mersenneforum.org Whatever happened to Aaron Blosser?
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 2005-03-24, 15:12 #1 John   3,023 Posts Whatever happened to Aaron Blosser? Hi there- I'm writing an article for Science about distributed computing. I'm trying to find out what happened in the end to the 2 criminal cases involving prime searching: Aaron Blosser (who had his computer confiscated by the FBI in 1998) and David McOwen (a system administrator at DeKalb Tech, GA, who was accused, weirdly, of wasting over $1 million in bandwidth in 1999). Anyone know what happened in the end? Any other criminal cases out there you've heard of? Thanks! John Bohannon johnbohannon.org  2005-03-24, 19:31 #2 smh "Sander" Oct 2002 52.345322,5.52471 22458 Posts Aaron used to read the Mersenne mailing list, he probably still does. Maybe you can contact him there. A few years ago, he posted there what really happened. Can't really remember the story but it must be in the archives  2005-03-24, 23:23 #3 Peter Nelson Oct 2004 232 Posts It was news to me, but I think this Blosser story is mentioned here.... http://www.thiemeworks.com/write/arc...oteHackers.htm but I'm sure there are alternative versions of events that put a different slant on the story.  2005-03-24, 23:30 #4 Peter Nelson Oct 2004 232 Posts And this one is probably a better article since it mentions GIMPS,entropia etc and the fact Blosser did work for US West rather than "hacked" in. http://www.sciencenews.org/pages/sn_...8/mathland.htm The article does list its references on the story at the end. 2005-03-25, 00:39 #5 jasonp Tribal Bullet Oct 2004 32·5·79 Posts Quote:  Originally Posted by Peter Nelson And this one is probably a better article since it mentions GIMPS,entropia etc and the fact Blosser did work for US West rather than "hacked" in. http://www.sciencenews.org/pages/sn_...8/mathland.htm The article does list its references on the story at the end. From what I remember Blosser saying in his original explanation of events, there was no way that whatever he wrote could have slowed down all those computers. He said that other US West facilities experienced similar slowdowns that he couldn't have caused, and that his 'side work' was discovered as a side effect of the investigation of the slowdown. IIRC, at the time of his explanation (long after the fact) he had not gotten his computer equipment back. My guess is that it never went to trial. There apparently is enough FUD associated with this story that I agree you should find the GIMPS mailing list archives and only believe Blosser's version of events. jasonp  2005-03-26, 19:33 #6 ewmayer ∂2ω=0 Sep 2002 República de California 101101111010112 Posts I would also suggest trying to contact Aaron directly - he hasn't posted to either the mailing list or this forum (AFAIK) in several years - the last mailing-list post I have from him (note that I only save a small fraction of these) is from October 2002, and has e-mail address aaron@madpoo.com . If that doesn't work, you could try contacting his brother Jeremy, who does still post - have one from him to the mailing list from just a few days ago, with e-mail address jeremy@blosser.org .  2005-03-26, 19:43 #7 akruppa "Nancy" Aug 2002 Alexandria 2,467 Posts The most recent posting of Aaron to the Mersenne mailing list I can see is Subject: RE: Mersenne: Hyperthreading & ABIT IS7 From: Aaron Date: 01/03/04 18:01 so he's been around as late as january 2004. Alex 2005-03-27, 00:06 #8 99.94 Dec 2004 The Land of Lost Content 3·7·13 Posts Quote:  Originally Posted by Peter Nelson And this one is probably a better article since it mentions GIMPS,entropia etc and the fact Blosser did work for US West rather than "hacked" in. http://www.sciencenews.org/pages/sn_...8/mathland.htm The article does list its references on the story at the end. The "incident" is discussed briefly by Marcus du Sautoy: The Music of The Primes, Harper Perennial (publisher) at page 208. Prof du Sautoy's book was published in 2003.  2005-03-28, 03:17 #9 dswanson Aug 2002 23·52 Posts Here are a couple of messages Aaron posted to the Mersenne mailing list. I extracted these from Digest Vol 01 No. 1086, 28 August 2003. First message Code: Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 21:25:30 -0700 From: "Aaron" Subject: RE: Mersenne: Howdy As someone who's been around since mid-1996, howdy back. Yeah, I was also trying to remember how long it's been around... I guess I really did catch it near the start. I still have those fond memories of emailing George with the exponents I'd randomly selected from the database. Those were the days. Speaking of old old versions... Guess who *finally* got his computer equipment back from the EffBeeEye? Yuppers... Nearly 5 years later and I'm now the proud re-owner of some vintage 1998 equipment. Well, the DLT 35/70 drive is still useful... Glad I got that back. Fired up my main machine (after re-hooking up just about EVERY cable inside and removing the "Evidence" tape all over everything)... And there it was, my Prime95 16.(4?) running. Too bad the exponent has LOOONG since been first/second time checked... In the 5M range. Hey, it was a pretty new first-time check at the time. :) I was tempted to pull a Mitnick and try to auction off my loose hard drives, each bagged and tagged "Evidence, FBI - Washington DC", but I'm just too curious to see what exactly I had on those drives... Been so long, I've forgotten. Plus I'm not really thinking people would pay for crap like that. :-D Maybe I should at least take pictures to remember the moment... Each hard drive, even each floppy and tape they took, each CD etc. has a hand-written serial # sticker affixed to it now. They are organized, even if they didn't know how to hook everything back up inside the computer (fans hanging loose, SCSI drives plugged into the wrong ports, etc). And, after some chatter from other folks, another posting from Aaron: Code: Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 23:34:52 -0700 From: "Aaron" Subject: RE: Mersenne: Howdy > it was a long story. > > short version is, he was a consultant, working at some biga$$> insurance company as a PC Tech. he pre-loaded Prime95 on the > desktop install so it > was running on a few 100 machines at said company. he thought he had > verbal permissions from the desktop systems manager, but > someone in corporate security got freaked by the nonstandard > network traffic they invoked, and sic'd the FBI on him for > 'hacking', and they hit him with a search warrant, and took > *all* his business computers, tapes, CDs, backups, etc. left > him unable to complete ongoing consulting contracts, or even > file his taxes as his books were on the computers too. US WEST... Yeah, phone companies don't appreciate when their contractors "see all those computers and just can't resist" (paraphrase of one of my more infamous quotes). It was actually somewhere in the several thousands of machines... The whole reason they got so upset, I think, is that a couple days *before* I'd started running all those, they had some other network problems that was causing their main app to run slow, and when they investigated, they found Prime95 running, so of course they jumped a conclusion or two and blamed Prime95 for the slowdown. Later on of course we (meaning me and some log files) ascertained that the problem began before Prime95 was ever there, and maybe that's something that helped them decide to drop the whole thing eventually. That and the fact that I didn't actually "hack" anything. They were all machines I'd built the master image for, and they just never changed any of the passwords in the 2 years since those were deployed. In a strange way, those were my babies... We'd unload 100 machines a night during the deployment... Unbox 'em, put them on desks replacing old dumb terminals... During the deployment of those, we'd sometimes need to send out "hotfixes" to machines we'd already done, so I wrote some scripts to update them all in the field. Basically I just did one final "hotfix" to install that oh-so-critical program, prime95. :-P Bad judgment, yeah. Criminal? I never thought so. So, word of the wise to anyone installing this without permission: Don't! It did suck not having all my documents and what not... I tried a couple times to get backups of all my important docs but even though there are federal guidelines that allow for that, I had no luck. Probably the part that stunk the most was paying TCI$400 to replace my rented cable-modem. Well, I did get a signed document from TCI that when I returned the cable modem I'd get my money back... Think I could still cash that in? :) Sure it's gone from TCI to AT&T to Comcast, but hey, maybe... Shows how much the price of cable modems has dropped. :)
 2005-03-28, 06:35 #10 cheesehead     "Richard B. Woods" Aug 2002 Wisconsin USA 22·3·641 Posts Mersenne mailing list archive For those wanting to further search the archive of the Mersenne mailing list (through the Mersenne Digest's last issue, #1111 on 2004 May 7), the archive is at http://www.mail-archive.com/mersenne@base.com/
 2005-05-25, 21:25 #11 Spherical Cow     Nov 2004 22×33×5 Posts Just a brief follow-up on this thread, in case some of you hadn't noticed (I hadn't, until today): the Science article that John Bohannon was writing, that started this thread, is in the May 6 issue of Science. Distributed computing is a special section in this issue (and is on the cover), with several good articles. Norm

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