Wednesday, April 11, 2007

OK, ok. I've been stupid enough to start something I can't find the necessary surplus "steam" to maintain (this blog), but still don't feel ready to shut it down. Why? Not sure, really. I guess it's probably for some silly nostalgic reason; to be able to read what I thought was interesting enough to post about several years back. And maybe one day, if I live until I retire...

However, since 'mindscape'/'thoughts' contains traces from my professional life, I'd better hurry up and tell that I've become an IBM'er (since January this year)! Lots of work, but it still feels right somehow. Besides, every time I visit our Norwegian HQ, I'm struck with the fact that the place is crowded with good old acquaintance from around this trade! Then again, Norway is a really small country, and a quick count on my fingers divulges that I've been in this IT business for one-and-a-half decades now. If you'd care to have a look at how I've spent this time, please refer to my LinkedIn profile.

Anyhow, the following is what REALLY made me write this posting:

Recently I've started participating in Folding@Home, a grass-root distributed computing effort. Never felt much for initiatives like SETI@Home, but this is oh so different! Hey, I've even gone through the hassles of installing it consecutively on three different machines; a PC, a Mac and a PlayStation 3 (PS3). And since I had to work through this Easter Holiday, I've been alone at home most of the time ( takk for at DU kom, Marie min!), so the boxes just stood there, humming by themselves. Want to have a look at the results? Then check it out over at the 'cycledonors' team page -- and then -- please, please join in, your contribution is quite useful and highly appreciated!

Now I can almost hear you: So what's the catch?, you ask, right? What I for one wrongly expected was that it would render my computers useless. Well, what I enjoy most of all is that the software is well written; it just fits in, running smoothly in the background. Without that, I would have ripped it out from all systems and certainly not written this piece. Conclusion: Unless you actually need to reserve your computing machinery for some other processor-hungry job, your end-user experience will not suffer from it! And if you're like the majority of matures; mostly corresponding via e-mail, chats, reading online news, paying bills etc., you certainly DON'T need much power! I say this after a week of first-hand experience myself; while Folding@Home steadily consumes some 85% of my Mac and PC processors, I still have NO troubles performing everyday tasks! Nothing short of impressive!

Unfortunately, the rotating Earth visualization showing where all participators from around the globe submit their cycles from (accompanied by an intriguing sound scheme), is only available on the PS3, not the other platforms. Why? Simply because it's so extremely powerful. Speaking about this: Yesterday night I watched a news broadcast from the University of Bergen, featuring a high-performance computing center researcher who called the PS3 a 'sellout' (...yes, his exact words). His rationale: If you interconnect a handful of these devices you get the raw power equal to one of their supercomputers! This contrast the regular misconception of PS3 as expensive; since it costs approximately the same as the XBox 360 and a Nintendo Wii game consoles put together. But that ain't no reasonable comparison. Personally, I can't wait to hook up a wireless keyboard to the PS3 and run Linux on it (the "Feisty Fawn" release of the GNU Debian-based Ubuntu distribution is due any day now).
posted by Andre_T Wednesday, April 11, 2007

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