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October 09, 2004

Someone Fired For Running SETI@Home... Again

Once again, someone has been fired for running SETI@Home.

Man Said He Used Computer During Off Hours

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The search for extraterrestrial life has ended at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The department on Thursday fired a computer programmer who admitted to using a state-owned computer server to process data for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project, run by the University of California at Berkeley.

Charles E. Smith, 63, told administrators he didn't think loading the SETI software on the server was much of a problem because he ran the program only on weekends and on weekdays between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., when the server wasn't being used, according to a disciplinary report.

Department director Tom Hayes disagreed.

"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," Hayes said. "I think that people can be comfortable that security has beamed this man out of our building." [newsnet5.com] [via AP]

I'm not sure if I posted about this kind of thing the last time it happened, but without knowing more background I'm not sure how to react. At most places I've worked there has been an official policy that you aren't supposed to install unauthorized software. This was mostly to try and stop people from installing every little thing they download from the net, and to be able to scold them when something they've downloaded broke their computer. In the case of something like this though, I almost have to wonder if the application was actually cutting into computer resources. But, the article doesn't give us any information about that (though I'd be curious to know more). The other issue is that I think the department director's comments are a bit unprofessional and unnecessarily insulting.

Hmm, maybe I should give SETI@Home a download and start it running on one of the machines I have floating around.

Posted by snooze at October 9, 2004 07:17 PM

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