Perhaps Charles E. Smith should have paid a little more attention to the @home part of the SETI@home project. It appears he was fired for running it on some servers at his office, which happens to be the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. While it is true that he doesn't own these computers and probably should have asked permission first, this does seem a bit extreme. Lots of techies run distributed projects on their work computers. Even worse, Mr. Smith probably did not deserve the following insult his boss gave him on the way out the door: "I understand his desire to search for intelligent life in outer space, because obviously he doesn't find it in the mirror in the morning. I think that people can be comfortable that security has beamed this man out of our building." Seems a bit harsh for a guy who was just trying to use spare computing cycles to help a legitimate, NASA-supported, scientific project out. However, at least he didn't face the same threats as David McOwen, who was threatened with jailtime a few years ago, after installing distributed.net clients on computers at the university where he worked.
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