NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery for 50 Years

1999 User Survey Results

Information Technology and Communication


Very Satisfied 7 Very Useful 3
Mostly Satisfied 6 Somewhat Useful 2
Somewhat Satisfied 5 Don't Use 1
Neutral 4  
Somewhat Dissatisfied 3
Mostly Dissatisfied 2
Very Dissatisfied 1


HPCF Web Site

No. of ResponsesAvg.'98/Change
Accuracy of information 94 6.22  
Getting Started Guide 73 6.08 5.54/+0.54
Timeliness of information 90 5.99  
T3E Section 72 5.99 5.48/+0.51
Info on using NERSC-specific resources 87 5.93  
File Storage Section 66 5.82 5.10/+0.72
General programming information 86 5.74  
Search Facilities 83 5.69  
Ease of finding information 117 5.70  
PVP Section 55 5.69 5.34/+0.35


How useful are these for keeping informed of NERSC issues and changes?

No. of ResponsesAvg.
E-mail notices from NERSC 136 2.63
News and Announcement web pages 120 2.16
MOTD on computers 114 2.09
Phone calls from NERSC 103 1.89
Online web magazine 105 1.54


Do you feel you are adequately informed?

Do you feel you are adequately informed about NERSC changes? 128 7 95% 82%/+13%
Are you aware of planned outages 24 hours in advance ? 106 10 91%  
Are you aware of major changes at least 1 month in advance? 109 13 89%  
Are you aware of software changes at least 7 days in advance? 87 18 83%  


Do you like the new web site? 42 responses

We created a new web site just for users of the NERSC High Performance Computing Facility The URL is Do you like the new web site?

  • 33:     Like it
  •   6:     Could be improved / changed
      • Some info buried too far down (batch queue structures, how to submit batch jobs).
      • More cross-referencing between machines, in general more cross references.
      • Fewer links were required on old site to obtain detailed info (T3E queues).
      • Too many changes are confusing.
      • Having more than one website for NERSC is confusing.
      • Too much clutter for slow-speed connections.
  •   5:     Don't use it, no answer

How could we improve our web site? 25 responses

  •   6:     Improve its organization and searching abilities
      • Add an acronym list.
      • Steer users directly to the most important topics.
      • Improve f90 documentation.
  •   3:     Provide more optimization info
  •   2:     Better software documentation
      • Provide a short reference of the most important commands, queue limits, whatever one tends to forget.
  •   2:     Comments pertaining to
      • easier to remember than
  •   6:     Other suggestions
      • Website should be updated within minutes when machines are unavailable.
      • Ability to setup, submit and monitor jobs via the web.
      • Don't change its design so often.
      • No web passwords.
      • Provide user discussion boards.
      • Improve access over low speed connections.
  •   6:     No specific suggestions

How would like to keep informed of changes and issues at NERSC? 42 responses

  • 22:     By email (only email mentioned)
  •   4:     By email and motd
  •   2:     Use email more
      • Provide ability to sign up for email announcements on specific topics.
      • Notify us of planned outages by email.
  •   2:     Use email less
  •   6:     Improve the motd / don't like motds
  •   5:     Current methods are good
  •   2:     Keep us better informed of plans
      • Tell us more about planned hardware and software acquisitions before they occur.
      • Have a user comment period before final decisions are made on major changes.
  •   2:     Comments on the online newsletter
      • Didn't know it existed.
  •   2:     Other comments
      • Maintenance times are awkward.
      • Use the "news" system.

Do you like the new web site?   42 responses

  • Like it:   33 responses

    yes, very much. Accurate and up-to-date information.

    The new website is an improvement. It is quite good: informative and the information is relatively easy to get.

    Yes, however see how to improve.

    Yes, it looks good.

    yes, it is a good idea

    In general, I think it's a fine web site. [...]

    The site is good and getting better. [...]

    Yes, the new web site certainly has significant improvements in relation to what was available online from the previous year.

    Yes, I do it very much. Thanks.

    Yes indeed. Very helpful. Thanks.

    much better than the old one!

    Yes. It is a little easier to find things.

    I find it very helpful.

    It's OK. I don't give this much thought.

    Yea, it is a good idea.

    Yes, very good.

    yes [17 responses]


  • Could be improved / changed:   6 responses

    In general, I think it's a fine web site. I've occasionally noticed that some information that one needs to check fairly often, such as batch queue structures and how to submit batch jobs is buried fairly far down in the hierarchy. Also, there could be more cross-referencing between machines. For example, having just checked the batch queue structure or software availability on the T3E, maybe I would like to see the same thing on the J90. But there is no direct link at this point; I have to go back up to the home page, find the J90 and work my way back down.

    I prefer the old website. Fewer links were required to obtain detailed information on, for instance, the T3E queue system.

    The site is good and getting better. A few more links between pages would be good. For example, in the J90/SV1 page, in the section covering batch, there are no links to the tutorial pages on batch or to the page on special considerations on running batch on the PVPs.

    Too many changes are confusing.

    I find it a little confusing to have more than one site for NERSC.

    There is a lot of clutter which makes it difficult to use through a low speed connection. Huge pictures or many frames just slow things down enormously.


  • Don't use it, no answer:   5 responses

    Not sure; don't use it all that much.

    Have not looked at it yet.

    Have not spent time looking it over.

    Haven't used it

    No answer.

How could we improve our web site?   25 responses

  • Improve its organization and searching abilities:   6 responses

    improve the internal searching capabilities of the site

    Add an acronym list. For example, if you didn't know what PE stood for, you'd never find out from your site, docs or search tools...

    The information most important for users should be easily located. The content of the website suffers from, if anything, overabundance. This degrades the quality of searches (often locating irrelevant information). Perhaps a clearer organization of material would be helpful.

    One way is to steer the users directly into the areas, which they are looking for, rather than going though a long windy way, if possible.

    My impression is that it is still somewhat difficult to get specific questions regarding the F90 language/compiler answered without going through reams of Web pages

    Make it as organized and logically-structured as you possibly can.


  • Provide more optimization info:   3 responses

    I'd like to see more information on Fortran 90. I would very much like to see optimization information in a more accessible format. Some tricks for improving my codes (such as using E-registers and Cray pointers) were not very easy to figure out from the documentation on the web. The information on SHMEM as it relates to optimizing MPI code is useful but could be expanded and made more accessible.

    Put some more technical info about hardware back on the site; things like vector lengths, etc. SGI's website are fairly useless nowdays for this kind of info, which can often be quite helpful when you need to squeeze out a few more GFLOPs.

    provide direct access to performance tuning aspects


  • Better software documentation:   2 responses

    I would appreciate ONE page somewhere on the web containing a short reference of the most important commands and its flags, queue limits and whatever one tends to forget from one login to the other.

    documentation on using the BLAS and LAPACK libraries are a little incomplete (e.g., it took me a while to realize that only "single" precision routines are relevant/available).


  • Comments pertaining to   2 responses

    Your old web site: still exists. This is somewhat confusing to users why you maintain these two web-sites. Why don't you merge them or at least put a very visible link on to redirect us to given that most of us find is easier to remember than

    If you have a slow link, loading the home page with all of its graphics takes a long while. Reduce the glitz.


  • Other suggestions:   6 responses

    It would be nice if the website could be updated within minutes when machines are unavailable. Yesterday, for instance, I was trying to log into mcurie, but I could not, even though it was not a scheduled downtime. I looked at the news section of the website, but didn't see anything. I couldn't figure out if it was my network connection or something else. A message posted in the news section would have been nice.

    The web site could be improved if there were a way to setup, submit and monitor jobs on the NERSC machines via an online HTML interface.

    Some suggestion I have for most web sites I visit......Don't change it's configuration and design so often. Many times, after I find something, it's not in the same place the next time I go to look for it.

    I'd like to see the seminars and talks that you organize better advertised.

    1- Take out web passwords.
    2- Open up user discussion and suggestion boards
    3- Users-help-Users section?


    Make access as semaless as possible even over low speed connections



  • No specific suggestions:   6 responses

    No comment

    No answer.

    See above. [Not sure; don't use it all that much.]


    It is really very good. Keep going on.


How would like to keep informed of changes and issues at NERSC?   42 responses

  • By email (only email mentioned):   22 responses

    Email messages are best for important announcements.

    email is best. Phone calls are nice if I'm in the office but that is sporadic

    I find email is the most efficient way.

    The email notice is the best I can think of

    important messages via e-mail, other on the web

    In general, email notices are the best

    I think e-mail is the quickest method to communicate any changes,etc. because one may not sign daily to NERSC computers and may miss MOT,etc. Of course, sending e-mail can be a problem. But it would work and not useful e-mail could be deleted in due course.

    email is good. [...]

    email is the best way to be kept informed of changes at NERSC

    email with possibly more detailed info on your web site

    I get e-mail messages, and this seems to work fine.

    email [11 responses]


  • By email and motd:   4 responses

    e-mail and MOTD messages are the most useful for me. If I have to actively check a web-site for important changes, then I will miss them.

    e-mail notification for anything important, motd (with a pointer to a web page or ? for details) otherwise. I don't regularly consult the web pages unless I'm doing something new or looking for specific information.

    email & motd

    e-mail and MOTD


  • Use email more:   2 responses

    [...] I'd like the OPTION of signing onto a mailing list for T3E and HPSS announcements, so I get Emailed separately about each maintenance item.

    Are you aware of planned outages 24 hours in advance? - SHOULD BE NOTIFIED BY E-MAIL.


  • Use email less:   2 responses

    fewer emails

    [...] Also, sometimes too much e-mail and I end up not reading a lot of it.


  • Improve the motd / don't like motds:   6 responses

    Because I'm lazy...I think MOTD's are useless--everyone ignores them. [...]

    Simplify all the generic logon warnings and add brief bulletins to the logon, with URLs pointing to details. (Fix tcsh so logon material doesn't scroll by twice.)

    I use t shell and most of the daily messages appear to get lost after the first login

    [...]I would like a clearer message of the day (tends to get obscured by other verbage) with pointers to additional info if I want more details. [...]

    [...] The "news' banner that scrolls by at supersonic speed upon login is mostly annoying.

    The message of the day is way, way, way too long. You should have a short MOTD and then put news into the "news" system. The latter is completely neglected and that's a mistake. "News" is a great way to inform users.


  • Current methods are good:   5 responses

    Doing a good job on that, you can not know when the machines will crash.

    Present system seems okay.

    Please keep going on

    If I were more active I'm sure I'd keep myself better informed. I expect the methods presently in place are sufficient.

    Present practice is quite adequate.


  • Keep us better informed of plans:   2 responses

    It would be nice to know more about planned hardware and software acquisitions before they occur.

    If a truly major change is planned, one month notice might be insufficient in some cases. I suggest it might be useful to have a "comment period" before final decisions on made truly major changes (e.g. dropping a widely used graphics library, changing the queue system).


  • Comments on the online newsletter:   2 responses

    A (bi-)monthly newsletter distributed via email would make it easier to keep up with any changes at NERSC.

    Did not know that there was a "NERSC News Online Magazine."


  • Other comments:   2 responses

    The times for maintenance are awkward. On mcurie, 16:00 to 21:00 are just bad times of the day. Also, having the shut down either tuesday or thursday is confusing. The notification is adequate, it would just be easier if always on the same day.

    [...] You should have a short MOTD and then put news into the "news" system. The latter is completely neglected and that's a mistake. "News" is a great way to inform users.