat had opined that Stevens might’ve left because he’d risen as high as he could within the company and with no new advancement opportunities open to him, he’d decided to move on. If this was the case, why did he leave so abruptly? Stevens had been at Red Hat for nearly ten years. If he was leaving merely because “I’ve done all I can here and it’s time to seek my fortune elsewhere,” we’d expect him to work out some kind of notice and stay on the job long enough for Red Hat to find a suitable replacement. Turning in a resignation that’s effective immediately is not the ideal way to walk out the door for the last time. It smells of burning bridges. Read more