Philip P. Ide

Author, programmer, science enthusiast, half-wit.
Life is sweet. Have you tasted it lately?

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Another Day

A busy day today. I had an interview for a job today, so fingers crossed. Orbital Calculator got some attention too: I added the ability to have escape velocities output in km, metres or miles (per second) in the Gravity and Motion calculations - previously, output was just in km/s. I've tested and compiled and tested again, and I'll zip up the various releases and upload them to this site tomorrow (actually, later today - it's nearly 3am!).

I also spent the day upgrading my alternate desktop from Ubuntu 18.04 to 20.4. No, let me correct myself there - it refused to upgrade because of a broken python3 symlink that I had no idea how to fix. This was what started a whole world of pain and agony.

HP Shennanigans

The computer is an HP Pavilion, one of the clear signs that Hell exists right here on Earth. I downloaded an ISO from the Ubuntu site and flashed it to a stick, then tried to reboot the machine from the stick. It took several attempts at pressing various keys to try and trigger a configuration menu, and finally got one from F10. I selected to boot from USB and saved, then the system blithely ignored what I'd done and continued booting from the hard drive.

Ho, hum. I rebooted, thinking that it hadn't so need to before the USB boot would take effect, but it still booted from the hard disk. I tried this several times before finaly giving up and turned to my bestest buddy in the whole wide world, and googled “boot menu hp pavilion”. It said F12. Really? Ok, I'll give it a go.

So there I am, tap-tap-tapping away on the F12 key (because the boot sequence is over by the time my monitor wakes up to the fact that it is, in fact, needed), and… whoa! A completely different menu! This one only asks what device to boot from. I select USB and wham! Bam! Thank you ma'am! It's actually succeeded.


KRC is a program I use every now and again. Development on KRC began over 50 years ago at the dawn of the space age, and continues today. Its purpose is to calculate surface temperatures on astronomical objects - initially Mars, but it can be used “for any solid body with any spin vector, in any orbit (around any star), with or without an atmosphere.” (quote from the KRC website).

KRC is downloaded in source form, so it has to be built, and that requires invoking the 'make' utility to make it. Strangely, Ubuntu 20.04 doesn't come with this installed, so *sigh* I install it. I should have guessed what would come next: no C compiler. I install gcc. I take guess and install Fortran, because I know KRC is largely written in it, and then eventually get the make to work and after the build it all works fine.

KRC is one of those programs that requires a set of parameters to defined in a file, and you need at least 3 PhD's and a crate a of single malt whisky to write one. Luckily, I have another buddy who can do it all in a heartbeat: JMars.

KRC is maintained and provided by Arizona State University, and by good fortune, so is JMars. This is a program written in Java which is kind of like Google Earth, but for places like Mars, the Moon etc. This has a feature whereby you can click on the map and it'll create a KRC data point for that location, using the underlying maps to determine slope, elevation, albedo etc. After creating all the data points you want, you can then get it to send the data to KRC and produce nice graphs from the results that come back. The graphs show surface temperature throughout a single day and for the whole (orbital) year.

After doing all this I deserved a break, so I sat down and watched 'Ghosts' and laughed my socks off.

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blog/articles/info/another_day.txt · Last modified: 2020/09/29 02:33 by Phil Ide

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