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April 2002: Haxxor-of-the-Month: Inside the UD Forum #286436
03/18/2002 4:39 PM
03/18/2002 4:39 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
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ud Haxxor-of-the-Month: Inside the UD Forum
By: tackaberry

Each month we feature one of our Haxxor All-Stars as the Haxxor-of-the-Month. This month, we're doing something a little different, as we go deep inside the United Devices Support forum with Graham Eames and caffeineyellow5. Both have been crunching conformers for quite some time, and even though they both visit UBBDev, neither is a member of our team. For those of you who have not visited the UD Support Forums , it is an excellent place to go when you have questions. If you ask a question, it is likely that either Graham or caffeineyellow5 will answer it.

UBBDev: Thanks for taking some time to speak with us. What is your involvement with the United Devices Cancer Project and with the UD Member Forums.

Graham Eames: Just like you, I'm a user who downloaded the UD Agent to run the Cancer project back in April last year. Since then I have become more involved with the forums, initially as a normal member taking part in the general discussions, and helping out where I could. In the past six months or so after UD starting using the forums for more of the support activity, I have taken on a much more active role in the support of other users, and I'm now a Moderator on the forums, and one of a small group responsible for maintaining the unofficial member support documents.

caffeineyellow5:
quote:
by CY5
A new job? What is my old job?
I just live here. I don't have a job.

quote:
by Nscafe (UD Moderator)
CY5, yeah... your job is currently reading the forums and helping out.

That sums it up really.

UBBDev: Which of the UD forums to you moderate or help out at the most?

caffeineyellow5: I currently don't have moderation functions on any of the forums. I do have write access to the Community-maintained FAQs forum and full private member access to the Community Development forum.
As far as help, I think that my help is more descibed as informational and directive, rather than techical and exploritory. For example, if someone needs help on a technical issue that I know the answer to, I would usually find that answer and then copy and paste it. If someone needed a tool, trick or tip, I would point them to the page they could find it on. My help also includes things in the area of creating and maintaining a family environment within the forums. There is not a UD forum (aside from Alpha and Beta tester forums) untouched by my keeboard, but many of my posts are conversational, word game, site/quote/pic/word/etc of the day type things, or words of encouragement. My additional help includes, clearing up misconceptions and concerns over the UD agent and what it does.

Graham Eames: Officially I'm the moderator of the Community FAQ forum , which is the repository for various useful documents which have been written by the members to answer a number of question. Beyond that, I take part in most of the forums to some degreee, spending most of my time in the support or "chat" forums.

UBBDev: It sounds like the users do a great job in running the support community. How many of the UD Forum "staff" are actually affiliated with United Devices, Oxford or any of the other project partners?

caffeineyellow5: All UD employees have the UD - before their screen name. The Oxford people have the same type of designations. Also, UD employees have UD Employee after their names when they post. No one without these designations work in affiliation with UD or project partners.

Graham Eames: [/b]Among the regular forum users, there are 5 or 6 who are directly employed by UD, about 8 who have no affiliation with UD (and act as moderators or otherwise help with support), and a further 3 who have links with the University of Oxford. Those who have official connections with UD or one of the partners are usually quite easy to identify, having their affiliation either in the Username, or as their rank text.

UBBDev: How many members are there on the UD Forums, how busy is the board?

Graham Eames: The current membership of the forums is somewhere just over 25,000 with more joining each day, of which there is a regular membership of up to 500 people, with the rest of the members only dropping in occasionally to ask questions or raise issues they feel strongly about. We also have a fairly large guest community who use the forums for checking up on the news, but who have never joined. The forums are what I would class as quite busy. Taking a few averages from last months usage, we averaged out at around 25,000 page views per day, with several hundred posts each day as well.

caffeineyellow5: As of this moment, there are 25,364 members. We usually hold up at least 15 at all times. I have seen us as high as 181. Our average is around 35 on a ten minute count.

UBBDev: What are the most common questions you deal with at the UD Forums

Graham Eames: In recent weeks, the two most common questions have related to the length of this project, and people's concerns over their connections to the UD servers. Then of course there is the ongoing issue familiar to many who run the project of Long Running Molecules, and the size of workunits. In general, the most common questions relate to how the software works, and the scoring system used by UD to record your contribution to the project.

caffeineyellow5: Don't you ever sleep?
No really, most of the questions asked are about the THINK project. About LRM's(long running molecules), proteins, points/ratings/ranking issues and recently, connectivity speed and project length.

continue to page 2

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Re: April 2002: Haxxor-of-the-Month: Inside the UD Forum #286437
03/18/2002 4:41 PM
03/18/2002 4:41 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 3,599
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UBBDev: We've seen a lot of different molecules. Which are your favorites

caffeineyellow5: My favorites were the original RAS releases. We had gone from SOD (Superoxide dismutase) which were days long to Ras which were minutes or seconds for some people. I went from SOD at one every eight days to RAS at every two hours. They were great.

Graham Eames: I don't have any particular favourites, because I'm one of the users who tends to just leave the software running in the background without paying much attention to it (as designed), except when I need to look at it to answer questions. That said, I would have to say I prefer the proteins displayed using the ribbon representations (such as Super-Oxide-Dismutase from the start of the project, and Prot-Tyr-Phosphatase from more recently), simply because they look better on your monitor.

UBBDev: A lot of our users also have LRM concerns. What type of advise do you usually offer in dealing with LRM's.

caffeineyellow5: First you have to know if it really is a LRM (or MFH) or if there is a problem with their agent. This is a big step. If it is a LRM, then it is easy. Let it run. The UD agent has come a long way on this issue. There are virtually no LRM's around anymore. The saving is so much better than before. A true LRM is a molecule (NOT AN ENTIRE WORK UNIT OR PERCENTAGE POINT) that runs longer than several hours (usually six or more hours.) My eight day SOD's would have one molecule run for two of those days. Now, people think it is LRM if the work unit goes longer than 5 hours. laugh Just let them run.

Graham Eames: Of course, there does arise the question of what an LRM actually is. Many users think that the term was coined to describe workunits as a whole, and complain if they get a workunit which runs for more than a day, when in fact it originates from describing one specific base molecule in the file which ran for a long time (many days at the start of the project). My usual answer though, is that if you are able, then you should just let it run. With the advent of workunit timeouts, and other changes since the start of the project, it is no longer possible to get the truly killer units of the past. As an absolute last resort, I would tell people how to dump the workunit, but I would not suggest making a habit of it. To put the issue in perspective, I have only ever come across one unit in the entire time of running the project (11 months now) which I just couldn't process on my home PC in the time it was on.

UBBDev: Tell us a little about the team you are a member of, how many members, what rankings

Graham Eames: I'm not actually a member of any team involved in the project. Initially, this was because I wasn't aware that the teams exist, and then later decided that in dealing with some things on the forums, neutrality can be an advantage. Although that said, I do assosciate with many of the larger teams who frequent the message boards.

caffeineyellow5: I started a team on the day that UD offered the teams option on 4/3/01. Naturally, the team reflects me, so it is the King James Bible Believers after my beliefs on spiritual matters. We have 20 current members. Our ranks are 96th for results returned, 89th for CPU time and 81st for points.

UBBDev: How did you hear about UBBDev, and our UD Team?

Graham Eames: I can't honestly remember, but I think it was a mix between the link that appears at the bottom of the Who's Online page, which intrigued me, and then off course the presence of a number of the UBBDev team members around the forums. Since then, I have checked back to UBBDev (and Infopop) on occasion to search for answers to various UBB related questions which have arisen in our forums.

caffeineyellow5: The forum board web master that set up the boards (Chris Eaton) got UBB v6 WOL hack from Elliott (Borg) Brady (originally developed by Dave Downin) and put the credit to UBBDev at the bottom of the WOL screen. I clicked on it one day. When I visited, I saw that UBBDev was involved in the UD project and had started a team.

UBBDev: How many computers do you have the program running on?

Graham Eames: I started off running it on one computer, and I'm now up to running it on three.

caffeineyellow5: I have had one computer working 24x7 since January of 2001 and I have new laptop for 2 weeks now.

UBBDev: What have the top tier teams done to be so successful

caffeineyellow5: I THINK that the best thing most of the top tier teams have going for them is a built in network.
For example: Team 2ch had a very large web presence and thousands of members even before they started on the UD project. DPC (Dutch Power Cows) had a large DC presence on past projects of other companies.
Microsoft, Intel, Uni of Oxford and others had many computers already available and the project itself promoted more, non-employees to join on with them too.
Most of the others were good promoting. I got lucky and found a power user .

Graham Eames: In general, the most sucessful teams are those who already have a community of some form, and so a means to promote the project. Hence a number of the top tier teams are either corporate teams (we have Intel, Microsft, IBM and Compaq in the top 50 to name just a few) who only need a small percentage of users to join to turn out large amounts of processing time, or they are those coming from large frequently visited technical websites who have pushed the project (so for example we have AMDzone, The Register, [H]ardOCP, and yourselves).

UBBDev: Besides running multiple machines, what are some of the things that Power Users do to maximize their results?

caffeineyellow5: I'll tell you what I do. I don't run any screen savers. I push the button on the monitor. I don't run my desktop as a web page, classic with a black backround is fine. Power saving settings are all off. Schedulers, time checkers, tasking programs, etc. are all off. I don't leave IM software running the whole time I am online (only when a meeting is planned or if I manually open it to check. Then I exit it again. Semi weekly LiveUpdate, anti-virus check, WinDoctor(scandisk) and SpeedDisk(defrag) runs.
Many also use UDMonitor to store work units for when a connection to the UD servers is not available or wanted.

Graham Eames: There are a number of things people do to maximize the results returned, the most common are:
  1. Running UD minimised, and looking at it as little as possible (as there is a small CPU overhead in displaying the graphics).
  2. Disabling the screen-saver, or using the Blank Screen option (because again there is a CPU overhead with any screen-saver).
  3. Disabling infrequently used StartUp tasks to free up CPU time for UD.
  4. Some of the most dedicated will simply dedicate an entire machine to the project, running Windows and UD only, although this is an expensive option

UBBDev: What can you tell us about the status of the project. Most of our users are probably unaware that the current sponsorship for the project is due to end in April.

Graham Eames: There really is nothing definite that I can tell you on that score, we're waiting for UD to publish a statement detailing the current progress on this project, the future of this project, and possible future projects. In purely statistical terms, we have already far exceeded the work UD were originally contracted to do, and each time the project has been expanded, so my personal feeling is that this project will continue running past April, although I obviously don't know for how long. Beyond that there are a number of options under discussion, but I don't know many details of those.

caffeineyellow5: This is still the best answer I can give.
quote:
by Andy Prince
Director, Corp. Comm.
back in late February:
As far as the Cancer Project continuing beyond April, I wish I could give you a more complete answer right now. The original plan was to run the project for one year, and we are still on track to do that. If we are able to extend the project, we will certianly make every effort to do so.

quote:
Snippits of a full text by Tim Williams
Member Services
posted in early March:
I'm still working to formalize a "current status and what's next" report for public consumption, but let me share some of the raw data with you. We have more than completed the original scope of the cancer project and we are currently rescreening some proteins against additional molecules. We may get one or two more proteins from Oxford and will add them to the project as they become available. But, with the current power provided by the UD member community, we can easily complete all the available work by May or June... The bottom line is that the UD members provide an awsome amount of processing power...but there are only a few research projects... This is not a matter of funding or sponsorship, It's...projects. And if you're wondering why we can't just keep running the cancer project and add more proteins, we are pursuing that option but we need to reach agreement with all the parties involved and that hasn't happened.
As far as the outlook for the next quarter...well it looks very busy for all of us, and that's a good thing!

UBBDev: Well thank you both very much. Hopefully the project will continue on, as all of us at UBBDev feel very strongly about helping out. If the cancer project does come to an end, hopefully there will be other projects that we can help contribute to.


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