Number Crunching

You all know I like numbers1.

I like that little counter on the bottom of every page on this site that shows the number of page views. The quicker it increases, the happier I am. I’m not sure why, but I do. I also like the numbers on my pay check because it means that I can pay the rent. In addition to numbers, I also enjoy computers and science - add “fiction” and I like it even more.

So why not combine numbers, computer and science (fiction)?

Enter stage left; BOINC - Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. BOINC is a software platform for distributed computing using volunteered computer resources. It takes unused CPU cycles and donates them to scientific research project. When it’s not doing anything else, your computer will be performing calculations to predict climate changes, investigate protein-related diseases and look for radio evidence of extraterrestrial life. This means that you won’t be wasting computer resources when your computer is idle. As soon as some other program on your computer demands CPU time, BOINC will stop and wait until the CPU is idle again. I have BOINC running on my computer at work and I’ve noticed absolutely no performance loss when performing demanding tasks like compiling code.

You can chose what projects you wish to participate in, I’ve joined SETI@home and Rosetta@home. If you’re a nerd like me and is not participating, I suggest you download the BOINC client right now.

  1. I’m of course talking about simple numbers and calculations. I loathe any advanced equation, logarithm, complex fraction or Rat’l expression. I can find my way through a matrix and lay down a vector, but that doesn’t meant I like it. Computer graphics, for instance, will never be my thing. I don’t really enjoy math - I just like numbers. ↩︎


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