Amin Nash from HPC Support Team Interviews Joey Hazlett from ITS
Joey Hazlett is a Systems Programming Specialist for Pomona College’s ITS department. Specifically, Joey works as a systems administrator and describes his primary roles is to automate processes so there won’t be a need to do it manually again. Joey also works closely with Sakai and Consortium-wide student information system. In HPC, Joey helps with development and automation of programs to make them easier to access.
If anyone is interested in working with Joey on projects, he’d be happy to do so. He’ll assist with their projects and give guidance as well!
Amin: What are your favorite things about programming?
Joey: I’ve been doing it since high school. My favorite thing is that I could tell the computer to do something and it will do exactly what I tell it to do. Computers will always do what you tell it to do. I enjoy the whole process of it all, though. Being able to think of something to finish and then being able to watch the evolution of accomplishing it is satisfying. If something doesn’t work, I like stopping and asking, “Hey, this didn’t work, what do I gotta do to fix it?”
Amin: What are some moments that gave you satisfaction about your projects?
Joey: A good example is today! I was on a phone with our vendor earlier because we are in the process of moving our disaster recovery servers to Azure. I had to test for the replications to go from “running” to actually “moving” and we were successful. The process was to figure out how to move around or through firewalls that were preventing various connections, so it wasn’t primarily programming involved, but we had to use a puppet to add a firewall rule. That way, next time the puppet agent is ran, it would distribute the configuration across all servers. The most satisfactory part is being able to see all the parts working together and not having too many issues with figuring out a problem.
Amin: Why do you participate in HPC meetings and projects?
Joey: I found it interesting to have access to so much power in use of cores, CPU’s, and parallel processing. Also, things running on Linux are convenient to me because it’s my background and I’m mostly exclusive on Linux now. Having the ability to manage the Linux boxes is exciting and something I’m very proficient in. In the future, I hope help maintain the HPC clusters and support them to run so people can use them to their fullest capacity.
Amin: What are some projects you have worked on with HPC?
Joey: Currently, I’m working with Zintan to use Raspberry Pis to project job usages on monitors inside the ITS department. I’ve also moved the daily challenges from the Slack channel to a repository so they’ll all be easier to access.
Amin: Are there any projects you’d like to get involved with more?
Joey: The cluster project with Raspberry Pi would be cool. I do a lot of fun stuff with Raspberry Pis at home so I’d like to get involved with Raspberry Pis at a professional level. I have a stack of them at home that helps run the small things in my house. I also have a Pine 64 that is essentially my media server at home but is powerful enough to transcode videos and such. I also would like to get involved with 3D printing, but since it’s not directly involving my job, it’s hard to get into the lab to start working on it.
Amin: How have you found your experience as a developer benefits HPC?
Joey: Specifically for moving the daily challenges from Slack to GitHub, I at first started doing things manually, but I realized there’s got to be a better way to finish a project. Since I knew how to automate things to do specific tasks easier, I built a basic application that allowed me to just type in subjects into boxes that makes it easier to access. It makes things easier to remember what came in before and I essentially made it so that the program would increment by one. I then used a mark-down language on GitHub, found some basic documentation, created a template, and that all ended up becoming the structure to run the application. For me, the key to programming is being able to automate something repetitive so we don’t have to do too much work. The project was at first to take a big blob of text and make it accessible, but now it runs very smoothly.
Amin: What would be some technical advice to those starting their projects?
Joey: I would say get comfortable with a programming language that would support scaling, because if you program something that needs to be scaled and won’t scale on your program, you’ll have to code it again. It’s better to code it right the first time than re-writing it from scratch. It is also important to do good research and gather requirements before you start programming. I agree that learning is doing, but you also have to have a basic knowledge of what you’re doing before you do it.
Amin: Have there been any challenges with HPC?
Joey: I would say the biggest challenge, for me, would be the security changes being implemented. Having to process the firewall rules and routing tends to cause headaches in making things work. Something that used to take half an hour now takes days and constant coordination with different teams. Sometimes having to rely on teams will slow you down. It’s good and bad; you can rely on other people to get the job done, but it’s bad because you can’t do it quickly.
Amin: Any favorite memories?
Joey: Not at the moment, but I’m sure there’ll be some to come!
Amin: Were there any other disciplines you learned about that you haven’t experienced before?
Joey: There’s actually been a lot of things I didn’t know about, and going to HPC meetings opened my eyes and made me research more. One of them is Docker and the other is Kubernetes. Docker was cool and actually reminded me very much of chroot in the Linux world where you use the systems based resources but you’re isolated from the main system, kind of like being in a sandbox.