[rc5] [admin] Stats, and Teams, and Blocks! Oh My!

David McNett nugget at slacker.com
Wed Oct 29 23:14:36 EST 1997


First a note to the hundreds of people who have mailed me today with
questions on teams and email passwords.  Unfortunately, I've been too
busy trying to make everything work that I have not had a chance to
personally reply to each of you.  Hopefully this post will address all
the questions you've sent.  If not, well, you know where to reach me, I
guess.  :)

As most of you have noticed, I'm sure, stats have really been humming
along the past new days.  Basically, each time you [reload] brings a
whole handful of new features, bells, and whistles.  I've been adding
features so fast it seems that I've not had adequate time to explain
how all this works.  I'm going to attempt to carve the "stats rules" in
stone here and fill you in on where I envision us heading.

I've had to make some fundamental changes from the way the 
64-bit RC5 stats engine processed things.

First was that I had to build an engine that was capable of handling
mixed block sizes.  Although we are currently distributing 2**28 chunks
of keyspace, this may change in the future as our keyrate increases so
I've designed the stats so that they will handle differing block sizes
with no modification.

Second, we've moved to an individual/team two-level identification
system.  The primary reason this was done was to ensure that when we do
find the winning key, it's easy to locate the "winner".  We were very
fortunate in the 56-bit contest that Jo (the lucky guy who got it) was
answering his team email which was a valid email and the winning
machine was a fixed-ip machine.  Imagine if, say, a dynamic IP
belonging to ix.netcom.com submitted the winning block under the
evangelist at apple.com email.  It would have been very unlikely that we'd
ever find out who got it.  We want the whole world to know that it was
your Amiga 500 that got the key this time.  Also, the email/team system
allows us much more flexibility and allows the individual to
participate in a group effort and still maintain the ability to track
their own personal contribution to the effort.  These are all very
important elements to the fun that we call stats.

So, the past few days have seen a half-finished, constantly-changing
mixture of features and broken links on the stat pages.  I've pretty
much relied on your understanding, patience, and intuition to get you
through this initial development process and it looks like it's paid
off.  We've got one hell of a cool stats system now! :)

Those of you few brave souls who have gone ahead and created a team
have been faced with a brief description of how this will all work.
For the rest, here's a brief run-down of the way teams and emails come
together:

The first step to creating a team is for the team coordinator to
register the team with the stats server.  The coordinator will be given
a team password and set up the little things like the team description,
logo, contact email and such.  This works very much like the old 56-bit
teams did.  One major change is that the team "identity" is not an
email address, but rather a Team ID Number.  This Team ID Number is the
"unique key" used to identify any given team.

After the team is registered, it will show up on the team selection
lists based on the team category chosen.  (note: this does not exist
yet....)

Each of the members of the team will need to have their own password
assigned. They will do this by viewing their own personal statistics
page (example) and choosing the link at the bottom of the page. With
this password, they will be able to choose which team they are a member
of.  Currently, they will have to know the Team ID Number (which is
listed on that team's summary page) but eventually there will be a
point-n-click listing and even a "join this team" button on each team's
summary page.

As each member "joins" the team, that team will be credited for any
blocks they have completed ***which are not credited to any other
team.*** This means that participants who are already members of a team
who switch to your team will NOT bring their blocks with them.

Again, only "virgin" blocks from a new participant who is not a member
of a team will be credited to your team. And, of course, any blocks
completed in the future, for so long as that member is configured as a
member of your team.

Put another way, as each participant completes a block and submits it
to the servers, that block is attributed to the participant's chosen
team and will stay with that team, even if the participant later
switches to another team.

<editorial>
I have many reasons for choosing to do it this way, but one reason is
important enough to be THE reason:  If key blocks were transferrable,
they would become a commodity.  With the ability to re-assign a block,
the most effective ways to rise in the stats would be to court and
convert long-time participants with huge block counts and to sabotage
and split up large groups.  This would be a terrible thing.  The ONLY
focus and the ONLY way to rise in the stats should be to recruit more
people, add more machines, and increase your keyrate.  Allowing the
focus to shift away from this single tactic is asking for disaster.
</editorial>

Now, things are a bit rough around the edges currently, and by my view
we're just about half-way to where I want us to be.  However, it's all
quite functional and working with a few exceptions:

   o teamlist.html -- isn't done.  this is next on my list.
 
   o easy team joins -- it's a bit cumbersome at the moment
     and this will be changing quite soon.

   o typos/spelling/etc. -- I've changed all that I've been
     able to notice.  If you see anything please drop me a
     note.

   o host lists -- yep.  I haven't forgotten about this.
     hosts stats are coming back with a vengeance.

   o banner links -- yeah, yeah...  the links in the banner
     at the top of the page are all wonky.  I've been meaning
     to get to that....

   o "I never got my password" -- this bug has been corrected
     and I will be adding buttons to both the team and email
     pages to allow a re-mail of the passwords which will
     solve this quite nicely.

As always, suggestions, comments, and corrections are welcomed.  Part
of the reason I like to develop these pages "live" is for the feedback
I get from my friends in #rc5.  It's inconvenient at times, and can be
VERY confusing to you, but doing the changes on the live pages gives me
instant commentary on where I'm headed and features I'm building.  The
current stats system is as much the result of two solid days of
collaboration in IRC as it is my own, personal creation.  Many, many
thanks go to everyone who has lent a hand thus far.

Go Go Go Team!

A weary yet giddy Nugget

-David McNett
 nugget at distributed.net


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