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The newsletter of the SIE de Investigación y Enseñanza N. 27 - December-2008 / January-2009

Algorithms and muffins... (a.k.a. programming gym)

At the SIE we have decided to start the new year with a new project, a "sort of" programming course. The goal of the course is not to learn a particular programming language, but rather to become familiar with common programming techniques, algorithms, etc. Given the different skill levels and programming languages used throughout the IAC, we thought that an interesting format for the course would be a weekly problem, which each one can attempt to solve in their own time and with their own tools, followed by a discussion of the different methods used to solve it. The idea is to do it mostly online, with problems being independent of each other so anyone can join at anytime, and keep it running continously so far as there is people interested. The nature and difficulty of the problems will vary, but they will be presented in a similar way to, for example, If you are interested, please reply to the SIEForum thread (http://venus/SIE/forum/viewtopic.php?p=460#460) and we will start right after the holiday season.

Chimera news

Our small (Chimera Cluster) went through some changes in the last weeks. The most important one (which happened at the end of July, just as Angel was getting ready to leave, so the news could not make it for our last SIENews) is that 48 new processors were added (going from the previous 64 CPUs to the current 112 CPUs). These new machines were bought by individual projects, so they have higher priority, but everyone can use them. As a smaller note, we had to implement automatic deletion of files in one of the file systems of the cluster (the /scratch partition) because it was getting full (information about it was duly sent to all the users of the cluster, so nobody lost any information).

Webtools for research projects sites

To allow research projects to create, modify and maintain their websites with minimal effort, we have developed a simple template based on the WebSiteBaker CMS, the same one we also use for workshops and conferences (examples: the EST project, or the "Cosmology Across Cultures" Conference). It permits to create basic websites very quickly, but at the same time it also allows users with a more enterprising attitude to develop richer, more structured sites. If this appeals to you, please get in touch with us to learn more about it and get started.

Software updates

In the last few months not much software update activity has been going on. Perhaps the most important update has been IRAF, now version 2.14.1 (see for details). The upgrading of other important packages, such as python, starlink, HEAsoft and PyRAF, is being held on as it's not straightforward to install and configure them to work both in RHEL 4 and Fedora 8 (the present mix of O.S. at the IAC), so we prefer to wait until all the Linux PCs have been migrated to Fedora 8. However, if you do need a higher version of some software package, please let us know and we'll do our best to accomodate your request. We also remind that all the software package updates (with the possible exception of some specialized packages of very limited scope and interest) are duly listed in our Website:

Perl script to check unused references in LaTeX

Papers for ApJ, AJ and other journals using the AASTEX package make use of the \bibitem-\cite scheme to handle references and citations in the text. While LaTeX will warn you if you try to cite a paper not in the bibliography list, there is no easy way to check what papers in the bibliography are never cited in the text. Do you have the same problem, and want to know how to solve it? Then please read our latest SIEpedia article:
SIE de Investigación y Enseñanza :: N. 27 - December-2008 / January-2009 - Contact: