About Lev Lafayette

Crocodile Logo

Lev Lafayette has an MSc (Information Systems) from Salford University, and an MBA (Technology Management) from the Chifley Business School, where he was on the Dean's List. He also has a Graduate Certificate in Project Management from the same institution, and an honours degree from Murdoch University in Politics, Philosophy and Sociology which is commented upon by the Vice-Chancellor of the time. Many years later he completed a Graduate Certificate in Adult and Tertiary Education at the same institution.

He is a certified PRINCE2 Practioner, and an Adult and Workplace Trainer. Clearly not satisfied with two masters degree, he's started a third, this time a Master of Higher Education at the University of Otago. With a interdisciplinary approach, Lev's interests include the political implementation of universal pragmatics, the relationship between communications technology and society, and comparative economic systems. On again and off again, he plods his way through completing a PhD in Social Theory as well.

Professionally however, Lev is an experienced systems administrator, specialising in the Linux operating system and scientific applications, a project manager, systems engineer, and quality management systems coordinator, specifically for ISO 9001 (Quality assurance) and ISO 270001 (Information Technology Security). He also does a lot of training for researchers and technical staff in Linux, High Performance Computing, mathematical programming, Postgresql, and related subjects, with graduates and post-doctoral researchers from a variety of organisations including: RMIT, La Trobe University, the University of Melbourne, Deakin University, Swinburne University, Victoria University of Technology, Monash University, the Australian Synchrotron, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Western Australia, the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, the Westmead Millennium Institute, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, and the Australian Institution of Marine Science.

Previous employment and clients include several years working as a computer systems trainer and database management for the Parliamentary Labor Party in Victoria. Following this he worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Timor Leste (East Timor) managing their computer network and providing training and technical expertise to that Ministry in their first year of self-governance. Dr. Ramos-Horta provided the following comments on his work.

Lev works for the Research Platforms group at the University of Melbourne as the Senior High Performance Computing Support and Training Officer, and prior to that Victorian Partnership for Advanced Computing, as a systems administrator for Linux clusters. As per those roles, this site is mostly dedicated to issues concerning High Performance Computing, Scientific Computing and Supercomputing. Lev is involved in Linux Users of Victoria, having spent four years as President, two years as Public Officer, two years as Vice-President, a year as Treasurer and is now in his third year as an ordinary committee member. He is has a coordinating role in the annual Multicore World conference and typically take the role of MC.

The crocodile logo was designed by Victoria Jankowski. It was first used on the cover of Neon-komputadór, the first IT training manual for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in East Timor which was printed and translated by the United Nations Development Programme. The crocodile represents the Timorese people and is the emblem of their land. The integrated circuit represents their independent connectivity to the wider world.

You can also find a political site that Lev subscribes to, The Isocracy Network, a synthesis of several progressive political orientations, and RPG Review which covers his interests in roleplaying and simulation games, including as editor of the namesake journal. This includes being the author of one very ironic RPG (Papers & Paychecks), a co-author of another (Fox Magic, author a supplement (Rolemaster Companion VI), as well as plot and character development in the computer game Cargo. He has also been a playtester for RuneQuest, Traveller, Basic Role Playing, and Eclipse Phase.

As a secular humanist with an interfaith perspective, he manages and contributes to the Lightbringers website which includes various addresses and essays on philosophy and religoin.

Finally he also has a livejournal account, which will probably be quite boring to anyone who doesn't know him personally.

That's enough of me talking about myself in the third person like Cerebus The Aardvark.

Drupal/MySQL Authentication Error

Yesterday I noticed that a number of Drupal websites I look after were down, and it was a pretty interesting error message:

MYSQL ERROR 2049 (HY000): Connection using old (pre-4.1.1) authentication protocol ref used (client option 'secure_auth' enabled)

Using Live Linux to Save and Recover Your Data

There are two types of people in the world; those who have lost data and those who are about to. Given that entropy will bite eventually, the objective should be to minimise data loss. Some key rules for this backup, backup often, and backup with redundancy. Whilst an article on that subject will be produced, at this stage discussion is directed to the very specific task of recovering data from old machines which may not be accessible anymore using Linux.

Notes on Installing Ubuntu 20 VM on an MS-Windows 10 Host

Some thirteen years ago I worked with Xen virtual machines as part of my day job, and gave a presentation at Linux Users of Victoria on the subject (with additional lecture notes). A few years after that I gave another presentation on the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), itself which (indirectly) led to a post on Linux and MS-Windows 8 dual-booting. All of this now leads to a some notes on using MS-Windows as a host for Ubuntu Linux guest machines.

The Net Promoter Score: A Meaningless Flashing Light

Almost two years ago I made a short blog post about how the Net Promoter Score (NPS), commonly used in business settings, is The Most Useless Metric of All. My reasons at the time is that it doesn't capture the reasons for a low score, it doesn't differentiate between subjective values in its scores, and it is mathematically incoherent (a three-value grade from an 11-point range of 0-10).

Why Computers Lie Badly At Alarming Speed and the unum Promise

The translation of arithmetic to physical hardware with using the IEEE standard employed numerical representation is fraught with difficulty. As is well known by any who have used even a pocket calculator, computer processors are imprecise with dangerous rounding errors, which vary on different systems. Further, the standard representation method, IEEE 754 "Standard for Floating-Point Arithmetic" (1985, revised 2008), is extremely inefficient from an engineering perspective with increasing physical cost when additional precision is sought.

International HPC Certification Forum and AU-NZ Contributions

High Performance Computing (HPC) is the most effective method to process increasingly large and complex datasets, making them increasingly critical for research organisations. Researchers wanting to use HPC resources often start with low levels of skills in using those systems. Despite this situation, educational programmes coming out of well-informed user needs analysis and/or a widely acknowledged set of required skills, capabilities and knowledge are rare.

How Niantic is Killing Ingress

For the past several years, I've been an active player of Ingress, a game where two competing factions play a sort of "capture-the-flag" of public locations of note using an augmentation of Google maps. The game, the precursor to Pokémon Go, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, has had its fair share of issues over the past six years. But on July 19, 2019, a death knell was sounded by the very company that produces the game; they forced players (albeit temporarily) to adopt the new interface, Ingress Prime, which is passionately hated by the overwhelming majority of the game's players, and for good reason. The interface is a radical change to the old version, has distracting effects, issues with visual accessibility, and is cumbersome to use. These issues have been raised by the player community for months now, but have largely fallen on deaf ears. Why is this? Why would a game company be so inattentive to the player base?

It is perhaps not so well known, but Niantic started off as a Google project, working on the Field Trip alogorithm, which would push information to users on what the algorithm thinks you might be interested in, and with integration into Google Glass. There's a fascinating unlisted video on Youtube, with an astounding 22 million views, where you basically witness in all of two and a half minutes of how a person is turned on a thoughtless robot, the ideal consumer. Of course, such an algorithm can't make such decisions randomly, it has to know where a person goes, what their habits are and so forth. Trying to find out this information by surveys and the like would be onerous to the extreme; but Google Location Services can provide that data, and players will willingly give up such privacy for the entertainment of an Augmented Reality game, whether it is Ingress, Pokémon Go, or Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

Gurobi Installation and Tests on a HPC system

Gurobi is an optimisation solver, which describes itself as follows, thus explaining it's increasing popularity:

The Gurobi Optimizer is a state-of-the-art solver for mathematical programming. The solvers in the Gurobi Optimizer were designed from the ground up to exploit modern architectures and multi-core processors, using the most advanced implementations of the latest algorithms.

The following outlines the installation procedure on a Linux cluster, various licensing condundrums, and a sample job using Slurm.

Easybuild: Building Software with Ease

Building software from source is necessary for performance and development reasons. However, this can come with complex dependency and compiler requirements, which have to be explicitly stated in research computing to ensure replication of results. EasyBuild, originally developed by the Julich Supercomputing Centre, the University of Gent, and the Texas Advanced Computing Center, is a tool that allows the building of software with ease, managing the complex dependencies and toolchains, and integrating by default with the Lmod environment modules system.


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