A Typical Training Day

Part of the SPTS - custom DOM mainboards on the left, standard servers on the right.

Part of the SPTS – custom DOM mainboards on the left, standard servers on the right.

It occurred to me this evening, that I haven’t posted anything about what a normal day of training has been like so far.

Getting to “the office” is about what you’d expect – complimentary breakfast at the motel, followed by a ~30 minute bike ride up to either campus or the capital.  Usually, Dag and I meet up at the motel entrance for the commute, unless there’s an interfering appointment for PQ or whatever.  We follow the shore of Lake Monona most of the ride, and this week have finally settled on good routes to get to either of our main destinations.

IceCube has two main offices in Madison.  222 is the bigger office, near the capitol.  It holds all the administrative stuff, most IceCube people’s offices, and a fair bit of data storage (think petabytes).

On campus, in the physics building, are a couple rooms full of computers and spare parts that are also part of IceCube.  The main thing there that concerns me lately is the South Pole Test System, SPTS, which is essentially a scaled-down model of the real detector at South Pole without all the ice.

Today, we met up on campus, and the topic for the morning was kickstarting detector computers.  We began with a discussion at a whiteboard, touching on the different systems involved.  The discussion didn’t take too long, maybe half an hour including a few diversions, since Dag and I are each familiar with the topic.

After the whiteboard, we moved on to Ralf’s laptop to get a walkthrough of the details in the IceCube implementation.  This is where I tend to scribble down notes on where files live and things that might be worth studying later.

There’s usually a hands-on “test” of sorts.  Today, for instance, Ralf gave us a server and told us how he wanted it setup, and we got to configure the relevant machines in the SPTS to kickstart that server when it was brought online.  The practice today didn’t take long to get done, so we spent a bit of time mucking around with some VPN-related issues, and with getting DRAC working on our new Mac laptops (short answer is to use firefox).

DRAC is a really neat system – essentially it lets you do whatever you want to a server over a network, except for physically adding/removing/whacking parts.  It will definitely be useful at Pole, since the IceCube Lab is a long walk away from the main station.

By this point, it was time for lunch, so we went out to a burger joint on the way back to 222.  I’m of two minds with lunch – we’ve been eating out for lunch every day.  It does seem a bit excessive, but I’ll be missing the variety and fresh food in a few months…

At 222, we had some administrative stuff to take care of, piles of emails to sort through, and a few random tools to find for Pole.  Around 3, we had our first conference call with Blaise and Felipe, who are the IceCube winterovers finishing up their year at Pole.

Chatting with the South Pole was neat.  We talked a bit about business stuff, and chatted some about fun things to bring, hamburgers, plans for after Pole.  Several times over the last few months, I’ve been struck with a bit of wonder, that I’ve actually got this job and am headed for the South Pole, and this evening was another one of those times.

On the way home from work, I spent an hour or so practicing wheelies in a park near the motel – worked up a good sweat in the humid and warm weather.  Did a bit of banjo picking after leftovers for dinner, and of course wrote up this post!

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About ianrrees

Nerdy guy.
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2 Responses to A Typical Training Day

  1. hutchwilco says:

    Good to hear a bit about the daily stuff Ian, sounds like it is all good prep.
    What are you going to do without a bike down south, or is that taken care of already?

    • ianrrees says:

      Hey Dude! I’m a bit surprised that anyone other than Nana read through all that.

      Just waiting on a photo of the new (fat)bike for a blog post, it’ll be going South! Hope things down there are going well, we’ll have to catch up in a couple months.

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