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SETI@home Project Responds To School Firing

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the correcting-dim-reporters dept.

Education 295

SETIGuy writes "SETI@home Project Scientist Eric Korpela has responded to many of the allegations made by Higley Unified School District administrator Denise Birdwell regarding the difficulties caused by the installation of SETI@home, which led to the recent firing of the school's technology supervisor. One of the project's founders, David Gedye, takes issue with Dr. Birdwell's claim that 'an educational institution ... cannot support the search for E.T.' Meanwhile, the fired supervisor denies misusing school computers."

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Idle computer resources (1, Interesting)

GofG (1288820) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332196)

Idle computer resources that are not getting used for anything else are worthless. Might as well fill them up with something, although I'd go with folding@home over SETI@home.

Re:Idle computer resources (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332214)

Unfortunately in the world of reality, the difference between Idle and Used CPU is at the very least money. My computer idles at ~180W use. When it's at 100% CPU, it's closer to 450W use.

If that CPU time is being used, it has to be paid for.

Re:Idle computer resources (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332242)

When it's at 100% CPU, it's closer to 450W use.

Interesting fact considering the bulk of what Best Buy sells still doesn't have anything better than a 350W PS.

Re:Idle computer resources (5, Informative)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332314)

This is slashdot, news for nerds. Nerds don't buy computers from Best Buy. Real nerds don't ever even shop for anything at Best Buy. Best Buy is where wannabe nerds go so they can pay higher than advertised prices on products that the salespersons know little about, but they still know more than the wannabe nerds. I could go on, but I think you get the picture, and the rest of the people reading this already knew these facts.

Re:Idle computer resources (4, Informative)

NervousNerd (1190935) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332342)

We're talking about school computers. Not the rig you built to play Crysis at 4096x3092 with all settings maxed. And I'm not knocking that, my rigs are self built, but most people (including schools) usually purchase pre-built computers from companies. And those pre-built machines usually have low end processors (thus using less electricity) and use the IGP. And, because of that those machines usually have lower end power supplies.

Re:Idle computer resources (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332910)

Yet the average computer bulk-purchased by your local school department probably costs more than your gaming rig

Re:Idle computer resources (3, Insightful)

Mr Otobor (1097177) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332466)

"Real" nerds buy their computers... off the shelf and then quickly head off to using their computer to develop, write, model, proof, design, etc. things that are actually interesting and/or difficult.

The days are so far long gone when building your own box was a qualification for being a nerd (somewhat sadly, but only somewhat.) Now it is a qualification for being a factory worker, producing cheaply assembled and cheaply purchased commodities.

Re:Idle computer resources (1)

GofG (1288820) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332582)

What? Building your own rig gets you the same power and components at around 75% the cost. While this may not be a qualification of nerdiness, it is certainly a qualification of intelligence (especially when building a computer is as easy as building legos).

Re:Idle computer resources (4, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332666)

No, you can't beat Best Buy's prices (on sale in-store items or HP machines). What you can beat is the components. By doing it yourself, you get to pick everything, so instead of having just one decent component in a heap of crap, you can have all moderate components that match up in capabilities. No point in having a 3 ghz quad-core machine with 8 GiBs of RAM if it's old, slow ram on a 400 mhz bus. And no sneaky 1 GiB of video ram on an integrated chipset that's robbing from the 8 slow system GiBs.

Instead everything will match up with no bottlenecks for your intended application, and a quiet power supply, but in a flimsy, but adequate case with sharp corners that's a little too big aesthetically.

But you're not going to save money. Get that idea out of your head.

Re:Idle computer resources (2, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332732)

I don't know how you think that you won't save money. If you bother to go actually research this then you'll find you're wrong. I'm looking into buying a new computer and all the parts on newegg are cheaper than anything remotely comparable pre-built.

Re:Idle computer resources (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332816)

No they are not.

    I do work for others at about $55 / hour. Just spend the time I did on researching the unlockable Sempron/ ACC vs Athlon II 240/245/'e" version vs an Celeron E3200/core2 duo HT/VT/x64 and the boards that support the various options [ firewire, esata/sata raid, 4x240 pins slots ddr2 [ i have a lot of it , thank you ] took hours. Frys sale on this, Amazon sale on that, NewEgg sale on .. wait there is a combo deal but it only uses ddr3 . - how much more will I spend vs my own ddr2 ...

No, you won't save money.

proc & board , $100
memory, $80
case $50
power supply $30
hd $100
$360

you could buy a dual AMD/Intel for around that money and have a guarantee and have someone with tiny fingers put it together and ship it in a nice box.

I really have better things to do to try to save under $50.

Re:Idle computer resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332742)

No, you definitely beat the price. If you buy a shitty machine for $300, that you only use for programming (and the compile times will be horrible), sure, you'll be beat on price. But for higher end machines, the prices are way high up there, and you can easily get a few hundred dollars back from components.

Re:Idle computer resources (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332930)

My time is more valuable than the minimal savings gained by assembling a computer myself. I'd rather spend it learning something interesting, not twiddling with SATA cables or burn testing memory chips. I've put enough together to know that it's about as complicated as legos and it no longer qualifies anyone for a "geek" card. A qualification for intelligence? Whatever, my 8 year old nephew assembled his own computer. Congratulations, you are as smart as a 3rd grader.

Re:Idle computer resources (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332476)

Actually, Best Buy does have some cheap laptops (they had a $200 Black Friday deal with a Celeron 900, 2 gigs of RAM and a 160 gig HDD) while their desktops are going to be expensive they have reasonable prices on their laptops especially with the cheap end. Yeah, if I spent another $200 I could get a better CPU, more memory, perhaps a SSD, etc. but as a nearly full-time student wanting a laptop to replace a dead one (and Ubuntu runs fine on the specs even with no memory upgrade and no slowdowns) the cheap laptops (actually got a $300 Toshiba with identical specs over the summer) are a godsend, I don't have much disposable cash to buy a decent laptop yet and you can't really beat the prices.

Black Friday (-1, Offtopic)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332798)

I keep seeing the term Black Friday. Here in Oz, this [vic.gov.au] is Black Friday.

Re:Idle computer resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332842)

A Celeron 900? Dude, 2001 called, they want their laptop back.

Re:Idle computer resources (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332266)

That's a myth, actually. a CPU of a certain model running at 1GHz or 3GHz uses the same amount of power, and does so whether or not it's working. The only difference is the amount of heat (power) emitted when in use, NOT electricity (power) consumed at the socket. Electricity and Heat are two very different things, and it's only when actually performing work that the electricity is turned into heat, otherwise it runs straight back out into the socket, although your utility provider still counts it as used, as the potential is there.

Maybe that means air conditioning had to work a little harder as some computers warmed the room up a degree or two, but that's only a few dollars' worth, nowhere near $1.6 million.

Re:Idle computer resources (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332282)

What the hell are you talking about? How can something use the same amount of power, but emit different amounts of heat under different circumstances? Unless it has a *very* large capacitor or some other form of energy storage, or it emits radiation (light, etc), every watt used comes out as heat.

If it is getting hotter, it means it is using more power.

Re:Idle computer resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332312)

Umm. You can theoretically use heat output to *measure* power consumption.

Power in = waste heat out.

Maybe you are confusing electricity and power? Electricity is just used as a way of transmitting power.

Re:Idle computer resources (1)

BillX (307153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332824)

I think the GP was intending humor, but although power literally is heat, and electric heating is by definition 100% efficient at the socket (P=IV=I^2*R), the amount of heat you produce between the socket prongs has no correlation to what the utility charges for it. As a simple thought experiment, imagine placing a small bit of superconductor between the rails just after the meter. The heat you produce locally may be negligible (or zero for an ideal superconductor)*, but look at that sucker spin.

Enclaimer: IAAEE.

* there is still plenty of resistance in the wires between the utility and your house, so the current across your ideal superconductor will not be infinite, and there WILL be some heat generated in the transmission lines. But that's not how the power company bills for electricity...

Re:Idle computer resources (3, Funny)

XSpud (801834) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332552)

Electricity and Heat are two very different things

True, but I'd have to say that electricity, and your understanding of electricity, are also two very different things.

Re:Idle computer resources (2, Funny)

Digicaf (48857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332754)

In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

Re:Idle computer resources (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332776)

What in the fuck are you talking about? Seriously, this is one of the most stupid things I have ever read in my life. You clearly have absolutely no idea how power, energy, work, electricity, and heat are related. Perhaps you don't even know what they are. I'm not going to bother explaining this because you are clearly too stupid to understand the subject matter at hand. Rather, I shall post as AC and simply tell you that you need to go take a fucking science class before you spew more bullshit.

Re:Idle computer resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332822)

The only difference is the amount of heat (power) emitted when in use, NOT electricity (power) consumed at the socket. Electricity and Heat are two very different things, and it's only when actually performing work that the electricity is turned into heat, otherwise it runs straight back out into the socket, although your utility provider still counts it as used, as the potential is there.

You're completely wrong. A CPU is made of transistors which act as electrical switches. These transistors are some from of MOSFET construction arranged in a CMOS architecture. The beauty of CMOS is that a digital circuit can maintain state without dissipating an appreciable amount of power. When the transistors transition from one state to another, however, there is a tiny switching loss that results from the conversion of a small amount of electrical energy to heat. The heat the circuit dissipates is proportional to the electrical loss. The higher the switching speed, the more loss per unit time, the more heat dissipated per unit time.

When a computer is idle, most of the transistors are holding state. (Some are always switching because of the clock signal and because instructions must still be processed) Furthermore, most modern power management schemes will reduce the clock speed at idle because electrical loss is strongly related to clock speed.

Heat is a form of energy. It can not be created or destroyed--it is converted. For the purposes of this discussion, it is produced by converting electrical energy into heat. That heat from your CPU adds to the power consumption. You can not radiate more heat without consuming more energy per unit time. Elementary physics.

Re:Idle computer resources (2, Informative)

Pinhedd (1661735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332848)

you have no idea what you are talking about. It is true that power output is independent of frequency but this is only in an ideal situation where the charge required to switch a transistor is zero. As the CPU frequency is increased, the time between stable outputs of each transistor in a chain must be decreased. The only way to decrease the time is to increase the rate at which the charge builds on the transistor base, this can only be increased by increasing the supply voltage. As the voltage is increased the power output increases EXPONENTIALLY for a fixed resistance (current = voltage squared divided by resistance without factoring in integrals). As for your electricity/heat thing you're just plain wrong, the supply voltage (amongst many others) are fixed. Voltage does not equal current. Voltage applied across a closed circuit results in current flowing across that same circuit. However, since the CPU is a discrete device and thus must be doing something when it is on it performs an OS specific "no-op" loop. In windows this is known as the "system idle process". This process just wastes time, it doesn't do any heavy lifting and as a result much of the CPU's hardware is left open (no current flowing across it) and thus, the total current flow is fairly low. Low current at a fixed voltage implies a very high resistance over the whole circuit which is analogous of parallel circuitry in which a number of the circuits are open. If current is not flowing through your CPU it certainly isn't flowing through your power supply either, and your utility provider certainly isn't counting it as used.

Re:Idle computer resources (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332938)

Hell of a troll man, hell of a troll.

Re:Idle computer resources (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332268)

450W?! What do you have? The one here (a older core-2 E6850, with 8GB of memory) idles at ~100W, and maxes out at 180W with both cores at full load.

Re:Idle computer resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332322)

A pair of Xeon X5365s. Fast, but oh so power hungry. First gen, and ~150W max per package.

Re:Idle computer resources (5, Funny)

hemp (36945) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332278)

If that CPU time is being used, it has to be paid for.

We've come so far since the 60's mainframe days.

Re:Idle computer resources (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332696)

Yeah...we've come so far, that we're looping back around. This time, the Internet is your connection and Google's servers are your mainframe. Cloud Computing: The way of the future!

Re:Idle computer resources (1)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332378)

What CPU could you possibly be using that it's consuming 270 watts? Do you have a 24" HSF combo to cool that, too?

Re:Idle computer resources (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332626)

SETI can use your graphics card as well...

Re:Idle computer resources (-1, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332484)

cpu time has to be paid for? what a fucking stupid crock of shit. you sir will go far in some middle management hell hole.

I would argue that having pc's sitting there doing nothing, dropping and capital value and burning 180 watts DOING NOTHING, is far worse then cpu's doing something worthwhile like seti (or the cancer cure searching one, whatever) and consuming an extra 2 cents an hour in power.

the schools like of it costing them a million dollars is the kind of horseshit that should be made criminal.

Re:Idle computer resources (4, Informative)

Pinhedd (1661735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332764)

Unfortunately in the world of reality, the difference between Idle and Used CPU is at the very least money. My computer idles at ~180W use. When it's at 100% CPU, it's closer to 450W use.

If that CPU time is being used, it has to be paid for.

most consumer CPUs idle at ~40 watts and cap out around 95 watts under max theoretical load. That 450 watt PEAK power output is for system max load which never happens.

Re:Idle computer resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332892)

Never happens, hey?

Except, as I said, when I use 100% CPU. I said it uses closer to 450W at 100% CPU for a reason, and that's because the system as a whole uses that amount of power when running at 100% CPU. Where did you get the idea 450 Watts is peak power output? If I run cinebench benchmarks at the same time and use the graphics card, it uses even more.

I'm glad consumer CPUs might idle at 40 and cap out under 100W, that's terribly informative, but entirely irrelevant to the example I was using.

Re:Idle computer resources (1)

FLaSh SWT (233251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332770)

My experience isn't quite so dramatic.

With normal internet usage (web/email/IM/MP3s) my power draw hovers around 210-215 Watts. Same activity with Seti@Home running, processing 8 work units, and power draw hovers around 250-255 Watts so I'm not seeing that much of an increase.

(For reference I have a 2009 Mac Pro, 2.26 GHz 8 core with 8 GB of RAM)

Re:Idle computer resources (4, Insightful)

Entropy98 (1340659) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332834)

Unfortunately in the world of reality, the difference between Idle and Used CPU is at the very least money. My computer idles at ~180W use. When it's at 100% CPU, it's closer to 450W use.

If that CPU time is being used, it has to be paid for.

Well unless its summer time (when schools are closed) and the school is far enough north you could just think of these PCs running SETI@home as electric heaters. 100% of the energy they use is being turned to heat, so some/all (depending on the schools regular heating system) of the cost of running SETI@home can be subtracted from the heating costs.

Re:Idle computer resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332222)

Idle computer resources nowadays use less power.

Re:Idle computer resources (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332308)

Except this is a school district. Most school districts have ancient computers that are only replaced after they fall apart smoking.

Re:Idle computer resources (1)

pvale (1693538) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332226)

I run Seti@home on 2 cores, and folding@home on the other 2.

Re:Idle computer resources (5, Informative)

xevocius (513222) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332246)

That's not completely true. A computer that is idle uses less power than one at 100% cpu utilization. So it is costing the school more money for their electricity. It could also lessen the life of the computer. A computer that is shutdown at night would likely last longer than one crunching numbers every night.

Re:Idle computer resources (5, Insightful)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332402)

It could also lessen the life of the computer. A computer that is shutdown at night would likely last longer than one crunching numbers every night.

This is completely false and has been proven with reams of empirical data. Keeping a computer running 24/7 give a longer useful lifetime than shutting a computer down every night. It's a lot easier on the machine to keep it running and warm with a constant feed of power than it is to subject it to cold starts and sudden jolts of electricity... all of which drastically shorten the lifespan of many parts inside the computer.

Add to the fact that even if a CPU had a certain number of "hours" in a pool that it could be used before it failed - the number would be so big as to be rendered completely irrelevant by the fact that the computer would be so obsolete and useless by the time the CPU failed that it would have been long discarded anyway. Even if you lessen a CPU with a 15 year lifespan by 30% by keeping it running, do you really think you're going to be using a 10.5 year old computer? In this day and age it's possible but highly unlikely.

Re:Idle computer resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332498)

This is completely false and has been proven with reams of empirical data. Keeping a computer running 24/7 give a longer useful lifetime than shutting a computer down every night. It's a lot easier on the machine to keep it running and warm with a constant feed of power than it is to subject it to cold starts and sudden jolts of electricity... all of which drastically shorten the lifespan of many parts inside the computer.

Add to the fact that even if a CPU had a certain number of "hours" in a pool that it could be used before it failed - the number would be so big as to be rendered completely irrelevant by the fact that the computer would be so obsolete and useless by the time the CPU failed that it would have been long discarded anyway. Even if you lessen a CPU with a 15 year lifespan by 30% by keeping it running, do you really think you're going to be using a 10.5 year old computer? In this day and age it's possible but highly unlikely.

Really? One computer I have is 8 years old. It is shut down every night. The only component that ever actually failed was the power supply and that was probably more due to the fact that I'm a smoker than to it being cycled every day.

Re:Idle computer resources (3, Insightful)

brusk (135896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332640)

Really? Russian roulette is perfectly safe. I've just pulled the trigger five times and nothing has...

Re:Idle computer resources (2, Informative)

war4peace (1628283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332782)

I have been using computers for 12 years. I have never turned off my computer unless I had to upgrade a component (duh!) or I had to go away for more than 48 hours. None of the machines I used had any failures whatsoever just because being on all the time. Sure, I had a couple hard-drives which broke, because power went off unexpectedly, and also a few optical drives, but that's because I play lots and lots of DVDs and such. But motherboards, CPUs, graphics cards and memories? Zero failures. I still have a PII@400 MHz in my closet, used as a secondary backup server for my work (on a 40 GB HDD) and it is on all the time. And works.

Re:Idle computer resources (0)

mr exploiter (1452969) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332814)

It could also lessen the life of the computer. A computer that is shutdown at night would likely last longer than one crunching numbers every night.

This is completely false and has been proven with reams of empirical data. Keeping a computer running 24/7 give a longer useful lifetime than shutting a computer down every night blah blah blah blah....

WRONG! Keeping it on 24/7 means the capacitors are more time operating at temperature. This means more evaporation an thus shorter live. It also mean that the disks are more time spinning. As many systems power down disks anyway after some time of idle time they have a power cycle anyway so there is no advantage in having the systems 24/7 on.

Re:Idle computer resources (2, Informative)

Leebert (1694) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332914)

I've worked in cluster computing for quite some time (though I don't admin them anymore, still work in an HPC shopt). Know when you get lots of nodes on a cluster failing? When you power it down. Some percentage won't come back up. Same with disk arrays.

We dread electrical work in the building.

Seriously, power cycling computers is bad for them.

Re:Idle computer resources (4, Funny)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332456)

"It could also lessen the life of the computer. A computer that is shutdown at night would likely last longer than one crunching numbers every night."

Very true. A computer fan spinning at 100% 24/7 is far more likely to suffer a early death due to dust and hair, as you can see from these photos:
Dust in computer [savel.org]
What can happen to the Computers of Pet Owners; with Dirty Pictures [examiner.com]
Computer Killers – Pet Hair, Dust and Cigarette Smoke [technibble.com]

If the computer is shutdown or in low power the fan isn't spinning so it's not sucking in dust and dirt.... or bugs [cookingwithlinux.com]

Re:Idle computer resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332644)

"It could also lessen the life of the computer. A computer that is shutdown at night would likely last longer than one crunching numbers every night."

Very true. A computer fan spinning at 100% 24/7 is far more likely to suffer a early death due to dust and hair, as you can see from these photos:

Dust in computer [savel.org]

What can happen to the Computers of Pet Owners; with Dirty Pictures [examiner.com]

Computer Killers – Pet Hair, Dust and Cigarette Smoke [technibble.com]

If the computer is shutdown or in low power the fan isn't spinning so it's not sucking in dust and dirt.... or bugs [cookingwithlinux.com]

if the fan fails the computer will usually power off at a certain temperature not burn and die. replace the fan and its good to go. also schools are usually cleaned everyday so there would be lest dust then in your house which i doubt you clean everyday.

Re:Idle computer resources (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332808)

> replace the fan and its good to go.

If you're replacing fans 3 x more often (due to 3 x higher usage than normal), it's going to cost more.

Re:Idle computer resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332674)

Actually, shutting down a computer significantly reduces the life of hardware. This is due to damage caused by exposing hardware to temperature change.

Aren't we missing the point? (5, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332780)

Aren't we missing the point by ruling entirely on accounting grounds? Aren't educational establishments supposed to be doing research, as a part of their fundamental reason for being? I want to know whether there's life out there. I want a cure for cancer.

Yes, I know, and you want a pony. But we're better than that, aren't we? We have to be.

Maybe we should start by teaching a bit of history, starting with the Reformation and the Rennaisence.

We have had personal computers and the internet for about a decade now. A decade. We have utterly no clue how that's going to affect civilisation in the future. But do we want to look back and say "Yes, for the longest time there we could have had it all, but nobody wanted it" ?

Re:Aren't we missing the point? (1)

lastgoodnickname (1438821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332830)

.

Yes, I know, and you want a pony. But we're better than that, aren't we? We have to be.

Maybe we should start by teaching a bit of history, starting with the Reformation and the Rennaisence.

How is history better than a pony?

Re:Idle computer resources (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332350)

Since it is winter now, if anyone uses electric resistance heat, then I can't see it mattering much if they use seti@home or folding@home. Electric heat is electric heat, and I doubt the fact that your also getting a few calculations done with it is going to matter much. Of course, if your primary heat source is anything other than electric resistance heating then it is going to cost you money. For instance, a heat pump might manage to add three units of heat to a house for 1 unit of energy, since it is pulling that energy from outside. This is in contrast to electric resistance heat which is pretty much 100% efficient, well, except for the heat your wires give off in your walls, since that heat may be partially lost to outside, depending on the location of the walls...

This is also why I used to care less when I left the basement lights on at my parents house in the winter, since we were using electric heat at the time, and, the lights, were little more than little electric heaters... I've upgraded the furnace to a 16 SEER heat pump a few years back, which of course makes things like lights left on matter quite a lot now. My only regret is not knowing that the sound of the heat pump running is actually somewhat annoying, which might be a factor in where people decide to place them. Of course, if your really planning for the long term, then a ground source heat pump, might help with that as well (as opposed to an air source heat pump).

Re:Idle computer resources (2, Informative)

Pyrion (525584) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332538)

This depends entirely on what "resources" we are talking about.

Memory, I'd wholeheartedly agree with you, as unused memory is wasted memory, but that's mainly because your system RAM will consume the same amount of power regardless of whether or not it's holding anything of value. One or multiple sticks of zeroed pages is still data that has to be stored, after all, so you might as well fill it with something (standby pages, or "disk cache" if you prefer).

CPU? That's entirely based around your willingness to pay for the greater power consumed by a loaded CPU, as well as your tolerance for the heat it would generate, and possibly the CPU's own tolerance for the heat generated if it doesn't have an adequate cooling solution (but whose fault is that?). This is, incidentally, why a processor's C-states are configurable in the BIOS, you can disable everything up to the C1 state if you damn well please, and you can even disable the SpeedStep/PowerNow functionality if you damn well please, and you can run the CPU at full utilization all the time if you damn well please, just be aware that it's going to cost you more than if you leave these things enabled, let the computer run idle when not needed, or gods forbid, shut the damned thing off.

Re:Idle computer resources (1)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332592)

Idle computer resources that are not getting used for anything else are worthless. Might as well fill them up with something

And yet, Vista being a RAM hog when idle with that whole superfetch thing or whatever it was was considered a bad idea....

So which is it? Should my computer always be occupying most of its RAM and CPU time? Or should it be using only a tiny fraction of what it has available?

Re:Idle computer resources (-1, Offtopic)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332650)

Time to burn some karma. Nigger, nigger, Obama, obama, bush sucks, obama sucks, demorats suck, republicans suck. Niggers,mexicans and all non-white people suck, white people suck Jews, xiuans and muslims suck, throw in hiduis and other starange religions, you all suck. Fuck you!!

Re:Idle computer resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332756)

You know what's good for idle CPUs? Turning them off and saving power!

Law of unintended consquences. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332198)

Who knew leaving a bank of computers on 24/7 costs money?

Intelligent Life (5, Funny)

DaMP12000 (710387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332228)

I guess they're too busy allocating all their resources trying to find intelligent life in their class rooms...

Re:Intelligent Life (3, Funny)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332254)

There *is* intelligent life in the classrooms.......but apparently not in the staff lounge.

Re:Intelligent Life (2, Funny)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332392)

The people in the staff lounge are squeezing both intelligence and life out of the others pretty well.

Re:Intelligent Life (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332430)

You presume facts not in evidence. Might want to visit some of those classrooms first.

Re:Intelligent Life (1)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332502)

Are you seriously implying that you are the only one here who's been to a classroom?

Re:Intelligent Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332590)

I wish I could mod you up one for funny. This "decision" was made at the district level not by committee in a break lounge. Some self rightous pious clown belched out this termination decision. Rather than have the school stand up and say this could and should be a District wide project, the Personnel Moron In Charge went on a holy crusade.

Re:Intelligent Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332828)

Someone apparently hasn't opened a staff lounge refrigerator...

Ignorance in the comments from the Superintendent (3, Insightful)

Trekologer (86619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332276)

From TFA: '"Unfortunately it says a lot about people who are theoretically educating our children," said Dave Farber, distinguished career professor of computer science and public policy in the school of computer science at Carnegie Mellon.'

It seems that the folks who are in charge of education become further and further detached from technological advancement as time goes on. These are the same individuals who are given access to technology for use in the classrooms and barely use it for more than a glorified typewriter. Add to that those who refuse to utilize the technology either out of ignorance (don't know how to use it) or fear (refuse to know how to use it), you have a large number of classrooms with expensive space heaters.

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332338)

There's no ignorance in her remarks, she knows exactly what she is doing. I've worked at a school district in Arizona for the past 5 years and what is happening here is typical. A new superintendent comes in and wants to fill all the high paying jobs with cronies. This guy just didn't leave quietly so they trashed his reputation (they do that all the time). Arizona school districts are some of the most corrupt organizations that i've ever dealt with. BTW don't feel too sorry for him, he more than likely got his job the same way, its the way things are done here.

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332384)

BTW don't feel too sorry for him, he more than likely got his job the same way, its the way things are done here.

Wow! Nice drive-by innuendo!

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332458)

sounds like you've got something to hide. Did you let the children out of your basement yet?

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (1)

Trekologer (86619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332428)

"There's no ignorance in her remarks, she knows exactly what she is doing."

I'm not too sure about that. All of the quotes sound like they came from an empty shirt who thinks she knows everything just because she has some paper and got to where she was not by achievement but who she knows. Similar to all the CxO's who run companies into the ground, escape with the golden parachute then land another cushy job to do the same thing over again.

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (4, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332704)

Arizona school districts are some of the most corrupt organizations that i've ever dealt with.

I assure you that Arizona doesn't have a monopoly on school corruption.

Want to hear an example of how it works in my state? There's quasi-state agencies called 'Boards of Cooperative Educational Services' (BOCES) that provide various services to the school districts that join. The theory is that shared services between districts will offer cost savings. Good theory, but it comes with a few catches. Once a district joins BOCES they can't ever leave and must continue to pay their membership dues even if they elect not to use any of the services offered.

I used to work for a company that was contracted with two local districts to supply internet services, workstations and servers. We were always able to beat BOCES by a fair margin when the annual bids rolled around. Then New York State changed the law so that the school districts couldn't receive matching funds from the state unless they went with BOCES, even if the overall cost of doing so was higher.

The internet services that we were offering were cheaper, provided more bandwidth and were eligible for a large amount of Federal funding out of the universal service fund. The internet services offered by BOCES were more expensive, provided half the bandwidth and weren't eligible for Federal funding. But the districts had to choose them anyway, because they were "cheaper" (due to the state matching funds granted exclusively to BOCES) and the fact that they were wasting their contribution dues to BOCES if it didn't use their services.

In effect, my state is subsidizing a monopoly to do a worse job for more money. In the end almost everybody loses -- the school districts, the taxpayers and the private enterprises that could offer a superior product but find themselves shut out of the market. The only winners are the employees of BOCES. Our local one happens to be staffed with ex-politicians at the administrative level and their cronies at the lower levels. Nice, isn't it?

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (3, Interesting)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332796)

Sounds like your state needs to look into something that Washington and Oregon (and perhaps other states) use. We call them Educational Service Districts [wikipedia.org] (ESD's) and they operate in a highly entrepreneurial fashion. If a district does not like the service and/or price they are getting from one ESD, they are free "join" another ESD even if it is hundreds of miles away. They would still be in their original ESD's legislative area (determined by geography), but are not bound by their prices or policies.

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (2, Interesting)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332364)

This sad truth will continue to occur until intelligent, capable people begin to devote their lives toward the education of our children. Unless that happens, the majority of our public educators will forever be the people who couldn't pass math because they weren't able to figure out their calculator.

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332376)

people who couldn't pass math because they weren't able to figure out their calculator.

Or, alternatively, people who were given a calculator way too early and thus couldn't pass math because without one they couldn't say what 7*9 is.

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (2, Insightful)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332514)

Memorizing a 10x10 table is certainly an indicator of intelligence. After all, it requires a lot of brain power to memorize 7*9. Can you tell me what 17x16 is?

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332620)

Memorizing a 10x10 table is certainly an indicator of intelligence. After all, it requires a lot of brain power to memorize 7*9. Can you tell me what 17x16 is?

Sure. Since 2 + 2 = 22 then 17 x 16 = 1716.

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (4, Funny)

godrik (1287354) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332634)

Can you tell me what 17x16 is?

It's a multiplication, sir!

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332778)

Shit, there's no wikipedia article on 17x16. So i guess the answer then is no... Well played, sir.

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (4, Insightful)

jschen (1249578) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332810)

17x16? That's easy. Any self-respecting member of /. should know that 16x16 = 256. Therefore, 17x16 = 256 + 16 = 272.

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (1)

lastgoodnickname (1438821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332862)

17x16 is likely a multiswitch, according to Google

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (1)

Starlon (1492461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332878)

Can you tell me what 17x16 is?

Let me plug that into my computer here. *crunch crunch* Ah here's the answer: 42.

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (1)

atomic-penguin (100835) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332954)

Let me plug that into my computer here. *crunch crunch* Ah here's the answer: 42.

Nobody writes jokes in base 230.

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332656)

What would the product of such an educational system look like?

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (1)

lastgoodnickname (1438821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332854)

7*9 was the Borg on Star Trek

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (5, Insightful)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332904)

This sad truth will continue to occur until intelligent, capable people begin to devote their lives toward the education of our children. Unless that happens, the majority of our public educators will forever be the people who couldn't pass math because they weren't able to figure out their calculator.

Bullshit, my wife is a teacher here in NC. Been teaching for 7 years now and she makes under 35k a year and spends 60+ hours a week at school. She loves teaching but has had to go back to graduate school in order to escape the bullshit pay, no planing period, no assistant and the ridicules paper work. Why don't you go become a fucking teacher and take care of 20 to 30 children with little to no help from anyone for less than what you could make at Wendy's flipping burgers...

You want good teachers? Fucking pay them. Not the text book companies or all the other leeches.. Pay the fucking teachers.

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332468)

( Cant be assed to login ) Tbh, They would get better teachers if they paid more.. However this isnt going to happen, So out children will continue to be taught stupid things by stupid people .
I worry what is being taught in science, maths etc.. ( Parts that i dont understand nor care about ) however if they get I.T wrong. What other shit are they getting wrong?

Re:Ignorance in the comments from the Superintende (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332698)

My school was built for the 1997-1998 school yeah. I attended it from 98-02. We had bran new computers in almost EVERY classroom, complete with 20 port hubs and ethernet cable drops in every classroom

The only time I touched the computers in my entire 4 years in high school, was for my typing classes, and my 1 engineering class.

Meanwhile, the English classrooms computers sat there and were vandalized and stolen.

I got a pair of speakers, thanks to the tax payers in Florida. Thank you, tax payers.

All of this because some stupid politician said something to the voters about "computers in every classroom" and the voters, like ignorant lapdogs, went along with it. The budget HAD to be huge for that school, and it was all an incredible fraud and waste.

Hey, least I got some speakers, and my friends got some hubs...at least we put them to use, instead of letting them collect dust in an English/Math/Science classroom.

where does water comer from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332326)

cloud computing fails to win.

Ignorance and stupidity abound... (3, Informative)

kj_kabaje (1241696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332394)

Not only does the lady who fired the guy demonstrate how ignorant she is, the reporters demonstrate astounding ignorance too: http://www.fox5vegas.com/video/21785181/index.html [fox5vegas.com]

How the fsck do people not know about this program or not consider it research? My wife (not a technically adept person) has run this program for years and in schools, too. Ask the guy to uninstall it if it costs to much in a recession (he had approval of the previous administration to run it though!). Don't fire him because you're stupid.

Re:Ignorance and stupidity abound... (3, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332486)

"Don't fire him because you're stupid."

Agreed. Have they thought how much it'll cost to replace him? He's been there 10+ years, he built the network they're on, he knows everything there is to know about the system, how do you replace that? They're probably going to hire whoever pretends to know what they're doing the most and get nothing done. How do you know the next guy won't do something far worse? This is a witch hunt that will end up costing the school district hundreds of thousands of dollars and a lot of embarrassment.

Turning a bad thing into a good thing... (2, Insightful)

heidaro (1392977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332520)

The school should take pride in assisting with research and promote itself on the idea that it is the leading school in searching for alien life on other planets.

Yeah (1)

teknosapien (1012209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332560)

I want my kid to go here where the bleeding edge is observed "/end sarcasm" Seriously ? science is ban at this school?

Devil's advocate (3, Insightful)

brusk (135896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332690)

I think SETI@home is great and all, but it sounds like the school board didn't authorize this person to install the software on the machines in question. Whatever the pros and cons are in the abstract, he shouldn't have unilaterally decided to do this. It does cost money to run CPUs at 100% (the SETI@home FAQ estimates over $60 a year) and if there were thousands of machines running it, as there apparently were, that's hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run. Maybe the school district wants to spend its money on that, but it should be decided by the board, not by one employee.

The thing I always liked about SETI (2, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332708)

It isn't so much the application to find E.T. that astounds me, its the use of a distributed networking. I don't follow SETI, but I assume the power they have in distributed computing is something like or above a Super Computer. The students can learn about distributed computing, and maybe be the guy who builds the next big network. I mean, imagine a commercial system that pays for processing. So you turn your computer and get paid by the team. The team in turn gets paid by scientists with very difficult problems and need distributed computing.

Don't focus on it being "searching for aliens", focus on it being "distributed computing".

Re:The thing I always liked about SETI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30332730)

oops

Re:The thing I always liked about SETI (3, Informative)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332768)

And the first time any administrator champions his school's or school system's use of distributed computing, his boss (school board, taxpayers) will say:

"Great! Good for us. Now, exactly how much are we spending on this, who is overseeing it, who authorized it, and where are these funds being allocated in the budget?"

And that administrator will not have any answers because no one authorized it and they're dead-ass broke. Then someone would get fired. They can't afford to spend some unknown amount of money on supporting SETI.

If it cost money for the institution they should b (1)

Dr. Knowfun (1538971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332752)

If it cost money for the institution they should be able to write off the cost as a donation to SETI@home. Just sayin, if its about money the SETI@home guys could make the offer and make this a win/win instead of more of the usual zero sum game we usually see. Dr. Knowfun "The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat." --Confucius

me too response, welcome to the real world (1)

johncandale (1430587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332884)

there are lots of reasons you can't use company/school equipment for non company tasks besides money. Anyone who's had a real job would know this. You always want to reduce you attack surface, or risk. If it's not part of your/the companies job you don't do it. They don't have time to review every software project for legal concerns, and why should they bother even one hour of lawyer time on it anyways? Even if it's painfully clear there is no legal concern, it doesn't matter, the law can be tricky, and the default answer is always to restrict. Man have people gotten fat and soft! I know of someone that got fired back whenever for using the copier to copy a 10 page personal document. But you say, 'thats like less then 2 pennies worth of ink and paper!' You think it matters? Also there is the assumption that if you did this, what else have you copied or will copy? You know they audit the copies mileage meter on copiers, if the office next to yours has 10% less copies in the same time frame, they are going to ask you why and to cut your copying.

Do not, -do -not tell me the SETI did not cost the school money in electricity , whether it was $100, or $100,000. Any tech person could tell you it did. If just one, just one PSU or part burned out, so much the worse. "Well I didn't know that would happen" boss "well you shouldn't have been doing it in the first place". Grow up people. Running a business is hard, and the boss sees this and goes "wtf, your playing with my money" 'My Money'. A school is if anything worse because it's public funds.

Wow (0, Troll)

awowwalton (1693580) | more than 4 years ago | (#30332886)

I heard its costing more than a million dollars to fix everything. How many computers did they have? thats a ton of money. http://www.memoryfoamslipper.com/ [memoryfoamslipper.com]
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