Searching For Alien to Cost School System $1 Million

How clueless are bureaucrats of our nation's school system? They fired an IT worker for installing the popular freeware SETI@Home on school computers, claiming that it'll take more than $1 million to uninstall it!

The program, known as SETI @ home, uses Internet-connected computers worldwide to analyze radio telescope data in an experiment to find extraterrestrial intelligence.

But Superintendent Denise Birdwell told the East Valley Tribune that the program also bogged down the district's system and interfered with technology use in classrooms.

Birdwell said it will take more than $1 million to fix the problem, including removal of the SETI software. She says police are conducting a broader investigation.


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Agree with nihil, they aren't talking about uninstalling costs, but basically that this blubberbrain cost the school an extra $1 million dollars for being a dolt and a thief. Add up nihil's explanation and times it by 5000 computers and you can accept $1 million easily.

Unfortunately, this happens with all news, people focus on one aspect and fail to get the whole story. Like me, I volunteer at the local soup kitchen every weekend but am I Splint, the Soup Volunteer? No. I also play baseball or football with disadvantaged kids every other weekend but am I Splint, the Sports Guy? No. But screw one goat...
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I work IT in a school system and I think I can provide a little perspective. If you read the expanded articles this guy did and did not do a lot of things he should have and should not have. That being said the $1 million figure, like others have said, is for the overall consumption of resources. Obviously, most people do not think of how much the cost to run 5000 computers would be when they should be off. That being said, since this guy was a sysadmin he could have easily set the systems to power on and run at times they shouldn't have been on.

Also, there are a lot of school systems who have to hire outside consultants to do IT work because they do not pay someone on staff. Considering this system just fired an IT admin they may have to hire someone to do this and if it's a consulting group then they are going to pay out the nose.

Some factors one must consider:

1. Heat-regardless of whether a PC is 'idle' or 'active' it's on and producing heat from the power supply, the processor, the hard drive etc. This can cause any number of failures if there are already faulty or failing parts in the PC. We have had faulty capacitors on certain models which fail faster if the computer is left on to get hot all the time.

2. General wear and tear-if it's on there are parts moving and moving parts only last so long.

3. Expected replacement time table-Schools often use their computers way longer then the average public consumer. They simply cannot afford to upgrade every three years. Sometimes PCs will be used upwards of nine years and then re-purposed for another task. If these machines were being used more/more intensely then the expected life span is diminished.

4. Replacement Cost-Even when schools can buy in bulk at a discount the cost buying a large number of computers is very expensive. Large scale replacement costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

5. Stolen equipment and time-they have to replace that and they've paid him for not doing his job
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A CPU on standyby does not use as much power as one running at 100%. A CPU running at 100% causes the fan to run almost constantly. Fan failure is a very common source of mechanical failure.
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