Showing posts from May, 2013

What exactly do I do?

I found the last post awfully cathartic, getting thoughts organized so i don't have to keep pondering them in random excruciating order, and keep bouncing back and forth. A few more loose ends to tie up, but one thought from that post reminded me of a question people ask often. What do i do for the telescopes?

To answer that for people who are not software engineers or who haven't dealt with large control systems I usually say that I write and maintain software for two telescopes up to taking data, before the pretty pictures.

So what do I do technically? I will explain it in technical terms and will try to make clear what it actually is in more layman's terms, especially for those esoteric software packages that only a few facilities across the world use.

One aspect of my job is to help maintain hardware, such as racks of computers, switches, VxWorks crates, ethernet connections, serial connections, and random sensors/instruments. Sometimes I get to be a part of installing…

Jobs, Early Success, Early Failure

I have worked at the Joint Astronomy Centre for nearly 5 and a half years, more than a sixth of my life. Just thought of the sixth part... a bit scary to put into perspective. Anyway, there is a possibility of the JAC closing both telescopes in the next year and a bit. This is slightly depressing, okay, with people leaving in droves it is massively depressing.

We are losing funding from the UK and Canada, and the Netherlands has already pulled out. But someone could buy our telescopes. If you are interested check out the JAC at We do have some potential buyers for UKIRT, and hopefully that will go through before the end of September. The JCMT process is ramping up and we should have some idea if anybody wants to buy a sub-millimeter telescope soon-ish.

So how does this affect me? Well, if both telescopes close I am out of a job. If both are bought by one entity then maybe we could continue as "normal" and just have to fired and rehired to work for the new ow…