Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fifty Dollar Bill . . .

If, like the Goonies, you found someone printing fifty-dollar bills in the basement of your shuttered, run-down seasonal restaurant, you’d put up a stink. Well, given you own such a dump, maybe you’d at least want a cut. But either way, you wouldn’t let them keep on working, flooding your basement when their water cooler broke because of a tremor. 

What about if, instead, you discovered someone was using your computer for, say, making legitimate money. And I’m not talking about someone running a home business. I’m talking about someone slipping some code onto your machine and using it to make money without your permission. 

That has happened. Probably is still happening. And probably will continue to happen in the future. Read here of a computer-based sports league introducing code on unsuspecting payers’ machines to mine bitcoins. And now that they’re caught, well, there’s contrition. Of the kind you get nowadays. Meaning no contrition at all. 

Money-grubbers have taken note of the vast archipelago of mostly untapped computer power out there, and, thanks to the internet and the advent of the always-on internet connection, they’re using it to their advantage. Where organizations such as SETI at home and the LDS Church urge people to use their spare time and computing power to look for alien signals in the radio noise constantly streaming towards the Earth, or to sort through old hand-written records looking for dead ancestors whom you no longer want spooking and tormenting you because you haven’t done those four generations, folks like the E-Sports Entertainment Association are using your spare computer capacity to make money. 

But now they’re caught, and are throwing all that money – and other money aside – to charity. So we’re good, right? 

No. These folks got caught because, as Wednesday Addams says, they were sloppy. And so were these people. 

Think it’s going to get better? Well, you’ve not been around the internet much now, have you?

This is why, on occasion, I turn my computers off. This is why I’m thinking about making at least one of the machines in our house an island isolated from that vast, always-on archipelago. And why I don’t download every bit of Tom, Dick, and Harry program and code and such from the internet, just because someone tells me I should, something looks fun, or, hells bells, someone else is doing it.

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