Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Fold to cure, and save lives!

You can help save lives. And it doesn't even require that you get up from your couch. You can continue reading this blog, your online newspaper, chat with your friends or simply surf on MySpace - all the time unfolding those mysterious proteins that cause abnormalities and serious diseases like cancer.

The project is known as Folding at Home. Started by Stanford professor Vijay Pande, it utilizes a computer's spare CPU cycles to compute and simulate complex protein structures. Anomalities in protein structure can result in diseases such as Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes.

Folding at Home is a distributed computing application, which is a tiny program you run on your computer. People all around the world download the folding client, let it run and the results of simulation are sent back to Stanford server. To encourage a healthy competition, each work unit one folds is benchmarked and awarded points.

Hardware enthusiastic all around the globe fold for the cure of cancer. This process also helps them burn in their systems, and is a good benchmarking tool for many. There are thousands of teams formed by such zealots and they contribute to the cause day and night.

There are some downsides to this activity. And I don't want to keep the readers in dark by not educating them about those drawbacks. However, rest assured there are solutions and reasons to all of them.
  1. 100% CPU usage causes wear and tear on processors. However, if a processor is not utilized fully, it will become outdated after 3-4 years anyways. So, that can be called its life time. This life time is not reduced by running a folding client.
  2. In case of laptops, heat and battery usage - folding client is configurable. You can set it to use only 25-50% of the total CPU cycles. Also, it only uses spare CPU cycles. If any other process uses 90% CPU power, only 10% is dedicated to folding client. Plus, it can be set to shutdown if laptop switches to battery, or is at a certain percentage of your battery power.

So, there actually is no reason why you shouldn't be folding. If you are worried about having to start it every time you turn it your system, or feeling lazy about it, you can set it as a service, and forget about it. There are tons of things you can do to monitor it as well.

If so far you have been interested in what I said, please go and visit their site. There are couple of more guides I am listing here.

Ultimate Folding Guide, Folding FAQs, Folding Tweaks, Official Stanford FAQ page.

I request anyone who reads this blog, to at least visit these links. Give it a shot, we can make a huge difference.


Turbo Tagger

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Portable applications - all you need is a USB! - Part I

So, was it obvious I would never post again! ;)

Anyways...good to be back. And I want to talk about those tons of portable apps I have been googling on. I think and I have come to realize that, you can almost run a PC from an external hard drive, or better yet from a 1Gb large USB thumb drive.

First of all, let's start with the heart of a computer -
Operating system. Hope you all have heard about Damn Small Linux. It's a Linux LiveCD distribution. Also, it sizes only ~50Mb. Another good distribution was Flonix which seems offline these days. Puppy Linux is only ~60Mb and is claimed to be a very good alternative as well. These distros come bundled with tons of portable applications such as Firefox and OpenOffice. There are also projects to create Windows on USB and Mac on Stick, but both include price of operating system thus making discussion worthless here. :)

Next thing you would need on a computer system is an office suite. On a local machine where you have huge space, you actually install an application like that. If you have huge pockets, you can go for a paid, complete suite such as Microsoft Office. Otherwise, OpenOffice or Star Office would do just fine. The good news is - OpenOffice is available in portable version. You can thank John Haller, and get his Portable OpenOffice. It's a terrific application. A must have for that USB stick..

I can't think of myself using any browser other than Firefox now. I get frustrated when I have to use some other's computer and FF isn't installed on it. There is a cure to that. And it comes in the form of Portable Firefox, again from the same developer, John Haller. So, now you can carry around your extensions, bookmarks, saved forms - just about everything you have on your computer!!

I think this much information is good enough to get you started. Get your USB stick loaded. All you need is 256Mb. I hope to add some more utilities in next edition of my blog, whenever I get a chance. I just need to dig out through my bookmarks. Expect details on portable anti-virus, firewall, media players, chat clients, photo editors, CD burners, compression apps....oomph..it's a long list...in next blog!!! :)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Main agenda of the blog

I wouldn't need one more blog for no reason. I already have subscriptions on one or two different blogging services, a few social networking sites, a few forums etc. Adding more to my internet life would be absolutely unmanageable.

However, this blog aims at serving a purpose. I have heard that clicking on ads and various links in a blog on Blogger.com earns the blog-owner some money. Along with a few other friends, I sincerely intend to do some charity with those money. However small the amount, will go to some kind of charity. I don't have exact plan where, but trust me, it will be used for a good purpose.

Please click on the links. I will try to keep content of the blog interesting as well. You can expect different blogs on computer hardwares and music from me. Or traveling, which I maintain to do every weekend. ;)