It all started with SETI@Home.
On May 16, 1999 someone turned me on to the whole SETI@Home project and although the idea of finding intelligent life in outer space is cool, my real draw to it was to see how fast I could run the program. For me, it was more of a “hot rod” application more than anything else. How fast can I process a unit? The first computer I ran it on was a 133MHz Sharp Widenote and it took about 36 hours to process. I would compare this to other friends who were running the program as well and then see how my “ride” stacked up. Of course, I was running a laptop and I’d had it for a couple of years, so I was a bit behind the curve, but I later put together a workstation and then began tweaking in earnest to try and be the fastest among my peers. I even started a group for NPUG.
Like all fads, this one ran it’s course in due time. Yet, to this day, I’m still running the little program. There have been other Distributed Computing projects, but none of them really struck my fancy. Some had truly noble goals and what not, but I just had this feeling of “been there done that,” and I just didn’t feel like jumping into another one. Then I ran across something called Project-Dolphin. Although it was a distributed computing application, it was a different animal all together.
Instead of using your computer to crunch data, all this little applet did was count your key clicks and then submit the count to a web server for all to see. At first I thought it was an asinine idea, but as I thought more about it, the idea began to grow on me. I know I sit at the computer and type a lot – hell, my wife has nicknamed me “clicky” – but what struck me about this little app was that it would tell me just how MUCH I click.