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Profile Beethoven
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Message 735261 - Posted: 6 Apr 2008, 5:46:41 UTC - in response to Message 735195.  

Ya know..I keep seeing people refer to " bugs " in the BOINC system, and I have to wonder what the heck they are talking about.

Supposedly, these " bugs " would drive potential participants away, but if you think about it, the vast majority of new users would be the " set it and forget it " type of user.

For those users, other than the trouble with having to enter urls to attach to projects, there really are no problems that I can see. If you do exactly what BOINC was created to do ( download/attach/run/not piss around with it ) then it DOES exactly what it was created to do.

Methinks that there are far too many people out there who want to tweak things to do exactly what they THINK it should do, rather than what it was designed to do.

In the process, the people wanting to do the tweaks are telling everyone who doesn't try to tweak the system ( like me ) that there are major problems.

Hate to break it to you, but there simply aren't major problems. It does exactly what it was advertised to do. I have never had any problems with BOINC. Know why?? Because I don't mess with it. I just let it run.


I'm happy for you KM, really I am. :]]

But perhaps you are one of the lucky ones?

I, myself, had problems with BOINC from the get-go. So I can well imagine that many others had problems too.

As to how Boinc is coded, that's well beyond my expertise. Unlike Paul D. Buck, who has been a professional Logical Data Base Designer for decades, I know nothing about coding.

But...the steady erosion of new users is a matter of serious concern. It's no way to "Be fruitful and multiply", if you know what I mean. ;]



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Message 735276 - Posted: 6 Apr 2008, 8:09:32 UTC - in response to Message 735195.  

Ya know..I keep seeing people refer to " bugs " in the BOINC system, and I have to wonder what the heck they are talking about.


Somewhere earlier I posted some notes extracted from the Poll on the main BOINC site and the numbers were astounding, to me at least, on the number of people that complained that BOINC was too hard to use.

Considering that I still see plenty of threads here and on other projects about problems also reflects this. Without much effort as I was reattaching to the projects I used to run I made these notes as to usability issues with the stock BOINC application. I was using the advanced version/view so I am not sure how many of these apply to the "simplified" version ...


** There is no warning or indication that the participant is working using local or web preferences. If you mistakenly close the page with "Ok", you are suddenly local preferences. If there is an indication, (and there may be) *I* sure have not noticed it ... The fix may be a two step, "are you sure" with separtate icons for the top of the page to indicate Web vs. local preferences ... not sure what the symbols should be though ... also, "Clear" does not imply to me that you are setting to web preferrences. Why not say "Use Web Prefs" as the button name?

** If you take a project off of suspend and you have a number of projects on suspend (for example to force a task to completion early), the project now goes out and asks for more work... even though you have plenty... In my case it was not a big issue, but, with the right settings this can cause problems. There should be a delay if there are other projects on suspend, and perhaps even a short delay if it is the only project on suspend to prevent an over-fetch of work.

** There is a confusing set of web site preferences that are tied to versions. This is especially complicating because there are at least 3 different versions of the site software in the wild, NOT including CPDN and WCG's odd hybrids.

** No help buttons on the web pages

** 0%progress work units. Though in my case it seems that this may have been "expected" behavior, and I did not take good notes, there is no good mechanism to detect and inform the participant that a WU may be in "trouble"... I have seen a number of posts on the various sites alluding to others with stuck work so this IS a cross-project issue, and though these are usually rare, in that a WU that "spins its wheels" for long times (and achieves no payment) this is a source of frustration. Again, contrary to vocal assertions that credit does not matter, I don't see that many people that have been here for very long that do not have a "signature" ...

** Though this is "eye-candy" issue and would be a very low priorty for me, the "private" mail system added has no indications which are truly unread messages and which ones have been answered. If we gotta have something like this, why not use an indirect where my clicking on send to participant 1429 opens my email and has as destination a redirect server where *MY* address is stripped to be replaced with a redirect address and the recepient's address is added in place of my redirect. Let us not try to re-invent e-mail ... someone has already done that ... all we want to do is to "hide" the e-mail addresses. I am sure that there is some technical "gotcha" in here somewhere, but the current system as implemented is useless ...

** Connect to project dialog does not remember my e-mail address or ask me if I want it to (and if I want it to keep asking, or not) ... not sure about the PW in that likely would be kept on the system in the clear and I am not sure that we want to do that (Or are we already?) if so, it should allow me to set the default.

** Connect to project lists projects that include the projects I am already connected to. That is silly, also the list seems randomized ... not sure why ... list is not sorted by project classes, math, biology, physics, ET Nonesense, ... :)

Also, I have not tried it, but, again this is where Help is most vital ... how to choose a project primer/help (or wiki) needs to be accessable.

** I attached my G5 to SIMAP even though there is no application for the Power Mac processors. I am no longer up on all the projects, but, either they should not show up in the project lists, OR, after attachment we need a more user friendly way to let them know that they are highly unlikely to get any work in that there is no application.

** there is no clear way to prioritze project interest except to distort resource shares to odd levels. If I want to get as much LHC work as I can (in that this is the most important project to me) then I set the resource share to say 320 ... then other projects to 160, 80, 40, 20, 10 ... but this results in bizaar readings in the resource shares. But there is no clear way to indicate that you do want to emphasize one project over another, but that that project's workloads are transitory ... LHC and SIMAP seem to be the most extreme examples where there are fluctuating work loads like this ...

** again, low priority I guess, but in asymetrical projects like this, there is no clear indication that the project is off-line and that your ACTUAL resource shares are: x, y, z ... FOr example, is SIMAP runs dry on the 8th of this month and on the 15th they have done all the re-issues, why cannot the clients be told to "sleep" on that project, and we show it in, say blue, with resource share greyed out, and the true allocations adjusted with that project ignored. Again, minor points, but the participant wants to put his effort into SAH and only do work on other projects in emergencies... and there is a current example where the guy gets more work for the other projects that is crowding out his SAH because of something about Tuesdays or Thursdays.


Keep in mind that these are just the things that I noticed in passing as I started to use the system. Other bugs/problems/usability issues exist (like the use of optimized applications I just asked about over in NC).

Though no product is bug free, BOINC *IS* new user hostile. Even sadder, new user questions also can be received with hostility making a bad situation worse ...

As far as how serious these problems are, well, right now I have ~10 tasks from ABC@Home and it is not at all clear that I will get them done before the D/L even though I am doing them and them only. This is partly due, it seems, to the high variability of the run times. with some running in as short a time as a couple of hours and one took 34(?), and now I am running ABC full time on that computer to clear the work before the deadline.

I *USED* to have a clearer picture of the problems besetting new participants when I worked with Tony here, he handled most of the support and passed on some problems to me to document. And thus the Wiki grew ... for what it is worth, I don't see that level of cooperation or help here these days ...

Last word ... I was not actively looking for issues, nor am I now, or ... I am sure that this list would be far longer ... and yes, I did send it on to someone I thought appropriate ...
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Message 735339 - Posted: 6 Apr 2008, 13:20:00 UTC

> to Paul D Buck . . .

< Nicolas Alvarez and David Barnard, David Anderson and John (Paddy's) brought the BOINC Wiki Issues

up here: [boinc_dev] BOINC Wiki


. . . regarding the BOINC Survey (echoing Previous Comments in this Thread and Paul mention in Message 735276 - below



. . . hope this helps (it's a 'start')


BOINC Wiki . . .

Science Status Page . . .
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Message 735360 - Posted: 6 Apr 2008, 14:21:20 UTC - in response to Message 735057.  

The first question in my mind is if the original pages are still there ... or not ...

They are. I just renamed the E@H one to have 'and' instead of '&' and it works now. But the renaming itself gets tricky due to the ampersand, so it took me a while (plus I was doing other things).

EDIT: apparently ampersands in page names should work, but something on the server is misconfigured. I'll email Chris, or ask Rytis tomorrow.

Chris says this should be fixed now (and that it took him the best part of an hour). I haven't tested it myself yet.

sent from my iPod

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Message 735405 - Posted: 6 Apr 2008, 16:10:05 UTC - in response to Message 735339.  

> to Paul D Buck . . .

< Nicolas Alvarez and David Barnard, David Anderson and John (Paddy's) brought the BOINC Wiki Issues

up here: [boinc_dev] BOINC Wiki

. . . regarding the BOINC Survey (echoing Previous Comments in this Thread and Paul mention in Message 735276 - below

. . . hope this helps (it's a 'start')

My only fault with it is that like many such thinks it limits the solution set to a narrow a vs. b when neither may be the optimum solution.

From what little I have done in research I have found dated or missing material in all the places I spent much time looking. Though I certainly agree that the error documentation will not be up to date in the UBW, for one thing that changes with every change in the main applications and with each new project. It was also one of the hardest parts to develop in that it was always reactionary when we had a user run into a problem and we had to work backwards from the error message to the problem and then write it up. Some I know I had the error, but with no input or contact with the developers, well, I could not read minds.

Anyway, from the way I read the recommendations, they boil down to nothing more than status quo ... keep multiple sources with individual missions, just shove the material around some. And, worse, keep parts of it unofficial ... in other words, rename some things, move a couple things around and nothing changes.

And why shouldn't the official BOINC Wiki have project information?

Is BOINC worth anything without projects? Does it do anything without projects?

Can anyone tell me how either of the proposed solutions solves the problem as stated at the top of this page?

To be blunt about it (sorry Nicolas and David), this whole paper suffers from the BOINC is separate from the projects problem that has haunted the BOINC System from day one. The average, non-technical, person, the person we should be trying to attract does not make this distinction. My wife's friend for crying out loud does not even know she is running applications on top of an operating system. She just sees it as one thing, you know, like a toaster.

Even trying to make a distinction between development and user documentation is not as clear cut as one would like it. For an experienced developer well familiar with the system things do seem that way. I know one of the things I was just starting to look into was the actual build processes for a BOINC project. And from my experience in writing deployment plans for other projects that I was working on, well, the ones in the BOINC development side were more like reminder notes to a person that had done it several times before... with no exceptional conditions, no customizations ...
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Message 735408 - Posted: 6 Apr 2008, 16:12:30 UTC - in response to Message 735360.  

Chris says this should be fixed now (and that it took him the best part of an hour). I haven't tested it myself yet.

sent from my iPod

It seems to work ...

Sent from my Mac Pro..

(I did not know this was a new requirement, to identify your sending point, I shall try to remember in the future)
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Message 735500 - Posted: 6 Apr 2008, 19:06:13 UTC - in response to Message 735408.  
Last modified: 6 Apr 2008, 19:16:30 UTC

(I did not know this was a new requirement, to identify your sending point, I shall try to remember in the future)

It's just kinda hard to browse the wiki from a three inch screen, and with no copy/paste abilities to play around with the URL. I added that just as an excuse on why I didn't test the fix myself when I made the post :]

But anyway, "Mac Pro" is not specific enough to identify your sending point, so you aren't satisfying the requirement. You should do better next time ;)

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Message 735765 - Posted: 7 Apr 2008, 13:27:41 UTC


. . . a suggestion from the [boinc_dev] BOINC Wiki





from John @ Paddy's





BOINC Wiki . . .

Science Status Page . . .
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Message 735924 - Posted: 7 Apr 2008, 21:14:04 UTC

My take is that it is too "busy" .. both of them.

What is our target audience. Maybe we need, or could use multiple entry pages tailored to the audience.

Or the simplified face proposed by Rytis and Co. as a start. Then under the Geek side the next menu can be a geek fest ... under the deploper side something else.
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Message 736115 - Posted: 8 Apr 2008, 8:39:09 UTC - in response to Message 735924.  

My take is that it is too "busy" .. both of them.

What is our target audience. Maybe we need, or could use multiple entry pages tailored to the audience.

Or the simplified face proposed by Rytis and Co. as a start. Then under the Geek side the next menu can be a geek fest ... under the deploper side something else.

Too busy...but the fundamental idea is sound. Having separate entry points for different types of users is a good idea. People want to get to the required information in as few clicks as possible..and they would like that information tailored to their knowledge and priorities.

A real techie would be happy with pages full of technical words, info on source code and extra tweaks etc... where as someone like me who does Boinc for the science and the social aspect would like simple pages that can explain how to just make the damn thing work.
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Message 736202 - Posted: 8 Apr 2008, 15:18:52 UTC

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Message 736212 - Posted: 8 Apr 2008, 15:35:54 UTC - in response to Message 736202.  

. . . this is beginning to look good Troubleshooting BOINC

The only way to know is to point the next person who has a problem to that page and see if it works.

It looks too complicated to me for a new user.

For what it is worth, I never came up with a good answer either ...
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Message 736403 - Posted: 9 Apr 2008, 9:38:25 UTC - in response to Message 736212.  


. . . this is beginning to look good Troubleshooting BOINC

The only way to know is to point the next person who has a problem to that page and see if it works.

It looks too complicated to me for a new user.

For what it is worth, I never came up with a good answer either ...


. . . eh Paul - 'My Point' was basically referrin' to the Fact that *something's* being done

> ps - keep up the great work Sir . . . (re: BOINC_Dev)


BOINC Wiki . . .

Science Status Page . . .
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Message 739165 - Posted: 14 Apr 2008, 23:49:53 UTC



. . . a Discussion w/ Paul D. Buck led to the Following - and Paul shall be Commenting Regarding the Following Matter

RE: Extension:TracWiki2MediaWiki



The goal

This tool is merely a DRAFT version, a mini utility that can be used to convert TracWiki pages to MediaWiki format.

The basis for this tool is php2mediawiki by Isaac Wilcox, Copyright (C) 2005 Isaac Wilcox. php2mediawiki provided

a convenient basis for this convertor and the modifications added to it were introduced to support the conversion of the JSPWiki format . . .




Note: > keep up the great work Sir . . . (re: BOINC_Dev Wiki)




BOINC Wiki . . .

Science Status Page . . .
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Message 739167 - Posted: 14 Apr 2008, 23:51:17 UTC - in response to Message 739165.  

. . . a Discussion w/ Paul D. Buck led to the Following - and Paul shall be Commenting Regarding the Following Matter

RE: Extension:TracWiki2MediaWiki

Most was already moved manually anyway.

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Message 739189 - Posted: 15 Apr 2008, 0:48:19 UTC - in response to Message 739165.  

. . . a Discussion w/ Paul D. Buck led to the Following - and Paul shall be Commenting Regarding the Following Matter

RE: Extension:TracWiki2MediaWiki

Don't use a stapler with MediaWiki ... only paperclips ...
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Message 739206 - Posted: 15 Apr 2008, 1:23:16 UTC

This goes back to the other threads where we have discussed why people leave BOINC, or specific projects...

In summary, and in as terse of terms that I can come up with you generally get variations on these answers:

1) BOINC is too hard to understand/use
2) What do I get out of it (as in, what is the point ... a question my wife asks me when she pays the electric bill)

The UBW was born out of the SETI@Home Classic FAQ and grew as I saw more and more that the documentation did not help the users make use of BOINC. Or to understand it, or to get more out of it than a screen saver. Eventually the Unofficial BOINC Wiki was born because I could not get any path to official recognition ... and myself and a few others tried to fill the gap in documentation. Failing health forced a retirement from BOINC and the stress it put on my life. And though the UBW was re-hosted, and was technically alive... the updates slowed and eventually stopped.

Now we have the TracWiki, the UBW, 243,769 team sites, Project sites, and FAQ sites ... all making a pretense of documenting BOINC.

I say pretense because no matter how proud you are of your work ... all of it is out of date in one place or another ... dare me and I will find it ... having done this work ... I know ... I have no sooner finished a page than it was obsolete ... and that is the point.

Another poster to the list suggested separate Wikis for projects ... Dr. Anderson wants a separate one for the BOINC developers... none can see that this simply perpetuates the current problem ... 47 thousand repositories ... all mouldering ... all obsolete because our effort to update them is scattered and duplicated.

The project complain that they want to control the material said about the project ... fine, monitor the relevant pages ... have the first right of refusal ... but give us a chance to improve on your sub-standard and incomplete documentation of stuff ... from the point of your project to the way to use the screen saver ...

Some said it was bad that I "controlled" the UBW, no argument from me ... I don't like single sources of power, even if it is me ... when I was a Senior Chief, well, when I met with my Chiefs I only used my star to break ties ... if it was a 4-3 split and I was in the minority ... well ... I went with the consensus ... it is surprising the results you can get by leading ... and not dictating ...

And that is what I am trying (again) to advocate here ... a Wiki that documents BOINC, A to Z, Alpha to Omega ... tip to top ... stem to stern, good to bad ... where we can consolidate all BOINC knowledge ... and no one "owns" his little corner ... trust me, you cannot, alone, do as well as we can do together ...


If you have an "in" with a project manager ... or can contact one ... do that ...

Or have your own documentation site ... are you for BOINC, or your own ego?

Are we furthering science, or our egos?
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Message 739835 - Posted: 16 Apr 2008, 15:17:36 UTC



. . . something well-worth YOUR Time

. . . watCh! this Video on 'Human Computation' - 52 min from July 26th 2006


Thank You . . .


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Science Status Page . . .
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Message 740194 - Posted: 17 Apr 2008, 0:39:01 UTC
Last modified: 17 Apr 2008, 0:39:41 UTC

A couple more minor bugs ... from Paul D. Buck

1) BOINC Manager in advanced view does not remember window settings. One copy I have opens with the tasks tab, another with the disk tab, neither remembers the window position or size.

2) SHA-1 project may have the wrong URL in the dialog box. I get messages telling me to detach and reattach "when convenient"

3) There is no way in the new "sandbox" system to easily reset long term debt. In the old days you stopped boinc and then edited the state file. Now,if you do that you have to run the installer afterwards to reset permissions. Note that trying to pass down permissions by using "Info" on the folder and setting them as a "Apply to enclosed items" does not work as it will for installing an optimized application.

4) The projects listed in the dialog box is a curious mixture of alpha, beta, and live projects ... Chess960 is listed though it is not taking new applications. The process of listing projects there seems to be "political" perhaps? BUt, a bigger question is that are we sure we want to be listing Alpha status projects w/o warnings? Even "beta" projects ... not sure what the best strategy might be here ... green background for production, amber/yellow for beta, red for alpha ... with a secondary dialog for alpha beta (with turn off checkbox) ...


> Eric - do You know ? WHO ? can take care of these issues . . .
BOINC Wiki . . .

Science Status Page . . .
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Message 740196 - Posted: 17 Apr 2008, 0:40:48 UTC - in response to Message 740194.  
Last modified: 17 Apr 2008, 0:41:08 UTC

3) There is no way in the new "sandbox" system to easily reset long term debt. In the old days you stopped boinc and then edited the state file. Now,if you do that you have to run the installer afterwards to reset permissions. Note that trying to pass down permissions by using "Info" on the folder and setting them as a "Apply to enclosed items" does not work as it will for installing an optimized application.

boinc_cmd has a --set_debts since 5.10.14. See BoincCmd wiki page.

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