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science technology

I love my computer! And a worth computing cause

Wait, have I already said that? My latest test, I had Safari open with 4 tabs, itunes, squeezebox server, my blogging program, folding at home, I am encoding video using handbrake, and I put my live TV on full screen. No problem. Then I streamed a video to my iPad from my computer while all that was going on. Once again, no biggie, everything worked fine.

Handbreak and folding at home will use all available cores left to their own devices. What are they? Handbrake is a popular program for converting video files from one format to another. Video encoding is a special situation prosessor-wise, it is relatively easy to distribute the workload across all available cores and processors, so that’s what handbrake does. It takes all available clock cycles and puts them to work. Folding at Home is a really cool program. Stanford studies misfolded proteins and how they can cause things like mad cow disease, ALS, and even some cancers. Trouble is, the calculations involved are really really awful, and they have a seemingly never ending list of them to do. Getting time on computing clusters (modern day super computers) is expensive, so they farm out the calculations. Each person that signs up gets a part of a calculation to do. This type of program essentially gives Stanford free access to a rather large cluster of computers. The program churns away in the background on your computer, sends the results in when it’s done, and then fetches a new problem. It’s for a good cause, and I’ve got a shiny new computer with power to spare.

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