An SC11 story – walking by OccupySeattle and Space Needle …

A couple of days ago was one of those nights where I went back from the parties to my (slightly remote) hotel. I was passing OccupySeattle every day … but this time it was full of police. The funniest part was that the cops told me to leave while I was just walking by … I mean, seriously, I didn’t even stop. Actually, they stopped me in order to tell me to leave. I didn’t think it was worth mentioning until I saw this. I think the whole movement is really fed by such stories in a very grim way.

The movement is interesting and the Seattle one is especially noteworthy since the weather is really bad.

Well, well … very strange. Btw., the conference was absolutely great! Well, it was a bit too small (crowded) and the Party in the Space Needle was rather disastrous (reminded me a bit of the SC08 Texas thing without food). It was the opposite though this time — there was a lot of excellent food and drinks, but there was simply no space to stand. And getting up the needle was a 1-hour effort, well, Jim and I found a secret shortcut ;-). Here is the proof:


SC11 is over now! And we even had a 1.5 hours break before SC12 started for the committee :-). It was a great show, bigger, better everything. ~5k people in the technical program and ~12k total.

PS: I know that Mount Rainier and the Space Needle can not fit on a picture like this … it’s called artistic freedom!

Next year’s plans

Many knew that I was planning my return to Europe since the beginning of this year. I want to remark again that my move is exclusively motivated by personal reasons; I like the US and especially UIUC and my alma mater IU very much. I applied about a year ago to the Assistant Professor position at ETH and some time after that to the Helmholtz (HGF) Junior Investigator group program with the Juelich Supercomputing Center. Btw., this was the first (and second) time that I applied for something in my
life—I somewhat slid into all other jobs and programs.

Against all odds, both applications succeeded and both offers were extremely close regarding the funding. Now I was facing the paradox of choice (see Schwartz and his talk). This was horrible because I knew that both places invested in me and I had to disappoint somebody. I hate this, seriously.

Juelich is *the* top supercomputing center in Europe and ETH is *the* top research university in (mainland) Europe (with people like Einstein as alumni). It was a very hard choice and I took some time to make it final.

Since my career-goal is to be a professor at a research university, I decided to accept the position at ETH. The environment and colleagues also seem very very promising. I hope my friends in Juelich understand my decision.

So now it’s official. I’ll move to Zuerich, Switzerland (most likely) in August next year to start a position as Assistant Professor at the ETH Zuerich.

A view of Juelich. I like the natural forest setting a lot!

Views of ETH and Zurich.


We (the CS researchers working on parallel computing and HPC) finally made it! We got our own special interest group in ACM — SIGHPC. I think it’s a great opportunity for us to have a forum for the HPC researchers. I joined immediately.

UIUC’s CITES – wow …

I know, it seems like I’m only complaining in my blog in the last weeks … but seriously, something like this never happened to me before. You know, UIUC is a top-5 department in computer science and it is really astonishing how incompetent CITES (Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services) is.

For some unclear reason, they decided that running an IMAP and STMPS server must be too hard so they switched the mail service to Microsoft Exchange (yes, a public university!!!). Well, I am rather sure that every grad student in the department would be able to run an IMAP or SMTPS service. But ok, anyway, so they switched my mail account. The account was 100% forwarded to another mailserver (NCSA) with a good old .forward file :-). So I was assuming it didn’t work and sent regular test-emails to my mailadress. They made it.

But I realized today that some emails (every 10th, most come from are not forwarded but delivered to my Outlook Inbox (which I never checked). All of them went to the same email address This is so unbelievably bad that I missed a whole thread of important discussions with admins (involving grant money). This is really bad …. and they won’t let me run my own SMTP server :-(.

Thanks for the trouble CITES!

Lufthansa, the worst airline ever (at least in Star Alliance)

I really need to put a sign on my desk that says: “Don’t ever fly Lufthansa again, they will rip you off for sure.”


Well, I did it again, I booked a Lufthansa flight to save a university that invited me about 1.000 dollars. Well well, now I regret it painfully (again). It’s incredible how bad this can be. Well, first the airport in Zurich, no signs to Lufthansa whatsoever. You have to guess that it’s in check in area 1, which is, by the way, at the furthest point of the airport. Ok, fine, the airport can be improved (I will fill out a feedback form). But then you realize while standing in the first class line at the Lufthansa counter (I have Star Alliance Platinum status now) that the woman who entered the economy lane five minutes after me was already walking to gate … well, clearly, if there are 9 open counters in economy and one in first class (four more were not manned) it will be slower. Fine.

I was also missing mileage credit for a flight to the US and Lufthansa did not reply to any of the three emais I sent them in the last month :-(. Well, so I decided to go to the ticket-desk to ask about missing miles for a past flight to the US. After a long discussion, I learned that United sold me a class K ticket (which was mentioned nowhere). And apparently only Miles&More customers get 50% miles to fly in this class and other Star Alliance customers (e.g., US) get nothing. Great, I just lost more than 5000 qualifying miles! Well, I wanted to get at least the 50% mileage credit on my Miles&More account, but guess what? When I checked in as a US customer, I lost this chance!? Oh well, I was actually careful while booking this ticket because I already lost 50% mileage credit before. This is why I booked a United flight … but yeah, it was operated by Lufthansa! How much I hate this airline now…

And it’s getting better. I am sitting right next to the toilet in nearly the last row (57) here because they didn’t bother to check me in with a reasonable seat (keep in mind that I checked in at the first class counter and asked repeatedly for a better seat).

Also, they threw me out of the lounge 60 minutes before the flight departed to allow for additional US securiy screening. Well, fine, not their fault. But when I arrived at the gate, Lufthansa employees directed me to bypass the additional security directly to the gate (with all those dangerous liquids in my luggage 🙂 ). When I asked if this is some kind of extra priority lane, I was told “we don’t talk about this”. I am seriously wondering what the US TSA would think about this. For the record, this was LH 434 departing from Gate H08 in Munich to Chicago. Well, I was now standing 30 minutes at the silly gate (additional seat-change requests were not successful).

I am wondering what happens next. My only advice is now: just don’t fly Lufthansa.

The bastard trip from hell aka. Houston and the hurricane!

Well, it was funny, I had a lot of air travel during the last weeks and nothing went wrong. Somewhat suspicious! And yes, on the *last* flight, the horrible happened.

Continental Airlines

I was supposed to fly from Austin to Indianapolis on Thu 5pm and arrive at 10:30pm. Looked like a great flight when I was booking it. Well, well. I was waiting in the Continental President’s club in Austin (which
sounds much better than it actually was) when they announced that the Houston airport had to shut down due to a hurricane. Oh well, my flight was “delayed” they didn’t even know until when. The plane was stuck in Houston. Actually, it got stuck right after it pushed back from the gate. The poor folks in the plane were waiting 2.5 hours in the plane on the runway. Btw., it is a 30 minute flight between Austin and Houston (and a 2 hour drive ;-)).

Anyway, so my plane was arriving at an unclear time. So I checked alternatives and there was a 6:45 plane going to Houston. The lounge folks couldn’t help and told me to ask at the gate. Well, so I got in
line (a horribly long line). 30 minutes later I reached an agent and in the meantime the other plane arrived. The 6:45 was already boarding at that time. The agent tried to get rid of me and told me that the other flight would board in a minute. Well, I convinced her to give me the last middle seat anyway. Haha, apparently, a new hurricane arrived in Houston in the meantime, so we had to wait 30 more minutes in the plane. I thought my flight to IND was gone for sure. We arrived three hours late in Houston. The airport was a complete mess (reminded me of Bangalore or Mumbai, thousands of desoriented people).

So I missed the (delayed) IND flight by 10 minutes :-(. Darn! The service counter was sorrounded by about 1000 angry folks, so I it was useless to wait (was already 10pm). So I decided to get out of this
airport. The next and last flight in roughly the right direction was leaving 10:15 to Chicago, so I ran to the gate. I asked there if they would deliver my luggage home if I went to Chicago. But well, “if a
passenger leaves his route voluntarily, the luggage will not be delivered”. Ok, it also turned out that *ALL* flights to Indianapolis on the next day were full, so I would have to stay two nights!! And the
hotel is not covered because it’s due to bad weather conditions. Oh man, so I took the last seat (middle seat in the last row of the plane) and go to Chicago … but I got a first-class ticket to Indianapolis after
complaining enough (Staralliance status helps for some things). And apparently, my luggage made it to the connection flight that I missed. I am baffled how my luggage can be faster than I was (running!!)??? Oh well.

I convinced the Continental gate agent to give me a hotel voucher (again, Staralliance status came in handy) at the Westin O’Hare. Well, I had the voucher but there was no shuttle at 2am and the Westin didn’t have a phone in the shuttle center (WTF!?). So I took a cab for only $20 :-(. Well well.

After four hours of sleep, I went back to the airport with a horrible headache. Yeah, and, great! The flight to IND was delayed by 2 hours. Well, it’s again only a 30 minute flight/2 hour drive). Oh well. So now
I’m in this half-hour flight, sitting in mediocre first class but I guess I’ll make it now (finally!) after a slight delay of 15 hours. Hope my luggage is really there. I just want to get home at this point.

My luggage was there but rather crushed … my best advice for now is: avoid flying!

Random uptime post

It’s just nice when you login to your machine and see something like:

11:50:20 up 919 days, 19:21, 1 user, load average: 0.04, 0.10, 0.08
[Mon Aug 29 11:50:20] htor@benten:~

One can make some conclusions:

  • 919 days no power outage (the server is hanging off a normal outlet)
  • there were numerous network outages during this time
  • the software raid also went on a rampage and halted the system for half a day (but came back afterwards)
  • 919 days no kernel upgrade (I don’t know of any remote exploits for the running kernel, I won’t tell the version though ;-))
  • the hardware (including the disks which make a strange sound since about a year) is rather robust (given that I got the machine from the department’s “dumpster”). The HDs will probably die once they stop spinning :-).

Another one on HotI

HotI was again a huge success this year! Intel’s facilities were very professional and video recording was just amazing (they had a full camera crew of 5 people including one producer on site). I enjoyed it a lot! And I’ll do one more year of TPC Co-Chair in 2012.

In the meantime, there was also another news article about the conference: EETimes. Unfortunately, I’m slightly mis-quoted but it’s not that bad (but who would built a 17-d Torus, not sure where this came from ;-)).