About Lev Lafayette

Crocodile Logo

Lev Lafayette has an MBA (Technology Management) from the Chifley Business School, where he was on the Dean's List, 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 one masters degree, he's started another, 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.

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.

Praise-Singing Poppler Utilities

Last year I gave a presentation at Linux Users of Victoria entitled Being An Acrobat: Linux and PDFs (there was an additional discussion not in the presentation about embedding Javascript in a PDF and some related security issues, but that's for another post). Part of this presentation was singing the praises of Poppler Utilities (named after the Futurama episode, "The Problem with Popplers").

The Disciplinary Vagaries of Information Systems

Introduction

More than thirty years ago, Professor Peter Checkland of the University of Lancaster, raised the question whether information systems (IS) and systems thinking could be united (Checkland, 1988). Almost twenty years later, Ray J. Paul, senior lecturer at the London School of Economics and Political Science also raised the disciplinary status of the subject, as editor the European Journal of Information Systems (Paul, 2007). These two papers are both illustrative of several others (e.g., Banville and Laundry, (1988)., George et. al., (2005)., Firth et. al., (2011)., Annabi and McGann, (2015)) from information systems as it attempts to find its own disciplinary boundaries among the crowd of academia, research, and vocational activities (c.f., Abraham et. al., (2006)., Benamati et. al., (2010).

The two papers are selecting not only to provide an at-a-glance illustration of the time-period of foundational issues within Information Systems as a discipline, but also the temporal context of each paper, and the differences in their views which, at least in part, is reflective of those different times. Drawing from these illustrative comments and from other source material mentioned, some critical issues facing the field of information systems is identified. Rather than attempting to enforce a niche for information systems, a philosophical reconstruction is carried out using formal pragmatics, as developed by the philosopher Karl-Otto Apel (1980) and the social theorist Jurgen Habermas (1984).

Simple FOSS versus Complex Enterprise Software

As is often the case real IT operators in large organisations find themselves having to deal with "enterprise" software which has been imposed upon them. The decision to implement such software is usually determined by perceived business requirements (which is reasonable enough), but with little consideration of the operations and flexibility for new, or even assumed, needs.

Immersion: A FOSS VR MMORPG MOOC

Rationale

"Immersion" is an innovative digital product that combines multiple established existing technologies and processes to provide a new product that fills gaps in the higher education and gaming market.

Python 2.7.x with GCC 8.x and EasyBuild

An attempted build of Python-2.7.13 with GCC-8.2.0 led to an unexpected error where the build failed to generation of POSIX vars. This is kind of important and unsurprisingly, others on in the Python community have noticed it as well both this year, and in a directly related matter from late 2016, with a recommended patchfile provided on the Python-Dev mailing list.

Performance Improvements with GPUs for Marine Biodiversity: A Cross-Tasman Collaboration

Identifying probable dispersal routes and for marine populations is a data and processing intensive task of which traditional high performance computing systems are suitable, even for single-threaded applications. Whilst processing dependencies between the datasets exist, a large level of independence between sets allows for use of job arrays to significantly improve processing time. Identification of bottle-necks within the code base suitable for GPU optimisation however had led to additional performance improvements which can be coupled with the existing benefits from job arrays.

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