Problems with Directory of Arctic Researchers

Date: 
3 September 1997

Dear Colleague:

Recently, ARCUS has been experiencing some problems with the Directory
of US Arctic Researchers available on our Web site at:
http://arcus.polarnet.com/US_Arctic_researchers/Arctic_Researchers.html

We have been working to address the problems and improve performance.
This is intended as a status report for those of you who have
experienced problems.

We are continuing to work on the problems and believe that performance
will soon increase. We apologize for any inconvenience and ask that you
bear with us during this period. Your feedback is always helpful. We
understand that many of you are very busy and don't want to spend time
waiting for results. We encourage you to try the Directory again even
if it did not work the first time.

Due to the increasing size of the Directory and the limits of our
current server, many search requests (particularly ones which return a
large number of results, or "hits") have been timing out before
receiving any data. We have done what we can to improve performance in
this area. We have also requested that our service providers upgrade to
a faster computer. Attached below are a few hints on how you can
maximize your chances for a successful search in the meantime.

1. Use the Detailed Search field rather than the Simple Search. The
more specific Detailed Search only checks those fields which are
specific to your search; the Simple Search must check for your search
terms within a very large set of data. (e.g., if you use the Simple
Search to look for researchers with the last name of "Smith", the search
engine must check for everyone with a first name of "Smith", everyone
with a last name of "Smith", everyone who works in "Smith" department of
"Smith" organization, etc. A Detailed Search allows you to pinpoint
exactly which fields in which you're looking for the word "Smith"-in
this case the last name-and takes correspondingly less time to do so.)

2. Be specific. Searching for "ar" will retrieve all the same results
"arctic" will, plus an extra 250 which contain "ar" but not "arctic".
The more specific you are, the easier it will be to isolate the record
that you are seeking.

3. If at first you don't succeed, try again. Each time a search is
performed, the server indexes the current results to make it easier to
find them again in the future. We cannot search all the different
possibilities to create these indexes, but you may find you get better
results the second time around. If you receive a timeout result (-600
error message), wait a few minutes and try again.

4. Don't give up. The main problem resides in the workload on the
server at any given time. Our server is located in California; searches
outside of California's business hours may be completed quicker. Even
within their business hours, there will be both busy periods and slow
periods-if you managed to access it during a slow period, you may find
that searches which failed previously can now be completed.

Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. We expect
to address these problems quickly and appreciate your patience. The
Directory gets a tremendous amount of use; we realize that it is an
important community resource. Again, your feedback (positive and
negative) helps us to isolate and correct problems. Don't hesitate to
give it.

Feedback can be directed to Milo Sharp, ARCUS' Technical Assistant and
Webmaster, at milo@polarnet.com.

Wendy Warnick
Executive Officer