Saturday, April 21, 2012

Data: NASA Tournament Lab holds a contest for programmers who can improve access to its data archives

100tb of data! The NASA tournament lab sounds interesting. 

Ars Technica

NASA is using its NASA Tournament Lab on TopCoder to attack its galactic-scale pile of remote mission data. Over the years, NASA has accumulated over 100 terabytes of data from space missions, and the sheer size of the archive makes it difficult to manage the data and make it available.

Anyone can look at the archive at NASA's Planetary Data System website. What NASA would like someone to do is not only make that data more accessible for scientists, but also package it up for non-scientists to access and manipulate. The agency hopes that school children, teachers and parents, game designers, or almost anyone will hit up the database and find more uses for it than solely science. In a practical sense, the more people accessing the database, the better a case NASA can make for its worth to American society.

The prize is up to $10,000 (and the coveted crown for Space Coder of the Galaxy 2012) for "coders, mathematicians and creative thinkers" to brainstorm new ideas for NASA's planetary science data. You can find more details over at NASA's PDS Challenge home page.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Data: City to Allocate $50,000 for Open-Source Data

Raleigh Public Record

Raleigh is talking the talk and walking the open-source walk. In a 6-to-2 vote, city councilors agreed Tuesday to provide $50,000 annually for an open-source data catalog.

The funding will be included in next year’s budget, which will be presented by City Manager Russell Allen next month. Councilor and Technology and Communication Committee Chair Bonner Gaylord, who originally proposed the idea, said the catalog is a necessary step for a more open and transparent government.

City data will be digitally published and made ready for use by city residents, software developers or news outlets. Data can be viewed in a raw form or downloaded so that it could be turned into graphic visualizations, such as maps or graphs. Data could also be embedded into software, like smart phone applications.

On the city’s end, publishing data online could defer public records requests managed by staff.

Allen said his main concern is the ongoing cost of the project, which until Tuesday was not included in budget calculations. He added that there are also issues with ongoing staff costs. There is no intention to hire additional Information Technology staff, which means uploading and maintaining the data will add more responsibilities to current employees.

He said his only argument is the timing of the request; he suggested councilors wait until they have seen the budget and include it in their budget discussions.

Councilor Eugene Weeks agreed that it shouldn’t be included in the budget but discussed as a budget note.

Gaylord said that if the city wishes to move forward with being called an open-source city, then councilors must consider this request as a budget priority.

Councilors Weeks and Thomas Crowder voted against the motion to make the open-data initiative a budget priority.

“I think we should set our priorities first and then manipulate what we feel are our priorities rather than allowing other priorities to supersede those and then we get to fight it out amongst ourselves during the budget session,” Gaylord said.

Crowder said if the city wants to be truly transparent, then the entire budget should be looked at line by line. Crowder said he doesn’t mind discussing this as an item or if it’s included in the budget, “as long as everything is open to scrutiny and review.”

Normally fiscally conservative Councilor John Odom supported the initiative, saying that if the city is going to be a global market then this is a step in that direction.

Odom, Crowder and Mary-Ann Baldwin, expressed some concerns that the move toward open government is happening in pieces rather than seeing a whole plan in place.

Chief Information Officer Gail Roper said her staff has a preliminary timeline of about two to three months for data to be released. But one of the main priorities would be hearing from the public as to what data the community wants readily available.Similar Posts:

Sent with Reeder

Job: ARA is hiring

Folks, a former student of mine has a few job opportunities at ARA locally.



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Christopher Sexton ARA/SED <>

Hi Ben –


Our company is doing some hiring right now, specifically in the group that I work in. If you’ve got any bright students looking for full time jobs after graduation, I’d love to talk to them.


Specifically, I’m involved with the hiring for 3 postings: SED-2012-101, SED-2012-112 and SED-2012-113.


Here’s a short blurb – we’re hiring at a few different levels (junior entry to more experienced).


Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA), a national leader in scientific and engineering research and development, is seeking a staff software developer to join our Decision Systems Group in Raleigh, NC. The selected candidate will develop, code, test, and debug new software or enhancements to existing software under direction from senior developers/engineers. Our development approach fosters communication and collaboration across multiple scientific disciplines, and provides all members of our teams opportunities to contribute creatively to our projects. The successful applicant must have skills in analysis and design of software components in an object-oriented environment. This position supports ARA’s growing work in application development for national vulnerability and event analysis.

 Position Requirements:

  • Understanding of the application development life cycle
  • Proficient with C++, Java, and object-oriented analysis & design (OOAD)
  • Possession of an Active DoD Secret Security Clearance or the ability to obtain one
  • Strong oral presentation and written communication skills

Position Preferences:

  • Knowledge of and experience working in a Scrum and/or XP software development environment
  • Experience developing Qt and/or MFC GUIs
  • Experience using modern software configuration management tools (e.g., Rational ClearCase, SVN, Git)
  • Experience using OpenSceneGraph and/or OpenGL
  • Experience with GIS Toolkits
  • Experience using XML SDKs
  • Experience in physics-based modeling, simulation, or distributed component technologies

Description: <a href=" width="55" />

Chris G Sexton

Staff Software Developer

Applied Research Associates, Inc.

office: 919.582.3300, direct: 919.582.3318



Sunday, April 15, 2012

Viz: Yikes! I thought march was warm. Warmest in 200 years

Frequent outliers aren't outliers. 

Ars Technica

As record temperatures swept through the Midwest and trees bloomed early across the Northeast, lots of talk focused on what an unusually warm start spring was having. The folks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have now crunched the numbers, and found that it wasn't just unusually warm—March was bizarrely hot. With 15,000 record high temperatures set in the US, it was far and away the warmest March in the nation's history, and only a single month—January of 2006—was as far off from the monthly average.

Only one of the 48 contiguous states (Washington) was below normal, and a huge slice down the center of the country was bathed in bright red in NOAA's map, indicative of record high temperatures. The heatwave was partly responsible for moving the first quarter of the year into the top slot of the US record books. The high temperatures also kicked off an unusually early spring cluster of tornadoes in the Midwest.

Neither NASA nor NOAA have managed to do the global monthly averages yet, so it's not clear if our experience was shared by much of the rest of the planet (the US occupies a relatively small fraction of its surface). So far this year, the global means have been pretty mundane. They're above last century's average, but not by a lot, and every month has been above that average since early 1994.

NOAA indicates that it was a specific weather pattern that pushed heat into the central US. One of the key drivers of global temperature, the tropical Pacific's surface temperatures, remain in a cooler, La NiƱa state, so it's unlikely the rest of the world shared in our warmth.