How to thrive at Jülich in a nutshell

How to thrive at Jülich in a nutshell

If you are here because you have survived to one hard month at the JSC, A.K.A. Jail for Students of Computer Science. You should be proud, but now it is not the time for bragging, you are still at the lowest level of the food chain. And the JSC is full of predators, eager for easy preys like I was. Again, I am here to make sure that you make it to the end of the programme.

Figure 1 shows a terrifying photo of the most scary entity that you might find here: the supervisor. Not many have been able to see him and stay alive. Trained by the deadliest military forces of western Germany, Kabadshow is able to cycle 50 km under heavy rain, chasing you to be sure that you are working 24/7. I managed to take a detour and fool him. In the end, he got trapped by the JSC security doors. Next time I might not be that lucky.


Figure 1. Kabadshow stares at his prey, angry for not being able to hunt it down that night. His facial expression can give chills even to the toughest US Marine.

If you are still alive, it is probable that the site coordinator will start considering you for a promotion. Surviving an encounter with Kabadshow is worth a thousand kebabs. By the way, here you have a pro tip in case you can’t get him off your tail: locate the closest kebab restaurant and lure him inside. If you manage to do that, the trap is set. Now order the dish 42, if you don’t find it on the menu, show the waiter the image in Figure 2. Kabadshow main weaknesses are nuts and french fries, this dish combines both of them. Once he eats it, he won’t be able to move for days since he will be inflated like a balloon. That will be your chance to run away.


Figure 2. Special kebab dish, topped with cheese and full of french fries and meat. The wild Kabadshow will eat it right away.

As I said, the site coordinator will value you more once you have left Kabadshow behind. At this point, he will probably test your skills for a promotion. The first test will consists of extremely complicated mathematical problems which only top people will be able to solve. Figure 3 shows all the survivors of the last PRACE programme taking the test. Figure 4 zooms on a significantly capable student, facing his greatest challenge to date. Figure 5 shows the same student after two hours of test.


Figure 3. Kabadshow’s aftermath.


Figure 4. First site coordinator test, 10:00 AM.


Figure 5. First site coordinator test, 12:00 AM.

Successful students will have to take a second test, the site coordinator shows no mercy. This second test will push your hardware knowledge to the limit. If you really want to be at JSC, graphic cards, RAM sticks, CPUs and Ethernet cables must feel like natural extensions of your body. To pass the test you will have to assemble a sophisticated piece of hardware within a really tight time limit. Figure 6 shows the starting point of the hardware test. Dont’t be fooled by the 6 to 12 years old age thing… it is a mind game to make you feel stupid, to make you believe that even a kid can survive this test. Figures 7 and 8 show some progress during the test by an anonymous student. Figure 9 shows the proof of the chosen one’s arrival.


Figure 6. Starting the hardware test. Notice the food and coffee supplies on the left, absolutely necessary for this life-draining exam.


Figure 7. Looks like it is going well, but there is still a lot of work to do…


Figure 8. At this point, people gather around the student. The legend might be true, could this student be the chosen one?


Figure 9. The legend was true, the chosen one has passed the hardware test, now the site coordinator has no choice…

(I know what you are thinking right now, why did you choose the snow speeder instead of the X-wing, it is clearly a superior spaceship! Well, let me tell you that you have no clue, you can’t take out AT-ATs with an X-wing! If you want one, you can buy them at LIDL for 8 euros! No, LIDL did not pay me to say that.)

(I know what you are thinking right now [reprise], you are too old to play with LEGOs! Well, let me tell you that I have the heart of a little kid…and I keep it in a jar on my desk. Now seriously, if you don’t like LEGOs you don’t have the right to speak.)

After passing the two test, the gods have spoken, the chosen one has risen. The site coordinator had no choice: the student had to be promoted to a higher position. In fact, he was raised to the highest position, he would become the ruler of the whole JSC. Figure 10 shows our hero about to enter his new office and see the throne of silicon.


Figure 10. The chosen one opens the gates of heaven *cough* his new office.

As promised, the student was raised to the top of the JSC (see Figures 11 and 12), the reign of terror of the site coordinator ended, the age of the student begins.


Figure 11. The chosen one, sitting in his throne.


Figure 12. With great power comes great responsibility, who said sitting on the throne was an easy task?

With the site coordinator gone, even the wild Kabadshow turned out to be as soft as a pillow. Although he was still bad at table tennis. Figure 13 shows the chosen one taming the beast.


Figure 13. The chosen one versus Kabadshow, now not as fierce as before. However, a protection suit is always recommended when dealing with such a creature.

The last wish of the chosen one before departing was fulfilled: a hovercar for moving around the JSC was installed! Why waste money on science when you can have hovercars?!

And that my friends, is how you thrive at JSC. Raising from the bottom to the very top. Now the programme is over, the mission of the PRACE student is finished and it is time to go back home. But, with our hero gone, how long will the peace and prosperity last at JSC? We will have to wait for the next year to know…


Figure 14. The last coffee of the site coordinator.

(This post was not meant to be serious, I just wanted to show that besides working a lot we really had tons of fun too. If you want to learn more about our work here, I suggest you to visit my friendly video about our project:

In case you are in the mood for hardcore stuff, then you might want to go watch the full talk that I gave at the JSC many-core meeting 🙂

By the way, remember the name from the last post? 828927556286 on the site coordinator/coffee machine? Well, I think it is time to unveil the truth. The number 828927556286 in base 10 can be converted to the computer science base 16 or hexadecimal representation which yields the following result: C0FFEBABE. Yes, we like coffee a lot…).

So long, and thanks for all the fish!


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4 comments on “How to thrive at Jülich in a nutshell
  1. John says:

    Tried to figure out the number thingy as well. Damn you were faster!

  2. Sarah says:

    I’m glad you finally solved the puzzle 😛

  3. Hao says:

    Not to sound pedantic, but should the number labeled on the site coordinator 828927556286 result in C0FFEEBABE? (additional second E in coffee)?

    Other than that I really want to have a coffee now …

  4. Gustavo says:

    The chosen one should have failed the hardware test (número 9). There are spare parts left!!!!!!!

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