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The official BOINC FAQ, which covers more technical questions, is here. The official World Community Grid FAQ, which concerns itself more with the sort of research undertaken, can be found at http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org - just choose the FAQ for the project you're most interested in. The questions most often asked on Improbable Island are right here!
BOINC is the software that allocates your computer's spare CPU cycles to World Community Grid projects.
Unequivocally, absolutely, and categorically so. There are no known instances of the BOINC client or World Community Grid ever being used as an attack vector, or ever being used in order to send personal data to third parties. It's one of very few Internet-connected programs that can make that claim (hell, you can even get hacked through WinAmp and Adobe Reader these days).
If you find a single malicious use, from a reliable source, please add it to this article. If you remain unconvinced, have a Google around and see if you can find anyone who's been hacked as a result of installing the BOINC client or World Community Grid. Or, even better, remember that BOINC is open-source - take it apart and see the code for yourself!1)2)
If the machine in question has an Internet connection and some sort of CPU, then yes. There are "official" versions of BOINC for Windows, Macintosh and Linux computers that you can download directly from the World Community Grid website (or install from a repository if you prefer). Because BOINC is open-source (and also because it's exactly the sort of thing that bearded geeks3) love to mess about with) you can find versions for FreeBSD, Android phones, even your old Amiga. It'll run on your toaster if you ask it nicely. You could probably get it to run on Scramble hardware by running the Internet through the coin slot.4)
No, you don't have to run all of the available projects, and your Cobblestones and Runtime scores won't be affected as long as you're running at least one project. So, if your principles clash with the Nutritious Rice for the World project, just remove it from the list of projects running. If you've lost a friend to cancer and want to assign more of your system resources to helping find a cure, go right ahead. Improbable Island doesn't look at what projects you run, only the time spent running them and the points reported back from World Community Grid.
That's absolutely not cheating, and please do install BOINC on as many machines as you like! The more the merrier!
When did you get so cynical? You used to be cool.
No. We've been kicking this subject around for a while, and have decided that in order to preserve game balance, rewards will be granted based on participation rather than results. It's enough for us that you run the client consistently. Not all of us can afford a modern computer, and Improbable Island wants to be fun for everyone.
Ah, you see, there is a delay. First, your computer does the work. Then, once it's finished, it sends its calculations back to World Community Grid's servers. Then, WCG validates the calculations by checking them against results from some other computers (this can take a day, perhaps). THEN, WCG updates the XML page from which Improbable Island grabs its data (it only does this once every 24 hours). THEN, Improbable Island grabs the data from that XML page and uses it to update your stats, which happens at the start of every Game Day. So you might be, like, three days behind sometimes.
Have you tried waiting an hour? World Community Grid's statistics servers go down for an hour or so every day while they update their stats.
Oh dear! That's because your CPU cooling fan has gotten utterly, utterly filthy, and probably full of dust bunnies. Clean it up! Pay no heed to the disclaimer on that video, everybody's got to take their computer apart at some point and the disclaimer is only there to protect the video author from the lawsuits of ham-fisted troglodytes who don't know how to use a screwdriver. Cleaning your fan is trivial, and you should do it every year - every six months if you use your laptop in bed. Google your laptop's make and model, with the words "disassembly instructions" afterwards, and you'll find out how to take it apart to clean the fan. Just remember to be slow and gentle, bear in mind that sometimes wires are attached behind the thing you're removing, keep all your screws in an egg carton, and you'll be fine.
This isn't a BOINC-related problem at all. What's happening here is that your computer can't cope with heavy work because its airflow is restricted by the lovely gunk that CPU fans tend to suck in. You'd have similar problems any time you played a game, or did anything else CPU-intensive for any length of time. If you don't want to clean your CPU fan, then go into your BOINC preferences and tell it to use less CPU time, and that'll help alleviate heat buildup.
Actually, scratch that last remark. If you don't want to clean your CPU fan, then you're out of luck - you've got to do it anyway! Otherwise, you'll be looking at a dead laptop before long, whether you run BOINC or not. Your friendly neighbourhood geek can help you out with this.
Because geeks are lousy at marketing. I mean, it's a program that spreads love throughout the world and it's called BOINC, right? You'd think they'd have at least written a raunchy song about it or something.
Honestly, what the hell sort of a question is that? Of course I've written a raunchy song about BOINC. You wanna hear it?
Well here it is anyway!
Now the world has got its problems, we know that to be true.
But curing AIDS ain't something that just anyone can do.
You know you're no biologist, and you failed chem lab too,
But you can BOINC. Oh yes, you can BOINC.
You can BOINC on your desk or you can BOINC on your lap,
You can BOINC in your pocket if you just download the app,
You can BOINC with all your friends or just with any random chap,
You can BOINC, oh yeah, you can BOINC.
Now more than half the world today's in abject poverty,
Folks are dying of starvation, and that don't sit right with me.
Now I don't have the cash to have the whole world 'round for tea,
But I can BOINC. Oh yes, I can BOINC.
I can BOINC in the office, I can BOINC at home,
I can BOINC with my wife or I can even BOINC alone,
I can BOINC until we've figured out that final proteome,
I can BOINC, oh yeah, I can BOINC.
We'll get power from the sun so that we don't all have to choke,
But the cells we use today seem like a pretty awful joke.
I want to make them more efficient, but I'm just one hairy bloke,
But we can BOINC. Oh yes, we can BOINC.
We can BOINC all together, we can BOINC in pairs,
We can BOINC in the living room or we can head upstairs,
We can BOINC until the bed breaks and we have to use the chairs,
We can BOINC, oh yeah, we can BOINC.
Now cancer ain't a welcome guest, it often quite offends,
With a not-so-subtle "hello world" that kills our closest friends.
But with our super BOINC computer we'll have cancer meet its end,
'cause we'll BOINC. Oh yes, we will BOINC.
We will BOINC in our houses, we will BOINC in the streets,
We will BOINC while we shower, we will BOINC between the sheets,
We will BOINC until our BOINCing gear is rendered obsolete,
We will BOINC, oh yeah, we will BOINC.
You can BOINC with your pants on, you can BOINC in the nude,
You can BOINC if you're a lady, you can BOINC if you're a dude,
You can BOINC if you're in porno, you can BOINC if you're a prude,
You can BOINC, oh yeah, you can BOINC.
We will BOINC until we're tired, we will BOINC until we're sore,
We will BOINC to overheating, then we'll BOINC a little more,
We will BOINC until the world's not such a bloody big eyesore,
We will BOINC, oh yeah, we will BOINC.
So let's Berkeley-Open-Infrastructure-for-Network-Computi-i-i-iiiiiing, oh yeah, let us BOINC.