BOINC lets your idle computer help science

BOINC
Image via Wikipedia

In this time of giving and over the course of the next few weeks that begins the new year, many of us may be looking for was to give to good causes. As many of us may have difficulties giving financially during these times, we look to alternative ways to help others. If you’re a fan of science like we are here at AuctioneerTech, you’ll appreciate the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, or BOINC.

We were first introduced to BOINC when we installed [email protected] on several computers at home and at the office. It not only allows an idle computer to aid in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, it also presents a pretty darned cool screen saver of the data as it’s being analyzed.

320px-SETI@home_Multi-Beam_screensaverThe underlying concept of BOINC is a kind of distributed computing known as volunteer computing. In volunteer computing, volunteers donate extra computer resources – essentially the time when a computer isn’t being used such as at night or while it’s otherwise idle – to a project or cause. It’s different from grid computing in that it’s not managed and there  isn’t any commitment given by the computer owner.

BOINC allows the volunteer to select among a number of different research projects, categorized into earth sciences; multiple applications; mathematics and strategy games; astronomy / physics / chemistry; and biology and medicine. It’s possible to divide the time you donate from your computer to be spent on multiple projects if you can’t decide between [email protected] and [email protected].

BOINC is simple to install and takes no system resources until it begins to run, which only happens when you’re not using your computer. BOINC clients run on Windows, Mac and Linux. As of December 17, some select BOINC projects support using specific graphics cards in addition to CPU power. If your computer has a recent NVIDIA GPU, you can compute 2X to 10X faster than with your CPU alone.

It’s true that it’s much better for the environment and your electric bill if you turn off your computer (or hibernate it) should you be leaving it for more than 15 or 20 minutes. However, BOINC projects can still be useful should the be run for 5 or 10 minutes frequently throughout the day.

Any time you see a screen saver, think to yourself how much more valuable it would be were that computer connected to BOINC and helping science. Also, if you for some expensive reason don’t turn off your computer at night, at least put it to use for a good cause.

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Aaron Traffas, CAI, ATS, CES

twitter.com/traffas | aarontraffas.com | aarontraffasband.com

Aaron Traffas, CAI, AMM, CES, is an auctioneer from Medicine Lodge, Kansas. He is currently community evangelist for Purple Wave in Manhattan, Kansas. Aaron serves as the current president of the Kansas Auctioneers Association and in the past has served on the National Auctioneers Association Education Institute Board of Trustees. He is a past instructor at CAI and co-wrote and instructed the ATS designation course from NAA. He currently instructs the Internet Auction Methods course offered by the NAA. An active contract bid caller, he has competed in multiple state auctioneer contests including placing twice within the top 5 in Kansas.

During the summer, Aaron operates a farm in south central Kansas. Aaron is an active singer and songwriter and the Aaron Traffas Band‘s latest release, Enter: The Wind, can be found at iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

  • I would like to raise the thought of using GridRepublic to join BOINC and projects. GridRepublic is developed in collaboration with GridRepublic to make joining, discovery, and control as easy as possible. It makes it as simple as 1, 2, 3.

    One choose a login email and password.
    Two choose your project(s) you wish to help.
    Three download and go; though if you already have BOINC you can attach to GridRepublic under the tools menu in the advanced view.

    I highly recommend GridRepublic. They also have a page on Myspace and soon coming an application for Facebook where you can manage things if you log into Facebook.

    Check it out at: http://www.gridrepublic.org

  • I would like to raise the thought of using GridRepublic to join BOINC and projects. GridRepublic is developed in collaboration with GridRepublic to make joining, discovery, and control as easy as possible. It makes it as simple as 1, 2, 3.

    One choose a login email and password.
    Two choose your project(s) you wish to help.
    Three download and go; though if you already have BOINC you can attach to GridRepublic under the tools menu in the advanced view.

    I highly recommend GridRepublic. They also have a page on Myspace and soon coming an application for Facebook where you can manage things if you log into Facebook.

    Check it out at: http://www.gridrepublic.org

    • How is GridRepublic better than BOINC? What does using GridRepublic do that using BOINC doesn’t?

  • How is GridRepublic better than BOINC? What does using GridRepublic do that using BOINC doesn’t?

  • @Aaron – Aaron, to put it simply GridRepublic is BOINC. BOINC is the technology which is enhanced and benefits from GridRepublic. GridRepublic is a nonprofit that is organized around BOINC and provides what is called in technical terms an account management system which simplifies use. They also provide a place where people and businesses can come together to get materials to help promote awareness and participation. GridRepublic created the account manager idea.

    GridRepublic has been working with BOINC developers to make discovering, using, and managing BOINC as easy as possible. Normally if you run BOINC without an account manager you would have to find each project on the Internet and go to their website make a new login and password for each project. With GridRepublic you can find the other projects all on the website and with one login you can poiint and click what projects you want to join, manage your settings, and interact with other people. You can attach to as many projects as you wish and have as many computers you have running BOINC be managed with GridRepublic.

    In addition to just providing the features GridRepublic is working to raise awareness and participation in BOINC by providing a simple and easy to use site. They also are working to make a point of unification that brings all of BOINC together for the public to be able to discover and understand without having all the text and confusing technical terms. They want to make it so if you can check your email that you can run BOINC. GridRepublic provides its own download which is BOINC, but has a few customization for GridRepublic users. If you use BOINC already, GridRepublic can be used as well if you go to tools and click attach to account manager.

    I hope this clarifies things for you if not come over to the GridRepublic site and check out the community and ask some more. http://www.gridrepublic.org/community

  • @Aaron – Aaron, to put it simply GridRepublic is BOINC. BOINC is the technology which is enhanced and benefits from GridRepublic. GridRepublic is a nonprofit that is organized around BOINC and provides what is called in technical terms an account management system which simplifies use. They also provide a place where people and businesses can come together to get materials to help promote awareness and participation. GridRepublic created the account manager idea.

    GridRepublic has been working with BOINC developers to make discovering, using, and managing BOINC as easy as possible. Normally if you run BOINC without an account manager you would have to find each project on the Internet and go to their website make a new login and password for each project. With GridRepublic you can find the other projects all on the website and with one login you can poiint and click what projects you want to join, manage your settings, and interact with other people. You can attach to as many projects as you wish and have as many computers you have running BOINC be managed with GridRepublic.

    In addition to just providing the features GridRepublic is working to raise awareness and participation in BOINC by providing a simple and easy to use site. They also are working to make a point of unification that brings all of BOINC together for the public to be able to discover and understand without having all the text and confusing technical terms. They want to make it so if you can check your email that you can run BOINC. GridRepublic provides its own download which is BOINC, but has a few customization for GridRepublic users. If you use BOINC already, GridRepublic can be used as well if you go to tools and click attach to account manager.

    I hope this clarifies things for you if not come over to the GridRepublic site and check out the community and ask some more. http://www.gridrepublic.org/community

    • Thanks for the explanation, Jon!

  • Thanks for the explanation, Jon!