The research community is facing many challenges around continuing research with labs and campuses closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. To support researchers, the AARNet eResearch team is hosting fortnightly webinars focused on remote research challenges and solutions.
This is a timely series of webinars offering advice to researchers about tools and methods that can make life easier while working remotely.
ICYMI: Remote Research Basics
In case you missed it, the first webinar ‘Remote Research Basics‘ was held on 7 May and addressed network literacy for those with little to no technical knowledge. The webinar included information on networks and data movement, as well as advice on simple tools and tests that can be used at home to help researchers understand more about how to get the best performance out of home internet connections.
Campus internet is provided by AARNet, Australia’s National Research and Education Network (NREN) and no doubt many researchers have noticed the difference between the campus internet connection and the NBN or ADSL services they are working with at home.
To help participants understand some of the fundamental differences between these services and the NREN, the concepts of bandwidth, latency and network speed were explained in the webinar. Participants learnt how to conduct a speedtest (this helps to determine the most opportune times of the day for using home internet), and about factors that might affect network speed. The webinar also showed participants how to calculate data transfer times using an online calculator.
Networking tips were shared, such as how to conduct a ping test and traceroute, for interpreting and diagnosing potential data transfer issues. Some of the most common research data movement problems were addressed using readily available tools and methods, such as CloudStor, FileSender and SWAN.
CloudStor is AARNet’s file sync, share and storage service purpose-built for Australia’s research community. FileSender is a service available from the CloudStor portal that enables file sharing with existing CloudStor users as well as external recipients. It has a generous capacity – currently the limit to the amount of files you can upload is 100 files with an (untested) total maximum size of 2PB per upload.
The webinar host, Dr Carina Kemp, Director of eResearch at AARNet, also demonstrated some of the collaborative research tools and data movement solutions that are available to help researchers to continue to work together (but remotely) throughout the current restrictions. For example, for those looking for an online data analysis tool, CloudStor also hosts SWAN, the Service for Web-based Analysis, for those using Jupyter Notebooks. This service allows researchers to conduct their analysis where their data is stored (in CloudStor), effectively removing the need to move data between systems, saving researcher time and allowing for better collaboration for those working in teams or across institutions.