Farewell Reception for Andy Kraus August 14

Please join us for a farewell reception for Andy Kraus on August 14, 1:30-3:30, in 4226 Social Science. Andy and his wife Nikki, who just completed her Ph.D. in Sociology, will be moving to New Jersey where Nikki will join the faculty in the Sociology Department at Rutgers University-Newark. They had three children while they were here, so we congratulate them both on surviving the Ph.D. program! Andy has been doing desktop support for Social Science Building occupants since 2006 and will be sorely missed. Anyone who has worked with or received assistance from Andy knows him as a gentle, kind, patient, competent, and thorough professional. We at SSCC will miss Andy very much.

Andy invites everyone to stop by for his reception to say good bye, sign a card, and have a piece of cake. We'll also be accepting donations for a parting gift.

Stata MP16 Available on Linstat Starting August 1st

In recent years the SSCC has had a large number of licenses for Stata MP2 (Stata using two cores) plus fifteen licenses for Stata MP4 (Stata using four cores). Stata MP2 is more than sufficient for the vast majority of tasks, but we have a small number of users who need all the computing power they can get. While the difference between MP2 and MP4 is real, in practice it is rarely big enough to be important.

We will therefore replace our fifteen Stata MP4 licenses with five Stata MP16 licenses on August 1st. This will provide a substantial performance boost for most processor-intensive tasks. For now Stata MP16 will only be available on Linstat (we are exploring whether it is possible to run Stata MP16 effectively on Winstat). Unfortunately this does mean Stata MP16 is only available to full members of the SSCC who have access to Linstat.

MP16 licenses are much more expensive than MP4 licenses (a great example of third degree price discrimination if you need one for an Econ 101 lecture) so we've had to reduce the number we purchase. To ensure these licenses are available to the people who need them most, please do not use MP16 to write do files, examine results, etc. Use it only when you have significant computations to do. As of August 1st, the xstata command that runs Stata with its graphical user interface will run Stata SE (single core). Type xstata-mp if you need a graphical user interface and 16 cores. Running Stata in batch mode with stata -b do... will run Stata MP16 automatically. Stata jobs submitted to HTCondor will also use Stata MP16.

If you're not familiar with Linstat or running jobs on Linux servers, see Using Linstat. It's probably easier than you think. We encourage everyone who does serious number crunching in Stata (multiple imputation, mixed models, etc.) to learn to use Linstat.

Updated Server Usage Policy Covers Parallel Processing

For several years technical bottlenecks have prevented chipmakers from significantly increasing computer processor speeds, so they've responded by making chips with multiple processors (cores). We're now seeing more and more programs use parallel processing to take advantage of all those extra cores, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, these programs often don't recognize when they're running on a shared server rather than a private workstation, so it's up to you to make sure they leave enough resources for others. Matlab is a particular concern.

We've updated our Server Usage Policy in response to the new ubiquity of parallel processing: to ensure everyone has access to to a fair share of SSCC's computing resources, please do not use more than 8 cores on Winstat or 16 cores on Linstat. The policy also now contains instructions for controlling the number of cores used by the most popular software at the SSCC, including Matlab.

Upcoming Training and Orientations

Stata and R "boot camps" will be held at the end of August, just before classes start. If you work with incoming students, students just starting to do research, or others who would benefit from these sessions please make sure they are aware of them. Fall training is in the process of being scheduled, but will include Stata, SPSS, and NVivo.

SSCC staff will hold orientations for incoming students in several departments, including Economics, Sociology, Political Science, and the LaFollette Institute. If your group would benefit from learning about SSCC services and how to use them, we'd be happy to hold an orientation for you as well. Contact Caitlin Tefft to make arrangements.

If you are new to the SSCC or would like a refresher on what SSCC provides and how to use it, you are invited to attend the orientation for new Sociology graduate students. Visit the training page for details and to register.

Firefox and Winstat

The latest version of Firefox made a change that prevents the Citrix Receiver from running unless you explicitly give it permission to do so. Fortunately that's easy to do: see Winstat Solutions: Connecting Using Firefox for details.