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Winter 1990

Welcome to the Winter issue of DATABITS.

We have received a large number of contributions addressing various issues of interest to data managers and PI's. Our lead article on recovering from a major natural disaster is a reminder that data security is always relative, not absolute. There are also feature articles on Global Positioning Systems, the Connectivity Report, and the LTERNET online services, as well as brief reports from the sites.

Featured Articles

Writing the Connectivity Report

We haven't seen each other since November. As members of the LTER Connectivity Team we were in New England then. A small band of undeterrable energy in pursuit of network information wherever it could be found. Sleeping in cars. Working in cars. Eating in bars. Sleeping in Motel 6's from Hell. Working in bars. Working in airports. Sleeping in airports. Despite the hectic schedule, the LTER Connectivity report was little more that a couple of pages of carefully pondered script hacked out in a hotel room late one night and an outline created while driving across Georgia. Our group was inseparable, unstoppable.

We really had no idea at the time we wouldn't see each other again as a group. It wasn't planned that way. We intended to get together again to complete our report. Fate and circumstance would have it differently though. Scheduling conflicts and unexpected disasters prevented us from gathering to actually write the report.

Given that attaining physical proximity was proving impossible, a decision was made to produce the report over NSFnet (A sort of practice what you preach revelation). Writing assignments were made and the odyssey began.

Initially, ASCII files were passed back and forth, either by electronic mail (E-mail) or directly between computers over NSFnet using FTP (File Transfer Protocol), from University of Virginia, University of Washington and University of New Mexico. Because we spanned 4 time zones, there were days when the report might be revised 3 times, once in Virginia, then once in New Mexico and finally in Washington, over a 12 hour period. In addition to text, the report depends heavily on graphics that typically don't do well as part of E-mail messages and tend to be highly software dependent. To allow exchange of graphics, Postscript (a complex printer command language supported by many graphics packages) graphs and figures were produced. This led to exploring the intricate world of Postscript compatibility to make Postscript files originating on a Macintosh computer print on non-Apple Postscript laser printers. Once this was conquered it was possible to transfer and print Postscript figures with no difficulty.

As the report went from writing assignments to document production. A PC-based word processor was used to create Postscript output that was then transferred, along with an ASCII version to mark up. The ASCII versions with changes were then synthesized into the original document. Using routines from the PS-expres (the NSF electronic proposal submission package), the text and figures were collated into one Postscript file to send to NSF as an intermediate draft in December. The file was transferred directly over the network from a computer in New Mexico to NSF and printed.

After a month of fine tuning the document, LaTeX (a text formatter) and PSfig (a LaTex macro that allows direct inclusion of Postscript figures) on a UNIX mini-computer were used to fully integrate the figures and graphs into the written text to make a more readable document. The report, in the form of LaTeX source, was transferred several more times and formatted both at UVA and UNM using slightly different versions of LaTeX. The exchange of source was somewhat easier than dealing with both ASCII and Postscript versions of the file. The final document, in a single Postscript file, was then FTPed from University of New Mexico and printed by NSF.

The moral of this story is that the NSFnet really can work to permit compilation of complex and lengthy documents by authors at widely separated locations. Keys to making it work were: finding ways to transfer not only the text, but also the graphics in a format we could all print, checking our electronic mail religiously, and being willing to take a little time to play with different options.

-- James Brunt, Sevilleta LTER

Connectivity Report Completed

The report "Connectivity in LTER: Assessment and Recommendations" was completed on February 12, 1990. During the preparation of the report the "Connectivity Team" (LTER data managers James Brunt [SEV] Rudolf Nottrott [NET], and myself and our NSF advisers, Dan Vanbelleghem and Bob Robbins) formally visited five LTER sites (CWT, NIN, HFR, HBR and ARC) and informally visited four others (AND, CPR, SEV and VCR). Site visits were both informative and beneficial. We found that the visits helped to facilitate interaction between principal investigators, data managers and campus networking and computer officials, and appeared to increase the sensitivity of campus administrators to LTER networking needs. We found that PIs had diverse expectations, desires and concerns regarding networking. A common concern of PIs was that, although network services such as electronic mail, easy transfer of documents and graphics, access to supercomputers and access to remote computer systems were desirable, they should be implemented in a way that would not detract from the time available for scientific activities. In other words, networks must serve science, not vice-versa.

Connected Internet

We found that almost 90% of the institutions that administer LTER grants have existing or planned connections to the Internet (an association of high-speed, high- capacity, wide-area networks, including NSFNet). However, the majority of LTER computers, all of the field laboratories and many PIs remain isolated from Internet capabilities. In order to derive the maximum benefits from electronic networking, we recommended that the LTER network pursue complete connectivity. This includes Internet connections to all administrative headquarters and development of a minimal network infrastructure within each LTER site; enhancing local-area network capabilities to permit disk sharing, peripheral sharing, "user friendly" electronic mail and to provide direct electronic mail service to large field laboratories; and extending full NSFNet connections to large field laboratories.

In addition, we recommended that NSF and the LTER coordinating committee:

  1. Consider funding proposals that LTER Databits -- Winter 1990 -- page 4 include support for technical personnel in networking and computer integration
  2. Consider funding proposals to develop workshops that involve advanced uses of computer networks in ecological sciences
  3. Consider funding proposals for a UNIX system and network administration workshop
  4. Consider a proposal to produce a networking manual to assist sites in developing their networks.

If this type of funding were considered over a period of several years it would insure a well developed network of investigators and computers, capable of growth to meet new demands and able to serve as a model and catalyst for others in ecological and biological research.

-- John Porter, Virginia Coast LTER, with generous excerpts from the report itself.

Non-LTER Organizations of Interest

There will be a conference on data mgmt - 12 International CODATA Conference, "Data for Discovery", July 15-19, 1990 in Columbus Ohio.

Sponsored by Intl Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), their committee on Data for Science and Technology. I notice the that there is precious little biology or ecology in the program. But since ICSU is a major (the major?) international scientific organization, I would like to see some ecologists take interest.

Registration info avail from CODATA '90, PO Box 23, Amlin Ohio 43002

Topics include "Future Directions of Science and Large Scale Scientific Computing" and "GIS: Mapping the exclusive economic zone" and "Spatial Databases", "The Global Change Diskette Project" and "Knowledge pattern recognition - application to LANDSAT and Spot/Stereo digital data on China", etc.

I don't recognize any of the names of the speakers.

Second item.

There is an interagency organization called CES (Committee on Earth Sciences) that is organizing US efforts in the global change arena. This committee is important because they have the $$$. One of CES's Task Groups is called "Earth Systems Measurement/Data Management". There are representatives from DOC, NASA, DOE, DOI, NSF, USDA, DOS. The NSF rep is Sushel Unninayar. This committee might be of interest to data mgrs at LTERs.

-- Caroline Bledsoe, National Science Foundation

LTER Personnel Directory On-line

Starting with the 1990 edition of the LTER Personnel Directory, personnel information is available on-line at the LTERNET VAX. (Paper copies of the directory have also been sent to all sites.) The directory has now 424 entries, up from 368 last year. The following files in directory ~ftp/pub/personnel are in text format (ASCII) and can be obtained by anonymous FTP or by dial- in:

ReadMe general description of files in ~ftp/pub/personnel
phone phone numbers
email electronic mail addresses
habitat people by habitat
org people by organization of affiliation
core people by core area
sites people by site
persons comprehensive entry for every person

In addition, the directory database is available in dBase III format as file 'dir.dbf' in the same directory. The record structure of 'dir.dbf' in text format is contained in the accompanying file 'structure'. These files are updated regularly and therefore contain the most recent version of the LTER Personnel Directory files. To allow tailored database queries over the network, we are planning to reimplement the personnel database on LTERNET using SQL-based (Structured Query Language) software. Presently the database is implemented on a PC in dBase/Foxbase) and generates the output for the personnel directory in WordPerfect and ASCII formats. The system also generates the database for the LTERNET e-mail forwarding address database.


The LTERNET dial-in connection has been upgraded to 2400 bps. The modem will recognize the speed of the incoming connection and automatically adjust to either 2400 or 1200 bps.

-- Rudolf Nottrott, LTER Network Office

From the Sites

AND --

  1. We submitted our LTER3 proposal earlier this month and along with all the other sites in Cohort 1, we were all relieved to have that done!
  2. Barbara Marks has been hired as a GIS Technical Support Programmer, supported by NSF the first year and then will be supported by another of our large research programs, COPE (Coastal Oregon Productivity Enhancement). We are pleased to have her as the newest member of the Quantitative Sciences Group (QSG) in the Forest Science Department. Barbara has been working closely with George Lienkaemper.
  3. I'm serving on a NAS committee to evaluate the USGS National Water Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA). The USGS have been using WATSTORE and STORET and are reevaluating their data management system. I'd be interested in anybody's experience with WATSTORE and/or STORET.
  4. We hope to be hiring a GIS Post Doc in the near future. Please let me know of any hot candidates.
  5. Another example of Intersite cooperation: In my Forestry Data Analysis class this term, my students will be accessing and retrieving a dataset from the Sevilleta using the Internet. I've added a section to my class on Databases and Computer Networks and with the willingness of James Brunt and Gody Spycher, students will be getting hands-on experience with computer networks. They will be learning to assemble text and datafiles to send messages with appended files to another destination on a global electronic network. -- Susan Stafford, Andrew's Forest LTER

BNZ -- A bit of news from Bonanza Creek: Our SUN 4 has arrived and is anxiously awaiting installation. We are moving ahead on the hiring of our data manager position. Hopefully it will be advertised soon. In addition to annual data summaries and reports, we are locating and organizing scads of archived data for papers that are in progress. These data sets will become part of the LTER database. -- Phyllis Adams, Bonanza Creek LTER

CWT -- There is not much news at this end. We have finally gotten our Sun SPARCstation1's and the hardware and software for our LAN. All we waiting now is the Ecology bldg to be Ethernet wired. I have finally convince the PI's we really need it. So we soon will be connected via Internet. (If time is relative, "soon" must also be...). We are interested in learning about progress towards developing a UNIX workshop. -- Gil Calabria, Coweeta LTER

HFR -- GIS users: Let me know if you are using the Map Analysis Package and related software. From time to time we develop new programs that may be of use. We're currently experimenting with an interesting technique for producing computer maps of trees (and other point objects) in the field, and may be able to report on that in a future issue. -- Emery Boose, Harvard Forest LTER

NIN -- The North Inlet LTER site welcomes a new information manager, Scott Chapal. Scott has a background in the biological sciences and is in the process of completing an MS thesis entitled "An ultrastructural investigation of cuticle formation in the larval grass shrimp Palaemonetes pugio and the effects of Diflubenzuron on chitin synthesis and cuticle development". His background also includes experience with DOS, Mac, and UNIX operating environments and extensive SAS experience. Scott previously worked at Niwot Ridge as an undergraduate, was a wildlife technician in Colorado, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. He can be reached at BITNET A200479@UNIVSCVM. -- Bill Michener, North Inlet LTER

NTL -- Lots of activity at our site during the past few months was focused around our renewal proposal. We produced a number of figures and tables depicting data management functions including data flow, networking, status of core data sets, description of parameters in the core data sets, inventory of long-term data sets including historic data sets, description of specimen/sample archives. I anticipate these summaries will be useful in other contexts too.

New this year to our data system were the incorporation of data loggers and a redesign of data entry. Campbell data loggers are being used to measure light attenuation in the water column. In addition, a raft to measure evapotranspiration parameters (air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and water temperature) using a data logger for recording was installed on Sparkling Lake.

We have changed our data entry software from a custombuilt program designed when our program started in 1981 to Microsoft Excel. Data entry staff can scroll to a duplicate version of the form where errors are flagged. Error checking includes range checks, checks of species names and for the fish data, a consistency check of lengths and weights based on a theoretical relationship between length and weight.

Mark MacKenzie and I are writing programs in the ERDAS environment to generate landscape measures on image and GIS files. So far the programs include:

  1. A program to generate areas and perimeters for patches generated by CLUMP (the program also marks patches which intersect the boundary) which we then use to calculate fractal dimension
  2. A program to replace the value of a pixel by the variance in a user-specified window surrounding the pixel
  3. A program to calculate a variety of measures of texture based on angular nearest-neighbor gray-tone spatialdependence matrices. We would be interested in hearing from anyone at other sites who is also writing programs to quantify spatial structure

-- Barbara Benson, North Temperate Lakes LTER

Hurricane Hugo: Rebuilding and Research at the North Inlet LTER Site

As we are all aware, Hurricane Hugo caused extensive damage to personal property, public facilities, and natural resources in South Carolina. Unfortunately, loss of human life occurred; however, the forced evacuation of barrier islands greatly reduced this toll.

The North Inlet estuary was near the center of Hugo's fury and our field laboratory complex sustained a frontal attack. Our piers, sea water system, and meteorological station were destroyed and parts scattered throughout the marsh and upland forest. The walls of the boathouse were washed away and the roof fell down. Other smaller buildings were also heavily damaged; however, the major losses were to our laboratories. The sledge-hammer force of the storm surge smashed large holes in the walls facing the marsh. Ocean water gushed through these holes, carrying exterior doors, wood siding, paper, books, furniture, and small equipment to the opposite ends of buildings. Marsh mud, sand, and Spartina remnants were found throughout the buildings. The resident research staff, through Herculean efforts, were able to move the data records, most of the boats, and the more portable equipment to safety before Hugo struck. After the storm the fallen trees, which closed the roads and downed the utility lines, made it impossible to reach the laboratory complex. On the Winyah Bay side of Hobcaw Barony, minor wind damage to the Kimbel Living Center was the only damage. The preliminary estimates of damage range from $2.5 to $3 million - some of these losses will be covered by insurance.

Although we are still in the process of evaluating the extent of the damage to the physical plant, archived LTER collections, and data management we feel safe in making the following observations. The laboratory buildings must be rebuilt and funds are being sought to do so. All LTER voucher specimens were saved. Very few unsorted biological samples were lost and it appears that enough replicates from all population cruises were saved so that we have no interruption in the long-term records. Unfortunately, approximately 10-30% of our archived fish samples have not yet been recovered. However, all fish samples had been processed and the data are stored in the Baruch Database. Salvage operations are also turning up more fish samples every day, so it is not yet possible to know exactly how many were irretrievably lost. One of the most time-consuming jobs will entail reconstruction of Level II documentation for several of our population data sets. Hard copy documentation (comprising 13 notebooks) was lost. Although the documentation was archived, generation of indexed hard copy documentation is proving to be a chore.

Despite the obvious hardships imposed by Hurricane Hugo, research continues albeit at a much slower pace. We are currently utilizing cottage and dormitory space at the Kimbel Center (near the main entrance to Hobcaw Barony) for research space. Connections to the mainframe computers in Columbia have finally been reestablished. Most of our microcomputers are back online and we are in the process of networking the cottages and dorms so that it will no longer be necessary to transport floppies in order to print or transfer files.

Dan Taylor has been extremely busy reconfiguring our automatic data acquisition devices for the chemistry lab, networking, rebuilding the meteorological stations, and trying to get back to the normal data management routines.

These physical losses, and the irreplaceable loss of some research samples and personal effects, was immensely demoralizing. In spite of this, as scientists we can view this storm as a special research opportunity.

One of the five core questions of the Long-Term Ecological Research program is what are the effects of disturbances on your ecosystem. Hugo, the most destructive hurricane to strike South Carolina in about 100 years (possibly the worst ever), certainly meets this criteria! Shortly after the storm, the research team was in the field assessing the environmental well-being of the estuarine-wetlands-upland forest ecosystem. What happened to the detritus, the meiofauna, plankton, and water chemistry is still being assessed, as field sampling of these major ecosystem components continues. The immediate effects and the recovery processes are equally important.

Many fundamental research questions have been raised which will take considerable time to answer. This event is a fascinating subject for research because, to our knowledge, no other hurricane has occurred at a research site for which a comprehensive nine-year database on assessing predisturbance conditions exists. The information which has been gathered on plant biomass, presence and abundance of species, meteorological factors, soil and water nutrient concentrations, and other features has provided the basis for assessing annual cycles and fluctuations of ecosystem components, as well as investigating LTER Databits -- Winter 1990 -- page 1 how these components interact and function as a whole. Thus, this database will provide the frame within which this disturbance, both immediate effects and recovery from, can be evaluated.

-- F. John Vernberg & William K. Michener, North Inlet LTER

LTER Personnel Directory On-line

Starting with the 1990 edition of the LTER Personnel Directory, personnel information is available on-line at the LTERNET VAX. (Paper copies of the directory have also been sent to all sites.) The directory has now 424 entries, up from 368 last year. The following files in directory ~ftp/pub/personnel are in text format (ASCII) and can be obtained by anonymous FTP or by dial- in:

ReadMe general description of files in ~ftp/pub/personnel
phone phone numbers
email electronic mail addresses
habitat people by habitat
org people by organization of affiliation
core people by core area
sites people by site
persons comprehensive entry for every person

In addition, the directory database is available in dBase III format as file 'dir.dbf' in the same directory. The record structure of 'dir.dbf' in text format is contained in the accompanying file 'structure'. These files are updated regularly and therefore contain the most recent version of the LTER Personnel Directory files. To allow tailored database queries over the network, we are planning to reimplement the personnel database on LTERNET using SQL-based (Structured Query Language) software. Presently the database is implemented on a PC in dBase/Foxbase) and generates the output for the personnel directory in WordPerfect and ASCII formats. The system also generates the database for the LTERNET e-mail forwarding address database.


The LTERNET dial-in connection has been upgraded to 2400 bps. The modem will recognize the speed of the incoming connection and automatically adjust to either 2400 or 1200 bps.

-- Rudolf Nottrott, LTER Network Office

Global Positioning Systems

The U.S.Department of Defense developed the Global Positioning System (GPS ) to provide accurate geopositional data for any point on the earth’s surface. The GPS utilizes computers and a constellation of 21 NAVSTAR satellites (plus three spares) orbiting at an altitude of 10,900 nautical miles to triangulate positions on earth. GPS’s differ in spatial resolution, cost, transportability, etc. Various companies in the US build GPS units (including Texas Instruments, Trimble Navigation, etc.). I have now talked with a number of individuals and vendors about specific products. Dr. Jim Kellogg (University of South Carolina - GPS specialist) and Dr. Randolph Ware (UNAVCO- GPS specialist) were both extremely knowledgeable. The joint opinion is that Trimble Navigation offers the units most suitable to LTER needs. A short and probably incomplete list of LTER requirements include:

  1. Unit must be rugged, portable, and not susceptible to adverse environmental conditions (cold, heat, moisture, sand, dust, etc.).
  2. GPS data must be easily transportable to GIS (specifically ARC/INFO) and image processing software (ERDAS).
  3. Units must be capable of being carried manually into the field or mounted in a vehicle for georeferencing roads, etc.
  4. Units must be as close to maintenance-free as possible.
  5. Units must be reasonably priced.
  6. Company should be a well established firm with a high probability of still being in business 5 years from now.
  7. Units must provide the desired level of accuracy and spatial resolution.

Trimble Navigation makes two units which are probably of greatest interest to ecologists. One unit (GPS Pathfinder System) provides 2-5 meter differential accuracy. This unit costs approximately $15,000 although prices are changing rapidly and quantity discounts to LTER would likely apply. It is recommended that two units be used at a site for georeferencing. A single unit can provide 12 meter autonomous accuracy. However, if one unit is placed at a known position (i e, a US Geodetic Survey marker) and the other is used to georeference sites, 2-5meter differential accuracy can be achieved. Such an arrangement allows for the necessary post-processing (which can correct for satellite errors, atmospheric problems, weather, etc.). The accuracy of this unit satisfies USGS 1:24K map accuracy standards. These units appear to be ideal for rugged field use and would probably satisfy many of the LTER site needs. Every site could probably justify having these units available on site.

The GPS Pathfinder System is a self-contained, portable GPS receiver which uses signals broadcast by the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System satellites for position data logging. The system consists of a portable GPS receiver, battery, antenna, and data logger. The data logger/remote display unit allows GPS data logging for use by Pathfinder Post-Processing Software. The Pathfinder Software has display, plotting, and Geographic Information System (GIS) interface capability. It can export GIS files to most popular GIS programs including ARC/INFO and ERDAS. The GPS Pathfinder System includes postprocessing differential GPS algorithms for applications requiring increased accuracy.

The GPS receiver unit features L1 frequency dual channel sequencing and contains a built-in, low-profile omnidirectional antenna, a 4-line sunlight readable display and a replaceable battery pack. The GPS receiver offers differential post-processing position accuracy of 2 to 5 meters. Initial signal acquisition time ranges from 1.5 to 3.5 minutes and position updates can be received at a frequency of 1 per second. The system is water-resistant (operating in 100% condensing humidity), sandproof, dustproof, and operates at a wide range of temperatures (-20 to +50 Degrees C) and altitudes (-400 to +5,000 meters). Operational features include automatic selection of optimum satellite constellation, simultaneous tracking of up to 7 satellites, 3-D or 2-D modes of operation, and 8 hours of continuous operation on one set of batteries. Differential software for post- processing differential corrections and display software for ASCII data output or conversion of GIS formats are included.

Although the GPS Pathfinder System is an ideal unit for most applications, it does not provide the accuracy required to get cm scale resolution for detailed topographic surveys and other applications (X, Y, and Z coordinates). Centimeter(s) scale resolution would probably not be required on a regular basis at most LTER sites, but would be essential for many applications. Trimble Navigation makes a second type of GPS which does provide spatial resolution down to centimeters. This survey grade GPS utilizes two frequencies (L1 and L2 of the NAVSTAR satellite). I have not yet received specifications on the new Trimble dual frequency geodetic accuracy GPS. However, Kellogg and Ware are both well acquainted with this new system and recommend it highly for applications requiring cm precision. Drawbacks: this new unit costs $65,000 each; differential post-processing necessary to get the cm level resolution is extremely CPU intensive, and requires a relatively high level of expertise on the part of the user.

In a related matter, NSF’s Earth Sciences Division currently funds a University consortium which maintains high precision GPS units for members of the consortium. Apparently the way to get into this group is to buy a GPS and give it to the consortium. This consortium (UNAVCO) maintains the GPS units (calibration, etc.), is responsible for shipping them to users when needed, and provides some assistance with post-processing. The GPS units are available to those institutions which purchased them on a first priority basis. Other scientists receiving NSF funds may also apply to use the GPS units even though they may not have purchased them. This also allows member institutions to utilize more GPS units than they actually purchased for specific experiments. Dr. Randolph Ware serves as Director of UNAVCO (303-492-1586 or 444-6221). UNAVCO currently has an agreement with Trimble Navigation (good through April 30, 1989) whereby the dual frequency geodetic accuracy GPS units (Model #4000STD) can be purchased for $34,500 vs the regular price of $65,000.

One of the major concerns expressed about GPS technology relates to whether or not it can be effectively utilized under dense canopies (this is a problem which the Puerto Rico and North Inlet sites no longer have to worry about). According to Dr. Arthur Lange (Trimble Navigation), US Forest Service scientists have been quite successful at this. Apparently, in all but the densest canopies (9 0-100% overstory) it is possible to reposition the antenna and/or add a fiberglass extension which will enable the satellite signals to be received.

Most (if not all) LTER sites could justify the need for access to the GPS Pathfinder System for georeferencing activities. Maintenance, calibration, post- processing computer runs, etc. could probably be handled in house. Most sites would probably like to occasionally have access to the higher precision unit (4000 STD), but may not have an interest or money necessary for the required high level of maintenance, calibration, etc. If this is indeed the case, there may be an option of purchasing a couple of these units for UNAVCO, whereby they will maintain, calibrate, and ship them to any LTER site which has a need. This may be a viable way to optimize limited LTER resources. Another option, of course, is to set up a consortium arrangement similar to UNAVCO, but which only includes LTER sites (however, Jim Kellogg thinks that this might be a costly route).

-- Bill Michener, North Inlet LTER


DATABITS Publication Information


John Porter
Virginia Coast Reserve LTER
Dept. of Environmental Sciences
Clark Hall, University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Phone: (804) 924-8999



Rudolf Nottrott
LTER Network Office
College of Forest Resources AR-10
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

Phone: (206) 543-8492


A (humorous) Guide to Safe Computing

This just came in this morning. Couldn't resist passing it on to you guys...

Guide to Safe Computing

These days, it's more important than ever to practice safe computing, since viruses are everywhere, and, unfortunately, there are some for which there are no vaccines.

While it's true that the only absolutely safe computing is no computing at all, there are some things you can do to minimize the risk. By heeding the following safety guidelines, you can drastically reduce your chances of spreading computer viruses.

  1. Be faithful to your own computer. If you're not using other computers, you can't bring a virus back to your own computer.
  2. Be selective--don't "compute around."
  3. Before using a new computer, find out about its computing history (who's computed on it and when) in order to determine what the risk factor is.
  4. Write protect tabs are very important to prevent getting a virus on your disk. Regarding write protect tabs, a good motto to follow is, "Put it on before you put it in."
  5. Remember that your disk is very fragile. You should always treat your disk with respect. Don't go around putting your disk into just any computer. Always keep your disk in its protective sleeve. Be sure that any person to whom you trust your disk is someone whom you trust completely. Keeping your disk clean is also very important. Never allow any foreign matter to build up on your disk.
  6. Remember: rough computing is NOT safe computing. Your entire computing system is composed of fragile equipment. Be especially careful to avoid getting any fluids on the mainframe, any input/output ports, or the floppies.
  7. When you're dealing with floppies, you'll find it relatively simple to just "turn off" the computer, thus preventing the spread of any viruses. However, a virus can survive on a hard drive. Therefore, once your system has gone from floppy to hard, you will find it much more difficult to stop yourself from spreading any viruses you may have.
  8. Remember: these days, when you compute with someone else's computer, you're also computing with every other computer with which that person's computer has ever computed.

-- Anonymous submission forwarded by Mark Klopsch, Andrew's Forest LTER

Gilb's Laws Of Unreliability

  1. Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Corollary: At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.
  2. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable.
  3. The only difference between the fool and the criminal who attacks a system is that the fool attacks unpredictably and on a broader front.
  4. Undetectable errors are infinite in variety, in contrast to detectable errors, which by definition are limited.
  5. Investment in reliability will increase until it exceeds the probable cost of errors, or until someone insists on getting some useful work done.

News Bits


Bill Michener was asked by the LTER/Exec committee to come to the LTER/CC meeting at LUQ and present results of the Data Mgrs project on compilation of a Core Data Set Directory

-- Caroline Bledsoe, NSF


LTERNET Mail Forwarding Groups

Note that you can always get the latest copy of this via the automatic reply function in LTERNET by sending any message to This list is current as of 24 January 1990.

--Rudolf Nottrott, LTER Network Office


Please note: The use of LTERNET supported facilities is for NSF sponsored research activities and other approved government business.


climate - LTER Climate Committee: dgreenland, lswift, tfederer, amckee, lviereck, bmichener, jmagnuson, jcrum, bhayden, gcunningham

cohort1 - representatives of the Cohort1 sites: fswanson, wlauenroth, jmeyer, dkaufman, ncaine, jvernberg, jmagnuson

connectivity - LTER Connectivity committee and its advisors: jporter, jbrunt, rnottrott, rrobbins, dvanbelleghem, cbledsoe

datamnt (or datamng, or dman) - LTER site data managers and people interested in data management issues: sstafford, dhenshaw, padams, aelhaddi, tkirchner, jdowd, bhaines, cveen, dlightfoot, sozminski, jbriggs, emelendez, cbledsoe, rnottrott, bmichener, rrobbins, bbenson, jhalfpenny, jbrunt, jporter, gcalabria, mklopsch, gspycher, tsabin, jgorentz, cbowser, jlaundre, eboose

datatask - LTER data managers' task force: sstafford, bmichener, jbrunt, jporter

decomp - users interested in the subject of "decomposition", and related issues (intersite decomposition experiments, etc.): jaber, cbledsoe, lblum, lboring, iburke, rdueser, tfahey, mharmon, shart, jmelillo, jmeyer, jmorris, knadelhoffer, epaul, jreynolds, tseastedt, gshaver, tsiccama, psollins, kvancleve, mwalker, dwedin, cwhite, wwhitford (Usernames NOT on the decomp list because we don't have valid e-mail forwarding addresses for them: jpastor, jlodge, tgower, bedmonds, hgholz, bparton)

gis (or giswork, or gisworkshop) - users interested in GISrelated issues: jlaundre, jyarie, padams, lashkenas, dtilman, dgrigal, iburke, blauenroth, sgregory, lviereck, jmeyer, ssmith, gcunningham, jgorentz, sgage, jbriggs, tseastedt, rwaide, bkjerfve, bmichener, mmackenzie, tkratz, jcallahan, jporter, rdueser, rhoffer, rnottrott, hhammond, tschwartzman, sdegloria, llestak, ksaari, rparmenter, jvandecastle, rwynne, bcunningham, eboose, dfoster, dtomlin, lienkaemper (Usernames NOT on the gis list because we don't have valid e-mail forwarding addresses for them: kshaw, dhall, dwalker)

equip - for people interested in the acquisition of software, image data and hardware, as related to GIS and remote sensing: aelhaddi, bbenson, bcunningham, bhaines, bkjerfve, blauenroth, bmichener, bmusick, cbledsoe, cbowser, cdriscoll, cveen, cwessman, dcrossley, dgrigal, dhenshaw, dkaufman, dlightfoot, dpeterson, dtilman, emelendez, fswanson, gcalabria, gcunningham, grobertson, gspycher, hhammond, iburke, jaber, jbriggs, jbrunt, jcallahan, jcrum, jdowd, jfranklin, jfranklin1, jgorentz, jgosz, jhalfpenny, jhobbie, jlaundre, jmagnuson, jmeyer, jporter, jvandecastle, jvernberg, jyarie, ksaari, kvancleve, llestak, lviereck, mklopsch, mmackenzie, ncaine, padams, rdueser, rhoffer, rmartin, rnottrott, rparmenter, rrobbins, rwaide, rwynne, sdegloria, sgage, sozminski, ssmith, sstafford, tkirchner, tkratz, tsabin, tschwartzman, tseastedt, wlawrence, wwhitford, bschlesinger, eboose (Usernames NOT on the equip list because we don't have valid e-mail forwarding addresses for them: dwalker)

global - global change workshop participants: fswanson, eblood, dfoster, jmagnuson, tseastedt, jgosz, dcorrell blauenroth, jreynolds, lviereck, jhobbie, jmelillo, cdriscoll, ncaine, grobertson, bhayden, prisser, rwoodmansee, rwaide, alugo, dgreenland, wswank, dfoster, starapchak, rsharitz

exec - LTER Executive Committee: jfranklin, kvancleve, jmagnuson, blauenroth, cbledsoe

net - everybody at the LTER Network Office: jfranklin, cbledsoe, rnott, smartin, jvandecastle

pi - LTER Principal Investigators: jfranklin, fswanson, kvancleve, dtilman, blauenroth, dcrossley, cdriscoll, wwhitford, bschlesinger, grobertson, dkaufman, rwaide, ncaine, jvernberg, jmagnuson, jgosz, rdueser, jmeyer, jhobbie, jtorrey, dfoster, jvandecastle

remote - users interested in the subject of remote sensing and related issues: jaber, cbledsoe, jbriggs, dcrossley, jcrum, jfranklin1, sdegloria, wlawrence, mmackenzie, rmartin, bmusick, jvandecastle, cwessman, gcunningham, dpeterson, rwynne, tlillesand, eboose, dfoster, lviereck rnott (Usernames NOT on the remote list because we don't have valid e-mail forwarding addresses for them: bmoller)


Summer Meeting Agenda

This summer's meeting is approaching. The preliminary agenda for the 1990 Data Managers' includes:

  1. Criteria for evaluating LTER data management
  2. The Kirchner principle: Heading off data before the pass (use of machine readable headers for automated processing of archived datafiles)
  3. Facilitating the research process at the site & network level
  4. Review of 1989 Data Managers' meeting
  5. Problems with database management of models

Long-term issues and activities included a survey of datasets applicable to studies of global change, investigation of possibilities for joint LTER/IGBP workshops to address data management issues for widearea data, exploration of linkages between GIS systems and conventional relational databases and statistical programs, obtaining global georeferenced coordinates for existing datasets, identification of new technological resources with application to data management, and development of standards for machine readable data descriptions.

If you have any topics that you think should be added to the meeting agenda (or subtracted), please contact members of the Data Management Task Force (Michener, Stafford, Brunt and Porter). Remember, it is much easier to make changes early on than to accomodate last minute changes, so let us know EARLY.

-- John Porter, Virginia Coast LTER