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Phone Home Description

PhoneHome means a program will check and report to the user if a new version is available. The program will also send a completion status back to the University of Michigan. This enables us to gather some usage statistics.

PhoneHome is enabled by default, but will not happen on every run. Each run generates a random number (seeded by time). PhoneHome will only occur if the random number modulo 100 is less than the thinning parameter. Most programs default the thinning parameter to 50.

In most programs, PhoneHome can be completely disabled by using the --noPhoneHome parameter.

In many programs, the thinning parameter can be adjusted using the --phoneHomeThinning parameter followed by the new value.

Why do we want usage statistics?

  • To show that our tools are being used (and justify our time spent)
  • To see which tools/functions are most heavily utilized so we can appropriately focus our efforts
  • To get feedback if users are often encountering errors

What gets sent to the University of Michigan?

Your program will hit one of our URLs providing the following information:

  • program name - the name of the executable you are running (pathname is NOT included)
  • argument names - the argument names you specified, but NOT any user specified value
  • version number - the version of the tool you are running (hard coded at compile time)
  • random number - a random number for this run (seeded by time), helps link the version check PhoneHome with the completion status PhoneHome
  • thinning parameter - percentage of time the the tool is configured to report back (0-100), default is 50
  • return status - 0 (success), Exception, or Error (it will not include a description of the exception/error)


For example if you run:

/home/mktrost/bamUtil_1.0.10/bin/bam convert --in myInFile.sam --out myOutFile.bam

It will pass something like these parameters back to us: