God Save the Screen!


Do you still use screensavers? I remember that, as a kid, it was fun to try all the available screensavers or download new ones (and by doing so contaminating the computer with all sorts of virusses).
But I don’t think that many people actually still use screensavers.

A little history.

Originally screensavers were made to protect computer screens from “burn-in”. Ghost images so to speak.
Early CRT (cathode ray tube) screens had some problems with one image being shown for a long time. The result is that the image burned in your computer screen (the same problem we are facing with LCD and Plasma, ironic.. no?).

To go a bit more in to detail. The phosphors, which were used to make the pixels in the display, glowed at a constant rate for such a long time that it discolor the glass surface of the screen.

Solution? Simple, make sure that the image on the screen keeps moving, even when no one is at the computer for a long time.
Indeed, a screensaver (I hope that you figured out by now why it is called a screen-saver ;-)).

Anyway, those days are long gone. The current computer screens will not suffer from burn-in anymore. Yet screensavers are still available. We can safely assume that screensavers these days are more used for entertainment reasons.

There is screensaver I would like to tell you something about. Something I only recently read about. I’m guessing that you know what the SETI project is. The project that searches for extra-terrestrial life.
Well, it is so that analysing the data from SETI is quite an expensive project.
So they came up with a great and cheap idea to get processing power out of thin air!

The SETI@Home experiment. The basic idea is that you download and install a screensaver. Every time your computer is idling, the screensaver is shown and some of the SETI data is processed.
Like this, you help in the search for aliens!

Don’t worry, it does not affect the performance of your computer.

If you’d like to try it. Here is the link:
http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/

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