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(The Register)   Running a distributed computing program on your work PC? You could get up to 120 years in the slammer.   ( divider line
    More: Asinine  
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7761 clicks; posted to Main » on 21 Dec 2001 at 4:17 PM (16 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

62 Comments     (+0 »)

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2001-12-21 04:19:36 PM  
No boobies?
2001-12-21 04:21:29 PM  
Yea - if you want to take part in distributed computing, at least do something beneficial.
2001-12-21 04:24:15 PM  
Well, that's pretty simple. If you're interested in going to a school to learn about technology, avoid the DeKalb.

Most other places would be pleased to say they did work on a distrubted project. I guess those folks have no clue.
2001-12-21 04:30:29 PM  
At least they backed off the ludicrous claim that the prog's were utilizing $0.59 per second in bandwidth when the prog's only sent/received the equivalent of an emails worth of data a day.

That is $50,976 a day. Estimating $1000/month per T1, that would mean that these programs were using around 1500 full T1 lines to transfer data. This has to be the most ludicrous claim I've heard of in some time.

2001-12-21 04:35:46 PM  
You know, I'm going to sit on the fence for this one. He probably shouldn't have used the school's computers in the first place, but it didn't really harm anyone, either.
2001-12-21 04:36:12 PM  
WTF!!!! The time and money people spend on stupid sh!t never ceases to amaze me...
2001-12-21 04:36:30 PM  
In a side note the guy also used his supervisor's car without permission and without filling it with fuel. He was a stupid ass for that too.

I don't know if the guy was
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but he was
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2001-12-21 04:38:27 PM  
I'm not running a client at work ... how'bout pr0n?
2001-12-21 04:38:48 PM  
And in other news, Microsoft sues Linux users for installing an operating system that is not windows...

<scoffs> I expect any judge would throw this distributed computing case out, unless they were a complete idiot.
2001-12-21 04:40:13 PM  
oh well shouldnt have got caught
2001-12-21 04:41:01 PM  
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"Yup, we ain't gonna let you do any work with these computers, even when you know their usage to benifit the whole of society like with United Devices or scientific benifit like SETI or Instead we're going to make you toss the salad with Bubba for 120+ years!"

Their heads are up their asses -- how is that a computer crime? He had legitimate use for it!
2001-12-21 04:45:04 PM  
Dahaka: Thanks, but I'd rather steer clear of a distributed computing client which: Works on a number of different projects, not just the AIDS drug one; Works on these projects on a paid basis, unlike; Doesn't tell you which one you're working on (people might object if they were running nuclear bomb simulations); Doesn't give you any of the payment (of course); Generates revenue for themselves by guilt-tripping support with asinine phrases like "work on something that really matters." Bullshiat. Companies which make AIDS drugs have money because they sell these drugs for huge amounts of money. They can use that money to buy their own computers. I don't want to give them my processing time for free just so they can sell the results.
2001-12-21 04:45:29 PM  
If this guy gets thrown in prison Im moving to Canada.
2001-12-21 04:47:14 PM  
Apparently the law is also deaf and really dumb, as well as blind. I think a bit gassy and corpulent, too.
2001-12-21 04:48:39 PM  
sad :(

what can we do to help? any one know?
2001-12-21 04:49:14 PM  
How is it tresspassing if it was his job to work on the silly things? What a waste of time and money!
2001-12-21 04:52:29 PM  

You'd be surprised to find out that the same sort of stuff happens up here.
2001-12-21 04:53:32 PM  
Using your own personal computer for these projects is fine, but work computers were bought and paid for by the company and should only be used for work purposes!

I've been telling my ICQ buddies this all day, while emailing my friends and family this link. I can't believe I minimized my Bejeweled game for this! Jeez, it's times like this I need to play some soothing music from my .MP3 collection I got from KaZaa...
2001-12-21 04:53:51 PM  
This happened in Georgia. Don't they have the death penalty. Can't they just execute him????
2001-12-21 04:54:00 PM  
Would the SETI program fall into the same bailiwick?

Not that I'm running it, now....
2001-12-21 04:54:31 PM  
hmm... if he just murdered everyone involved he'd be out in two years.
2001-12-21 04:56:40 PM  
What do you expect from a state that spawned John Rocker?
2001-12-21 04:57:40 PM  
That caption is a bit misleading. It's not running the client that gets you put in the slammer, it's the un-authorized installation that does.

And to be fair, the man WAS doing something that was not included in what he was supposed to be doing. Further, he probably put his own e-mail address in when installing them. does offer cash prizes for the person whose machine cracked the cypher, eh?

So technically, his ass was being greedy when he did that. I say some form of legal punishment is decidedly in order.

Not on the order, say, of 100+ years in the slammer, but a hefty-ass fine.

Just my two cents, mind.
2001-12-21 04:58:18 PM  
'This just in: University fires entire IT staff for unauthorized MS Solitaire installations on campus computers.'

I read somewhere that the guy, if convicted, would have to repay the school the salary of people who installed the software off of 500 computer. So that means that they were using 500 emails worth of bandwidth a day. Let's see, my average email is 5 kb, that means that this cost the school the equivalent of ~2,500,000 bytes of data.

Drew, please enlighten us, how much does ~2.5 meg of bandwidth cost you?
2001-12-21 05:01:43 PM  
Companies that solve problems by firing people and then slapping them with multi-hundred-thousand dollar accusations deserve a real whippin'. Lets discuss how much DeKalb Testicle Institute bothered educating it's employees about it's policies and their effects. They better be dead-nuts-clear about proper usage and improper usage, and how it is handled, IN whatever paperwork was standing between this guy and them as a contract.

I hope DeKalb takes it up the butt, hard and long.
2001-12-21 05:02:11 PM  
But what about his cats. Does he have cats? And if he does who is going to take care of them.
2001-12-21 05:04:38 PM  
Imperfect - You say "So technically, his ass was being greedy when he did that." - Whats that? You mean the official who came up with this $450,000 original figure?
2001-12-21 05:05:44 PM  
Wow. I can't understand these people's problem. These prosecutors are going after this guy like he's the scourge of the Earth, and all this for an email's worth of information per computer a day. I mean, they're threatening him with 120 years in prison plus fines for installing a freely available computer application on someone else's machine.

True, he should have asked for permission before trying any of this, but when you hear people say things like;

"Prosecutors also claim that McOwen had a financial motive for volunteering the school's machines."

to me, that's just a weak attempt at demonizing him for the purposes of being "morally right". He was only going to get a measly $1000, which he didn't even care about, and for what? Using computers that were never being used in the first place.

Finally, this legislation that the prosecutors are using like a weapon (as I read it) was intended for computer hackers (or crackers, but that's another debate) who intentionally break into computers and plant trojans and viruses (or virii, or whatever the plural of virus is). This hardly seems like someone who maliciously broke into a computer network to do harm.

All I have to say is that distributed networks play a lot of good in this world, and I'm tired to seeing this planet being run by a bunch of ignorant technodopes who wouldn't even be able to turn on their computer if it didn't have the words ON/OFF marked right beside it.
2001-12-21 05:08:15 PM  
That's true - the other ones have a creepy feel to them, but doesn't really accomplish anything. It cracks an encryption scheme, woo. Now if it was cracking something IMPORTANT, sure; but it is a proof of concept saying "it can be done" and it has already been done... it's silly that they don't do anything useful with it yet. Of course, I don't use any of those programs.
2001-12-21 05:13:17 PM  
2001-12-21 05:17:05 PM  

Why not join United Devices? Their role in cancer research is pretty well spelled out The client is pretty cool with graphics of the molecule you're working on and the results thus far.

- of course, if you do you could always join CLUB RX :)
2001-12-21 05:25:31 PM  
Dahaka: You could also make an argument that SETI is a useless distributed network, but that's all beside the point.

Anyways, even if he were running an application that was dedicated to solving every problem known to man, they would have still come after him.

I'm not stating that he should suddenly be absolved of all guilt because he was doing something worth while with the machines, rather than let them collect dust, but 120 years? Come on! I've heard of convicted serial killers getting less time than that.
2001-12-21 05:29:25 PM  
No offense David630, but I really really hate when people say "if blah blah blah whine, then I'm moving to Canada." It just bugs the hell out of me.
2001-12-21 05:35:52 PM  
Won't somebody please think of the children!
2001-12-21 05:47:49 PM  
No doubt, LordOfTheFlies, if he was doing the cancer thing, then DeKalb would see "Southern technical college impedes cancer research!"
2001-12-21 05:48:38 PM  
If this guy gets thrown in prison, then I'm staying right where I am ;)
2001-12-21 05:57:15 PM  
I live near there, and Dekalb Tech is a rather second rate technical school. It is one of those places that churns out the MCSEs that have no clue what a ICMP packet is for. But it is also a state run facility and the GBI has been known before to blow things out of proportion, like this.

Sadly considering that the average judge here in Georgia does not have clue one about how computers work this guy is probably going to go up the river... that is unless he can manage to get a bunch of IT proffessionals on his jury, then he is likely to be let off the hook.
2001-12-21 06:04:19 PM  
Well as always those with money get off those without get offed
2001-12-21 06:19:22 PM  
This poor sap will do time, while that "American Taliban" John Walker Farker will probably walk.
2001-12-21 06:47:16 PM  
Is this a jury trial? If so, I hope the jury tells the prosecution to shove their laptops up their ass. What idiots. Chances are 85% of the schools bandwidth is/was Napster, Morpheus, pr0n and warez anyway, and .00001% was used by Fools. Anyway in this school who's actually interested in modern technology to transfer immediately.
2001-12-21 06:49:51 PM  
"Anyone in this school who's actually interested in modern technology should transfer immediately."

I should avoid translating my posts into Japanese and then back into English.
2001-12-21 06:59:24 PM  
That's it, I'm moving to my mom's basement. Wait, I'm already here. Score!
2001-12-21 07:06:34 PM  
Gimme a break. I've run this sucker at work on lab machines that aren't doing anything better. Otherwise they'd just be sitting there eating electricity. And it is one of the few apps that seems to be able to use all available processors.

It'd be one thing for a processor-smoking, drive-mashing application, but these clients, if configured correctly, will back off when "real work" needs to be done.

And the goal of this stuff isn't the prize (of the $10K offered by the RSA challenge, $6K goes to a non-profit, $2K to the group, $2K to you) but the feeling that you are part of something. And to see your efforts (by finding more machines) directly impact the performance of your team.
2001-12-21 07:13:21 PM  
that is unless he can manage to get a bunch of IT proffessionals on his jury,

ha, what a joke, as if sane, rational people get on jurys. Lawers pick the most gullible couch potatos they can get. Lawyers are glorified actors and want juries they can lead by the nose. Juries should be composed of about two dozen people randomly chosen from the population, with absolutly no control over who gets on the jury. Jurors should be paid about $10 an hour plus travel and be provided meals at the local resteraunt of their choice. The jury should view the courtroom through a few closed circuit HDTV monitors (possibly on 30 second delay, to edit stuff they aren't supposed to see), take notes and be allowed to make fun of the people in the courtroom.

We are one of the richest farking countries in the world, and our court system is antiquated, slow, subject to huge amounts of abuse, and generally a laughing stock.
2001-12-21 07:20:17 PM  
if this guy goes to jail, then the terrorists have already won...
2001-12-21 07:28:18 PM  
0.59 cents a second? They probably made that claim before they realized all the kids have KaZaa running downloading photoshop and 150MB beastiality porn non-stop, no wonder they quietly let that little claim dissapear. They'd probably get in some trouble if programs are on their computers ilegally.
2001-12-21 07:39:34 PM  
I chalk it up to being Georgian. I lived there and there are not many people I met there that wan't rude or stupid.

I guess that goes for their gov't officals too.

With the exception of Matlock...hey there's an idea. Hire Matlock....
2001-12-21 07:45:37 PM  
This is ridiculous. "Computer theft?" What did he steal? Hardware? Software? Data? "Computer trespass?" How as he trespassing? Wasn't he allowed pretty much free access to those computers?

Offenses like these warrant firing from the job, but not eight felony charges, and certainly not some trumped-up bandwidth figures and the cost of paying 24 state workers to sit on their asses all day and comment about how "it's jes' so dang hard to unnerstan these hear computer-machines" when an uninstallation takes about 30 seconds. Multiplied by 500 computers, that's 250 minutes, or just over 4 hours. One 5k email a day for 6 months (Christmas holiday to late June)is about 450 megs, or half a gig. The most outrageous bandwidth prices I've seen lately are around 12 bucks a gig (I pay $3 a gig). 4 hours of labor, 6 bucks of bandwidth. Fine him 50 bucks and tell him not to do it again.
2001-12-21 08:07:55 PM  
I used to run the same program on my computer that he did. In fact, I was on the same team, Team Anandtech.
It's true you get $1000 if you win. But if you're part of a team, then that money is split amongst the team members. And at the time I was involved, there were several hundred if not more than 1000 members.
Trust me, these people are not doing it for the money. If anything, they're doing it for the stats and bragging rights.
The guy that's being prosecuted, posted a lot of this on the Anandtech forums a couple of months ago.
It's really a bunch of BS, from a bunch of idiots that don't know what they're talking about.
2001-12-21 08:11:05 PM  
I'm just waiting for the university to get wind that there's a cash prize for the person who finds the right key. This thing has been going on for years, with enough participants that you'd have better odds with a lottory scratch ticket, but you know that they're gpoing to use that to try to get the public on their side. What is the prize after feees, anyway? $2000, or $1000 if you're on a team? My last home LAN upgrade cost more than that.
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