Gaia


It’s been pretty hectic recently. I am in the middle of a major release software release for the Gaia photometric processing pipeline that will include a major overhaul of the DAL. But what has been really a big downer is that I recently learned that our best (and only) engineer is leaving the project at the end of the summer. She joined the project at the beginning of the year and since the very beginning she took care of several key aspects of the project and made significant contributions. But what is really depressing is that she was a very nice person to be working with: easy-going, yet committed and professional but with a good sense of humor. A real plus was that she immediately join in on our traditional Friday pub lunch as well. It did not last very long but it’s been an hell of a ride so far !

The only positive note is that she is leaving for personal reasons and not because she did not like the job (at least I hope so!). So now we are back into the job ads and interviews business and I really hope that by the end of August we will be able to find another suitable candidate to take over from September.

So here I am, still farting around with dodgy code, getting angry at developers who keep committing broken code to the trunk and lingering for a bit of vacation that will never come. How am I coping with all this ?  One of my favorite pieces of stand-up commedy, that’s how ! Enjoy,

Very busy period on both my main work projects: the Gaia mission and the Vista public surveys.

For the Gaia project we have been experimenting a bit with Hbase and Hadoop to deal with the bulk of the observations. Unfortunately we don’t really have the right hardware to carry out some decent stress-tests, but we should still be able to get a rough picture to decide what to do next. We have quite a big hardware purchase coming up and we need to get it right because the budget is tight and the time before launch (Feb/Mar 2012) is closing in. Hopefully by the end of next week we should be able to complete a few test run and compare the results with similar test where all the data was handle by an Oracle 10g database.

For the Vista project I really need to finalize the relational model for the quality control database schema. The main structure is there, but unfortunately some important details of the processing software are not well defined yet so I am struggling a little bit. The implementation uses Hibernate for the ORM and a custom-made framework to configure what information need to be extracted from the astronomical images (FITS files). The design is quite sound although, if I had an infinite amount of time and patience, there are a few loose ends that I would like to improve.

As a side-project (given that I haven’t got enough on my plate) I’ve been playing with some very popular Web 2.0 apps in an unconventional way. I don’t particularly find them that useful or interesting for their original purpose, but I think I can get something useful out of them. And, if you are curious, no, it has nothing to do with useless flashy crap and bodged Apple-wanna-be cover-flow heavy-weight rubbish. Oops, I’m about to get into rant-mode… but it is really too late for this now. I simply get pissed off when I hear people waffle about Web 2.0 apps and then, when you really look at it, all they have done is to display a bunch of images in a fancy and rather user-unfriendly way. Ok, enough ranting for today, I’ve finished my wee dram and it is about time to get some sleep !