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Comment: Astronomy & physics need IT support (Score 1) 202

by oneiros27 (#47938625) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

I work as a programmer & sysadmin supporting a solar physics archive. Although most scientists these days have to learn how to program to some degree (to be able to analyze their data), there's still a large number of IT people who work in these fields -- as programmers, sysadmins, DBAs, etc.

So, if you're in the Tucson, AZ; Menlo Park, CA; Princeton, NJ; or Seattle, WA area, keep an eye on the LSST hiring page.

There are likely to be other projects out there hiring, but I don't know what their various situations are. (I just know that LSST was soliciting at the last American Astronomical Society meeting). You can also look to universities, especially if you have kids (as future tuition benefits for dependants can be quite significant).

I know a hell of a lot more about astronomy & solar physics than I do before I started this job. I'm by no means an expert in the field, but my work does help the scientists do their research and improve our knowledge of the field.

Comment: People have AMT (Score 2) 318

by oneiros27 (#47921099) Attached to: New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance

Corporations can do whatever they can to show no profit, and therefore, no taxes.

If rich people were to try to make enough charitable contributions or whatever other deductions to drop their taxes to zero, they'd still get hit with the Alternative Minimum Tax. (those with a low enough income can still get away with this)

Why don't we have an AMT for companies? A sort of 'if you're making over a billion dollars in gross receipts, you still have to pay the U.S. 10%' or simply 'then these deductions aren't allowable' ... you could have things in there like :

  • Money spent on lobbying
  • Money spent on advertising
  • Salary costs over ~5x minimum wage (calculated per person ... so no hiring a bunch of minimum wage people to offset the CEO's pay)

Obviously, lobbyists and legislators will hate the first one. Newspapers & TV stations will hate the second one.

Comment: Verify servers, maybe switch to low graphics. (Score 1) 151

by oneiros27 (#47894203) Attached to: To prepare for a coronal mass ejection, I ...

Typically, I check on all of my servers to ensure data's flowing. If they're not, I look to how we can fix it or route around any problems.

If I was more worried about the storms, I'd make sure that our development servers were configured to take load from the main production ones, and that we switched off superflous graphics on the websites. With our upgrades after the last Venus Transit, I'm not worried.

But then again, I'm responsible for web & database servers at the Solar Data Analysis Center, so I'm actually worried about trying to make sure that that scientists and public can get to the data as quickly as possible and we don't go down from the load.

Comment: Not all libraries let you check out books (Score 3, Interesting) 102

by oneiros27 (#47882817) Attached to: Top EU Court: Libraries Can Digitize Books Without Publishers' Permission

You can't check out a book from the Library of Congress. There are plenty of other 'non-circulating' books at most public libraries (eg, they won't let you take home volumes from an encyclopedia, textbooks when a teacher has asked that they be put 'on reserve').

What this does is allow libraries & archives to do a few things:

  • Keep backups of their holdings.
  • Reduce risk in letting patrons look at the mateirals (as they don't touch the originals)
  • Reduce long-term costs. (keep the physical books at 'off-site storage' (ie, warehouses in less expensive areas), and not have to worry about how fast it'd take to access them if they're requested).
  • Free up space for other purposes (meeting rooms, computers, etc.) while still having access to the whole collection.
  • Free up librarians. (many archives have 'closed stacks' where you request a book, and a librarian goes down to get it for you ... this means they don't have to do that).

That being said, there are some drawbacks -- if the physical books are being placed into deep storage, they're not getting inspected, so should something go wrong (eg, mold start to develop), it may progress further before someone notices.

I'd actually be interested in seeing the full text of the decision, to see if there are limits as to how many digital copies can be viewed at once -- if a teacher puts a book 'on reserve', and the library scans it ... can 4 students view it simultaneously if the library only owns 3 copies?

Comment: (Score 1) 145

by oneiros27 (#47879097) Attached to: X-Class Solar Flare Coming Friday

Yep ... but we get to argue for why we need new hardware when they can't keep up with the load. And many of 'em are intended for 'public outreach', so they justify their continued funding by how many people look at their website, not just how much data they serve, or how many people cite their systems in peer-reviewed papers. (ISWA and iSolSearch may be exceptions to this)

There have been other times that were much worse, such as when a slashdot 'editor' (I use that term loosely) decided to add a comment for people to use one of the movie maker CGIs and set the defaults higher so as to use maximum bandwidth. (and it gave you a slideshow of JPGs, so not nearly as effecient as SDO's premade quicktimes ... and it was back when our network was only on a 100Mbps uplink)

(and I'm listed as a backup sysadmin for one of the systems I linked to ... however, NASA decided I'm not a sysadmin (and kicked me off of the useful mailing lists), in an attempt to get the number of people w/ sysadmin credentials down. (as many scientists were listed as sysadmins, so they could administer their own desktops))

Comment: Predicted propogation ... (Score 3, Informative) 145

by oneiros27 (#47877721) Attached to: X-Class Solar Flare Coming Friday

If you want a picture / movie that's actually based on this event's data ... use iSWA.

Select the 'ISEP' tab, and then choose one that mentions 'CME WSA' and looks like a swirl. (there are three of 'em ... pressure, velocity and density ... although I think something went wrong in their pipeline, as the pressure and density ones are *really* glitching out ... I don't know if that's one they generate every 15 mins, though)

You'll notice that even though the center of the cloud is expected to go ahead of the earth, they're predicting it'll be wide enough that we'll still get hit by it.

(disclaimer : I work for the Solar Data Analysis Center at GSFC)

Comment: (Score 5, Informative) 145

by oneiros27 (#47877613) Attached to: X-Class Solar Flare Coming Friday

Bah ... it's mostly static content. The sites that get hammered on these sorts of things are:

... etc. The various 'latest images' pages for SDO, SOHO, STEREO, etc. won't be as interesting as the imagers that are that tight in have already seen the good stuff (for that flare; there might be more from that same active region; you can track that at Solar Monitor or iSolSearch)... there *might* be something from this CME still to come in the HI1 and HI2 instruments from STEREO, though.

You might also want to check The Sun Today, which tends to have good explanations of what's happened, and they have a few movies for this event.

(disclaimer : I work at the Solar Data Analysis Center, and have worked on some of the sites that I've mentioned, and know the sysadmins for all but one of 'em)

Comment: Too late for the flare -- the *CME* comes Friday (Score 4, Informative) 145

by oneiros27 (#47877531) Attached to: X-Class Solar Flare Coming Friday

Flares are bursts of energy, so they travel at the speed of light -- there's no real early warning for 'em, as by the time you see it, it's here. (there might be a slight warning before you hit the peak of the flare, but we're talking seconds, not days).

The CME is what's coming on Friday ... Coronal *Mass* Ejection ... ie, it's more than just an electro-magnetic pulse ... it actually has mass associated with it.

You might also get some SEP (solar energetic particles) before the main sort of 'cloud' from the CME arrives -- those can be worse for the people in space, as they arrive minutes to hours after the flare, and they'll just go through things in space (eg, spacecraft, space stations, etc.).

disclaimer : I'm not a solar physicist, but I'm a programmer/sysadmin supporting the Solar Data Analysis Center at GSFC.

Comment: Intellectual Property Tax! (Score 1) 347

by oneiros27 (#47874347) Attached to: When Scientists Give Up

Your comments got me thinking -- if people want to treat 'intellectual property' as 'property', then shouldn't it be subject to property taxes?

Of course, the problem with both of our ideas is that the companies would do exactly what they've been doing with their logos -- spin off a company in another country, give the IP to that company, and then rent the use of the IP back to the original company. (thereby reducing the profits of the main company, reducing their tax burden ... and the spin-off is in a low tax country, so it's almost pure profit over there).

Comment: Tight pants (Score 5, Interesting) 730

by oneiros27 (#47864783) Attached to: Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

Have you seen what people are wearing these days?

This is so they can check what time it is without having to attempt to extract their new, larger phone out of the pocket of their skinny jeans, and then try to put it back in again.

Where it'd actually be cool is if it had a 'lack of proximity warning' ... eg, an alert of 'hey, you left your phone' when the two get out or range of each other. Not that it would justify the price (or switching to an iPhone), but it'd be kinda cool, as I just realized I left my phone in my car.

Comment: It's the 1990s all over again. (Score 5, Insightful) 161

by oneiros27 (#47810171) Attached to: New HTML Picture Element To Make Future Web Faster

Back in the days of HTML, they decided that it was awful that the people using dial-up had to wait so long for images to load ... so they came up with the 'lowsrc' attribute to the IMG element:

<img lowsrc='...' src='...' ...>

Or, you could could go with the 2000s route, and use CSS's media queries so that you don't try to push large images down to small-screen devices.

Wouldn't it make more sense to just use a known attribute or method rather than trying to come up with yet another solution every few years?

Comment: If you like damaged blocks ... (Score 3, Interesting) 202

by oneiros27 (#47759559) Attached to: How the Ancient Egyptians (Should Have) Built the Pyramids

Their 'rolling' method is going to damage the corners of the blocks, and the surface of the path it rolls on.

Now, it's possible that the blocks were finished on site, and so they could use this trick to move the blocks from the quary to the worksite ... but it shouldn't be used to move finished blocks into their final location.

(and then you've got to roll all of the logs back to the quary ... assuming they're strong enough to survive this process ... which probably isn't as much work as what's needed for moving the stones, but it cuts into your energy savings ... as does transporting larger stones so you can finish them once they're at the worksite)

Comment: Who decides what's 'blatant' ? (Score 4, Interesting) 113

by oneiros27 (#47751321) Attached to: Is Dong Nguyen Trolling Gamers With "Swing Copters"?

. If Apple and Google want to make things friendlier out there for developers, they might consider stricter enforcement policies for the blatant rip-offs filling their digital storefronts.

It took a lawsuit for Atari to kill KC Munchkin ... and even then they only won on appeal :

If KC Munchkin was a rip-off of Pac Man, then every first person shooter is a rip-off of Wolf 3D. (which might've been a rip-off of Space Simulation).

Don't get me wrong -- there needs to be something done about people making crappy games and tricking people into buying it (eg, The War Z), but once in a while, someone makes a *better* game that's similar to something that already exists (eg, Arkanoid vs. Break Out).

Comment: 'nothing to do with [your] job' (Score 2) 548

I've worked places where 1/2 the time was spent doing the 'other duties as assigned' ... and some of 'em really sucked. (paperwork ... ick)

Think about it -- an undergrad degree is about you willing to spend 4 potentially productive years to get a sheet of paper. (and in my case, that's all it was ... as they neglected to flag in their computer system that I had graduated, so 7 years later, when I needed a transcript, I had to spend many months and threaten to sue to get them to mark me as having graduated).

If you want to do only the things that you enjoy doing ... start your own business, and be successful enough that you can hire someone to do the stuff you don't want to do. And that doesn't require having a degree. The degree is just so that you have a sheet of paper from some group vouching that you have some minimal set of skills to be a productive employee.

"Who cares if it doesn't do anything? It was made with our new Triple-Iso-Bifurcated-Krypton-Gate-MOS process ..."