How much good work does your computer do?

Right now, my computer is really busy working on my behalf. It’s helping me to check my GMail, monitor what my friends and acquaintances (and Henry Rollins) are doing via Twitter, making sure there are no more tickets in the ticket queue, aiding my monitoring of my servers, and helping me to complete structure-based drug discovery calculations required to identify promising drug leads to combat the related dengue, hepatitis C, West Nile, and Yellow fever viruses.

I know. You want me to run one of those parts by you again, right? What, you didn’t know Henry Rollins twittered? Come on, where have you been?Grid

My little computer is a few years old, and I really don’t do much with it. I code, and code some more, and ssh in, and I browse, and that’s about it. What to do with all that excess computing power? Could I really make my computer into a force for good just by its mere existence?

Actually, I can, and so can you – by making it a part of the World Community Grid. The World Community Grid’s mission is to “create the largest public computing grid benefiting humanity. Our work is built on the belief that technological innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can change our world for the better.”

Many people are familiar with the Seti@home project, which is a single distributed network dedicated to one goal – to search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Like the Seti@home project, the World Community Grid uses a distributed network of personal computers to bring a massive amount of computing power to projects that need a vast amount of computing power but who may not, for whatever reason (*cough* money *cough*) be able to afford access to the world’s supercomputers to gather the data and calculations that they need at a speed they could utilize it in. By joining the Grid, you allot a portion of your computing power, disk, and memory to one or all (the Grid’s choice) of the current following goals:

It literally takes only a few minutes to sign up – we were up and running in a very short amount of time, and as we chose to participate in all the programs, the first thing our computer got to do was participate in research for the Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together program. Help conquer Cancer is waiting to start.

We have created a team. When you sign up – and you will sign up, won’t you? – simply click on teams and search for us, and click to join if you’d like to participate with us. Click to join and form a team to compete against us. Just click to join! Your computer has a deep seated desire (it’s run by a “mother” board after all) to be useful to and take good care of humanity, really!

World Community Grid supports users on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Check specific programs for specific requirements. We can tell you from a experiential standpoint, we did not notice any slowdown on our computer in the least bit – though we also have to disclose we are not gamers. After downloading the program, you can choose whether to run the program continuously, or run it only when you yourself are idle and the computer is not actively in use.

We will periodically post statistical updates to let folks know how much our team has accomplished, and the team’s open to anyone even remotely connected, so tell your friends, tell your family, and if your cat has a computer just for those icanhascheeseburger.com submissions, have your cat sign up, too!

We also wanted to let you know about another distributed computing project, the Folding@Home project. This project’s goal is understand protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases like Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes. The difference between World Community Grid and Folding@Home is that Folding@Home is devoted to one particular goal, while the World Community Grid lends itself to many diverse goals and is open to applications for its use for widely divergent research. If one of your motivations to participate is due to a loved one that was stricken with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or a disease that would be better served and honored by your participation in Folding@Home instead, we wanted to let you know about it.

Heck, if you have 3 computers in your house, you can have one looking for aliens, one looking to feed the world, and one looking to cure Parkinson’s all at the same time!

Who thought you could accomplish so much by getting off your computer and going to the park on a Sunday!

12 Responses to How much good work does your computer do?

  1. Janice Schwarz says:
    May 18, 2008 at 5:47 pm.

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s something I’ve been meaning to look into for a long time, but I keep getting sidetracked. You also just saved me a lot of research. You bet I’ll join your group.

  2. Janice Schwarz says:
    May 18, 2008 at 12:47 pm.

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s something I’ve been meaning to look into for a long time, but I keep getting sidetracked. You also just saved me a lot of research. You bet I’ll join your group.

  3. Marilyn Dillon says:
    May 18, 2008 at 11:31 pm.

    This is wonderful. Thanks for letting us know about this. I’m member #3 of Team Draknet.

    With three computers in our house, and only two people, there’s always a computer with nothing to do, so the Grid will get a lot of processing time from us.

    Hm, my mom does next to nothing on her computer. I’ll set it up on hers next time I’m there. :-)

    Jen, you rock! and Go Team Drak!

  4. Marilyn Dillon says:
    May 18, 2008 at 6:31 pm.

    This is wonderful. Thanks for letting us know about this. I’m member #3 of Team Draknet.

    With three computers in our house, and only two people, there’s always a computer with nothing to do, so the Grid will get a lot of processing time from us.

    Hm, my mom does next to nothing on her computer. I’ll set it up on hers next time I’m there. :-)

    Jen, you rock! and Go Team Drak!

  5. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little says:
    May 19, 2008 at 11:11 pm.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I have signed up, joined the DrakNet team, and begun running the software on both my laptop and the household desktop. Plenty of cycles to spare!

  6. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little says:
    May 19, 2008 at 6:11 pm.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I have signed up, joined the DrakNet team, and begun running the software on both my laptop and the household desktop. Plenty of cycles to spare!

    • DrakNet says:
      May 19, 2008 at 6:20 pm.

      I’ve actually already finished two work projects, and am on my next two. In about a week after we all turn some in, I’ll post the widget for the team on the project page.

  7. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little says:
    May 20, 2008 at 11:46 am.

    I wonder if you could tweak your blog’s CSS so that the vlink color isn’t indentical with the text color? I keep coming back to this post in order to find the link to World Community Grid, and it always takes me a while because, now that I’ve clicked it, the link is indistinguishable from the rest of the text. Not that having to reread the post is a *bad* thing necessarily, but it would be nice if the link stood out a bit!

    (I’m running the latest Firefox on Windows XP Home, if that helps to know.)

    • Jen says:
      May 20, 2008 at 11:56 am.

      It’s actually not – the text is black, and the visited link is navy blue. I’m looking on FF on XP Pro, and I’m able to see the differences in color…

  8. Alia Denny says:
    May 21, 2008 at 10:00 pm.

    Just got signed in and loaded tonight before a meeting, and will have plenty of idle time in the next few days to run stuff. I’ve also let the other computer users in my house know about the project, and may get a couple of the other three systems running as well.

  9. Patricia says:
    July 18, 2008 at 10:48 am.

    A long time ago I did the seti@home thing (being an astronomer as well as an artist it made perfect sense). But then I upgraded something on my machine that somehow made seti@home incompatible and I stopped. I’ve since changed locations, rebuilt my computer and have access to my mother’s. Like someone else here, my mother doesn’t use hera a lot. And I work with graphics and not really enough memory. So, what I plan to do, is get my mother’s machine going on the folding@home (both those illnesses have shown up in my family) and my machine on the other when I’m not using it.

    It’s nice to be able to do something positive even when one is financially embarrassed.

  10. Patricia says:
    July 18, 2008 at 10:57 am.

    Hmmmm. Something boggled on my machine. I’ll deal with it another time…

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