August 2001














SETI TIPS, FAQs, et. al.




















(remove NO.SPAM)

Mad props go out to IronBits for hosting the site and all the others who have kept this site going for the past couple of years!.

August 19, 2001

Im Back…(sorta)
Ok…I never really went anywhere, but I am here.� For the past two weeks I have basically been playing the heck out of some games.� First off it was a Deus Ex marathon.� A couple of weeks ago I picked up Max Payne and was totally under-whelmed with it…so I needed something to satisfy my gaming crave.� I picked up Deus Ex and locked myself in a room for a week or so.� I have no clue why I never bought this game when it came out.� A bit of System Shock 2, a bit of Half-Life.� I actually think it is *better* than half life.� Right now I am playing through Serious Sam, and may also pick up No One Lives Forever.� I have to catch up on the good games.
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Along with the News Update, there are some updates with the stats.� I have updated the weekly stats for this week and also for last week (that I totally forgot).� Also I fixed up an error in one of the stats menus, plus I have also expanded the top work unit per day and work unit averages to the top 100 instead of the top 50.
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A couple of stats milestones this week to note:

  • fragile broke into the top 1000 users overall in the S@H project.� Congrats!

  • Also, TLC – Ken has reached the 50,000 WU mark.� That is some serious crunching, and a heck of alot more than I have!

Additions and Subtractions at Berkeley
There have been some goings on the S@H pages over at Berkeley.� Some of the changes were cosmetic, but they also caused some uproar from people.� The changes were being made on the team statistics pages.� I caught a look at the page after they had made a change and I didn’t quite like the look.� They were trying to format the pages to look more in line with the format they have for the home page of the site, but the problem is that it caused some of the lines to span over two lines instead of one.� That made things look a bit cluttered.� I guess that is the pitfalls of having a fixed width page.

Problem with the changes is that it sort of b0rked many people’s stats gathering scripts and also some 3rd party addons.� When the complaints hit the newsgroups and their email boxes they quickly changed things back.� here is what Eric Person had to say about the changes (he is the one working on the page formats:

To All:
Thanks for your feedback regarding the formatting changes to the User Stats pages. My purpose was simply to make the formatting of the user stats & team pages consistent with the look of the rest of the site, but in doing so I unknowingly goofed up all of your third-party scripts & programs (such as SETI Spy).� (Also, thanks for the comments about the 700 fixed width. It was intended to be 640 (I cut & pasted the table specs from the wrong place), but even so, you’re right–a 640-pixel fixed width isn’t good for stats tables (though it’s arguably desirable for text…).

Anyways, I changed back the user_stats formatting to its original state, so SETI Spy and other parsing algorithms� using the user_stats cgi should be ok now.

The team pages are also being changed back, although the processing of those pages take considerably longer (about a day).

I think that anything that cuts down on their server load over there is good.� I caught a later post saying that they will give warning on any changes that they are going to make on the pages.� I am actually surprised cuz my stats scripts had no problems at all with some of the changes.� I never thought of my coding to be uber-efficient but they seemed to work!� Eric Heien also said later that they are going to encode the stats in XML to help lighten the bandwidth and processing of the stats.� (BTW:� I think they have way too many Eric’s working for them over at S@H :).

There was also a subtraction to the Berkeley pages sometime in the past week.� The Cruncher of the Week is now no more.� Now that they have the User of the Day, the Cruncher of the Week was a bit redundant I guess.


August 8-9, 2001

New S@H Stuff
There is a new page over on the Berkeley pages, this page is a Current Progress Summary of the project. The page shows:

  • Percentage of the sky scanned, and how many times a that area has been scanned.

  • The number of spikes and gaussians found so far.

  • The percentage of the WUs that have been checked for data integrity.

  • Percentage of signals that were eliminated because of Radio Frequency Interference.

  • The numbers of potential final candidates for Extraterrestrial signals.

For each of the bulleted items above, there are links to pages which describe each process in more detail.� Some numbers:

  • 78% of the visible sky has been scanned at least once, and ~43% of the visible sky has been covered twice.� One thing to note is that for a Final candidate to be considered, the area of the sky a potential candidate needs to be checked twice.

  • only ~50% of the work units/signals have been checked for integrity.� This means that results from a work unit needs to be confirmed from two different user submissions.

  • only 2.31% signals have been rejected because of RFI.� I am surprised that this number is low…I thought it would be higher than that.

  • 17 signals have been identified as final candidates for further study.

I am sure that many people are happy that there is more hard science and numbers are being released based on our 2+ years of work.� I hope that they keep it up!

Credit?� Who Gets It?
There was a thread on the sci.astro.seti newsgroup by a user who was complaining that the first person who may send in a WU result with a potential signal would be the only person who would get credit for “finding” it.� Eric Korpela said that wasn’t true, and everyone who sent in results on that work unit would get credit.� One of the reasons the person was complaining was because he balked at Corporate Farmers would be the people most likely to find a candidate signal.� A further post in the thread by Eric Heien gave us some numbers that were kind of interesting.

Out of curiosity, I just ran few queries on the S@H user database, and came up with some interesting results regarding the struggle of the individual cruncher versus the big labs.

45% (157,581,618) of the results have come from users who have done less than 1000 workunits.

68% (236,953,091) of the results have come from users who have done less than 2500 workunits.

83% (287,378,902) of the results have come from users who have done less than 5000 workunits.

It’s a pretty good assumption that a big lab will have done more than 5000 WUs by now, so the odds of a discovery coming from an individual’s computer seem much higher than the odds of it coming from one of the big machine farms. The majority of the SETI@home power comes from individuals each running a handful of computers rather than big labs running hundreds of computers

I personally think that the cutoff for the big labs should be up in the 6 – 7000 WU range since my 3 machines here at home have cranked out nearly 6000 WUs.� And I am hardly considered a “big lab” :).� Right now there are only 6,000 ppl who are ahead of me in the rankings.� The rank and file home/single work user is contributing the vast majority of work units to the project.� The corporate users/teams may have a high work unit/person ratio.

If you take a look at this graph, you can estimate some more numbers:

  • Total Work Units received:� 343,828,456

  • ~30% of the work units were done by users with 10 or less WUs.

  • ~25% of the work units were done by users with 11-100 WUs.

  • ~20% of the work units were done by users with 101-1000 WUs

  • ~9% of the work units were done by users with 1001-5000 WUs

  • ~14% of the work units were done by users with > 5000 WUs

  • I guesstimated the %s from “area under the curve from the linked graph, and it looks pretty close to the numbers that Eric came up with 🙂

Twp more numbers to throw out to y’all…TLC has 1.1% of the total work units sent into Berkeley.� Those work units were done by 0.12% of the total members in the project…not bad for a hardware enthusiast team ;).

Heads Up on TechTV Tonight
I wanted to throw in a quick heads-up to everyone that Brian Briggs, the creator and mastermind behind is going to be on ScreenSavers (on TechTV) tonight at 7pm Eastern time.� If you have never checked out his site, I highly suggest that you take a look.� It is funny and irreverent.� Humor in a Tech world.

Should have some more news tonight.� I also need to update the weekly stats 🙂


August 4, 2001

4 Million
Yup…today Team Lamb Chop passed the 4 million work unit mark!� w00t!� If you have been keeping track of the team totals over the past months, that number may not seem that much…but here are a couple of things that point out how big an accomplishment that is.

  • Sun Microsystems, the #2 team is over 1 million work units behind TLC.� If TLC would stop production right now, it would take Sun about 2.5 years to catch up.�

  • If TLC was a country, we would be the 12th largest country, in between Finland and Poland.� (as Knipfty pointed out).

  • Even though there are more and more choices in distributed computing projects, TLC’s productions is as good as ever, and is still tops in WU production compared to other teams.

Congratulations to all TLC members, and lets see if we have a couple million more WUs in us!

New Stuff at Berkeley
They have added a couple of new things on the S@H pages in the past week or so.� The first thing they added is a new Science Newsletter.� This newsletter details a bit about they verify the results submitted to them.� The other new addition is an interactive page called Hands-On Radio SETI Exhibit (HORSE).� This is a javascript enable exhibit in explains a bit more about the signals the Arecibo Telescope receives, and how possible detection of signals occur.

S@H in the Newsgroups
There are a couple of posts of interest on the SETI newsgroups recently.� First off is a post which sort of details the URL for Certificates of Accomplishment.� They keep adding different WU milestones, and also some different color combinations:

certificates available ATM:
100���� certnum=0
250���� certnum=1
500���� certnum=2
1000��� certnum=3
2500��� certnum=4
10000�� certnum=6

(not avail yet is 5000��� certnum=5 but will be avail shortly – so they say)

certificate sizes (WxH pixels):
640×480�� size=0
800×600�� size=1
1280×960� size=2

Certificate colors:
Black&white������� (default or color=0)
Black background�� color=1
White background�� color=2

the CGI script expects the following parameters:
email=[your SETI@home email address]

optional parameters:
certnum=[see above]
size=[see above]
color[see above]

<URL:[your SETI@home email address]&certnum=0&size=0&color=0>

The next post explains how a user ended up shooting to the top of the S@H user rankings to #1.� The numbers were strange, but it wasn’t a hack…something alittle less sinister:

>> Check out the person at the top of the Home Users stats:
>>������ Name (and URL) Results
>>������ received Total CPU time Average CPU time
>>������ per work unit
>>������ 1) SUSHANTH POOJARY� 1226847286 0 hr 00 min 0 hr 00 min 00.0 sec
>Sounds like some one was testing something and it acidentally went.� Those
>are too blatent to be frauds…It looks like the seti software didn’t, or
>doesn’t, catch it.

You realize, of course, that to send 1226847286 workunits in a day, this user would have had to send 14200 a second.� That’s a bit more than our server could handle.

The real explanation is a problem in the database that corrupted the results field for this user.� It’s not the result of malice, hacking, or a bug.� Cosmic rays and disk errors happen to even the nicest people.

Finally, Eric Heien opened up the (remote) possibility of running the S@H clients on a PlayStaion2:

If someone knows about the PS2 support for ANSI C and graphics, and is willing to port, feel free to email me.
-Eric Heien

The feasibility of a client for the PS2, maybe a bit of a reach….a client for the upcoming XBOX may be more a reality.

Code Red
I had pointed out a couple of days ago that I was getting some emails that contained the Sir Cam virus…Today this is about a different virus/worm that has been going around recently.� This isn’t about receiving the virus/email to my machine, but observing some of the effects of the Code Red worm.� About a week ago the internet was supposed to crash at the hands of the Code Red worm…there were estimates of over 300,000 machines infected with the worm.� When things didn’t pan out as they expected, they degraded the threat and say it was kind of nonexistent.

Well…it isn’t gone.� While sitting here typing up some news I was noticing something strange going on with my cable modem and router.� The data light on both of them was (and still is) flashing like crazy.� The machines behind the router were not receiving/sending anything though.� I took a look at the incoming request logs from the router and this is what I am getting:

Incoming Log Table

Source IP Destination Port Number 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80

Well the thing is that this list goes on and on for quite a while…the above is just a portion of the log…there are quite a bit more.� It looks like all of the incoming requests are from infected machines looking for vulnerable machines to spread the worm to.� I am being protected by my router’s firewall which doesn’t have port 80 open.� The worm is still alive and kicking and there are a heck of a lot of machines that are still carrying the worm on the net.� I wonder if and/or when things will settle down.

One of the reasons for the lack of news updates was my messing with a new computer upgrade.� I was bit by the upgrade bug, and when I checked out some prices, I decided to give it a go.� I ended up replacing my old PIII 750 (running at 983MHz) and Abit BE6-II with an AMD T-Bird 1.2GHz chip and an Iwill KK266-R motherboard, and Thermalrite SK6 HSF.� The upgrade put me back less than $250 and it is super smooth and fast.� I am able to overclock the T-Bird easily and cool, and I am running it at 1.4GHz at the moment.� The best thing about it is the work unit times the CPU spits out…here is a snip from my SETI Spy Log:

  Date       Time       Angle  Tera-  Process   Percent  
  Done       Done       Range  FLOPs  Time-hr    Done    
 7/30/01   5:33:39 AM   4.076  3.280   4.537    98.92%
 7/31/01   4:41:50 AM   0.701  3.847   5.023    99.04%
 7/31/01   9:32:55 AM   0.948  3.739   4.823    99.44%
  8/3/01   6:25:47 AM   0.427  4.097   5.067   100.00%



August 1, 2001

Hey News!
Ok…not much news right now.� Been kind of busy recently with computers, some script fixing et al.� My one fix for the new User Profile icon on the S@H pages didn’t work during the update yesterday…I don’t know why It didn’t work.� I ran the same script with the same data and it worked.� Strange.� While I was fixing that up, I also changed up the name cleanup I do with the script to get rid of spurious spaces added after the user names.� I also had to start up a new worksheet for the top 200 teams stats.� I had to…It was full!.� Ran out of columns to put a new day’s data in the sucker.� Some of the overall team graphs aren’t working correctly because of the change in worksheets.� I am going to have to fix that sometime soon.� I am going to load up the fixed pages in a bit here…so they may look alittle different.� They are the same data, but done correctly this time.

Hopefully i will have a bit more news later on today…there is some cool stuff to cover…but it is nearing 4am here and I need some sleep!


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