Electric Sheep

So I’m fiddling with xscreensaver the other day. I see there are some savers in the list that are greyed out. So of course I esearch for them and I find one called electric sheep. I think I’m way behind the times in discovering it, but its cool because my friends didn’t know about it either. Let me tell you it is the awesomest screensaver there is.

Until now I have just been using the really slick screensavers, namely solarwinds. Now really slick doesn’t lie, those savers are really slick. But electricsheep is better. Here’s the premise. You know that quote about androids dreaming of electric sheep? Well when your computer is sleeping (i.e: the screen saver is on) your computer processes frames in these crazy fractal pictures of awesome. The server collects the frames and makes mpeg files out of them. Everyone downloads the mpeg files and makes a screensaver out of them.

Not exciting enough yet? Well the way it works is that each mpeg is actually just a looping animation of a particular 3d fractal, some don’t loop though. There is a graph of which mpegs transition to others. There is a bug in the system now, but when that is cleared up the screensaver will always transition smoothly between fractals. Also because new flocks of sheep come every once in awhile, and everyone is constantly adding new sheep to the flock your screensaver will be in a state of constant change. Unlike solarwinds which just looked good, the sheep looks better and never gets old.

I’m running the sheep on every machine I have that has a screen to save. Even at work. Here’s what I don’t get. On the sheep server credit page it says how many frames each nickname rendered. There are guys on there rendering hundreds and hundreds of frames for the sheep. Meanwhile I’ve got 2 Athlon XP machines chugging away on it and I have usually between 5 and 15 frames. Who out there is using such numerous and powerful computers to process a screen saver?

If you like eye candy I encourage you to use the electricsheep. If you aren’t completely wowed over by the awesome computer science going on underneath then at the very least the good looks will win you over. Anyway, it’s a really cool screensaver and I like it a lot. I’ll probably use it as long as it continues to exist.

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