Sunday, March 25, 2007

Folding at Home

The other day I set up Liz's computer in the house and realized that we have quite a few little electrical machines running in our house. I also knew that we didn't shut them down every day and were wasting some valuable electricity. So, I remembered a small article that I had read when the PS3 was gearing for launch. The article was touting the computing power of the PS3 hardware and its use in a program called Folding at Home.

Essentially, Folding at home is a program set up by Standford University to tap into the power of people's computers to create in a sense a super computer. The home user downloads a piece of software that can communicate with Stanford. We then set up some preferences to when and how much we can help. For instance, I have our computers set up to help when we are at work or not using them (its called screensaver mode). Instead of going to a traditional screensaver, we work on folding proteins that Stanford can use for research. When our computer finishes folding a protein, we send the information back and download another "work unit."

Stanford then uses this information to conduct research on diseases such as "Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes."

The University has also done a good job keeping people engaged with the work. Their site has lots of info on the research as well as stats for people and teams helping in the project. The piece of software that you download also lets you keep track of the work that you've done so that you can see some progress.

I look at this program as a way to give back a little to the community at large. It is a way of volunteering that actually doesn't require much. The work is done when I'm away from my computer and every little bit that me or my team contributes will help the research of the diseases and perhaps find a cure just a little quicker.

I'm going to be creating a team in the coming weeks, so shoot me a comment if you want to be a part of it.

2 slices of Pi

A buddy of mine from college (although we haven't spoken in six years) is involved in a website called My Slice of Pi

OK I'll say it...I am jealous.

I am fascinated by concepts like this. It reminded of the million dollar page project only this has a little something for the math geeks. Right now, you can buy a digit of Pi for the dollar amount equal to the number itself. (the number 3 = $3). They did have a multiplier of 10 attached when they first began. (The number 3 = $30) which I wish they would've kept. You can promote whatever you'd like (within legal limits Mario)I do think it will take off as people discover the novel idea.

I've bought digits 65 and 66 for this blog and Liz's blog.

Do check it out, and grab a digit.

2 month layoff

I know....I know...

It seems appropriate that my last blog was about which New Years resolution that I would break first. hmmmm...score an extra point for those who can spell irony.

Well, I'm back. And I hope to stay connected a few times a week. I won't bore you with the excuses. But now, I think that I have a plan. I still want to write about the rhetorical value of tech...and I will. But I also want to expand on some design work that I am exploring. I have an opportunity to learn Adobe photoshop and illustrator at work and I want to use the blog to solicit feedback on some of the work I do. I hope to generate some interesting discussion as far as design critique as well as some sharing of others' design work.

If you have some constructive criticism please leave a comment. I have a pretty thick skin, so don't think an interesting idea will go unheeded.

I'll start posting some work later this week.