--- The annual Fermilab Family Open House will be held on Jan. 31 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visit this page for more information and registration details.

--- Submitting a paper for a conference or publication?
These papers must be submitted to Technical Publications prior to the conference or publish date so that they can undergo patent review here at Fermilab, allowing us to identify new technologies, software and ideas that may be patentable. Email Kathryn Duerr, techpubs@fnal.gov,  for more information. 

--- Fermilab's annual STEM high school career expo will be held on April 20, 2016 from 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. This event is being planned in partnership with Kane, DuPage and Kendall County educators. We expect 600 to 800 students to attend with their parents to talk informally with career representatives and hear panel presentations clustered around specific and technological career areas.

If you would like to represent your field at the Computing booth, please contact Marcia Teckenbrock, x5417.

--- There is now an email list for discussions regarding Computing women's issues. For instructions on subscribing to the mailing list, click here.

--- Volunteers needed: The Education Office is interested in pursuing a program in which volunteers provide informal teaching to kids and families to learn about computer programming.  (Please note that this is a volunteer opportunity that is not part of your regular job responsibilities.)  If you are interested in participating in discussions regarding this topic, please contact Susan Dahl, sdahl@fnal.gov.

Congratulations!

Finley Michael Hurd was born on Jan. 23 weighing 8.13 ounces and 20.5 inches long.
Baby joins Mom and Dad, Rachel (OCIO/Division Administrative Support) & Dirk and big brother, Lincoln

New Employees

Eugene Wabomnor (CCD/Information Systems)

January anniversaries
(5, 10, 15 & 20+ years)

Frank Nagy- 36 years
Michael Behnke- 32 years
Richard Thompson- 32 years
Elizabeth Sexton-Kennedy- 28 years
Margaret Votava- 28 years
Terrance Jones- 27 years
Ronald Rechenmacher- 27 years
Paul Russo- 25 years
Chih-Hao Huang- 24 years
Donald Holmgren- 21 years
Kevin Conway- 15 years
Sandra Lee- 15 years
Christopher Jones- 10 years

Winter weather preparedness: precautions for icy conditions

Winter is here... snow, frigid temperatures, ice and all. While great for ice skating and hockey, ice can be hazardous when it covers the roads, sidewalks and parking lots when we need to get from place to place. Based on information from the Office of Environmental, Health, Safety and Security (EHSS), ten reports involving slips, trips and falls on ice were filed in the Occurrence Reporting and Processing System between October 2014 and May 2015. The number of reported events has remained fairly consistent over the past several years, demonstrating the continued need to take additional precautions when ice is present.

According to the EHSS, weather-related injuries most often occur while workers go to and from work, walk between buildings or perform routine tasks. Awareness can be compromised during these times as workers focus on the destination or work ahead and not necessarily the hazards on the pathway to that destination.

In order to avoid slipping on icy surfaces, EHSS recommends the following:

  • Keep your head up to maintain your balance and only look down with your eyes
  • Keep your shoulders over your ankles rather than leaning forward
  • Avoid carrying large items
  • Take short steps
  • Place your feet flat on the pavement with every step rather than rolling from the heel to the toe
  • Wear appropriate shoes for icy conditions

-- At the Fermilab Family Open House on Sunday, Jan. 31, SCD's Adam Lyon will be giving tours of Muon g-2, SCD's John Marriner will be in Wilson Hall speaking to visitors as part of the "Ask-A-Scientist" program and CCD's Cindy Arnold will be printing tour tickets and taking photos at the event.

-- CCD's Penelope Constanta gave a presentation titled "Space, Time and the Universe" to over 80 students at the Edna Rollins Elementary School in Aurora. The presentation covered Einstein's theories of special and general relativity, the structure of matter and quarks, the big bang theory, red shift, dark matter and dark energy.

-- Now playing in the FCC lobby:

"Fermilab Trigger and DAQ Roadmap," Kurt Biery, CPAD Workshop, Oct.6.

"Exascales and Exabytes: Future directions in HEP Software and Computing," Oliver Gutsche, meeting of the Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society, Aug. 6.

"Demo of Federated Cloud Job Management," Stuart Fuess, SC15, Austin, Texas, Nov. 17.

"Not just text: using Micron's Automata Processor in particle physics research," Chris Green, SC15, Austin, Texas, Nov. 18.

From the CIO: Diversity and Computing
Rob Roser
Chief Information Officer Rob Roser

Fermilab, like all mature organizations, has a culture of its own. But we don’t have to be satisfied with our culture and a “That’s the way it’s always done here” attitude.  We can and should change things to reflect our current beliefs as well as better reflect the attitudes of modern society. Our conversations should lead to action that will result in welcome changes. My hope is that we can serve as that “beacon on the hill” for the rest of the lab to embrace as well. Such is the case with improving the diversity of our workforce and for making our environment more welcoming for women.

As many of you know, we in Computing have started an effort to better understand the issues our female staff face and, where appropriate, take corrective actions to improve things. Earlier this month, we held two meetings to talk about some of these issues. I was pleased to see that a number of men attended. The group has identified two focus areas for short term work, and we will communicating more about these focus areas in upcoming weeks.

Also, as part of a different activity, I am working with Valena and WDRS to compile more jobs and pay comparisons so we can see how we are progressing. I am very pleased that this new initiative has gotten some traction, and I am hopeful that it will gain momentum as time goes on. 

A second, related topic I want to discuss is diversity. Anyone that has been to Nigel’s recent all-hands meetings knows that this is a topic that is on senior management’s mind.  We, as a laboratory, need to do a better job creating a diverse workforce. But the goal is not improved statistics. Countless studies have shown that a diverse workforce leads to improved problem solving and creativity. Thus, this initiative benefits all of us – whose importance and relevance is integrated in the same way as other labwide approaches. As of this writing, we employ 69 women and 22 non-white employees out of a total of approximately 320 people in Computing. That’s 22 and seven percent of our workforce, respectively.   

Nigel showed diversity statistics for Fermilab and the other 17 DOE labs for the engineering job category. For the number of women, Fermilab was dead last at only 8.8 percent. I was hoping to see how we compare in terms of computing, but those numbers have not yet been collected. However, the HR directors of all the labs (those who compile these numbers) have agreed to gather this information, so we should have a better idea of how we stand in comparison, as well as a way to quantify our progress, in June. For now, the first step toward improvement is to admit we have a problem and work with WDRS and our hiring managers to find a more diverse talent pool from which to interview. Once we have that, we will be well on our way.  

I will use this column to periodically update you all on our progress as well as on specific women’s issues as we move forward in this endeavor.

~Rob

Sorting out certificates – upcoming changes to various CAs

One of the themes within our Computing Strategic Plan is that “We will strive to simplify the end-user experience by providing tools, interfaces and mobility applications so that our employees’ work experiences are similar to what they are used to at home.” 

Hello, SSO.

To this end, we have begun to phase out using certificates to authenticate to Web services and applications. For most of these services, certificate access will be replaced by the new single-sign-on (SSO) capability developed by the CCD Authentication Services group. SSO allows you to use your services account to access FermiPoint and other services (and conveniently, enables you to access these services from your mobile devices without having to fumble with certificates).

Sayonara, KCA.

At Fermilab, most services and applications currently require Kerberos Certificate Authority (KCA) certificates.  The KCA will reach end of life in September. The plan is to transition all services that use KCA to SSO authentication well before September. This means that most people (typically, non-scientists) don't need to worry about getting replacement certificates (Scientists should read the upcoming sections). 

There may be a few services (though none have been identified thus far) that will be unable to use SSO. For these few services, CILogon Basic certificates (which can be obtained now using services passwords) are an alternative. However, KCA certificate users should not transition to CILogon Basic certificates unless notified that they need to do so to access particular services and applications. 

On the Grid - CILogon Basic CA

Some individuals, mostly scientists, need to use certificates to run Grid jobs and services. These users, who will continue to use certificates after the KCA turns off, have two options: They can get certificates using CILogon Basic using their services accounts, or they can use the new OSG certificates described further below. 

Users of these services will continue to obtain their certificates automatically in the same manner as they have done with the KCA. SCD’s Distributed Computing Access with Federated Identities (DCAFI) project team, along with members of the CCD Authentication Services group, are developing a set of command-line software tools for those who use them and a replacement for the existing KX509 tool, which is used for command line and browser-based certificate access.  The modification of scientific services related to batch job management, such as JobSub, SAM or IFDH, will be also done as part of this project.

The transition to the CILogon Basic CA for these services will occur in waves and is planned to begin this summer. Affected users will receive more updates as the date gets closer.

On the Open Science Grid - CILogon OSG CA

The Open Science Grid’s (OSG’s) contract with DigiCert to provide user and host certificates is ending in June 2016. OSG users and service providers will transition from DigiCert CA certificates to CILogon OSG CA, a new CA service created jointly by OSG and CILogon.

CILogon OSG CA and CILogon Basic CA have nothing in common except that they are both services offered by CILogon. (CILogon has multiple different CAs: CILogon Basic CA, CILogon Silver CA, CILogon OSG CA, and so on, each with its own operations, technology and user base.)

OSG is currently transitioning its communities to use the CILogon OSG CA. (Fermilab OSG users and service providers underwent the transition on Jan. 26.) Because the CILogon OSG user certificates have different distinguished names (DNs) than the DigiCert certificates, OSG will register these new certificates with its VOMS servers so users will not have to do this themselves. However, those who use their certificates to access other services, such as DocDB, will want to register the new certificates with these services.

What does this all mean to me, really?

The KCA end-of-life and DCAFI projects, as well as the service owners of applications, such as DocDB, will communicate (or have already communicated) to you as needed. Users and service owners should watch their emailboxes and Fermilab Today for updates!

Service providers, please keep an eye out for services that use KCA, and submit a Service Desk ticket if you have questions about transitioning your service.

OCIO Spotlight

Krysia Jacobs
Office of the CIO Department

In my seven years at Fermilab, first as a contractor and now as an employee, I have been involved in deploying several large-scale foundational applications, most notably ServiceNow and FermiWorks.

I am currently the product manager for FermiWorks, and my focus is on improving user experience and providing better integration with other applications. Fermilab purchased FermiWorks to be the Human Capital Management (HCM) platform for managing all people-related data and processes, from HR functions such as hiring, transfers, compensation and benefits, to information about our users and visitors such as tracking what projects and experiments they participate in. The data from FermiWorks is then shared with numerous other applications that rely on people-related data. We have automated a number of business processes, such as goal setting, performance reviews, merit increases and benefits open enrollment. We have plans for more automation, particularly for on-boarding and off-boarding processes.

I am also part of the Office of Enterprise Architecture where we work on applying EA principles and the EA framework to new technology initiatives.  I work on integrations with IT Service Management (ITSM) processes and the configuration management database (CMDB). I really enjoy working on getting large, complex applications to share data with other applications, adapting them to automate and improve the business processes of Fermilab and finding new and better ways to orchestrate and automate complex activities.

When I’m not thinking about how to make our applications work better together, I enjoy reading and photography and playing with Sammy, a Portuguese Water Dog my husband Jake and I adopted last year.

SCD Spotlight

Ken Schumacher
Scientific Facilities/ High Performance Parallel Computing Facilities

When I started at Fermilab, (18 years ago this month) I was working in Central Services Support. I supported experiments including KTeV and SDSS. Our group worked with four-plus flavors of Unix systems administration for the central Unix cluster  and farms, using Load Sharing Facility (LSF) software for batch management. I helped develop the first generation of Gratia, which is used for tracking usage on the batch systems. I was also part of the team that installed the first 16 racks of systems at the Grid Computing Center. Since then, I have helped update the GCC tour guide book, and I regularly train docents on giving tours of the GCC.

For the last seven years, I have been part of the High Performance Computing department. We support several clusters of tightly coupled batch systems for LQCD, cosmology and accelerator modeling. The USQCD Scientific Program Committee allocates computing resources across the collaboration. I monitor usage and adjust batch manager priorities and limits to ensure that all of the projects can use the hours they have been allocated. We report the usage to DOE so they can see that their money is well spent. I also do general systems administration and user support.

Outside of work, I enjoy reading and fishing. I am very involved at my church, and I am learning to run their new soundboard. I am a co-captain for my local MS Support group and MS Walk team. I am a regular speaker for NAMI DuPage (National Alliance on Mental Illness).