UKUUG/Apple Technology Briefing

Posted on Nov 11, 2003

The UKUUG and Apple arranged a one day event to discuss MacOS X, etc. at the Apple offices in Stockley Park. It seemed to be quite well attended - over a hundred people I'd estimate. Strangely there was no wireless internet access during the day, making keeping up with the outside world quite a challenge.

There were four talks during the day:

  • Stuart McRobert: Apple Pie,
  • Ken Tabb: Clustering in a High Performance, Heterogenous Environment,
  • Simon Patience: MacOS X and the Power of UNIX,
  • Simon Cozens: The joy of scripting on OS X.

Stuart's presentation covered a variety of topics on the general theme of the availability of supercomputer performance in a desktop system (the new G5). 10Gbit ethernet was mentioned together with a suggestion that TCP Offload Engines may well be the way to free up CPU time from costly protocol processing.

Ken Tabb described his work at the University of Hertfordshire which combines computer vision (edge detection, etc.) with a neural network based behaviour prediction system. Two particular items were of note:

  • Acceleration of edge detection using Altivec instructions (15 times improvement),
  • Distributed neural network implementation using spare processing power on a group of Macintosh systems via Rendezvous enabled MPI.

Simon Patience is the Head of Core OS Development at Apple and he discussed the Unix underpinnings of MacOS X including highlighting some of the new or significantly improved features of Panther (MacOS X 10.3).

Simon Cozens, apparently famous for managing perl.com (I say "apparently" because I've never particularly followed the online Perl community), described how MacOS X is one of the more complete scripting environments out of the box. Perl, Python, Ruby, PHP and AppleScript are all included and Simon took the audience on a quick tour through the options and facilities available in each language.

Overall it was an enjoyable day with interesting and sometimes amusing presentations. The lunch (provided by Apple) was good even if the room where it was served was a little cramped. Thanks Apple and the UKUUG!