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SETI@Home Install Leads To School Tech Supervisor's Resignation

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the totally-worth-it dept.

Space 621

An anonymous reader writes "Apparently the most prolific of users in the SETI@Home community has resigned his job as a school technology supervisor after it was revealed he had the software installed on some 5000 school machines. The school claims to have lost $1 million in upkeep on the affected machines."

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This is for GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30301998)

I have made the first post.

first@home (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302006)

first@home

$1 Million... Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302026)

I'd say they lost money on power consumption. Not up keep.

Re:$1 Million... Really? (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302036)

Let's see you keep them up without power.

Re:$1 Million... Really? (1)

Etrias (1121031) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302094)

I used to run SETI years ago and from what I remember, it ran as a screen saver, not as an active process.

Re:$1 Million... Really? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302222)

Been years since I ran it as well, but IIRC you had a choice of running either as a screen saver or as a background process. Some people even ran multiple instances of the background process to crank out more WU's.

Re:$1 Million... Really? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302286)

I used to run SETI years ago and from what I remember, it ran as a screen saver, not as an active process.

So are you implying that "screen savers" somehow don't use any processing power or electricity?

Re:$1 Million... Really? (3, Interesting)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302348)

it ran as a screen saver

However it might have ran, it certainly didn't 'save screens.' Back in the day I saw many many CRTs with their phosphors permanently 'burned' by the SETI@Home display:

http://blog.sherweb.com/wp-content/uploads/seti_home_screen_l.gif [sherweb.com]

I used to advise people running SETI@Home to turn off their CRTs.

Re:$1 Million... Really? (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302420)

Yeah, pinning equipment failures on SETI is a stretch. But $1000000 for power consumption is not so far off the mark. SETI estimates $5/month/computer. If he's been doing it for 9 years, 12 months a year, at that rate it would require 1851 computers to reach $1M. IIRC, this guy was in charge of about 5000 computers. It adds up.

Re:$1 Million... Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302582)

Like it costs less to keep a computer running Idle than it does to run somthing...
Unless it goes to sleep there is NO COST difference...

Commendable... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302028)

Well, no. Those weren't his machines. Had he been fired for running it on his own PC it would be different.

Re:Commendable... (3, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302134)

They were his machines to configure, as a technology supervisor. It's not like he hacked into the machines in the dark of night to set things up on the sly. Sure, his configuration may have been a failure as far as the business needs of the school system were concerned, but when TFA is claiming "there may be charges filed!!" ...

Look, kids, it's a 1-million-dollar civics lesson. "Screw up in county-level government, and we'll sic the cops on you and paint you up as a UFO-worshipping freak or something." Uh-huh. And they wonder why the school systems of the nation can't hire anyone competent.

Re:Commendable... (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302322)

I agree, filing charges was way out of line. His only real mistake was not asking permission, and getting that permission in writing.

Re:Commendable... (5, Insightful)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302368)

They were his machines to configure, as a technology supervisor. It's not like he hacked into the machines in the dark of night to set things up on the sly. Sure, his configuration may have been a failure as far as the business needs of the school system were concerned, but when TFA is claiming "there may be charges filed!!"

Actually, I think it falls pretty squarely under most States' ethics laws as a violation. If I set up a Bittorent tracker using government computers, then I'm using bandwidth inappropriately, which violates ethics laws. This guy set up a SETI account in his own name, for whatever joy he gets from being at the top of SETI crunch lists, and used government-paid electricity for his own purposes. Over 5,000 computers with say (conservatively) 200W PSUs, that's not an insignificant amount of electricity/dollars. If my tax dollars went into it, I'd be kinda pissed (mainly because I'd prefer donating cycles to Folding@Home, but that's another story).

A little silly? Perhaps, but judging the degree of his "ethics violation" and the subsequent consequences is the job of a judge or jury. The fact that an "ethics violation" that breaks an ethics law has been committed isn't really debatable.

Re:Commendable... (0)

pluther (647209) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302492)

Using government electricity?

I've never actually done a comparison, but I'd bet that computers running Microsoft's Starry Night screen saver, or the My Pictures slide show use pretty much the same amount of electricity as Seti@home does.

Re:Commendable... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302530)

A home computer might be switched on only when needed but a machine in a school is going to be on all the day. Maybe the spare CPU cycles here didn't cost much at all.

Re:Commendable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302424)

He is being charged for more than the Seti software. He did other things too. The news story leaves out the real details just to throw out something popular to get attention.

Re:Commendable... (5, Funny)

Tynin (634655) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302544)

I almost lost my job when I was working in a NOC at a previous company. I was in charge of maintaining the monitoring and the machines that ran them. Really, these were workstations that were connected to a handful of monitors, all with webpages up that would refresh once a minute, they were not the servers that were running our actual monitoring software (firehunter, whatsup, big brother, etc) so since they were just running a few browsers they were never under any load. So I tossed SETI@Home on all these workstations, that no one uses, that just display browser windows, and it was all fine for several months.

One day I came to work, and my boss was breathless (I wished physically, not just literally), he couldn't figure out why all these boxes were all running at 100% CPU. After several hours (he was SOOO slow) he figured out it was SETI. He tried in vain to prove it was me, I wasn't going to admit it, I knew that between him and HR they would hang me, over at best the theft of some company power (which is stupid because every linux admin had super shiny screensavers that their computers couldn't quite handle, and they had to be running at 100% util for 16+ hours each day once they went home). It's been a while since I've ran SETI, but what I recall is he could have figured out it was me if he knew to check the ID it was uploading the results under, then went to SETI's site and check the ID, which would have at least pointed him to the name Tynin, which since my personal email address uses tynin in it, it should have been the nail in my coffin. Luckly, he was incompetent, and missed that detail, and I sail past what would have been one of the more silly disasters of my life.

If you are reading this Ed, please know your staff will celebrate the day you die, pizza and beer in the hallways!

Re:Commendable... (3, Insightful)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302572)

And they wonder why the school systems of the nation can't hire anyone competent.

I'd like to add that a competent sysadmin would do his best to keep costs to a bare minimum, and that includes things like buying the lowest-power CPUs that can get the job done, sticking to the job's specifications for software, cycling computers into powersave when idle, and -- in a school environment -- switching the damn things off at night, when very few people have legitimate reasons to use them.

Treating your work computers as your personal playground to install random stuff on to amuse yourself is completely unprofessional. Why do you think he didn't ask for permission? Because for whatever the reasons might be, he would probably have been unlikely to procure it.

Re:Commendable... (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302434)

On the other hand, his contract never said he wasn't able to run these types of background calculation programs. Even superintendent Denise Birdwell admitted, "We support educational research and certainly would have supported cancer research." So the issue is not the installation of the program, which would have been okay if the technician had installed Cancer@Home instead.

Furthermore Birdwell said the massive software cost the district more than $1 million in added utility fees and computer replacement parts. How did he arrive at this 1 million dollar figure? Can he produce actual calculations derived from collected data, or did he just pull the number from his nether region?

I would not resign.

I'd tell them, "Sorry I'll uninstall everything," and if they chose to fire me then I'd drag Mr. Birdwell into court to provide proof before a judge that I actually cost the school 1 million in damages. If they can't then it would be unjustified dismissal, and in violation of multiple employee-protection laws that exist when you work for a state government.

Fire the guy, maybe, but... (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302034)

So, he configures the systems wrong and costs the school system money from electricity... sure, fire him or something if you must. I mean, you could have also just said "take it off", I'm sure he would have complied and it wouldn't have been any further problem and you'd save yourselves the cost of finding a replacement ...

But the "criminal charges" alluded to by the article would be ridiculous.

Re:Fire the guy, maybe, but... (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302244)

We don't know the full story, I'm guessing.

Re:Fire the guy, maybe, but... (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302520)

It certainly sounds like cause for a reverse lawsuit. After all they never told him he CAN'T install SETI@home or CANCER@home or any other background crunching program

Article says he claims he had permission (1)

rwade (131726) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302538)

The article [kpho.com] has the following quote:

"Niesluchowski's wife, Susan, insisted her husband is a good man and great father who did nothing wrong. She said the software was authorized by a previous administration..."

However, since he was fired, it's not likely that he was able to present proof of authorization to the school board. For the record, I can't imagine how they came up with $1M for damages. If the computers were running all night and day regardless of whether SETI@home was running or not, you're looking at component wear and tear and additionally power consumption of virtually zero.

SETI (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302048)

Too bad the only aliens we've found are the illegal ones. Go back to Mexico, learn fuckin' English, and come here legally if you're going to. Oh yeah, and when you go back to Mexico, tell the telemarketers there to stop calling here. Seriously, that's the new trend in telemarketing. Call a native English speaker but speak Spanish when he answers the phone. Yeah, gee I wonder why sales are down...

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302088)

Look Mr. Redneck, drink a beer, take a nap, and chill-out.

Re:SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302096)

Mod

NEZ's wife's thoughts (1)

middlemen (765373) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302052)

FTFA:

She said the software was authorized by a previous administration and her husband has better things to do to than look for aliens.
"We have seven kids together," Niesluchowski's wife said.

NEZ's wife thought "SEX@Home" not "SETI@Home", unlike NEZ.

Would cancer research been a better use? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302056)

I understand wanting to find aliens, but it would have been nice if this had been for the folding@home project. Then again, maybe once we find the aliens we'll discover they have a cure for cancer. It's really hard to know which one should take precedence.

Re:Would cancer research been a better use? (5, Funny)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302302)

The school administrator has already decided that there are no ETs, so it's silly to search for them. Science should only look for stuff we already know about! (:-)

Re:Would cancer research been a better use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302332)

Why is participating in one abusive pie in the sky distributed computing project any better than any other?
Oh yeah...because he changed superintendents, and the new one ridicules space exploration!
Probably a religious geocentric nutter too.

Re:Would cancer research been a better use? (2, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302334)

    The aliens probably wouldn't help with a cancer cure. Consider what would happen if another substantial cause of death were eliminated. Lifespans would be extended beyond our unusually long lives now. The world's population is already too high, and growing beyond the unsustainable level. While it's nice to think we can get rid of something that causes pain and death, pain and death are part of life. If you reduce the death rate, you'll have to reduce the reproduction rate.

    I'm sure the next effort would be to identify and control the "grow old" gene. They already know how old age works, but they'd want to control it. Ok, so you stop the aging process, so people live for 100 years as if they're in their 20's and 30's. Great. I'd hope we have a whole lot of new planets to extend to, because sure as hell this one will be used up quick.

Re:Would cancer research been a better use? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302500)

There is no known 'grow-old' gene in humans (unlike some other mammals), it's caused by radiation breaking up certain DNA/RNA type moluecules that cause the cells to fail to reproduce adequatly (i.e. produce colligen, etc).

Re:Would cancer research been a better use? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302516)

It's really hard to know which one should take precedence.

Neither should. Computing resources are plentiful and diversity is good.

Oops (5, Interesting)

wamerocity (1106155) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302060)

I did this at my brothers company too. I thought that the program "ran on minimal resources" while the computers were being used. But shortly after installing them on a dozen programs, everyone was complaining about how slow their computers were, so I had to covertly remove them to hide the true reason why they were slow. Lesson learned. At least it didn't cost me my job.

Re:Oops (3, Informative)

wamerocity (1106155) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302080)

Correction: I did this with FOLDING@home, not SETI. I think SETI isn't as useful.

Re:Oops (0, Offtopic)

middlemen (765373) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302160)

... everyone was complaining about how slow their computers were

Maybe they were running Windows Vista ?

Re:Oops (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302256)

Doesn't folding@home run with the lowest of priorities?

Re:Oops (1)

gregarican (694358) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302264)

Dear Brother,

Now the truth comes out. Okay, enough. Pack up your shit and get out. Now.

Sincerely,

Your Brother

Re:Oops (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302270)

I also did the same thing with rosetta@home

Coming from Linux and OSX i always thought that low priority processes couldn't slow down the system too much and i was right. It works good on my Mac and on my servers. I never notice the program is crunching.

On Windows it's another story. Those multiple cores machines at work became very slow. Even if you restrict the rosetta to one core it will manage to slow the system considerably.

Re:Oops (-1, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302568)

On Windows it's another story. Those multiple cores machines at work became very slow. Even if you restrict the rosetta to one core it will manage to slow the system considerably.

FUD ALERT

5,000 machines, US$1M (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302076)

That works out to about $200 per machine. In what, electricity from no CPU idle?

Other than that, I don't see where S@H costs any more on a system than the resource hog called "Windows Vista".

Re:5,000 machines, US$1M (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302130)

Most schools in the country run XP, and haven't jumped to Vista or 7.

Re:5,000 machines, US$1M (1)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302152)

That works out to about $200 per machine. In what, electricity from no CPU idle?

Birdwell said the massive software slowed down educational programs in every classroom and cost the district more than $1 million in added utility fees and computer replacement parts.

Re:5,000 machines, US$1M (5, Informative)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302206)

40 watts x 24 hours x 365 days x 10 years x 5000 machines x $.06 /kwh = $1,051,200

But weren't they on anyway? (1)

rwade (131726) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302558)

Is it really likely that the computers weren't on anyway? If not, then surely someone would have noticed the fact that the computers were running all night for no reason sometime in the past 10 years...

Re:5,000 machines, US$1M (3, Informative)

MartijnL (785261) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302228)

Yes, because those CPU's are now running 100% load all the time. So no speedstepping down to a couple of hundred Mhz and saving power that way (which can be a lot). Plus he probably left them running 24x7.

Re:5,000 machines, US$1M (1)

MakinBacon (1476701) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302268)

Most schools make the teachers shut down the computers every night and on weekends because they're seriously strapped for cash. Also, I have never been in a school that actually uses Vista. Every one I've seen has used either XP or 2000 (although that's not to say there aren't any, just that this school probably doesn't use Vista). Also, the article said that some of the 1000000$ was from replacement parts, although I'm not sure why SETI@Home would break their computers (probably some idiot that thinks that old computers always get slow and therefore need to be replaced)

Re:5,000 machines, US$1M (4, Informative)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302328)

It actually does use more power running the CPU full throttle vs idle. The rule of thumb I learned was a buck a watt per year. By which $200 sounds nuts. School PCs do not have 200W worth of CPU in them.

But..oh, over 10 years. That's $20/year/system. Very plausible.

This guy learned the following lesson the hard way: Systems you manage are not yours. They are your employers. The potentially mitigating factor here from TFA, is that he claims he had permission. If so, whoever granted permission should be fired. $1m is real money, especially if you're a school district.

Re:5,000 machines, US$1M (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302366)

Other than that, I don't see where S@H costs any more on a system than the resource hog called "Windows Vista".

Yeah, I find this entire line of reasoning to be fatuous. Well-managed public schools operating with taxpayer funds would be running Linux on donated PCs via a terminal server rather than Windows XP or Vista on thousands of brand new Pentium 4's.

I remember distinctly the billions of dollars wasted on unnecessary computer hardware and software over the past several years in my local school district alone. This is nothing compared to that. Talk about missing the forest for the trees.

Re:5,000 machines, US$1M (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302414)

Support costs related to "my computer's slow!" issues cost money, too.

Re:5,000 machines, US$1M (2, Interesting)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302456)

Let's say (pulling number out of ass) being busy vs idle uses an additional 25 Watts. They're saying it happened over 9 years. 25*24*365*9/1000 = 1971 KiloWatt Hours per machine. At $0.10 per KWH, that's a match. So then we fight over whether it's really a 25 Watt difference, really happened for 9 years, what the school actually pays per KWH, etc.

Re:5,000 machines, US$1M (1)

stagg (1606187) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302474)

I would love to see someone get fired for wasting resources and costing the company unnecessary money by installing Vista on their computers.

Re:5,000 machines, US$1M (1)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302482)

Consider an old CPU that is 5W idle vs. 25W peak. 20W difference works out roughly to: .02*.06*24*3650*5000

That's $525,600 in juice over ten years assuming $0.06/KWh -- just for the CPUs.

Love how they make it sound like a sci-fi novel (2, Insightful)

bieber (998013) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302086)

Reading the article, you'd think the guy was some deranged tinfoil-hat wearing conspiracy theorist devilishly enlisting the school's resources to justify his own crackpot theories, not just some guy using the school's computers to help a scientific organization crunch data. Did he do something wrong? Quite possibly. There's no way he could possibly have committed an offense worse than using some variation of the phrase "alien seeking" that many times in a serious news article.

Re:Love how they make it sound like a sci-fi novel (2, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302472)

Reporters (in my personal tech experience which includes a stint at a metro newspaper) are one of the groups that understand Tech the least. When coupled with the self-importance and arrogance that is present in most journalists it means they can't even be bothered to go down the hall and ask the publication's own techs if their story makes any sense. So you have this idiotic type of hand-waiving reporting. Watch CNN when there is a tech-related security story. Jeanne Meserve will come on and spout psudo-technical garbage that makes no sense at all.

But how is it a crime? (1)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302102)

From TFA: "Gilbert police are now involved in the investigation and criminal charges may be filed." How is this criminal? He had legitimate access. What's special about the scale? If someone ran a single instance of SETI@home on the PC on their desk, would that be criminal?

Re:But how is it a crime? (5, Informative)

Delwin (599872) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302212)

The criminal part (that apparently wasn't in TFA) was the 18 school computers they found at his house that he'd taken home with him. This is a better source: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/11/30/20091130searchforaliens1202.html [azcentral.com]

Re:But how is it a crime? (1)

Kagato (116051) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302486)

He likely took home equipment that was designated for the dumpster, but I doubt he did the CYA needed to make it all legal. Equipment worth $20 will get assigned an IRS tax value in the thousands and the dude will likely end up with a felony theft on his record.

Re:But how is it a crime? (5, Insightful)

pythagory (1689866) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302534)

According to the documents, district officials said they found Niesluchowski had abused his authority in purchasing and oversight of district technology and equipment, downloaded pornography, and added to every district computer a University of California-Berkeley program that searches high-frequency radio signals for signs of intelligent life in outer space.

Much better article. Apparently the firing/resignation wasn't really about SETI, that was just icing on the cake. Of course, leave it to the media to run away with the "crazy guy looking for aliens" angle.

Re:But how is it a crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302304)

You simply can't use the equipment of your employer for your personal benefit without permission. And yes, scale matters. If I order pizza and my employer has to pay the phone bill, it may be against the rules, but I think most employers wouldn't care. Now, if I take my employers helicopter to fetch the pizza myself...

Great... (1, Insightful)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302106)

So instead of teaching something useful with that million, the school had to pay for upkeep.

This is why I pay little attention in school, because most of its just fucking stupid shit. 90%+ of what I've learned about computers has come from reading online and learning things by myself (CCNA, Compsci1, AutoCAD). Maybe instead of wasting money, use it to provide a better education for the students.

Re:Great... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302274)

90%+ of what I've learned about computers has come from reading online

That sounds like me at your age. Of course, there was no "online" back then, but we had libraries. Keep your grades up, college is NOTHING like high school. You'll actually learn there, and you'll enjoy the experience.

Oh, and don't read my journals, you're too young.

Re:Great... (1)

batquux (323697) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302522)

Keep your grades up, college is A LOT like high school. You'll learn nothing there, and you'll accumulate debt.

Fixed.

Re:Great... (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302574)

Lol, 90% of what I've learned about computers has come as a result of me breaking something (hard OR software).

He also had equipment from the school at his home (3, Informative)

vivin (671928) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302124)

I heard this story on NPR this morning.

He probably shouldn't simply be installing software that isn't essential to his work function on machines that he does not own.

I also heard on NPR that they found lots of equipment that belonged to the school at his residence. The criminal charges probably stem from that and not just for installing SETI@Home (haven't read the TFA so just speculating).

Re:He also had equipment from the school at his ho (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302342)

The bit about equipment from the school at home is interesting, but I wouldn't say it's outside the realm of possibility that he brought that sort of stuff home to work on it as part of his administrative duties. I'm not adequately informed to say one way or another.

As for the software being "essential to his work function", the machines in question are presumably used (or at least viewed) by school students at some point or another. I'd think the SETI@Home screensaver is, all else being equal, a fine way to encourage an interest in science among young children. Pretty wavy squiggly lines! Space! Aliens! Digital signal processing! Fast Fourier Transforms! Gaussian distributions! Cool!

Re:He also had equipment from the school at his ho (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302390)

TFA didn't say anything about finding school equipment at his home, just @home. Sounds like we need a better FA.

And... (1)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302138)

And not a single alien to show for it!

Re:And... (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302374)

If you found an alien would you tell people about it?

Ten years to find it on 5,000 computers? (3, Insightful)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302140)

Only a school district or the government could have taken 10 years to find a CPU hog running on 5,000 computers.

Re:Ten years to find it on 5,000 computers? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302310)

Only a school district or the government could have taken 10 years to find a CPU hog running on 5,000 computers.

Things go undetected all the time in private organizations when the person doing them is also the person in charge of the unit that would normally be monitoring for that kind of problem. (Also, a school district is a government agency, they aren't two different things.)

1 million in damage? (1)

L3370 (1421413) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302146)

Weren't his computer so it was a bad choice on his part.

now if there was in fact authorization from prior administration, ok...just correct the problem.

As for the $1 million in lost money, I'd like to see how they came up with that estimate. Yes proccessing power and productivity may have been affected, but its not like 5000 machines where being utilized 100% 24/7 in the first place. And I fail to see how replacement parts, as reported in the article, factor into this number at all.

Re:1 million in damage? (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302450)

Well, it's $200 per machine, since the guy worked there for 10 years, that's about $20 per year, or about $1.6 per month -- the increase in energy consumption by running the processors 100% all the time probably covers a big part for that $1.6/month per machine.

And you didn't RTFA: "Basically our processors were hooked up and running 24 hours a day, 12 months a year, every day of the school year," Birdwell said.

Fucking dickhead (0, Flamebait)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302150)

It's Seti@HOME, not Seti@WHEREVERTHEFUCKIFEELLIKEINSTALLINGIT.

Especially not somewhere that's funded by public money. I don't pay my taxes to waste them on looking for spacemen.

Wake up people! We're alone and adrift in a godless universe, and no amount of "I want to believe" is going to change that.

We're an anomaly. A bunch of selfish amino acids and various meats bagged up in fatty tissue. There's no aliens. There's only us.

And we can't even get THAT right.

This fucker deserves to be anally raped for the time and effort he's wasted.
Throw him on the pedo list too - He fits the demographic.

Guys, focus on what's important (5, Funny)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302182)

We just all went up a spot!

A million $ (1)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302188)

Only 5000 machines and they want to pay $1000000 to uninstall the software. Good grief, I'll do it for 3/4ths of that, maybe even a half! Hell, I'll even pay my on airfare!

Tone of TFA (2, Interesting)

Demiansmark (927787) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302190)

Little taken aback by the tone of the write up in the local news and the quote by the superintendent, "We support educational research and certainly would have supported cancer research, [..] however, as an educational institution we do not support the search for E.T."

The whole article implies that SETI is some out there kookie search for aliens and in no way a scientific endeavor that has at times been funded in part by the US government. That's local news coverage for you though.

Re:Tone of TFA (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302346)

So if he had been running Folding@Home he'd be free & clear (other than the PCs he allegedly stole).?

Re:Tone of TFA (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302524)

Sounds like the Super is your typical blowhard administrator big-fish-in-little-pond-and-I-know-EVERYTHING type. There is a lot of THAT about.

it's a desperate school district looking for money (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302192)

$1 million for five thousand computers......come on, even if SET@Home had completely worn down the computers that they had to replace every single computer, it would have only cost $500k. But running SETI@Home doesn't wear down your computer like that, they shouldn't have had to replace the computers. I don't know about the electrical costs, though; someone else will have to calculate that.

The illogical basis for their claim is revealed with this quote:

"We support educational research and certainly would have supported cancer research," said Higley superintendent Denise Birdwell. "However, as an educational institution we do not support the search for E.T."

So.....it's not really about the cost, it's about the subject matter? What is your real reasoning for being upset, here?

In addition, he had gotten permission from a previous administrator to install the software. There is nothing here that justifies filing criminal charges.

It sounds to me... (1)

stagg (1606187) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302210)

It sounds to me like someone who understood nothing of the tech involved stepped in to squash what looked like some sort of unauthorized activity on their computers. Not understanding it they overreacted and are crushing the poor guy. The whole article is absurd, it makes it sound like he's actually done something wrong... really this is the equivalent of forgetting to configure the hibernate mode or something.

Cancer, but not Exobiology (1)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302216)

From the linked article:

"We support educational research and certainly would have supported cancer research," said Higley superintendent Denise Birdwell. "However, as an educational institution we do not support the search for E.T."

So the school superintendent would apparently have been OK with the computers running 24 hours per day, 365 days per year (Denise Birdwell's interpretation of these programs work) running Folding@Home, "slow[ing] down educational programs in every classroom and cost[ing] the district more than $1 million in added utility fees and computer replacement parts," but not SETI@Home?

Someone needs to educate Ms. Birdwell, who is presented as overly dramatic in the linked article, about how these programs work. And how entirely appropriate it would be for local schools to donate unused computer time to running programs like these, and what a great opportunity it would have presented to the scientific education of the children in the district.

Over the course of 10 years (1)

An anonymous Frank (559486) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302236)

'Apparently, the alien-seeking software had been running since Niesluchowski was hired nearly 10 years ago.
"Basically our processors were hooked up and running 24 hours a day, 12 months a year, every day of the school year," Birdwell said.'

Re:Over the course of 10 years (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302438)

Seeing as how the available versions of Windows didn't really even support ACPI or processor power throttling ten years ago, that sounds like a bullshit claim.

AUP? (5, Insightful)

flogger (524072) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302254)

Most businesses or schools will have an Acceptable Use Policy. To paraphrase the AUP where I work, A person must have permission to install 3rd party software. This permission must come from building administration or Tech Department administration. If Joe Employee installs Seti without permission, that could be cause for termination. If I install Seti in my buildings' computers, it will be because I gave myself permission to do so. (Which I have, so I did.)

However, this case seems to be with a difference of opinion. Ftfa: '"We support educational research and certainly would have supported cancer research," said Higley superintendent Denise Birdwell. "However, as an educational institution we do not support the search for E.T."'

This is why the Tenure system was instituted. To prevent dismissals due to political or idealogical reasons. To say he would allow protein folding but not seti is asinine. When I decided between the two, I figured that finding ET would have a greater impact on society that a cure for cancer. Who knows, maybe ET will be able to help us cure diseases while curing diseases will not help us find ET.

Re:AUP? (2, Insightful)

Kagato (116051) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302504)

He was likely in charge of writing the AUP.

Stop wasting our electricity, Fox Mulder (0, Flamebait)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302298)

I'd have a lot more sympathy from the guy if this were at least folding@home. The SETI project is, to put it bluntly, a complete waste of time and resources. The odds of finding a coincidental, intelligent, and perceptible alien civilization that happens to be in the narrow technological window of using radio waves for communication, at any communicative distance from earth, is all but nil. This guy wasted way more human resources (resources that weren't even his own) than this project will ever be worth.

"software slowed down educational programs" (1)

colinnwn (677715) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302314)

"massive software slowed down educational programs in every classroom and cost the district more than $1 million in added utility fees and computer replacement parts."

Knowing vaguely how SETI@home and BOINC and Folding@Home work, I suspect this is a BS allegation. I know the programs are not usually that large, though that doesn't really matter to the school district's alleged issue of it consuming otherwise needed comptuer resources. A big program can take very little CPU time. Usually the @home stuff is set up to only use idle computer cycles, and not affect other programs. If the school district is trying to make something up to charge him with theft of government resources, I think the increased electricity expense would be a better bet. I hope he has a good lawyer, and some kind of documentation that he was authorized (or had the perogative) to load the programs. Though it would have been better if his user name was "Higley" rather than "Nez".

Re:"software slowed down educational programs" (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302494)

Its not BS if he disabled scheduled sleep or power off/wake up cycling so the computers would crunch more numbers.

For ten years, and if he ran them during the off time at the district. District where I worked 95% of machines were off from middle of June to late August. If those were left on to crunch SETI@home, thats a big chunk of time and power.

Not to mention if the labs were running and putting out more heat, then the HVAC ran more.

Re:"software slowed down educational programs" (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302542)

Oregon Trail ran a whole five seconds slower!!

Some figures don't quite add up... (1)

allometry (840925) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302350)

How did they quantify the $1 million dollar amount? It seems to me that this number was pulled out of the district's ass.

Re:Some figures don't quite add up... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302550)

It came from the same ass that the "piracy loss" numbers come from.

$1,000,000 for 5000 machines not utterly nutty (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302360)

If you figure the electricity, air conditioning, bandwidth, and costs of disk replacements due to wear and tear across 5000 machines for a few years, $1,000,000 is not as outrageous as you might expect. It really does add up in a big environment.

bad move by school district (1)

ChrisCampbell47 (181542) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302364)

They should have been proud of this, frankly. Distributed computing is a very interesting field and becoming more and more relevant. Certainly it would have been a great educational opportunity. Similarly, SETI really isn't laughed at much anymore ... Well, unless you're not too bright and take things like the Drudge Report and Sarah Palin seriously. Oh, crap.

Re:bad move by school district (1)

Delwin (599872) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302508)

This is Arizona. I think that answers your question.

He was fired for stealing and porn (4, Informative)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302380)

A better article starts:

A longtime Higley Unified School District information technology director has lost his job and is under police investigation for taking computers home, downloading pornography and installing computer software throughout the district that searches for extraterrestrial intelligence.

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/147847 [eastvalleytribune.com]

Unnoticed... really? (1)

eamonman (567383) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302404)

So no one noticed a 5000 x ~150 ~= 750 MW of usage? Over 10 years? Yikes. I would think at least some nerdy kids would have noticed at some point that there was SETI installed and asked some questions. Wouldn't people wonder why the computer lab was hot first thing in the morning.

Lots more in the newspaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30302410)

including accusations that he wasn't doing his job, like installing a firewall.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2009/12/02/20091202searchforaliens1202.html

His heart was in the right place... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 3 years ago | (#30302484)

... but unfortunately for him his brain was sitting in a jar on a shelf somewhere.

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