--- Computing's quarterly all-hands meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 7 at 2 p.m. in the Ramsey Auditorium. Please plan to attend!

--- Micky Dolenz of the Monkees visited Fermilab on Feb. 10, and Computing's Adam Lyon and Valerie Higgins helped show him around! Read the full article from The Beacon-News.

--- SCD's Marco Mambelli and Tanya Levshina are looking for Computing employees to help with the My Brother's Keeper Initiative High Energy High Ambitions day coming to Fermilab on May 2. They are expecting about 300 students from underserved schools to come and experience the different aspects of working at Fermilab. If you are interested in reading more about the event and signing up to help, see this letter from Marco and Tanya.

--- The Education Office is hosting its 10th STEM Career Expo at Fermilab on April 19, 2017 from 5:30 p.m.- 8:30 p.m., and they need your help. We expect to have 600-800 high school students attend with their parents to talk informally with career representatives and hear panel presentations clustered around specific career areas.

To sign up to help at this event, email Hannah Ward at hward@fnal.gov, then register at: https://fermi-fmp2.fnal.gov/fmi/webd/#STEM_EVENTS
Organization Login ID: st3morg0047

--- FIFE Notes February newsletter is now available. Articles include: "Security basics for scientists and anyone who uses the scientific tools," "SCPMT17 is just around the corner," "Jobsub Status and Future Plans," "GrafanaCon 2016," "FIFE Workshop 2017" and "Best in Class" examples in distributed computing.

--- Computing still has many SPOT awards available to give out. You can access the SPOT award nomination form here.

New employees

Qian Gong (CCD/Network and Communications Services/Network Research)


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

Ken Treptow- 39 years
Leo Michelotti- 37 years
Margherita Vittone Wiersma- 32 years
Lynn Garren- 27 years
Stephan Lammel- 23 years
Alexander Moibenko- 21 years

Lab-wide, injuries are on the rise

There is no shortage of work, and everyone is feeling the pinch, but it is NEVER a good idea to rush through something at the risk of getting hurt. So, do you remember the “TAKE 5” campaign? 

Before starting a task, it is wise to take five minutes to consider how to do the job safely.

  • Walk down to the work area.
  • Review the hazards and plan with the team members.
  • Discuss what can go wrong.
  • Consider how to minimize environmental impact.
  • Identify the tools, materials, personal protective equipment, signs and barriers required.
  • Review the training needed for the work activity.

Take five seconds to think about what you're going to do.

  • Have I established a safe work area?
  • Am I using the necessary personal protective equipment?
  • Am I using the necessary safety measures? (Hazard Analysis, LOTO, ALARA...)
  • Do I have the time necessary to complete the task safely?

Take five items to reflect on when the job is done.

  • Am I leaving the work area free of hazards?
  • The next time I perform this task, how can I do better?
  • Did I feel safe doing the work? Were others around me working safely?
  • Are there changes that could be made to make the work activity safer?
  • Are there things that could be done differently that would have gotten the work done more efficiently?
What’s trending in physics? PYTHIA makes the TopCites list for the ninth consecutive year

Yearly trends in popular Google searches, hit songs and top-selling books can tell us a lot about the mood, the interests and the big moments that defined the past year. The annual INSPIRE TopCites list serves a similar purpose within the high energy physics community. The 2016 INSPIRE TopCites list of the 40 most-cited high energy physics papers from last year has been released along with a summary of what we can learn from the list. Five Fermilab papers made the list, three of which were authored or co-authored by Computing employees.

The most-cited paper from Fermilab, “PYTHIA 6.4 Physics and Manual,” was co-authored by SCD’s Steve Mrenna. This 576-page manual about PYTHIA, a program for simulating particle collisions and their byproducts, had 1,233 citations in 2016 and has 8,379 in total. Mrenna collaborated with and continues to work on the program with researchers at Lund University in Sweden and other institutions around the world. After being published in 2006, the paper has made the TopCites list since 2008 and was the second most-cited paper two years in a row.

The paper’s increasing citation count mirrors the wealth of data and analyses coming from the LHC. “It isn’t the most glamorous type of physics, but PYTHIA is important for analyzing data,” said Mrenna. “That’s why the paper suddenly jumped ahead of string theory papers. The 'manual’ is really a guide to how we understand particle collisions.”

PYTHIA continues to evolve and is now on version 8 (about 140 updates and a whole computing language different than what was discussed in this paper). After 20 years of working on the project, Mrenna is still excited by the work and the purpose it serves. “PYTHIA bridges the formal theory and the experiment, enabling the translation of the one into the other,” said Mrenna. “These physics programs help us make the reach from the concrete to the abstract.”

View the full paper here.

-- CCD's Felix Sotres gave a presentation with Ruth Pordes on electricity and magnetism to about 20 grade school students at the Crystal Lake Public Library on Jan. 13.

Felix Sotres helping at an outreach event at the Crystal Lake Public Library. Photo courtesy of the Crystal Lake Public Library.










From the CIO: IT pays to be nimble
Rob Roser
Chief Information Officer Rob Roser

Hi Folks.

I wanted to share a story with you that has been playing out over the past month about storage technology. It demonstrates that the only sure bet about technology is that it will change. Our strength as an organization is in our adaptability and ingenuity.

First, a little background. Fermilab currently stores all of its experimental and other data with long lifetime requirements in automated tape libraries. While tape technology was long ago expected to go the way of the dinosaur, it is still the most economical way to store data, and the storage technology vendors have continued to make progress increasing the density of data stored on tape. We now own seven automated libraries currently capable of storing 70,000 tapes and holding approximately 600 petabytes of information. For those who don’t speak petabytes, a petabyte of data consists of about 20 million 4-drawer filing cabinets filled with text. So 600 petabytes would contain the entire written works of mankind from the beginning of recorded history stored 12 times over. The requirements to store this vast amount of data are instrumental to how we operate SCD’s active archival facility.

A month ago, we learned that Oracle will not pursue the next generation of their exclusive Enterprise drive technology. This is a bit surprising to us given that Oracle did not get into this business until early 2010s, when it acquired Sun Microsystems (and StorageTek). 

Given that the data ambitions of Fermilab are ever increasing, we follow the technology that gives us the most capacity, integrity and value for the dollar. We will now need to pursue other tape technologies, such as LTO, that have a long-term roadmap for increasing storage capacity per tape. This also allows us to look at other tape library vendor solutions. So, in the last four weeks, Gene Oleynik and his data storage team have come up with solutions and are now working on a detailed plan to transition to a different vendor. This involves purchasing tapes and tape drives as well as creating a rock-solid plan for how one manages an environment like ours that currently contains (at least, for a while) different flavors of media.

Once the technical details were sorted out, Panagiotis and Stu worked with Gene and his team to understand our procurement strategy and costs of this migration. We were able to present this analysis at our HEP budget presentation last week and make this important over-target request.

I bring this up as a reminder that technology doesn’t stand still and that we must continue to adapt and make wise choices about the technologies we will pursue. Over the next decade, there will be lots of changes—smart networking, exascale computing, various GPU processors and the desire to leverage these advanced architectures to push the envelope of what’s possible.

In the coming months, I intend to use this column to discuss storage and virtualization strategies, new firewall strategies and quantum computing, just to name a few topics. Despite a fast moving technological environment, it’s a good time to do what we do!  And we do it well!

~ Rob

Every clear summer night in Chile, as the sun sets and people head home for the day, the Dark Energy Camera mounted on the Victor M. Blanco telescope starts methodically capturing images of the universe- collecting up to 0.5 terabytes of data per night for the Dark Energy Survey (DES). What happens to all this data?

The images end up all over the world and can lead to incredible discoveries, such as the recent discovery of DeeDee, the second-most distant known object in the solar system. Some of the images taken by DES, including most of the images used for the exciting discovery of DeeDee, are processed on Fermilab’s GPGrid. GPGrid is primarily used to process jobs for the Intensity Frontier experiments; however, it also plays an essential role in DES processing.

GPGrid was used in the search for DeeDee because of its processing capacity and the processing speed required. “There were so many images to process that they would have quickly burned through their entire allocation at other locations,” said SCD’s Ken Herner. Depending on the amount of information in the image and the quality needed, each image can take two to three hours to process. Masao Sako, a DES member from the University of Pennsylvania who contributed to the discovery of DeeDee, processed the images on GPGrid using Fifebatch infrastructure and Jobsub, a job submission tool.

The DES team that discovered DeeDee did so by employing a technique developed for DES supernova searches and adjusting it to find slow-moving objects. By using GPGrid resources, they were able to fit the extensive search into their tight timeframe. DES data is released into the public domain one year after being taken, so it was important to make a discovery before the data was released.

Using similar search techniques and processing patterns, scientists hope to find other distant objects, such as the hypothetical Planet 9, within the DES data.

Saul Gonzalez
(Service Operations Support/Authentication Services)

This month marks my first year at Fermilab. As a system engineer, I have been involved with networking and authentication throughout my career. Here at Fermilab, I have had the opportunity to be involved with technology that guarantees Fermilab’s personnel the reliable authentication crucial for secure communication in our network environment.

One project I have been involved with is the deployment of Multifactor Authentication (MFA). MFA increases the security of our data because it reduces the likelihood that an attacker could access the elements required for authentication. As part of this project, I built our own Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) using Microsoft certificate servers.

Outside Fermilab, my pastime is soccer. I follow the teams in most of the important leagues in Europe: England, Spain, Germany and Italy.

Joe Klemencic

(Governance/Computer Security)

I started at Fermilab in February 2001 after working in industry as a local- and wide-area network and security professional. I was hired by Fermilab to fill a new DOE-funded cyber security position within the Business Services Section. There, I worked with the technical teams to segment the networks, and I introduced best practice security controls such as firewalls and desktop controls. After a couple of years, I moved to Computing’s Computer Security group. Now, I am the CS group leader and Fermilab’s Information System Security officer. In these roles, I lead the Computer Security team to protect the lab’s computing infrastructure while maintaining the free exchange of open science. It is a difficult balance. Over the years, threats and vulnerabilities have largely remained the same with some shifts in focus from one exploit avenue to another. But the motive has changed to that of profit, and attacks have become much more aggressive.

Every day is different, and every day we endure tens of millions of attacks and assess hundreds of vulnerabilities or system misconfigurations. Threats shift rapidly and vulnerabilities are always present. We need to be correct 100 percent of the time. An attacker only needs to be correct once. The introduction of the Internet of Things, which includes internet-enabled watches, speakers, TVs, smart home devices and media streaming, has made our jobs all the more difficult. These devices were developed with the expectation of being used in a closed off home network and do not function well on our laboratory open network. We have witnessed some devices transition from stable running condition to fully compromised in less than one second.

We have a great team, but there is only so much manpower to go around. It is essential that we all remember that security is EVERYONE’S business.

When I’m not playing around with exploits, I am spending time with my wife and daughter, or I can be found crashing my radio controlled helicopters as a member of the Fermilab Barnstormers Radio Control Model Club.

Linux quarterly meeting and Connie Sieh's retiement celebration on Feb. 22. Photo courtesy of Bonnie King