It was back in 1999 when I began participating in the SETI@home project – the search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence – after the project had featured in an episode of Tomorrow’s World. I had not long started an I.T. course at college and had a shiny new AMD K6-2 386MHz PC sitting at home (purchased with some of the funds from a “small” lottery win). I downloaded the necessary software and ran it during my I.T. lessons, saving my progress on a floppy disc each time. I became more interested in astronomy and also enjoyed using astronomy software to pinpoint the area of sky my computer was presently processing data on. It was all quite fascinating.
A few years later I found myself being a “self-employed computer technician” and now ditching that first PC, I began building others, although I learned a measure of self-restraint through either limiting funds, limited space in my bedroom (since I still lived at home at that point), or limited by the amount of heat or fan noise I could tolerate through the summer nights. At some points I would also be limited by internet connection; early on I had to download the necessary radio telescope data at work and take it home on floppy discs to be processed, then returned to be uploaded. That seems like some crazy dedication in hind sight.
In 2011 I joint the GPUUG team which competed with others during friendly events, picking up tips and tricks to optimising my computers along the way.
Some years further along and I would eventually have my own home and an entire house to populate with computers, the possibility of actually finding aliens seemingly being only a vague thought now.
I dabbled with some crazy “rigs”, from some with water-cooling, some overclocked, and some with multiple graphics cards hanging from the outside and extra power supplies to cope with them all. I quite enjoyed this aspect!
Some parts failed while others plodded on for years.
But once again I would be limited by similar things as above, but perhaps more so by my own growing desire to not use too much electricity; if my computers could do enough to keep my house warm through the winter months then I was happy enough with that. I started to power things down in the warmer months of the year.
Since a lot of people joined the project back in 1999, my progress compared to others was slow, but things gradually picked up and I eventually made it into the Top 10 in the UK standings. Then in 2020 it was announced that the @home part of the SETI project would be coming to an end; I hung on to that 10th-place-spot until that point and collected my final certificate.