One Year Later

A year ago, Pasadena and the surrounding communities were layered in smoke and ashes as the huge Station Fire burned acres upon acres.

Fire above JPL

The Station Fire in the hills behind the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Photo by Bill Westphal.

One year ago, this is what the hills above my workplace looked like.

Even though I lived through it, it’s still hard to believe such a monster fire was so close.

The D-Day Piper

I just read an interesting story, an obituary of Bill Millin, who played the bagpipes during the D-Day landing in Normandy.

Millin began his apparently suicidal serenade immediately upon jumping from the ramp of the landing craft into the icy water. As the Cameron tartan of his kilt floated to the surface he struck up with Hieland Laddie. He continued even as the man behind him was hit, dropped into the sea and sank.

Millin was surprised not to have been shot, and he mentioned this to some Germans who had been taken prisoner.
They said that they had not shot at him because they thought he had gone off his head.

Rest in peace.

New Tellico Version

I put together a new version of Tellico, version 2.3, and threw it out for release this past weekend. It is dedicated to my lovely wife, Kim, and we could code-name it, Hot Vegas!

The previous release was back in February, so this one has quite a few bug fixes and some new features. Freebase was added as a data source, which is rather useful. Freebase has tons of info available, and is constantly being updated. It even has some limited comic book information, too.

I messed up some of the links on the download page, so embarrassingly enough, for a few days after the release, the links were broken. Those should all be fixed now!

I also jumped off the deep end and downloaded Choqok and registered on which is something like the open source version of Twitter. Much less popular, so by definition, much cooler! Software nerds use it a good bit, I’ve heard. Anyways, I took the handle stephero. (Strike that, since changed to AstroRobby for uniformity with Twitter.)

One of the primary features I’d like to work on for the next version of Tellico is better statistics. I’m looking forward to working with the KDE plot widgets.

Hubble's Gotchu!

How have I not seen this before? Jimmy Fallon has a recurring sketch by a guy who loves the Hubble Space Telescope. Bashir Salahuddin, a.k.a. “Milky J”, raps about Hubble’s great images.

And Goddard actually invited the Jimmy Fallon crew to come in and see the information about the James Webb Space Telescope. Sheer awesomeness!

Check out all the details of the visit and previous videos from Jimmy Fallon over at
Geeked on Goddard.