Helping Charities

By Ian Urie


Charity begins at Home. People are generally charitable. They like the idea of helping others. The most common way to do this is usually to put your hand in your pocket and give money to a cause.

The recent tidal wave in the East demonstrated this trait admirably.

However, there are other ways.

If you use your computer and have been on the Internet in recent times, you may have heard or read about the SETI project. This was the one where the data was gathered to try and determine if there were any signals that could be picked up that showed the characteristics of alien life.

Obviously, this was a mammoth task. The data generated would have taken aeons to process. They did, however, come up with a viable solution. They used distributed computing. This is a means to get lots of computers crunching the numbers.

Back to the charity angle.........

One of the things I'd most like to see happen is a way to defeat cancer. I read in a magazine that there was a distributed computing solution that was attempting to discover medicines that could help.

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United devices provide the software for this as part of Grid computing solutions. You can read about it at One of the projects is the cancer project at Oxford University. Simply put, you download the software, register and the software downloads data which it crunches and sends the result to the organisation. The software can be configured to only run in screen saver mode , or as a low priority task in normal mode. The software is Windows only. From the grab above, you can see how it looks in action.

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It will even show a graphical representation of the protein it is evaluating. Below , you can see the preferences menu. As I say, it runs in low priority mode and I've burnt DVD's while it is running, with no ill effect.

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I heartily recommend anyone who runs Windows downloads and uses this software. Apart from the good it does, it won't cost you anything extra to do it. If it's set in screen saver mode, its obvious you weren't doing anything else anyway.

Now, that's fine and dandy for windows users, but what about all the other OS's ?

Happily, there's an alternative for those who prefer superior systems :-)

will lead you to a download page for most operating systems. Again, it involves downloading the client software and running it to enable it to run a task. On Mandrake, I'm using it for the Folding project, which again is attempting to find out more about proteins. The aims are shown at

In Linux , it is a console based system. The following grabs show it in action.

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The site has full instructions on how to install and run the client. This makes it a breeze to work. Once installed, it will download the data and get to work.

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Simple and efficient.

You should end up with something that looks like this.

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The software runs in the background and will churn away quite happily without any intervention. To end the task, simply hit Ctrl+C. The task will resume where you left off next time you run it.

These pieces of software enable everyone with Internet access to help make a difference !!!

Go on, download the version that suits you and help.

I should point out that the folding@home project also includes a Mac os and windows version. Dependant on which OS you have, you could get a version with GUI, but, as you can see from the grabs of the Linux version, you don't actually need one.



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