29 Apr 2015 code

I just upgraded this VPS from Debian Wheezy to Jessie. The upgrade went pretty flawless, excpet some minor issues with postgres and the new bad systemd smell.

However, if you are running NGINX + PHP5-fpm, you may want to read the news that gets displayed during the upgrade:

nginx shipped a modified `fastcgi_params`, which declared `SCRIPT_FILENAME`
fastcgi_param. This line has now been removed. From now on we are also
shipping fastcgi.conf from the upstream repository, which includes a sane
`SCRIPT_FILENAME` parameter value.

So, if you are using fastcgi_params, you can try switching to fastcgi.conf
or manually set the relevant params.

After the upgrade, I was getting blank responses from nginx for all php scripts. No errors in nginx or fpm logs. After re-reading the news above, the following fix worked for me:

In /etc/nginx/sites-available/* change

include fastcgi_params


include fastcgi.conf

Hope this helps anyone in need.

Flammarion Engraving

I created AstroChallenge to scratch my own itch: to have a place to keep an observation journal for astronomy and to share it with the rest of the community. In that I believe I've succeeded, check out my profile and journal.

Since then the word has gotten out and other astronomers have been logging their own observations. Now, only 2 weeks after making AstroChallenge public, over 100 observations have been logged! I want to thank everyone who has helped me make AstroChallenge awesome by providing great feedback and ideas.

It's been a fun project so far and I look forward to seeing where it goes from here. Most of all, I wish everyone clear skies! Keep looking up.

26 Mar 2015 other

The following is a excerpt from the book I am currently reading by Richard Feynman, Surely You Must be Joking, Mr. Feynman! that I found amusing.

Well, Mr. Frankel, who started this program, began to suffer from the computer disease that anybody who works with computers now knows about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is you play with them. They are so wonderful. You have these switches--if it's an even number you do this, if it's an odd number you do that--and pretty soon you can do more and more elaborate things if you are clever enough, on one machine.

After a while the whole system broke down. Frankel wasn't paying any attention; he wasn't supervising anybody. The system was going very, very slowly--while he was sitting in a room figuring out how to make one tabulator automatically print arc-tangent X, and then it would start and it would print columns and then bitsi, bitsi, bitsi and calculate the arc-tangent automatically by integrating as it went along and make a whole table in one operation.

Absolutely useless. We had tables of arc-tangents. But if you've ever worked with computers, you understand the disease--the delight in being able to see how much you can do. But he got the disease for the first time, the poor fellow who invented the thing.

Still suffering to this day!

25 Feb 2015 astrochallenge, astronomy, code

I've spent a good deal of time in the last few days searching for a good library to draw star charts (finder charts) that I could use to integrate with AstroChallenge. While there are plenty of utilities to create star maps, they mostly consist of desktop software or websites that are not open source.


Eventually I found fchart which resembled was I was looking for. A set of python scripts with minimal dependencies that would output star maps! This I could use.

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23 Feb 2015 cartography, code, granitemaps

After much ado, the latest map from GraniteMaps is now available. This map covers 2 distinct areas; The first is Soquel Demonstration Forest, well known in the mountain biking community as having miles of challenging, technical singletrack. The other is the Forest of Nisene Marks which shares a ridge with Demo and provides trail users of all types some of the most pristine redwood forest trails available in California.

This new map is much improved over the last version for Santa Cruz by having a brand new base layer. This is a custom topographic map I designed myself (detailed in this post) which combines OpenStreetMap and SRTM data to create a concise, easy to read map. I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks everyone for your kind words and support! The reception I received for the Santa Cruz map was fantastic, far exceeding anything I could have imagined while creating it!


20 Feb 2015 astrochallenge, astronomy, code

I've been working on new project recently called AstroChallenge. While the details of what exactly AstroChallenge is will have to come later, rest assured, it has to do with Astronomy.

right ascension

One of the bits of information I'm interested in is whether a particular celestial object is visible in the sky or not. Given an observer's latitude, longitude and elevation and an object's right ascension and declination it becomes a straightforward calculation.

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23 Jan 2015 greece

I met Amalia at the Thessaloniki Pythess (Python) meetup (at which I gave one awkward english presentation) which had migrated to a lounge under the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. I thought the museum looked pretty cool, so I decided I would go the next day. I propositioned the group to see if anyone else was interested in joining me, Amalia was the only one brave enough to to say so.


We spent a few good hours at the museum and various other historical points of interest around the city. While walking down some buzzing, narrow street Amalia told me a great story about how it is that Greeks came to find themselves in Greece:

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18 Jan 2015 greece

Here I am in Istanbul (not Constantinople) the city on the Bosporus, the ribbon of land separating Europe from Asia and the Black sea from the Sea of Marmara and thus the Aegean to the East. As my plane glided downward and spiraled towards the glittering city I thought about the Golden Fleece and if it had seen a similar view on it's journey from Greece to Turkey 3 thousand years ago.


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12 Jan 2015 cartography, code, granitemaps

The goal of GraniteMaps is to provide accurate and educational maps for people participating in outdoor activities, so a large part of the project is creating maps that are pleasing to the eye.

The map displayed in granitemaps is actually two layers: the "base map" and the trail layer. The base map is is responsible for displaying the details of the map's area such as land boundaries, rivers/lakes, major roads and elevation. The trail layer is an overlay of the actual trails and points of interest.

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17 Dec 2014 code

My coworker recently complained to me how hard it was to find a simple "Hello World" program in AngularJS. I did a google search and found that indeed, all the simplest examples still asked the user to set up a bunch of boilerplate, file structure, etc.

Here is the simplest Hello World in AngularJS I could come up with, and it still shows 2 way binding:

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