Three Ways to Use Your Computer to Help Others – Surry Hills, NSW, Australia

Almost all of us has at least one computer that we are not fully utilizing. Most likely, the computer you are using right now is not being fully utilized. Why not share your resources to help others? Below are three ways that you can use your computer to help others.

BOINC

BOINC is a utility program that uses distributed computing concepts to allow scientists to gain access to untapped computing resources. By freely obtaining additional resources, scientents are able to solve problems faster. An example of a BOINC project is the World Community Grid:

World Community Grid:

From their website: “World Community Grid’s mission is to create the largest public computing grid benefiting humanity. Our work is built on the belief that technological innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can change our world for the better. Our success depends on individuals – like you – collectively contributing their unused computer time to this not-for-profit endeavor.”

Two of the WCG’s projects:

Clean Energy:

From their website: “The Clean Energy project uses computational chemistry and the willingness of people to help look for the best molecules possible for: organic photovoltaics to provide inexpensive solar cells, polymers for the membranes used in fuel cells for electricity generation, and how best to assemble the molecules to make those devices. By helping us search combinatorially among thousands of potential systems, you can contribute to this effort.”

Help Conquer Cancer

From their website: “Our goal is to improve the results of protein X-Ray crystallography. Improving the protein crystallography pipeline will enable researchers to determine the structure of many cancer-related proteins faster.  This will lead to improving our understanding of the function of these proteins, and enable potential pharmaceutical interventions to treat this deadly disease.”

How to get started with BOINC?

Getting started with BOINC is easy. To begin, download BOINC.

To install, Just double-click the file previously downloaded and continue through the prompts. To start using BOINC you need to attach to a project. To do this go to Tools->Attach to project… (Screen below)

attachproject

Another screen pops up and you need to click Next.  A list of projects is given. I would recommend selecting the World Community Grid Project. Select the project and click Next. If you are a new user, you will need to visit the World Community Grid site and create a new account by going here. The process is simple and it will ask you to download the software again, but you don’t need to. You just need to enter in your registration details in the BOINC application here:

boincaccountdetails

If everything is successful, you will see the following screen and now be contributing to solving some of the worlds computational challenges! If you have a good deal of extra computing power you can join multiple projects and split your resources between them.

attachsuccessful

Share Torrents

More often than not you hear about torrents in a negative light due to their popularity contributing to copyright infringement. However, torrents are just as an effective way to distribute legal digital materials. If you are on an unlimited internet connection or do not always use the bandwidth you purchase, you can donate unused bandwidth to help distribute files. This will cut costs for the entities creating the materials and most likely result in everyone getting what they want to download faster than they would otherwise. Sharing is caring.

How to get started sharing Torrents?

To begin, you will need to download a BitTorrent client. A simple client to use is uTorrent. A full featured client is Azureus. uTorrent has come a long way, so I only use uTorrent now. Download uTorrent here. Installation is straight-forward and there is a wizard that begins when you first start uTorrent. It is pretty good and you can normally just use the settings it determines. Since beginning this post, I have switched BitTorrent clients to Deluge. Deluge is cross-platform and open source.

Now that you have installed a BitTorrent client, time to find some torrents. If you are into music, a good place to find legal torrents to download, listen to, and share is www.jamendo.com. A good place to start is the most popular albums of the week. Click one of the albums and the next screen will have a link that says download. The first time you download a file it will ask you if you want to download it via Torrent. Select yes. If it does not, you will need to create a profile and under “Edit Preferences” select Torrent as your download format. See the screen below:

downloadformatjamendo

I also like to share images of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a free and open source operating system that is making linux easier to use for everyone. If you haven’t tried it yet, I recommend you do. Especially if you’ve tried nix before and become disgruntled. A list of Ubuntu torrents can be found here. If you want to test drive Ubuntu without blowing away your current Operating System. Try Wubi!

Tor (wikipedia entry)

Without going into the nitty gritty, which is described on both of the links above, Tor is a way to help people interact with the internet in an anonymous manner. I have pasted a section of the Tor website below to give you an idea of what people use Tor for:

Why Normal people use Tor

  • They protect their privacy from unscrupulous marketers and identity thieves.Internet Service Providers (ISPs) sell your Internet browsing records to marketers or anyone else willing to pay for it. ISPs typically say that they anonymize the data by not providing personally identifiable information, but this has proven incorrect. A full record of every site you visit, the text of every search you perform, and potentially userid and even password information can still be part of this data. In addition to your ISP, the websites (and search engines) you visit have their own logs, containing the same or more information.
  • They protect their communications from irresponsible corporations. All over the Internet, Tor is being recommended to people newly concerned about their privacy in the face of increasing breaches and betrayals of private data. From lost backup tapes, to giving away the data to researchers, your data is often not well protected by those you are supposed to trust to keep it safe.
  • They protect their children online. You’ve told your kids they shouldn’t share personally identifying information online, but they may be sharing their location simply by not concealing their IP address. Increasingly, IP addresses can be literally mapped to a city or even street location, and can reveal other information about how you are connecting to the Internet. In the United States, the government is pushing to make this mapping increasingly precise.
  • They research sensitive topics. There’s a wealth of information available online. But perhaps in your country, access to information on AIDS, birth control, Tibetan culture, or world religions is behind a national firewall

How to get started with Tor?

A tutorial for getting setup with Tor can be found on the Tor documentation page here. Tor can get you into trouble if you are operating as an exit. Operating as a relay s the safest option.

Have Fun!

Feel free to ask any questions you might have. For some reason, the rendering in the wordpress post editor and web browsers is completely different. I am working on getting this sorted out.

How to Modify Firefox Right-Click Options

Recently, I have been using Google Chrome for most of my web browsing needs, however, a zdnet article was published stating that a pre-release of Firefox(Minefield) was faster than Google Chrome. As I began testing out Minefield, I became annoyed with some of the right-click options that do not correspond with the Chrome right-click options. The solution to this problem is a Firefox add-on called Menu Editor. To install you can click the Add to Firefox link on this page or follow the steps below:

How to Install Menu Editor:

In Firefox go to the Tools Menu

-> Click Add-Ons

–>Select Get Add-Ons

—>Search for Menu Editor

—->Click add to Firefox/Minefield

A restart of the browser is required. Once this is done you can modify your right-click menu by going to Tools->Add-Ons->Extensions->Menu Editor->Options

Have fun!