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InTheLoop | 06.13.2005

The Weekly Electronic Newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences Employees

June 13, 2006

NERSC's Bill Kramer Named One of 15 People to Watch in HPC

When the HPCwire newsletter last week issued its annual list of people to watch in HPC, NERSC Center General Manager Bill Kramer was one of 15 people making the list. HPCwire Editor Tim Curns introduced the list as chronicling “the year's most influential and interesting luminaries in the HPC field. Several of the notables made the list by making waves in the past year or so. Others seem to be building steam and should be noted for their potential impact on the industry. But above all, our list, compiled by HPCwire with the help of past winners and a cast of industry insiders, represents the foundation of a new era in high-performance computing.”

Read why Bill was picked as watchable and see the full list at http://www.taborcommunications.com/hpcwire/features/people05/index.html.

Know Your CS Contacts for EH&S: John Hutchings and Ginny Lackner

With the recent retirement of Martin Dooly, John Hutchings is now the Computing Sciences Safety Coordinator, in addition to being the building coordinator for the Bldg. 50 complex. John can be contacted at x7505 or JEHutchings@lbl.gov. Ginny Lackner is the Computing Sciences liaison from the Lab's EH&S Division.

More information about EH&S can be found at http://www.lbl.gov/ehs/. Complete contact information can be found under the “Who to Call” link at the top of the left-hand column on the page.

Job Posting: Administrator for IT Division Director, Deputy

Computing Sciences has posted a job opening for an administrator to support the division leadership of the IT Division. According to the posting, the person will “provide executive support to the Chief Information Officer/Division Director and Deputy of the Information Technology Division. Interact directly with senior management on issues of high importance to the Laboratory and the Department of Energy to plan and coordinate Division Director's activities. Work collaboratively with other offices and staff on the Director's behalf to complete critical tasks and actions. Serve as single point of contact for management support issues for the IT Division Office and CIO function.”

More information about the position can be found at http://www.lbl.gov/CS/Careers/OpenPositions/IT18105.html.

NERSC Bounces Back from Power Outage

A week ago last Friday, June 1, as NERSC staff were preparing to shut down Seaborg for a scheduled test over the weekend, much of downtown Oakland was struck by a power outage. The outage was due to a problem with a nearby PG&E transformer, which failed at 10:13 a.m. Although initial estimates predicted power would be restored in about four hours, service was not restored until about 11 p.m. “Once the power was restored, the NERSC staff worked through the night to stabilize the environment and bring the equipment back up,” Bill Kramer said.

Kramer noted that due to the announcement about the weekend shutdown and test, “Many users were not planning to have work run over the weekend. Hence, we received very few calls.” Also, since the NERSC staff was planning a scheduled shutdown to upgrade the power distribution units in preparation for a new system installation, a significant amount of that work was done during the power outage.

Security Reminder: Passwords Must Be Changed Every Six Months

Lab users and system administrators — the RPM (Section 9.02.D.10.c.iii) requires that you change your password(s) at least once every six months. To change your password in Windows systems, press CONTROL+ALT+DELETE and then click on Change Password. To change your password in Linux and UNIX systems, enter passwd from your command shell. Be sure to change your password to a strong (difficult-to-crack) one — see http://www.lbl.gov/ITSD/Security/systems/passwords.html#choose for help in choosing a strong password.

ISS' Steve Abraham to Retire, Pursue Other Avocations

When he retires at the end of this month, Steve Abraham of the IT Division's Information Systems and Services Department will be looking forward to two of his favorite things in graduate school — mathematics and poker.

For the past six and a half years, Steve has been matrixed full time to EH&S, developing and implementing systems for the organization. At the same time, he has been the EH&S representative on the Lab's Computing and Communications Services Advisory Committee.

As his last day here approaches, colleagues will gather to honor Steve at a retirement luncheon on Thursday, June 23. The lunch will be held from 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. at Fontina Restaurant, 1730 Shattuck Ave., in Berkeley. To attend or learn more, please contact Dianne Brenner at DPBrenner@lbl.gov or x7182.

This stint marks Steve's second round of Lab employment. He worked here for five and a half years before. In addition to developing the Lab's account authorization system (for which he received an Outstanding Performance Award in 1993), he also implemented the Oracle Government Purchasing System at LBNL, which preceded the current PeopleSoft procurement application.

In between, Steve worked for a couple of software companies, including Crossworlds, where he put his C++ programming skills to work developing messaging software. While he hopes to telecommute often to avoid traffic, he ended up having to drive in more often than he liked. When he wrote to ISS' Rose Bolton complaining about traffic on the San Mateo Bridge, she told him of the EH&S job and Steve returned to LBNL.

Originally from Long Island, Steve first moved away from home to attend Oxford University in England, where he earned his bachelor's degree in math. He then applied to graduate school at Cal. “I came here to go to UC Berkeley and never left,” he said.

After earning his Ph.D. in mathematics, he went into computers, working mainly on system software — “operating systems, compilers, you name it.” At a company called Software Pursuits, he spent over five years working on an operating system. “We sold something that IBM gave away, but ours was better,” he said with a smile. “That's why people paid us money for ours.”

Now that he's retiring, he hopes to get back into mathematics. “I always kind of regretted not going into math, and now I'm seriously considering teaching mathematics,” he said.

One possible venue is at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where Steve and his family will be moving in October. That will give them one last summer in the Bay Area and time to get ready for the move.

Steve is also an avid poker player, a hobby he says helped supplement his income in grad school. He prefers to compete in tournaments and figures he'll do OK in Las Vegas. “Poker is a game of skill, like bridge,” he says. “Better players have an edge because you play against the others in the game — not against the house.” With more and more poker tournaments on TV, Steve said there's been a boom in the game's popularity. “There are now a lot more people who don't know how to play very well, but I can hold my own.”

He also hopes to get back into playing his guitar regularly, and take time out to travel to state and national parks around the Southwest. “I've enjoyed the Lab and have mixed feelings about leaving,” he said, “but I'm really excited by the prospect of going back into math.”

Last Chance to Sign up for Advanced UNIX Security Course

The deadline for signing up for the Computer Protection Program's UNIX Security II (Advanced) course is COB today. This course, which will be taught from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15 in Perseverance Hall, will teach UNIX system administrators and programmers how to lock down systems using a variety of advanced techniques, including advanced shell scripting. Read the course description at http://www.lbl.gov/ITSD/Security/services/course-catalog.html#sysad2. Enrollment is free, but space is limited. Sign up by visiting https://hris.lbl.gov.

About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) Computing Sciences organization provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing the Department of Energy's research missions: developing new energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing new materials and increasing our understanding of ourselves, our world and our universe.

ESnet, the Energy Sciences Network, provides the high-bandwidth, reliable connections that link scientists at 40 DOE research sites to each other and to experimental facilities and supercomputing centers around the country. The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) powers the discoveries of 7,000-plus scientists at national laboratories and universities, including those at Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division (CRD). CRD conducts research and development in mathematical modeling and simulation, algorithm design, data storage, management and analysis, computer system architecture and high-performance software implementation. NERSC and ESnet are Department of Energy Office of Science User Facilities.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the DOE’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.