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Free Money - But I Can't Have Any (Yet, If Ever)

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16.03.2004 (17.03.2004)

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Totally hands - free drip feed of money

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Not everyone is accepted

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Now here’s an odd one – a recommendation for something that, so far, hasn’t worked out for me at all, although others with different Internet usage patterns and means of connecting may be having more success.

********************************************************************

I started using www.gómez.com, or rather the Gómez Peer (formerly Porivo Peer) software that they supply, on 1st March 2004, as a result of reading Kezzalea’s opinion on the subject.

Two things about it appealed to me, the first being that it was a means of earning a bit more money from the Internet, without writing anything (except this) without reading any tedious e-mails or being ‘paid-to-surf’ or shopping from a limited list of retailers, and without - well - without having to do very much at all except turn your PC on, and use the Internet. Perhaps they should call this ‘paid-not-to-surf’!.

Note: This does not track YOUR Internet usage. Gómez is a respected company with a clear ‘no spy-ware, no spam’ policy, and the site contains a copy of recent articles in IT trade magazines rating them top of their field. My next-door neighbour works for a major, nay ‘favourite’, world airline’s IT department, and he has used their services on occasions.

The second thing I liked about it was the ‘cottage industry’ aspect of getting PCs the world over to perform a common function, with a combined computing power that, singly, would be impossible to attempt, with a hint of rivalry thrown in for good measure.

There have been other ‘outsourced’ clients like this, one of which I have used in the past, that one being the ‘SETI’ project, the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence. Here, scientists analysing the huge amount of radio-telescope data from Arecibo in Puerto Rico, realised that even the world’s largest most powerful mainframe computers would be overwhelmed by the sheer weight of number-crunching involved.

Thus, in the form of a screen saver, it was farmed out to PC all over the planet, each taking on bite-sized chunks of data, processing it and sending it back. I can’t remember why I stopped, except that I had to reformat c:\drive and never bothered loading it again. Maybe I thought that alerting some superior being to our presence was foolhardy, who knows?

Gómez.com is nowhere near as altruistic in its aims, but then this accounts for why they PAY you.

By running the Gómez Peer software, you are taking part in a huge quality control exercise for Gómez’s customers, forming as they choose to call it, the Last Mile. Whilst they are not specific, it would seem likely that what you are actually doing is checking access times to certain web pages, probably involving ‘pinging’ them, a kind of ‘sonar blip’ for the internet just to see if anyone is there. None of this is apparent, and in any case, any computer activity is limited to the odd burst every few minutes. I’ve watched this over and over again now, and I honestly can’t see it slowing my PC or my Internet access down.

For those that are interested in how they are doing, the Gómez Peer software has a small screen, which I’ve illustrated below. From here, you can access various statistics, including the all-important ‘how much do they owe me this month?’ as well as various league tables, which, depending on whether you pay Ciao Community Points any heed, will either interest you or not.

The day I joined, I was 38986th in the ‘line time’ rankings, i.e.last, but 3 days later this was down to 21000th – obviously, they have a large turnover of moribund members*

* (A moribund member? Hang on, I think I've got one of those!)

After the third day, I had ‘given’ them 7065 minutes of line time, which, before anyone bothers to calculate it, is well beyond the number of minutes in three days, the difference being that I’ve been running up to three PCs, but always at least one.

EARLY EXPERIENCE

By the end of the first two weeks, I had racked-up 35000 minutes of line time; that’s the equivalent of 1.73 PCs running 24/7. My somewhat meaningless ‘line time’ ranking had dropped to 12178th from the daunting 38986th a week earlier.

Gómez allows for several machines to be channelled into one income stream, all you have to do is download the Peer software onto each machine and make sure that they have different names – a Windows home network will have these anyway, and the set up process defaults to using them. Mine are ‘Diningroom’, ‘Mainpc’ and ‘Backup’ – original eh? All this line time had resulted in 1695 minutes of processing time, doing their bidding, which

Pictures of Gómez PEER
Gómez PEER Picture 26021 tb
A Typical Gomez Information Screen Maximised
is what they base their graduated payments on.

At this point, my income was an un-alluring $2.25, which is only slightly above my extra expenditure on electricity! This raises an interesting point. Just because you have broadband, doesn’t mean that Gómez is your passport to retiring early. Some of the people that are Gómez’s big earners are clearly IT managers with access to about 60–odd machines, which for whatever reason are required to be left running. Either that or they’re students with access to the college’s IT suite out of hours! In fact any scallywag with access to an ‘always-on’ PC could set this up, if they could get at it! Now then, where did my wife say the keys to her school’s IT suite were kept?

You don’t start to earn money from ‘day one’, but the Peer software does give you a hypothetical view of what you would earn if you were an approved member, rather than just ‘pending’. Maybe this is a way of making sure that unapproved use gets discovered and turned off in the mean time. They undertake to tell you by e-mail whetheryou are approved within 14 working days. I would suppose that some of their income comes from the people that donate two free weeks of line time, only to get disheartened and bugger off, never to amass the $5 needed before they pay you. After all, Gómez’s clients are still paying THEM.

THE BOMBSHELL

This is what happened to me, which forms the reason for my opening statement – I didn’t get disheartened and disappear, but I on the 15th day, I received an e-mail from them stating:-

“At this time we have been unable to activate you as a Gomez PEER. Activation is based on customer demand for PEERs with specific region and network connection types. Currently we have more available PEERs in your area then we have demand. As the demand for your system increases, so does the chance you will be made active. As a PEER in Pending status, we will continue to monitor your online and processing time. We appreciate your patience and understanding.”

This left me with several options.

a) Remove their software in a fit of pique, after all, I’ve done 1700 minutes of ‘work’ for them, and now they’re not going to pay me – no that’d silly. What’s the point, they may select me next time round, once they see they can rely on me?

b) Carry on, leaving my lowest wattage PC on at night, presenting the same usage pattern to them.

c) Modify my usage pattern to my normal ‘only switched on when I’m using them’.

d) Visit the Wise Woman of Dung Hill Mansions, Putney, who would then advise me, no doubt to 'kill everyone!' (well, other broadband users in the UK at least)

What I’ve decided to do is press on as I was for another 2-week period, and then settle back into a normal usage pattern, with nothing left running when it isn’t being used by us.

If, after 6 weeks, they still don’t want me, they can go take a hike, and take their software with them!

One thing that is coming through strongly from this is – Don’t go out of your way to boost your line time just for them. Reading between the lines, it’s looking like new small-time broadband users in the UK can forget it for now at least.

SOFTWARE

It’s a big download, at around 20mbytes, so if you have dial-up you can opt to have a CD-ROM sent to you instead. If you attempt the download before Gómez have heard of you, you are prompted to go through the registration process first, which is nothing too strenuous, just the usual details. Once downloaded and installed, which involves answering some extra questions about your type of connection, the software prompts you once for the ID you’ve agreed with Gómez, and off we go.

RUNNING IT

This involves the bare minimum of effort on your part, especially if the client software is set to ‘Launch Peer At Start-Up’ in its Preferences. You can either run the Peer software as minimised to an icon in the task bar, or enlarge it to scrutinise the figures.

Even from the outset I had this impression that an ‘always on’ machine might not be the advantage that you’d think it was. Every time I turn my machines on, they receive some processing work to do, whereas, once they are on for any length of time, the next job seems a long time coming. It would therefore follow that maybe someone who uses a 24/7 dial-up service, quitting frequently might do better out of this.

EARNINGS

These are quite simply laid out on their website, and in fact the deeper I drill, the more impressed I am with how up-front Gómez really are - there’s a wealth of detail there in the FAQs for those that can be bothered, or even understand it!

Your account racks-up $0.10c after the first four hours on on-line time every day, and you must also rack-up 30 hours per month to stay an active ‘peer’. However, it doesn’t end there, thank goodness, otherwise I’d have given this the boot, since that barely covers the cost of electricity in leaving a large PC switched on. Actually, for any overnight use, I’m leaving running an older low wattage machine - 48 watts*, to be precise.

*Well, you didn’t think Professor Nibbles WOULDN’T have a gadget to tell him this, did you? Perhaps I should write about it.

However, there’s no point in trying to run your PC for 30 hours all in one go, and then turn it off – you’d only qualify for payment on the first two days (i.e. the ones with at least four hours use). To get paid every day, you need to put in at least 120-hours on line time spread over the month.

Incidentally, Gómez run on Eastern Standard Time. Just out of curiosity whilst attending to the demands of my bladder, early one morning, I noticed that the daily results had reset at 5.00 am GMT. Further perusal of the site’s fine print does indeed reveal that they are in Waltham, Mass.

On the days where you’re line time qualifies, you then start to accumulate credit for any ‘processing time’, i.e. jobs your PC has done for them, at the rate of 1/20th of a cent for every minute. To be fair, they keep a running tally of processor time done before the four-hour minimum is exceeded, and add it, when they add the $0.10c. This may not sound a lot, and typically this may earn you $0.50/day, but bear in mind that you have absolutely NOTHING to do, in order to get this.

Don’t go by my initial ’$1.20 in a week’ scenario. After they establish how much use THEY can make of YOU, this is reputed to build up. If your monthly credit does not exceed $5, it carries over into next month’s quota, so you don’t lose it. None of the above applies, if like me, you’re kept in the ‘Pending’ bin.

There is also a referral system, but this only earns you a one-off payment of $1 per accepted sign-up. There is no follow-on ‘down-line’ income. Don’t worry, I’m not going to disgrace myself by begging you to join, using me as a reference – anyway, you might spoil it for me, by diluting the work available to UK users still further. You CAN earn money from referrals whilst still at the ‘pending’ status.

PAYMENT

This is by PayPal or E-Gold account of your choosing.

Just one word of advice. Make sure that the e-mail address that you give to Gómez, during the sign-up process, is the same one you use for your PayPal account, as this is how they identify to whom to send the money! If you haven’t got one of these accounts, the Gómez website has links to them. Gómez state that transfer will be within 10 days of the statement date.

RESULTS

Accrued results during the period where you are graded ‘Pending’ are not spectacular, barely covering the energy costs of running a PC, but heh, if you were genuinely using it anyway, what the hell?

I’d love to have been able to swank about the earnings in this section, but for obvious reasons, I can’t. My ‘potential’ earnings now stand at $2.38 after 15 days, so in reality, even with ‘Active’ status, I wouldn’t even be getting paid the $5 minimum this month, although they would carry it over.

SECURE?

I can really only judge by results. I haven’t had any increase in exhortations to lengthen my todger or boost its staying power with generic Viagra, so their ‘no spam’ policy looks to be true. As for security breaches; well, you do have to let the Peer software communicate with the outside world, so I guess you could say that in itself, is a security risk. This why I use my ‘second best PC’ for most of the work – it doesn’t contain any important passwords or on-line banking cookies. However, if you are the kind of person that actually checks their credit card statements, this should not be anything to fear, at least not sufficiently to stop you doing it. Firewalls and up-to-date anti-virus software should be a must to any long-time user of the Internet anyway.

I realise that many people’s reaction to this subject will be prefixed by ‘ you wouldn’t catch me loading other people’s software onto my machine….’ but everything human endeavour contains risk. Travel is risky; so is staying in doors, if you read the statistics for accidents in the kitchen, but we all go places and no doubt have breakfast first.

NOTES

Forget about ever making it into ANY of the line-time rankings, although you can get into their earnings league tables. Even with a PC running through (their) midnight, I still can’t even get onto the bottom of their daily line time ranking. It’s a bit like finding out that Ciao keep moving the next colour dot up just ahead of you in the Community Points!

Gómez will work behind any screen savers you have, but not with hard disks that are ‘put to sleep’ by the PC’s Power Management.

If, like me, you are thinking using Gómez all day and all night you might like to consider the following based on my experience:-

a) You really must have broadband or another connection that allows this without incurring extra line charges. Why not leave the PC doing something else, scheduled tasks for instance, defragmenting, virus updating and checking – all the stuff that slows you down during the day when trying to actually use your PC.

b) The machine can be run at low wattage – if it’s got two hard drives in it, and enough fans to drive a hovercraft, forget it, stick to just running Gómez when you really ARE surfing. The more modern your processor (desktop PC), the more likely it is to draw lots of current.

c) You can turn your monitor off; even ‘stand-by’ uses SOME current.

d) And then, having done all of this, they still may not want you!

You might have thought, prior to my experience, that being a broadband customer was a pre-requisite, but no. According to their ‘Most Wanted’ list, they are still desperate to sign up dial-up Peers from various countries, sadly not the UK, but if you know anyone in Germany or Japan on dial-up, or in Korea, The Philippines, South Africa or Venezuela with any old connection, sign ‘em up fast and get the $1 referral credit for it! This is the one thing they will pay you for whilst ‘Pending’.

This does not preclude UK or US users, otherwise they should tell you that when you sign up, but presumably, they have enough already. It’s just very annoying and disappointing that they take two weeks to tell you this. Even if you do make it past first base and become an ‘Active’ peer, you could still fall behind, if for example, you take three weeks holiday and turn the PC off. This could mean that you’ll find yourself back to ‘Pending’ status when you come home.

THE ‘CHURCH ROOF FUND’ - POSSIBLE FUND RAISING IDEA?

I can’t see any technical reason why a whole group of people shouldn’t donate line-time and processing minutes to a central cause.

These could be grouped into two categories.

a) Low Users. The only criteria would be that they’d all have to be in the same country, and all use the Internet, as long as one central person, the ‘secretary’, let’s say sets up the Paypal account, with one common e-mail address. Everyone would do their own download of the software, giving the same common User ID. All the secretary would have to do is control the network ‘name’ of each machine to make sure there were no clashes. Everyone could see the income on demand, so there’d be no room for chicanery. The more people you get interested, the more likely it is that your 4 hours/day and 30 hours/month targets will be met, and thence become the passport to drip-feeding income into the fund’s account.

b) Heavy Users - Alternatively, it would be more cost-effective if your users were of the kind who would all exceed the 4 hours per day limit, that they all sign up separately but assign their earnings to the same e-mail account at PayPal, hence they all qualify for their daily “10 cents worth” plus whatever else they earn.

SUMMING UP

Gómez is an interesting slant on the Internet pin-mon…sorry, ’income stream’ front.

It seems to favour dial-up users.

None of these schemes, even collectively, are a way of earning enough to give up work, that’s for sure, but if you can just get something like this to subsidise your web usage, or maybe even give you that bit extra to move to broadband from dial-up, then it can’t hurt.

If you’re a fairly heavy (probably dial-up) Internet user, confident that your connection will be ‘up’ for at least four hours a day, then at the very least, it will earn you around $2.80 to $3.10 per month, plus whatever else you get paid for. As I said earlier, not a King’s Ransom, but then, you don’t actually have to DO ANYTHING.

Besides which, I quite like watching that ‘$0.10c, kerching, thank you very much!’ into the coffers every morning! It makes a change from checking how far you’ve still got to go to that next Ciao ‘dot’, even if the buggers aren’t going to pay me!

Watch this space – if you want to be kept up to date, leave me a comment, and I’ll get back to you as things develop over the next month (or not!).

At least this opinion is worth 0.5p a read!

Note: All gradings below are a bit hypothetical, assuming that I eventually become a 'satisfied customer', so Gomez got off lightly


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Comments about this review »

sgjenning 23.10.2007 11:38

Fantastic review - full of info & made me giggle! I'm still 'umming' about whether to give it a go ...

fraquelty 13.06.2007 22:18

Most detailed review ive ever read, brilliant.

liz1102 17.11.2006 12:55

I came back and re-rated this to E as, after reading your review I went off and downloaded it. Before then I'd heard nothing about this program. Amittedly I gave up after about two weeks when there was only 25c in my account, but from a 'buyer's point of view' you made be download it llol.

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This review of Gómez PEER has been rated:

"exceptional" by (22%):

  1. sgjenning
  2. fraquelty
  3. liz1102

and 16 other members

"helpful" by (2%):

  1. darziw
  2. m.lyon

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