You know how your read an article that makes you want to slug the writer in the gut?


Yeah, you know. But aside from the ignorant and infuriating he-wanted-to-talk-to-Klingons! tone of the article, the author reports a claim (without checking it, obviously, since that would have required work) that startled me.

Let me back up for those who didn’t want to click the link. The article reports that the Higley Unified School District asked an employee to resign after he installed SETI@home on all the district computers. More backing up: SETI@home is a program that uses idle time on your computer to scan radio signals for signs of alien communication.

This is what caught my eye: “And his alleged downloading of alien-hunting software might well have used additional energy resources and caused other related damage or accelerated depreciation to the hardware. The school district estimates these losses at between $1.2 million and $1.6 million.”

Over a million dollars, maybe up to a mil and a half, just for SETI@home? Is that fair or complete bullshit?

One thought on “You know how your read an article that makes you want to slug the writer in the gut?

  1. Grant

    Here’s the back of the envelope math…

    Those screensavers go CPU crazy, which prevents the computers from going to sleep or hibernation. Assuming the computers were configured to do this properly, that could be 100-200 dollars a year per computer in electricity.

    So if they have between 6000-18000 computers… and if they were all originally configured to sleep properly… and if they all had SETI@Home running like mad… the numbers might be accurate.

    A quick google shows that they’ve got about 9,500 students. I want to say it’s unlikely they have a 1-to-1 ratio of pcs-per-student, seems really high, but don’t have kids and haven’t been to school for a while. For all I know they’re teaching them powerpoint in kindergarten…

    I’m guessing the fishy numbers come from the ‘accelerated depreciation’ figure. Your computers won’t depreciate any faster if they’re on all day or not. It’s not like driving a car 24 hours a day versus 8. You might get a few more wonky hard-drives. Assuming they’re not under warranty or a service plan, I still couldn’t see it amounting to anything substantial.

Comments are closed.