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posted by martyb on Sunday May 10 2020, @04:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the Hi-Mom! dept.

First off, on behalf of myself and the staff here at SoylentNews, here's wishing all the Moms out there a Happy Mother's Day! (For all mine did for me, I think it should last at least a month!) [Update: apparently this is for the USA; other countries have other dates. The sentiment, however, remains the same!)

Also, I hereby express the best possible wishes for our entire community as we try to navigate a path through the COVID-19 pandemic. Take the precautions you deem necessary to protect yourself, your loved ones, and all you meet. Please be careful out there!

Should you, or someone you know, be suffering at this time — be it from COVID-19 or any other reason — I can attest to the support I received from the community when I had a health-related situation last fall. You guys (and gals!) are the best!

Folding@Home: Our Folding@Home (F@H) team keeps chugging along! Historically, the F@H effort had been geared towards understanding Parkinson's Disease, Huntington's disease, cancer and the like. People donate their unused processing power (CPUs and and video cards) to perform simulations of how proteins fold. This, in turn, helps locate a way to interfere with the progression of a disease. For the past few months, the focus has shifted to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In concert with that, there has been a huge increase in hardware donated to the cause. So, though our team rank has recently been slipping in the overall standings, I'm happy to report it's from the huge outpouring of support from around the world being brought to the cause.

Top place on our team is held by cmn3280 with just over 300 million points. Next we have LTKKane who just passed 222 million points. And not to be outdone, Runaway1956 has been running hard and is on the cusp of reaching 200 million points (and adding about 1.5 million points per day!) Pop into the #folding channel on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) or reply to this story if you'd like to join our team!

Read past the fold for info about the "Silly Season", subscriptions, site server issues, and plans.

Silly Season: It came a bit earlier than usual, but we are well into the "Silly Season". It's that time of the year when places of higher education close for the summer (in the northern hemisphere) and people's minds turn to summer vacation. Research reports are few and far between. To fill the gap, many publications turn to lighter fare for lack of anything better to publish. Compounded with the COVID-19 pandemic, what research that still continues tends to be slowed down by safety precautions.

What that means is we have less of a selection to choose from in trying to bring stories to the community for discussion. See something tech-related on the web that you think the community might be interested in? Please submit it to SoylentNews! It does not have to be the next "Great American Novel", either! Of course the more "publication ready" you make it, the easier it is for an editor to decide to run with it. On the other hand, if the topic is interesting, chances are an editor will see it and decide to run with it. If you have any questions, it's helpful to consult the Story Submission Guidelines. Also, a quick scan of stories that have recently been posted to the site should provide guidance as to story organization and layout. Lastly, we appreciate side comments within the story submission; for example: "Doesn't contain the links from the story." Sensational, spittle-spewing spouting soon sees silence. Try to stick with the basics of answering "who", "why", "what", "where", "when", and "how" and you'll be on your way!

Subscriptions: Thanks to a generous first-time subscription of $120.00, we just passed $2,100.00 towards our goal of $3,500.00 for the first half of the year (2020-01-01 through 2020-06-30). Thank you to all who have subscribed and helped pay for things like servers, taxes, and an accountant to prepare the taxes.

As you may recall, we made an announcement on April 19 concerning site subscriptions. Yes, coming down with the SAR-CoV-2 virus is bad. But so is having so many people out of work and and trying to make ends meet. We wanted to support people spending their money locally to support their community and the economy. Therefore, anyone who had a subscription that would otherwise have ended earlier was granted a free extension through 2020-05-30.

That said, we do still have bills to pay. If you are of a mind to do so and can afford it, we still are accepting subscriptions! Do bear in mind that Javascript needs to be enabled. We do not process the transactions directly, but instead invoke the API (Application Programming Interface) form provided by PayPal or Stripe. They, in turn, handle processing the payment and then deposit the payment (less processing fees) to our account.

Reminder: the indicated amount (e.g. $20.00 for one year) is a minimum for that duration. So, you can absolutely select a one year subscription and change the amount to, say, $100.00 from the $20.00 that was suggested. (For the record, the largest subscription to date was an extremely generous $1,000.00!) On the other hand, we have two Soylentils who subscribe for $4.00 — every month — like clockwork. It warms my heart every time I see their subscriptions arrive! It's one of the things I love about this community: everybody contributes in their own way and somehow it all comes together. And it has held together since February of 2014! Thanks everybody!

Servers, Part 1. Behind the scenes, TheMightyBuzzard spent the weekend setting up a new server, aluminum. We are gradually moving to a Gentoo Linux base for our servers. Rather than pre-compiled binaries that get downloaded and run locally, Gentoo provides source code for download that one compiles and builds locally. At the moment we have three Gentoo-based servers (lithium, magnesium, and aluminum), one server on CentOS (beryllium), and the rest are on Ubuntu. By moving to Gentoo Linux, we get a streamlined server with a smaller attack surface as only the things we need are built into the kernel. That lone CentOS server? It has been with us from the start and has been no end of a hassle. Several services "live" on it and these need to be migrated before we can retire it. The first stage of that process is underway as Deucalion has been working on bringing up IRC on aluminum. In turn, other services will be brought over. Then we can (finally!) retire beryllium for good! Next on the list are sodium and boron (aiming to have completed by June.) Along with that, there have been new (security and otherwise) releases of other services that site depends on. We intend to get those upgraded as we move to an entirely Gentoo platform. Please join me in wishing them well on the migrations and upgrades!

Servers, Part 2: We had a hiccup with Linode (our server provider) on Friday. Through it all, our servers stayed up and running! Unfortunately, the problem was with one or more network switches at Linode. (Cf: Bert & I on YouTube 😀) The front end (which processes requests for web pages) as well as IRC (and possibly other things of which I am unaware) were inaccessible for the better part of an hour. Given how frequently SoylentNews used to crash (several times each *day*), it is a testament to the hard work put in at the outset that this is such a rarity for us today. Our servers currently have uptimes in the range of 6-9 months... and it would be longer except for some behind-the-scenes work to take advantage of free storage upgrades made available to us by Linode. Remember all work on the site is performed by volunteers who give of their limited free time to keep things humming here.

Summary: Our Folding@Home team is helping to find a cure for COVID-19. Please send in story submissions. We are still accepting subscriptions. Our servers were NOT "Pining for the fjords". Server upgrades are in progress.


Original Submission

 
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  • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Monday May 11 2020, @03:12AM (1 child)

    We could put a transparent proxy to something or other on it though for extra dork cred.

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  • (Score: 1) by RandomFactor on Friday May 22 2020, @02:09PM

    by RandomFactor (3682) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 22 2020, @02:09PM (#997843) Journal

    Better than most of the cred folks seem to shoot for :-p

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