SSCC Training Free to All of Campus

Thanks to generous support from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education and the Graduate School, SSCC training will once again be free to all members of the UW-Madison community. If you're receiving this newsletter SSCC training was already free for you, but we hope you'll spread the word.

We expect to teach additional sections of our most popular classes in order to meet increased demand. We use registration information to know when additional sections are needed, so once you register for SSCC training it's very important you tell us if you no longer plan to attend. Otherwise we may schedule a new section that turns out not to have been needed, taking up many hours of staff time that could have been spent helping researchers.

New Tools for Multi-Processor Jobs on HTCondor

As part of our ongoing effort to better support jobs that use mutiple processors, we will implement "dynamic slots" on our HTCondor flock during Wednesday's downtime. Once this is in place, if you submit a job using condor_R, condor_matlab, or condor_do, Condor assumes that your job will only use one processor and can share a server with other similar jobs. However, if you submit a job using condormp_R, condormp_matlab, or condormp_do, Condor assumes your job can use multiple processors. Stata on Condor always uses multiple processors, so jobs submitted using condor_stata will always be treated as multi-processor jobs. Condor will not assign other jobs to a server that's running a multi-processor job so it can use as many processors as possible. (Keep in mind that if Condor assigns a job to Linstat it may have to share processors with jobs that were not run using Condor.)

This will reduce the number of jobs our HTCondor flock can run at the same time, but it will allow them to run faster since they will not be competing for processor time. The total number of jobs the flock can complete in a given time will go up. See An Introduction to Condor for details, including how to tell if your job uses multiple processors.

Canvas Migration

As you may be aware, UW-Madison is transitioning from Desire2Learn (D2L) to Canvas as the official Learning Management System (LMS) for campus. The transition period for all L&S departments in the Social Science division, including Sociology and Economics, has been set for Spring 2017. During this transition period, additional resources to assist with migration will be allocated from DoIT Academic Technology and L&S Learning Support Services, including in-person assistance and training. While D2L will not be officially retired until Fall 2018, it is strongly suggested that you plan to switch from D2L to Canvas for your upcoming summer and fall courses so that you can take advantage of the resources available to you now. Another great reason to switch sooner rather than later is that UW-Madison currently has a support contract with Canvas and any instructor can work directly with Canvas’s technical support team via the Help button in their course. That contract will be ending as of July 1st, at which time support will be handled entirely by the DoIT Help Desk.

For general information on the transition to Canvas and information on upcoming training sessions, please view the L&S Canvas Migration Resources Course. Included is a recap of the Migration Kickoff Meeting that was held here in February, which is a great place to start.

If you taught a course that used D2L during the Spring, Summer, or Fall 2016 semesters, those courses have already been migrated for you into Canvas. You can review these migrated courses by logging in to with your NetID. If you are missing courses or would like an older course migrated, you can fill out this form. Plans are in the works to migrate current Spring 2017 courses after the semester.

Staff from LSS and DoIT AT will be available in the building to help you review your migrated courses and answer questions on Tuesday, March 28th, 1:30-3:30 PM, in 8411 Social Sciences.

As a group that primarily supports research computing, SSCC does not have an official role in supporting Canvas. However, Caitlin Tefft has attended Canvas training and we'll be happy to answer any questions we can and put you in touch with the appropriate experts when we can't.

Reserve the Computer Lab Now for Summer Classes

Summer is on its way, so don't forget to reserve the computer lab for your summer classes. Reservations are made on a first-come, first-served basis.

Firefox and Plugins

The latest version of Mozilla Firefox no longer supports some older plugins, such as Java and Silverlight. Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge dropped support for them some time ago. Most people won't miss them, but if you need to use these plugins, you have two options:

  • Install the "Extended Support Release" (ESR) of Firefox 52, which is available through Software Center. This will allow you to use older plugins as long as ESR 52 is supported, which is expected to be about a year.
  • Use Internet Explorer. Since Internet Explorer is no longer being actively developed, it will probably support those plugins indefinitely. If needed you can run Internet Explorer on Winstat.