We have redirected our computing resources into folding proteins for COVID-19 research

Hi everyone.

Ren here. It’s been a pretty crazy month, hasn’t it? If you would have told me last week that I would be redirecting our computing resources into COVID-19 protein folding, rather than into airfare analytical I would have given you a raised eyebrow. Yet, here we are. I wanted to lay out my plans for the blog in this FAQ format since It’s probably the quickest way to get my points across.

What’s the TL;DR on this?

  • Computing resources that were being used to track airfare prices, volatility, and generate historical price data are being diverted to folding proteins for COVID-19 research project via Folding@home.
  • Flight deal coverage is suspended until the airlines and the American government stabilize their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is protein folding?

  • Folding@home sums up the project pretty well.
  • In this case, our computing systems are added to a distributed network of computers and all those computers collaborate on projects concerning coronaviruses.
  • The initial round of projects focuses on better understanding how these coronaviruses interact with the human ACE2 receptor required for viral entry into human host cells.

Why have you suspended flight deal coverage?

  • At this time, It’s not possible to know the extent of the COVID-19 infection in the United States due to a lack of COVID-19 testing. The situation may be much worse than what the current numbers say, and that’s just not helpful for anyone.
  • With recent lockdowns of whole countries, it’s just not possible to know whether or not the flights that the airlines are selling today will actually be able to fly tomorrow.
  • It’s not possible to predict what effect the COVID-19 pandemic will have on us domestically. There is a growing chance that domestic flights get suspended. It’s quite possible that major American cities and hubs get locked down and travel restricted in the coming months. It’s also likely that there will be a round of airline bankruptcies.

If the resources are being used for COVID-19 protein folding and there is no flight deal coverage how does your website make money?

  • Pretty simple. I don’t make money from the website during this period since I won’t be posting new deals.

When will airfare coverage resume?

  • Hopefully in a month or two, but there is a good chance that it can be longer than that.
  • It really depends on what happens in the next few weeks, so it’s hard for me to say.

Is there a Patreon / donation page? I want to help you keep the blog going.

  • Yes. I have a Patreon page for Escape Flights [link].
  • Thanks for helping me keep this website going and supporting my work. I really appreciate it.
  • Keep in mind that the actual Patreon rewards for members won’t be going out until things with COVID-19 clear up.

I want to fold COVID-19 proteins too! How do I get setup?

  • If you have a Linux, Windows, or Mac PC – Download the Folding@Home client.
  • Set your client to “I support research fighting Any Disease”. This setting will automatically download either the COVID-19 jobs slices that need calculation or the jobs for various cancer studies.
  • Enter in a “Name” for your client. It doesn’t have to be a real name. We’re using the “Escape Flights” name for our folding clients, but you should name your clients to whatever you want.
  • If you want; you can join our “Escape Flights” folding team by entering in “240037” in the “Team Name”.
  • It may take about 5-minutes for it to contact the server and download the first job.

Stay safe out there and take care.

-Ren

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