Using Unidata's gopher for netCDF information


I'd like to use a question that was asked yesterday as an example to show
how our Gopher server can be used to find information about netCDF.  This
hasn't been publicized very well, but I think it is a valuable resource for
getting answers about problems that may have come up before.  We get many
questions directed to "support@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" that don't ever appear on
the netcdfgroup mailing list, and the replies to all such questions are
easily accessible from our Gopher server.

The example question concerned:

    ... I am trying to compile netcdf 2.3.2 on our convex C220.  Everything
    but the fortran stuff is passing the tests.

To use the Unidata gopher service, you need a gopher or mosaic client.
Gopher clients are available via anonymous FTP from the University of
Minnesota, in the /pub/gopher directory at  Unidata
has some binary versions of clients available by anonymous FTP from in pub/info_clients.  Mosaic clients for the X Window
system, Apple Macintosh, and Microsoft Windows are available in both source
and executable binary form NCSA's anonymous FTP server,

To look for information about porting netCDF to Convex platforms, first aim
your Gopher client at our Gopher server:

either by giving the above as an argument, or by clicking through a series of
gopher menus such as:

  Other Gopher and Information Servers
    North America
          Unidata Program Center, Boulder, Colorado

Our Gopher server contains lots of information about Unidata, but to find
the netCDF information, you need to make the following two menu selections:

  Information about Unidata Software Packages and Projects
    Unidata NetCDF (network Common Data Form) Library

Once you get to this point, you might want to save the location as a
"bookmark".  That way if you find this service useful, you will be able to
get back to it quickly the next time you want to use it.

At this point you are presented with the following menu (which may appear
somewhat differently with various gopher clients):

        About Network Common Data Form Information
  <idx> netcdfgroup@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Email Archive
  <idx> netCDF, ncopers, and Related Support Inquiries
  <idx> netCDF Distribution (tar.Z)
  <idx> netCDF Guide (ps.Z)
        Frequently Asked Questions About NetCDF
        netCDF (network Common Data Form)

The second item points to a WAIS index of replies to questions about netCDF
and related software.  When you select it, you will be asked for words to
use for searching.  In this case, one plausible search might be on

        convex and fortran

to search for all messages containing both the words "convex" (case is
irrelevant, so this will find "Convex" and "CONVEX" as well) and "fortran".
The "and" is not a search word but a Boolean that will limit the returned
items to messages containing both "convex" and "fortran".  With no connector,
"or" is implied.  The "not" keyword is also supported to specify that
messages containing the word following "not" should not be returned.

The above will return a menu of 7 gopher items with the most relevant first
(where most relevant in this case means most occurrences of the specified
keywords), and you can easily click on each item to see the entire message
and determine its relevance.  One of the first things to look at on the
messages is the date, since we still have some old messages from previous
releases indexed in the database.

Another plausible search in this case might be for

        convex and 1993

which will specify that messages from earlier than 1993 are not included
(unless they happen to mention "1993" in the text).  This search will return
4 gopher items that are all the recent messages about convex platforms, and
the first two include some relevant information about building the Fortran
interface on Convex platforms from replies sent in October of this year.
The searches don't always work this well, but they work well enough that we
frequently use them to look up previous answers.

This all takes longer to describe and explain than to use, so I'm hoping
that this explanation will help encourage you to try our Gopher server.  We
would like to make the Gopher server the first line of support, so that we
can spend more time on development and on answering the interesting
questions that haven't been asked before.

Russ Rew                     University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
russ@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx                         P.O. Box 3000
Unidata Program                        Boulder, Colorado 80307-3000

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