From: Michael Strauss

Submitted: Thu, 27 Jul 1995 17:18:15 -0400

Message number: 2 (previous: 1, next: 3 up: Index)

					July 27, 1995
  To all subscribers to the Apache Point 3.5m mail server:

  Thank you all for subscribing; we now have roughly thirty people
signed up for some or all of the mail servers. As you may have
noticed, traffic thus far has been very slow (a grand total of three
messages have been posted since the service has been started); this
message is meant to prompt people to start using it. The principal
motivation for this service is to increase communication between APO
institutions. In talking to people at the various institutions, there
is a feeling at each one of isolation from the APO "community." This
mail server is one way to bring this community together, decrease this
sense of isolation, and to convey information about the telescope and
instruments which we all need. What are the ways in which I imagine
you might use it?

  1. Ask questions. If you are on tomorrow night with GRIM, and need
information you can't otherwise find on the efficacy of dome flats,
typical exposure times, problems with the bias levels, etc., you can
post such a question to apo35-grim.

  2. Discuss new techniques, or other useful information. If you have
discovered a clever way to do accurate GRIM flat-fielding with data
you have obtained, or have compiled a useful list of standard stars
from the literature, or have measured the throughput on DIS, let us
all know about what you've done; post a note.

  3. Discuss science. At the moment, the model for telescope proposals
is that each institution operates completely independently; proposals
from separate departments do not compete directly. This is fine, but
in some circumstances, we might start thinking about collaborations
between institutions. It might be appropriate to post a note to
apo35-general with something like, "I'm thinking about doing a project
on faint galaxies, and would like to talk to people at other
institutions who would be interested in collaborating and pooling
telescope time resources for such a project."

  4. Report new instrumental, telescopic, and software developments. A
simple example is the message Karen Gloria posted a few weeks ago to
apo35-computers, announcing the latest version of the remark software;
another example would be reports about new upgrades or status reports
on instruments, plans for work on the telescope, and so on. I would
imagine that most of these postings would come from the instrument
builders and engineers themselves or the staff at APO, but I think it
would be appropriate if, for example, an observer who has just used
DIS and finds new features that it didn't have before to post a note
telling people about it. Much of this sort of posting would probably
be redundant with information available on the APO home page, but I
don't see this redundancy as necessarily a bad thing.

  5. Report problems with the telescope or instruments. It would be
useful for those who have just used the telescope to warn future users
about various problems. There have been cases in recent weeks of
observer after observer getting on the telescope, unaware of tracking
problems that the telescope has been having. Again, this information
may be somewhat redundant with material on the APO home page, in
particular the nightly logs. The problem with this, of course, is the
potential for hurt feelings all around; we would rather minimize the
number of unconstructive postings that say, "This telescope and all
the instruments on it are junk!", or, even worse, "The guy who
designed this system didn't know what he/she was doing!"  So please
try to be sensitive when posting such a message; first of all, confirm
as best you can that the problem you have found is a real problem (and
not due to your lack of understanding of the use of the system; if the
latter, it is appropriate to post a question as mentioned in #1
above), and is not widely known (for example, a posting now that
you've just discovered that DIS has diminished throughput below 3800 A
would not be productive). And please try to respect the feelings of
those who will read these messages. Most importantly, keep in mind
that APO is not a National Observatory; just reporting a problem is
not enough necessarily to guarantee that it "they" will solve it. This
is our observatory, "they" are "us", and thus it is our collective
responsibility to fix problems that come up.

  We all get too much e-mail, and we should keep this in mind and make
sure that our postings are of genuine interest to the people who will
receive them. Again, a flood of frivolous e-mail has not been a
problem with this server yet! Finally, urge your colleagues who might
not have done so already to sign up for this service; the more
(interested) people who take part in the dialogue, the more likely it
is to be fruitful.

			-Michael Strauss
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