(PST V2.0) Help Desk Comments - February 2008

Main Problem Areas

  1. Adding Authors/Institutions.
  2. Sources/Resources/Sessions.



1. I'm having some trouble with getting into the proposal submission tool from the interactive services webpage. I get a page which asks me to change my old NRAO database password. I do this, but then the page just pops back up again with the same request. Please could you let me know if there is anything I can do?

2. I am trying to submit a VLA proposal but I get an error related to my affiliation. In this field I read "Please contact me to add my affiliation". I tried to update it in my profile but I was not able to do it. Do you have any suggestion? Thank you. Alessandro.

3. I am a first year PhD student in Florence, Italy, and I am about to submit my first VLA proposal. I made a mistake when I entered my graduation year and wrote 2007 instead of 1010. So in the proposal it appeared as "Graduating: 2007; Thesis: true" in the "Status column". I have already corrected the year and saved it, but it still appears as 2007 in the proposal. How can I change it? I would not like to send my first proposal with wrong personal/professional data!

4. Anna Sajina here ate Haverford corrected her account, but the system seems to believe there are TWO Annas, one here and one at UBC -- and we can't correct it.

5. I (of course) did not start filling out my proposal information until yesterday. My University is not in your list of affiliations, so I put in for you to contact me to add it. But now the system will not let me submit, because I do not have a valid affiliation. What shall I do?

6. One of my co-authors (actually, the person who should be the PI) evidently didn't fill in his affiliation when he registered. I want to submit the proposal, but it's late at night in Russia, so I can't contact him. I can "demote" him to a co-I and make myself the PI, but even then the web page insists that he have a correct affiliation, but (since he's registered) it won't let me modify his info. The only solution I can easily see is to enter him as a "new" person (as I did last night with Rui-Qing Mao, if you'll recall) and then presumably the webpage will let me enter his affiliation manually. Do you have a better solution to suggest?

7. I received an automatic email stating that I'm a co-author in the VLA proposal with proposal code VLA/08B-211 (PI: Bruce Partridge). I registered on PST to view and print that proposal but my proposal list is empty. How does PST know about proposal co-authors? I thought that my name, surname and email address would be enough to link my PST profile to an existing proposal.


1. I am creating a new GBT proposal. I am collaborating with folks outside NRAO on this proposal. They have not been in the PST yet so I am just setting up the proposal and putting them in the author list so that they get an email to register with the PST. To be nice, I thought I would just add a title so that my collaborators would know what the proposal was when they first started the PST. However, you have to fill in the whole title page to do this. We don't have an abstract yet and it seems a bit presumptuous to have an abstract entered just to save the proposal title. Obviously this is not a high priority item but it is annoying enough to me to write this email. =) (I just put TBD as the abstract to get around this.)


1. I am preparing a VLA proposal to be submitted for the Feb 1st deadline. This proposal has two principle investigators. I was wondering how I can actually add two PIs in the online proposal submission tool or where would be a good place to specify it?

2. I just tried to fill in the details for a proposal I am willing to submit for the next VLA deadline, but I cannot add any author apart from myself. I cannot see the button 'Enter a new User' that is mentioned in the Help page. Also, I created an account for my colleague who is to be co-author on the proposal, but still, the system doe snot show me his name in the 'Authors' page. Does this have to do with the fact that our insitution is not yet in the system? Please do not hesitate to contact me on this issue as soon as possible.

3. I am trying to enter coauthor "Elbaz David" in the proposal draft VLA/2008-00-134. He says he registered correctly but is not found by the search tool. When I re-enter his details by hand I get an error saying that I was trying to over-write previous information. (same problem I have with another coauthor)

4. I'm getting ready to submit a proposal by tomorrow. On the Authors page, the institution of my supervisor, Kim-Vy Tran, comes out as "Please contact me to add my institution" and I don't seem to be able to change that. She is travelling and out of email contact so I can't ask her to fix it. What is puzzling me is that the information was correct for the proposal we submitted in October. Would it be possible for you to change her institution back to "University of Zurich"?

5. Hi, I'm filling out the cover page for a VLA proposal, and have run into a problem. I want to add an author who isn't in your database, but the web page doesn't give me that option. I do a search on "Mao" and it gets two hits, but neither one of them is correct. But if I don't select one of the two, the web page demands that I choose one of them, or it won't go on. I've tried it with Opera and Netscape 7.2, just in case that's a factor.

6. I am having some trouble with the author list on a proposal (VLA/2008-00-123). Two of the authors (Browne and Gabuzda) tell me that they have updated all their details including their affiliation on the database, and they are indeed visible, but adding them does not update their affiliation and the proposal can therefore not be submitted. The same applies if I delete them and add them again. On the other hand, another author on the proposal who also registered with the database and updated his details (Battye) is able to be included, either via the update or by deleting him and adding him again. If this is a problem at short notice, I can always delete the authors and put the correct author list on the scientific case of the proposal.

7. We have some problem for include a author in the author list for a proposal. The error message is this one:
The database rejected this operation
You are attempting to delete a source or a resource that is in use by a session
PLease fix and try
We don't have other session opened... So what happened?

8. I have just submitted the following proposal. But I had to remove an author off the list as he does not have a proper affiliation for his account?? THe proposal submission tool stopped me from proceeding with an error message and I think I've send an email asking him to update his account. Is it possible for you to add his name to our author list? Phillip Kronberg, LANL/U. Toronto.

Scientific Justification


1. Another problem I have encountered. When I have searched for "K3-50" and "BL Lac" on the sources page using the "Search NED/SIMBAD" button, these sources are not found. When I search using the "search by identifier" option on Simbad they are found quite readily. Something isn't quite right about the search button in the PST.


1. I have a problem for saving the section called VLA ressources in my proposal. I've got, once I specified all my observational parameters, the following message when I tried to save this section:
and a button back.
and my changes are thus not taken into account... I could not find any help for solving this problem. Could you help me?

2. I am trying to save the resource setup for a GBT proposal GBT/2008-00-011 and get the following error message:
java.lang.ClassCastException: org.hibernate.proxy.HibernateProxy$$EnhancerByCGLIB$$31b850f
I pass the following parameters:
Rest frequencies: 14.065,14.082,14.169,14.329
Bandwidth 50 MHz
Number of spectral window 4
Sampling level: 9
Desired frequency resolution 50 kHz
Desired time resolution: 20
Btw, I do not fully understand the meaning of this last parameters, and could not find useful informations in the various documents.

3. I'm having trouble with the "resources" entry in proposal VLA/2008-00-133 (did not try the other yet). I am using a "single-channel-continuum" mode and if I try to enter the frequencies for the 2 chosen IFs frequencies I get:
Errororg.hibernate.PropertyAccessException: IllegalArgumentException occurred while calling setter of data.resources.ResourceVlaSingle.BandWidth

4. Specifically, on the resource page, I can not delete listings for the DnC and D configurations. In this proposal, we want to specify ANY configuration, and have done so (the top five listings in resources). But the program won't allow us to delete the unwanted DnC and D listings; the error messages say the resources "are in use." Help!

5. This new software is seriously flawed! I am trying to edit a resource and when I try and save my changes I get this error message:
"The database rejected this operation.
You are attempting to delete a source or a resource that is in use by a session.
Please fix and try again."
This happens with both Safari and Firefox on my MacBook Pro.
Further to my last note, it would appear that you can not edit a resource if it is part of a session resource pair. So to add a frequency to a resource, you have to do the following:
Delete the session resource pair.
Edit the resouce.
Recreate the session resource pair.
This is very poor software!


1. I am preparing a proposal for continuum observations (8 and 5 GHz) with the VLA in CnD and D configuration, for the deadline of Feb 1 2008. I have two questions:
1) I wish to switch between target and phase calibrator in regular intervals over 30min ( e.g. 9min - 1min). In the section 'Sources' of the PTS I have to create a source group for the calibrator and one of the target and then, in 'Sessions' I can set up a session including a long scan on target and a short on the calibrator to be repeated a number of times to fill 30min. Is this correct?
2) Amplitude calibration. As the project monitors a source for a couple of months, how often do I have to observe a flux calibrator, as e.g. 3C286?

2. I almost bothered you with another question, but figured out a solution myself. I'll mention it anyhow, in case my solution wasn't good for some reason. I listed one resource as one IF with BW 3.125 MHz and 128 channels (spectral line) and another resource as the second IF with BW 25 MHz (pseudo-continuum). The observations will be simultaneous, but on the Sessions page, if I put in the observing time for both of these, then it reports twice the time I'm actually requesting, because it doesn't realize the observations are simultaneous. In the end, I just put in 0 hours for the 2nd IF, and the PST accepted that (not sure if that's a feature or a bug!) so I was able to submit the proposal.

Student Support

1. I'm having a problem filling out the student support section. I can not access it because I get the following:
This proposal is not eligible for student support.
Reason: The proposal has no U.S. students that have been fully registered with the user database.
A student was entered on the proposal and she subsequently logged in and filled out her profile as an undergrad student. Nevertheless, the PST does not recognize her as a student. She was listed on the proposal, as was I, but at the moment we are not listed - perhaps an attempt to correct the problem by relisting us after registration to see if the PST would recognize us.
I am on this proposal also. We added the student and had her register. We then could not get the PST to recognize the student (Leigha Dickens) as a student eligible for student support. I then thought that we might need to remove this author from the proposal and then re-add her to get things synced up. However, after removing Leigha from the author list we cannot find her in the "search" for adding a new author. Do we have to wait for some database update? Or is something wrong with the database? I am at a loss as to what is going on.

2. I entered information for the student support section, pushed the ADD button, and it then informed me that the session had timed out. When I logged back in, Student Travel, Computer Hardware, and Estimated Budget were all set at 1 (as in one dollar!), and I don't see how to go back and change it. Also, the Monetory [sic] Support is set at 1.0, but it appears that I can change that easily.
Another question: Is "Estimated Budget" meant to be "Student Travel" + "Computer Hardware", or is it the total budget which would be Student Travel + Computer Hardware + Monetary Support for the student (which presumably also includes the institutional 10% administrative charge)?
I enter monetary support, click "less than cap", enter Assignment. Then I press save and the monetary support goes away, and it complains that monetary support is empty, but it won't let me enter any more. On the other hand, if I start over & enter all that stuff and press ADD it enters the student with a budget of 1.0. Sorry, but I can't get it to let me put this stuff in!

Proposal Processing

1. I had submitted and then withdrew this proposal to make some last minute corrections. When I try to do this, I get the following error message:
The database rejected this operation.
You are attempting to delete a source or a resource that is in use by a session.
Please fix and try again.
I was trying to add an author -- Yosi

2. I'm writing to inform you that when I tried to submit my GBT proposal this evening at approximately 4:45 EST, I received repeated errors saying "No response: Server timed out". I kept relogging into the PST and trying but it was only after the deadline, about 5:15 when I was finally able to successfully submit my proposal. I see now that it's listed as an 08C when I had intended it to be 08B. Is there any way that it can be accepted for the 08B trimester? I tried in good faith to have it submitted before the deadline, but I had not anticipated the computer problems that occurred. I'd appreciate any assistance that you might give.

3. HI! We are unable to submit a proposal, for the silly reason that the main co-i is at an institution which is not in your database. So he can't fully register, and even though the PST allows the institution to be left open for this reason, the 'validate' system does not. So we are stuck! (I can't even find a way to delete an author?) The proposal is VLA/2008-00-138 We would appreciate if you could enter/submit the proposal for us.
We had to leave out one other co-author who has been on all the previous proposals of this sequence but is not in the NRAO database. That is what happens when working late towards deadlines. I feel that perhaps the system is a bit too dependent on the NRAO user database. A temporary user registration should be possible.


1. I hope I am mailing the right person about Proposal Submission Tool bugs... I have just submitted an application for the February deadline using the Proposal Submission Tool. It has been extremely frustrating. One residual problem was that it was impossible to remove an author from the list (instead of a 'delete' button I only saw a 'cancel' button). Nothing I did would remove the author. Therefore I appear twice in the list. This was in fact the only way to trick it into getting submitted.
Apart from the agony of having to wait for web connection for every button press it was also impossible to delete an uploaded source table. I had to do it one source at a time. With the overhead of having to wait for 2 connections per source this took more than 40 minutes! Also, some pages require you to 'save' while others seem not to. If you get caught out then you loose what you entered. The total time on the cover sheet also does not take account of overheads. Is this right?
I have a fast web connection. For anyone with a slow connection the frustration of trying to prepare a proposal would have certainly outweighed the potential gains of being awarded time. In general I found the interface non-intuitive and inconsistent from one page to the next.
I am using firefox which is a recent release. Sorry for the negative feedback!

2. Enforcing database integrity/proposal validity during editing does not seem sensible. It should only be enforced at the submit stage. Surely it is reasonable to expect to be able to delete the PI or contact author to then insert another during proposal preparation!? By way of analogy: When I write a page of text in a word processor it passes many phases of 'invalidity', with spelling mistakes and sentences that make no sense. If I am constrained to never have the page of text in an 'invalid' state then I would use a typewriter and correction fluid (should I go wrong). Obviously I would not be able to edit the bottom of a page before having done the top. At least with a typewriter this constraint is transparent.
Enforcing database consistency during editing, in any case, means that you are not free to 'edit'. Database integrity, surely, should only be enforced at the the 'submit' stage.
I have tried from work and home. Both fast links. The problem was not the speed of the link but even a wait of 2 x 5 seconds is frustrating when all you want to do is delete a line from a table. In my case the table I was deleting ended up with sources duplicated for some reason (I probably accidentally pressed upload twice or something). So I had 54 lines to delete. Although this only adds up to 2x5x54 seconds it still took me 40 minutes with overheads (see previous point).

3. I'm having some trouble producing a new VLA proposal. I can log into the site ok (username: chrislintott), and get as far as selecting the VLA. At that point I get the following error
I've tried this on mozilla running on linux, and firefox and safari on Mac OS X. Please help!

Requested Feedback

1. I am very happy with the current version of the PST. The fact that the previous proposals are stored, accessible, and can be copied is just perfect and very usefull. The PST is very intuitive and user friendly. It is easy to upload the list of targets, the scientific justification. It is easy to prepare the sessions. I have no negative comments to make on the PST

2. I found the PST very helpful to prepare proposals. Just one comment regarding Section 3.4.5 of the PST manual (Modifying source groups). It says that:
"NOTE: Sources within a source group may be deleted [...]"
I had some problems with this. I had just 1 source-group (with 20-25 sources) and I tried to delete one of the sources. I found that, if the source group is being used in a Session, there's no way to delete any of the sources within this source group, unless the Session is deleted. Not sure if the PST was intented to work like that. I understand that the source group cannot be deleted -as a whole- if being used, but it makes sense to have the ability to modify the source group (surely the session will have to be modified, but this is much easier than generate a new one if case you decide to delete one of the sources).

3. The notes from my latest round with the PST are below. They're meant to be constructive, so please forgive any bluntness.
PST has gotten very slow --- for some reason it needs to engage in quitea lot of network communication for every action, even when I simply select an item from a drop-down list (like VLA config or receiver).
I can't alter a resource that is called upon by a session, so resources must be perfect before adding sessions, which makes refinement or modification extremely tedious.
Server went down after I entered some tediously calculated values, but before I could save them! This was late at night, so presumably some kind of admin or upgrade.

4. Thank you for your e-mail. I have a quick comment about my problem of confusion during the submission. 'VLA resource name' was a bit complex for me to understand. Thanks a lot for all your efforts to make proposer's life simple.

5. I have to say right at the beginning that I liked the proposal submission tool very much. I participated to the submission of two VLA proposals and it was really easy to use. I have a couple of comments on possible improvements of the tool:
once you have a source list it is impossible to regroup them in different source groups. This 'copy-paste' facility would be nice to have online, instead of deleting everything and starting from scratch. |
It would be good to eliminate the 'submit' button. I have submitted several proposals for European grants and they often have the feature that at the deadline day and time it automatically prevents anyone to access the proposals. The version considered for review is the latest saved. I find it a nice feature that avoids the crowding of the last minute...
I appreciated very much the validation tool, that tells you that e.g. one of the sources was not used or so... It must be possible to override this warning though...
you can only specify a number of repetition of a certain session at regular intervals. It might be good to have the possibility to specify the days one would like a certain source or group to be observed, the separation of the observations could be irregular.
Many thanks for the tool!

6. hopefully a constructive criticism. I found it very unwieldy to construct my sessions and resources in a sensible manner. Having added my entire list of sources I went on to set up resources and sessions but then had to go back, edit my source list into two separate ones (this appeared to be the easiest way to separate sources based on RA) and edit resources. In order to do this I had to delete a resource and start again which is annoying and should be unnecessary.

7. My constructive comments are as follows:
1. The user does not appear to be able to edit a resource once it is paired with a source in a session. This leads to a great deal of frustration, as it means deleting resources and starting over again!
2. It would appear that only a group of resources can be paired with a group of sources in an observing session. It does not seem possible to pair individual resources with individual sources in an observing session. If this is possible, the user interface does not make this apparent.
3. In general the user interface is badly laid out, and not at all intuitive. It took me ages to find the submit proposal button! The on-line user guide appears out of sync with the PST.

8. I submitted a proposal to use the VLA in the just completed call, and wanted to comment on an area where the PST could be implemented better. My proposal strategy included observing in sub-arrays, and after various calls with Socorro, it was clear that this was a short-coming of the present implementation; there was no way to get the source-resource pairing and current session format to work adequately with sub-array observing. The people with whom I spoke recognized that this was a failing of the current system, but I wanted to formally bring it to your attention as well.

9. The proposal process went fairly smoothly this time. I notice that I can't add/update info about my collaborators any more. I guess that's for security reasons, but it's also a bit of a pain when you're trying to get a proposal in and realize that you have an old address for someone halfway 'round the world who has signed off for the day...

10. My only issue with the tool is that we have to "fake it" a bit on the source and schedule boxes for the Moon radar runs. I end up just making a placeholder source and dummy schedule, since the hours/run and separation between runs do not make sense for a narrowly defined batch of hours on succeeding days. Maybe there could be a "refer to descriptive text" flag and associated comment box to skip over the creation of these dummy setups?

11. The tool is fine and working well. I think useful after the referee and PC comments to add a link to these comments. Reading an old proposal it will be possible o retrive referee and PC comments and if observing time has been allocated or not.

-- DanaBalser - 05 Feb 2008
Topic revision: r7 - 2008-02-13, DanaBalser
This site is powered by FoswikiCopyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding NRAO Public Wiki? Send feedback