--- From Fermilab Today: Coming Soon: an Improved SharePoint experience (Also see this month's SharePoint Tip for upcoming training and informational sessions)

--- Volunteers needed! The Computing Sector will once again participate in the STEM Career Expo hosted by Fermilab on Wednesday, April 23, from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. The expo provides high school students from Kane and DuPage Counties the opportunity to discuss potential careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Sector involvement in prior years has been well received by both students and volunteers. Whether you would like to present as part of the panel, show demos on the exciting work that you do at the Computing Sector booth or simply chat with students, please contact Ruth Pordes,

--- Congratulations to Adam Walters for being elected secretary of the Lake Michigan 7x24 Exchange. According to the exchange's website, the organization is the “leading knowledge exchange for those who design, build, operate and maintain critical enterprise information infrastructures."

--- Brad Warbiany, a field applications engineer from Western Digital, visited Fermilab on January 22.  While here he met with Keith Chadwick, from the Scientific Technical Architecture group, Data Movement and Storage Department Head Gene Oleynik and Scientific Computing Facilities Associate Head Stuart Fuess to learn about the various storage use cases at Fermilab and discussed potential future storage technologies in the archival / cold storage market segment.

--- Now Playing in the FCC lobby

Computing Sector All-Hands Presentations, Jan. 30, 2014

Recent Top Pair Asymmetry Measurements at CMS (Presentation at the Fermilab Joint Experimental-Theoretical Physics Seminar Feb. 14, 2014) - Oliver Gutsche

Scientific Database Applications (Presentation at CCD Interactomes meeting Jan. 21, 2014) - Igor Mandrichenko

Navigating E-906/SeaQuest on the (Fermi)Grid - (Presentation at CS Liaison meeting) - Markus Diefenthaler (UIUC)

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

Ruth Pordes- 41 years
Ken Treptow- 36 years
Leo Michelotti- 34 years
Mark Bowden- 31 years
Margherita Vittone-Wiersma- 29 years
Karen Shepelak- 25 years
Lynn Garren- 24 years
Robert Tschirhart- 24 years
Stephan Lammel- 20 years
Connie Sieh- 20 years
Marc Paterno- 15 years
Venu Bijumalla- 5 years

Welcome, new employees!

Robert Carrara (deputy finance manager)

Why report near misses?

So much focus is put on actual events—an employee spilled a drum of ethylene glycol, a shipment of computers was damaged while being unloaded from a truck, or an employee fell off of a stepladder and broke his leg.  While these things do need to be investigated, we often forget to focus just as much on near misses.

A near miss is an unplanned event that, due to some break in a chain of events, did not result in injury, illness or damage but had the potential to do so. They're otherwise known as  "close calls" or, in the case of moving objects, "near collision."  Some examples are a slip in the parking lot without a fall or tripping over some object without injury. 

Not too long ago, shelves in a commonly used shelving unit had collapsed. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but because this was reported as a near miss, an investigation was conducted. The investigation found that these unstable shelving units were set up all over the lab.  Divisions and sections were then able to take action and properly brace these units so that they would not collapse.

Reporting near misses--or any safety concern--is not about finding someone to blame; it’s about preventing injuries and future incidents. If you find yourself saying, “*#@!”, “Whew!  That was close!”, or “gasp!”, it’s a good indication that you shouldn’t keep this to yourself.  After all, how can a potential issue be fixed if no one knows about it?

To report a near miss or any safety concern, please contact either your supervisor or me at pavnica@fnal.gov or x8493.

[Ed. Note: Another version of this article ran in Computing Bits in December 2010.]

 ~ Amy Pavnica

 

Rob Roser

On February 1, I assumed the role of associate lab director for computing and chief information officer (acting) replacing Vicky White, who will concentrate all her energies on her role as chief operating officer. This is the first time I have written something with the CIO title and my name in the same sentence. It is daunting, to say the least. 

For over a decade, Vicky has led the Computing Division, now the Computing Sector.  During this decade, she has made remarkable strides forward to what we now know and take for granted. I could write a long list of accomplishments, but a few select ones will provide a sense of scale. The Grid Computing Center did not exist when she took the reins.  She built it to address the issue that power and cooling supply was woefully inadequate  for us to carry out our mission. Grid computing as a technique to do high-throughput computing was being discussed, but Vicky’s vision made it a reality very early on.  Furthermore, she worked hard to ensure that Fermilab was the sole host lab for both US CMS and CMS computing. Vicky consolidated computing across the lab into the CS and installed a governance structure that is paying dividends.  To say our sector reflects her personality is an understatement.

I see my role as one in which I will continue to carry Vicky’s vision forward and take it to the next level in terms of services offered and a renewed effort to modernize the way the lab conducts business on both the science and the operations sides of the house. As I said in my all-hands address, I don’t see a need to make drastic changes. I think we should build on our strengths and correct those areas in which we (or the laboratory as a whole) are deficient. I think our job is harder than ever—our customers are used to IT excellence, whether through purchases at Amazon.com or automated banking. The consumer world has set expectations high, and we will have to double our efforts to meet those expectations where it makes sense to do so. We will also potentially have to re-align our strategic initiatives once the field of HEP makes its scientific priorities known through the P5 process. I expect we will know those priorities in May.

I am excited about this opportunity. You are an extremely strong team of people that is capable of excellence. As we work through this period of change, I would like to hold quarterly sector-wide meetings to keep people informed about what Nigel is thinking and how I want us to react to that.  While I now know most everyone in Scientific Computing Division, it is clear I have a way to go before I know everyone by name in the sector. I have an open door policy.  Please feel free to stop by my office and say hello or give me advice. If you would like a longer conversation, please just ask Carla to schedule a meeting.  

Finally, I would like to thank Vicky for leaving this sector in such good shape. I promise that we will properly recognize Vicky for all she has done before she retires. I will provide details at a later date.

~Rob Roser

Network upgrades: building a superhighway

Life in the fast lane
Life in the Fast Lane:  Fermilab’s network upgrades will increase speed and prevent congestion, providing a superhighway for data traffic to get to its destination

Max Planck, the Nobel Prize–winning German theoretical physicist of quantum theory fame, said that science does not mean just accepting what is already known, but involves ceaseless effort and constant progress toward an unknown end. Whether detecting ghostly neutrinos after a 500-mile journey, searching the skies for supernovae as evidence of dark energy or ramping up toward a 14-TeV Large Hadron Collider, Fermilab scientists illustrate this concept by seeking higher energies, greater precision and larger experiments as they delve deeper into the mysteries of our universe.

The infrastructure supporting experiments must not only keep up with these ever-increasing needs; it must forge ahead.  This principle underlies the current networking upgrades that require migrating ChiMAN network’s eight 10-gigabit connections to ChiExpress’s one 100-gigabit and three 10-gigabit connections.  The project, due to be completed by May, is being coordinated with the Energy Sciences Network by Ray Pasetes, Network and Communication Services department head, Vyto Grigaliunas and Andrey Bobyshev from the Network Services group, and Phil Demar, Network Research group leader.

These changes will mean a huge rise in Fermilab’s offsite bandwidth capacity.  “Jobs will spend less time waiting for data to arrive and more time actually processing the data,” says Pasetes. Network Services is implementing these changes before the ever-increasing demand outstripped resources.  “We are trying to stay ahead [of experiment needs],” said Pasetes. 

The upgrades will also benefit network research groups.  Projects led by Grid and Cloud Services Department Head Gabriele Garzoglio, for example, will test how software to help data transfer to grid computing infrastructures scales to operate with a 100-gigabit network.  Over the year, the intention is to introduce a second 100-gigabit connection just for network research.  This will not only provide more bandwidth capacity, but more freedom for researchers from the controls necessary to ensure the smooth operation of the 100-gigabit scientific data channel.

Network Services has worked on these upgrades for nearly three years, but as they near the project’s completion, they are already discussing the next stage.  Beyond the proposed second 100-gigabit channel, vendors are preparing plans for 400-gigabit connections.  “This is just on a drafting board now…but that’s what we believe is the next step,” says Pasetes.  “Meanwhile, most of our data centers on site are interconnected via 10-gigabit links; we would like to start moving these to 100-gigabit links as well.”

Network Services truly know the meaning of ceaseless effort.

~ Clementine Jones


Geoff Cluts
CCD, Service Operations Support, Desktop Engineering

I started working as a Windows engineer in the Desktop Engineering group in June of 2013. At a high level, my job is to assist with the design, implementation and support of the Windows workstation environment.  Some of my day-to-day activities include serving as a system administrator for our anti-virus infrastructure, coordinating software updates and bug fixes to Windows workstations, assisting with custom workstation requests from the service desk and handling escalated desktop-related incidents.  In addition, I am currently working on projects to upgrade our anti-virus infrastructure, retire the Windows XP operating system at Fermilab and test Windows 8.1 for use within the lab. I am also assisting with the Kronos upgrade project, helping to assess the impact on desktop users.

My work helps simplify the Windows desktop environment by documenting processes and implementing new technology when applicable.  This helps reduce the number of issues experienced by users across the lab and speeds up the resolution time for incidents we cannot prevent.  Additionally, by being an escalation point for some of our more complex or systemic desktop issues, I become more knowledgeable about some of the more obscure use cases for desktop technology.  This helps Desktop Engineering provide increasingly effective assistance to other users.

Service Desk: Reporting outages or critical incidents

Service providers, when there are outages or critical incidents, remember to alert the Service Desk by phone as soon as you become aware of the incident. This enables the Incident Manager to quickly respond and coordinate with others impacted and also enables the Service Desk to pass along the appropriate information to customers.


SharePoint: FermiPoint is on its way

Fermilab's SharePoint implementation, to be called FermiPoint, will be upgraded in March. Here are some upcoming training opportunities:

FermiPoint doctor-is-in booth
Ask questions and learn about the new and changing features.

Thursday, Feb. 27 & Friday, Feb. 28
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Wilson Hall Atrium

Tuesday, March 18 through Thursday, March 20
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Wilson Hall Atrium

Lunch 'n' Learn sessions
Each session will focus on changes to the user interface and provide updates on any procedures that might have changed between the 2010 and 2013 environments.

What's New in SharePoint 2013 for Contributors (end-users)
Wednesday, April 2 or Thursday, April 24
11.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.
Curia II, Wilson Hall

What's New in SharePoint 2013 for Site Owners and Designers

Thursday, April 3 or Friday, April 25
11.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.
Curia II, Wilson Hall

Learn more about FermiPoint on the FermiPoint migration website.