Man gets fired for using university computers for SETI/BOINC

Discussion in 'Distributed Computing' started by SciFrog, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Location:
    Right side of wrong
    #2
    i'm not so sure i like the style of that article, but still, fired?! and i doesn't seti run thru boinc now? so really he only installed boinc?

    anyways, that's a lot of points though. but people tell you everywhere, don't use work computers
     
  2. lordonuthin macrumors 6502

    lordonuthin

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2007
    Location:
    Iowa
    #3
    The guy who wrote that cnet article seems to think he is funny I guess.

    I know the fine print for folding@home specifically tells you not to use any computers without permission or your points will be taken away. I imagine seti will probably take away his "credits" when they find out, or should anyway.

    I would love to put some of the equipment at "my office" to work folding, but I would never risk causing problems or basically doing something stupid like that. we have hundreds of servers, lots of bandwidth and a mainframe that will get put to bed at the end of January, and I get to "babysit" all of it every night.

    We do have a bunch of retired Dell and IBM servers that I would like to get a hold of, I could fill 2 or 3 racks with them but the company is kind of hard to deal with when it comes to old equipment. It used to be we could buy stuff really cheap but they don't do that anymore.

    I have also thought about making a proposal to set up a couple of racks of retired servers that would remain in the data center to be used for folding, we are a very large biotech firm so it would seem to make sense for us to participate at some level. I would even work on a deal with the community support department to donate $ for the power usage and any support it might require beyond me doing all of the real work on my own time. But... I don't know if it would get anywhere, I know there would be interest from some people but I don't know if those people would be the ones to make decisions about it.

    And my boss would probably not like it at all, in his mind it would just be another headache, and he would worry that I would spend my work time working on "it". Anyway maybe I'll get brave and "pop the question" to him one of these days, have to go through channels you know... he hates it when I go over his head.
     
  3. rowsdower macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    #4
    Makes sense to me. He installed unauthorized software that increases power consumption. The $1.3 million cost estimate seems high, but there was certainly some significant cost if he ran it on a large number of computers for a period of time.
     
  4. MacBandit macrumors 604

    MacBandit

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2002
    Location:
    Springfield, OR (Home of the Simpsons)
    #5
    Prolific would be an understatement. Looking at his stats they must have first caught on in October. Up until they started shutting him down he was the 2nd most productive contributor in the world!

    http://boincstats.com/stats/boinc_user_graph.php?pr=bo&id=2140172

    http://www.boincsynergy.com/stats/individual.php?project=sahb

    Even now he's still receiving credit for more then 100,000 credits per day and at his peak was producing 300,000 credits per day.

    I haven't been able to come up with an accurate number of computers that he had commandeered but '07 it was estimated to be around 600 and the closest numbers I've seen now put him well over 1,000. So lets say he was using 1,000 computer (keep in mind that some estimates put the number much much higher) and the average computer has a 400 watt power supply. So at max output these computers would be consuming 400KWH of power every hour. In one year he could have consumed 3.5 million KWH of electricity. Currently Arizona charges 10 cents per KWH for commercial use. That means in one year he could have cost the school and additional $350,000 dollars in electricity.

    Now obviously these computers would be being used for other uses and would be using some power whether or not he was doing this. So lets say that he doubled the power use that's still $175,000 per year and he's been doing this for more than 5 years. So at the very minimum he's cost the school district $875,000. Now if you consider that he may have been purchasing and replacing computers that weren't necessary just to up his score you start adding to that total pretty quickly.

    I agree that $1.6million sounds a bit high but it may not be.
     
  5. mc68k macrumors 68000

    mc68k

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2002
    #6
    the bulk of my points have been from work computers, some with permission some without. i figure i have to support them, so i may as well get some benefit. the breaking point for me is when they break due to heat related issues. and if ppl start complaining about them being slow. for the most part i run it on low use machines that would be on 24x7 anyways. i never run it on servers. working on fah never takes priority over work. it's basically a hobby. i don't wanna run up my electric bill at home it's high enough as it is

    back my college days i used to go to compusa, frys, the apple stores, the college bookstore etc and 'sneakernet' rc5 blocks onto a usb with scripts i made. the crunchers would run for a month and i would get a sh*t ton of points. since then ive had less desire and less time to do things like that

    sure you can run it on EVERY computer that you get your hands on, but at what cost? i think that guy found out what the cost was
     
  6. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Location:
    Right side of wrong
    #7
    yeah, that's a lot of money that he costs them. i guess i might have to start tracking how much energy i'm using at home now
     
  7. lordonuthin macrumors 6502

    lordonuthin

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2007
    Location:
    Iowa
    #8
    Energy is something we don't think about when buying tech stuff but it does add up. I think my bill for folding is close to $50 a month, but I won't be spending quite as much for heating this winter. I will probably shut everything down again when it get warm next year though, I really don't want to run the air just so I can keep folding for 3 months more. I don't run the airconditioner any more than I have to, just when it is really hot out.

    I was reading about new photovoltaic tech that will make them cheaper and more efficient, but we have been reading that for years and we still don't have good options.

    Also the original article made it sound like he made a lot of unnessary purchases of computers, and the real kicker for getting fired is that he had so many school district computers at home.
     
  8. theLimit macrumors 6502a

    theLimit

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2007
    Location:
    up tha holler, acrost tha crick
    #9
    Being asked to resign is not the same as being fired, although they have the same outcome. And with that many computers, that was a massive misappropriation of company resources. If an accountant misplaced a decimal point costing the company a couple million bucks they'd get the same treatment.
     
  9. mc68k macrumors 68000

    mc68k

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2002
    #10
    i turn off lights at work just like i was at home. i figure if 10 long fluorescent tubes are on all night if i weren't to intervene, then that 'makes up' for the extra energy that my folding uses
     

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