SSCC News April 2024

SSCC Annual Account Renewal

The SSCC’s annual account renewal process is underway. The Social Science Computing Cooperative carries out an annual account exercise to keep our account list up to date.  If you received a renewal email, please follow the instructions to renew or close your account before June 1st. To renew your account, you should have received an email with a customized link that you will use to renew your account. Accounts that are part of the renewal process and are not renewed will be closed on June 1st.

You Can Now Use ResearchDrive With SSCC Servers

SSCC staff have created tools that allow SSCC researchers to access ResearchDrive from SSCC servers. That means you can write programs that process or analyze data on ResearchDrive and run them on Winstat, Linstat, or even the Slurm cluster. Using ResearchDrive has all the details.

ResearchDrive makes 25TB of “free” data storage available to every PI at UW-Madison (i.e. it’s centrally funded, so we all pay for it whether you use it or not). Data storage has become one of the SSCC’s biggest expenses, so we encourage you to check out ResearchDrive and use it if it’s a good fit for your data. Unfortunately, graduate students cannot request ResearchDrive space, so we also encourage faculty members to request your space and make it available to the graduate students you collaborate with.

Summer Training

This summer we’ll offer our usual “Introduction to” and “Data Wrangling in” workshops for R, Stata, and Python, plus a wide variety of topical workshops. We especially want to draw your attention to Missing Data Analysis with Blimp, a standalone program that uses Bayesian estimation to handle missing data. Blimp is both easier and more flexible than multiple imputation. Visit the training page for details and to register.

We’re focusing our training efforts on the summer since we’ve seen that best fits most of your schedules, so some of these workshops won’t be offered again soon.

Getting Help From the SSCC

If you have questions or problems with SSCC resources, the SSCC Help Desk is here to help! Please don’t suffer in silence, and if you’re using SSCC resources for a class please report any problems to the Help Desk rather than your instructor. Some tips for getting the help you need efficiently:

Our Solution Center and instructional support page for students have quick answers to common questions. The SSCC Knowledge Base has far more.

Try to include all the relevant information in your initial email (we know it’s not always obvious what’s relevant). If something’s not working, tell us what happens and include any error messages.

If you need help from the statistical consultants, emailing the Help Desk is usually ideal for problems that are primarily about fixing code. Include the code you’re running and the error message(s) you get, and be sure to mention where you’re running it (Winstat? Slurm? Your laptop?). Please copy and paste text rather than taking screenshots–that way we can modify and run your code as we look for solutions. For more complex questions that will require discussion, make an appointment.

Using Python? You Should Probably Be Using Conda Too

Python and Python packages change frequently and put a lower priority on backward compatibility (i.e. not breaking your code) than the other statistical packages SSCC supports. A conda environment allows you to create a compatible set of packages where you control when or if they’re updated. We strongly recommend new Python users start using conda as soon as you start getting results that you care about and that need to be reproducible in the long term. Use conda right away if you use lots of packages or complex packages like pytorch. Using Conda Environments for Python at the SSCC will show you how, including some SSCC-specific considerations.

SSCC Computer Labs Will No Longer Have Printers

This summer we will remove the printers from the SSCC computer labs–their usage level does not justify maintaining them. Most of the departments and research centers in the Sewell Social Sciences Building have printers, and all students can use the printers in the Van Hise InfoLab right across the street. More printing locations can be found on DoIT’s printing for students page.

Windows 11 Upgrade Available for SSCC-Managed Computers

The upgrade to Windows 11 is now available on all SSCC managed machines that have the capability to run it. If you do not see the upgrade, your device may not be capable of upgrading. You can find the upgrade in Software Center. Please note that once the upgrade is done, you cannot downgrade to Windows 10. All Windows computers will need to upgrade to Windows 11 by October 14, 2025, and if you want to make the switch now you’re very welcome to.