With the recent discovery of an earth-like planet kick-starting it, SETI is now looking for more extra-solar planets. While their fundraising machine seems to be shifting into gear, it remains to be seen whether SETI’s going to ask us to link our computers again to help out with the crunching the data.
Hopefully, a “yes” answer will be forthcoming.
The reason I bring this up is because the Felton Linux Users Group is involved in a SETI-like project hosted by Stanford University called Folding@home. Folding@home is a distributed computing project — people from throughout the world download and run software to band together to make one of the largest supercomputers in the world.
According to its site, Folding@home uses novel computational methods coupled to distributed computing, to simulate problems millions of times more challenging than previously achieved. Protein folding is linked to disease, such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s disease, and many cancers. When proteins do not fold correctly (i.e. “misfold”), there can be serious consequences, including those aforementioned diseases.
So Felton LUG contributed by forming a team and letting our computers run the data in the background. Just like when SETI was looking for ET, Folding@home looks for cures; both a worthy use of extra processor time.
In addition, Christer Edwards — those of you who run in desktop environment circles will know that name — has developed software to go along with Folding@home called, wait for it, Origami. Check it out.
The Felton LUG team is 212524 and you’re welcome to join us. If you want to form your own team, there’s a link on the site to do that.
Thanks in advance for your help.
[New blog announcement: Since I've been spending a lot of time using CrunchBang and since it's staying on my second laptop, I've started a blog called "Larry the CrunchBang Guy" to write on CrunchBang-specific topics and commentary. Some of the items on this blog that deal with CrunchBang will also appear on that blog, as well as CrunchBang adventures that may not show up on Larry the Free Software Guy.]
(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)
Last week, Amber Graner did an interview with yours truly here. And when answering the question about my activities outside of Fedora — in which I am primarily involved when it comes to FOSS — I had a long, rambling answer about Lindependence 2008 and The Lindependence Project. But in tooting that particular horn, I mentioned Ken Starks but I neglected to mention two others who were — and still are — instrumental in the formation of The Lindependence Project and its ongoing maintenance.
Mea culpa, Stephen Rufle and Bob Lewis.
Stephen Rufle came up to Felton a few years ago from Phoenix, bringing his two boys and about a hundred stuffed penguins he makes at Open Animals. Using the GPL to license its patterns, Open Animals produces open source stuffed penguins — if you’re so inclined, you can fork the pattern to make the penguin, or animal, of your choice, providing you release your creation under the GPL That’s how it works. Anyway, Stephen and his sons were instrumental in making Lindependence 2008 a success back at its inception, and Stephen has, to date, hosted the lindependence.org site, which is currently undergoing a massive facelift. The reason for that is we’re holding Lindependence Hours at various locations in Northern California and, watch this space, we’ll be holding a Lindependence 2011 on or near Independence Day in Felton, California, at the Felton Presbyterian Church. Watch this space, and thanks very much for all you do for FOSS, Stephen.
I wish I had enough words that would be fitting for the superlatives Bob Lewis deserves. I met Bob at the Richard Stallman presentation at Cabrillo College in February 2008. Bob is a retired AT&T engineer who had also spent some time working at SCO — when it was the Santa Cruz Operation, based here in Santa Cruz, at a time when produced pretty good software before moving to Utah to become a litigation company. Bob was tireless in organizing and helping folks at Lindependence 2008, as well as being a spark plug in getting Felton LUG moving. Not only this, Bob is also an energetic evangelist for Linux and FOSS in the area, converting and helping many folks whom he has converted to Ubuntu. It would be nice to have a dollar for every time he comes to Redwood Digital and says, “Well, I have another convert.” If anyone deserves to be at the top of the list for credit in Lindependence’s success — the Felton Farmers Market Linux booth and the Felton LUG are offshoots of this success — it’s Bob, and again I apologize for not mentioning it in the interview.
Thanks again guys for all you do.
(Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)
Astute readers of Larry the Free Software Guy might notice a trend in this week’s blogs, and if you said “pop music references,” you’d be right. Yesterday’s “Monday, Monday” is the title of a song by The Mamas & The Papas, and today’s comes to you from the Moody Blues. OK, kids, go ahead and hit Wikipedia to look up those bands we old folks continually talk about . . . .
Tuesday, of course, is farmers market day in the People’s Republic of Felton, the town that had the unmitigated audacity to buy its waterworks back from a multinational and put it back in town hands. And at the ring of the bell at 2:30 to signal the start of the market, Felton LUG was set up and ready to go, with both Frank Adamson and me staffing the table.
That’s Frank in the photo in the article linked above. Frank, an octagenarian, takes a walk about a mile down the hill every Tuesday to staff the Felton LUG table (not to worry, folks — we make sure Frank gets a ride home up the hill, usually with indefatigable FOSS evangelist Bob Lewis or sometimes his wife drives down to pick him up). An Ubuntu user, Frank has been a FOSS advocate for about a year.
With his work with Felton Friends of Locally Owned Water (FLOW) and other activities in Felton (like the Friends of the Library), Frank seems to know everyone in Felton. People come to the table and say hello to Frank, and immediately Frank starts off into his pitch about FOSS and GNU/Linux.
This farmers market table seems to be working well, not only for the LUG — which had nearly 20 people attend the meeting last Saturday — but also for FOSS in general.
People have a general sense of what Linux is — it’s that operating system thing, right? — and seeing it in an arena that’s not normally a “tech environment” makes it a lot less threatening, for loss of a better term. So I would strongly urge everyone who wants to promote FOSS, GNU/Linux and Linux (for those who want to make that distinction, which I don’t anymore) take the word forth to places where you might not normally find tech talk; like farmers markets, or tractor pulls, or gun shows. Anywhere where people congregate is a place where FOSS can be pitched.
Also, one of the funniest things today was handing out stickers to kids. One kid asked for one, and then her friends came up and said, “Excuse me, can we please have stickers, too?” (Such polite kids we have here in Felton.) At one point the kids had come back several times, and they had stuck the stickers on their shirts, so they were wearing Fedora, OpenSUSE, WordPress and the GNU/Linux “Dynamic Duo” gnu and penguin superhero stickers on their shirts. Sure, I bet moms wanted to strangle me, but one dad commented to me about his daughter, “You know, she looks like a stock car,” which I thought was funny.
So Tuesday’s down and Wednesday’s next. Watch this space.