--- Reception for Vicky White June 30 - You are all invited to attend a reception to mark Vicky’s end of tenure as chief operating officer. The event will be held on Monday, June 30, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on the Wilson Hall second floor crossover. Please plan to stop by to congratulate Vicky and enjoy cake and refreshments with your colleagues.

--- Performance reviews and goal setting – Employees and managers, we are targeting the following dates for completion of these parts of the performance process:  

Accomplishment reports: July 21
Goal discussion with supervisor: Aug. 18

--- Please be sure to honor copyright licenses when downloading software, and ensure you have a proper and valid license to use the software or to download and view the digital media. This is relevant not only for software you download from websites and install from physical media, but also from BitTorrent and other electronic file repositories. Not honoring copyright licenses can cause cease-and-desist notices to be sent to Fermilab at minimum, but could also cause the laboratory to incur fines or have other legal action taken against it.

FIFE: Computing for experiments

From theoretical conception to data-taking realization to final analysis work, physics experiments require efficient use of resources to achieve the best possible results. Experimenters are attuned to watching for areas that need refinement. As Fermilab transitions from hundreds-strong collaborations supporting the Tevatron experiments towards more compact collaborations for the Intensity Frontier experiments, this change opens up one such area: Not only is it harder for smaller collaborations to devote resources to creating a computing infrastructure from scratch, but computing components across experiments can be similar, so effort is potentially duplicated.

In response, in January 2013, the Scientific Computing Division (SCD) formed the FIFE (FabrIc for Frontier Experiments) working group. Led by Mike Kirby and supported by Grid and Cloud Services Solutions Group Leader Tanya Levshina and Scientific Computing Services Associate Head Margaret Votava, the group offers centralized computing for experiments. “FIFE provides software tools, services and support to enable experiments to achieve their computing goals as well as access to more resources,” said Kirby. “It’s an integration project,” added Votava. “Experiments can take whatever components meet their needs, and we will help them integrate them into their system.” Through FIFE, for example, NOvA, MicroBooNE and LBNE have all run projects on the Open Science Grid (OSG).

From the left: Margaret Votava, Scientific Computing Services associate head; Tanya Levshina, Grid and Cloud Services Solutions group leader; and Mike Kirby, associate group leader for FIFE.

FIFE continues now to expand the services available to experiments, for instance, developing an architecture to distribute auxiliary files, rolling out a new build service for experiments’ software, and enabling access to four petabytes of dCache available since last year. The group has also just released a set of documentation, a coherent guide to FIFE. It includes a brand new overview of the available tools by Katherine Lato from the Entrepreneurial Ventures group. “We would now also like to become an OSG stakeholder,” said Kirby, “the conduit through which the smaller experiments can cohesively talk to the OSG.”

To allow experimenters to share their experiences and to inform them of all these new developments, FIFE held its second annual workshop earlier this month at Fermilab. Registration was markedly higher than last year as more experiments begin to take advantage of FIFE’s tools and support.

 “Constructing computing for an experiment is difficult,” said Kirby. “We can’t build the house, but we can provide bricks and mortar, the neighbors’ power tools, and a channel for the expertise and experience of the whole village. FIFE works hard to help experiments make the best use of their resources.”

~ Clementine Jones

Welcome, new employees!
Jeffery Spidle (CCD/Network and Communication Services, Network Services)

Christopher Sheppard (CCD/Service Operations Support, Desktop Engineering)

Congratulations!

Bernetta Woodard, of the Division Administrative Support group and formerly of the Information Resources department has received her Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) and Organizational Management certifications.

June Anniversaries
(5, 10, 15, and 20+ years)

Keith Coiley - 45 years
Etta Burns - 32 years
Nanette Larson - 32 years
Andrew Romero - 27 years
Robert Andree - 26 years
Jo Ann Larson - 25 years
Lisa Giacchetti - 24 years
Gennadiy Lukhanin - 10 years

Records at Fermilab

The Department of Energy and Fermi Research Alliance, LLC require that information in a record is controlled, maintained, appraised and disposed of properly. As a Fermilab employee, we each have the responsibility to manage records and to be familiar with Fermilab’s record management procedures.

So, what is a record? At Fermilab, a record is anything that captures information of lasting value about Fermilab’s mission, organization, business functions, policies and procedures, decisions, and essential transactions of projects and research. Some specific examples of a record include computer security program plans, organizational charts, Procard files, work station assessments, IT policies, project management forms or property passes.

A record can be in any form or format, such as electronic, paper, or some other machine-readable form. It might be a report, a chart, a video recording, or even an artifact.

Historical material can be considered a record that should be preserved because of its enduring value. If you are uncertain about an artifact’s historical value, contact Fermilab archivist Valerie Higgins to schedule an appraisal.

Records have a lifecycle that must follow the retention and disposition guidelines set forth in the Records Management Handbook.  If you have any questions about managing your records, please contact one of the following:  the Computing Sector’s records coordinator, Bernadette Tabor; a sector file custodian;  Fermilab’s technical information and records administrator, Kathryn Duerr; or the Fermilab archivist, Valerie Higgins.

ESH&Q: A breath of knowledge

Sure, summer is great!  But sometimes rising temperatures may bring on lower air quality.  This can especially be a problem for anyone who has heart or lung disorders, anyone who has children and also for the elderly. The Illinois Partners for Clean Air have an informational site on the air quality of any Illinois area.  At this site you can receive current conditions, air quality forecasts or notifications of when an Air Quality Action Day is declared. Anyone can sign up for these notices.  Just sign up at the Partners for Clean Air site, and learn more about the air that you are breathing.

~ Amy Pavnica

-- Preparing a Fermilab presentation or building a Fermilab website?  Need business cards?  Writing a formal letter or memorandum?  Please see this link for Fermilab templates, procedures and standards as well as contact information if you require more assistance.

Please see below for the new lobby displays for this month.

-- Now playing in the FCC lobby:

Fermilab Site Report, Keith Chadwick, HEPiX Spring 2014 Workshop, May 19 - 23

STEM Event Volunteer Presentation, Clemmie Jones, STEM Career Expo at Fermilab, April 23

Scientific Computing – Supporting Experiments in their Scientific Endeavors, Oliver Gutsche, Annual Fermilab Users Meeting, June 11-12

Computing Sector All-hands Meeting, Jin Chang, CS All-hands Meeting, June 13

From the CIO: So much for lazy summer days

As we approach summer, we once again begin two important rituals here at the lab. The first is the budget process. Strategic and tactical plans get written, and we start to lay out the priorities for the sector for the coming year using a complete “bottom up” exercise of what we need to execute. The second ritual is performance reviews, in which each employee looks inward and documents his or her accomplishments for the past year, then managers evaluate their performance. Both of these exercises are extremely important.

Let me start with the budget. At the moment, the 2015 budget guidance that we have received is challenging—not so extreme that we have to reduce our workforce, but challenging in that we will have to limit our new initiatives and pick and choose from what I think of as numerous exciting opportunities. Unfortunately, there will be very limited funds for new hires, which we need.  

There is a ray of hope: The congressional mark-up restores much of the missing funds (in the presidential budget) back into HEP. This is presumably a result of the P5 report and the field’s support of it. Hopefully, a budget gets passed in 2015 that will allow us some breathing room.

Performance reviews, the second major ritual of the summer, impact each and every one of us. We should each write our accomplishment reports over the coming few weeks and examine how we did with respect to the goals set out for the current fiscal year. The review process is very important. It is healthy for each of us to review our own accomplishments and have a frank conversation with our supervisors about how well we did and areas in which we can improve and look ahead to the coming year and think about our “career game plan.” Perhaps you seek new experiences, training, more or fewer technical assignments or more management experience.  I encourage you to think seriously about your personal growth and to talk to your supervisor about your career path. Where do you want to be in a few years? What challenges excite or interest you? Don’t assume your supervisor knows this or should be able to guess.

While both the budget process and performance reviews place additional burdens on us, I thank each of you for your participation in these rituals. Executing them well will make us a better organization as we move into the future.

~Rob Roser

Fermilab celebrates 22nd anniversary of website


This month marks the twenty-second birthday of Fermilab’s website. The first website on the World Wide Web was launched by CERN in 1990. Other labs quickly followed, and in June 1992, Fermilab became the third institution in the world to launch a website.

More information on the initial phases of the web, such as Tim Berners-Lee's vision for the World Wide Web, along with a much more detailed telling of the start of the web at CERN, SLAC and Fermilab can be found in this 20th anniversary Symmetry Article from May 2012.

Today there are more devices connected to the Web than there are humans on Earth, and the Internet itself has grown to over 860 million sites. The two-plus-decade history of Fermilab’s website is well documented, but the question is this: Now what?

Fermilab’s web server administrator Pete Rzeminski has the answer to that question. Changes are happening this summer to the technical side of the website, though most users may not even realize that they are happening.

“The original architecture has served us well over these past two decades.  The new architecture we are putting together keeps that stability in mind while upgrading the infrastructure from an UNIX to Linux design” says Rzeminski. “We’re moving from Sun Solaris to Red Hat Linux version 6.” The new operating system and architecture means users will experience a “significant speed boost.”

The previous infrastructure, built with Solaris, cannot support the newest versions of the programming languages needed by various Fermilab sites. The upgrade will enable support for the newest versions of these languages and thus will increase the flexibility for the users involved.

“For the users, it will be much better, and they’ll be much happier,” says Rzeminski. “They’ll have access to the new types of software they want. A couple of clicks, a couple of keystrokes, and they’re right there….”

As we look even further into the future, Rzeminski anticipates a smooth transition to future technology. “With the way we have it designed, we should be able to fairly easily jump forward as we have to.” And jumping forwards is something Fermilab will do into the future as it builds on the twenty-two years of its website.

~ Byron McGuire

Chad Klopfenstein
Information Systems

I’ve been at Fermilab since August of 2013 as the business intelligence technical lead. Most of my background is in writing applications to manage portfolios, calculate risks and execute trades for large investment banks.  But in recent years, I’ve focused on multidimensional reporting and analysis (which is a lot more fun). I combine information from any conceivable source and create specialized data structures that people can use to determine where things are going well or not so well. The data structure we use in business intelligence is called a “cube.” It’s like a massive Excel spreadsheet that you can slice, dice and rearrange pretty much any way you want. If you’re familiar with a pivot table in Excel, it’s a bit like having hundreds or thousands of pivot tables stacked on top of and next to one another.

“Business intelligence” is a blanket term used to describe a kind of reporting that can take both structured and unstructured data. It can then build data structures that let people see a broad spectrum of their information at a glance. The primary business intelligence tool I manage is called FermiDash. It’s a dashboard system used lab-wide to report on metrics such as research publications, employee retention rates, patents and a whole lot more. The Department of Energy (DOE) views it regularly, because it gives the DOE easy access to important data. I divide my time between writing the various business intelligence elements involved and managing the overall technical architecture and vision for business intelligence at the lab. Because FermiDash involves a large number of different departments and users, I get to see a fascinating overall view of what happens here every day.

In the next 18 months, we will be making significant additions to FermiDash. Since I started last summer, I’ve been working to cast a vision for how business intelligence can become a must-use technology at Fermilab. With the new features we have planned, I’m excited to say you should be seeing a lot more of the system in the future.

Albert Rossi
Scientific Facilities, Data Movement and Storage, Data Movement Development

As part of the Scientific Computing Division's mission to enable the discovery of new physics, the Data Movement and Storage group plays a crucial role in reliably preserving and delivering the data produced by experiments on all three science frontiers, from CMS Tier 1 through NOvA, Minerva, Minos, Mu2e, DES and many others. We provide development and support for both back-end and front-end systems, the latter being dCache, a disk caching architecture developed jointly by DESY and Fermilab. dCache furnishes both scalable distributed multi-petabatye storage on top of the Enstore tape management system, as well as high-performance stand-alone disk-only storage.

Since I was hired in September 2011, I have been a lead dCache developer, contributing new features and improving existing ones in order to meet the ever-increasing demands of our users. For example, one of my first projects was to supply dCache with a built-in real-time alarms framework that would alert the operator to problems or errors observed in the system, thereby eliminating the need for any external add-on to the out-of-the-box deployment. Currently I am at work on a re-implementation of the replica manager, a service which guarantees file availability in case of data pool failures. This component was old and out-of-date, in need of streamlining and better integration with the rest of dCache, which has since undergone significant modifications and additions. It was also missing a number of desirable features, like the ability to handle cleanly different replication requirements for different storage groups.

SharePoint Tip of the Month: Add a last modified date and time for a list or library to a wiki page

Site Owners can add a Web part to display the date and time that a list (or library) was last modified. This makes it easier for site visitors to know when that content was last updated.

See further instructions.