About Lev Lafayette

Crocodile Logo

Lev Lafayette has an MHEd from Otago University, 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 currently finishing a Graduate Diploma in Applied Psychology at the University of Auckland.

He is a certified PRINCE2 Practioner, and an Adult and Workplace Trainer. Clearly not satisfied with three masters degrees, he's started a fourth, this time a Master Climate Change Science and Policy at the Victoria University of Wellington. With an 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 Computing Services group at the University of Melbourne as the Senior High Performance Computing Development and Operations Engineer, and prior to that Victorian Partnership for Advanced Computing, as a systems administrator for Linux clusters and as the Quality Management Coordinator. 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) and supplement (Cow-Orkers in the Scary Devil Monastery), 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 naturalistic pantheist with an interfaith perspective, he manages and contributes to the Lightbringers website which includes various addresses and essays on philosophy and religion. Recently he has taken up the role of University Outreach Officer for the International Society for Philosophers.

Finally, he also has a livejournalDreamwidth 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.

The End of Duolingo?

In late 2015 I started using Duolingo, completing sixteen skills trees across ten languages since then. These were mainly, but not exclusively, European languages (including that pan-European auxiliary language, Esperanto). All of which gave some practical use on what were annual trips. In addition to the skill trees I made reasonable progress in Dutch, some progress in Catalan (from Spanish), Czech, and even the trio of Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish (on account of someone saying they were so similar). To say that I am a consistently active user of the application is fair; last year I was rated in the top 0.1% of users in the world.

Borderline Personality Disorder: A Summary

This is a summary of what I have learned over the past two years, after my first direct encounter with what is called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Whilst I do not have BPD (although everyone is a little bit on every mental health continuum), I do endeavour to be a loyal and committed ally of people with BPD (pwBPD). In a very real sense, I wish I knew then what I do now; but at least I have made the effort to learn. I hope that these notes are useful to others. For anyone who wishes to be a sincere ally (a catch-all term that should include partners, family, and friends) of a person with BPD it is absolutely necessary to make the effort to listen to the pwBPD and to educate yourself using scholarly sources. Not making the effort means that you're not an ally, regardless of how close you think you are to the person, and not using scholarly sources will cause more harm and prejudice than good.

This document was initially written at the end of BPD Awareness Week 2022 in Australia and for World Mental Health Day, and will be updated as new information comes to hand. Throughout all the content here it is emphasised that (a) quantifiers are always required (many, most, some, etc) and even a BPD person is unique and will not show all characteristics and (b) always see the person. Please note that I am not a psychologist, although I am a student of the subject and have completed most of a Graduate Diploma of Applied Psychology at the University of Auckland. I encourage people to donate to the Australian BPD Foundation.

Compiling Your Python

It still generates a little bit of surprise to discover that there are people who use Python on a daily basis that are apparently quite unfamiliar with compiling said code. Or perhaps not; it is, after all, the world's most popular programming language, it has a syntax that's cleaner than many older languages, it has an enormous collection of extensions, and so forth. As a result, there are many people who use Python, but perhaps not so many who have the inquisitiveness and courage, to dive a little deeper. This short article is a deeper dive to understand a little more about the language.

The first common (novice) mistake is that Python is an interpreted language and can't be compiled. It most certainly can and is "compiled", but not in the same way that a compiled language (e.g., C/C++, Fortran, Pascal) is. If this sounds confusing one needs to dig a little into the architecture.

A Python program is compiled before being interpreted, but this step is hidden at the surface level. When Python is executed it generates byte code. This byte code is transformed and interpreted by the Python Virtual Machine which then converts the byte code to binary machine code that the computer processor can output.

Psychic Vampires from Without and Within

The past few days I've been quite influenced by a short essay by Brianna Wiest, which starts with quite a kicker: "It is the hardest thing you will ever have to do, and it will also be the most important: stop giving your love to those who aren’t ready to love you. Stop having hard conversations with people who don't want to change." Ultimately, this is arguing for equality in all relationships. Equality is not a matter of capability or social position.

Microprocessor Trend Usage in HPC Systems for 2022-2023

Background

In 2018 Intel x86 microprocessors were particularly susceptible to the Meltdown security vulnerabilities, whereby any system that allowed out-of-order execution was potentially vulnerable to an attack where a process could read memory that it was not authorised to do so [1]. As this vulnerability did not affect AMD processors, suggestions were raised that AMD could be a more effective choice for HPC environments. In the same year, as a topic at International Supercomputing Conference, the European Processor Initiative (EPI), a program to develop processors for domestic supercomputers, based on ARM (Advanced RISC Machine) and RISC-V, "European Processor Accelerator" system-on-a-chip [2]. With the benefits of four years of hindsight, it is valuable to consider the current trends in microprocessor architecture.

A wide analysis was recently presented at HPCAsia2021 [3] that conducts a detailed analysis of the trends of the last 27 year from over 10,000 computers from the Top500, with even more detailed analysis of 28 systems from 2009 to 2019. Of particular note in this context is the steady growth in recent years of heterogeneous supercomputers i.e., systems with GPGPUs to 28% of the Top500 with an increase of 1% per annum. The authors note: "We expect this increasing trend will continue, particularly for addressing technological limitations controlling the power consumption", a claim that could certainly be justified with the use of Nvidia GPUs or Intel Xeon Phi (discontinued as of 2020) as co-processors. At the time most systems were clustered around 1 GB per core with only three contemporary systems at 2 GB per CPU core, there was a wide variation in compute performance and parallel file system storage, and an increasing use among the most powerful systems of burst buffer storage to overcome the performance gap between memory and the file system.

The HPC Certification Forum : A Call for NZ Contribution

The 2022 eResearch New Zealand conference was held on the 9th to 11th of February, co-hosted by New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI), REANNZ, and Genomics Aotearoa, and preceded by Carpentaries Connect, a community of institutions and universities that run Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry, and Library Carpentry workshops.

Streamlined Workflow from Instrument to HPC

The complexity of many contemporary scientific workflows is well-known, both in the laboratory setting and the computational processes. One discipline where this is particularly true is biochemistry, and in 2017 the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded for the development of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). This allows researchers to "freeze" biomolecules in mid-movement and visualize three-dimensional structures of them, aiding in understanding their function and interaction which is, of course, essential in drug discovery pipelines.

In The Long Run We Are All Dead

"In The Long Run We Are All Dead: A Preliminary Sketch of Demographic, Economic, and Technological Trends for the University Sector"

University participation and costs are both rising. What evidence is there that the public is receiving good value? Using demographic data, trends, and analysis from Australia, and considering contemporary developments in information and communications technology, a preliminary assessment is made for the economic and political future of the public university sector.

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