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Old 10-28-2001, 05:40 PM   #1
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 43
Default Free David McOwen

What's this all about?

The story began in 1999, when David McOwen worked on the computer systems at DeKalb Technical College in Georgia. Like many other geeks, David realized that most of the machines on campus sat idle most of the time - good computing power going to waste.

That very thought has led to the creation of several companies looking to tap into that power. The idea is to chop up large computer jobs into small portions, and shoot these bits of work to individual computers over the Internet. You could eventually pay computer owners for the spare time of their machines.

One such outfit, Distributed.net, has been testing the idea since 1997 by cracking encryption systems - products that scramble data so that unauthorized people can't read it. Interested techies go to the Distributed.net Web site and download software that runs when their machines aren't doing something else. This software toils away at cracking a code, a task that would take millions of years for a single computer. But when chopped up and spread across tens of thousands of machines, the work should be finished in just a few years. To draw in lots of participants, Distributed.net is offering $1,000 to the person whose computer actually cracks the code.

To improve their odds of winning, people with access to lots of computers have installed the software on many systems. That's what David did at his college.

The state of Georgia doesn't agree with this use of computers. Under state law, David's effort might be considered misuse of the state's computers - and in Georgia, that's a felony. In a cry for help published on the Web site Anandtech.com, David said the state wants $415,000 in compensation for lost computing and network capacity. And of course, there's always that possible prison sentence of 15 years to consider.

Read his own story....

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