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Perl's Chip Salzenberg Sued, Home Raided 698

Chip Salzenberg writes "In April of this year, Health Market Science of King of Prussia, PA, told police that they feared I was misappropriating trade secrets. That very afternoon, police raided my house with a search warrant to seize every computer in the house, paper files, CDs, and DVDs... even my wireless router and cable modem!" Chip was the pumpking for perl's 5.004 release. Keep reading for his description of his current legal troubles, and for a shortcut into what he says prompted his former company's actions, read his letter warning about abuse of open proxies.

Chip continues: "The key evidence in the search warrant was so ridiculous as to be surreal: CVS logs indicating that I downloaded more than I uploaded, and that I sometimes accessed the company network from home. Apparently, for company management, the police, and a judge, working at home through a gateway the company set up for that very purpose, and refraining from editing every source file for every code change, is a sign of nefarious behavior.

My behavior in accessing the company network was entirely within my job description and in no way involved misappropriation of anything. For the more than two years that I worked at HMS, I used ssh and CVS to access company files with my laptop both from work and home, with management knowledge and approval.

What would lead management to such a sudden action? Days beforehand, I had made an internal report of unethical and apparently illegal behavior by the company: Use of open proxies for web harvesting to avoid blockage by web site operators. HMS apparently decided that working with me to address their use of open proxies was not an option.

Health Market Science is a large corporation with, compared to me, effectively infinite resources. My legal bills have topped $40K already over just two months. If HMS succeeds in tarring me with their false accusations, what's to stop your employer or client from doing the same to you, should your relationship sour?

Friends have set up, an informational web site and Legal Defense Fund. The site includes the search warrant, my letter about open proxy abuse, and court documents.

Please contribute to my Defense Fund to fight this attack on the normal and legal work practices of millions of tech workers. Every little bit counts! If every person who visits the site contributes only ten dollars, that will make a huge difference. Only through community effort can we protect ourselves."

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Perl's Chip Salzenberg Sued, Home Raided

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  • by ratajik ( 57826 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @06:36PM (#12954893) Homepage Journal
    Evidently, it's a pumkin head puking out a bunch of seeds: []

    At least according to Google...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 30, 2005 @06:36PM (#12954895)
    The superior officer of a Squash Squire?
  • Heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @06:41PM (#12954982) Journal
    Friends have set up, an informational web site and Legal Defense Fund.

    and slashdot has blasted it off the web.
  • I won't pay for a different reason. I steadfastly refuse to help those that choose to write headlines in the third person.
  • warrant (Score:3, Funny)

    by jotux ( 660112 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @06:58PM (#12955208)
    The warrant is halarious. If you read the bottom, it basically says:

    the company president called me, and said that one of his employees has accused him of illigal acts. Please go to my employees house, and remove everything that he has that could be used to prove that we have committed illigal acts.
  • by Captain Bumpsickle ( 56719 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @06:59PM (#12955218) Homepage
    What is it with people high up in the Perl community and legal troubles?? Didn't Randal L. Schwartz also get into trouble with a past employer?

    This should be reason #1 to use Python.

    I'm just joking everyone...nothing to see here...carry on.
  • Perl Programming Considered Harmful

    I am continually shocked and dismayed to see people write test cases, install scripts, and other random hackery using Perl. Perl is seductive because of the abundant CPAN modules and its TIMTOWTDI philosophy, so the path of least resistance is followed and a Perl script is written. Sadly, programming in Perl inevitably leads to one's employer taking legal action against the programmer.

    The most common problem encountered with Perl programmers is pointing out embarrassing things about their employers. All they are able to do is white-hat hack or whistleblow. While some educators have fixed some of Perl programmers' flaws (closed-minded disciplinarians do much better here), many have added new ones. Most of their problems can never be solved because they're not inadequacies per se, but rather the direct consequences of intelligence and free-thinking.

  • by blamanj ( 253811 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @07:08PM (#12955321)
    In a company I used to work for, we had a stuffed bear that we used to synchronize large changes I you were going to do massive cvs checkin you had to go get the bear.
  • by tktk ( 540564 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @07:18PM (#12955457)
    Perl Programming Considered Harmful

    Did Netcraft confirm it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 30, 2005 @07:38PM (#12955689)
    pffshh, i wouldn't hire you either.
  • by EnderWiggnz ( 39214 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @08:30PM (#12956134)
    bah... the company that i'm working at has 5 engineers on a linux server with an IDE drive. if you rebuild the world, you yell "generating all packages", so everyone knows that disk IO is fubar'd for the next 10 minutes.
  • by iamwahoo2 ( 594922 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @08:36PM (#12956180)
    Wow, an internal practices website sounds like the perfect place to discuss internal practices.
  • by fizbin ( 2046 ) <> on Thursday June 30, 2005 @09:48PM (#12956657) Homepage
    That's nothing - near the same place are the towns of "Blue Ball" and "Paradise", and the route between them [] leads, if not directly through Intercourse, pretty damn close.
  • by libra-dragon ( 701553 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @09:55PM (#12956709)
    It was looking good until I got to the last two "Required Qualifications"

    Position: Software Developer

    HMS is looking for a software developer to contribute to the creation of internal tools, customer web-based applications, and data manipulation software.

    This is a hands-on technical position reporting to the Director of Software Development in a small, focused development team.The successful candidate will be involved in the further development of tools and websites that support the company's goal of collecting, integrating and presenting data about healthcare professionals from a wide array of sources.

    This position requires an experienced software engineer with at least 5 years hands-on professional experience, and recent experience with Java in a Linux/Unix environment. Experience in object-oriented design and development, as well as prior participation in all phases of the software development life cycle is desired.

    Candidates with Perl development experience, strong software design skills and substantial technical breadth will have a distinct advantage.

    The superior candidate will have a vibrant, self-motivated, get-it-done attitude; the ability to think critically; a desire to learn in new areas; and the discipline to pay attention to deadlines, details and quality. Good communication and interpersonal skills are crucial for this team-oriented position.

    Please submit salary requirements with application.

    Required Qualifications:
    3+ years experience with Object Oriented Programming
    Significant experience with Java
    Experience with OO Perl a significant advantage
    3+ years hands-on Linux or UNIX
    Software design skills, with experience in designing and implementing N-tier software systems
    Experience in all phases of SDLC (analysis, design, development, testing, deployment
    Strong communication (verbal and written), and interpersonal skills
    Bachelor degree (preferably in Computer Science), or equivalent work experience
    Experience in abuse of open proxy servers
    Complete lack of ethics

    Additional Desired Qualifications:
    Proficiency with C++
    Proficiency in SQL programming
    Experience with Oracle
    Familiarity with GUI design and development
    Some Windows programming experience
    Familiarity with GUI design and development

    HMS Benefits:
    Health, Dental, Life and Disability coverag
    401K Plan
    Employee Incentive Stock Option plan
    Semi-Annual Bonus Plan Excellent working environment
    Business casual attire
    Small and growing company (currently 75 employees)
    Lunch provided daily
    To respond, e-mail resume to, citing "Software Developer" in the subject heading.
  • I've had to resort to this myself. I started working at a company where the upper management was highly religious. One of the managers was a tough erratic and liked to sit in my office for thirty minutes a day and evangelize. He also said, in one rant, that one couldn't be a competent techie unless one was "right with the Lord."

    I'm agnostic.

    So I got a microphone and attached it to my laptop. I was prepared to record his rant if my heathen status was ever revealed. Thankfully it never came to that. The company folded when the very devout Christian CEO was convicted of HUD loan fraud and sent to federal prison. :P
  • How to get the Hero Lose At The End :

    1/ Discuss terribly important matters that can burn your boss with ... your boss. - Ok, honest to god chivalrous move.

    2/Issue an official letter that is the corporate equivalent of going to war - Without covering your back...against, sort of chivalrous reflex of only dealing with the thing in front, and damn the backstabbers

    3/Gets a beating, quite serious, but he survives...-Please, remember we speak about the hero here.

    4/Hero finds master, changes is name and learn how to fight...lets say he learns Python instead - Very dangerous Technique, Python. Sad the old Assembly master is dead, or he would have been glad to contribute to the techniques Little Perl learned

    5/The hero - Little Perl - comes back, kills the evil CEO with the martial equivalent of the infinite loop (aka head in the ass) and flees to she sunset with the nice, and finally innocent lawer.

    Yeah, almost boring, seen it a thousand time already...
    BTW, do you still have my vhs of Shaolin Mountain, the Revenge of the Come Back part 2 ?
  • Re:Uh... (Score:2, Funny)

    by soulhuntre ( 52742 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @10:45PM (#12957013) Homepage
    See, there you go again... another person bringing facts into things.

    You need to be screaming "big brother" and "intellectual property is bad for hax0rs!".
  • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @11:50PM (#12957460) Homepage
    It's simple.

    If they're on the ballot, they have already sold out.

    Hey, I said it was simple, I didn't say it wasn't depressing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 01, 2005 @12:16AM (#12957627)
    Hey, if anyone else wants to try this, they're hiring [], and I hear they recently lost a senior developer...


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 01, 2005 @12:50AM (#12957807)
    "I think a legion of slashdot readers blasting these contact details and sending trollish e-mails will only worsen this guy's situation: "Then he got his legion of goons to come to his defence, causing massive problems with our e-mail infrastructure and bringing our website to a crawl, before this had even got to court." That cannot be good.

    Hey! Vigilante justice works. Just look at how it's brought the MPAA/RIAA to their knees.
  • by nut ( 19435 ) on Friday July 01, 2005 @02:00AM (#12958159) Homepage
    In my first job we had 132 developers working on a 128-bead abacus. If you had to leave the room, you gobbed on the abacus first so that noone else would touch it.

    In the evening we used to sit round and play frogger with real frogs.

Loose bits sink chips.