Posts

Silence Astronomy and Space Android Apps

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 What's the first thing to do after installing an astronomy or space app on Android? Turn off any alarms and notifications in the app's settings. Although these apps try to be helpful, they are noisy and alert you of interesting celestial phenomena or space events, such as the phases of the Moon, planetary conjunctions, satellite passes, and rocket launches. The option to turn off alarms in the ISS passes screen of the ISS onLive Android app. I learnt it the hard way when alarms in the wee hours of the night showed up on my Pixel 4 XL phone. It turned out an update of the ISS onLive app had set up alarms for International Space Station passes.

The Best Chrome OS Screen Capture Features

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Although the Nimbus Chrome extension is my primary screenshot and screencasting tool, I’m re-discovering the native Chrome OS screen capture functionality . Two features of the latter improve my workflow, the ability to precisely frame the capture area and to save screen recordings in the WebM video format. The Crostini Linux Terminal on my ASUS Chromebox 3. I took this screenshot with the area framing controls of the Chrome OS screen capture tool. When I activate the tool by pressing Shift+Ctrl+ShowWindows and draw the selection rectangle to delimit an area of the screen, clicking and dragging a corner brings up a magnified inset of the area around the mouse pointer that allows the precise adjustment of the selection rectangle . To make the inset show up, I have to release the mouse button after drawing the rectangle, then click a corner. My ASUS Chromebox 3 has a mouse, which allows for fine tuning the rectangle’s size and position. The trackpad or touch screen of my Chromebook req

Why I Use a Chromebox

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Chromebooks are mainstream but many people don’t grok Chromeboxes. A Redditor wondered what’s the point of Chromeboxes and what to use them for, especially high-end units. People seem to assume Chromeboxes are good only as kiosks or for who knows what uncommon use-case. The main unit of my ASUS Chromebox 3. I use a Chromebox because I nearly never need to move my primary desktop device . And I want the most high-end unit I can get my hands on to do the same stuff cheap Chromebooks can do, but faster. Let me elaborate. First off, in 2015 I switched to using Chrome OS exclusively on the desktop . I stopped using traditional desktop operating systems such as Linux or Windows.  Therefore, for me the choice is among the form factors of Chrome OS desktop devices: Chromebook (laptop), Chromebox (fixed desktop system), or Chromebase (think iMac for Chrome OS). I picked up a Chromebox as my daily driver because I work with it at the same desk 99.999% of the time . Since I nearly never need to

Simulating an Eclipse with Celestia for Android

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What would a lunar eclipse look like on the Moon? Closeup of the Earth hiding the Sun in a simulation of the May 26, 2021 lunar eclipse seen from the Moon. With Celestia for Android I simulated the May 26, 2021 lunar eclipse seen from the Moon . I screen-recorded a video on my ASUS Chromebox 3 while the Celestia app simulated the eclipse as seen from the lunar surface in an area near the North pole. Standing on the Moon the phenomenon would appear as a solar eclipse , with the Earth moving in front of the Sun and hiding it. In the video time runs 1000 X faster, from 04:00 UTC on May 26 to 19:00 UTC. The frame has a field of view of about 21° vertically. Notice the surface darkening up to the horizon while the Earth covers the Sun and casts a shadow on the Moon. How to simulate the eclipse Celestia is the best universe simulation software. To create the simulation, I used the Celestia app for Android on my ASUS Chromebox 3 not only because it runs well on Chrome OS but also because a

Python with Replit: A Journey in the Cloud

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Can I use only Replit for all my Python development? It’s what I set out to find. Follow along my journey to coding in Python on Chrome OS only with the tools and resources of Replit . I want to learn to live off the land in Replit; to develop, test, check into version control, run, document, deploy, and host Python code with Replit. I’ll share my experiences in Python with Replit , a blog post series documenting my ongoing efforts. A Python REPL in Replit on my ASUS Chromebox 3. This is not a philosophical quest for cloud purity or a “use only brand X for 30 days” blog challenge. It’s rather the realization of how much my tools shape the way I work. When in Chrome, do as the chromies do. I want Replit to be my main Python environment, figure out how to work around its limitations, and push the boundaries of what it can do. I’m a hobby programmer and a Python beginner, not a professional developer. These constraints define the journey and frame my setup and tooling decisions. Why use R

Explore the Moon and Mars with GlobeViewer for Android

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GlobeViewer Moon and GlobeViewer Mars are interactive Moon and Mars globe apps for Android. These incredible works are the best planetary globes for Android. GlobeViewer Moon for Android on my Pixel 4 XL. Under the hood they share the same rendering engine that combines shading, color, and perspective to present the shape and relief of geological features in a realistic, dramatic way. The camera controls let you explore these worlds from far away or fly close to their surfaces. The views of the Moon and Mars are stunning and educational. The apps come with high-resolution planetary textures based on space images and accurate altitude data of the celestial bodies. You can control the perception of relief by selecting the textures and adjusting the properties of simulated reflected light that determines the visual strength of surface details. 3D model of the north-eastern Montes Apenninus area at the eastern side of Oceanus Procellarum in GlobeViewer Moon on my Pixel 4 XL. Near the c

A NASA TV Still Frame Viewer in Python

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I wrote Spacestills , a Python program for viewing NASA TV still frames. The main window of Spacestills running on Replit. As a hobbyist wishing to improve my Python programming skills, for some time I’ve wanted to work on learning projects more substantial than code snippets , throwaway tools, or short scripts. Spacestillschecks several boxes. The problem domain is one of my primary interests, space exploration. At about 350 lines of code, it’s a non-trivial system with a GUI. It accesses the network to download data from the web. Finally, the program relies on a few Python libraries. About the program Spacestills periodically downloads NASA TV still frames from a web feed and displays them in a GUI. The program allows to correct the aspect ratio of the frames and save them in PNG format. It downloads the latest frame automatically and gives the option to reload manually, disable the automatic reload, or change the download frequency. As a learning exercise, Spacestillsis a basic pro