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November 12 2019 Thought Bubble, Astronomy Project and IT Management Meet

Posted on November 20, 2019
( 5 minute read )

After an exchange of various news items, Bernard mentioned his visit to the Thought Bubble Festival in Harrogate the previous week where a wide range of novel and comic book authors had appeared; Bernard had attended a panel on web comics which had looked at the artistic issues and the technical ones — specifically that web comics do not pay, though it is possible to raise money through patrons or kickstarter funding. There are a couple of web comic platforms but users are at the mercy of their respective companies and might potentially lose everything if the company so decides.

This led into a discussion of the consumer orientation of so many people which leads them to accept and to propagate consumerist approaches rather than to look for collaborative approaches.

Bernard then shared progress on the astronomy project. The building is almost complete and has a horizontally sliding roof which the Raspberry Pi will activate by signalling to the motors.

He has decided to SSH to the Raspberry Pi rather than to the web server as he can find out from the Raspberry Pi if the server is down and he demonstrated how he could access the Raspberry Pi using either a web interface or an ncurses interface.

The server is set to listen to the Raspberry Pi and Redis is used as a short term store with Postgres as the long term store. The Remscope has a presence on Mastodon which Bernard also demonstrated.

He has found it better to separate the different services rather than to have them all on the one server and now needs to decide on whether to have a single user or the option for multiple users on Postgres.

He noted that calculating the exact position of stars is very difficult because of issues like wobbles in orbits and the effects on light travelling over long distances and most programs use data provided by two US websites. However, they had gone offline for six months for an upgrade leaving the programs unable to work; so programmers had had to locate alternative sites for the necessary data.

Responding to a question John had posed about server side scripts, he had used Python for which there are plenty of libraries. For complex work Tony suggested Django and Flask while simple scripts can be done in PHP.

Darren asked about the next part of his OU course which involves IT management using the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) framework. John noted that, under ‘Continual improvement’ is a framework which originated as a framework for developing engineering systems created by the OU Systems Department in the early 1980s and adopted as a framework for continual improvement by the OU Management Department.

There is handout Making things happen on John’s website which contains the original framework and instructions on how to use it. David protested that the diagram goes anticlockwise and John explained that, in systems thinking, the convention is that diagrams go anticlockwise.

In response to a comment about managing databases, John said that it was important to distinguish strategic and operational management; database management is normally an operational rather than a strategic management issue.

One person who sets this out clearly is Stafford Beer, a summary of whose ideas are in another handout Theories of management on John’s website. He identifies two key areas of strategic management and two key areas of operational management all of which are essential for successful management.

Following discussion, it was agreed to schedule a festive meal for Thursday, 12 December 2019 on the grounds that the pubs might fill up after 10 pm.