Grants.gov = Windows Only ?

Grants.gov is the federal government’s portal for online submission of federal grant applications. The National Institutes of Health have required applicants to submit their material online for the past two years or so. It has been a fairly rocky transition process, and I had hoped this time around things would go really smoothly.

I’m beginning to feel like Andy Rooney, “Have you ever really thought about the eraser on your pencil?” But the arrangements for completing grant applications for anyone running something other than Windows XP or below (Windows 98 is supported!) are nothing less than bizarre. When downloading the PureEdge viewer for Mac, I got this message.

The IBM Workplace Forms Viewer 2.5.1 Macintosh OS Special Edition cannot be installed on your computer.

There may be good news, however; according to this FAQ, Grants.Gov is transitioning away from the PureEdge viewer (aka IBM Workplace Forms Viewer) and moving toward Adobe forms which are cross-platform. Unfortunately, is looks like the NIH form that I’m using, the SF424, is PureEdge only. This means that that the only option is to use a Citrix client/server arrangement which turns my Mac into a Citrix terminal.

This is not going well. Among the warnings that they give is that you should really only use the Citrix terminal “off peak”… from 10PM to 10 AM, you should save every 20 minutes, and you should log off if you expect to be away for 20 minutes so you can give other users a chance. But, I’ve frozen up three times already, requiring a forced shutdown, and I just lost almost an hour of work, that for some reason did not get saved even though I deliberately attempted to save in a timely manner. What I think may be happening is that the connection is freezing considerably before the twenty minute limit….and there is no indication that has happened.

Since Windows Vista isn’t supported with the PureEdge form software, probably something to do with user rights, and since the SF424 form required by NIH isn’t available as an Adobe PDF form, I may resurrect a Windows XP machine, just so I can work on these forms without the added anxiety of technical problems. Its not as if 277 pages of instructions and a dozen separate multipart forms aren’t already nerve-racking enough.

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