Job Hint: Don't Search For Aliens While On The Clock
Looking for extra-terrestrial life cost an Arizona man his livelihood.
Brad Niesluchowski had a pretty decent job as a computer systems administrator for an Arizona school district - according to public records, he was pulling down more than $80,000 a year. But he might have taken his love of everything ET a bit too far - school officials asked him to resign after they found out he was using school equipment to search for life on other planets.
According to internal documents related to the investigation, the school alleges that Niesluchowski abused his power as administrator - by installing a software program on many of the computers in the school district that searches high-frequency radio signals for signs of life in outer space. (He also apparently downloaded a bit of porn.)
The software is called SETI@home, and it's offered by the University of California, Berkeley. SETI is short for "Search for Extra Terristrial Intelligence." The program goes to work on a computer when you're not using it - kind of like a screensaver, but instead of flying toasters, it's searching for unidentified flying objects, and whatever else might be lurking in outer space.
What's so sinister about installing such a simple program? The school board says the program taxed the computer equipment - running processors and fans unnecessarily and gobbling up extra electricity. Damages are estimated at up to $1.6 million!
As for Niesluchowski, whether he pondered the downside of his on-the-job project, the rest of the world certainly noticed his efforts. Among fellow amateur alien affectionados he was known as "NEZ" and has racked up 575 million "credits" for his efforts. That's 10 million hours of computer processing time over 9 years, making him one of the top participants in the program.
By the way, the program is called SETI@home, not SETI@work.