ARSC HPC Users' Newsletter 334, February 10, 2006



X1 Cross-Compiler, Skagway

When the Klondike gold rush began in the summer of 1897, the city of Skagway, Alaska served as the starting point for many of the stampeders as they made their way to the Yukon. In the spirit of the Klondike gold rush, ARSC is pleased to announce installation of the new cross compiler system called "skagway."

Skagway has the following attributes:

  Operating System:  Fedora Core 4 Linux
  Compilers:         Cray Programming Environment and Libraries
  Processors:        4- 2.50 GHz Opteron 852

The Cray Programming Tools allow skagway to produce executables for use on the X1. As with klondike, the Cray Programming Environment is loaded via the module command. Compilation times will be reduced for those who compile on skagway rather than on klondike.

Home directories on the cross compiler system are available on klondike to allow binaries and source code to be moved between klondike and skagway. The environment variable $XCHOME is defined on both skagway and klondike, and is set to your cross compiler home directory.

A very limited number of "pioneer users" will start using skagway in the next week (let us you're interested in testing skagway, but note, we may not be able to provide this access). After a short test period, we'll open it up for general usage.


MATLAB Training at ARSC Back by Popular Demand

ARSC is again hosting experts from The MathWorks. This round of MATLAB training will take place on March 2-4. The session topics are:

Title: Introduction to MATLAB
This course will cover the basics of MATLAB for beginners.
Title: Integrating MATLAB with External Applications
This is a course for users who want to access environments outside of MATLAB. It provides the foundation needed to incorporate code from other environments (C, C++, Fortran, Java) into MATLAB. The focus is in C, but concepts are readily applicable to C++ and Fortran.
Title: Statistical Methods in MATLAB
This course provides an introduction to statistical tools in MATLAB and the Statistics Toolbox, including data file input and output, handling large data sets, computing descriptive statistics, plotting and visualization, fitting distributions to data, bivariate and multivariate regression, random number generators, simulation, and basic inferential methods.

For registration and information, see:


Symposium on Distributed Computing with MATLAB

Yes, March is looking like MATLAB month...

In addition to the training mentioned above, the Symposium announced in a previous newsletter is still on track for: March 20-22, 2006

For registration and information, see:


Quick-Tip Q & A


A:[[ I've noticed that a lot of people, maybe 2-5%, put blankets on the
  [[ hoods of their cars when it's really cold.  Does this actually do
  [[ any good?  Why or why not?

# Thanks to all who responded. We're going to whittle it
# down to actual 1st or 2nd hand experience:

  Brad Havel reports: "A long-standing resident of Alaska down in DC&C
used a blanket to help retain heat and 60W light bulb under the engine
when they had a complete freeze up or if they needed to thaw out their
backup vehicle if their primary went dead.  Supposedly it helps reduce
the wear on the engine the warmer it is when you start it."

  According to Liam Forbes: "The only time that I've seen a blanket be
effective is when there is a heating element on the engine somewhere,
but not a complete winterization package.  The blanket can provide a
little extra insulation to keep the heat within the engine compartment.
It is a short term assist though unless you are using an electric
blanket and putting it under the hood on high."

  From John Bailey: "You can argue the thermodynamics of it, but the
concept of a blanket over the hood of you car is to try and hang on to
the engine heat from operation as long as possible. If a blanket is
airtight - or at least with heavy weave or designed to retain heat
(sleeping bags) - the idea is that you can maintain a pocket of warm air
over the engine block until you restart the car later in the day."

"Commonly you'll find this is practiced with older cars that don't
appreciate the cold or aren't even winterized. Or in tandem with
plug-ins to try and insulate against loss of that heat. To be honest I
don't know if really does help. "

"I don't do it myself, but then I have a new car with engine block
heater etc.  However, I do cover my windscreen and side mirrors, because
I have a big, wide car and got tired of stretching to sweep snow and ice
off. The later is particularly a problem when things are still "cold"
but not "really cold" and the air has some capacity to hold moisture. So
I didn't bother during the -55 deg temps last week, but I have started
doing it again now. "

  Tom Baring's wife has some actual data. On a -30 day last week, she
observed that the external air temperature reported by the car
thermometer was -18 when she first started the car. It'd spent the night
outside, with a sleeping bag on the hood and it had been plugged in for
about 4 hours.  After uncovering the car, unplugging it, and driving a
short distance, she checked again, and the temperatue reading was down
to -22 (which is where the thermometer pegs).

  Ed Kornkven threw a blanket over his '88 Suburban last week to retain
the heat of a charcoal fire he'd started under it, at 30 below.  It
eventually started.

  And from Joe Metzger: This sounds like a good question for the
"Mythbusters", although I doubt if those California boys would want to
make a road-trip to Alaska.

Q: I want stdout and stderr from a command to go to a file AND to my 
   screen.  These commands, 

       ./prog >& prog.out

       ./prog > prog.out 2>&1 

   would merge stdout and stderr to one file.  But, as I said, I'll
   like to see it on the screen at the same time.

[[ Answers, Questions, and Tips Graciously Accepted ]]

Current Editors:
Ed Kornkven ARSC HPC Specialist ph: 907-450-8669
Kate Hedstrom ARSC Oceanographic Specialist ph: 907-450-8678
Arctic Region Supercomputing Center
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756020
Fairbanks AK 99775-6020
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