Greetings. This is just an informal place for me to share some notes. I don’t intend for daily updates, but we’ll see how things go.

I used to make family photo albums. But those can get a little expensive and they are hard to share with remote family. So this is an alternative.

My grandfather had Alzheimer’s. I suspect I will too, eventually, as I’m a chronic insomniac. I’d like to note down certain memories and insights, before I am unable to do so. Someday, maybe these notes will help my focus, if even just for a moment.

As a programmer, one of my greatest honors was having met and briefly worked (one day) with Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup, the creator of C++. But I’m old fashion, thinking in terms of direct hardware access. That still exists, but a lot of modern software developers think in terms of “the web” as their platform. When I got into 3D Printing and played with TinkerCAD online, it finally “clicked” for me that useful applications can be implemented directly in a web page, and you use web-APIs to be your file system. I’m sure this sounds very obvious to folks now, but there was a time when “desktop application developer” meant literally a single desktop (that may not have even been connected to the internet).

My experience is more towards embedded applications type of software, which is basically “software you don’t see.” I did work on GUI software development for a while (VB, Delphi), and I do highly respect the challenges of making good UI/UX. But I’m more of a command line person. Which is then ironic considering that I do like and use the Visual Studio IDE. I had the opportunity once to visit the VS development team, on site in Seattle. This was around 2005 where they were gathering inputs from developers around the industry, to give direct feedback. It was neat watching them compiler VS using VS. What I saw then was a good crew of talented people, and also just normal folks trying to make a product. Microsoft isn’t perfect, but I can’t bad-mouth them, they’re regular folks like us.

Around 2013, I got intro Astronomy as a hobby. The idea that we are beginning to find exo-planets excites me (and we can name them)! The processing capability on just a regular desktop computer is amazing – in terms of being able to pull out incredibly faint images from long-duration digital exposures. It’s a good application of high performance computing, where I sizzle up all the cores doing intense integration of gigabytes of stacked data (collected from a remotely controlled telescope). And the work is relaxing, the universe passes no judgement as you passively collect photons from planets, stars, nebula, galaxies. However, it does become subjective as there is some interpretation to the data (specifically in terms of colors). You will never travel through space and see those objects as you do in the photographs, not with our current eyes they have evolved here on Earth. But the colors are representative of the chemical composition of those objects, so they are “authentic” in that regard.

Anyhow, one of my goals was to have imaged a galaxy from my backyard (which is a “red zone” category of light pollution). Amazingly, with modern processing techniques, I was able to achieve this goal. It took a couple years (of weekends) to hone in the skill, but I was pleased with the result. There are newer telescope equipment called HyperStar, which is expensive and does have certain limitations (such as requiring maybe a 12 or 14 inch scope, which is part of why it is so expensive), but it can get enough signal to image essentially from within city limits. Light pollution is still an overall bad thing, but it’s not like you need to drive 10 hours away from civilization in order to get good quality astronomy photos.

My other hobby is collecting interesting things, like fossils. Mostly this is as something to do with my daughter, and it all started when we found a huge fossil at a stream. In Texas, you can pretty easily find a lot of fossils, but this one in particular is about the size of a volleyball. I also like to collect vintage computers, but I’m at my limit to what I can collect there (in terms of space).

Another hobby is casual reading (mix between function and non-fiction). I don’t use a Kindle, I enjoy paper books and noting interesting pages. One of my favorite and oldest books, a series of magazines really, is The Strand from circa 1900. I suppose “History” in general is my other hobby. I ended up reading a lot because, for work, I ended up traveling a lot of airplanes. Yes we have digital media all around us, but I suppose I’m an old single-core processor: I like to focus on what I’m doing without distraction, to really extract out what is being said and to ponder about it.

Did you know: “blog” came from “weblog.”

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