--- Two new individuals are representing Computing on the Employee Advisory Group. Neha Sharma (SCD/Scientific Distributed Computing Services) and Chris Sheppard (CCD/Service Operations Support) are joining Al Dhimar (CCD/Information Systems), who is starting his second year of a three-year term.

--- All budget data must be uploaded into the Budget Input system by close of business Aug. 1 – no exceptions.  Tactical plans should be completed by Aug. 15.

--- Off-site training regulations
Attending off-site training?  DOE conference regulations apply to all business-related travel, even when it is local or an entity other than the laboratory is paying for it. Individuals must obtain proper approval in advance. See your administrative support staff to prepare Travel Authorization forms. Failure to do so may result in expenses (including registration fees) not being reimbursed.

--- From Bakken’s weekly newsletter:

The Information Systems department has been reorganized with Udaya Manikonda joining Jim Fromm as a Deputy Department Head. The Enterprise Applications group has been split into the Finance Applications group, led by Venu Bijumalla, and the Business Applications group, led by Edith Brown. There is also a new group, Business Intelligence, led by Santo Campione.

New employees

Scott Reid (SCD/Scientific Facilities/Experiment Computing Facilities/Scientific Linux and Architecture Management)

Jeny Teheran Sierra (SCD/Scientific Computing Services/Scientific Distributed Computing Solutions/Scientific Computing Information Security)

July Anniversaries
(5, 10, 15 & 20+ years)

Sheila Cisko- 36 years
Donald Flynn- 31 years
Ken Fidler- 27 years
Laura Mengel- 24 years
Qizhong Li- 23 years
Kurt Biery- 20 years
Philippe Canal- 20 years
Andrey Bobyshev- 15 years

After being employed by Computing for over 8 years (and spending several years prior to that as a contractor), Anne Heavey (SCD) transferred to the LBNF Project Office July 1.

West Nile Virus Warning

According to the Geneva Patch, the Kane County Health Department reported its first batch of mosquitos that tested positive for the West Nile Virus this season.  The batch was collected near Elburn, Ill.  West Nile Virus spreads when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then bites a human or an animal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, most people that catch the virus will experience no symptoms.  Of those who do catch the virus, 1 in 5 will develop symptoms similar to the flu. Less than 1 percent will experience a serious illness such as meningitis or encephalitis.

To combat mosquitos:

  • Avoid being outdoors, especially between dusk and dawn.
  • Wear long pants, socks and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Use a mosquito repellant that contains DEET, picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil.  Be sure to follow the application instructions.
  • Empty or regularly change the water in any outdoor object containing standing water, such as bird baths, buckets and small pools, as best as you can as these are prime breeding grounds for mosquitos.

~Amy Pavnica

Budgeting using Standard Labor Rates

Fiscal year 2016 is right around the corner, and with it comes both a new budget and new budgeting processes. One major budget change at Fermilab this year is the implementation of Standard Labor Rates. This new way to charge projects for labor costs will streamline budgeting processes without impacting salaries.

The plan to implement SLR at Fermilab began last year during meetings about the lab-wide budget changes. It made sense to take advantage of this transition period by looking for additional ways to make budgeting improvements. “We were looking at what processes we could improve across the lab that would make our lives easier,” said Valena Sibley, Senior Finance Manager in the OCIO, “and SLR was one idea we brought up and wanted to look into.” A team, including Sibley, formed to research the advantages of this new system. The team surveyed 14 DOE national laboratories regarding their labor costing processes.

The research suggested that SLR had many useful benefits and could be implemented here at Fermilab. When using SLR, projects are charged for labor at a pre-established rate rather than actual cost.  Every employee is assigned to an SLR band based on their pay grade. Since using SLR means there are set rates to charge projects rather than charging based on individual employee salary, project costs are easier to estimate and easier for accounting to process. Using SLR also means names and cost rates can be published without divulging actual salaries.  

The SLR team is finishing up testing this new system from the technical side, and the developer will put the new process in place in September for use at the beginning of fiscal year 2016.

Tip of the month

FermiPoint: Hide column names

A new, custom Fermipoint Web Part lets site designers hide the column name when the Group By feature is enabled for a list or library view.

Read this knowledge base article for the procedure to hide column names.

-- The Real-Time Systems Engineering department was mentioned in the July issue of the beagleboard.org newsletter.They included a reference to the department’s artdaq poster for CHEP about OtS DAQ.

-- Now playing in the FCC lobby:

"Resources Analysis," Stu Fuess, Scientific Computing Portfolio Management Team (SC-PMT) Review, Fermilab, Illinois, March 5.

"Scientific Workflows Using Science Gateway Technology," Saba Sehrish, XSEDE Gateways and Workflows Symposium Series, March 13.

"Cybersecurity Continuous Monitoring at Fermilab," Irwin Gaines, NLIT, Seattle, WA, May 5.

"Federation at Fermilab," Al Lilianstrom, NLIT, Seattle, WA, May 5.

From the CIO: Computing Bits reaches a milestone
Rob Roser
Chief Information Officer Rob Roser

Today’s 100th edition of the Computing organization newsletter, currently called Computing Bits, represents a significant milestone. Started by Vicky White about eight-and-a-half years ago, the newsletter has been doing its job of keeping the Computing Division informed and fostering a sense of community.

Computing Bits has been and continues to lead the way at Fermilab in communicating with an internal team. It serves an important role and bridges the gap between our all-hands meetings. To me, it’s more than just a news source―I use this monthly column to let people know what’s on my mind, we include profiles of our team to help the 350 or so people who make up Computing get to know each other a little better and recently, we have added awards and promotions so we can all celebrate in each other’s successes.

In the coming year, we hope to modify Computing Bits by taking advantage of modern technology to make it more dynamic and thus more current. Our hope is that people will use this as their home page for their respective browser. For me – it will mean pushing “ESPN.COM” to the side, but I think it will be worth it!

In other news, we will be scheduling a Computing All-Hands meeting as soon as the last big summer vacation push is over, and the Annual Picnic is now scheduled for Sept. 16. This year, we will have games available to encourage people to interact with folks aside from those at their picnic tables…

While summer has traditionally been “slow”, it is anything but slow this year. G-2, Mu2e and LBNF/DUNE have all had successful reviews. Panagiotis’ vision of a single portal for HEP computing is gaining traction within the Office of High Energy Physics, and the Core Computing Division is about to launch into building a new budget and planning system. Even in the dog days of summer, if you miss a little, you miss a lot!

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer, finding their own way to relax with friends and family and using that sun to recharge their batteries. We have a very exciting year ahead of us!


Women in S.T.E.M. fields
Women as percentage of total employed in computing fields
This chart shows 2014 annual averages for all people employed (includes part-time and self-employed). The typical education level required for these positions is a Bachelor’s degree. The exceptions are web developers, which typically requires an Associate’s degree and computer support specialists, which varies. Chart courtesy of the Department of Labor. Data courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While immersed in their daily responsibilities, many employees are not consciously aware of how diversity, or the lack thereof, impacts their work environment. Fermilab is taking steps to attract and welcome a more diverse workforce, and gender has historically been one subset of diversity that proved challenging for S.T.E.M. fields like computing. There isn’t a single solution to this multifaceted issue, but every employee plays a role in and is impacted by the degree to which their workplace promotes gender equality and diversity.

One step Fermilab has taken toward creating a more welcoming and supportive work environment for women is the Fermilab Women’s Initiative.The team, which includes Lita Scott, a project manager in the OCIO, held its first event in March. Monthly lectures by a guest speaker are held with the purpose of “educating all employees about the ways in which women impact the workplace and the importance of promoting gender equality.”

For their April event, Scott discussed two Harvard Implicit Association tests that gauge people’s biases regarding gender and career, specifically science-oriented careers. “You feel one way and think you that you portray that image” Scott explained, “but when you take the exam, it can provide a totally different result. It’s interesting that there are biases within you that you don’t acknowledge or aren’t aware of.”

The Women’s Initiative and similar groups are resources for everyone, but the topics they cover are especially significant for computing.  “It’s important for women in the computing area because there are so few of us,” said Liz Sexton-Kennedy. “The number of women in S.T.E.M. fields is low, and it decreases as you go up in seniority. Then you look at number of women getting computing degrees, and it’s also very low. There have been many times when there will be a hundred people in the room, and I’ll be one of two women. That can be very isolating.”

Number and percentage of men and women in the workforce since 1970.Chart courtesy of the Department of Labor. Data courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although S.T.E.M. fields tend to have fewer female employees, diversity efforts have not been made in vain. “There are more women in S.T.E.M. than 20 years ago,” said Scott. “I’ve been in the IT world since the late 80s, and I find that it’s now much more mainstream to be in a S.T.E.M. field because there is an awareness that women are not as well represented. Women are more accepted and not always looked upon as if we can’t perform because we are females.”

There is still room for improvement. From attending one of the monthly Women’s Initiative lectures to reflecting on and changing personal biases (try taking a Harvard Implicit Association Test!), every employee can support diversity and gender equality in their workplace.

~Hannah Ward

CCD Spotlight

Ryan Heath

Ryan Heath
Network and Communication Services/Network Services

I have some history at Fermilab, as I worked for the Accelerator Division for almost 15 years before leaving Fermilab for two years.  I was rehired about eight months ago as a Network Analyst working in the Network Services group.

As with any new job, I have been spending my time becoming familiar with the different aspects of this position, which, in this case, means learning about the network, the tools used here to manage it and how the systems utilize it.  My typical day includes attending to network-related issues reported to the Service Desk, researching and preparing for changes related to several ongoing projects, verifying network configurations and supporting the network for experiments like MicroBooNE, MINOS, CDMS II and NOvA.

I am currently working on two main network upgrade projects: CMS and Data Center.  Both of these projects require a significant amount of preparation and work.  They are very interesting because of the amount of required bandwidth; the present and future physical and logical infrastructure design and implementation; and the technologies, old and new, required to keep these systems moving.

When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with family, getting outdoors, working on my house, fishing and attempting to play golf, softball and soccer.  

SCD Spotlight

Tim Messer
Scientific Facilities/Data Movement and Storage/Storage Services Administration

Tim Messer

I am a Linux system administrator who has been at Fermilab since 2002. I was originally a computer operator at FCC, first as a summer student, then full-time. I then became a sysadmin for CMS Tier-1 in 2005. In early 2008, I joined Storage Services Administration.

SSA supports the Enstore tape storage system and the associated public dCache front-end. Enstore currently holds 52 petabytes of active user data in three separate instances for CDF, D0, and the shared public Enstore (often referred to as STKEN), which includes data from CMS and many intensity frontier experiments. The tape system consists of seven StorageTek SL8500 robots, three at FCC and four at GCC, with 10,000 tape slots each. A single one of the most modern tapes holds about 5 terabytes of data. SSA monitors these robots and the associated tape drives, and places hardware service calls with Oracle as necessary.

My duties primarily involve maintaining and improving our system installation and configuration infrastructure. SSA administers about 200 systems, including Enstore servers and tape movers, infrastructure nodes and test stands. While CFEngine has been our configuration manager for many years, we are completing a transition to Puppet as we upgrade our remaining Scientific Linux 5 systems to version 6. I maintain our CFEngine and Puppet infrastructure, a Cobbler system for managing kickstart installations and a Zabbix monitoring system.

I recently completed a three-year term on the lab’s Employee Advisory Group. I am most proud of helping lead the EAG proposal for the lab-wide telecommuting, flex-time and alternative work schedule programs.

Outside of work, my interests include weather, storm spotting and chasing; amateur radio, callsign W9TAM; travel and baseball. I share a Cubs season ticket package with three friends, and I have visited all 30 Major League Baseball parks. My wife and I frequently attend concerts and see films in Chicago.