Monolith (Jun 14 2011)


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Profile Geek@Play
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Message 1119234 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 2:21:35 UTC
Last modified: 20 Jun 2011, 2:22:18 UTC

In the days before Boinc...................

Work units could take more than 24 hours to complete. Not like today with the GPU's crunching that can turn around a work unit in less than 5 minutes with more in depth analizing than before.

It's simply better computers and more GPU's on the project but bandwidth has remained the same (or little improvement) at Berkeley.
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Message 1119235 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 2:26:05 UTC - in response to Message 1119234.

In the days before Boinc...................


Even in the days before BOINC we got a lot of downtime it was just that the work took such a long time to complete nobody really noticed. :-)
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Message 1119246 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 3:30:35 UTC - in response to Message 1119227.
Last modified: 20 Jun 2011, 3:49:27 UTC

However, since you had a very good answer for me this time, might I ask why there is so much more trouble at this point in time and not so much say 7 years ago....before Boinc? I really don't remember having as much downtime back then, but I could have just forgotten the good old days.


SETI Classic had its share of downtime, but the problem is that the computers were so slow that a workunit could take an entire week to process. You would only notice if a week later you couldn't upload. If you were using SETI-Q, you might not have noticed at all. I certainly remember a few of SETI Classic's downtime eras and I joined in early 2002.

Now with multi-core CPUs and multiple GPUs spitting out results in under 10 minutes in some cases, the servers take a real pounding. But we're not dealing with time sensitive information here. Its not like the result you have will lose it's ETI signal if you don't upload it before the deadline, or that the next workunit you're going to download will lose it's signal if you can't download it. Ultimately, there is no real loss if you can't upload or download. You might have idle CPUs and GPUs if you don't protect your investment, but that part is up to you.

I do tend to think we, as a race, romanticize the past and remember the parts we want to more fondly as well. People define their present in misery (especially in these economically trying times) and their future with uncertainty and doubt. I think this psychology plays a large part in our perceptions of the project's current standings.

Now mind you, I'm not saying there aren't parts that couldn't be improved or tweaked to be made better. I know that no system is perfect. I only argue to keep our viewpoints in perspective, and maybe we can learn an appreciation for what goes into making this project successful instead of always getting upset over little things like lack of "official" confirmation of problems or how the project is malfunctioning again, as if it's never happened before or that it shouldn't be happening at all.

SETI@Home is a massive undertaking and I'm constantly amazed on how well it all actually works with what little they have to work with.

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Message 1119307 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 10:06:21 UTC - in response to Message 1119234.

I'm not so sure you can blame it on the advances in computing since it happens on both sides of the equation. Also, since the graphics cards are cranking them out so fast, can't the computers at SETI employ the same technique to speed things up?

I'm not convinced that their problem is lack of computing power, it seems to me that it is lack of being able to keep them cranking all the time.

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Message 1119308 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 10:15:26 UTC - in response to Message 1119246.

Oz,

I agree with you completely.

I guess I find that from past experiences from the early days of SETI, I had a lot of communication problems that were on my side of the fence, so naturally I wanted to know if the problem was still on my side or SETI's side. For this reason it was nice to know immediately if they had something shutdown or not.

Since they don't have a way to immediately notify us if they has system or network problems, they might just as well get rid of that screen as it seems to be useless.

Of course, nowadays the connection and/or system problems on our side are largely gone. But old memories are hard to forget.

Allen
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Message 1119330 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 12:20:59 UTC - in response to Message 1119308.

I guess I find that from past experiences from the early days of SETI, I had a lot of communication problems that were on my side of the fence, so naturally I wanted to know if the problem was still on my side or SETI's side. For this reason it was nice to know immediately if they had something shutdown or not.


There's enough information out there to be able to determine for yourself if the problem is yours or SETI's. Even the most computer illiterate person can eliminate the problem from their end using just a bit of critical thinking and reasoning skills. One of the easiest ways is to come to the message boards and read the threads to see if others are having the same problem.

Since they don't have a way to immediately notify us if they has system or network problems, they might just as well get rid of that screen as it seems to be useless.


But SETI doesn't have any "screens" unless you're referring to the Server Status page. Remember that SETI@Home is just one of many projects under BOINC, and BOINC is simply a framework that offers options for projects to utilize. The new Notices tab under BOINC wasn't made exclusively for SETI@Home; it was made for any project that wishes to send out notices to users who wouldn't normally visit the project's homepage on the web.

Such a feature implies that there's enough working staff to make it useful. If there's not enough staff to begin with, or the staff isn't trained in the server-side workings of BOINC, then the option really doesn't do any good for that project.

As for the aforementioned Server Status page, I think it has many uses beyond the obvious, but it shouldn't be read as authoritative by any means.

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Message 1119338 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 13:14:01 UTC

This is addressed to everyone who expresses, understandably, frustrations with SETI.

First, about me. Although I've been with SETI since 1999, I seldom post to this forum, as others usually handle the necessary communications. I follow it religiously, however, and feel I know many of you personally (at least the SETI/BOINC side of your lives).

I have been in IT longer than many SETI users have been alive. Let's just say that my first program was written in machine language (binary). I have hired, promoted and fired IT people based on their performance. Further, I have occasionally had private e-mail discussions with several of the project members over the years, usually on the scientific part of the project.

Sorry for all this history, but you need to know where I'm coming from before you hear the rest of this.

I recently had the most wonderful opportunity to personally visit the SETI site on the hill in Berkeley. I was given a long tour by none other than Matt Lebofsky himself. This charming gentleman is dedicated, very hard working, and -extremely- knowledgeable in his field.

Interestingly, his and the rest of the staff's frustrations are basically the same as those mentioned here, but for a slightly different reason. It is the lack of both support personnel and funding that SETI is saddled with.

I can tell you that the staff at SETI are doing the work of a department that normally would comprise at -least- 20-30 people in the corporate world. Why? FUNDING! (or lack of it).

Some of us forget that, in addition to maintaining the servers and other hardware, this tiny staff of very intelligent, highly educated, extremely motivated and truly dedicated individuals also work on everything else a functioning business does, including, but not limited to:
-programming (constantly ongoing)
-research
-funding
-accounting
-public relations

As members of a University, they also must also spend time both teaching and even fighting among the wolves for their small share of the available grants. In addition, as you may surmise, there is some prejudice against the SETI group, for reasons I think we all understand. I include this last point, even though it was not mentioned during my tour.

I will add one last thought, and then, hopefully, go back to the wall and continue watching and listening like so many of us. After that long visit with Matt and the others, I would be proud to have -any- of the SETI team on my staff, -not- in low level positions.

Thank you Matt, David, Dan, Eric, Jeff, Robert, and the several others I have not had the opportunity to meet and talk with over the years.

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Message 1119344 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 13:24:35 UTC - in response to Message 1119338.



<snip>

...

I recently had the most wonderful opportunity to personally visit the SETI site on the hill in Berkeley. I was given a long tour by none other than Matt Lebofsky himself. This charming gentleman is dedicated, very hard working, and -extremely- knowledgeable in his field.

...

Some of us forget that, in addition to maintaining the servers and other hardware, this tiny staff of very intelligent, highly educated, extremely motivated and truly dedicated individuals also work on everything else a functioning business does, including, but not limited to:
-programming (constantly ongoing)
-research
-funding
-accounting
-public relations

As members of a University, they also must also spend time both teaching and even fighting among the wolves for their small share of the available grants. I will add one last thought, and then, hopefully, go back to the wall and continue watching and listening like so many of us. After that long visit with Matt and the others, I would be proud to have -any- of the SETI team on my staff, -not- in low level positions.

Thank you Matt, David, Dan, Eric, Jeff, Robert, and the several others I have not had the opportunity to meet and talk with over the years.


Thank you Cherokee150.

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Message 1119350 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 13:41:32 UTC - in response to Message 1119338.

Now you've done it Cherokee, the guys are gonna get such swelled heads and spend the whole morning patting themselves on the back! :-) Just kidding, that's a great post and 100% true. The guys do a fantastic job.
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Message 1119355 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 13:49:43 UTC

Yes...very good post, Cherokee.
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Message 1119384 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 15:05:03 UTC

Thank you Cherokee for confirming my suspicions about the S@H staff. I will now also retire to lurking mode.
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Message 1119402 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 15:46:15 UTC

Uploads aren't working and access to the forums is sporadic(lots of connection reset), hopefully these can be fixed soon.
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Message 1119429 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 16:43:50 UTC

Thank you Cherokee150 for that very good posting.

The atta-boy posts are few and far between, there should be many more for the staff at Berkeley Boinc/SETI.

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Message 1119442 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 18:16:43 UTC - in response to Message 1119338.
Last modified: 20 Jun 2011, 18:17:58 UTC

This is addressed to everyone who expresses, understandably, frustrations with SETI....


Having met David, though not on the hill, and had some behind-the-scenes interactions with Eric, I can wholeheartedly vouch for a lot of this - and that which I cannot personally vouch for, I nonetheless have no doubt is true.

Given the skill and knowledge of this team, I also have no doubt they could land themselves some very nice jobs outside academia, and certainly outside SETI. The fact that several have persisted for over a dozen years* despite all the trials and tribulations is testament to their dedication.

* That's only counting the time the project has been accessible to the public - there were several years of planning and funding drives before that.
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Message 1119482 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 20:40:57 UTC - in response to Message 1119338.

Harumph! Well said...[/b]
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Message 1119490 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 21:26:20 UTC - in response to Message 1119442.
Last modified: 20 Jun 2011, 21:26:32 UTC

The fact that several have persisted for over a dozen years despite all the trials and tribulations is testament to their dedication.


Excellent! Very well said!

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Message 1119499 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 22:03:39 UTC

@Cherokee150

You made an absolutely excellent and 1st class post, and nothing you have said surprises me at all. The guys in the Seti Team have always had my admiration, and will continue to do so.

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Message 1119506 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 22:18:49 UTC
Last modified: 20 Jun 2011, 22:23:21 UTC

I'm having trouble posting, sometimes I can, others no way. I just get a busy icon like My request has been ignored. My isp said it might be Verizon as their having circuit problems of some sort.
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Message 1119507 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 22:20:35 UTC

Hi all,

the last days are really boring. The upload does not function and if it works a lot of my Results are lost anywhere in the Net. My Computers are running all Day and Night. But there is no raise in Points. I hope Seti will soon solve this problem.
Greets Gerhard
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Message 1119511 - Posted: 20 Jun 2011, 22:32:33 UTC - in response to Message 1119507.

Gerhard1, you should see your uploads moving now. Everyone hitting the server at once slows things down but they are moving.
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