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Monday, April 29, 2013

ICPSR launches Measures of Effective Teaching web site

Some of my colleagues, including ICPSR Director George Alter, gave a demo of one of our newest Web sites and collections at the American Educational Research Association 2013 annual meeting on Sunday.
MET LDB web site
Click the image to navigate to the live site
My team has built the video portal portion of the system.  The portal enables a researcher to play a list of videos that s/he has selected to view based on an analysis of the associated quantitative data and tagging data.  Access to the video and datasets is restricted and requires one to complete a data use agreement via ICPSR's web-based request system.

We're grateful for the support we've received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to make all of this possible.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Qualys browser checker

Ever since the recent craziness with vulnerabilities in Java plugins, I've making a concious effort to use Qualys's browser checker - https://browsercheck.qualys.com/ - on a routine basis both at home and at the office.

Installing the tool in your browser is very easy, and the service is free and painless to use.  I have been using it to both to determine if my current browser and plugins are up to date, and also to identify plugins that are installed and enabled, but which I don't really need or use (e.g., Silverlight which I often disable for long stretches at a time).

Qualys generates a nice report



like the one above to let you know if everything is up-to-date.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Web availability at ICPSR - March 2013

ICPSR's content delivery system showed very high availability in March 2013:  a bit over 99.95% uptime.  We had only two problems in March.  One was a power outage that affected our headquarters on the University of Michigan campus, and we experienced a small amount of downtime as we moved service to our replica in Amazon's cloud.  The second was a 21-minute outage due to a continuing -- but now solved, we think -- problem with exporting content from our Oracle database server.

Here are the overall numbers for ICPSR's 2012-2013 fiscal year:


click to enlarge

We replaced our aging Oracle database server with a new machine which has twice the memory, twice the computing power, and perhaps most impressively, has 300 times the disk I/O speed(!).  The new machine has an array of solid-state drives (SSDs), and we use this for all of our database storage.  (The operating system resides on conventional disk drive technology.)