Tip of the Week

Every Monday, a new Tip of the Week appears in Fermilab Today, Fermilab's daily email publication for employees, users and subscribers.

Tips of the Week

 April 21, 2014
 What could possibly go wrong?

When most people start a new task, they tend to assume that things will go right. It is human nature to be optimistic and focus on how things will get done rather than think about what could go wrong. You consider the task and develop a set of actions that will inevitably drive you to the goal.

Unfortunately, life is seldom this simple. Murphy's Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Although the "law" isn't a hard and fast rule of nature, it's good to keep in mind. If you don't think about what could go wrong before you start a task, you risk discovering the weaknesses along the way and often too late. This is often a major source of accidents, delays, increased costs and compromised quality.

 April 14, 2014
 Only the best: high-quality software at Fermilab

We all have certain expectations for how particular pieces of software should perform. At Fermilab, we develop and use highly sophisticated software to meet the needs of our scientific program. We also use commercial applications that have been customized or configured to meet specific operational needs. Regardless of the application, it's important that the laboratory's software meets or exceeds the requirements or expectations for its intended use.

Quality software has always been a priority. Our most current effort, to help ensure that the software we develop and use meets performance requirements and specifications, involves a team of individuals from across the lab who developed the Fermilab Software Quality Assurance program.

 April 07, 2014
 Managed print services offer big sustainability benefits

The Core Computing Division has been rolling out a new managed print service (MPS) operated by Dell Managed Services and, in the process, is making Fermilab a little bit greener.

Managed print services, soon to be deployed sitewide, will be centrally managed and ensure not only that we use up-to-date devices, but also that the laboratory is not using more than what is needed to print, fax or scan.

 March 31, 2014
 Sustainable buildings

Last week, the Grid Computing Center (GCC) became the first Fermilab building to attain 100 percent of the Guiding Principles for High Performance and Sustainable Buildings, a federal mandate to dramatically increase the efficiency and sustainability of federally owned buildings.

 March 24, 2014
 Federated identity: connecting to worldwide networks

In the real world, you frequently need to identify yourself to prove that you are really you. One common proof of your identity is your driver license. Fortunately, you don't have to carry a separate driver license for every state you travel to in order to, say, pass an airport security check. But this is exactly the situation that prevails in cyberspace, where you need different identification methods for almost all the services you want to use.

 March 17, 2014
 Fermilab heritage

Ever wondered why farmhouses and barns are part of the landscape at a physics research lab such as Fermilab? Well before there was an energy, intensity or cosmic frontier, there was an agricultural frontier, and before there was a Fermilab, there was a farming community.

 March 10, 2014
 The dangers of laser "toys"

A recent Nature paper describes the cases of five children in the UK who received eye injuries as a result of playing with laser "toys." These children, between the ages of eight and 15, suffered reduced vision and had identifiable damage to their retinas. All reported playing with these so-called toys before their eye problems began.

In the United States, the FDA regulates laser devices, including laser pointers. Laser pointers should be labeled with the correct output power and class. Handheld lasers of any color, or wavelength, that have a power output of greater than 5 milliwatts can pose significant eye hazards and should not be used, especially by children.

 March 03, 2014
 How can I recycle? Let me count the ways

We've all heard the phrase "reduce, reuse, recycle." Reducing waste is the best option of the three: Purchasing only what you really need means using less resources. Reusing items saves them from being tossed in a landfill, where they are no longer useful to anyone for any purpose.

Recycling is perhaps the easiest alternative to throwing something in the trash. But with many more items that are able to be recycled than before, recycling rules can be hard to follow. What do I do with plastic packaging? Why can't I put an item with the no. 6 recycle symbol in the recycling bin? And where do I take these items?

 February 24, 2014
 Managing the ecosystem

Soon the snow will all be gone, and we will once again be outside enjoying the outdoors in an unfrozen state (trust me on this!). A large part of our efforts to manage and care for this site will involve conservation and restoration efforts in our natural areas. How do we go about allocating limited resources to bring the most environmental value to the site?

One guiding principle is ecosystem management. While it's natural to think that our efforts should be directed at helping individual species or even a particular community, managing the ecosystem is much more effective, but also more complex.

 February 17, 2014
 One-two punch: two-factor authentication helps prevent cyberattacks

"Greetings. This is to inform you that your credit card information from our point-of-sale system has been accessed by unauthorized individuals."

Many of you may have received communications similar to this recently, as two major national retail chains have revealed that their systems containing customer personal information, specifically, credit card data, had been compromised. While Fermilab does not process any credit card data (all purchases from lab organizations utilize third-party processors), we do handle other sensitive information that we need to protect.

 February 10, 2014
 Tracking lessons learned

Learning from past events and projects is a good thing, both at home and at work. By sharing lessons learned, we can increase safety, improve quality and reduce the cost of our products and processes.

Many divisions, sections and centers here at Fermilab already keep records of lessons learned. But what is the best way of collecting and sharing them at a laboratory of this size? How can one make sure that all employees learn about the information that is relevant to them?

 February 03, 2014
 New Illinois law bans hand-held cell phone use while driving

A new Illinois state law permits the use of some electronic devices while driving, but here at Fermilab the rules are stricter.

While texting and driving is illegal, as of Jan. 1, 2014, House Bill 1247, PA 98-0506 states that chatting on a hand-held cell phone while driving is now also a traffic violation in the state of Illinois. A person who is caught violating this law will be fined a maximum of $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, $125 for a third offense and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense. Offenders could also face having a moving violation on their driving record.

 January 27, 2014
 RECs support clean energy

Fermilab's mission requires enormous amounts of energy to produce scientific results in the field of high-energy physics research. The lab must decrease its carbon footprint and has very specific sustainability goals set forth by the DOE, which are driven by the Executive Order 13514.

The laboratory has made efforts to decrease greenhouse gases, or GHGs, related to commuting, business travel, building use and industrial processes. Yet compared to the electricity needed for the machines and facilities that do the science, the energy saved by these efforts is small.

 January 13, 2014
 Burning-wood ecology

Part of the job of caring for the Fermilab site is occasionally removing unwanted vegetation. An integral part of the task of restoring large land areas to a productive and diverse state is removing unwanted woody vegetation, such as European buckthorn and dead and potentially unsafe trees, like the hundreds of ash trees killed by the emerald ash borer over the last 10 years. Dead trees in unpopulated areas of the site are normally left to provide habitat for birds, mammals, insects and other invertebrates.

Restoration of woodlands choked by weedy, non-native species often requires lots of clearing before restoration can be effected.

 January 06, 2014
 Quality assurance guidelines in one handy manual

Quality assurance at Fermilab is integrated into one labwide Quality Assurance Management System. It is a set of interrelated elements that Fermilab uses to plan, direct, control and improve how quality policies and procedures are established, implemented and monitored.

A vital part of this management system is the Fermilab Quality Assurance Manual (QAM). Like the Fermilab Environment, Safety and Health Manual, it collects the elements of the Quality Assurance Management System into one place for easy reference. Chapters are reviewed and approved in the same way as the FESHM and the Fermilab Radiological Control Manual.

Safety Tip of the Week - Current Archive
2013 Safety Tip of the Week Archive
2012 Safety Tip of the Week Archive
2011 Safety Tip of the Week Archive
2010 Safety Tip of the Week Archive
2009 Safety Tip of the Week Archive
2008 Safety Tip of the Week Archive
2007 Safety Tip of the Week Archive
2006 Safety Tip of the Week Archive
2005 Safety Tip of the Week Archive
2004 Safety Tip of the Week Archive
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