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Launched in 2023, Footprint is a blockchain analytics platform on course to become the go-to source of definitive on-chain data. 

Built around unmatched on-chain data and do-it-yourself, intuitive visualization tools, the platform aims to become an indispensable tool for any media outlet, an analytics company, or investment firm analyzing and reporting information from the blockchain. 

In other words, just as the Bloomberg Terminal opened the doors to real-time information about the traditional financial market, we are creating unrivaled tools to discover the blockchain. 

Bloomberg is the world’s largest financial services provider and its black terminals are a ubiquitous presence in any firm or bank that needs accurate information about the market. It also makes some of its revenue from its news businesses. 

We recognize an enormous opportunity for financial calculations, trading, monitoring, and investment comparison and execution analysis within the DeFi industry which we aim to capture, just as pioneers in the traditional finance industry like Bloomberg and Reuters Group did with their professional services. 

There were 76 million digital currency investors globally as of September 2023, a 40% yearly increase.

Likewise, the DeFi market has exploded with a robust 6-times growth in 2023, having reached a cumulative total of 3.4 mill  ion users engaged in DeFi activities and investments.

Data is vital to the financial market and those who have the best data lead in the industry.

Blockchain is this era’s shakeup of the finance industry. With banks and institutions realizing that the train has left the station, they are rapidly integrating it with traditional finance.

In turn, a giant chasm is opening, set to demand unforeseen quantities of DeFi data. 

Nobody exists to fill this void because high-quality on-chain DeFi data presents three obstacles.

The cost of understanding on-chain data

The difficulty of parsing data

The technical requirements of processing data

Unlike other platforms that focus on parsing Ethereum data (e.g. Dune, Covalent, and Nansen), Footprint—despite being a new challenger among blockchain data services and analytics platforms—is the first to complete ETL automated parsing of BSC on-chain contracts. 

With its self-developed automated parsing model, Footprint is able to accelerate its coverage of public chains and platforms at a rate of two platforms per day. 

Footprint Data and Footprint Analytics now available to the public

Footprint Data, the cornerstone of Footprint’s business, provides users with an easier way to access cross-chain, deep, granular, and continuous data.

Footprint is the first panoramic on-chain data service that covers a multidimensional set of primary and derived metrics for chains, contract addresses, wallet addresses, pools, tokens, and more.

However, we want to do more than just the known chains or coins and pools. We want to build data applications around the underlying data. These data sections are closely related to the governance of the data on the chain and allow for secondary development of the data by ecosystem participants, individual investors, media parties, project developers, communities, educators, and financial institutions. Everyone can participate.

Unlike other coin or protocol-centric platforms with limited primary data analysis (e.g., TVL, volume, etc.), Footprint parses data at a granular pool level.

We parse on-chain contract data from a wallet address perspective, allowing analysis of the number of transaction addresses, active addresses, newly generated addresses, the flow of large capital flows, and even the ability to analyze and track wallet addresses for each protocol-specific pool pair.

We treat each pool as a product, observe and analyze each product’s operational data, transaction data, user engagement, user profile, and more. We use a series of metrics to determine yields and trading prices.

As the first data app built on Footprint Data, Footprint Analytics went live in August 2023.

An all-in-one visual blockchain data analysis platform with thousands of free tabulation templates and a drag-and-drop charting experience, it allows anyone to build their own personalized data charts in 10 seconds, quickly being able to understand the so-try behind on-chain data.

Footprint Analytics’ mission is to transform data and information into insights and action.

It provides a convenient and easy-to-use tool for everyone, whether you want to access the underlying data, integrates it as an API,  or present it to others.

Some questions that Footprint Analytics can answer include:

Which public chains are growing fastest? 

How much slower is the total market cap of stablecoins growing?

What is the return, risk, pool depth, and fees for each pool situation? 

What are the returns for different types of projects?

What are the returns of whales’ investments? 

What are the best investment strategies to choose to follow?

Which DeFi pool has the highest yield? 

How do I find a project with potential?

Is secured lending worth it?

What are the current gas fees and gas fee trends for ETH?

Just as Bloomberg evolved to serve more and more uses after first finding success in fixed income securities analysis, we believe the opportunities for blockchain data applications will also grow exponentially.

Here are the solutions we’re bringing to the market first:

From the media perspective

Capture hot events and news through data to solve the problem of discovering first-hand information

Research and analyze industry trends, monitoring market heat, public chains, projects, and more

Cross-compare chains and projects horizontally and vertically, analyzing, and easily sharing the findings 

From a DeFi developer’s perspective

Analyze the project’s market share within categories and understand my position in the industry

Know the number of project users, active users, and which projects and pools the lost users are going to

Understand which pools are better run and more popular with users, which pools have more potential for growth, and the user profile of the pools.

From a VC perspective

Understand the market share of public chains/projects and find the projects with tremendous potential and fastest-growing trends. 

Investigate which chains, projects, and categories to invest in

Analyze the projects already invested in and projects in the same category to see which are operating best

Clarify the return on investment of the invested projects.

From an investor’s perspective

Identify new potential projects to invest in

Monitor the risk of invested projects, observe the change of TVL and determine whether there is a risk of collapse

Analyze the invested pools and see whether returns meet expectations while comparing options

Project future pool returns and simulates investments

We have seen a few platforms monitor pools, but they simply plot the trend of APY or TVL, not quantifying it. We have also taken the best from competitors.

For example, like Glassnode, we’ve brought traditional financial indicators to enrich our interpretation of pool data, e.g., policy indices, national currencies, treasury rates, etc.

We plan to produce more derivative data with pool analysis in the future.

We can calculate the APY data over the investment cycle through these derivative data, understand the changes in volatility, and choose pools that better match our risk appetite.

Similarly, we can also give users more quantitative and structured results. 

Here are some examples of Footprint’s use of derivative data:

Calculating the maximum retracement to check the worst-case scenarios historically

Calculating excess return per unit of impermanent loss taken to check the Sharpe ratio

Calculating the P/E percentage to see the value of the token investment in LP pools

These deep processing analysis capabilities are one of Footprint Analytics’ flagship features.

Footprint Data currently covers metrics from over 500 protocols on BSC, Ethereum, and other public chains. Footprint Analytics has also launched more than 20 visual reports (including some 3D dynamic charts), and the community has created over 10,000 dashboards. Footprint plans to start producing deeper analysis reports around pools in Q1.

Bloomberg started with market data in one area: Fixed income securities. It has gradually expanded to include data analytics, data models, news, media, trading systems, and real-time communications. Traders, Ibanks, the Fed, and basically anyone involved in the global financial industry uses their terminals.

History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes. We believe that DeFi data will also follow a similar pattern of consolidation, that’s why Footprint is moving fast to accumulate a wider spectrum of data than any other platform and develop the most important business segments within the blockchain industry. 

To learn more about the Footprint platform and its development, follow along through the following channels. 

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The World’s 15 Youngest Billionaires 2023

These young billionaires, including a couple very well-to-do teenagers, got rich quick.

The average billionaire is 65 years old, according to Forbes’ latest ranking of the planet’s richest people, and the eldest is insurance tycoon George Joseph, who’s 101. But old age is not a requirement for amassing great wealth. In fact, there are 15 people around the globe who boast a three-comma fortune despite being 30 years old or younger.

The richest 30-and-under—by far—is Red Bull heir Mark Mateschitz, whose father Dietrich died in October 2023. With an estimated $34.7 billion fortune, he’s worth nearly ten times more than the next-richest young billionaires, Clemente Del Vecchio and his two siblings. Mateschitz is the richest of all 150 newcomers to the 2023 billionaires list.

Overall, 11 of these 15 inherited their fortunes. Just four are self-made entrepreneurs. That includes Ben Francis, who founded activewear maker Gymshark in 2012, when he was 19, and Palmer Luckey, who sold his first startup to Facebook and is back with a successful defense tech business. Both are new members of the billionaire ranks.

There were 15 total 30-and-unders last year, too—but the names have changed considerably thanks to nine newcomers and eight people who dropped out of the billionaire ranks completely, including Brex cofounders Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi, and DoorDash cofounders Stanley Tang and Andy Fang. They still have plenty of time to make a return—something that will be much more difficult for FTX cofounder Gary Wang, 29, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges in December.

As a group, these 15 youngsters are worth $64 billion in total, $10 billion more than in 2023, largely thanks to Mateschitz’s massive inheritance. Still, accumulating so much money so young remains a rare feat: Together, this exclusive group represents just 0.6% of the world’s 2,640 billionaires.

Here are the 15 members of the World’s Billionaires list who are 30 and under, ranked from oldest to youngest: (NET WORTHS ARE AS OF MARCH 10, 2023) Ben Francis

Francis was juggling college classes and delivering pizzas when he founded activewear maker Gymshark in 2012, at age 19. He sewed the first pieces together in his parents’ Birmingham, U.K. garage and guerilla-marketed his way into the workout gear scene, getting weightlifting influencers to pump up his brand. Gymshark did more than $500 million in 2023 sales. Francis sold 21% of the business to private equity firm General Atlantic in 2023 for $300 million but still owns 70%. The unicorn’s most recent move? A brick-and-mortar store: Gymshark London opened in 2023 and offers workout classes and the brand’s trademark apparel.

Palmer Luckey Mark Mateschitz

He inherited 49% of energy drink giant Red Bull after his father, cofounder Dietrich Mateschitz, died in October. Soon after, he resigned from his role as its head of organics to “concentrate on his role as shareholder.”

Michal Strnad

His Czechoslovak Group is one of the biggest suppliers of ammunition, ground equipment and artillery equipment to the Ukrainian army, which has helped double sales to $620 million in the first half of 2023. He took full control of the business, founded by his father, in 2023.

Gustav Magnar Witzoe

He owns nearly half of salmon farming company SalMar ASA, inherited from his father Gustav Witzoe, but does not have an operating role. Instead, he’s casting his line as a real estate and tech startup investor.

Ryan Breslow

The Stanford dropout founded three startups, four years apart: Bolt, which rocketed him to fame, Eco and Love, his 2023 venture. They aim to remove middlemen in payments processing, personal finance and pharmaceuticals, respectively. A fourth, nascent crypto project Movement DAO, was set to launch this year but instead led to a legal battle against a rogue engineer who allegedly stole two-thirds of its seed funding. The engineer’s attorney dismissed the allegations as “frivolous.”

Leonardo Maria Del Vecchio Katharina Andresen

Along with her younger sister Alexandra, Katharina is a sixth-generation owner of Ferd, the more than $4 billion (equity) investment company their father, Johan, runs. Katharina is a sustainability officer at an Oslo-based construction firm.

Wang Zelong

Wang’s fortune comes from a stake in Shenzhen-listed traded company CNNC Hua Yuan Titanium Dioxide—a chemical used to create white pigment for things like paint and paper.

Alexandra Andresen

Alexandra and sister Katharina own a 42% stake each in investment firm Ferd. Instead of holding the reins at Ferd, she holds actual reins: Alexandra is a three-time junior Norwegian champion in dressage riding and helms a horse breeding and training facility.

Luca Del Vecchio

One of two children between Leonardo Del Vecchio and Sabrina Grossi, a former Luxottica board member and the company’s former head of investor relations, Luca is not known to have a role at the eyewear company.

Kim Jung-min

Along with her younger sister, Kim Jung-youn, Jung-min inherited around a third of their family’s assets—including a 15% stake each in game maker Nexon—after their father Kim Jung-ju died in February 2023. Jung-ju founded Nexon, known for its massively multiplayer online games Kingdom of the Winds and MapleStory, in 1994. Forbes does not know her precise age.

Kevin David Lehmann

He inherited 50% of German drugstore chain dm-drogerie markt from his father at age 14. It remained under a trusteeship until his 18th birthday, when he became a billionaire. Neither Lehmann nor his father is operationally involved in the $14 billion (revenue) company.

Kim Jung-min

One of two teenage billionaires on this year’s rankings, Kim Jung-youn inherited a stake in her late father’s holding company, which in turn holds approximately half of online gaming giant Nexon. Both Kim sisters keep a low profile and are not known to have an active role in the company. Forbes does not know her precise age.

Clemente Del Vecchio

The world got a new teenage billionaire when Leonardo Del Vecchio died in June 2023. Clemente, the youngest Del Vecchio heir, is not known to have a role at Luxottica, which owns Sunglass Hut, Ray-Ban and Oakley, among others.

This article was first published on chúng tôi and all figures are in USD.

Meet The World’s Newest Carnivorous Plant

An unassuming herb found on the western coast of North America known as Triantha occidentalis, or western false asphodel, has now joined the ranks of carnivorous plants.

Scientists affixed fruit flies to the sticky stems of T. occidentalis growing in a bog near Vancouver, and found that the plants absorbed significant amounts of nutrients from the insect prey. This common herb is one of only two carnivorous plants to be identified in the past two decades, and its newfound status suggests that other unrecognized meat-eaters may also be growing near major cities, the team reported on August 9 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The plant’s been known for a long time, but it’s never been understood that it’s a carnivore,” says Sean Graham, a botanist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and coauthor of the new findings. “My suspicion is that there might be other carnivorous plants out there like this that we don’t know about.”

Carnivorous plants are generally found in sunny, wet habitats with low levels of nutrients in the soil, where their abilities to suck minerals such as nitrogen and phosphorus from hapless animals gives them an edge.

Western false asphodel inhabits wetlands and stream banks along the Pacific coast of North America, from California to Alaska. It belongs to a family with no previous evidence of carnivory, but often grows near known carnivorous plants such as sundews and butterworts. 

The flowering stems of T. occidentalis can grow to about two-and-a-half feet tall during summertime, and are lined with reddish hairs covered in shiny secretions. Scientists have often observed small insects trapped among these sticky hairs.

[Related: Venus flytraps know not to eat the insects that pollinate them]

However, sticky hairs are a common feature in the plant world, and are typically a defense against insect pests, Graham says. Another likely reason why T. occidentalis escaped notice until now: Its traps aren’t as striking and elaborate as those boasted by other carnivorous plants such as Venus flytraps.

​​The first sign that the species might have a carnivorous lifestyle came when a colleague of Graham’s noticed that T. occidentalis is missing a gene involved in photosynthesis that’s also absent in a number of carnivorous plants. 

“That’s what made us suspicious,” Graham says. “They’re already trapping insects, so it’s probably not that hard to take the next step and actually start consuming the insect.”

He and his team decided to investigate whether T. occidentalis does indeed draw sustenance from its victims. Graham’s colleague Qianshi Lin, then a PhD student in botany at the University of British Columbia and now on the faculty at the University of Toronto, fed captive fruit flies a rare form, or isotope, of nitrogen known as nitrogen-15. The researchers then stuck the flies to the leaves or stems of several different species growing in a bog in British Columbia’s Cypress Provincial Park. These included T. occidentalis, a carnivorous sundew, and a non-carnivorous plant from the daisy family known as wandering fleabane. After several weeks, Lin returned to measure how much of the distinctive nitrogen isotope had accumulated in each plant.

“The key thing here is to prove that the nutrients have come from the dead animals and been incorporated into the plant’s body,” Graham says.

Unsurprisingly, the presence of fruit flies seemed to have no effect on the amount of nitrogen-15 in the fleabane. However, the proportion of nitrogen-15 in both the sundew and T. occidentalis increased substantially after the plants had been presented with flies. The researchers estimated that 64 percent of the nitrogen in the herb’s leaves originates from insect meals, comparable to levels seen in other carnivores.

Additionally, the researchers observed, the sticky hairs on the stalks of T. occidentalis secrete a digestive enzyme called phosphatase that’s also found in other carnivorous plants.

The findings suggest that T. occidentalis uses its glistening hairs to lure and ensnare insect snacks. Bizarrely, however, these hairs are located very near T. occidentalis’s flowers.

“That’s really weird, and it’s pretty much unheard of to have the trap close to the flower,” Graham says. 

Most carnivorous species keep a healthy distance between their meat-eating bits and the parts of the plant that must be pollinated by insects. However, Graham says that T. occidentalis probably isn’t putting its own pollinators at risk. The hairs only trap very small flies and beetles, rather than the larger, stronger bees and butterflies responsible for pollinating the plant.

Still, Graham says, many questions remain about T. occidentalis. He and his team are sequencing the plant’s genome to search for features related to carnivory. Other important steps will be investigating whether the closest relatives of western false asphodel might also be carnivorous, which insects are most vulnerable to being captured in the sticky hairs, and what other digestive enzymes the plant produces.

Ai Chatbots Are Becoming More Realistic

Chatbots are computer programs that provide a conversational experience for customers.

Depending on a chatbot’s sophistication, these programs may run on various amounts of AI-associated technologies, like natural-language processing and machine learning.

By and large, customers are increasingly happy to use chatbots for routine customer service operations, like checking business hours, confirming a store’s location or tracking the status of an order.

This article is for business leaders who want to learn about the future trends for realistic AI chatbots. 

Artificially intelligent chatbots aren’t just for Fortune 500 companies anymore. Thanks to a slew of innovative bot ventures that focus on the user experience, small business owners are now using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve daily operations, connect with clients and increase sales. Well-known tech executives such as Mark Zuckerberg and Satya Nadella have publicly touted the value of AI chatbot technology. And since the COVID-19 pandemic, AI chatbot adoption has further quickened as businesses pivoted more of their operations online. Now, roughly one-quarter of companies use chatbots for their customer service.

That said, tech adoption tends to take time for small and midsize businesses, especially when the emerging technology is unfamiliar to most users. Today, the use of chatbots is heavily influenced by business size: While micro businesses and small businesses currently employ chatbots at higher rates than larger businesses, significantly more midsize and large businesses plan to deploy chatbots. However, across businesses of all sizes and types, chatbots appear to be a dominant technology trend moving forward. 

What is a chatbot?

Chatbots are computer programs designed to provide a realistic conversational experience for humans. Chatbots can process human language (written or spoken) and provide responses of varying complexity. At one extreme are simple text-based chatbots that may only answer simple, one-line questions, such as providing business hours or store locations. 

At the other end of the chatbot spectrum are proprietary virtual assistants, like Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana. These chatbots can provide a significantly wider variety of functionality than text-based chatbots can. Each of these chatbots can understand conversational language and are not reliant on text-based input. 

How are chatbots used today?

Chatbot usage varies greatly based on the complexity of the software and how it is deployed. Chatbots such as Alexa or Siri are used routinely by individuals for a wide variety of routine tasks, such as asking for the weather forecast, creating calendar events, or writing and sending text messages. These types of personal AI chatbots are virtual assistants and are unlikely to be used by businesses beyond employee personal use. 

Simpler AI chatbots, though, are being increasingly deployed by businesses across the e-commerce and online spaces. These chatbots typically appear as window pop-ups in a web browser to ask if a visitor needs help. These simple chatbots are already common: A recent survey found that 22% of micro businesses, 20% of small businesses, 11% of medium-size businesses and 12% of large businesses use these chatbots. Over the coming years, this deployment will significantly increase: 43% of micro businesses, 60% of small businesses, 80% of medium-size businesses and 71% of big businesses are planning to deploy chatbots, the survey found. 

In a business setting, chatbots are widely used to help customers find answers quickly without requiring human intervention. Typically, businesses deploy chatbots to answer common questions or to provide support outside typical business hours. 

According to chatbot and customer service company Tidio, business owners’ top three reasons for using chatbots are to facilitate faster replies to customer messages (26%), offer round-the-clock customer support (20%) and provide automatic replies to repetitive or common questions (18%). Essentially, business owners view chatbots as a means to improve productivity and provide more efficient service to customers. 

Key Takeaway

A minority of businesses currently use chatbots, but an overwhelming majority of businesses of all sizes plan to implement them. Companies currently use chatbots to help customers with routine questions and provide customer support during off-hours.

How do customers respond to chatbots? 

Customers’ responses to chatbots vary greatly. The reason the customer is interacting with the chatbot in the first place, along with the other means of assistance available, greatly affects their overall opinion of it. For example, Tidio found that 62% of customers would rather use a chatbot than wait 15 minutes or more to speak to a human representative. [Read related article: Small Businesses Provide the Best Customer Service.]

Similarly, regardless of wait time, customers would rather use a chatbot than speak to a human representative for a range of simple activities. Consider these findings from Tidio:

71% of customers would prefer to use a chatbot to check an order status.

67% would prefer to use a chatbot for help searching for products.

62% would rather use a chatbot to get information and deals.

A survey from the chatbot company chúng tôi found similar responses within the marketing industry. According to chúng tôi 70% of survey respondents said chatbots answer all or most questions satisfactorily. According to this survey, customers likewise cited using chatbots most frequently for resolving simple issues. Consider these findings:

18% of respondents used chatbots to find business hours.

17% used them to request product information.

16% used them to find nearby store locations.

16% used them for customer service requests. 

Although chatbots are effective for simple tasks, customers do not like using them for complicated requests. According to a report from Verint, most customers found chatbots ineffective for detailed requests. Here are some more findings from the Verint report: 

32% of respondents said chatbots rarely or never understood them, while 28% said chatbots always or often understood them. 

30.5% of respondents said chatbots rarely or never fully answered their questions. 

54.5% of respondents said they always or often had to speak to a human representative after using a chatbot. 

Tip

Overall, most customers prefer to use a chatbot than wait 15 minutes or more to speak to a customer service representative. Customers generally rate their experience with chatbots positively for routine tasks but generally don’t like to use them for more complex or detailed questions.

Chatbot adoption is on the rise, and so is sophistication

Chatbot adoption increased 426% in April 2023, following the first round of lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Further adoption of chatbots by small and midsize businesses is likely to be driven by three factors: lower costs, improved technology and growing demand. Already, though, the chatbot market has undergone a round of normalization, as large numbers of customers and business owners believe chatbots fill certain business needs. 

How far chatbot adoption ultimately goes depends on how much the technology improves. If chatbots offer a seamless customer experience across a range of functions, their continued adoption is almost certain. And, with increasing numbers of chatbot service providers, it seems very likely that more businesses will continue to adopt this technology and that greater numbers of customers will come to expect it.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go

Oh, the Places You’ll Go Staying put this holiday weekend? A list of things to do

The Boston Common Frog Pond is open for business. Admission for skaters is $4. Bring your own skates or rent a pair for $8. Photo by Vernon Doucette

Not everyone is able to get home for Thanksgiving. For those who can’t travel, though, there’s lots to do in and around Boston to help put you in a holiday mood. Below is a list of suggestions—some free—to keep you busy over the next few days.

Directions to Plimoth Plantation, 137 Warren Ave., Plymouth, Mass., are available here. Admission to the plantation and onto the ship, open through November 29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is $28.

Directions to Old Sturbridge Village, One Old Sturbridge Village Rd., Sturbridge, are available here. Admission is $20.

Now that the mercury has dropped, head over to the Boston Common Frog Pond for some festive ice-skating. Lace up your own skates or rent a pair for $8, and take to the ice. Admission is $4 and locker rentals are $1. Refreshments can be purchased at the Lily Pad Café.

The Frog Pond is on the Boston Common, on Beacon St. between Park and Charles. Public skating hours are Mondays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Charles Dickens fans and theater-goers alike will want to head to the Back Bay for the Lyric Stage Company’s acclaimed production of Dickens’ The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts I & II. This sprawling adaption of the novel is presented in two parts, each running three hours, with an hour intermission. The play is performed in rotating repertory.

The Lyric Stage Company of Boston is in the YWCA, second floor, 140 Clarendon St., Boston. Part I of Nicholas Nickleby will be performed on Friday, November 26, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, November 27, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, November 28, at 7:30 p.m. Part II will be performed on Saturday, November 27, at 3 p.m. and Sunday, November 28, at 2 p.m. Student rush tickets, at $10, are available with a student ID, and you must arrive 30 minutes before the performance. Tickets are cash only and subject to availability.

Still craving culture? Head over to the Museum of Fine Arts new Art of the Americas wing, which opened just last week. The new wing, designed by iconic architect Norman Foster, features 53 new galleries showcasing 5,000 items from North, Central, and South America spanning 13 centuries.

Admission to the Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, is free for students with a with BU ID.

If you didn’t get your share of pumpkin or pecan pie, you may want to trek over to Arlington’s Regent Theatre for a spoonful of sugar when the theater hosts six showings of Sing-a-Long Mary Poppins over the weekend. The theater has customized the 1964 film with lyrics on screen to ensure audience participation. The audience is encouraged to dress in Mary Poppins–themed costumes for a costume contest, so get out your umbrellas!

Directions to the Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St., Arlington, are available here. Sing-a-long times are listed here. Tickets are $12 with a student ID.

Already anxious to get into the Christmas spirit? What better way to usher in the season than by attending the Macy’s Great Tree Lighting at Downtown Crossing on Friday, November 26, at 5 p.m. There will be performances by the Boston Children’s Chorus and singer and Broadway star Ann Hampton Callaway and the unveiling of Macy’s “Yes, Virginia” holiday windows, which follow the journey of a child’s letter to Santa Claus as it travels to the North Pole.

The event is free and takes place at Macy’s at Boston’s Downtown Crossing.

Consider taking part in another Beantown Christmas tradition this weekend. The Boston Ballet kicks off its 2010 run of Tchaikovsky’s beloved holiday ballet The Nutcracker. Student rush tickets, at $20 with a student ID, are available for performances on November 26, 27, and 28; you must show up two hours before the performance to get the discounted tickets, which are cash only and subject to availability.

The Boston Ballet performs The Nutcracker this weekend at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston. Performances are 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 26; 1 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 27; and 1 and 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 28.

After Thanksgiving, it’s time to start that holiday shopping. “Black Friday” marks the official start of the holiday shopping season. For electronics and computer equipment, get up before sunrise and head to Best Buy for its 5 a.m. opening. With locations in the Landmark Center and on Newbury Street, the store will have myriad deals. Also in the Landmark Center, Staples opens at 5 a.m. as well, with sales on cameras, GPS systems, and computer accessories.

Best Buy is at 401 Park Drive and 360 Newbury St., Boston. Staples is at 401 Park Drive, Boston.

Amy Laskowski can be reached at [email protected]. Brendan Gauthier can be reached at [email protected].

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China’s Secretive Mega Chip Powers The World’s Fastest Computer

Fifteen years ago, China decided to build homegrown processors for PCs, servers, and supercomputers. Now the country’s latest chip is powering the world’s fastest computer.

The supercomputer is a big statement that China doesn’t have to rely on U.S. technology for its IT needs. China used Intel’s chips to build the world’s second fastest supercomputer, the Tianhe-2, which until recently held the top spot on the Top500 list.

The U.S. in April last year banned the export of some Intel Xeon chips to China for use in supercomputers, with the government concerned the chips would be used in activities against U.S. interests. The Tianhe-2 and Tianhe-1A were allegedly used in nuclear weapon tests, which partly spurred the export ban.

The embargo on the Xeon chips did not affect the building of the Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer. China already had set its sights on building the first supercomputer that could deliver a performance of more than 100 petaflops, Top500 wrote.

But the embargo did strengthen the resolve and precipitated efforts of China to build its own homegrown chips.

For the Chinese, the development of indigenous IT equipment, especially for high-performance computing, is a matter of priority and national pride, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64.

Developing a high-tech chip gives China bragging rights to stand up against countries and top chip-makers like Intel. It’s also a matter of cost, Brookwood said.

The home-grown Chinese chip also gives the country some weight and bargaining power against top chip makers Intel, IBM, and Qualcomm, who are trying to push their own chips to server makers in China.

A supercomputer with a homegrown Chinese chip, the Sunway BlueLight MPP, running an early version of the ShenWei processor, entered the Top500 list in November 2011 at number 14. It was the first Chinese supercomputer with a homegrown chip to enter the Top500 list and was ranked at 119 on the list released on Monday.

China, the U.S., Japan, and European countries are in a constant race to build the world’s fastest computer. China had 167 supercomputers on the Top500 list, beating the U.S., which had 165.

The Sunway TaihuLight has the ShenWei SW26010 processor, a monster 260-core chip. Each chip delivers a performance of 3 teraflops, which Top500 rated as being on par with Intel’s latest Xeon Phi chip code-named Knights Landing. That chip is rated as one of the company’s fastest.

With Sunway TaihuLight, China is also the first country to make a supercomputer that passes 100 petaflops in performance. Countries are in a race to make a computer that can deliver a performance of an exaflop, or a million trillion calculations per second, which is expected to be reached sometime after 2023.

There’s still is some mystery to China’s latest homegrown chip. It is a 64-bit RISC processor, which Top500 speculates is based on the DEC Alpha architecture. The supercomputer has 1.3 petabytes of the older DDR3 memory, and uses 15.3 megawatts of power, making it more power-efficient than the number two supercomputer Tianhe-2, which uses 17.8 megawatts. It also has a homegrown interconnect, though its based on PCI-Express 3.0

China over years has developed a chip called Godson, which has been used in PCs, though progress has seemingly stalled. 

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