Saturday, June 1, 2019

Data Science: Astronomy FITS Headers in MongoDB

This is the second post I have about using MongoDB NoSQL databases with astronomical data. If you'd like a refresher about what that means, check out my first post, where I describe how to ingest a custom BrownDwarf class object into these type of databases. Today, we're looking at a more general problem- metadata. Metadata is the information that describes the how, when, where of the data itself. For example, which telescope took the data, at what time of night, for how long, with what filter, etc etc. A lot of this information is encapsulated in the data files itself and, currently, the most commonly used format in astronomy is the FITS file.

In this post, we'll have a look at how we can extract the metadata from a FITS file and load it into our NoSQL database. As before, I provide a Jupyter notebook if you'd like to run the code yourself.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Data Science: Python Dataclasses and MongoDB

Over the past few weeks, I've been playing a bit with some NoSQL databases, in particular, with MongoDB. This is one particular type of database known as a document-store database and it works primarily by saving JSON formatted 'documents'. While exploring this technology and working on some Python code, I realized how easy it is to convert a standard Python class into a dictionary and how dictionaries readily translate into JSON. With this knowledge in hand, a light-bulb went off in my head as I realized I could make use of the new dataclasses implemented as part of Python 3.7 and quickly create a working database with minimal code.

In this post, I'll describe some of the ideas I had in mind while working through this and, if you want to try this on your own, I can point you to this Jupyter notebook where I work out this example.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Book Review: Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

As a fan of Guy Gavriel Kay, I had my eye on Children of Earth and Sky for some time. In fact, my own game-play sessions of the Europa Universalis IV video game, which starts in 1444, had primed me on this period of world history and further fueled my curiosity of this book. Children of Earth and Sky is set roughly 20 years after the fall of the equivalent of Constantinople (in 1453) so I was very intrigued by the setting and eventually picked it up.

Here's the Goodreads blurb on the book:
The bestselling author of the ground breaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay is back with a new novel, Children of Earth and Sky, set in a world inspired by the conflicts and dramas of Renaissance Europe. Against this tumultuous backdrop the lives of men and women unfold on the borderlands—where empires and faiths collide. From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy. The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming. As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world...

Read on for my spoiler-free review.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Book Review: The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi

The Consuming Fire is the second book in The Interdependency series and the sequel to John Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire and continues the story were it left off. I found the first book quite good so once this one came out I made a point to grab it and check it out. My impressions of this sequel are somewhat different from the first, as I'll detail in my review below. So, without further ado, read on to check out my spoiler-free review.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Book Review: God's Last Breath by Sam Sykes

This is the final book in the Bring Down Heaven series by Sam Sykes. This is quite an epic conclusion to what is an exciting trilogy consisting of The City Stained Red, The Mortal Tally, and God's Last Breath. I started reading this book after Sykes' clever marketing strategy on twitter. Even if you only casually follow him, you realize he is a funny character and you end up genuinely curious about his books. It worked and it was worth it; this is some of the best fantasy I've read in a while.

So without further ado, let's get on with the review. As always, I try to avoid spoilers for this particular book, but spoilers for prior books in the series may be unavoidable.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Favorite Books of 2018

It's that time of year again when I look back at what I read in the past year and decide what was memorable or not. This year, I've only managed 11 books missing my goal of 12. I am 50% through my 12th one, though, so I might be able to finish it before the end of the year. According to Goodreads, these 11 books amounted to only 3735 pages making it one of the years I read the least. Mainly this was due to other things occupying my time. I also didn't write a review for everything I read. While I generally enjoy doing that, sometimes I find the process draining and can lead me to artificially slowing down the book while I come up with what to write.

Nevertheless, here are some of my favorite books this year. As always, remember that these are books *I* read in 2018, not necessarily those that were published in 2018.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Book Review: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

I'm a big fan of Sanderson's work, so when there's a new book of his I'll generally pick it up even if I don't know too much about it. Skyward is one such example. The only thing I knew was that it was a take on the "boy with his dragon" story except that it's a girl with her spaceship. Still, knowing Sanderson I knew it would be a wild ride with great characters and an awesome world. I was not disappointed.

Read on for my full review.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Book Review: The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman

This is the third and final book of The Magicians series by Lev Grossman. It has been many years since I read the first two so I didn't remember all the details, just the general gist of things. Still, picking this up after so long was easy enough to do and I don't think I lost much by not remember some of the events of the prior books. I had also recently watched the first season on TV, which I think spans beyond just the first book and helped me remember some of the finer points I had forgotten about.

For my full review, see below. I aim to avoid spoilers for this book, but the other two books may be unavoidable. My readings of the prior books predate my blog, but you can find a brief review of the second book, The Magician King, on Goodreads.