[rc5] I'm in a weird mood... (long rant)

David McNett nugget at slacker.com
Fri Oct 24 12:56:24 EDT 1997

Just to complete the thoughts I've recently bothered everyone with in #rc5
(if you're not there, you really should join us!)

On the thread of how effective we will be against RC5-64 given that the
keyspace is so much larger I have a few comments and observations.

Now, granted, I was kinda focused on the stats engine which sucked up quite
a bit of my time, but I've got to be completely honest here.  At about the
point we hit 2Gkeys/sec (and maybe even a bit earlier) I got really lazy.

I mean, REALLY lazy.  I completely stopped recruiting people.  The end was
in sight, our keyrate was twice what I ever expected we'd be able to
attain, and Cyberian and I.M. were tiny specks in the rear-view mirror.  I
was quite content with where we were.

Friends that I had recruited reinstalled Windows (as tends to happen from
time to time) and I never pushed to make sure they got the latest cow version.

I suspect that this was not uncommon.  Once it was obvious that the "win"
was only a matter of time, and that time was pretty near...  well, I just
gloated at what we'd accomplished.  I don't think I'm the only one, either.

People keep saying how many eons it will take to knock out 64-bit at our
peak rate under 56-bit.  The issue I have is that I believe very strongly
that we have no idea what our peak rate is.  You say that our growth had
started to slow?  Fine, I say that we're the reason this happened.  (and
really, if you look, our growth was still climbing daily right up until the

o You know that Aunt you have with the Gateway 2000 Pentium 75 in
  the slimline case?  Stop by this weekend for a piece of pie.
  Offer to make sure the computer is OK and throw the cow on there
  while you finish your milk.  Sure it'll do random blocks 99% of the
  time.  Is that worse than doing 0 blocks all the time?

o Call up your old college roommate.  Not only will you have a nice,
  refreshing conversation and revisit old times but you may very well
  manage to recruit a whole new office full of machines to the effort.
  You've been meaning to call him anyway, right?

o Read news?  I don't mean alt.binaries.erotica.crypto, but do you
  sift through rec.games.computer.quake?  Mailing lists?  As hard
  as it may be to believe, more people do NOT know about us than
  DO know.  Does your sigfile mention distributed.net?  That sure
  is a whole lot more productive that a warning to Spamford Wallace
  about some mythical $500 invoice that he'll never pay anyway.

o I'd guess that by this time next year (:P) we'll have Bovine
  T-Shirts done.  There's never been a better reason to hang out
  at the food court in the mall and showcase your excellent fashion-

o Ever been to a radio shack?  Wallmart?  I used to set the Marquee
  Screen Savers on all the store-demo Wintel boxes I touched with
  our web page address.  A good "Go Bovine! http://www.distributed.net"
  could work wonders.  If it hooks *one* person, it's a victory for
  all of us.

o Local computer pulps and users groups.  No matter how small, every
  city has a handful of these local computer users' groups and
  computer publications.  They all share one common trait in that
  they are starving for well-written material to print.  Why else
  would they re-run "the ten types of computer user" and "Tips for
  Getting the most out of your modem" every three months?  A short
  blurb about the cow could reach tens of people who know nothing
  about us.

People hear about Bovine a few ways.  Obviously, word spreads really fast
on the web.  If a person is looking for us, they'll find us.  Even if a
person is looking for "people doing what we're doing", 
they'll find us.

Our banners catch frequent web surfers.  We tell people if they'll 
stop to listen.

However, the only real forms of recruitment we are using right now are
limited entirely to high-tech channels utilized by high-tech people.
Granted, for RC5 this was our most likely audience, but this is already
changing.  As distributed.net starts exploring other efforts and challenges
you'll find that distributed.net will start becoming far more interesting
to far more people.  And I think, if explained properly, even the crypto
angle is compelling enough for a person not interested in crypto.
Regardless, the cost and inconvenience of running "the cow" is basically
unmeasurable.  It's cute.  It's unobtrusive.  If you can get it installed
on a box, it's likely to stay there.  If a new machine only does ONE key,
that's one less that we've got to worry about.

Think about different ways we can reach the OTHER 90% of the computer
users/owners out there.  We, the users who scour the web and click on geeky
links are in the minority.  Our exposure is far more limited than it needs
to be.

All ranting aside, I believe very strongly that we have seen nothing yet.
I do not for one minute believe that we've even reached a tenth or a
hundredth of our potential size.  When more computers are running the cow
than are not running the cow, I'll start to worry.  Until then, lets get


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