[rc5] Stats solution? (long)

Eric Gindrup gindrup at okway.okstate.edu
Tue Nov 11 00:22:14 EST 1997

     Too late.  Nugget himself tells us in mail dated (24 October 1997, 
     just before noon, "[rc5] I'm in a weird mood... (long rant)") that
          Now, granted, I was kinda focused on the stats engine which 
          sucked up quite a bit of my time, but I've got to be 
          completely honest here.  At about the point we hit 
          2Gkeys/sec (and maybe even a bit earlier) I got really lazy.
          I mean, REALLY lazy.  I completely stopped recruiting 
          people.  The end was in sight, our keyrate was twice what I 
          ever expected we'd be able to attain, and Cyberian and I.M. 
          were tiny specks in the rear-view mirror.  I was quite 
          content with where we were.
     And not much has changed since then.  d.n support has fallen off 
     dramatically since then.  Witness the high-utility clients in RC5-56 
     that haven't been implemented yet (20 days into RC5-64).
     It looks like the Bovine crew succumbed to youthful exuberance and 
     planned considerably more stories of building than they could finish 
     in any reasonable time.  The realization of this fact typically 
     results in a sullen response to those who would have you live up to 
     your promises.
     D.n wants us to help them in all sorts of ways.  We're supposed to 
     show how distributed computing can work.  We're supposed to show how 
     the government's attempts at legislating encryption are idiotic.  
     We're supposed to show how significant problems can be solved without 
     any significant effort.  We're supposed to show what cooperative 
     computing can accomplish.  We're supposed to help Bovine support 
     Project Gutenberg.
     On the other hand,
     We're supposed to do this using only the clients that are made 
     available, no matter how few those are, how poorly documented, or how 
     buggy.  We're supposed to do this without asking for help from the 
     inscrutable sources of these binaries.  We're supposed to do this 
     without asking to see source to show that the clients *aren't* up to 
     anything.  We're supposed to do this on our machines.  Cycles aren't 
     free.  HD isn't free.  modem-time isn't free.  And, if I get caught at 
     work "wasting" the companies resources, running this little client 
     will have a significant cost.
     And yet, despite all that, I've been doing this since August.  Why 
     have I been doing it all that time?
     Because Nugget and all the rest had become lazy.  Maintaining the 
     effort was easy because there were no innovations occurring.  The 
     clients actually worked.  The stats actually worked.  Asking for help 
     actually worked (even though you almost never needed to ask).  
     Suddenly, RC5-56 ended and Bovine was caught flat-footed.
     The vaporous v3 spec was so far out in the future that there was no 
     way it could be completed in time to keep the client base from 
     disintegrating.  Thus, a more realizable project had to be chosen.  
     That was RC5-64.  Many people left jsut because of that.  Why?  
     Because, first, RC5-64 is just like RC5-56, only longer and less 
     interesting, and second, because it was a first indicator about how 
     lazy Bovine had actually become.
     We don't have the interest to code up a new project, so we'll just 
     tweak some of the clients into new clients and try to keep not doing 
     This would have been fine, but...
     Oh, let's change how stats are run.  Let's change the proxies.  Let's 
     overcommit our resources so we can become burnt out and tired.  Let's 
     also decide to not focus on the task at hand, but focus on some 
     ethereal task far in the future.  That way, if we don't work on it, 
     who'll know?
     So, instead of being the low-traffic, constant chugging key engine 
     that Bovine was just a month ago, it's become a tired, overwrought, 
     snippy beast whose current hope is to last until a miracle called v3 
     Meanwhile, there are now only 8000 e-Mails in an organization that 
     reliably doubled every 2.5 weeks prior to starting RC5-64.  How many 
     users have been lost because they can only run a Win16 client?  How 
     many have quit because of having huge tracts of blocks eaten by a 
     proxy?  How many have quit because their reason for participating was 
     to have bigger stats than the people across town?  How many have quit 
     because, when they asked for help, their heads were chopped off and 
     they were told to post to the "right mailing list" and when they 
     posted there were told that you can't *actually* get help unless 
     you're on IRC and when they got out *there* were ignored?  How many 
     people have been lost because they don't feel comfortable running 
     someone else's black-box code on their machines?
     How many more will be lost before the effort disintegrates or the 
     Bovine crew starts to show a little action, motivation, and 
     The Bovine persons claim that they have lives beyond d.n.  So do the 
     people running their clients -- you know, the people spending zillions 
     of man hours hunting for non-existent clients, continuously trying to 
     peek in at non-existent stats, reliably blowing hours tracking down 
     mysterious errors in d.n code, generally lurking on the newsgroups and 
     IRC just in case, maybe, one of the aloof cow types just might grace 
     us with something that the cow typ wants -- a working client/perproxy 
     with correct instructions that ultimately generates correct stats.  
     The d.n people have the advantage in that they get to see progress.  
     From out here, there is nothing to see.
     It took me a few years as a geek in the workplace to reealize that the 
     perception of action was much more important than the reality of it.  
     The current perception is that the Bovine crew considers us somewhat 
     akin to dirt because we are running their client and supporting their 
     agenda.  The perception is that there is no interest in providing 
     clients for users who'd like to help support that agenda.  The 
     perception is that anyone not able to intuit the workings of a 
     closed-source program is beneath notice and a target for ridicule.  
     The perception is that anyone who complains about this will be 
     declared a whiner and summarily dismissed by the d.n people.  The 
     perception is that the effort can just off and die because it's too 
     inconvenient for the Bovine crew to actually have anything to do with 
     I think Bovine would have been great.  Maybe it will be.  I'm not 
     banking on it.
            -- Eric Gindrup ! gindrup at okway.okstate.edu

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: [rc5] Stats solution? 
Author:  <rc5 at llamas.net > at SMTP
Date:    1997/11/10 21:23

I have only been in this game for about 2 weeks so I don't know how it was 
'before'.  And I don't want to get into a discussion about the staff.  My main 
concern is finding a solution to this problem.  Threatening to leave, or worse 
yet, leaving is not going to solve anything.  The momentum that has been created
here is quite amazing.  Breaking away isn't going to accomplish anything.

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