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.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Which New Years resolution will you break first?

This year I gathered with the fam to write down our bad habits from 2006 and burn them while scribbling some good natured resolutions for 2007.

Mine read something like this:

1. Get organized
2. Start saving Money
3. Something esoteric like "enjoy the simple moments"

Looking at them today, I realized that they were all just vague enough that I could consider them (technically)accomplished with minimal effort. I'm sure this isn't in the spirit of resolutions, but I didn't want to write something that I knew I would discard in a few days. I have some coworkers who wrote elaborate resolutions like "change my destiny." PLEASE! I don't even think that is possible (I mean it's destiny for crying out loud). I wondered if people wrote resolutions with the intention of breaking them. Do smokers really think "cause it was a new years resolution" will get them through nicotine withdrawal?

So, in all candidness, which little white lie did you write on your paper? Which New Year resolution will you break first? You know it's on there. You wrote it because it sounded good. It balanced out the others on your list (hell the whole list might be a sham). come clean.

I for one am still as messy today as a few weeks ago.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Doppelganger year in review

Well, it's been a fantastic year here at the the doppelganger. With 4 posts in the bag, a dozen readers, and a poem worthy of Frost, I'd say it was a year worth remembering.

To recap, we had a slow November and a quiet beginning to December. But wow, on or about the 29th we accomplished a significant milestone in this blog...yep...we started it. Ever since then its been nothing short of two more posts. A blistering pace if ever I saw one. I probably won't keep up that kind of momentum in 2007, but I'll try to focus more on quality.

Except for the poetry

As a year end present, I'm sending out 2006 with a god awful poem and a video of a fireworks warehouse catching fire and exploding.

See ya next year

you were my girlfriend for a whole year
you stuck by me for 365 days
8760 hours
and lots of minutes and seconds that I can't count
cause my calculator broke
but I must let you go
I've found a prettier partner
I like her because she is here
and you are dead

Fireworks factory/storage in Seest, Kolding, Denmark on fire and exploding, rendering whole neighbourhood uninhabitable.

Which Candidate will become Viral?

Ahh politics. the never ending source of internet fodder. Here they go. With all the 2008 election posturing, it seems like the 2006 races were eons ago. I mean the new congress isn't even officially in session and we have several presidential candidates declaring for the '08 race. While I could care less about candidates 2 years before the election (they'll have plenty of time to lose my vote between now and then) what interests me is the techniques and tactics the campaigns will employ.

The candidate that peaked my interest so far is 'ol Johnny Boy Edwards. Trying to gain some ground in an unofficial poll between two candidates (Hilary and Obama)who haven't even declared they're running yet, he launched his campaign last week.

What was interesting aside from the painfully obvious political stunt of declaring in New Orleans in jeans and an open collar shirt (read:salt of the earth everyman) was the medium he used. He released the video of his declaration on youtube the now popular (with really rich founders) video sharing site. While this might have been just a good use of the tools available to him, I can't help but wonder what future presidential candidate campaigns will do to to "reach out" to the consumers who get their information from the web.

The term on the web when something gets a snowball effect of publicity(most of the time unintentional) is "viral." It's dubbed this because the information spreads like a virus. Corporations have been trying to manufacture positive viral content for years now after seeing the return on investment you can get with huge returns for very little money. The problems is that the internet community hates to be manipulated and can sniff out manufactured content pretty well. The strategy can backfire tremendously which can lead to some negative viral content. Ask Sony about the PS3 debacle.

So, my question is this. Which candidate do you think will become the most positively "viral" in the coming years? I think we should make some guesses now and look back in 6 months/1 year to see how our predictions held up.

Welcome to the new age of campaigning, where a candidate might not need a huge war chest to reach the public if he can manage his internet image. Let the politicians loose, this should be quite fun.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Does the Medium effect the Message?

Well, less than 1 day after "the event," the Saddam video hit the web. I had thought that we would see it quickly, but this surprised even me. Obviously, this had to come out quickly and it was sanctioned. This is psychological warfare at it basest. I also can't help but think one of the reasons this had to hit so quickly(at least in America) is that after this administration's handling of intelligence, citizens will not believe anything they are told...unless they see it. I've already had conversations with people who don't believe it's real. They think we made a deal with Saddam and faked his death.

At first. I had serious reservations about posting the video to my blog because it straddles the line of good taste. It's a little like looking at dirty pics when you were a kid. Sure if "cousin Mark" had them you'd look, but actually having them under your mattress was a whole different ballgame. You were forced to take ownership of it. It became hyper real

I decide to post because one of the topics that interest me is understanding how technology affects the human condition. I mean, a few years ago, watching this video wasn't even an option. We would have to wait and see if a TV production team would air it(and watch a censored/ sanitized version). I think I fall on the side of having the video because the medium forces it's potential viewers to do a little critical thinking. Unlike watching the evening news and having this video show up as a segment, this format forces you make a choice to watch it. You have to make an active decision for the experience and (conscious or not) implicitly agree to the consequences.

Now, the consequences are a separate post and are very real. But let me know what you think about the medium.