Wednesday, December 2, 2009

SETI Sacking

An Arizona school district has fired one of its IT guys for installing SETI's free data analysis software SETI@home on several if not all of the district's computers. SETI@home uses a computer's background processing power to comb through the mountains of radio astronomy data the institute collects all the time, searching for an artificial signal from an extraterrestrial intelligence. Brad Niesluchowski apparently didn't tell anyone he was installing the software, but that's not the district's complaint. They allege that the increased power consumption and hard drive wear and tear caused by SETI@home amounted to over a million dollars in damages. I'm not sure how that number could be estimated, but it seems excessive. And why would a school district fire someone for contributing to the research of a pro-science institute like SETI? Oh, wait. There's more. Turns out a search of Niesluchowski's home uncovered a bunch of stolen computers. Also, he was allegedly a crappy IT guy who didn't install any firewalls. I see. More details here.