Predicting the (near) Future

This past week we had a quarterly TeraGrid management meeting in Austin at the University of Texas, home of TACC. One of the discussions we had was regarding the growing number of computational resources available to users, and the need to help them to sort through the options. A key question for a user is "if I submit my job to this particular TeraGrid machine, and I'd like it to run in the next n minutes, what is the likelihood that it will run in that time?

It turns out that there are several tools that can give the user a prediction, albeit not with 100% certainty, based on the state and history of the queue in question. Rich Wolski (UC Santa Barbara) and his Network Weather Service project have been doing nice work in this area for quite a while. Rich's work with the VGrADS project has brought us a very nice tool that you can see demonstrated at his demo website.

We are working to get this capability embedded in the TeraGrid User Portal and after I sent email to our Science Gateways mailing list I found that many of them were already in the process of making this tool available. For a scientist trying to get work done, it will be a wonderful thing to be able to look across the now more than 20 major computational systems in TeraGrid and get a sense for where his or her job will run soonest!

Non Sequitur of the Week: Apple Widgets. Well this is really a non-sequitur if you're not a Mac person, but I am and I had been interested in what was involved in writing Dashboard widgets. I downloaded the Apple Developer kits and there were some nice examples in there. Since Rich Wolski sent me a tarball of the bqp (ok not a total non-sequitur, see above) command line utilities I decided to try to make a very simple widget, building on one of Apple's examples. It took about an hour to figure out the basics, and was kinda fun (I called it "AskRich"). It assumes you put the NWS command line tools in /usr/local/bin on your Mac and executes a hard-coded query, but it's a start. Perhaps next weekend I'll learn how to let the widget user select the options... (if you are interested in seeing the widget, send me email with the word widget in the subject line).


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