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

Main Problem Areas



1. I can't find my password so I requested help. System claims that it has sent an e-mail to me at bjunor@lanl.gov i.e. this legitimate address. I tried this twice but no such e-mail has arrived in 10 or 15 minutes. Craig tells me that there are two entries for me in the tool archive so perhaps this is bollixing things? I ended up with 2 entries because of some issues in setting up proposal last time around.
Aaargh. Now I remember why I got so frustrated with this poor piece of software in the past. Although I thought I was "bjunor", now I find I have to be "Bill_Junor" to login. I can't kill the "bjunor" entry. The software would not let me add my institution --- LANL --- and I have to "contact you to add my institution" --- but it pulls up drop-down menu for me to add this info. The navigation through the pages is a bit less-than-intuitive. This business with adding institutions drove me nuts the last time I used this. If a can add an arbitrary user, then why can't I add an arbitrary institution?

2. Could you please delete my yyk account in the PST? For historical reasons I have two of them (yyk & ykovalev) and in order not to confuse my collaborators it is better to delete one of them: yyk

3. I was told by a co-author that I should proof a draft proposal. I did not have an account yet, so I made one. Then I went looking. I found the author in the list of authors (his last name is Ma so I got 16 pages of hits. An ability to go to a letter of the alphabet might be useful). When I clicked on his name, I got an error. I cut and pasted the screen below.

4. My profile gives three telephone numbers; work,cell and fax on the "print preview" it automatically fills in my info, but it filled in my fax number, which of course won't work as a phone contact number.

5. I changed my first name in the PST a couple of days ago. I had used my real first name (Robert), but I go by my middle name and people were getting confused. So I changed the "first" name to "R. Craig". I then updated the information on the proposal I am writing and that seems fine. But I am a co-author on another proposal that I could always see when I was on the page that indexed my proposals. Yesterday that proposal got submitted. I don't think my personal information got updated. Now I can't see it. It is not in my list either when trying to look at all proposals or at submitted proposals. I guess my access to it is based on name, not some database index or whatever. I would think that this could become a problem for some people in the future. If there is reason to change some information such as a name or I'm not sure what else, you apparently lose access to all old proposals. That's not much of an issue now, but in a few years it might be annoying.
It seems that my problem was not the name, but that on my proposal list page I had the year 2008 selected. Apparently it doesn't care for drafts. But for submitted proposals, it does care. I had selected 2008 because I was dealing with proposals for a 2008 deadline. Apparently it is the likely year of the observations that matters - not what I would have guessed. And there is no 2009 option in the drop down menu so I did not have the option of taking a hint from that. I suggest making it a little more obvious what that year refers to. As a user, I would suggest it be the proposal date. After all, I am about to submit a schedule for observations, part of a monitoring sequence, for which the proposal was submitted about 5 years ago.


1. I have just spent an hour working on the abstract ... in the PST. I have not let the ... PST stand idle for more that 10 minutes before typing stuff in. I was working on the Abstract. It was a tad long, 223 words. I edited it. Got it down to size and was done. I then hit the Save button. (Had been saving a lot.) And the ... PST blinked and demanded that I login again. And when I did so, the text saved in the abstract box was really very old.... Stuff that I had edited and extended at least 30 minutes ago. I should NOT have to recover. The PST CANNOT do this to folks!

2. I just ran into a very nasty property of the PST. I was filling in information for a new proposal. I made the serious mistake of deciding to compose the summary in the window provided by the tool. That took a while, and, since I live a life of interrupts and meetings around here, I had the tool open most of the day. I finally got it worded the way I wanted and, without saving a copy somewhere else (eg cut and paste), hit the save button. It turns out, without my having been aware of the possibility, that my login had expired. And the page vanished. I lost everything and now have to start over. Please do something to prevent this from happening to users. I can see the need for requiring the session be reactivated, but surely there is some way to prevent total loss of everything filled in to that point when it happens. What is the timeout period? It is clearly less than about 8 hours.
I don't know about others, but a 30 minute timeout for me will almost certainly cause problems. If I could concentrate for 30 minutes, and did not attempt to compose anything like the abstract on line, it might work. But very often someone walks in the door while I'm doing this sort of thing and brings up an issue that takes the next hour or more. I would have to remember to save the partially complete work, which I certainly didn't do when not aware of a timeout. I would suggest that the timeout be longer than a standard work day, or that there be some way that whatever had been entered before the timeout is not lost. At the very least, there should be the warning you suggest, and another adjacent to the space for entering the abstract - the item most likely to cause a problem. In fact, I would guess that most people take more than 30 minutes to compose their abstract, especially with the 200 word limit.
In general, I really don't like timeouts and think they should only be used when not adhering to them will cause problems elsewhere. For on-line sales, for example, they should be set by the time during which the in-stock information or prices might change. For the PST, I don't actually see any reason for one other than a concern that a user might unintentionally try modifying a proposal from two different places by forgetting to log out of the first.

3. Any text that is edited will be lost if I move to another page and then back to the General page.


1. Attempts to add an author to my proposal have been quite frustrating. I finally got it with help of local staff, but requiring that one check an unlabeled button and then hit "save" are very counterintuitive. Can you at least label the button?

Scientific Justification

1. I tried uploading a scientific justification file to the proposal system at my.nrao.edu and got an error message about the file not being a PDF. Since then, I have been unable to access the scientific justification page page for this proposal. My username is privong and the draft proposal ID appears to be "GBT/2008-08-020".

2. It would be good to include on the Scientific Justification page that the 4 page limit includes figures, tables, and references.


1. I am currently having problems with the proposal PST. I am in a project where I would like to delete source sources and sessions. When I click on 'delete' I am immediately prompted as to whether or not I actually want to do this. When I click 'OK', I am returned to the DASHBOARD menu (ie exitted from the Proposals menu) and the deletion is not saved in my project. could this be a temporary problem?

2. It should not take one 1-2 hrs just to reorder a source list! I strongly urge you to provide a field or two where a numerical value can be assigned that speeds up the reordering dramatically. If you do not understand what I am talking about, I encourage you to model the re-ordering after the queue of movies that Netflix provides. They have already mastered the intricacies of sorting for you.
It is extremely tedious to have to constantly click through 3-4 page loads just to change one number in one field. To have to do this multiple times for what should really be minor editing borders on dysfunctional. Again, there are very clever and transparent implementations of similar functionality out there. I would like to see a mode wherein you can access a large number of identical fields at once and modify en masse.

3. It is not clear that the time entered in the session page is the time per repeat of this session and not the total time of the session.

4. Is there a way to avoid using GST? That is, maybe provide the LST and then a telescope to use as the center or a longitude. From this the GST could be calculated.

Student Support

Proposal Processing

1. Shouldn't these Rapid Response Proposals still belong to 08C? (Submitted RAPID RESPONSE Proposal Id=VLA/08B-247)

2. When I print out my proposal, the 'Telephone' section contains not my telephone number but my fax number. I've checked my 'profile' section and the telephone and fax are correct there, but the PST seems to be picking up the wrong one.

3. I tried to print my draft proposal (VLBA/2008-08-122), but the .pdf file it returns hangs (can't display or print) after the first page. Four months ago, for a VLA proposal the same thing happened and I was told that was a known bug. If so, why is it still a problem?

4. If I want to change the type of the proposal I have already submitted from Target of Opportunity to "regular - known transient source", how do I go about editing the general information to get the proposal type changed?

5. Please tell me how to “submit” a GBT proposal when I am ready (I have all the individual pieces). When you submit it, can it be modified?

6. when you mouse over the "submit" arrow on the proposal listing page, the text that appears in the lower left corner is something like https://my.nrao.edu/pst/garbage which is weird and a little unnerving.

7. The SUBMIT button should be much more obvious. the little arrow is too subtle. I had one collaborator ask me, at 4:59pm EST (not kidding), where's the submit button? smile


1. At present it is possible to copy a previously existing proposal. This generates a new proposal ID. The copy process gives one the ability to copy only subsets of the old proposal. This is a good feature since it saves time and effort if one is either extending the previous experiment or using very similar GBT resource definitions. It would also be very, very useful to be able to copy parts of old proposals into an existing proposal. With this functionality one could draw from all one's previous proposals in an extremely flexible manner. It would be a powerful addition to the PST functionality. Much of the infrastructure needed to implement this feature is already in hand. I ask that the PST seriously consider adding such a capability.

2. I was looking at the VLA website, and the PST page is outdated for the C trimester. I'm assuming that the proposal is due 5PM EST, which is 2PM PST here in Los Angeles, since that is what is has been before. Oh, if you could have the proposal deadline time/dates in the my.nrao.edu, that would be great update. It would be easier to remember and see, especially for new users.

3. A nice feature would be able to send an email out through the pst for a given proposal -- basically, a box where I type stuff in and click "send" and it sends it to all the authors.

4. Another random suggestion for somebody else to do some work: put a countdown to deadline on the dashboard. (I suspect some foreigners don't know about summer time, and didn't notice the 21h UT behind the telescope button.)

5. The buttons at the top of the PST pages are on the right hand side of the window which are not always visible on my laptop.

-- DanaBalser - 06 Oct 2008
Topic revision: r2 - 2008-10-06, DanaBalser
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