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SETI Finally Finds Something 416

Posted by samzenpus
from the laptop-phone-home dept.
QuatumCrypto writes "SETI@home is a distributed processing client from UC Berkeley that installs on the volunteers' home computers and harnesses their processing power in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. So far nothing noteworthy has comeout of this massive project... that is until today! One of the volunteers was able to track down his wife's stolen laptop using the IP address that SETI@home client reports back to the server. After getting back the laptop his wife said, 'I always knew that a geek would make a great husband.'"
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SETI Finally Finds Something

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  • Welcome (Score:5, Funny)

    by suso (153703) * on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @10:22PM (#18104232) Homepage Journal
    SETI@home is a distributed processing client from UC Berkeley that installs on the vounteers' home computers and harnesses their processing power in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

    Those of you that are visiting Slashdot for the first time and didn't know that, you might want to stick around (and scroll down) because we're going to explain what a Beowulf Cluster is next.
  • sETi ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by thrillseeker (518224) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @10:23PM (#18104236)
    phone home.
  • by fredrated (639554) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @10:23PM (#18104238) Journal
    that there is intelligent life on Earth?
  • Gah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @10:26PM (#18104268) Homepage
    I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of voices cheered and were suddenly silenced.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BobSutan (467781)
      You have no idea how right you are. Whoever let this article's title slip by should be tickled until they puke.
    • by Bamafan77 (565893)

      One of the voluteers was able to track down his wife's stolen laptop using the IP address that SETI@home client reports back to the server.
      It's a trap! The Emporer allowed the IP address to be found. We're flying into a fully armed and operational battlestation! Those defense shields are up! Call off the attack!
  • by drDugan (219551) * on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @10:29PM (#18104302) Homepage
    There is a simple solution for all the MAC and Linux *NIX folks out there.

    Write a small script, I call it "callhome" and a line in your crontab to have it called each hour.

    ~>cat bin/callhome
    #!/bin/bash
    rm -f ~/.locate-laptop
    date > ~/.locate-laptop
    w >> ~/.locate-laptop
    /sbin/ifconfig -a 2>&1 >> ~/.locate-laptop
    /usr/sbin/traceroute -q 1 -nP ICMP 108.169.242.00 2>&1 | head -15 >> ~/.locate-laptop
    scp -q ~/.locate-laptop remote_user@108.169.242.00:~

    ~>grep callhome /etc/crontab
    27 * * * * username /home/username/bin/callhome

    You'll have to set up public key login with no passphrase for the scp
    to work without a password to the remote machine

    • by rodgster (671476)
      Why not just set the bios password and harddrive password on you laptop (new stuff with the security chip) which would make it of little value to all but 0.00001% of people for anything more than parts?

      And what would stop someone from deleting the disk partitions and installing windows?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Perey (818567)

        It's the difference between protection and recovery. drDugan's callhome (and TFA's use of SETI@home, of course) provides a chance of recovery but reduces protection (they can boot it). Locking down the boot sequence provides pretty solid protection, but your chances of getting it back move closer to nil.

    • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @10:47PM (#18104476) Homepage
      Better yet, have it poll a file on your web server which you can use to tell it to activate the built-in camera and send you images of whoever stole your laptop. A command-line utility exists for OSX which can simply dump an image to a file, which you can then simply |mail.

      Hell, activate a keylogger while you're at it, and you'd have no trouble finding out exactly who they are.
    • by joe_bruin (266648)
      scp -q ~/.locate-laptop remote_user@108.169.242.00:~

      Let me get this straight: you have a machine that you're obviously worried about being stolen configured to have passwordless ssh access to your remote machine? May I recommend HTTP instead?
  • by user24 (854467) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @10:30PM (#18104306) Homepage
    why doesn't someone do a 'phone home' laptop insurance program that provides tracking information just like this? (privacy issues aside (until the first reply to this comment; see below)).

    It could be nicely open sourced, and run via a p2p network to distribute the load for the tracking servers. Obviously a lot of details would have to be worked out to avoid abuse, but it could be as simple as sending an "I'm here" message encrypted with a dedicated private key to the p2p network. The person who wants to track their stolen goods just pops the public key (stored on a CD/usb stick/online, generated on install) into the network and it comes back with the last known location. No?
    • by liquidpele (663430) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @10:45PM (#18104464) Journal
      They exist. For instance: Lowjack [lojackforlaptops.com]

      They claim their software will survive a hard drive format, but not sure how... anyone know?
      • by user24 (854467)
        yeah but that's $49.99 (per year!), and if it survives formatting, it probably does that by rootkiting the box to some degree, and "We're sorry, the Computrace LoJack for Laptops self-management site does not support the web browser you are currently using." (firefox 2.0.0.1). icky.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Woy (606550)
        If you dig a bit in that website you'll find your answer:

        Unsupported Browser Detected! We're sorry, the Computrace LoJack for Laptops self-management site does not support the web browser you are currently using. You must use Internet Explorer 5.5 (or later) to access this site.

        Don't expect magic where you can't even see competence.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by slashdot.org (321932)
        They claim their software will survive a hard drive format, but not sure how... anyone know?

        That's an interesting claim. First of all I would guess they are going with the DOS/Windows definitition of a format. If that's what they are talking about, then yes, it is technically possible because although a format rewrites a partition, it does not change the initial code that gets loaded from the disk, which resides in the MBR (Master Boot Record). The MBR points to the partition that the OS sits on, and you ca
    • It could be nicely open sourced, and run via a p2p network

      I've seen P2P networks proposed as the solution to everything on Slashdot. Intermittent less-than-1-kilobyte pings carrying a unique user ID are not unmanageable.

      • by user24 (854467)
        no, but someone still has to manage it; p2p offers (afaik) the cheapest, most resilient way of doing something like this. If it's not done via p2p and instead involves a central host, who's going to foot the bill for the host, even it is a small bill? Much better to let the users manage the hosting.
    • by AusIV (950840)
      There's a great one already: dyndns.com [dyndns.com]. It's intended as a means for people with dynamic IP addresses to be able to host websites, but it's a good way to simply register a computer's IP address with a remote server. I have one computer that runs a web-server that actually uses the dyndns address, but every computer I have has it's own dynamic address and updates when the IP changes. If anyone ever steals one of my computers and plugs it into the internet, I can find the IP address and hopefully recover the
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      The problem is that such a program would become a victim of its own success. The more people who know of it's existance, the less likely that a thief would connect a laptop to a network (or even allow it to boot up) without first formatting the drive or providing other bootable media.

      A homebrew solution (or hoping that something like seti@home went unnoticed) would be your best bet.

  • ouch (Score:5, Funny)

    by GlitchyBits (1066840) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @10:31PM (#18104322)
    Sensationalism strikes back ... and it hurts. Anyway, it proves that at least one geek in the entire world (universe ?) had sex that night.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CortoMaltese (828267)
      Calm down. Installing SETI@home and having a wife call you a geek don't make you one.

      And if that guy really is a geek, what do you think he was doing the night he got his stolen laptop back? Huh? HUH?!

  • From the TFA: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ATAMAH (578546) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @10:40PM (#18104410)
    "Kimberly's writings were safe, and the thieves didn't appear to have broken into her e-mail or other personal folders."

    How, exactly, do you break into a personal folder? Is double-clicking it called "breaking" in these days? I thought the conventional term was "opening"...
  • Where no thief has gone before.
  • by StarvingSE (875139) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @10:45PM (#18104458)
    Maaan! I was reading through that whole summary, excitedly awaiting my chance to welcome our new overlords..... and all they found was a laptop!?!??! What a crock!
  • Old News (Score:2, Interesting)

    by coreyfro (123833)
    Here's what I did for a client. I installed the distributed.net client on all their machines with a different ID per. If one went missing, I just waited until it started posting again.

    One was recovered. I don't know out of how many thefts, but it worked.

    http://stats.distributed.net/participant/psearch.p hp?project_id=5&st=coreyfro [distributed.net]

    Some are still posting to this day.

    216264(-1) K6231862@coreyfro.com 13-Feb-2001 08-Feb-2002 361 791
    218871(-1) K3342513@coreyfro.com 31-Jan-2
  • Nothing noteworthy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whackeroony (240663) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @10:57PM (#18104558)
    "So far nothing noteworthy has come out of this massive project"

    Dismissed a trend-setting project with just that one line. Of course, it does not matter that SETI@Home showed the power of volunteer computing for the first time, led to new advances in distributed computing, motivated Grid computing and PlanetLab among others and spun off BOINC, an open source project that serves as a base for similar @Home projects.

    But, of course, it no find me any ALIEN!!! Bah,
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @11:01PM (#18104580)
    ... unintelligent life on earth.
  • by Joebert (946227) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @11:07PM (#18104622) Homepage
    Man, if I ever meet whoever is responsible for that headline, I'm going to burn down your house.
    I haven't felt this let down since I walked in on my dad bangin my mom while wearing a Santa costume on Christmas morning.
  • Geeks couldn't get laid.
  • by Cookie_Monster_Troll (854586) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @11:16PM (#18104688) Homepage
    would be Linus sitting in the pumpkin patch. :)
  • by Leuf (918654) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @11:25PM (#18104750)

    I always knew that a geek would make a great husband

    Sure it turned out handy this one freak incident, but wait till there's smoke in the house and he looks back and forth between the plasma screen and the laptop a couple times, finally grabs the laptop and is out the door without so much as a look in her direction.

    Of course, if the laptop started the fire then the choice is much easier

  • by chris_sawtell (10326) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @03:44AM (#18106074) Journal

    See the Google cache of "Exactly what the Dr. Ordered"

    http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:Ui0HtwBn6ZAJ:w ww.kyne.com.au/~mark/software/satellite.php+site:w ww.kyne.com.au+mark+satellite&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&i e=UTF-8 [72.14.253.104]

    I know the posting is just a oneliner, but it is informative and if everybody used the software it would really increase the recovery rate of stolen Laptops no end. ( Unix based ones anyway )

  • by d474 (695126) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @03:59AM (#18106136)
    ...are we to understand that E.T.'s (who listen to bad rap music) stole this laptop?
    I RTFA, and the police used the IP to locate the laptop, but no one has been arrested. Hmmm...

    MIB: "We'll take over from here."
    Police Man: "But this thug stole a woman's laptop!"

    (MIB puts on dark glasses)

    MIB: "Officer, I'm going to need you to stare into this pen for me for just a second..."
  • by toetagger1 (795806) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:52AM (#18107518)
    Ok, which one is more likely:

    SETI finding intelligent life?
    or a GEEK getting married?
  • SETI == ? (Score:3, Funny)

    by HikingStick (878216) <z01riemer@hotmail . c om> on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:33PM (#18109686)
    So now SETI also stands for "Search for Egregious Thieving Idiots"

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