As we here at CDT try to be productive in our spare time, we figure your computing machine should do the same. This article is a brief look at some options of what to do with spare CPU and power usage. Not exactly for use at your parents' house, but if you don't pay for utilities this is for you.

Station Ripper
This tiny, free program is designed to rip songs from online radio stations. After installing, all you do is search for a station (built in search) and click "record." It runs pretty silently in your background processes and records in 128bit formats. Not the best, but it works. Ads will appear at the beginning of songs occasionally.

Bitcoin mines
If you're into the anonymity of the internet, you'll appreciate Bitcoin. It's a site for generating a long-term virtual currency linked to individual accounts. Bitcoins are mined, traded, or exchanged for services/goods. They have no tangible value except for what people will offer for them. To mine for them, you download the program and start mining, though it's not profitable. Nowadays, participating in a mine pool is your best option since bitcoins are being generated exponentially slower every month.

A site hosted by UC Berkeley dedicated to using volunteer processing power to complete projects. Some projects BOINC is used for are for climate models, genome mapping, and various environmental models. All you have to do is register, input your specs, download the software, and choose the projects you want to help with.

An interesting volunteering site for sure. This site is dedicated to volunteers loaning their processing power to download and analyze radio telescope data (outer space). Help search the universe for extraterrestrial life one gig of RAM at a time. You download BOINC, input SETI's information, and let it run!

Climate predictions
This page has several climate change-related experiments your processor can help decipher. The thermohaline experiments seems particularly interesting, as it predicts drastic temperature changes due to ocean current changes.

Folding is one of the most popular ones to be a part of. It also has published quite a few articles on the completed projects. The projects are about protein folding and the information gained is particularly used to understand diseases.

All other distributed computing projects are hosted here at Distributed computing

We'll be finding more options in the future for your spare processing power. In the meantime, if you don't want to go through the hassle of volunteering IRL, try it online instead! Substitute an afternoon of tree planting to set up your machine!