Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Why I'm using gmail #0

With this post, I want to begin to put down on paper (so to say...) a short list of reason that lead me to slowly lean to Google mail (the now really famous Gmail service) as the preferred choice for my email communication, slowly but constantly abandoning other viable alternatives, many of which I adopted for long time.

I was somewhat pushed into this, from personal "ruminations" after a diffused dibate that took place in my Observatory  in several occasion, where my position (with an interestingly wide spread of different approaches) is  now shared among a good number of other researchers.

Since its first apparence, Gmail was rightly considered as "innovative" for a good number of reasons, ranging from the more technical aspects (for example, the interface carachterized by a judicious use of AIAX and other emerging technologies) to end on the more social aspects (the pecuiliar conversational model, etc...). As a consequence, the choice of talking about Gmail, far from being reductive and restricted to a particular brand or service, can easily became  (in my humble opinion) an occasion to talk about the "modern web" in a variety of its more aspects.

These posts came as an (imperfect) traslation of a series of little messages I am writing in italian in another blog. Instead of making a long post here (with a long series of grammatical errors... since English is not my first language!) I have choosen a different approach, i.e., to breack up the list of reason in a series of little "pills" to be hosted (also) on my compainion blog signal2noise (s2n). This also with the aim to explore a little bit a  form of expression expecially suitable for Posterous platform (yes, I'm addicted to web techology and services, no doubt!)

Well, at this point, I'd say that the scenario is well defined. Next post will deal with a first "motivation" for my adoption of Gmail. In passing, if you like the idea and want to add your two cents, just drop a message to s2n@posterous.com :-)

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Stellarium, the sky inside your computer

Two new versions in just a few days: I'm talking about the popular software named Stellarium , which lets you explore the heavens, taking advantage of a large database that includes more than 600,000 stars (with extra catalogs of more than 120 million items!), with the representation of the constellations, images of nebulae (full Messier catalog), realistic representation of the Milky Way, planets and satellites. Stellarium also includes realistic effects of sunrise and sunset, zoom controls telescope, and much more ... 

...  Briefly, there are so many interesting features that even those vaguely fond of astronomy can be convinced to try it!

ce of the planets above ESO headquarters, nearThe dance of the planets above ESO headquarters, nea
The dance of theplanets above ESO headquarters, near Munich.
The dance of the planets above ESO headquarter, near Munich
 Credits: Stellarium website

Version 0.10.3 has been released on 29 of January, with new features like plugins that allow to predict the position of artificial satellites, and a database with constellation for twelve different cultures.. and many other thinks that you'll be glad to discover by yourself ;)

Version 0.10.5 has been released just some days ago; it features the correction of a lot of bugs, a reduced loading time and other improvements.
Stellarium is available for all the major operating systems (Windows, Linux and Mac OS X), it's free and open source. Binary packages for Ubuntu 10.04 are now also available from their website. Could you ask for more...?

Stellarium website is www.stellarium.org