Catch up on this week’s round-up of the latest hosting and tech news. Here’s what we’ve uncovered since our last edition.
Fastest supercomputer developed to tackle virus
The urgent need to tackle coronavirus has led to the development of the world’s fastest supercomputer. What’s both heart-warming and surprising about this feat is that the computer isn’t housed in some giant datacentre or in a secret university lab, but in millions of ordinary homes across the planet.
Using a distributed computing model, similar to that used in bitcoin mining, volunteers across the planet can download software that enables spare processing power on their PCs to carry out elements of the research. In this case, looking at the nature of protein folding.
The still-expanding supercomputer is so powerful that, according to the organisation that runs it, [email protected], by 25 March it was able to perform 2.4 quintillion operations per second or, to use IT parlance, 2.4 exaflops. For those unsure what that means in terms of numbers, it’s 2,400,000,000,000,000,000. It takes most people more than a second to read it! Apparently, its faster than the world’s top 500 supercomputers put together and six times quicker than its nearest rival, the IBM Summit.
If you want to donate some of your computer’s spare resources to help the fight, you can do so by visiting [email protected].
Amazon the corona ‘go-to’ store
The CEO of US bank, Ritholtz Wealth Management, has said that Amazon has become a public utility during the coronavirus outbreak, with millions of people around the world relying on it to provide food and goods that they are unable to purchase anywhere else.
According to the latest figures, consumers are now spending $11,000 a second on the site and this has led its share price to rocket by a third over the last month, with the company now valued at $1.14 trillion. In one day alone last week, Jeff Bezos’s fortune jumped by almost $7billion, now valuing his personal wealth at $138 billion.
As competition from bricks and mortar stores disappears because of countrywide lockdowns, Amazon’s already mammoth fulfilment capacity is struggling with the unprecedented demand, so while retailers across the world are making redundancies, it is looking to hire a further 75,000 warehouse workers on top of the 100,000 it hired in March.
It’s clear evidence that businesses which can offer their products and services online can manage to keep trading and even prosper during the lockdown period.
ICUs to allow video visits
To limit the spread of coronavirus, current rules prevent the relatives of patients visiting their loved ones in ICUs. However, the distress this is causing has led hospitals to relax the rules about the use of mobile devices in intensive care settings so that families can use live chat to see and send messages to the sick.
The charity, Life Lines, is working with a range of partners, including BT, Google and Samsung, together with the NHS’ video-conferencing app developer, Aetonix, to provide ICUs with 4G-enabled tablets, protected by wipeable cases, so live chat visits can take place.
C3PO working for Deliveroo
Well, not quite. However, lockdowners are now able to get takeaways and small supermarket deliveries dropped off at their homes by robots. Since 2015, Milton Keynes based Starship Technologies has been developing and testing their fleet of small, autonomous vehicles and with people forced to stay at home and delivery services under pressure, now seemed like the right time to commercially deploy them.
It’s not just residents in Milton Keynes that can access the deliveries, as grocery stores, restaurants and even delivery companies across the UK and the US are making use of the service. So popular has it become that, since its launch in March, the robots have travelled over half a million miles and made over 100,000 deliveries.
Users can access the service by downloading the Starship Deliveries app which lets you buy freshly cooked food from local restaurants and takeaways or make small orders from supermarkets. These are then loaded into the robots which drive themselves to users’ homes.
Human error causes wrong type of wireless
A four-hour outage that recently affected Cloudflare customers was the result of a maintenance worker mistakenly removing wires that should have been left connected. The cause of this error was workers being given ‘imprecise instructions’ when they were asked to remove retired equipment from a cabinet in one of the company’s core datacentres.
Believing that they needed to remove all the equipment, the team also removed a cable switchboard at the back of the cabinet. This switchboard, however, was what connected the datacentre with all the other Cloudflare datacentres. As a result, several fibre connections were disconnected and the Cloudflare Dashboard and API went offline. While the company was swift to take action, the disaster recovery was hampered because the cables hadn’t been properly labelled.
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