Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Can I Help to Render Shrek 3?

Like many people, I enjoy donating my spare CPU cycles to volunteer projects like SETI@Home, Grid.org, Folding@Home, and others. As satisfying as it is to watch radio signals being analyzed on my screensaver, I often wonder why nobody is doing commercial, consumer-oriented distributed computing. The idea really struck me this week as Shrek 2 was released. The amount of computing power required to render a movie like that is staggering. They've got rooms full of CPU's, and it takes hours to render a tiny clip of the film. But why spend all that time and money on rendering farms when there are millions of fans who'd jump at the opportunity to help render a real movie? All we'd be asking the movie studios for is a free movie pass once in awhile, and we'll give you 24/7 access to a mostly unused high-performance processor. Multiply that by millions of computers, and just imagine the rendering opportunities for Shrek 3! If that isn't a sweet enough deal, the movie companies could use the screensaver for advertising upcoming movies. If I happen to be rendering Shrek, I might actually see the detail being drawn in on my screensaver. Of course, I'd still be motivated to see the whole film, because my computer alone would only be able to render a few seconds at a time.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Finding Focus

After having ignored my blog for several days, I've been thinking about how to make it better. I've decided that I want my blog(s) to be genuinely useful to people who don't know me. In other words, this isn't going to be a chronology of my life; it's going to be a source of news and opinion on a topic (or topics) that happen to interest me. Eventually, there might be enough traffic on my blog to make it worthwhile to set up Google AdWords ads.

Monday, May 17, 2004

The Web in Times of War

During the previous war in Iraq, the WWW was just a cool experiment on Tim Berners Lee's desk. If you wanted to know about the Gulf War, you were pretty much limited to whatever the mass media was saying about it. Today, as I browse websites like CostOfWar.com and IraqBodyCount.net I began to wonder: has the WWW made any difference to the way people form their opinions about major conflicts? Is propaganda reduced because of the Web's ability to spread information at a grassroots level? Is the Web really a force for peace and democracy, or were we all kidding ourselves?

Monday, May 10, 2004

Metallica Sermon

My wife and I attend New Hope Church, just a few blocks from our house. The notion of "attending" church makes me cringe, as does using the word "church" to describe a place or building. Anyway, that's what I did yesterday morning. In a slight departure from a typical Sunday morning, the band started off by playing a few Metallica songs (quite well, I might add) -- Enter Sandman, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Nothing Else Matters, and one more. After the music, pastor John Van Sloten talked about heavy metal, anger, and how it relates to the world around us. Here's the sermon in streaming MP3: broadband dialup

First Post

I've decided to get into blogging. Welcome to my blog -- Download Aborted. I chose Google's Blogger because Google has proven time and again that they really "get" the web. PageRank, Blogger, GMail, Orkut, Local, AdWords/Sense -- what these services have in common is that they're truly networked applications. Eventually, I expect the combination of the new-gen network technologies to become much more than the sum of their parts. Google is one of the few companies that seems to really understand what the web is all about -- networks of people. My one concern at this point is, "who is my audience?" Surely my audience should affect what I write, or how I write. It's not a journal, because it isn't private. It's not a letter to family, because my colleagues might read it. Whatever it is, I'm going to give it a try. Now, on with blogging!