I suppose this bit of documentation answers part of my question:
'The number of milliseconds before a task will be terminated if it neither reads an input, writes an output, nor updates its status string.'
So it's the status message, not any counter, that keeps the task alive. My original problem stands though, that the tasks are not actually starting properly for some reason. I'm definitely sending status messages on my separate reporter thread once a minute. When the task actually runs, I can verify this in the task logs because I duplicate the message to cerr for the purpose of logging/debugging...and I see the status updates on the jobtracker of course.
Keith Wiley [EMAIL PROTECTED] keithwiley.com music.keithwiley.com
"The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches
me to suspect that my own is also."
-- Mark Twain