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1) Message boards : Announcements : Talk Like a Pirate 2016 (Message 9324)
Posted 1464 days ago by Profile Wormholio
Greetings and Salutations to anybody still within earshot of this rusty bucket. I wish you a fine Talk Like a Pirate Day, and perhaps even a free doughnut from Krispy Kreme (or so I've heard).

I just re-read my posting from one year ago today, and I'm afraid that nothing has changed. Arrgh! The server is still dead in the water. The executables I have are not even recognized as being in the right format. The database server is still running, and has switched over to mariadb, so we have "memory" of what went before us, (and I fixed a nasty problem that was bogging down the whole machine periodically), but no way forward. I truly did intend to upgrade the software, but I also truly got swamped with so much else to do that it never got done. And it may be that way for a while.

My position at USMA was originally for one year, but they asked me back for another, and I'm greatly enjoying it. Last year I taught introductory classes, and very few of the students were science majors, it was simply one of their many requirements. This year I have a smaller crew of physics majors who are learning Classical Mechanics, which is a beautiful subject that I am enjoying sharing.

I've also gotten myself involved with something else I think is really neat, and some of this crew may think highly of it as well. NASA has given a grant to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City for development of the next generation of software for planetariums. AMNH is collaborating with a very good group of computer graphics experts in Sweden, and the work is already bearing fruit. The software is called OpenSpace, and as the name suggests it will be open source, and in fact it will run on your PC not just some fancy cluster of projectors in a big planetarium. The main project site has opened recently at http://OpenSpaceProject.com and we also have a new page on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/OpenSpaceVisualization/. One of the simplest examples of the software in action is this introduction video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDe1yMe38xA. OpenSpace was also used this past summer to model the fly-by of Pluto made by New Horizons, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc8sGiFtYOI -- you can see the 14 hour wizz past Pluto compressed into about 14 minutes. OpenSpace will also be used to show the recently launched OSIRIS-Rex mission to bring back a part of asteroid Bennu. My involvement in this is small, but as you can see, it's a very neat project.

If anybody is interested in learning more about it and perhaps using the software, and you are proximate to New York, we are holding a "buildathon" at the end of October. Two teams will do their best to model the Cassini and Messenger missions (to Saturn and Mercury, respectively), and the winner gets to go first on the big dome of the Hayden Planetarium. Details are at https://openspacenyc.splashthat.com/. (If anybody is actually reading this, please spread the word.)

So as you can see, just like last year, I've been way too busy to get this rusty bucket back underway. Maybe some day, maybe not, but at least the forums seem to still be working (but must really seem crappy now that Einstein@Home has been upgraded, eh?).

Arrgh, my greetings to ye all on Talk Like a Pirate Day, but that's about all you'll get here, yet again.
2) Message boards : Announcements : Talk Like a Pirate 2015 (Message 9310)
Posted 1830 days ago by Profile Wormholio
Arrgh! Avast and fine pirate greetings to those of you who are still aboard this rickety bucket.

Normally I would release some work for the crew, just to "light up the cluster" and see how many we have left, and to reward those who have stayed. But I'm sad to report that I'm not able to do so today. Some time at the end of the last little run the feeder gave out, and now fails with "segmentation fault" whenever I try to start it. I've looked at file permissions and other issues, tried recompiling (from the old code base that would be compatible with the other daemons), but to no avail. The engines have indeed failed and we are truly dead in the water.

The proper fix for this is to upgrade the software to the latest version of BOINC, which has been my intention for a while now. The limiting factor is time. I had plans to do this over the summer, and even a new mission for our crew to go with it (more on that later), but a sudden change in my employment sucked up all available extra time.

This year I'm leading a new crew, of about 70 cadets from the US Military Academy at West Point. I've been hired, along with 4 other civilian physicists, to help West Point through a major shift in their physics curriculum. It's only a one year gig, but I still went through the same 6 week training they give to the military instructors who rotate through for 3 years. It was great training (I learned a lot, even though I already knew a lot about teaching physics) and it is a great team to work with (many are nuclear engineers, almost all are officers with combat experience). It is a very different world from the academic environment I've been in before, and I'm enjoying learning more about it. And all my students are very accomplished and capable, even those who are not naturally good at learning physics.

As I said, before this came up (rather suddenly) I had intended to upgrade the project for a new mission. Let me explain that. Over this past summer I worked with three high school students on a project to investigate the LIGO data which has been released to the public by the LIGO Open Science Center. This was similar to the I2U2 project I worked on previously, and which was the basis of a previous Pirates mission. (I modified the forum code to allow image and file attachments, for use as a scientific logbook in I2U2.) One big difference is that LOSC have released h(t) data, the real deal for searching for gravitational waves, while I2U2 used PEM data, which were recorded using seismometers, magnetometers, accelerometers, and weather stations, to monitor the physical environment of the LIGO detectors.

[ I'll mention that I recently learned that the I2U2 project has terminated, but that's a sign of success not failure, because the LIGO e-Lab it created has been incorporated into FermiLab's QuarkNet education project, which is what got I2U2 started. You can visit the LIGO e-Lab if you want to check it out. ]

Each of the three students on my team this summer took real data from LOSC and performed some kind of analysis on it, using Python code they created (based on some very useful examples provided by LOSC). One looked at the potential for interference from the background noise from the 60 Hz power mains (any gravitational waves from the Crab pulsar will be very close to 60Hz!). Another looked at the injected signals the LIGO scientists add to the data to simulate black hole collisions or the continuous wave sources that Einstein@Home is listening for. And one was interested in distributed computing and BOINC and set out to design a "campaign" of computing to analyze the data from LOSC throughout the S5 run (and the S6 data, which became available during this project).

My intention was to upgrade Pirates@Home and add a new application, based on the existing Python wrapper and an R-wrapper I'd written previously, to allow us to run the Python code any of these students had written. We could also run a student-written work generator to select the LIGO data to process, organized in a hierarchical fashion so that the first pass spans the whole 2 years of the S5 run, the next pass fills in the gaps, the next pass fills in the gaps within the gaps, and so on.

Alas, I suddenly had no time to do this, and it also proved to be a little too much for beginning students, but it's still an idea I would like to pursue. I can't make any guarantees, but this is still a potential future mission for Pirates@Home. And perhaps I can even recruit future students from this crew?

Finally, as some of you know I encountered another time time crunch about 6 years ago when the littlest member of our crew came aboard. I'm happy to report that she's doing great. She just started first grade, and this summer she started doing karate. In fact, I have to close now to go take her to her karate lesson.

I hope you all enjoy Talk Like a Pirate Day, even without some work from the project. Arrgh!
3) Message boards : Number Crunching : One BOINC bug squashed... (Message 9275)
Posted 2100 days ago by Profile Wormholio
With thanks to Pirates and its scheduler wait of 3636 seconds, a crashing Google Earth and it taking down the OpenGL&OpenCL driver, and this requiring a BOINC restart, I found a bug in the way BOINC handles the scheduler wait value... it doesn't.

Congratulations on a successful bug hunt. I'm glad to know that this rusty scow could still be of some small service.
4) Message boards : Announcements : New distributed data project (Message 9272)
Posted 2103 days ago by Profile Wormholio
For testing purposes I told Dolphin to use my location. Tapping "Search nearby" now gives "Position unavailable: Internal error".
Thank you for the feedback. It should work with Chrome on Android, and I know it works with Mobile Safari and Chrome on iPhone, but apparently not all mobile browsers include the location feature. Reports for other mobile browsers would be welcome.
... with Flash Player disabled (as it was causing more trouble than worth).
Flash is not used or required, so any trouble you had should be of a general nature, not specific to this site.

Dolphin is able to open Google Maps (the phone can even open Google Earth), but not the map that this app pushes.
I'm using the standard Google Maps API, which works on Chrome and Safari and Firefox. The one thing that the site does rely on is JavaScript, so perhaps the problem is that JavaScript is not enabled in Dolphin? Or for that site? Perhaps I have to add a <noscript> warning to allow JavaScript?

One niggle other than the fun factor, doesn't finding lamp legs mean we have to peek into other people's houses to see if there's a lamp leg visible?
No, not at all. Most people who own a leg lamp display it proudly in the front window, so you should be able to view it from a public location. And those are the only sightings we want. If someone has one in their home but it's not visible from the street then there's no need to report it. The goal is only to show those leg lamps that others can also visit.

And as you have so helpfully noted, this is covered in more detail in the About page, which you can get to by pressing the big button "Find out more..." (or just "About" on smaller screens). But I note that the "Privacy" page is incomplete, so I'll flesh that in a bit more to be clearer. Suggestions for improvement of both are welcomed.
5) Message boards : Announcements : New distributed data project (Message 9270)
Posted 2104 days ago by Profile Wormholio
Not sure what legitimate purpose this could be put to other than maybe better targeting of local advertising?

The purpose of this is for fun.
6) Message boards : Announcements : New distributed data project (Message 9268)
Posted 2104 days ago by Profile Wormholio
Yeah, "Please enable Location Services for your browser". This will enable the GPS on your phone, something that I have set to off by default. Do you know how much battery that eats? Nothing said about my phone then logging everywhere I go. Privacy certainly doing a bye bye. Sorry, I value my square meter of the raft, y'all don't need to know every minute what I spent it on.

The way it works in both iPhone and Android is that it only reports your location if you let it. Each time a web page tries, and you are at a different location, it asks, and if you say no it can't get your location. The "app" won't work without the location, but you have a choice. Just enabling location services in the browser does not automatically report your location continuously, and you have to agree to release your location for each new web page.

In addition, this "app" does assign a unique device ID to each mobile device, but it does not record anything else about you, only the location of the sighting (and possibly the size of the Leg Lamp, but that is optional). I've tried hard to balance privacy interests with the need for data to make it function.

But as always, you are free to participate or not. And I want to make sure everyone knows what they are agreeing to (and not), so this is helpful feedback for me, and it reminds me that I need to improve the "Privacy" page which explains this. Thanks.
7) Message boards : Announcements : New distributed data project (Message 9264)
Posted 2105 days ago by Profile Wormholio
Ahoy, Avast, and seasonal greetings to the crew of this scurvy bucket, or at least those few who remain on board. We have been adrift for quite a while now, and I'm afraid that may well continue. But I will confess to chumming the waters just now to get the attention of those still onboard.

This year I have set up a new "distributed data" project for the holiday season. It uses your mobile web browser to help locate valuable treasure. You'll find it at http://www.LegLampLocator.com. As an added bonus you will get a small view of the world from inside the captain's cabin (and the captain's own small prize).

We have an international crew, so I'm not sure if everyone here knows why leg lamps are considered to be such great treasures. They are indeed rare, though less so now than before. They are a part of the holiday season for some because of the classic film A Christmas Story, which was based on a collection of stories by Jean Shepherd. You may enjoy the whole movie (it will be on cable TV 24/7 on christmas) but this relevant clip tells this part of the story directly.

So lookouts to the mizzentops, and all spyglasses deployed! Keep a keen eye open as you drive past the holiday lights, and if you be so lucky as to find one, be sure to mark it. If you are lucky enough to have one marked nearby then go and verify that it's actually there, and mark it too if indeed it is. (This bit of the project is similar to having two machines crunch a workunit to verify that the work was actually done and done correctly.)

And spread the word. This won't work without the help of many more than this small crew. Happy holidays and good hunting!
8) Message boards : Announcements : Mechanical Turk (Message 9245)
Posted 2260 days ago by Profile Wormholio
I figured I would ask, just now slower to gather my Silver Pieces of Eight.

I like tricky puzzles, and this was certainly a good one. I was able to solve it by adding a function to focus on the input field, and having it invoked 1 second after the page loads. If the 1 second delay slows you down we can try shorter, but this shows that the functionality can be restored.
9) Message boards : Announcements : Mechanical Turk (Message 9243)
Posted 2262 days ago by Profile Wormholio
I assume that Recaptcha has changed something, but in the past when the Mechanical Turk page appeared, the cursor would automatically select the text input field, that doesn't happen any more. I have to click the box every time, slowing down my quest for Silver Pieces of Eight!

More bit-rot on this old bucket.

I looked into this and tried to fix it, but there is no quick fix. It seems that sometime in the past year Google (who now run the ReCAPTCHA service) got many complaints about how the captcha was taking the focus on any page it was in, even if it was just at the bottom to allow people to add comments to a news site or similar. So they made changes, which don't just take the focus, but specifically unfocus that input box. There may be a way around this, but my initial attempts at it were not successful. Sorry.
10) Message boards : Number Crunching : work wont download !!! (Message 9158)
Posted 2922 days ago by Profile Wormholio
The problem seems to have been in the file names for the now separate graphics app for the screensaver. By adding a soft link I was able to make the file available under both names.

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