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Pocket reading list : Week 3.1 of March.

10 Years Over the Red Planet : Space images never cease to amaze me. And the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been sending back amazing images for about 10 years apparently. I mean, they're not just pretty images, there's some awesome science underneath as well but hey, let's start somewhere. This is article by the Bad Astronomer concise overview of what all the MRO has seen over the last 10 years.

VLA Shows Earliest Stages of Planet Formation : One more astronomy news until the next time. One of the theories of solar system formation is that the proto-planetary disk (a dusty disk of material) that surrounds a young star will start forming clumps which will eventually condense enough to form planets. And the Very Large Array (a lot of telescopes which work together to form one very big telescope) observed something like what I described earlier. Read on if you want to know more about where we come from.

Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2016 Results : If you have written code, no matter what language it was in, now matter how long the code was, you would've come across Stack Overflow, the mecca for any and every programmer. Think of this as the state of affairs for programmers.

How Segregation Destroys Black Wealth : A brilliant article on how the blacks in America are still being treated unequally, in this case by real estate agents who prevent well-to-do blacks from moving into good (read white) neighborhoods with proper schools. An eye-opener, to say the least.

Why the German language has so many great words : This is awesome! Language has always interested me but I never bothered putting in any effort to learn new and interesting ones. This article talks about the etymology behind some long (and awesome) German words.

PS : Sorry but I'm doing a terrible job at conveying how good the articles really are but hey, hopefully I'll get better one of these days.

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Animation using GNUPlot

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I've tried doing this using the animate function in matplotlib, python but i wasn't able to make it work - meaning i worked on it for a couple of days and then i gave up, not having found solutions for my problems on the internet.
And then i came across this site, where the gunn-peterson trough and the lyman alpha forest have been depicted - in a beautiful manner. And this got me interested in using js and d3 to do the animations and make it dynamic - using sliders etc.
In the meanwhile, i thought i'd look up and see if there was a way to create animations in gnuplot and whoopdedoo, what do i find but nirvana!

In the image, you see 5 static curves and one dynam…

on MOOCs.

For those of you who don't know, MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Course.

The internet is an awesome thing. It's making education free for all. Well, mostly free. But it's surprising at the width and depth of courses being offered online. And it looks like they are also having an impact on students, especially those from universities that are not top ranked. Students in all parts of the world can now get a first class education experience, thanks to courses offered by Stanford, MIT, Caltech, etc.

I'm talking about MOOCs because one of my new year resolutions is to take online courses, atleast 2 per semester (6 months). And I've chosen the following two courses on edX - Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R Server and Data Science Essentials for now. I looked at courses on Coursera but I couldn't find any which was worthy and free. There are a lot more MOOC providers out there but let's start here. And I feel like the two courses are relevant to where I …

On programmers.

I just watched this brilliant keynote today. It's a commentary on Programmers and the software development industry/ecosystem as a whole.

I am not going to give you a tl;dr version of the talk because it is a talk that I believe everyone should watch, that everyone should learn from. Instead, I am going to give my own parallel-ish views on programmers and programming.
As pointed out in the talk, there are mythical creatures in the software development industry who are revered as gods. Guido Van Rossum, the creator of Python, was given the title Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL). People flock around the creators of popular languages or libraries. They are god-like to most programmers and are treated like gods. By which, I mean to say, we assume they don't have flaws. That they are infallible. That they are perfect.
And alongside this belief in the infallibility of these Gods, we believe that they were born programmers. That programming is something that people are born wit…