James and the Giant Corn Genetics: Studying the Source Code of Nature

March 7, 2009

It’s good to have your own Linux Box

Filed under: Uncategorized — James @ 9:44 pm

It’s good to be such a tech geek sometimes. On Friday the lab’s servers came under a DDOS attack from east asia. The professional computer guys are still formulating a response, but until then I can’t access the servers. And since right now my project requires hours and hours of computing time to narrow down the the tens of thousands of genes found in a plant genome to a handful of good candidates for genes that are bound by an important transcription factor, it was looking like I might have to take the whole weekend off from work, falling days behind schedule.

What the DDOS types didn’t count on was the strength of my personal computational resources. (Actually I’m pretty sure they don’t even know what we do in the lab, random attacks are just part of the risk of being on the public internet.) Two 2.5 Ghz cores and 2 gigs of ram might not look like much compared to four servers containing eight cores and 16 gigs of ram each, but I can tie my own linux box up indefinitely without stepping on the toes of other people’s research. My roommate and I have had to make due without anywhere in the apartment streaming high quality video for a weekend, but I’m already running my second set of comparisons between the gene sets of rice and sorghum (each one should be a little faster as I narrow down the characteristics of real binding sites) and generating my own ad-hoc list of rice-sorghum-brachy gene pairs.

And on top of that I’ve got a great (if completely inaccurate) hacker vibe going, spending all day today and most of last night splitting my attention between two computers (three counting the linux box in the other room being controlled by command-line and VNC connections), rocking out to trance, and troubleshooting perl scripts at my L-desk with dirty plates and glasses accumulating around me as cryptic updates scroll by in terminal windows.

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