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SIENews

The newsletter of the SIE de Investigación y Enseñanza N. 5 - February 2006

Renewal of IDL licences

Every three years or so, the renewal of the IDL licenses causes anxiety and nightmares in the people in charge of it: will RSI increase two or threefold their price? Shall we have to reduce drastically their number and have users fighting one another to get hold of one of the few IDL licences? Fortunately, we can sleep the sleep of the just for three more years, as the IAC was able to reach a satisfactory agreement with RSI: we will keep the same total number of licences we have now (a little less than one hundred) for just a moderate increase in price. Thanks are due to the people in the SIC who carried out the negotiations with the RSI sales managers.

Withdrawal/reallocation of workstations, and scratch disks

Every year, about 25 new users join the Research and the Graduate Studies Divisions, and as many (or perhaps not quite as many) leave. And every year, tens of new workstations are bought to replace aging ones. All this means that older machines are withdrawn, newer ones can be reassigned to new users, and we (SIE and SIC) can not ensure that data in their scratch disks (often cluttered with directories and files from too many current and past users) are backed-up or copied over to a new location. Please Remember: users are responsible of their own data. If you think you have data in machines that do not belong to you or to your research group, now is the time to check them out and move them over to your own scratch disk or save them on a tape, DVD or other suitable media. Not doing so, you do risk that your data are wiped out and lost forever. Of course, the SIE and the SIC are always available to answer your questions and help you out.

Install SIE's software in your laptop yourself

So far, the whole process of installing astronomical software in a laptop has been somewhat cumbersome: the users bring us the laptop, wait patiently till we tell them it's done (which, depending on our general workload, may take hours or days), come back to retrieve the laptop, etc. So, to help you get this done speedily and to relieve ourselves of a small burden we have placed in our web a page describing how you can install many astronomical packages yourself: http://www.iac.es/sieinvens/SINFIN/Linux/InstallSoftwareLaptop.html. It is very easy, provided you read and follow the instructions.

Users' pictures in the SIE computers database

As you may already know, the SIE maintains a database of users and computers in the Research and Graduate Studies Divisions, together with maps of their location: http://carlota/cdb. Clicking on the username a small card shows up, which includes a passport-like photo. If your photo is not yet available (as is likely the case for those who joined recently the IAC), just send us a suitable picture and we'll add it to the database. If, on the other hand, for whatever reason you don't like your photo to appear in our Web, just tell us and we'll remove it.

The International Obfuscated C Code Contest

Writing well structured code, with a consistent use of indentation, clear syntax, short statements, and lot of descriptive and informative comments, is (or should be) the "first commmandment" of every programmer. However, not all programmers know about the IOCCC, where skilled coders compete to write the least understandable (but which can perfectly compile and run) C program. From the winners of the last years, we find the following programs specially amusing: http://www.es.ioccc.org/2004/newbern.c, http://www.es.ioccc.org/2001/herrmann2.c, http://www.es.ioccc.org/1996/eldby.c, http://www.es.ioccc.org/1994/shapiro.c.
SIE de Investigación y Enseñanza :: N. 5 - February 2006 - Contact: