Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’
February brought two new team members to the Atlantic team. One of the new recruits brought 986,373 credits which immediately pushed us past 1 million credits. If you follow the Facebook Page, back in May/2011 I put up a graphic showing that the team was originally expected to reach this milestone on 12/04/2014.
I can see that I need to set a new goal for the team. Should it be 5 million or 10 million credits? Let me know.
Since we had such a large influx of credits this month, I’m going to skip presenting the bar graph showing Credit Per Day (CPD) since that has one huge spike that has set every other bar to ground level by scale. Our second highest day of crunching pulled in 12,912 credits which beats our previous high set back in June.
What’s interesting is that often there is no communication from a new member. I’ll log into BOINCStats one day and notice a new name and realize that someone else has joined! I try to give our new team mates a warm welcome, but I don’t always know where they came from. Did they see the Facebook Page, the blog? Sometimes I can see they follow our G+ circle and try to say “HI” to them there.
Up till now I would try to personalize the team by adding their mug shot to our G+ page, but there are only 5 spaces available for pictures there so I’ll have to come up with a new system. Perhaps a “rogues gallery” photo album?
Now let’s take a look at our stats for the month. As you can see, Climate Prediction (CPDN) is getting a very large resource share. In my experience this doesn’t always reflect the actual resource share assigned to a project, it’s usually a coincidence that several tasks were credited in the same time period. Having said that, I would like to encourage my fellow team members to review their settings and make any adjustments that might lead to a more harmonious distribution of project credits. In my early posts I nearly became obsessive regarding the pie chart. I like seeing several pieces, with even resource shares.
By comparison, here is my personal breakdown for February. Look at those nice slices of BOINC pie! Yummy! Now as team leader, I don’t tell the Atlantic team members how to crunch, but if you do support a number of projects I ask that you take a moment to review your resource shares and maybe make a couple of tweaks. I’ve noticed that some projects will generate a lot of tasks while pushing other projects to the background. The BOINC Project Manager does a good job of allocating time, but you still have to provide some direction via the resource share settings at the project website or through whatever site you use as a project manager (e.g. BOINCStats).
At the time of this report, the Atlantic Team provides support for 21 projects, covering all scientific disciplines.
- Climate Prediction
- Collatz Conjecture
- Malaria Control
- SETI@Home Beta
- World Community Grid
This evening, I’m heading to a meeting of a local Unix/Linux user group (TWUUG) to make a presentation about the BOINC Project Manager software. As I was researching my presentation, I came across this information about BOINC:
- Active: 284,466 volunteers, 455,949 computers.
- 24-hour average: 5.813 PetaFLOPS.
By comparison, Jaguar has a peak performance of 2.33 petaFLOPS.
The raggedy band of crunchers who form the backbone of the BOINC community do pretty well stacked up against one of the most powerful computers of the modern era.
I’ve worked up a mind map for my presentation which you can view here.
Lately, my computer has been getting on my nerves. It just seemed to be getting bogged down too often. Although I am a proponent of the occasional re-boot to clear memory, even that didn’t seem to help keep the computer running at peak performance.
I found myself running Windows Task Manager several times a day, looking for suspicious processes that might be eating up memory. Sure, I identified a couple of culprits and made the decision to eliminate ClimatePrediction.net from my BOINC projects. Bur even after trimming what fat I could find, the computer would still sit spinning its tires in the virtual mud several times a day.
The time had come for drastic action. The complete re-installation of Windows including wiping the hard drive clean.
If you have a house, or know friends that do, you may have observed that most folks with a garage fill them up with so much junk that their cars end up sitting in the driveway. The same thing happens to the hard drive on a computer. Over the years, we accumulate programs, pictures, emails, and hundreds of little temporary files. All of this junk just eats away at the performance of the computer. I’m not going into a basic tutorial on computer maintenance here, but I’ll just say that if you don’t know how to clear temporary files, you should look into it.
My hard drive was past rejuvenation by flushing temp files. It was time to just chuck it all and start again. My philosophy on the matter is simple, if I can’t even remember the last time I used a program or file, then it’s time to chuck it.
My procedure for preparing for a purge is pretty simple:
- Copy my Internet Explorer Favorite Places file to a memory stick.
- Back up my Outlook Express Addresses to my BlackBerry. If you use a web browser to read your email your contact information is stored online. If you use Outlook Express, and don’t have a BB, visit the Microsoft web site and review the backup procedure for your version of Windows.
- Review any emails that I’ve saved, if I want to keep them I send them to one of my email accounts to hold on the remote server.
- Copy my Ultima Online user data directory to the memory stick.
- Take a quick peek at My Documents and see if there is anything I want to keep. Most pictures I want to keep end up on my Facebook account, and anything I write for my blogs is stored on the servers at WordPress. Although most programs will default to the My Documents directory to save files, some will use their local directory as default. Remember to check your Photoshop, AutoCad, or other software directories for files you may want to back up.
- Copy the installation files for any downloaded software I want to keep to the memory stick.
It may seem impulsive, but the whole process takes me about 10 minutes. My laptop has a Windows Restore partition so after copying files to the memory stick, I just reboot and select a full installation of Windows with the original drivers.
Now comes the part that most folks dread. I have had so much practice reinstalling Windows on my laptops that I have a basic mental checklist for getting my computer up and running.
- Re-install Windows (duh).
- Set up the Internet connection. If you use a secured Wi-Fi connection don’t forget to jot down your SSID and key.
- Connect to Windows Update and get all of the critical updates. (Remember, I’m back to the version of Windows that was originally installed on my laptop.) It is important to return to Windows Update until you have installed all of the critical updates. Lather, rinse, reboot.
- Install anti-virus software. Since Norton stores my user data in an online account, it’s no hassle to activate my software once I re-install it. Like Windows, Norton will also have to download several patches to get up to date.
- Once the critical software is completely up to date, its time to install the rest of the software. If you’re installing software from a CD, check online to get the latest version.
I complete all of the Windows Updates before I install Norton, as I want to avoid any possible conflicts. I consider the Windows Update site a safe Internet connection so I will connect to that before installing my firewall and anti-virus, but I connect to nothing else until Norton is in place.
After Windows and Norton are fully updated, I’ll configure my email accounts, copy my Favorite Places file from the memory stick and start re-loading software from CD’s.
Is it worth all this effort? Yes, my laptop is now running smoothly. I would compare the increase in performance to a memory upgrade. (Which I can’t afford right now.)
Based on my own experience I would recommend following these steps if you are considering a full hard drive “purge.”
- Visit the website of any software you use and download the latest installation file. For example, if you use Norton, or AVG anti-virus, get the most current version. Do the same for any games you have downloaded, utility software, etc. This will speed up the re-installation process since you won’t be waiting for file downloads.
- Make sure you have the activation keys for any software you have downloaded and paid for. Click “About”, many programs display key information there. Software you are installing from CD’s usually have the key printed on the jacket.
- If you use a home Wi-Fi network and it’s secured with a passkey, jot that down. If you forget your key you will end up having to re-configure your home Wi-Fi network.
- As I pointed out above, I use my BlackBerry to back up my Outlook Express contact information. Using the BlackBerry Desktop Manager software I can synchronize my device to Outlook Express and I’ve saved all of my email addresses. If you can’t do this, then you will need to back up your addresses manually. Loosing all of your contact information is probably something you want to avoid so be sure to do some research on how to do this properly for your system configuration.
- If you have the foresight to store all important documents, drawings, photos, etc., in the My Documents folder then you just need to back up that directory. Watch out for programs that default to their own directories when you save data, you will have to remember to locate and backup those files individually.
Having said all this, I just want to point out that my blog is intended to relate my personal experiences crunching BOINC project data. Sometimes I’ll share little snippets of my own personal computing experiences like I have here. I am not encouraging you to wipe your hard drive and re-install Windows. I am just sharing my recent experience regarding that, and providing some tips if you choose to do the same.
In other words, if you don’t know what you’re doing, do not try this at home!
A note for my fellow BOINC crunchers, the BOINC project manager reinstalled without a hitch. I then connected to BOINCStats and all of my projects displayed properly. It will take a few minutes for the BOINC project manager to download individual project files, but after that you’re back to crunching.
Just remember that if you rely on the BOINC project manager graph your progress for each project, you will need to locate and save the local data files for this information. My graphs were all empty when I ran the project manager so I messed that up. All of my data on BOINCStats was, of course, intact so I can use that to track progress.
If you follow the Atlantic team Facebook page, you probably know that I’ve had problems with my Internet connection becoming laggy. To troubleshoot the issue, I temporarily suspended the BOINC projects, and even removed the software from my computers. No change in the performance of my connection means that it’s not the fault of the BOINC project manager or any attached projects.
Of course while my projects were suspended my daily credits took a hit, so I looked for a way to jump-start my RAC. UKBoinc suggested adding Primaboinca to my project list and so I did. At the time of this post the Atlantic team has accumulated 200+ points for Primaboinca and that has certainly contributed to the team RAC.
I only add projects to the team lineup after I see that the whole process from sign-up to credits works properly, so now I”m glad to announce the addition of Primaboinca to the list of projects supported by the Atlantic team!
A look at the Primaboinca website gives this description of their activities:
PRIMABOINCA is a research project that uses Internet-connected computers to search for a counterexample to some conjectures.
Usually, when I evaluate a new project for the team, I look for a direct connection to scientific research that provides data for the relief of illness, disease or other humanitarian benefits to mankind. I have to admit that I have no idea what benefit finding counterexamples to conjectures has for mankind, but higher math is a basic foundation for research.
I’ll continue to do research into the purpose of the Primaboinca projects and if I find that they are mathematical “vanity projects” then I’ll suspend support for them.
Today I thought I’d share some information on one of the tools I use to monitor the effectiveness of my social media campaign.
If you use Twitter, then you may have had to deal with long URL’s in your messages. Do you know about link shortening services? The Twitter website lists a few of these and I chose bitly to handle my links.
You don’t need to set up an account to use the service, just visit this page and enter a long link. Bitly will shorten it and you can copy it to your clipboard to use in messages, blogs, etc.
It gets even more interesting when you open an account. If you do this, you shortened links are stored for you and you can also bundle several links into one link. This is a bundle of all the BOINC related web sites for the Atlantic team.
The fun doesn’t stop there! You can now use the analysis tool to see which links are getting clicks and you even get a breakdown of referrers and locations. Below is a list of clicks by country for my various bitly links:
- United States ( US ) 115
Japan ( JP ) 43
United Kingdom ( GB ) 25
Netherlands ( NL ) 3
Canada ( CA ) 2
Spain ( ES ) 2
Belgium ( BE ) 1
Switzerland ( CH ) 1
Czech Republic ( CZ ) 1
193 Clicks on Your bitly Links since Mar 8, 2011
My blog and Facebook pages provide their own analysis tools but by using bitly links for every link posted I get even more detailed information and it’s all in one place.
For those of you that are slightly paranoid… don’t worry. The information supplied has no personal information. In fact, country and referrers are as detailed as it gets.
In summation, don’t just use bitly for SMS/Tweets, use it on all your social media pages. You will find it much easier to track the effectiveness of you efforts.
As an avid MMORPG’er I will undertake quests to achieve certain goals. Sometimes the rewards are great, and other times all I get is a bag of worthless loot from some NPC. Sometimes the only reward is the satisfaction of just figuring out how to complete the quest.
My participation in volunteer grid networking projects could be likened to a quest. I started out with a desire to try something new that would benefit others. Then I had to figure out the nuts and bolts of getting the job done. And now that I have succeeded in that, my task is recruiting new members for the Atlantic team.
When I started all of this, I marveled at the number of credits accumulated by some of the teams. Now I am more impressed by the number of members in their teams. Credits are earned by the computer while it sits quietly crunching numbers in the background while I do something else. Recruiting team members requires personal involvement.
My first attempts at recruitment were directed at personal friends. I thought it would be a simple task to get them to install the BOINC project manager on their computer, and let it do it’s thing. I explained how the software worked in the background and could be set to minimize impact on other programs. I explained how donating CPU time was a way to volunteer for projects without the hassle of actually going somewhere and doing something. Even the variety of projects available didn’t seem to pique any interest.
What I didn’t expect was the suspicion that many had of the projects. Some seemed to actually think that the whole thing was a way for the government to get inside their computers and see what they were doing. When I pointed out that the software was written by the folks at Berkeley, that was even worse! Radical left-wingers would be using their computers to plan attacks on the government! I couldn’t quite figure out how folks could be simultaneously paranoid about the conservative right, and radical left. Are these people members of the “radical middle?” Needless to say, I am unsatisfied with my attempts to recruit my RL friends.
Now I focus my efforts on promoting the team and BOINC via social media. I started with a blog on WordPress and a Twitter account. I connected both accounts so that I would “Tweet” whenever a new blog post was created. I thought that would drive traffic to the blog and build team membership. After dutifully creating daily posts and Tweeting the teams progress I met with disappointment again. No new members. Not even a comment on the blog, or an inquiry for details.
After noticing that many organizations had Facebook pages, I decided to create one for the team as an additional way to get the message out. I also thought that having greater exposure via social media would add to the credibility of the team.
When I created my own personal Facebook page, I was allowed to pick a username which was then used in a personalized URL. This makes it easier to remember and it has a professional feel. However when I created my community page, I found that Facebook would not let me assign a short URL until I had 25 “likes” on the page. Well, that’s fabulous! I want to promote the page using the short URL that contains the team name. It would be professional looking and easy to remember.
Now I had a new quest. The quest for 25 likes! Just one more dragon to slay before my final reward, right? I posted a request on my personal page asking my FB friends to visit the team page and click like. Nobody responded to the wall post so I resorted to sending messages begging my friends for help. After receiving a total of three likes, I consider that effort over. Either my other friends just don’t care, or they are suspicious of what would happen if they clicked that nasty looking like button. It’s healthy to have a certain level of cynicism and suspicion, but Facebook has some of the most comprehensive personal security settings I’ve seen.
It’s particularly disheartening since I have been the “go-to” computer guy for these people for many years. I’ve actually taught some of them how to use their computer, the Internet and even set up their WIFI systems. Yes, I’ve been inside their homes! Am I not trustworthy? Do they think I’ll set up a secret program that’s going to steal their bank account numbers? Heck if I wanted that info, I’d have it already.
So it’s obvious that I am a little disappointed by my personal efforts at enlisting any form of participation from my friends. Back to social media… Maybe complete strangers will be willing to help me?
When I created my Twitter account I read how many folks use a link shortening service to keep their Tweets under 140 characters. I chose bit.ly for this and found they have very nifty tools to track link usage. I can even bundle several links into one. Was this the answer I was looking for? My previous failures at recruiting must have been due to the over abundance of information I was dishing out. Nobody would bother following the teams progress if it meant keeping track of several links. It was a simple case of “link overload.”
Now I have a “master link” that is a bundle of several other links. The team blog, FB page, individual project websites, even software download links. What’s even better is that the bundler lets me add comments to each link. I can imbed my plea for likes in a comment for the FB link. Even more impressive is that this bundle is not a static link. I can make changes to the bundle and folks who have bookmarked the link will now automatically see the new information when they click on it.
Have I found the solution to my problem? Will providing a single link that allows folks to browse all the available team and project information turn out to the best way to spread the word?
Preliminary results are promising. Bit.ly provides an analysis tool and so far that one master link has had more hits than any other link I’ve Tweeted or listed on the sidebar of my blog. My blog and Facebook pages have their own tools to analyze site traffic, but that data is site-specific. By using bit.ly links, I can track the overall interest in the team. I converted all the sidebar links on my blog to the shortened bit.ly links. Something that is completely transparent to folks visiting my blog. I also use these links exclusively for Tweets and FB status. Not just to keep messages short, but for the link tracking and analysis.
Will the Atlantic team begin to flourish? Will social networking finally generate interest in the team and the BOINC projects? I hope so, because I’ve run out of ideas. I guess I could make a sandwich board, wear a funny costume and stand on the street corner waving at cars.
Just one more dragon to slay…
The unimaginable has happened! Einstein@home has passed Malariacontrol.net and is now the leading project supported by the Atlantic team. How long can Einstein hold the lead against the virulent Malaria projects?!
Congrats to our newest team member Elysia! She is now accruing credits for completed projects and hopefully will be added to our combined stats at BOINCStats this afternoon.
The new Facebook page now has 5 likes. I still need 20 more to get that short URL I need so please visit the page and click the like button at the top. Thanks!
Don’t forget to check out the Daily Project Totals page.
Have a great day!