The 'set it and forget it' school of BOINC participation

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Message 18472 - Posted: 15 Jul 2008, 13:59:14 UTC




I believe that a 'set it and forget it [KISS]' strategy would work for many newbies and would not involve them in much of the politics, geekspeak and bickering that, sadly, BOINC is ateup with . . .


Since we are apparently in the summer doldrums, many BOINC projects have been less than consistent of late [i.e. Riesel Sieve, Milky Way, Cosmo and ABC] I believe that a flight to quality is indicated.


This thread is expanding on this subject, brought up on this post:


Unfortunately some of the most worthy projects only have work occasionally [i.e. LHC, SIMAP, Lattice, Cels and MindModeling], running them requires regular attention. . .

If you are looking for a set it and forget it experience, I would recommend running at least 3 of the following BOINC blue chips [Rosetta, Einstein, QMC, Poem and WCG] so that if one runs out of work or has server issues, the others will keep your box running.



We must make the BOINC experience more newbie friendly.
If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking. - General George Patton



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Message 18475 - Posted: 15 Jul 2008, 14:19:45 UTC - in response to Message 18472.  
Last modified: 15 Jul 2008, 14:55:58 UTC

We must make the BOINC experience more newbie friendly.

Who is this 'we' you speak of?

The problem with Set it and forget it is that when a newer client comes out, a lot of people don't go use it. Look at how many people still use 4.xx versions of BOINC and what problems they unknowingly cause with that on various projects.

OK, projects can put in a minimum client that can get work, but this isn't always wanted behaviour as the client may not be available for some OSes that are supported. Until someone ports them...

As for making BOINC simpler, what do you want to be made simpler? If you truly want it simple, go to Grid Republic, fill in which projects you want to crunch for, click download BOINC and you're done. Really. How much simpler do you want it, someone coming to install it for you?

Us who help would like it if you who needs help knows the least bit about how your computer works, what the OS is capable of and that you do not assume that something is broken or needs fixed, just because you didn't read up on what the software is capable of in the first place.
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Message 18476 - Posted: 15 Jul 2008, 14:46:31 UTC - in response to Message 18475.  
Last modified: 15 Jul 2008, 14:50:38 UTC

We must make the BOINC experience more newbie friendly.

Who is this 'we' you speak of?



The we who don't deny or ignore the problems that BOINC presents to the noobs.


The problem with Seti it and forget it is that when a newer client comes out, a lot of people don't go use it. Look at how many people still use 4.xx versions of BOINC and what problems they unknowingly cause with that on various projects.



Seems that BOINC client is stable enough that using the latest version isn't that much of an issue.


OK, projects can put in a minimum client that can get work, but this isn't always wanted behaviour as the client may not be available for some OSes that are supported. Until someone ports them...



The great majority of newbie's computers are running M$, I can't think of a BOINC project that doesn't support all late model M$ OS's.

I also suggested running at least 3 projects at a time.


As for making BOINC simpler, what do you want to be made simpler? If you truly want it simple, go to Grid Republic, fill in which projects you want to crunch for, click download BOINC and you're done. Really. How much simpler do you want it, someone coming to install it for you?



Problem is, BAM and GridRepublic aren't newbie portals, most newbies go to individual projects, have a less than rewarding experience and don't come back.

I have been doing this for a little over a year, am approaching the 1M club and am still learning some of the nuances and tricks every day.


. . . BOINC is far from a set it and forget it experience


Us who help would like it if you who needs help knows the least bit about how your computer works, what the OS is capable of and that you do not assume that something is broken or needs fixed, just because you didn't read up on what the software is capable of in the first place.



Does user-friendly ring a bell?

How many newbies bother themselves with RTFM?
If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking. - General George Patton



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Message 18477 - Posted: 15 Jul 2008, 15:04:05 UTC - in response to Message 18476.  
Last modified: 15 Jul 2008, 15:15:33 UTC

I have been doing this for a little over a year, am approaching the 1M club and am still learning some of the nuances and tricks every day.

. . . BOINC is far from a set it and forget it experience

It is for plenty of people. I'm not saying it can not be improved in places, but that's for the hands-on experience of it. You're now saying as well that you are seeing new things every day, that doesn't show you want to set it and forget it.

All you have to do is:
Download installer.
Start installer.
Run BOINC.
Use the Attach to wizard to attach to a project.
Click on Next a couple of times, fill in an email address, password and click once on Finish.
Click the X in the corner of BOINC manager and that's it.

If you want more... you need to learn something about the program. That isn't too much asked.

By the way, generalizing that most people will get their machine with a form of Windows is out of date. Plenty of machines come with an as easy to use Linux version these days. It's just, if you want to install something on it, you need to know something about it. Then again, the same thing goes for Windows.
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Message 18478 - Posted: 15 Jul 2008, 15:10:46 UTC

As a matter of historical evolution BOINC probably was more-or-less install and forget. But that approach is naiive in everyday practice; life is not that simple. The first thing that happens is people start complaining that BOINC is uncooperative and inflexible, it doesn't allow them to customize its operation to fit their own particular needs. So BOINC gets a few enhancements allowing individuals to set their own parameters of operation; but that's not enough we need more! Alas, what goes around comes around...

Eventually we get guys like you who say that BOINC is too complicated and is not "install and forget it". The best DC system is one that is customizable to the user's needs and the best DC user is one who reads up and understands how the DC software works before installing it (and more importantly these are the individuals who are likely to stay for the long haul). Too many people sign up for a project on a whim because it sounds like a noble thing to do, but soon lose interest -- like they do with many facets of their life -- and move on to something else. Frankly we don't need those kind of people anyway since they contribute very little but expect a lot.
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Message 18481 - Posted: 15 Jul 2008, 15:53:42 UTC - in response to Message 18477.  


By the way, generalizing that most people will get their machine with a form of Windows is out of date. Plenty of machines come with an as easy to use Linux version these days.



Linux has a long way to go before it gets beyond it's enthusiast image and goes mainstream.

Microsoft Windows has a significant majority of market share in the desktop and notebook computer markets . . . .

Operating System




It's just, if you want to install something on it, you need to know something about it. Then again, the same thing goes for Windows.



I believe we all know people who can turn their computer on and off, check their email, use a search engine and YouTube, play solitare AND NOT MUCH ELSE.



Should we put an advisory on the BOINC homepage:

Not recommended for the computer semi-literate?


If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking. - General George Patton



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Message 18482 - Posted: 15 Jul 2008, 16:05:05 UTC - in response to Message 18478.  


Eventually we get guys like you who say that BOINC is too complicated and is not "install and forget it".



I am addressing this problem, AND IT IS A VERY REAL PROBLEM, from the perspective of the typical, techno-challenged noob or a fence sitter who is interested, but not committed, to getting involved in Distributed Computing.

I have been trying to talk a very technocapable neighbor into getting into BOINC. . .

. . .BUT he has real concerns with security and whether it is really worth the trouble.


I know that many prospective BOINCers are concerned with 100% processor usage, power consumption and their computers running hot.

We need to address these points in a coherent manner and not be so invested in the status quo that we don't seek improvement.



If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking. - General George Patton



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Message 18483 - Posted: 15 Jul 2008, 16:05:14 UTC - in response to Message 18481.  

Should we put an advisory on the BOINC homepage:

Not recommended for the computer semi-literate?


Perhaps yes. Or put an advisory down that if you truly don't know, not to be afraid to ask about it. Something some people don't know how to do, yet they do know how to register on a forum and complain and rant about the software.
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Message 18513 - Posted: 16 Jul 2008, 6:41:32 UTC

In my opinion BOINC is only lacking one thing to make a good "set it and forget it" experience even on projects like LHC and orbit. The thing that is missing is an autoupdate function for the core client. I still see tasks returned from 4.45 clients that I have never gotten back to update from time to time.
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Message 18516 - Posted: 16 Jul 2008, 8:56:00 UTC - in response to Message 18513.  




...

The thing that is missing is an auto update function for the core client. I still see tasks returned from 4.45 clients that I have never gotten back to update from time to time.


I agree. Does any one know if the BOINC Developers think an auto update function for the core client is possible in the near future or distant future?
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Message 18526 - Posted: 16 Jul 2008, 13:09:20 UTC - in response to Message 18516.  




...

The thing that is missing is an auto update function for the core client. I still see tasks returned from 4.45 clients that I have never gotten back to update from time to time.


I agree. Does any one know if the BOINC Developers think an auto update function for the core client is possible in the near future or distant future?

Auto-update should be optional. I don't trust BOINC developers to decide for me when is the right time to update my client -- I don't let Microsoft or Norton/Symantec auto-update their software either. I prefer to be notified and I'll decide when. All too often the latest-and-greatest release still has bugs in it and I prefer to lag behind with respect to upgrading.
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Message 18530 - Posted: 16 Jul 2008, 18:56:00 UTC

Does any one know if the BOINC Developers think an auto update function for the core client is possible in the near or distant future ? :)

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Message 18560 - Posted: 17 Jul 2008, 3:06:31 UTC - in response to Message 18526.  


Auto-update should be optional. I don't trust BOINC developers to decide for me when is the right time to update my client -- I don't let Microsoft or Norton/Symantec auto-update their software either. I prefer to be notified and I'll decide when. All too often the latest-and-greatest release still has bugs in it and I prefer to lag behind with respect to upgrading.

I agree, the auto-update should be optional, but have it so that say a flashing icon or some sort of notification within the BOINC client lets you know, also, maybe have it like Microsoft has it when you have the option of doing the express setup (simple way of doing things)or the custom set up, so that you can see exactly whats being installed (the way i always do it), and maybe have it so that you can pick which updates are installed (if thats feesable )
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Message 18561 - Posted: 17 Jul 2008, 3:24:30 UTC

A new version check has been included in the client since September 2007.
It will check for newer versions of the client upon startup as well as every 14 days thereafter. If a newer client version is found, you will be notified about that through the Messages.
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Message 18641 - Posted: 19 Jul 2008, 12:39:23 UTC - in response to Message 18561.  

Ageless wrote:
A new version check has been included in the client since September 2007.
It will check for newer versions of the client upon startup as well as every 14 days thereafter. If a newer client version is found, you will be notified about that through the Messages.

This is good, but there should be some kind of indicator for this in the GUI, not just in the message stream, or it will get lost and ignored. Perhaps the icon in the tray changes colors, the way Windows Update does?

-- Eric Myers

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Message 18642 - Posted: 19 Jul 2008, 13:23:09 UTC - in response to Message 18641.  

Even a tit wit little app like Process Lasso has a help menu option to let it interactively check if there is a new "recommended" version. Each project that has a custom skinned pack could use that to see if there is a new endorsed release for their volunteers.

As for auto-update, I think there was a comment as to why it's not a good idea. Think one of the inner circle made the observation. Certainly as with WAU, i'd want an option to disable that and hide it.... a network admin with central software roll-out would want that.
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Message 18647 - Posted: 19 Jul 2008, 15:58:11 UTC - in response to Message 18641.  

Ageless wrote:
A new version check has been included in the client since September 2007.
It will check for newer versions of the client upon startup as well as every 14 days thereafter. If a newer client version is found, you will be notified about that through the Messages.

This is good, but there should be some kind of indicator for this in the GUI, not just in the message stream, or it will get lost and ignored. Perhaps the icon in the tray changes colors, the way Windows Update does?

I've reopened [trac]#28[/trac] and added it and other options as a request.
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Message 18745 - Posted: 22 Jul 2008, 20:20:33 UTC

Don't yell at me for still using 4.19 on some boxes. After some not so good experiences with later BOINC versions and Squid authentication, I decided to keep it as long as Einstein allows it.
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Message 19485 - Posted: 14 Aug 2008, 12:46:40 UTC - in response to Message 18472.  





Since we are apparently in the summer doldrums, many BOINC projects have been less than consistent of late [i.e. Riesel Sieve, Milky Way, Cosmo and ABC] I believe that a flight to quality is indicated.



Lately, MindModeling and Seti have also caught the Eratic BIONC Project Syndrome.

Why does it seem that there are more and more spare computer cycles chasing after fewer and fewer consistent, relevant and worthy projects?

Rosetta, Einstein, QMC, Poem and WCG lead the short list.



If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking. - General George Patton



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Message 19724 - Posted: 24 Aug 2008, 2:44:17 UTC - in response to Message 18530.  

Does any one know if the BOINC Developers think an auto update function for the core client is possible in the near or distant future ? :)

Auto-update (not just update checking, but actually installing the new version and restarting itself) is at least half-done in the code already. Maybe fully-done but still disabled. I don't know why.
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Message boards : Promotion : The 'set it and forget it' school of BOINC participation

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