Talk about your interesting and useful but not necessarily "short-term productive" timesinks. Some Randmo AIMer sent me news that KaZaa included a pseudo Trojan horse that's potentially about to be activated on its users' computers. This thing will turn "unused" hard drive space and bandwidth into a commodity that KaZaa's partner, the makers of the piggyback app, can use freely.

It's all in the KaZaa license and I'd guess nothing illegal is happening, but it's a little sneaky.

But the more I think about it, the cooler the concept of mainstreaming distributed computing seems. SETI@home really pioneered the modern [or is that "post-modern" now?] version of this idea from where I'm sitting, and some good work with everything from finding these aliens to cures for cancer to compounds to kill Anthrax have received help from all those computers that are sitting around the nation idle. Heck, I've done 545 work units for SETI@home -- and counting.

Though I'm not big on KaZaa's slick introduction of the piggyback distributing computing app, if you think about it, it's a very very good idea. Why not employ what's traditionally a client as a server? Every new PC sold today is more powerful than the traditional web servers of three or four years ago, I'd think. As long as the server part is backgrounded (given a low priority when it comes to gaining processor time) when you're, say, playing Quake, it's a great use of resources. As noted on slashdot by another poster, let's face it, this unused processor time and bandwidth is a huge, untapped resource, and has every trait needed to be a traded commodity like pork bellies or something similar. [colorful, eh?]

I'm actually finding myself happy to hear this idea has left the desks of researchers at Microsoft looking for a new way to employ operating systems (another great idea, imo) and has hit Main Street.

That said, I'm not planning to use anything other than Furthurnet to get new music for the cost of bandwidth and hard drive space online for the foreseeable future!