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SETI@Home Version 3.0 Client Preview 105

zAmb0ni writes "We have posted a preview of the upcoming version 3.0 client for SETI@Home. The preview is based on the beta version 2.70 in limited release. You can check it out here: Team Ars Technica Lamb Chop." I wonder if it will run on this pci thing we mentioned yesterday.
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SETI@Home Version 3.0 Client Preview

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  • I went to the download site for SETI@Home...
    I was wondering if anyone else agreeded with me on this: Is there a need for a text-only version of SETI@Home for Windows 9X ?
    That graphical user interface must slow down the process in some way. I would like to see what happens when identical systems using different Operating Systems, go head to head with SETI@Home's various installs...I bet that the text-only version would go faster.
  • FBI Agent: "Uh does anybody know how to do the heimlich manuver? Carnivore is choking on all of that SETI crap!"

    You are a fluke of the universe

  • From the FAQ: []

    I want a Slashbox that does X

    The policy for Slashboxes is as follows:

    The remote site gives us permission.
    The remote site provides an RDF file for us to parse (here is our rdf if you want an example).
    We decide that it belongs on Slashdot.
    Currently the grand Slashbox poobah is Cowboy Neal. Email him a URL to the RDF, as well as a technical contact, and we'll consider your addition to the roster.

    Good idea, though; send e-mail to and hopefully he'll write one.
  • I found one instance on this site: Intel to Build Encryption Capabilities in Chips [], but I could have sworn I saw something about 3Com doing it too, with native Windows 2000 support of their implmentation...
  • I don't really think any of this matters. It's not like the Aceribo Telescope can even sense the Tau Neutrino emissions from beyond our galaxy. It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack, and it's a really, really big haystack. And besides, no one knows who put the needle in, or even if there is a needle in the haystack. And where should we point the telescope? At the top of the haystack, or near the bottom? Possibly dead center? It's just a big waste of time.
    1. Some of us care far more about extraterrestrial intelligence than crypto.
    2. There are more than enough people interested in it other than you.
    3. Crypto has gotten 2 or more stories per day more often than SETI.

    Personally, I consider the contest to be a giant waste of time, and I don't even get a good screen saver out of it, but you don't see me wading into an RC5 thread and trolling, do you? If you're not interested, don't read it.
  • This same question has been asked of the dnet client. Basically, it would be very inefficient becuase the dnet client relies on int and not fpu. Also, very hard to write.

    Mark Duell
  • I think most well-educated people these days lean to the left politically.

    ...let me guess! You lean to the politically left, and think you are well-educated? (I'm going out on a wild limb here. :)

    As for the rest of your post - assuming SETI was successful in locating another Civilization, who is saying we need to transmit anything back to them? If any civilizations exist which are advanced enough to pose us any risk, they probably wouldn't need an active transmission from us to figure out we're here anyway.

    And your assumption that any and all alien races which might be actively transmitting would, by nature, not be "ethically advanced" is, well, quite a stretch. Am I the only one that thinks this???

  • From the SETI Accelerator FAQ page.

    Q: What if Berkley updates the SETI client?

    A: Even after having updated their clients, Berkley will support the use of the former versions for a period of time during which the client on the chip can be updated by downloading a flash utility from our site. This is like doing a BIOS-update and will require no special knowledge. The updated client will have to be downloaded from the SETI@home homepage.

    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!

  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @12:57PM (#908945) Homepage Journal
    "The Duron may be the best price/performance solution for version 3.0."


    Who would buy a CPU *solely* for SETI performance?! Maybe my priorities are bass-ackwards, but I really would love to meet the person who spends hundreds of dollars *solely* to process little chunks of data that have about a one in infinity chance of containing evidence of intelligent life from another planet.

    Is it just me, or is that line really sad?

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • Peter, you have been trolled. Good job, shizat. And he replied to it so straight-faced. Tee and/or hee.
  • What is the point of finding a Optimal Golomb Ruler?

    To me, a ruler with no evenly spaced marks would be a pain in the arse to use...
  • from Modern Science and Anarchism []

    when, for example, philistine naturalists, seemingly basing their arguments on "Darwinism," began to teach, "Crush everyone weaker than yourself; such is the law of nature," it was easy for us to prove by the same scientific method that no such law exists: that the life of animals teaches us something entirely different, and that the conclusions of the philistines were absolutely unscientific. They were just as unscientific as, for instance, the assertion that the inequality of wealth is a law of nature, or that capitalism is the most convenient form of social life calculated to promote progress...

    Peter Kropotkin
  • I heard the Aricebo Radio Telescope should be able to detect a cell phone transmission from Mars. I haven't done the math, but it's a safe guess that it would not be able to pick up the leakage signals from the alien equivalent of an I Love Lucy broadcast. So without sounding redundant, we do need this Hectar Array. Who knows how big it could grow, if it's cheap enough maybe it will be several hectars!
  • Somehow I doubt an advanced civilization is going to use normal RF to communicate. If they have mastered faster than light travel they will surely have methods of communicating still not understood by us.
  • Am I the only one that thinks this???

    Ummm, no.

    While my politics certainly lean to the left, I would say that many of the poster's claims are assumptions and are not necessarily valid.

    I don't feel like getting too deep, politically right now.

    But why would you assume that these people would even HAVE an economic system, and that it would somehow reflect our economic ideas?

    To Serve Man is a great TZ episode, but it's SCI-FI! The odds that we could accurately model ANY aspects of an alien culture based on guesses seems unlikely to me.


  • I do a little security auditing in my free time

    where else can you find someone who can say this with a straight face? sorry for the offtopic...
  • I have to agree with everyone else.

    • The code is abysmal (though the Open Source community is as much to "blame" as anyone, for that!)
    • The amount of data being farmed to the clients is VERY small. They're dumping a LOT of what they collect.
    • SETI@Home =DON'T= reply to their e-mails. I have tried to reach them to find out whether they will extend the project to include the hectare and kilometer arrays currently being built/planned. No comment. In fact, no reply of any kind whatsoever. Maybe the SETI@Home folk =ARE= the aliens we're trying to look for! They're about as hard to detect!
    • The "science" may be the important part of the project, but the science can be no better than the data and algorithms used. Trivial tests for the sorts of signals aliens AREN'T likely to send is not science. That is stupidity.
    • Security through obscurity is meaningless. Here is how they could Open Source the clients AND guarantee accurate results:
      • Randomly stretch and displace the entire block by constant amounts. Subtract the stretch and displacement of the results. If you get impossible values, the client has been corrupted.
      • Inject test packets at random intervals, with the probability of a test packet being sent being 33% and the maximum interval between test packets being 7. This means that if a corrupt client is detected, you need to redo AT MOST 7 packets.
    • The collection area of Aricebo is FAR too small to be useful. Now, because they are looking for SUSTAINED signals, they could easily use a Serendipidy-style approach and piggy-back on ALL radio telescopes that cover that region of the sky, producing a COMPOSITE image, with the effective collecting area of ALL radio telescopes used. Anything transient'll simply vanish (because of the implicit long time-base this would involve) and the only thing you'd be left with would be your usual radio sources, plus any ultra-powerful signal.
    • The number of channels being examined is FAR too small. Yes, the frequencies are probably about right, as you HAVE to look at the water-hole to be able to detect artificial signals. Anything much to either side of that would be in regions with very high absorbtion or very high natural emission. Not good for detection. But the best SETI stuff out there handles less than a billion channels! The water-hole is small, but not THAT small. IMHO, you'd need to move into the trillion channel range to have any worthwhile chance of seeing anything. If that wasn't bad enough, SETI@Home ain't the BETA array. The number of channels being handled is phenominally small. If you're looking for a needle in a haystack, and have a few trillion haystacks to search, the LAST thing you want to do is only search one or two at a time, at complete random.

    Last, but by no means least, if anyone here is getting tired of SETI@Home but wants to do SETI work, I suggest grabbing something like AIPS or AIPS++ and developing your own signal-detector.

    The "problem" with this is that your average garden-variety geek doesn't have a kilometer-wide radio telescope in their back yard. But actually, that's not such a complete disaster. Use a small satellite TV dish, and whack up the time-base, big time. By increasing the collection TIME, you are effectively also increasing your collection area. Yes, that means you can't actually -process- any signal - it'll all be blurred out - and you can't detect anything short-lived, but you should be able to spot sustained carrier-waves, even if very weak. Any orbital motion will create beats, and those'll stand out. This means you should be able to detect leakage, not merely deliberate signals.

  • There are two articles in my current Scientific american about SETI. The first was pretty pro-SETI. The second one put things in perspective:

    Extra terristrial societies that have found a way to capture ALL the energy from their sun and use all that to broadcast "here we are", can be detected across about half the galaxy. Well, we can assume that this is simply not possible. Read "ringworld" by Niven, and do the math.

    Societies like ours, who are happily minding our own business, but leaking some radiation into the surrounding space can be detected from about 100 light-years. There are a handfull of stars in that area....

  • Who is Richard M. Stallman? His name sounds familiar but I can't remember what he's associated with.
  • They didn't release the altivec enhanced version of Seti@Home for G4 users due to the fact that G4 users would be able to complete Blocks much faster than PC users ... So, if they are going to let people use that PCI card, shouldn't they release the altivec anhanced version? Just a thought.
  • I question the project's validity for another reason...there's a book called Rare Earth [] that sums up the arguments against ET being out there quite nicely; in fact, it confirmed many of the things that I had already suspected.

    That being said, I do participate in the SETI project, even though it is flawed on many levels, simply because I don't entirely rule out the possibility of ET's, and because I think it's a great model for distributed computing, a far more worthwhile endeavor than cracking encryption keys.

  • by Siqnal 11 ( 210012 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @11:58AM (#908958) Homepage
    This is not a trivial question. Firstly, SETI@Home uses the Aricebo Radio Telescope. This is a very nice dish for radio astronomy, but useless for SETI work. It's far too small. The smallest useful dish or array will be the hectare array, being built by the SETI Institute. Aricebo will only be able to detect signals from nearby stars that are: (a) at LEAST as strong as our most powerful RADAR, (b) SUSATAINED for a substantial period of time, (c) containing information on a carrier wave, (d) orbiting a planet or star, with no compensation for motion

    In short, leakage (the most likely sort of signal to be found) will be invisible, actual RADAR type devices will be screened out (too short a duration and no information content), and any civilisation advanced enough to WANT to locate other civilisations by sending deliberate signals are likely to be filtered, by being screened out as local interference through a lack of doplar shift.

    Methinks that SETI@Home is ingenious, but is using the wrong telescope. And it'll be finished before the RIGHT telescope has been built & put on-line.

    As for "Open Sourcing" SETI@Home, it was, to start off with. The original UNIX client was GPLed. Hardly anyone bothered to do anything with it, and so they closed the source & shoved it over to a commercial house. Don't blame them - look to yourself first.

    Having said that, SETI@Home's attitude has been somewhat attrocious. They've been going on about security, when that was never the cause of them going non-Open Source. Progress was. And part of that is their fault. They refused to set up a CVS repository, did VERY slow (and low-quality) releases, and basically impeded themselves at every turn. They should have done a damn sight better than that. Yes, there were only a few people there, which is EXACTLY WHY they needed to use CVS, rather than relying on manually testing every e-mailed patch, and rolling a fresh tarball by hand every few weeks or months.

    Honestly, if SETI@Home has shown anything, it's shown that we should be less worried about intelligence "out there" and rather more worried by the lack of it down here.

  • by 11223 ( 201561 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @12:01PM (#908959)
    Well, seeing as I aready posted my reply with a +1, unless people browse at 3 (I feel sorry for those people... they miss out on the discussion) if the original gets modded up, the second one is visible.

    Why do you need guts? Slashdot is anonymous. And I like being flamed every once in a while. So, here goes:

    The reply to my post was pure garbage. My SETI username is the same name that I put in for software, and at the time there was an outside piece of advertising spyware installed on my system. The top part goes, though. I have been able to crash my client with specially-constructed (i.e. random) TCP/IP packets. Don't know if that's bad use of sprintfs or just failure to account for bad incoming packets.


    When you're downloading SETI@HOME, you're downloading COMMUNISM!

    Heh, heh.

  • They're whole approach and assumption is that any intelligence out there is *actively* seeking and trying to contact other people. This means a repeated signal that is not natural. This is the only reasonable approach to take on the matter. When you look at the classic equations to determine the existence of life it makes sense. The probability of accidental discovery is ludicrously low. Thus they'll recrunch data packets until they can't see any patterns for each section of the sky then give up for a while. Haphazard perhads, but the only resonable way. Also they don't have all that much money if I heard right. Most of the equipment and such was made via donations (and the thousands of helpful SETI users).

    Also, I was under the impression that they are going to be stopping the collection of data soon. The way it was explained to me is that the Arecibo observatory has, in the time that the data has been collected, scanned every piece of the sky at least three times which is the number they were seeking. Also, they are crunching the data in real-time. The next big step for the team is to get access to data from the southern hemisphere (from Australia probably).

  • Is it me or does the Seti@home client get more
    buggy everytime they update it?

  • Ok, what if someone knowingly transmits data from an array of usernames, and SETI uses this as a protocol to override/detect this? I still doubt that they're grabbing demographic info on you. What are they going to do with it? Sell it to aliens?

    We're all different.
  • Come on! this is the second thing I've seen about Seti in the last 24hrs. Search for space Alien's? PHA LEEEEEEEEEESE.. <P></P>
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What are they going to do with it? Sell it to aliens?

    They are aliens.

    Once they have sufficient numbers of these trojan horse clients installed the invasion will begin

  • Yeah, there is one, but it doesn't seem to be updated at all. New headlines keep cropping up on the site, but the file that slashdot pulls the headlines from is not updating properly. I also wish they'd provide headlines in RDF format or an XML format similar to /.'s. That heads.txt is something of a pain to parse when all of the other sites are using easily parsible formats.
  • I want a Slashbox that does X

    Man, you guys really can't get enough x-terms can you?


  • Wait a sec here. Why is this funny? How do we know this isn't true. Maybe the aliens made you post this commment just to fool us. It's a trick. I see right through this. I'm gunna go get me muh shot gun. yeehaw..... uhmm.. er.. back to work...
  • So, let's assume SETI is successful and we enter into conversation with an alien society of incredibly aggressive capitalists, as seems to me the only possible outcome. What will their attitude be towards us? I don't think you can expect anything like, "Oh, look, a young species, let's teach them how to grow and prosper in the intergalactic community!" No. More like, "Look, another third-world planet to exploit!"

    No doubt the aliens will be looking to harvest minerals and vespene gases; it's imperitive that we build up a fleet of battlecruisers and cloacked wraiths before initiating contact. That will be a good front line defense; we'll also need a bunch of seige tanks, goliaths, firebats, and a whole lot of marines for the ground battle that is sure to follow.

    Research is important, too. We need to make sure that all of our acadamies are advancing our weapon and armor strengths. Do we know how to make a seige tank go into seige mode yet? (Funny, you'd think the engineers would have automatically built a seige mode into something called a seige tank!)

    Well, at least we know who the terrans are...the question is, will we be able to contact the Protoss before our psi-emitters lure the Zerg to our quadrant?

    (* with apologies to StarCraft)

  • by The Lethargic Lad ( 214536 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @01:11PM (#908970)
    I've had a question about this for a while, and none of my friends can seem to answer it. So, I'm going to let the Slashdot give it a shot.

    Is there any way to use additional processors or co-processors on a PC (x86) to run SETI @ Home clients?

    For example, I have a Voodoo 2 (12 Megs of RAM) in my Linux box. Would there be some way to write a SETI client that uses the Voodoo's processors to run additional SETI clients/threads? This situation is pefect because unless I'm using a 3D program (Quake 3, Unreal Tournament, etc) the Voodoo is doing nothing.

    The only reason I ask this question is because computers do math, it's a fact, just math all of the time. Why not have the SETI client use some of the great FPU (Floating Point Unit) on the graphics processors of a Voodoo card? Have the Voodoo do it's math on the Voodoo's processors rather than the PC's CPU.

    Also, I don't see why this won't work for other things besides Voodoo cards. Any card that's strictly 3D, some NICs have a small co-processor for checksumming, or even a way to set the prioroity on the SETI client using a 2D/3D card (so 2D performance doesn't suffer when the user is using normal windowed applications).
  • by ajna ( 151852 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @02:37PM (#908971) Homepage Journal
    I think most well-educated people these days lean to the left politically. After all, it's obvious that society needs to care for all its members, not just those with the skills and poor ethical temperament necessary to succeed in a war of all against all, as in traditional capitalism.

    Perhaps your friends would like to see our successful (as you admitted yourself) capitalist nation turned into yet another socialist failure-experiment, but I for one wouldn't. If you have any illusions about the grandeur, oops, I meant the squalor that most Russians enjoyed under their "enlightened" socialist regime, read We The Living by Ayn Rand. And, by the way, ad hominem criticism, as you implied in your statement (i.e., people who aren't left-leaning politically are stupid/uneducated), is not a valid form of arguing. Try again. -t

  • Uh, have you ever actually looked at the Seti client? The vast majority of their calculations are spent compensating for Doppler shifts. If they weren't, the whole thing could be computed in about 3 minutes.

  • If you're running something later than the original version of Win95, you can run the NT text-only client just fine. I'm using it here, and it works the same as on NT.

  • Please, crash their server. If it's as easy as you say, this is bound to be more /. material.

    Let's ignore the fact that everyone else has tried and couldn't do it. I honestly believe you are a friggin' genius.

  • by FirstOne ( 193462 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @03:10PM (#908975) Homepage
    Agreed, The lack of terrestrial intelligence is a serious problem.

    I analyzed the SETI@HOME FFT algorithm a while back. Analysis revealed that it discarded at least four(4) out every five(5) bytes fetched from memory. Thus, the SETI@HOME application was definitely memory bound. Some loop un-rolling, and using a cache aligned data set could have yielded 2 to 3x increased performance. Using SIMD instructions could have yielded, another 2x performance enhancement.

    Then there was the duplicate work unit fiasco, sending out the same 115 work units for several weeks, (May 23,1999 to June 5, 1999), without detection. Duhhh.. I wonder who is really running the show, maybe the MIB?

    OK, So now they're increasing the complexity of the signal detection algorithms, slowing the client down even further. All, in an effort, to detect a pulse type signals. That's all fine and dandy except, except one tiny little detail. They are only looking in a very narrow section(2.5MHz) of the usable RF spectrum (30,000 MHz).

    Seams to me, that this experiment's results could have been predicted from start.
    Think of all the energy consumed, Approximately ~$66,000/day, that could have been, should have been, put too better use.
  • Yet by almost any logic and currently known science it would take much longer than the time it would take for a NEO to arrive than for us to event begin to be able to communicate or travel to other intelligent life forms. Sure, intelligent non-human life on other star systems would shatter our perceptions of everything. But it does not good if you are extinct. You're talking about finding out what wonders might be beyond the horizon while war parties dot the immediate landscape. We continue to wonder and it's obvious by the SETI@Home's participation statistics that many people want to at least try to look. No biggie, but I would still insist that something like NEO searching is more practical and useful and more immediately necessary. Your view is obviously different and for reasons that are good and valid but, in my view, less pragmatic and immediately applicable.

    Or from another point of view, you're playing the long odds for the high payoff and I'm playing the lower odds for a chance at survival.
  • I don't really see why they are so set on believing that any intelligent life that may exist outside of the solar system would rely on radio transmission to communicate. After all, there are probably all sorts of ways to communicate over distances that we just aren't advanced enough to know about, let alone implement.

    Also, why would they be naive enough to think that any alien race that was stupid to broadcast news of its existence would still be worth contacting when we invented the means to? Do they really think that all alien life is non-destructive?

    Oh wait... we've been polluting the airwaves for almost a century and actively launching probes like Voyager to initiate contact...

    I think I'll go cower under my bed now...
  • Has anyone confirmed if this product is a scam / hoax / prank or if it's a real product?
  • I tired to run the text - only version on Windows 98 and it just stoped working when it calculated some value...didn't even begin scanning the files.
  • Between this article and the one about the PCI card, do you think it is time for a new topic icon just for SETI@home?
  • by The Lethargic Lad ( 214536 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @11:38AM (#908981)
    This is clearly aimed at Geeks-with-Cash, not at the average compuser. If I actually had any money, I'd buy one. I don't even run the Seti client, I do the stuff, but this thing is just so cool that I'd definitely buy one if I could. After all, talk about bragging rights:

    "Hey Bob, did you hear about that Seti project where people use their computers to help search for extraterrestrial radio signals?"

    "Yup. Pretty cool, eh?"

    "Yeah, I decided to go ahead and install it on my workstation. Seems like a great project for a geek to help out."

    "Yeah, I installed a special multiprocessor vector processing unit in my computer to work on Seti all the time; it runs on a PCI card, and beats the hell out of a P!!! 500 even though it doesn't use any of my CPU's cycles to do the work, it's all in hardware. Took these military surplus vector processors and..."

    Now, that's some nice geek bragging rights, my friend. Talk about exotic hardware. I just wish they'd do something like this for, since there have to be a few embedded chips which would handle crypto-cracking pretty well.

    That brings me to my #1 desire in an exotic PCI card: hardware-based encryption. I want a card with an embedded processor(s) to handle a very strong combination of crypto specifically designed for encrypting hard drives. Wouldn't it be amazing to have a PCI card which registers to your BIOS as the primary hard disk controller, and then prompts for password information before bringing up a boot menu allowing access to your real hard drives and operating system(s)? Imagine, with a dedicated card like that the entire system could be encrypted with almost no overhead, since the card would handle all decryption/encryption and leave the main CPU(s) free. The only slow down on such a system would be the slight delay in routing I/O calls through the card, but I'm sure it's technically feasible to do such a thing. IBM does something similar in the hardware of some of its big-$$$ RISC systems. Now, a card like *that* would be sweet, and if implemented right with good drivers virtually fool-proof.

  • by 11223 ( 201561 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @11:38AM (#908982)
    I do a little security auditing in my free time, and I just got my hands on the 3.0 preview. Needless to say, I'm not very impressed:

    What I've found is that the client's TCP/IP code is easily overloaded. If you can fake a TCP/IP packet in response to its connection, you can initiate a buffer overflow in the client. Boom - instant security hole.

    Not only that, but I suspect that the server has the same sloppy coding. I didn't want to try it, because I don't like crashing public servers, but it would be very possible to take down SETI@Home, or even to get root, if you were l33t.

    You've been warned.

  • Thanks for noting that it wasn't funny at all, I am serious. Though I meant a radio telescope.

    We're all different.
  • by Dungeon Dweller ( 134014 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @11:36AM (#908984)
    You guys are looking for aliens in the wrong place. I watch their sitcoms all of the time on my TV that I rigged with a radio antenna. The call me on my cell phone all of the time (stupid pink kid needs to leave me alone and quit trying to grab my phone though).

    We're all different.
  • by wishus ( 174405 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @11:41AM (#908985) Journal
    this is sort of haphazard science.. are they going to re-crunch the old workunits? just say "oh well"? I would think if they were interested in these new tests, they should have built them into the original client. Think of all those work units that will either (a) have to be re-processed or (b) not contribute to the analysis of the new data..

    or maybe there is a (c) it will be very easy and not take much effort to get this data from the old units.. i don't know enough about the data to say.. i just crunch units. i'm in the top 10% :)

  • by LNO ( 180595 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @11:38AM (#908986)
    Now with the PCI card and version 3.0 of the client, I'm searching even more efficiently for my parents.

    I'm looking for ya, dad!

  • The PCI card that was mentioned (as is) will NOT run the new client.
    Seti will be accepting packets from old clients for a while.
    The company producing the card WILL be providing a firmware (BIOS) update for the card that will allow it to use later clients.
    There is not a release date for it, as the client hasn't been officially released, yet.
    (Go to the FAQ linked from their page for this info)
  • I thought the general consensus was that yesterday's PCI thing was a hoax?

    -- RLJ

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Actually, as a researcher at the Univ. of Missouri I am currently building a card that does hardware encryption (RSA or DES or IDEA) over ethernet... I looked at the source for the other day, and it doesn't look too hard to implement- should be possible with just a few FPGA's, a PCI Core (GO OpenCORE!!!), and some glue logic. anyone from that is interested in doing this should contact me at: my hotmail alias [mailto]... I could have a couple of prototypes up next week.
  • I'm all for the Seti@home client, but they really need to have the mother of all security audits done on their code.
    Think about it! I mean, if there's a buffer overflow, we could be executing arbitrary commands sent to us from outer space!
    Okay, that's a bit paranoid, I'll admit. I mean, I've been running my Seti@home client for a while now and nothing bad has haAa24#@$!va


  • Hear that kiddies? Now go to!
  • Why is it that when we have nothing interesting to say about the articles, all we end up with is a bunch of funny posts? We have better things to do with our time.
  • Hey!

    SETI@Home cpu power has dropped off

    I think it has, yes. Or at least, a high percentage of users aren't exactly tearing through units. Here are some extracts from my stats:

    Results Received: 135
    Total CPU Time: 2487 hr 18 min
    Last result returned: Sat Mar 18 21:44:27 2000 UTC
    Your rank out of 2180053 total users is: 218171st place.
    The total number of users who have this rank: 1258
    You have completed more work units than: 89.935% of our users.

    I've come to prefer [], which I changed to after the continual failures of my clients to retrieve new work units half the time, or work through my (correctly configured) HTTP proxy. seemed much cooler. Plus it is much more configurable.

    That's me, though.

    Michael Tandy

    ...another insightless comment from Michael Tandy.
  • by bguilliams ( 68934 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @12:13PM (#908994)
    I never jumped on the SETI@Home bandwagon for a bunch of reasons. The program seemed to be very poorly written, at least compared to the d-net client. I was already involved in the never-ending RC5-64 project. But, the biggest deterrent, was the simple fact that SETI@Home didn't need my processor time. They had 6 billion Windows lusers running their screensavers and a very finite amount of data to be crunched.

    Has this changed recently? It seems like just as many people as ever are running the client. Since they only get x amount of telescope time per week, do they actually have enough new work to hand out to all their users?

    I love the idea of searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, but I think they've got it well covered. I'm sticking to d-net and optimal golomb rulers. At least I feel as though my processor time is helping to achieve a goal.
  • by ODiV ( 51631 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @12:14PM (#908995)
    I think that they should include this feature in the next version:
    When your computer does find intelligent life, it opens up a chat window.
  • by double_h ( 21284 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @12:18PM (#908996) Homepage

    I think that they should include this feature in the next version: When your computer does find intelligent life, it opens up a chat window.



  • I admit I know far too little to really *understand* if the SETI@HOME stuff is worth the CPU cycles. A couple of the posts here make decent cases against SETI@HOME, and while DNET may be trivial in some senses (brute force cypher cracking, compared to locating extraterrestial life in the universe?), at least I can see progress towards a known end....I have been running both since around xmas, and just this weekend, turned of SETI, as I was just sarting up the funy ruler thingy on DNET, then the rulers went away, and DNET was back to RC stuff...and it flew! I had my fastest crunch this weekend, so this article on the new SETI client, is just the thing I needed to convince myself to let it go for now...just for now...I do have this notion of just how cool it would be to see a huge spike on thhat display...

    Going on means going far
  • Not to mention that Seti@home is a waste of precious CPU cycles that could be put to much better use by sitting idle and doing nothing.

    Well, here's the big secret. There are aliens. They know about us, and they are deliberately ignoring the SETI signal because they hate Spam!

    When we quit wasting bandwidth on nudie drawings of a guy with 4 arms inside a circle, and nearly meaningless mathematical constructs, maybe they'll stop by for a chat. Until then, they'll continue to blow us off as a planet full of time-wasting trolls.

  • It's a _radio_ telescope. Of course it doesn't sense neutrinos. It's really hard to do that, BTW. A neutrino can go through miles of lead with only a very slight chance of interacting with the lead. Current neutrino detectors are big tanks of heavy water (D2, deuterium) with photomultipliers all around.
    #define X(x,y) x##y
  • Obviously they are collecting email addresses to give to the aliens in exchange for a cure for cancer, wormhole technology information and other such goodies.
  • The article says
    Welp...It looks like the beta has a working set that fits completely into the Coppermine's 256kb L2 cache, but is still too large to fit into the Celeron's cache. What does this mean? It looks as if the client is now no longer memory bandwidth limited in *any* PIII CPU. Memory tweaks will probably show no improvement in client times...

    This is foolish. SETI@HOME uses a lot of memory. It does FFTs and other matrix/array operations on large data sets. I think the reason he sees the same performance with a Katmai PIII@550MHz and a Coppermine PIII@550MHz is not that the working set fits in the Coppermine's 256kB L2 cache, but that it is much bigger than the Katmai's 512kB L2 cache. They get the same performance because they have the same memory bandwidth (100MHz FSB) and FPU performance. I don't know why the Celeron lags, but it might be because of a worse FPU. (I haven't bothered to keep all of Intel's chips straight.)

    As for the author's suggestion that a K7 or Duron would have equal performance, I wouldn't be surprised if an Athlon or Duron (or especially a Thunderbird) beat the pants off of Intel, because they run a faster memory bus. (This only applies if you have RAM that can keep up with the bus, like DDR SDRAM, though.) I think RAMBUS ram is well suited to this task, since there's lots of sequential access and memory bandwidth is more important than latency here.

    The author really should have tried a benchmark on a machine with a bus other than 100MHz. Silly person :)
    #define X(x,y) x##y

  • I really would love to meet the person who spends hundreds of dollars *solely* to process little chunks of data
    If you're likely to be in Perth, Western Australia some time perhaps we can get together for lunch...

    I bought an "Evergreen Spectra 333" CPU upgrade for my old P75 just so it could process S@h WUs faster. (Unfortunately the S@h client didn't fit in the CPU cache, so I only gained a 50% speed increase - but performance went up by 500%)

    Is it just me, or is that line really sad?
    It's just you.
    1. Not everyone has a Slashbox for Ars Technica active.
    2. People without log-ins or those who prefer not to turn on cookies to view Slashdot as a logged-in user do not see the Ars Technica box.
  • On the Internet? I think they can safely get away with stub code for that.
  • Hey, man, if your in the top 10% @ SETI, why dont you try []. Much more usefull than that alien garbage and you could win 2000 dollars.

    Mark Duell
  • Okay, so the pictures are fakes, but that doesn't always mean the product is a fake. Marketing drones make stupid mistakes all the time, that's why Dilbert and User Friendly are always having a go at them. Is the product itself fake, or a hoax, or a scam, or a "joke"?
  • Be careful who hears you. You don't want to end up a bitchmonkey buried under Friendship Hall.
  • (Dont get my wrong, i loooove dnet)
    Maybe becuase a new build/release comes out liek every 3 weeks... it would fill up /.
    But maybe a major version release (like 2.8x) would be good.

    Mark Duell
  • So, let's assume SETI is successful and we enter into conversation with an alien society of incredibly aggressive capitalists, as seems to me the only possible outcome. What will their attitude be towards us? I don't think you can expect anything like, "Oh, look, a young species, let's teach them how to grow and prosper in the intergalactic community!" No. More like, "Look, another third-world planet to exploit!"

    And this hypothetical super-capitalist society is going to patiently wait for us to send them a signal saying "Hey, we're here, come take us over"?

    Sarcasm aside, while I do share your concerns, I don't think they're anything to get excited about, at least at the current stage--mainly because any civilization with the technology to travel here and the will and ability to take us over would presumably have done so a long time ago. It doesn't take a deliberate signal from us to be found; they could happen upon us by random searching, or, more likely, they'd pick up the EM signals we've been leaking for the past century.

    Also, if SETI does find something, it doesn't necessarily follow that we'll respond; that's something to be decided by international committee [], at which point I'm sure these concerns would be brought up.

    I personally support SETI, just for the knowledge; that's what science is about, after all. Whether science is good for humanity at its current stage is a separate question, of course, but I like to think that we'll work out ways to put such knowledge to good use. Knowing that civilizations exist elsewhere, for example, could teach us a lot about evolution and such without needing to talk to the civilization in question. Failure to find any civilization would likewise tell us a lot. We may also discover phenomena completely unrelated to ETI as a side effect of the SETI studies.

    And if they are out there and they are hostile, well, forewarned is forearmed.

  • by phil reed ( 626 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @05:10PM (#909010) Homepage
    That's all fine and dandy except, except one tiny little detail. They are only looking in a very narrow section(2.5MHz) of the usable RF spectrum (30,000 MHz).

    I do hope you're not being deliberately obtuse. The SETI folks are perfectly aware there is a whole lot of spectrum they are not looking at, and if you've read their explanation (or the same explanation of any other SETI project), you'll have seen why they limited the search in the way they did. But, just to review for those others reading at home, the frequency band was selected because (1) it isn't technically possible to scan all 30,000 MHz, and (2) the band is considered significant for our kinds of life, since it's based on looking around resonant frequencies for components of water. The SETI folks had to make a choice because of limited capabilities, and you're condemning them for it.

    Think of all the energy consumed, Approximately ~$66,000/day, that could have been, should have been, put too better use.

    What better use would you have? Windows screen savers with less redeeming features? I'm running it on servers that have to stay on all the time, so there's really no wasted energy anyway.

    You make the choices you want to make, let others have the same privilige. If you feel that others made the wrong choice, well, I'm sure other folks feel the same way about you.


  • I've always been confused by this argument. Just because there's something better, does it mean we stop using the older technology? Now I would imagine any sort of faster than light communication would require huge amounts of energy to implement, so why would a civilization bother using FTL communications on the surface of one of their planets?

    I can understand that a truly powerful spacefaring civilization might use FTL communications, but I think it would be stupid of us to assume they'd ONLY use FTL communications.
  • Granted during this time I had upgraded from a 800Mhz PIII to a 925MHz PIII, this was definitely faster than a CPU upgrade would account for.

    What the hell kind of beta tester is this clown? If you're a beta-tester, the last thing you should be doing is fscking around with the machine you're testing on, even if it's something as "insignificant" as a CPU upgrade. How much difference did the new beta make? He doesn't know, because he changed more than one variable in the test at a time. Stupid, stupid. Perhaps this is why software sucks so bad.

    As for SETI, I'm waiting for them to deliver an Altivec-enhanced client for OS X that I can run on all the dual-processor G4s that are going to start trickling into work over the next few weeks. Then we'll talk.

  • Honestly, if SETI@Home has shown anything, it's shown that we should be less worried about intelligence "out there" and rather more worried by the lack of it down here.

    That's true to a point, but just because thing's aren't perfect on Earth doesn't mean that we should abandon all extra-terrestrial exploration/research. Consider what might happen if we were to discover life (any life, even microbes) on another world:

    - Darwin's Theory of Evolution, the Big Bang theory, and other's that attempt to explain how life began on Earth are "proven" to a certain extent, and are perhaps accepted by those who previously did not accept them.
    - Every major religion is forced to re-examine their creeds and faith to deal with this new discovery. If I'm a Christian, and I suddenly discover that God saw fit to create life on other worlds and not just mine, perhaps I'll be a little more tolerant of others.
    - A major world-wide effort would undoubtedly commence to contact and communicate with this alien life if it is intelligent, or to study it if it's just microbes. Getting a settlement on Mars suddenly becomes more important (to see if there's anything there). Such endeavors cannot be taken up by just one country: the world would have to work together. Major industrial boom for the entire world.

    If nothing else, the discovery of intelligent life in space would give the world an "Us Versus Them" mentality. The people of this world would stop seeing themselves as Americans, French, Indian, etc., and see themselves as Earthlings. And a sense of world-wide unity would probably do more for man's common good than anything else I can think of.
  • by Amokscience ( 86909 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @11:46AM (#909014) Homepage
    First of all I'm not a big fan of SETI@Home. I can see it's value and use but the ET angle on the project didn't motivate me as it did other. No biggie, personal preference.

    The point I'm interested in is that essentially the 'search' is over. Unless things have changed since I last heard, they are just re-analyzing all of their data from as many different angles as possible. This is a good thing from the standpoint of science and verification but it would seem that a good deal of the excitement and newness of the project is gone. What they need after they exhaust the data that they have collected is to get access to the southern hemisphere. More of the milkway can be seen from the southern hemisphere (and thus a higher liklihood of 'interesting' signals) compared to the nothern hemisphere.

    And that PCI card is a piece of junk unless either the SETI@Home cpu power has dropped off (they were crunching stuff in real-time) or you insist on improving your stats. It didn't seem from the Ars article that the new client was slower than the current client.

    I've wondered if we have enough bandwidth now to have a near earth orbit object search program developed. Something much more immediately useful than SETI, and frankly, more important. As anyone who's seen those numerous asteroid collision disaster specials knows there are precious few people and little money to look for these objects.
  • I watch their sitcoms all of the time on my TV

    Yeah, I watch their sitcoms all the time too:
    3rd Rock from the Sun
    Mork & Mindy
    My Favorite Martian

    Not to mention dramas:
    Earth: Final Conflict
  • Well, yesterday, I was checking my SETI@Home progress, and something odd seemed to be happening. The display started shifting rapidly and the graphical part seemed to be scrambling around instead of updating in chunks like normally. A few seconds later, the imagee swirled and coalesced into a message: "Welcome, Jacob, we've been expecting you." I don't know what happened next, but my power went out. That's when things began to get _really_ weird.

    First, the walls started glowing blue, even though the power lines were dead. Then, I saw two shimmering images in front of my eyes. At first, they were just swirls of dust, glimmering blue from the light. But that dust soon formed into two blue creatures with three arms and three eyes. Apparently the standard theory about the green face, large eyes, and pointy chins was wrong. I didn't have a chance to speculate more because at that point I was knocked out by a strange device held by one alien. I do not know when I awoke because the clocks stopped when the power went out, but when I awoke, they were gone and in their place was a message: "There are exactly seven hours until the destruction of the human race. Do not attempt any communication with the outside world and you will be saved."

    Well, I wasn't going to listen to them. I now have exactly seven minutes left on my battery. I plea for you to listen and heed my call, even though it may already be too late. Even more than I fear my detection, I fear for the human race. They will come for me any minute now; it is up to you to stop them. I saw their critical weakness right before being knocked unconscious. It is--
  • by Malc ( 1751 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @11:47AM (#909017)
    How about an Arstechica [] Slashbox? That way all of their stories could still be posted and we could get on with discussing something original. This story was posted on Arstechnica yesterday.
  • by Scurra UK ( 143378 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @11:48AM (#909018)
    Hmm, still doesn't look like the seti@home client can buffer more than one unit at a time...

    what a great bit of code. seriously, run dnet instead, if only for the client.

    why don't new dnet clients get announce to /. then?
  • by 11223 ( 201561 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @11:49AM (#909019)
    *thwack* accidentally hit the submit button too soon... the other point is that it appears to be looking at information in your registry... y'know how when you purchase a product and it asks you for your name and company and it is usally already filled in? I caught it trying to send that (with help of a sniffer and a rediculous string for that registry entry).
  • The word I would use is practical. Sure, RC5 seems to be relatively secure. But in 5 to 10 more years it probably won't be. Plus you have a known chance (remote though it may be) of 'wining'. With SETI it's a shot in the dark not only factoring in location, but also time with completely unknown odds.

    Especially after I heard from the project director that SETI@Home essentially had a 2-3 year life and that they've already scanned through everything they need to, any interest whatsoever dropped off. It's interesting and the payoff could be huge, but it's just not my cup of tea.
  • Supposing that they found a signal, it would probably be repeated. Not to mention that they have a veritable cubic butt-ton of data that hasn't been processed yet, and more coming continuously, that has the same (extremely low) probability of having a code embedded in it by an alien intelligence.

    We're all different.
  •'s fair to say that any alien race that would put so much resources into the laughable venture of "space exploration" would most likely be a race of Communists

    What about these guys []?

  • I don't know if anyone has considered this. Maybe it's sort of off-topic. But I think it's worth considering very carefully.

    I think most well-educated people these days lean to the left politically. After all, it's obvious that society needs to care for all its members, not just those with the skills and poor ethical temperament necessary to succeed in a war of all against all, as in traditional capitalism. And yet, if SETI is successful, what is it going to contact? Aliens, yes. We know that. But what are these aliens going to be like?

    It seems to me that any society successful enough to be able to waste energy on sending out interplanetary signals such as SETI is looking for is not going to be an ethically advanced society. After all, socialism, much as we may not like to admit it, is sort of expensive. The most economically powerful countries here on Earth, such as the USA, are not socialist. Those countries that do, to some degree, embrace socialism, without exception find that there is a high economic cost to doing the right thing. Sweden, Canada, and the UK, for example, devote an incredible amount of their GNP to financing their national health systems. If any country on Earth was going to spend the money and devote the resources to sending out the kind of signals SETI is looking for, it would have to be one of the more rapacious capitalist countries such as the USA or Japan.

    So, let's assume SETI is successful and we enter into conversation with an alien society of incredibly aggressive capitalists, as seems to me the only possible outcome. What will their attitude be towards us? I don't think you can expect anything like, "Oh, look, a young species, let's teach them how to grow and prosper in the intergalactic community!" No. More like, "Look, another third-world planet to exploit!" That old Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man", based on the brilliant science fiction story by C.M. Kornbluth, is probably the most realistic depiction of what would happen to us if SETI ever achieved its aims.

    It seems unbelievable to me that the people behind SETI are so irresponsible that they set a course for the end of human life as we know it without considering such things. But that's the nature of capitalism. Like O'Brian said in 1984, "The purpose of power is power", and this applies to technological power as much as to economic or political power. They do these things not because the outcome will be good, but just because they can. And as Obi-Wan said in Star Wars, "Who is more foolish, the fool, or the fool who follows him?" So I ask you: are you so foolish as to follow and aid SETI@HOME?


  • Hahahahaha

    You see the same thing with science articles. If it's technical enough that most people don't (feel like) understand(ing) it, everyone just either:

    (1) Posts what would normally be a troll, but cause it to be moderated up as "funny". Example:
    "A six-cpu SETI card? I have to say it... imagine a BEOWULF CLUSTER of these!

    Note to moderators: I'm not trolling about beowulfs. Don't you get it? It's a _network_ card, so put them in a _network_. :-)"

    I have a suspicion that people actually challenge themselves by seeing how close to a troll they can get while still getting moderated up

    (2) Just post something funny. Anything. Even if they have to stretch it a bit. A lot. Like my above post :-)

    (3) Three items in a list look much better than two

  • Damn. This is way better than my joke. You had me laughing my ass off. Mind if I use it in my online comic []? I'll give you props for the idea.
  • by Breace ( 33955 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @12:37PM (#909026) Homepage
    Yes, maybe the /. crew should read at least the highest moderated posts before cross-linking.

    to continue the arguments as to why this is a hoax, I can add the following:

    As the picture shows, there's no seperate PCI interface chip, so the PCI interface would have to be implemented inside the CPU.

    Although possible, I doubt that the army would be surplussing CPU's with integrated PCI bus interfaces. These would be pretty new devices, especially in army terms (like, they are still using leading edge 386's a lot)

    Any PCI board designer knows that you can have only two PCI devices per board maximum, if they are directly glued to the PCI bus. So the board with six devices would require a PCI bridge of some sort. Which does not appear in the picture.

    The FAQ states that only one PCI board is supported per system. It is pretty much impossible to design a board that can not work when an identical board sits in a different PCI slot. That's just the way the bus is designed. It's like saying that you can not have two systems with the board in the same house.

    The only reason why you couldn't have two boards would be driver related, which is not the reason they give, and could be easily solved.

  • My main gripe with SETI at home is the hideous display. I want eye candy eye candy eye candy. Make the colors meaningful. Make me want to look at my screen (after all, that is what screen savers are for). But these randomly gradiented blocky bars are ugly.

    I'm not a trollin', just stating my opinion.

  • So why are we still seeing headline stories?
  • Newer SETI@home clients don't compute the graphics if the client window is minimized. However, by default, they wait until screen saver time to kick in.
    ( \
    X Adopt a bird today!
  • Well, I'd hate to damage the business of a couple of people trying to do something in which they believe. And it's true that a couple of Photoshop'd pictures should not be conclusive evidence. Much larger companies have sold products based on some computer generated renderings.

    Whether it's fake or not, is up to you to decide. Read the article [] (or rather the comments at +4) about the board itself, and you'll find other arguments on why this is probably a hoax.

    The main argument that I have, without refering to the pictures is regarding multiple PCI boards in one system. Their explanation on why this is NOT possible does not make sense from a technical point of view. But to be honest, it's not impossible that that is caused by a misunderstanding within the marketing or translating dept.

    There is however one more thing that caught my attention: the download section. It contains no software to download from the company's site itself whatsoever. No drivers, no Linux source, no nothing. All links take you to external sites.

    Anyways, I would think twice before I would submit my credit card details to a Ukrainien based company that wants to sell me a product that a) defeats its own purpose and b) has some serious technical questions to answer (and mine aren't the more serious ones...).

  • If this is a troll like I think it is, this has to be one of the cleverest trolls I've seen in a very long time. You've managed to insult just about every geographical group and political ideology present on Slashdot, and thrown in a rather alarmist view of the dire consequences of contacting alien society, all in the one well-written post!

    I congratulate you, Sir!

  • Rainbow Technologies. []

    They were featured here on slashdot a while ago, and they make encryption hardware...

    Mainly PCI cards for SSL ecommerce server, but they also have rackmount boxes which you can route all your encryption to. This means it can handle all the encryption for an entire server room.

    And they're even a publicly traded stock - RNBO.

  • Ah no, actually the US spends the most of any country in the world on healthcare - both as a percentage of GNP, & per capita, oh & in total too. Precisely because the US has doesnt have the cost cutting regimes in place that other western nations have where there's only one buyer of medicaLl services.
  • by Dungeon Dweller ( 134014 ) on Monday July 24, 2000 @11:53AM (#909038)
    Supposing that you sent erroneous data to them, they would want to flag you as being unreliable. I would imagine that this is the purpose that that serves. I doubt that they are getting demographic information from that.

    We're all different.
  • There already is [] one.

Air is water with holes in it.