27 February 2011

27th of February

Fellow cruncher msattler passed 100,000,000 credits for Seti@home this weekend. My congratualtions to him on such a remarkable achievement.

Windows 7 SP1 out
Microsoft released it officially on the 22nd of Feb. I don't want to download it multiple times (ie for each machine). About a month ago I ran the service pack blocker, which stops it automatically downloading via windows update. Yesterday I ordered the service pack on DVD. The DVD is free, but I have to pay for postage.

26 February 2011

26th of February

I passed 6 million for Einstein during the week. Below is my certificate.

Machines in the shop
The new file server had one of its brand-new hard drives diagnosed as faulty. I will be dropping it back to where it came from for a replacement during the week. Unfortunately I got it online so I have to organise the swap over.

The 1Gb memory in the file server is getting replaced under warranty, hopefully with Kingston this time. Apparently Corsair don't make 1Gb sticks any more.

The 2Gb memory in Maul is getting replaced with more of the same. The distributor the shop purchased from doesn't want to replace it with Kingston.

BOINC testing
They have tweaked the testing criteria. Over all 6.12.15 seems fairly okay but there have been a few fixes applied that we are waiting for a new build. The next major version will address installer issues.

Project news - Einstein
We are currently analysing the S5 gravity wave run at the top end of their spectrum. They have decided they are going to use some of the data from S6 gravity wave run. Apparently its rather "noisy" but they believe they can use some of it but there will be varying run time due to tests they will use on it.

Project news - Orbit
Their initial grant has been used up. They applied for another one from NASA but it has been knocked back due to funding cuts to the NASA budget. That leaves the project without funding to continue.

It is probably one of the more useful projects to improve search strategies for near-earth objects that potentially will impact with the earth. Even political leaders might want to know they are going to be flattened by a rock before its too late to do anything about it.

Project news - Seti beta
They are looking at adding an extra search algorithm to their existing multi-beam work units. This will be tested on Seti beta before getting deployed to the main site.

19 February 2011

19th of February

Coming up on one for Einstein, but just a bit shy of 6 million at the moment.

BOINC testing
We got 6.12.15 this week. It addresses some installer issues for the Mac. It has a couple of tweaks around work fetch that apply to all versions. It won't ask for work if it uploaded in the last 5 minutes. I suspect this will lead to issues where people won't be able to build up a decent cache of work, but time will tell. Its meant to reduce the load on project servers that are overloaded.

Its a copy utility that comes with Windows 7 and Server 2008. There is also a version for Windows XP and Server 2003. It was designed as a reliable copy utility, however its much quicker than Xcopy or Windows Explorer.

I setup batch jobs (it runs from a command prompt) to backup the BOINC data directory to the file server. Depending on the amount of data this was taking up to 20 minutes to copy a couple of Gb. When using Robocopy it can do the same job up to 20 times faster. It can compare file timestamps and only copy newer or changed files a whole lot faster and skip the ones that haven't changed.

Machines in the shop
The technician who was working on both of them has been off sick for a lot of last week so they haven't done anything with the 2 machines. I'm expecting to bring them home next week.

Project news - Einstein
They have released a newer cuda cuda app that addresses all known issues with being able to cross-validate work done on a different platform. That is a Binary Pulsar work unit would fail the comparison if the version were run on a different operating system. For example the result files for a Windows work unit wouldn't match a Linux work unit.

Project news - Seti
Its up, but the network bandwidth has been totally used up since the middle of the week. Looking at the cricket graph its been pegged at 95Mbit for downloads and a smaller amount getting through for uploads. Oh to be a popular project :-)

Well the week started off cooler so I had a few machines running at the beginning and by today we're back to Maul only and running overnight. The forecast for next week is looking similar. As we head into autumn things should start to cool off and we can get more machines up and running.

12 February 2011

12th of February

Nothing new again this week.

BOINC testing
6.12.14 came out yesterday. I've upgraded a few machines with it. Nothing new really for windows users in this one.

File server
It went back to the shop this morning. They worked on it for a few hours, with me looking on. They flashed the BIOS (that took a couple of hours as it has to be done from a floppy and the machine doesn't have a floppy drive). That didn't make any difference and it still insisted one drive was degraded. We used the Adaptec controller and it doesn't do raid 5, so back to the Intel one. It still thinks one drive is degraded, after doing a high-level format as a non-raid drive. At that point I left them to it. They we going to low-level format the offending drive when I left.

The memory is still an issue, and they will address that later. I provided invoice numbers and dates so they can return them to their supplier for a credit and give me memory that works.

It was sitting on the same bench at the shop as the file server when I went in this morning. The shop has yet to replace the memory in it.

Project news - Seti
They are having trouble with one of their storage servers with it refusing to resync raid drives. Sound a bit like my problems. There is no new work being distributed and those that have completed work can't report it at the moment.

We have asked what additional hardware they need as it seems hard drives are failing quite regularly on the older machines, but they haven't been able to give a definitive list.

Software updates
Windows update has been giving out a fair few fixes in the last couple of weeks, so i'll run around and update each machine. Maul is fairly up to date as its running most days. There is also the nvidia driver and BOINC to bring up to the latest version on each one. Not a big deal but it all takes time and usually a reboot or two.

Update 13 Feb: It seems the nvidia control panel won't work on Win 7 x64 with a GTX295 when using 266.58 drivers. So i've had to go back to the 260.99 drivers on this machine.

08 February 2011

8th of February

Nope, nothing new this week. Actually I haven't looked at my stats for a week or so.

Once again it was hot. Saturday got up to 40 degrees, so of course everything was off. Sunday fortunately cooled off, so I managed to get a couple of machines going.

BOINC testing
We got 6.12.13 during the week. The main difference is a change to the user accounts that it creates for the sandbox installation (ie running as a service). I don't run it that way as it doesn't allow cuda apps to run under Vista or Windows 7 due to Microsoft's security features.

Well it went back last weekend as it kept locking up. It seems the Corsair memory is not what it claims to be. Allegedly they are rated for 1600Mhz (its printed on each stick), but running a memory test on them at that speed gets errors. The memory tester identifies them as PC10600, which should mean they are rated for 1325Mhz. Somewhat shy of 1600Mhz as printed on them.

The i7-920 never had a problem with them, but the i7-970 can presumably push them to their limit and beyond. The good thing is they have a limited lifetime warranty, so the shop will be replacing them with Kingstone Memory - when they get stock.

File server
My what a pretty case it has. The case is a Fractal Designs R3 in white. Its beautiffuly painted in white enamel inside and out.

Pity it too had problems. Apart from only thinking it has 2Gb of RAM when it actually had 3Gb it also decided the raid drives were degraded. Only problem is it wouldn't repair them which is the whole idea of having a raid 5 array.

It was painfully slow copying files across the network to it. On top of that the proxy server seems to take forever to do its job. Does anyone else run Squid 2.7 on Windows Server 2008?

All in all rather a let down. It will be off to the shop this weekend. It might be time to find another computer shop given all the recent problems with upgrades.