--- Presentations from the July 10 Computing Sector All-Hands Meeting

--- FCC main parking lot sealing Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28 (rain dates August 3 and 4). The FCC parking lot and walking path to Wilson Hall through the woods will be closed. Please plan to have your vehicle out of the main parking at close of business Friday night, July 26. Barricades will be in place from 6 a.m. Saturday morning until 6 a.m. Monday morning. If you need to enter FCC during that weekend, park in the auxiliary parking lot and walk on the grass to the entrance (see map).

--- The Fermilab Open Source & Technology Enthusiasts Group meets the second Thursday of each month from noon to 1 p.m., usually in the Quarium (WH8SE). The next meeting is Aug. 8.

Bring your lunch and come to chat about the Linux, Open Source, and related computer technologies that you and others have been playing with and learning about lately. Announcements and meeting notes are sent to the linux-users mailing list.

--- July Cookie Caucus Friday, July 26, 3 p.m. - 4 p.m.; hosted by Fermilab Experiment Facilities

--- SharePoint training for end-users:
August 16, 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Sign up

For designers: (prereq: end-user training)
August 16, 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Sign up

Flurries of computing conversations:  Snowmass 2013

Snowmass on the Mississippie 2013 poster
Poster: Katie Schalow,
University of Minnesota
Click for large image

It would be a challenge to find many people at Fermilab not aware that Snowmass, the Community Summer Study program for planning the long-term goals of the high-energy physics sector, is at the end of this month. This conference occurs every few years and is preceded by a multitude of policy meetings and white papers; the clearer the plans for the future of computing in high-energy physics in advance of the meeting, the more detailed the discussions can be at this intense ten-day conference, the findings of which will inform DOE policy about the future of the field.

For the Computing Sector, this is a particularly exciting year because it is the first time that computing, in a session convened by SCD’s Lothar Bauerdick and Indiana University’s Steven Gottlieb, has been included as a distinct topic. Bauerdick describes scientific computing for experiments as “important as a piece of instrumentation, a facility, an infrastructure we have to have in order to do the physics,” especially now that “we have computing models for doing this kind of physics that are reasonably mature, that basically match the kind of facilities we have.” It is, therefore, an integral part of physics analyses and experimental data storage. Consequently, the new session is very welcome and the discussions much anticipated.

Computing spans the three frontiers of high-energy particle physics, although its relevance is more concentrated in some areas. The Snowmass discussions are expected to focus on three topics: developing current or future facilities and instrumentation; new technological requirements; and projected training and personnel needs. “Of course, it’s a little bit complex because some of the computing needs will depend on how exactly the physics program develops,” says Bauerdick. “However, I think we are in good shape to prepare for that week and to write the report.” Currently, there are clear paths forward in the computing section of the field, and they are looking for highly qualified people to participate in the exciting developments and advanced technologies.

As for the meeting itself, the computing community are looking forward to discussions as they “imagine the future of the field” while also enjoying the intense atmosphere of working, living, and cooking together for ten days. Wish them luck!

~Clementine Jones


--- Now Playing in the FCC lobby

Bringing High Throughput Computing to the Network with Lark - B. Bockelman

High Throughput Data Program - Parag A Mhashilkar

CDMS - Donald Holmgren

Processing LHC data  (© CERN 2013)


Welcome, new employees!

Lita Scott (OCIO/Governance/Project Management)

Saba Sehrish (SCD/Future Programs and Experiments, Accelerator and Detector Simulations and Support/Scientific Software Infrastructure)

Don Watson (CCD/Service Operations Support/Desktop Engineering)

June anniversaries
(5, 10, 15 & 20+ years)
Keith Coiley - 44 years
Etta Burns - 31 years
Andy Romero - 26 years
Bob Andree - 25 years
Jo Ann Larson - 24 years
Lisa Giacchetti - 23 years
Carl Williams - 5 years

July anniversaries
(5, 10, 15 & 20+ years)
Shirley Jones - 40 years
Sheila Cisko - 34 years
Don Flynn - 29 years
Ken Fidler - 25 years
Laura Mengel - 22 years
Qizhong Li - 21 years


Mine Altunay Cheung (CCD/Cyber Security Services/Security Operations) and Harry Cheung (PPD) welcomed a baby girl, Sarah, on July 11. Sarah weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces.

Office yoga

Woman doing yoga in her office

Feeling a little cramped after a few hours of sitting? You can work out the kinks by performing a few “office yoga” poses. has a few good stretches for you to try. Of course, these should not feel painful. I tried them out, and you don’t need to be a contortionist for these stretches. These will help improve your circulation, stretch your muscles, reduce stress, increase your mental focus, increase your chances for a promotion and decrease your waistline. Well, okay, I lied about the last two. But they will help you get through your day with less aches and pains. And less aches and pains is something that we all could use!

~Amy Pavnica

Reorganizations offer opportunity to grow, strengthening of divisions
Jon Bakken

The Core Computing Division had a slight reorganization last  May.  The reorg was precipitated by the departure of one of CCD's department heads.  My goal in all reorgs is to align the way we work with an organization that best supports it.  There were two major changes.  

First, Mike Rosier became the Enterprise Services Operations department head and Mitch Renfer the assistant department head.  Mike brought the Virtual Services and Storage Group with him from the Networking Department, and Briant Lawson became its new group leader.  Unified Communications (email, video conferencing, Jabber, Listserv) was transferred to Networking and Don Flynn became its group leader.  As a result of the change, Networking and Virtual Services was renamed to Networking and Communications Services.  

The second major change is that Eileen Berman's Service Operations Support Department was split in two.  Eileen's department now looks after Desktop Engineering, oversees the Dell Managed Service and is establishing the Managed Printing Services and modernizing the Tech Store.  Joe Klemencic became a department head for a new department in CCD called Cyber Security Services.  This new department handles all security operations and authentication services and is also responsible for introducing a new identity management service for the laboratory.  

CCD has been operating effectively under the new organization.  As Vicky said in her recent All-Hands Meeting presentation, change is the norm, and reorgs give staff the opportunity to change, grow and learn new things.  I don't have any more changes planned, but I'm sure CCD will continue to evolve as we adapt to our lab environment.


Rob Roser

Effective July 1, Scientific Computing Division has undergone its first re-organization since I took the reins as division head.  I wanted to do a few things with this re-organization.  I wanted to make it more clear for someone looking at just the organization chart what the mission of SCD is.  I moved some groups around to try to improve communication with departments that need to interact more frequently.   CMS is now being integrated into the overall matrixed philosophy that we must rely on in order to serve our many customers with limited resources.

Finally, I established two small groups—one called "entrepreneurial ventures"  and the other "enterprise architecture for SCD"—to better coordinate specific efforts.   The first group’s charge is to look for sources of outside funding and have a team in place that can write strong proposals needed to secure those funds.  The enterprise architecture group will methodically examine our various legacy systems and establish a more unified plan forward—keeping completely in lock step with Scott Nolan’s enterprise effort for the sector.

Now some specifics on the reorganization; SCD will have four quadrants compared to the three previously.  The four quadrants are titled Systems for Scientific Applications led by Panagiotis Spentzouris, Scientific Programs led by Lothar Bauerdick, Scientific Facilities led by Stu Fuess and Scientific Computing Services led by Margaret Votava.   Lothar Bauerdick has also agreed to be my deputy Division Head.  

The only change to the Facilities quadrant is that the grid and cloud moves over to Scientific Computing Services to better align with the experiments.  The Scientific Computing Services also has the former REX department and will now also have responsibilities for CMS operations.  Panagiotis's Scientific Applications Quadrant will host our accelerator and detector simulation efforts, real-time software, software frameworks and the electrical engineering effort.  Finally, within Scientific programs, there are now explicit efforts for "intensity frontier science" and "theory" in addition to the CMS and particle astrophysics groups.

This new organization will make us stronger as a division.  It will give new people the opportunity to take on leadership roles and groom the next leaders for this laboratory.

art lessons for scientists
abstract art

While many physicists enjoy writing software to reconstruct and analyze the events coming from their detectors, few want to attend to the low-level bookkeeping tools. To date, most HEP experiments have written their code essentially from scratch and independently of each other. They certainly share some software analysis toolkits – but until recently there hasn’t been a convenient, experiment-agnostic product to “plug into” that provides these bookkeeping tools.

By way of a new product called art (written in lower-case), the Scientific Computing Division (SCD) provides a common, underlying software layer for experiments to build on, thus allowing the scientists to concentrate on the physics code. art is a modular, C++-based event-processing framework that was adapted from the CMS framework, cmsrun. Several Intensity Frontier experiments have already adopted art as the basis of their offline code.

According to Rob Kutschke of the SCD, experience on large-scale software engineering projects, both inside and outside of HEP, has demonstrated the benefits of building software up using abstractions, which effectively form layers of software. Each layer can be tested individually, as can the interactions between them. The result is a product that is many layers deep.

“Many new users of modern HEP software are surprised at the sheer number of software layers that they encounter,” said Kutschke, “from the infrastructure, to dependencies on external products, to the seemingly infinite nesting of their experiments’ C++ classes. This complexity presents a steep learning curve.”

Navigating these layers and using art effectively are important skills for experimenters. To help them acquire these skills, Kutschke is authoring an art Workbook that guides users through a set of exercises designed to illuminate the structure, user environment, configuration language and user-code requirements of art . This is the first phase of a planned documentation suite that will also include a users’ guide, a reference manual and a technical reference for art developers.

An alpha release, made available June 19 on the art website, includes both an introduction outlining prerequisites and the first three Workbook exercises (of about two dozen planned). SCD is engaging new IF experimenters to test-drive the documentation this summer; the goal is to develop it into an educational tool that will significantly reduce the time it takes new collaborators to produce scientific results for their experiments.

~Anne Heavey

Core Computing Division spotlight
Kirk Skaar

Kirk Skaar
Service Operations Support/Desktop Engineering

Over the past year, my tasks have primarily revolved around two activities. First, I provide tier-three desktop support. This involves assisting the Desktop Support team by looking into Service Desk requests and incidents that require more intensive research or broad Mac OS X expertise. I also work with other groups testing new or existing services.

Until recently, I performed Active Directory domain administration duties for the Fermi, Windows, Services and the alpha, beta and test domains. As a domain administrator, I oversaw the day-to-day management of user and computer accounts in Active Directory, our directory service for authenticating and authorizing users and computers in the Windows domain as well as the Services domain, which is used to log in to various services such as the Fermi Time & Labor (FTL) system, FermiMail, Service Now and SharePoint. 

Late last year I was charged with the maintenance of the Symantec AntiVirus service. In this role I maintain the antivirus product that scans Windows desktops and servers for software viruses and other malware. I also help with monitoring the various scan reports and ensure that logs and other reports are forwarded to the computing security team for analysis in their various systems. Windows Server 2012 is required for some new services, and this requires Symantec Endpoint Protection be upgraded to the current version. Work is being done to complete the upgrade this month.

In addition, this month I have begun taking over responsibility of the Mac OS central management environment. This involves administration of Casper, the Apple Software Update server and the Sophos antivirus service. Casper is used to apply baseline required policies and software and hardware inventory for Fermilab-owned Macs. Sophos is the current antivirus solution similar to Symantec Endpoint Protection on Windows systems. I also test Mac operating system and third party updates looking for potential incompatibilities, and I work with vendor technical support to report on issues and find fixes and work-arounds.

Lastly, I assist the Technology Store by researching Apple products and providing recommendations on new hardware that meets DOE and Fermilab requirements. I have also assisted in testing iPads and have begun investigating Android devices for possible use with Fermilab services.

Scientific Computing Division spotlight
Greg Deuerling

Greg Deuerling
Future Programs and Experiments/Electronic Systems Engineering/DAQ Controls and Timing

I started working at Fermilab in 1982 as a technician 1 in the old Particle Instrumentation group at the age of 19 and moved to Computing Sector, where I have been remained ever since in 1989. I am now an engineering associate with the Electronics Systems Engineering department. My group collaborates with the various lab experiments and designs electronics for data acquisition (DAQ) and detector timing. Within this group, my responsibilities include schematic entry, printed circuit board (PCB) layout, field-programmable gate array (FPGA) design, module design, microcontroller programming and managing our group's ProCard purchases.

My latest project was the design and manufacture of the Timing Distribution Unit (TDU) for NOvA, a neutrino appearance experiment located in Fermilab’s NuMI beam. The NOvA TDU system uses GPS units to time sync both the near (Fermilab) and far (Minnesota) detector sites. When the neutrinos leave the NOvA near detector they are time stamped with the local GPS time. The DAQ system at the far detector is continuously accepting events and time stamps the arriving neutrino candidates and stores them in buffers. By knowing when the neutrinos left Fermilab (the near detector) and adding the time it takes neutrinos to travel from Batavia to Ash River, Minnesota, we know when to look for neutrino signals in the far detector’s data buffers. The TDU timing system has been installed and is being run through its paces (commissioning) at the far detector site.

I have just started working on the Tracker Readout Controller for Mu2e, an experiment that will study electrons that started life as muons. This piece of electronics will be very challenging to design because of space constraints, high radiation environment and strong magnetic fields. This will be the toughest project I have ever worked on, but I'm confident it can be done.

Weather permitting, I usually ride my bike into work and run the main ring of the Tevatron. After work I play in the Fermilab volleyball league in the winter and the Fermilab softball league during the summer. I'm also currently the barn manager for the Fermilab's Indian Creek Riding Club. My daughter has a horse that I turn out in the mornings and muck stalls for in the evenings when she's off at college. And lastly, from time to time my family fosters dogs for the H.E.L.P. organization.

Tips of the month

Service Desk: Communicating with customers

The "Additional comments" and "Work notes" fields appear in Incidents and Requested Items tickets. Customers receive email notifications including information entered in "Additonal comments," but they do not receive such notifications when information is entered in "Work notes." Because it is important to communicate with our customers and to acknowledge that we are working on their ticket, it is important enter progress reports, including attempts to call or email the customer, in "Additional Comments" so that the caller or requestor receives this information.

The "Work notes" field is useful in recording information that you need but that the customer does not. Unless the caller has an ITIL role, they won't be able to see items in "Work notes."

SharePoint: Quick guide for those with "full control " permission

A new quick guide is available for those with SharePoint “full control” permission (otherwise known as “site owner” permission)- the highest permission level available in SharePoint. This is a condensed version of instructions found in the SharePoint Site Owner Training manual. Topics covered in the quick guide include: creating a custom permission group, adding and removing members from a permission group, breaking inheritance, creating a sub-site, and managing access to a library.

[View the Owner Quick Guide]