Even when you're not sitting in front of your computer, you can still use it for something productive. No, I'm not talking about leaving your favorite BitTorrent client on all night long: I mean collaborating on serious projects such as finding a cure for important diseases like cancer or AIDS, investigating climatic change and other environmental issues or looking for extraterrestrial life, among others.
Doing your bit in any of these important projects is as easy as installing the BOINC software, a tool developed by the University of Berkeley, and choosing the project you want to help with. BOINC will enable you to join a massive network of computers all over the world and use the extraordinary power of thousands of processors working together in a collaborative computing system.
The BOINC client can be configured to work only at certain hours and also limited to use only a certain percentage of your disk space and processor power, so that your daily workflow is not affected. You can also access real-time statistics that show how your computer is performing. Oh, and by the way: BOINC works in most platforms – some of the projects are even available on the PS3 – so if you've always wanted to contribute in a project to improve society, this is your perfect chance.