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Supercomputing booth/2011

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  • Web site
  • Dates: November 14-17, 2011
  • Location: Seattle, Washington
  • Booth nr: 2118
  • Booth personnel: Martin Skou Andersen, Florido Paganelli



  • Martin Skou Andersen - NBI (University of Copenhagen)/EMI
  • Florido Paganelli - Lund University/EMI/eSSENCE
  • Peter Stefan – NIIF

Printed material

Material design was all done by Zsombor except for the EMI ones.





  • Nuts
  • Leaflets
  • Bookmarks


Before coming to US

Electrical bill

An electrical bill has to be paid in advance. It was sent to and paid by Farid.

Furniture ordering

Furniture for a 10'x10' booth was included in the price for an research exhibition booth, however it must be ordered in advance. Oxana tried to order the furniture through the Freeman website, however it was not possible, and she then wrote to Freeman Support asking how to proceed. A dubious answer was given that no order had to be placed...


A meeting was arranged in Lund on October 27'th in order to plan the exhibition. Oxana, Balazs, Florido and Martin was present, while Zsombor was connected through Skype. The A-REX poster shown at EGI Tech 2011 in Lyon was used as a starting point for the planning. Here it was decided to use the Tyranosaurus Rex as a theme for the booth. And the idea was to buy a large infatable dinasaurus which were able to hold the A-REX poster in its hands. It was decided to show three posters - the A-REX poster, a poster about the file staging and caching system and a timeline marking events from the 10 years of NorduGrid, adding a dinosaurus and viking ship, respectively symbolising Scandinavians and A-REX. The format of the timeline was chosen such that it could fit in fron of a 6' table. It was also decided to compile a slideshow and show it in the booth.

In US before the conference

Florido arrived in Seattle on November 10'th 4 days prior to exhibition opening, while Martin arrived the 12'th. Florido used some time before the opening trying to find an infatable, however unsuccessful, so instead a platic T-Rex (30 cm heigh), a 3D tree T-Rex puzzle and two puppets squirrels were bought, which with the idea of using them as adornment on the table in the booth.

Booth basics

SC11 01.jpg

At arrival to the booth location at the conference, it turned out there was no furniture (table and chairs). Therefore we had to go to the Freeman service company booth, where we ordered the furniture. This order was not free, and the amount was charged to Martin account.

Note: For future SC events, remember to order the free furniture for the 10'x10' research booth in advance, and make sure they are ordered!

Half an hour after placing the order furniture arrived. Not having pre-ordered furniture was a major drawback as we didn't receive the invitation material for parties and other things, so we missed some (material was placed on tables in the morning of the first booth setup day).

Wireless networking was quite crappy, Martin couldn't access the network the first day. From time to time another very unreliable network show up. The reliable one, I have never seen it neither with my laptop nor with my android phone, must have been running on 5 GHz. If network is needed at future events, it is strongly recommended to pay for wired network.

Hanging posters

Posters and banners were laminated. This is really important! Makes it easier to transport and move them during the setup. Other than that, Seattle is a very rainy city.

Bringing a platic poster container (e.g. this) was really useful and protective for the posters. It prevented rain to mess up all the material we had.

For hanging the posters, Florido had bought two sets of two metal strings, designed for hanging posters, however the magnets which came with the strings were not able to keep the posters hanging, so tape was used instead (laminated posters were crucial here). To keep them open, they had plastic hangers on the top and bottom. To keep them straight, strong cardboard were taped on the back. This made the poster look really nice while hanging. We borrowed cardboard from a rubbish bin, Recycle Reuse Reduce!

To hang the metal strings we used some S hangers (brought to Seattle) placed on top of the curtain stand. The S hangers had to be bended in order to fit the curtain stand.

Looking at the others around us, we agreed the very best for a booth is to have a roller banner. As you can see the measures are more or less the same as the banner we produced this year, and is by far handier than hanging posters. It's a relatively cheap, portable and elegant solution. Remember for next year!

The table preparation

The "porn" cloth around the table was unavoidable. The table itself was very bad without it.

The NorduGridG 10 years banner was placed in front of the table using stylish white clips on the cloth and using the same cardboard technique as for posters to keep it straight. Sizes were perfect (180x80cm). It turned out to be cool and we even had people stopping and taking pics :D.

On top of the table, we put an holder for leaflets. Around the holder, a puppy dinosaur (holding the EMI bookmarks in its hands) and a 3D dinosaur puzzle guarding. (pictures later) Under the dinosaur puzzle, a call for people to the ARC Open Source project.

On the other side, a dish full of nuts lied guarded by two puppet squirrels. In front of the dish, a paper saying "ask us about the caching system!"

Other amenities

A tripod with foam board was placed behind the table and a projector on it showing facts about NorduGrid and ARC. [Presentation here]

Besides the three mentioned posters, a big NorduGrid logo banner was brought to Seattle. Two cardboard boards were used to keep the it standing on the right side of the booth. The banner was attached to the cardboards by white clips as well.

[Picture of booth when prepared]

The exhibition

Note: Florido was sick on the second and third day of the exhibition, and thus completely missed the main days. Being one in the booth is painful and not advisable, and you are not able to move around much. One more person (three) for the booth is better, or at least share one person with some other booth (we could do it, but also the EMI booth was out of personnel)

The opening (14'th) was nice, we were close to a food table so we had people passing by or looking while in the queue.

The posters were the main reason for people to stop. Then looking at the table, they were attracted by the squirrels more than the dinos.

Everybody asked if we gave away the squirrels as gadgets. People looks for gadgets for their kids or relatives mostly, so one must focus on useful/nice/cute/funny things as gadgets. For this exhibition we wanted to find suitable gadget however time and budget didn't allow for that.

Below is a list of the people that stopped at the booth. In the following, unknowns means that for some reason we couldn't have names/references. Names have been replaced with initials for privacy reasons. Contact info has been removed. Please ask Florido for actual names and contact info.

Monday 14th

No relevant people really showed up on the opening evening.

Tuesday 15th

People: Total 14 of which 6 unknowns

  • E. M. (NASA, Editor...)
  • D. S. (China)
  • A. M. (University of North Texas, orig. german)
  • P. B. (CERN)
  • some guy from Virginia Tech
  • C. F. (?) Told us we should have copied the posters as giveaways :D Congratulates as the booth is a lot different from the others.
  • T. I. from Adaptive Computing
  • J. S. (Business Development Manager, Amazon Web Services) Wanted to know whether "the thing" was able to run on EC2.
  • Patty
  • unknown student pursuing master (in Norway, Trondheim maybe)

Wednesday 16th

People: Total 16 of which 10 Unknowns

  • ? Geophysicist, Gas. Currently resources gathered in one place, might distribute resources in the future.
  • ? SCIN
  • ? Person above people with hands on compute clusters. Interested in the file staging system
  • ? Linux Fest NW
  • S. C. (Lincoln University)
  • D. (Student looking for specialization)
  • ? Interested in file staging and parallel applications for A-REX
  • ? Student from Norway working with GPUs
  • ? Asking for CA in Norway
  • Suit 1 & 2 curious while waiting for Wham Cloud (neighbor booth)
  • ? from Southern California
  • I. (Croatia)
  • J. K. (CesNet Tier 2) very interested in file staging system, running gLite
  • ? Chinese-looking guy
  • ? someone with a friend in Århus
  • F. H. (University of Washington)
  • ? From China, running ditributed resources, seemed interested

Amazon Web Services is in contact with EMI

Thursday 17th

People: Total 14 of which 2 unknown

  • S. C., Intel, Working on HPC and Clouds. Wanted to know what was it about, wanted an explanation of the caching system. He liked it.
  • ? said that [Netkernel] might be a competitor. I really don't think so as it lacks a structured information system, a proper access control system, I don't see any resource federation mechanism, and it's java based. I cannot imagine jobs running in a JVM
  • ? (LSI) wanted a high level overview of ARC
  • B. ? Working on ontologies. Using SparkQL (pronounced sparkle) [1] [2] . their use case is to query distributed databases via that language. She wanted to know if we provided a solution for that. She asked who our competitors are. Not clear if this is related to ARC. I can imagine a scenario in which a job is a collection of jobs to be performed on multiple clusters, but the woman wasn't eager to describe her use case properly as soon as she understood we don't use databases.
  • D. M. (Intel Corp) working on compilers. He wanted to know what ARC is
  • M. L. (Integration specialist) she is in charge of selecting HW and SW. We spoke about federating resources.
  • ? (Department of Defense) works with CRAY, wanted to know what posters were about.
  • M. ? (Technical Marketing Managers) works with data centers
  • V. (Emory University, Atlanta) working on Genomics, but didn't tell anything on the way they process data...
  • A. (? Lithuania)
  • ? (University of Alberta) Working with LHC data, they use Globus. The guy was on the virtualization thing so he couldn't explain me what kind of applications they had and how they were using globus stuff.
  • E. M. (Vion a storage architect, wanted to know more about caching system
  • K. G. (Department of Defense) working on HPC, quantum mechanics, chemistry. His main issue is data management in distributed environment. I got the contact and said that at the moment we can't provide a solution but maybe EMI can. Maybe the data people can give a hand.

Open questions

Why installing a CE on a cluster, instead of facilitating remote login?

Conclusion and lessons learned

All in all we consider the NorduGrid exhibition at SC11 a success. However there were some ups and downs which can be worth to know of for future exhibitions.

Be sure to order the free furniture for the 10'x10' research booth in advance through Freeman (or similar), and ask for deployment of the equipment to avoid problems upon arrival. It was no problem ordering furniture at the location, however it is expensive.

The planning of the exhibition booth started on 27'th 2 and a half week before the exhibition began. That is way too little time for designing and printing posters, buying or getting a poster wall/roller banner (see above), ordering and buying gadgets and adornments, etc.

Bringing tape, scisor, utility knife and other such things was useful. We did however not bring paper, for taking notes which we missed.

Arriving 3-4 days before the begining of the exhibition was really helpful in our case, since the time up to the exhibition was used for purchasing stuff for the booth. Of course this can be done at home, but some things might not be handy traveling with.

We began setting up the booth one day before the exhibition start, which was plenty of time. However getting the posters to hang nicely in the booth was quite time consuming and messy. It took at most 6 hours to setup the booth, however most of that time (75%) was used for hanging up the posters in a nice way. Note: Buying a roller banner or something similar makes the booth setup a lot easier and faster.

Do not miss the booth selection time. Due to Florido being sick, we did not discuss a optimal booth location, and almost forgot to go to the booth selection meeting at the appointed time.

People were very attracted by the fact that the booth was very different from all the others. I.e. a theme without relation to computers. It seemed people loves cool posters, or atleast the poster we showed. Also, people were/are very attracted by gadgets, either for themselfes but also for kids or relatives. Some people also stopped at the booth just to eat nuts. Having some food is also a good idea. Being different is the way to attract people. No real need for gigantic things, the small things we had did most of the trick.

When talking to people in the booth we tried to take note of their name and affiliation, and their interest. Asking people for their contact details should done in relevant cases.

Booking booth for SC12

Martin took care about it. This year booth was very good, it was on a T junction. People coming from every direction could see us. In case the neighbours have both walls, we still are sure that people coming from the front will see us from far away.

It is also true that most of the people just walks close to the entrance. Therefore Martin choose a booth which is basically

  1. Close to the entrance
  2. Close to a big player such as intel
  3. on a T junction

[Picture of booth location for next year]

Having a wall behind was of help but didn't change things so much. Next year's booth will NOT have a wall behind.

Ideas for the booth

Giant inflatable T-REX holding something, could be a "feed me" thing or the A-REX poster


Since I am experiencing problems making the gallery work, here's a picasa album:

SC11 pictures

If you have problems accessing it contact Florido


Read through the exhibitor info

Action Status/Deadline Comment AssignedTo
Find People Done Registered and approved
Passports, Visa etc Done Florido: Passport OK. Visa form compiled
Martin: Passport OK. Visa compiled
Submit Company Profile Electronic only Text sent after the deadline, not printed in the booklet
Pay for the booth Done USD 100 paid in April 2011
Order Furniture Included Included: 6' desk, 3 chairs and a carpet
Order electricity Done 2x110V outlets
Order Network Done Use wireless only ?
Tickets Florido: done, arriving 10/Nov
Martin: done, arriving 12/Nov
Must all be there for Sunday 13th to setup the booth Martin
Hotel Done two rooms booked at Hotel Belltown Inn, 2301 3rd. Avenue Florido
Design Poster Done 1 poster about A-REX (done)
1 poster about data (done)
1 long NorduGrid Timeline poster (landscape 80cm height x 180cm lenght).(in progress)
Oxana provides some info on NG timeline
Zsombor some idea for data
Deadline for completion 4th Nov
Design Leaflets Done Leaflets done by Zsombor:
A4 and bookmarks given by emi: || Zsombor to make some design, Oxana, Florido
Print Posters Done Florido brings them Florido
Print Leaflets Done Florido
Bring Posters and leaflets Florido: It'll turn to green here if I don't loose them on the way :D Those printed before 10th, Florido Florido
Prepare slide show In progress Topics:
  1. Map of countries participating in NorduGrid: get from Farid's stuff and NG page, then ask Oxana if up-to-date
  2. libarcclient
  3. Applications showcase: partial info can be used from swiss sites
Prepare gadgets No gadgets. nuts and nutcraker. Daisies to give to girls. candies eventually (only if I find Jelly Dinosaurs) Florido,Martin
Allocate notebooks Done Florido: small netbook with no VGA output
Martin: Laptop with VGA output
Borrow a beamer Done Booked from NBI - works with 100-240 V
Florido: will NOT bring Lund's one
Borrow tripod for posters Done Florido brings it Florido
Poster fixation on curtains In progress Rope and tape bought.
Plan is to hang them with metal ropes and magnetic stuff, let's see if it works!
Clips for curtains: buy there. Florido: I have 5 strong ones.
Prepare scotch- and brown tape Done Florido has transparent (not brown) tape. Buy locally if needed Florido
Prepare for evt GIN demos Not mandatory 1)Florido sent mail to Marek
2)Create a possible demo scenario "feed the A-REX"
Register booth personnel Done
Take socket adapter, power cord distributor Done Some may have to be bought locally
Martin: Multi adapter (including US), power cord distributor with minimum room for 4 plugs
Florido: USA adapter
Hire a car Not needed Hotel is in walking distance from the Conference
cutter, straight threshold profile, scissors In progress Also bring/buy bars to hang posters in order for them not to look ugly
Florido: I have
  • 4 bars 91cm each, the cheap ones. We might need two more for the banner.
  • Scissors
  • Paper rope
  • tape
Drawing pins, tapes In progress Eventually buy there Florido
Cell phone + charger In progress Phone needs to be compliant with different wavelenghts:
Martin: Brings Samsung Nexus S + USB charger
Find an inflatable T-REX In progress Florido: I will look for a big toy shop while I am there. If I find a decent inflatable dino I'll buy that one, otherwise I'll buy a dino skull and we'll put leaflets in it. Martin
Approximate budget not so much we have not so much money but enough for planned stuff above. Will be taken from different funding