It occurred to me the other day whilst I was clearing out some old bookmarks that it’d been a long time since I’d been involved in any distributed computing projects. These are projects where you download a client, and maybe in the background, or as a screensaver, it analyses a tiny fragment of data, part of a larger experiment which would take a university mainframe months to assess, but when split into small chunks and a few thousand home PCs, it can be done much quicker.
Along with a few friends I’d been involved in Seti@Home about five years ago (July 30th 2000 to be exact). That had reached almost fanatical levels for about a year, then I suspect in late 2001 we got a bit tired of it, and they’d made certain changes which had lowered our interest.(I had a page over at brightblack about it here). Later, the Seti team, in parallel with their funky little client (they also had a command line app which ran on pretty much any architecture you can name) also set up a BOINC based system, which I tried once, but it never got much time on my PC for one reason or another.
Towards the end of the Seti involvement a couple of us moved to a United Devices campaign to look into cancer cures (April 4th 2001). Unfortunately the client only ran on Windows and after a very short time it seemed to get lost in a PC re-build.
Then nothing, for a few of years until this week when I dug up that bookmark, and decided it was time to get back into using my PCs spare time to help somehow, so I downloaded the current client, figured out what my old login was, and checked how things were going for United Devices. It seems a few things have changed, projects added, and it’s now run under the umbrella or grid.org, which is quite a nice site. The client still only seems to work on Windows though. That said, it’s a worthy cause and it’s nice in some ways to have the client as my screensaver again, and to think that my tech fetish in some way is helping people again. Incidentally, the project I’ve chosen is under the World Community Grid.