How did you get the idea of participating in the rsa-secret-key challenge
with an Amiga-Team and what were your initial goals?
The idea came from reading about the DES challenges and trying the first
Amiga client for RC5-56 and then meeting a couple of people on IRC who
agreed a team would be cool. Our initial goals were quite moderate, simply
to throw together in a team and see how far we got, under the Amiga flag
of course. Once the effort grew it became apparent that it could be a lot
more, and hopefully will be.
When you started the Amiga-effort, did you expect such a big resonance
amongst the Amiga-users?
Not really, but once the ball got rolling I actually expected more people to
join in, there must be a lot more Amiga users (or Amiga minded people) out
there than the approximately 2000 participating now. So while the first
explosive growth was surprising, later on it became a steady but slower one.
At the moment our team is in the fifth position. Any chance of entering the
top 3 or even the first place?
We have almost done 14% of the keyspace now, depending on how lucky we will
get (some other challenges found the key well below the statistical average
of 50%) it might be finished tomorrow, or continue for another two years.
Some of the teams ahead of us have a substantial lead and would be very
hard to catch in time even if we grew explosively again. But a top 3
ranking is possible, if G4 becomes a success and/or participation grows
more rapidly. We would only need a couple of hundred people upgrading to a
G4 to make a sudden jump ahead again. Since the currently fourth placed
team just overtook us this could be a real possibility to get ahead quick,
if the cards ship fast enough. On the other hand, expecting miracles is
almost too painful after the last five years, so conservatively speaking
we will stay at number five. Not like that is anything to frown at of
course, out of thousands of teams.
You have put a lote time and work in the infrastructure (Website,
statistics, etc...). Wil this infrastructuere in future be expanded for a
more general distributed computing, beyond rc5 and des?
Yes, that is the plan. The RC5 challenge is a finite effort, beyond that
there is much to do. At this point it's not clear yet which direction this
will take, but 'Distributed Amiga' could carry anything that builds directly
on present or future (open source or not) versions of the Distributed.Net
client infrastructure to offering anything that has to do with networked
computing in the Amiga spirit. This could range from whatever Amiga come up
with through activities developing in the remaining classic Amiga niche and
perhaps a resurgent one (PPC?) to distributed computing in the
aforementioned Amiga spirit in general, so theoretically we could continue
if the (Amiga) world ends tomorrow. It would certainly be a shame to just
close the book once RC5-64 is finished and waste the resources of such a
gathering of like minded people.. Of course the current effort only offers
potentional for any of that to become reality, we need a critical mass of
participants and developers that can sustain continued existence.
But things are opening up already, soon the D.Net clients will get support
for Optimal Golomb Rulers (OGR, useful for optimizing some engineering
solutions if I'm not mistaken), then CSC (another encryption standard), and
probably lots of others in the future, from geek chic/political encryption
and mathematical problems to more mundane applications like research into
the human genome, diseases, distributed chess and other games, rendering
stuff, artificial intelligence and probably a lot more.
A few weeks before Jim Collas resigned, this effort was about to gain
official recognition and support from AmigaInc. Do you still expect some
support from the new management?
I have no idea. With Jim Collas leaving and Bill McEwen who handled
communication it has once again become uncertain, purely from a logistical
point of view already. Since Amiga OE is supposed to be a middleware layer
very much centered around networking it should have a natural affinity with
what we are trying to accomplish on the technical level, but some of the
motivation behind our team specifically is the Amiga spirit, which the new
management apparently does not seem to be very concerned with. Tom Schmidt
has shown a profound lack of understanding what Amiga has been about (even
apart from technicalities) and corporations who would rather be rid of a
fanatic userbase concerned with diverging technology can't be expected to
support community efforts. I've had more of these near misses, but if you
take all aspects into consideration, the answer would probably have to be
no. It's sad, but commercial enterprises do not seem to value possible long
term or indirect beneficiaries unless there is a direct and preferably
short term impact on the bottom line. Of course I'm open to communication
that leads to any cooperation.
I've seen this on a smaller scale too, trying to talk to phase 5 for
example was pretty fruitless, even though something like RC5 could (and
probably did) sell them some PPC cards..
I would also like to stress that expecting some kind of redemption from a
higher power is stupid without providing for yourself in the meantime, else
you may starve waiting. Self reliance is important considering the Amiga's
checkered past, and we have done well so far, considering.
At the "Computer '98" in Cologne, I noticed some people who wanted
autographs from you on their rc5-shirts. Well, how does it feel to be a
It was a pretty weird feeling, but flattering somewhere :) But I need to
stress that I'm just one person, without the cohesion of the community and
everyone participating or contributing in some way none of this would be
In a few words: How would you invite our readers to participate with the
En masse of course :) Maybe the best way to put it is: Amiga may be dead,
so long live Amiga! I.e. it's not just the box that counts, but the user
behind it, no matter where he or she goes, as long as he takes the essence