Man Fired, Insulted For Running SETI@Home At Work

from the the-reason-it's-called-@home dept

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.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    identicon
    dorpus, Oct 11th, 2004 @ 2:05am

    Low emotional intelligence

    Why do we hear these kinds of stories about IT professionals suddenly getting fired on harsh terms? Maybe it's their antisocial, above-the-rules behavior.

    If there will be heaps of posts threatening bodily harm against me because I said this, it would prove my point.

     

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    Jason Scott, Oct 11th, 2004 @ 7:02am

    Using State-funded Machines Without Permission

    I have to throw in as well, here. If we had the case that an activist or heavily political person was using their office at Child Services to photocopy a newsletter, or opened ports on the department router to allow people to hit a webserver they've put up with anti-(candidate) messages, people would be pretty damn pissed. In this case, the guy is running a third-party program, with no-one else's input, on machines paid for and run by the state. I'd probably can his ass as well.

     

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    Mark, Oct 11th, 2004 @ 8:53am

    No Subject Given

    I bet they were just looking for a defensable reason to get rid of someone who was a problem, either because of his interpersonal skills, his work ethic or because the budget was cut and this was a cheap way to jetison someone who's services were no longer required. If you are a needed and productive employee something like this would be easy for a higher up to 'not know about'.

     

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      harold le bunce, Oct 11th, 2004 @ 11:06am

      Re: No Subject Given

      I agree wholechartedly

       

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      incongruity, Oct 11th, 2004 @ 11:11am

      Re: No Subject Given

      While that may well be true, statements like that on the part of this guy's boss make it clear that the problem extends up the ladder. The boss ought to be fired as well. That's unprofessional at the least, as well as irresponsible and just generally wrong-headed, no matter how legitimate the termination may have been.

       

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    identicon
    Sea0tter, Oct 11th, 2004 @ 11:54am

    Stay out of Ohio!

    Hmmmm... Job and Family Services Department, huh?

    So the Director of an organization that's supposed to be working with people get and keep jobs to help serve and support a family fires someone for capturing unused CPU cycles and putting them to use...

    Makes about as much sense as hiring this "Director" in the first place! What was his(Tom Hayes) email address again?

    Snerk!

     

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    TJ, Oct 11th, 2004 @ 5:08pm

    Side consequences

    CPUs in modern computers idle in a way that consumes significantly less power than when fully used. That's why benchmarkers evaluate CPU cooling with both an idle and very busy PC. While running such a task on one computer has little $ impact, run it on enough and it will impact the electric bill. In some reported cases people have run such tools on 100s of PCs. Also, Windows multitasks well, but there is a price in stability on single-CPU systems in particular of having constant contention for the CPU.

    This may have been just an excuse for firing. But ultimately, if you want to use work computers for what you consider a good cause but which has nothing to do with the company's business, get the employer's permission. If you don't, you shouldn't be shocked if they react to your unauthorized use of their resources.

     

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    identicon
    hi, Oct 12th, 2004 @ 11:45am

    addresses?

    did someone say addresses? amazingly the email address I couldn't find... maybe I just missed something simple...
    HAYES, THOMAS J
    (614) 466-6283
    JOB & FAMILY SERV - DIRECTORS OFF
    DIRECTOR'S OFFICE
    Tom J. Hayes
    369 Bradley Rd
    Bay Village, OH 44140-1174
    Home: (440) 871 - 8022

     

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    identicon
    Steevo1, Apr 14th, 2006 @ 8:55pm

    I run the clients at work, and if they don't like it they CAN fire me. But they don't as they realise that the networks have been more efficient than ever before. And the fact that I give up a small amount of pay in return for absolute administrative authority over the sytems.

    Does the main man know? Yep. If it starts hindering performance I will throttle it back or set it up to run after hours.

     

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    identicon
    Work Home, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:56pm

    Work Home

    I was very impressed about opportunity to work from home and I register to website work-home.org now i have lots of offers to work from home.. I am very thankful my friend who told me about this website. I quit my job and I am working from home only. I am very happy being of my family together all the time ;) Did you hear something about that? Maybe You know something about that too?

     

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    identicon
    Zee, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 2:10pm

    Have you folks even seen the REAL articles about this story, and not this joke published here?:

    http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/11/30/20091130searchforaliens1202.html

    And the idiot admins SETI profile:
    http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/forum_thread.php?id=40546&nowrap=true

     

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