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Old 02-17-2008, 10:17 AM   #1
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Folding@Home - Team DC Assemble!

Explanation

Folding@Home is a project that uses spare computer-processing power (that would otherwise go to waste) to make calculations that are used by scientists in an effort to understand and alleviate a variety of ills including sickle-cell disease, Alzheimer's disease, BSE (mad cow disease), cancer, Huntington's disease and cystic fibrosis among others. The project is also be used to design new antibiotics, to help combat the spread of resistant bacterial-strains.

The computing-power needed to perform all these calculations is huge. A super-computer is prohibitively expensive and would waste money that could be better spent elsewhere in science. That's where we come in. By splitting the work into small chunks, called 'work units' and distributing them across the globe, Folding@Home participants constitute a virtual super-computer that easily out-competes even the fastest conventional super-computer built to date (Blue Gene). The program uses only spare processing power of participants computers, so it doesn't actually slow the computer down. As soon as you start to do something on your computer that needs the resources that Folding@Home is using, the Folding@Home program gives them up immediately. The results is that there is no negative impact on your computing experience, and scientists get their results that bit faster.

This is a non-commercial project, run by Standford University, USA and has been going for over seven years and is endorsed by such well-known companies as Google and Sony.
Their official website is here.
Their Wikipedia page is here.
A general Google search is here.
There's an FAQ with a video to watch here.

There are currently over 50 published research papers based on results gained from the folding@home project, and the number continues to increase. You can see the papers here.

For a discussion of the science, see their official explanation.


It will not harm your computer and it wont collect any information about you
. Thousands of people run it and news websites occasionally report on it.

How you can help

If you would like to help out already, you can download the program from here: Folding@home - Download
Most of you will probably want the very top one, for Windows XP/Vista.

When you've installed it, you can enter any username you like (I'd suggest your DC username so that we can see each other's scores on the scoreboard) and the DC team number: 111323.

You can check your position on the scoreboard here: Kakao Stats - Team Members - (if you've only just joined, it will take a few days to a week before you appear on the scoreboard).

If you've any questions, please post and I'll be happy to help.

Go Team DC!

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Old 02-17-2008, 12:44 PM   #2
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Just to let our members know, we have given Sean the green light for this. I don't fully understand it but have been told that it's a "good thing". I'll have to find a "folding@home for dummies" book, I guess!
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Old 02-17-2008, 12:47 PM   #3
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To work your computer has to be kept on and kept online. Then, when your computer is just sitting there online and you aren't using it, they will send it 'requests' to process data for them and send the results back.
If you have a firewall, make sure to 'allow' the program access to your computer and the Internet.
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Old 02-17-2008, 12:52 PM   #4
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I'm sorry, but, I don't think I like the idea of having my computer being linked and info being sent to an unknown person. I don't leave my computer on either.
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Old 02-17-2008, 01:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasgirl View Post
I'm sorry, but, I don't think I like the idea of having my computer being linked and info being sent to an unknown person. I don't leave my computer on either.
tg - then I suggest you not do it. But, until you fully understand it don't assume it is a bad thing. I'm going to do a bit more research on it myself and ask questions.
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Old 02-17-2008, 01:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by seans potato business
If you've any questions, please post and I'll be happy to help.

I have two questions. If they can access my CPU then they can access anything on my computer. True or False??

Can they/you point to any scientific/medical breakthroughs that can be attributed to this process?

TIA
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Old 02-17-2008, 01:09 PM   #7
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Yes, research is a good thing here. For awhile in the 90's some of these turned out to be scams to gain access to your computer.
General rule, if you don't trust or know the source, don't give it access. That goes for just about any program you install on your computer from Microsoft on down. If you have a firewall program open it and check the 'program permissions'. In most cases there are dozens of programs listed there that routinely send data to strangers on a regular basis.
Mostly this is anonymous information about how you use the program, updates needed, crash information, bugs detected, etc. But some can also send information on your computer habits, where you surf, what you buy, etc and use that to send you ads based on that information.
Most of the time I deny these programs access to the Internet and prefer to search for updates or handle bugs or crashes manually. Also, since I use a laptop I no longer leave it on when not in use so this service would not get much out of me ;)
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Old 02-17-2008, 01:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Bob View Post
I have two questions. If they can access my CPU then they can access anything on my computer. True or False??

Can they/you point to any scientific/medical breakthroughs that can be attributed to this process?

TIA
False. Technically, they don't "access your CPU"; they just send a "work unit" when the Folding@home program asks for it. The program sends the results back when it's finished and requests another work unit. This happens once every few hours (for very new, expensive computers), or once every week or so, depending on how much your computer is on.

There are currently over 50 published research papers based on results gained from the folding@home project, and the number continues to increase. You can see the papers here.

For a discussion of the science, see their official explanation.


Your computer does not have to be left on all the time and you don't need to always be online. If you're just using your computer for a couple of hours, to read your email, visit this forum, write a letter, whatever, it uses the spare processing power. Your computer is a powerful thing and most of the time, it's capabilities aren't being realised. Folding@home makes use of the wasted processing-power.

Maverick is right, in that you really should take care when downloading software you're unsure about. A quick Google of the program name usually turns up information revealing the true nature of any programs you encounter. I assure you that Folding@home is safe (I've been running it for years, since I read about it in Computeractive magazine). Still, you don't have to take my word for it; Google it, and find out for yourself. It's an important project, and one that I think the whole of humanity stands to benefit from.

Quote:
Originally Posted by texasgirl View Post
I'm sorry, but, I don't think I like the idea of having my computer being linked and info being sent to an unknown person. I don't leave my computer on either.
"Info" isn't going to be sent to an "unknown person". It just sends back results from the calculations allotted, and they are sent to a well-known institution. If you don't know who they are, you can search Google to find out. It's your call, but maybe a little research would change your mind.
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Old 02-17-2008, 02:01 PM   #9
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Thanks Sean.....

My old clunker barely operates as it is....so I don't have any "spare computer-processing power" at the moment. It sounds like a neat idea that really has potential however.
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Old 02-17-2008, 03:02 PM   #10
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The started with the seti@home program (I believe). It is a very legitimate way of doing research these days. Certainly do not sign up if you are not comfortable with this concept. It is very safe to do though.
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