Please excuse the mess.

Over the past week or so, I’ve been browsing WordPress themes over the web. Now, I’ve never been completely satisfied with WordPress. While its dashboard is great when you need to get a blog started, I’ve been finding it increasingly stifling — themes are opaque, the post editor is limiting (needs more Emacs!), and I have a general distaste for the large soup of tags generated for each page.

Today I foolishly tried a new theme, thinking that I could easily revert to my highly mangled Twenty-Fourteen theme at any time. Alas, it appears all the customizations were gone when I tried to do exactly that. Luckily, the new theme (Wilson by Anders Noren) is quite to my liking, and I only had to tweak a few things. I also learnt to create child themes in order to avoid losing my settings in the future.

Still, I feel like it is high time for me to move away from WordPress and its pre-made themes, to a simple static website with my own versioned assets. Jekyll looks like the clear winner — it would be well integrated into my current workflow of simple static HTML and CSS, and it would be easily uploaded on GitHub (automatic backup FTW!). Although I don’t have that many pages up, the idea of migrating all the pages and the posts is slightly daunting, so the migration of the blog will probably occur over a few weeks.

In the meantime, any brokenness on the website is due to the theme switching and will be resolved shortly :)

Systemic wins LIFT award, new version of Systemic (2.17)

I am very happy to announce that Systemic has been awarded the LIFT grant. This means that, together with my colleagues Joel Green and Randi Ludwig, I will be able to work full-time — instead of as a side project — on improving and expanding Systemic, and creating new educational apps like Systemic Live and Super Planet Crash, over the next year!

I am also releasing a new release of Systemic 2 (2.17) which addresses some bugs and improves the documentation for installation on Linux. You can download it now.

Below are some of the changes:

– NEW: ktable function for listing the fit values as a table, suitable for exporting to TeX or HTML
– NEW: Bayesian Information Criterion menu item
– NEW: Quadratic trend term
– CHANGED: Periodograms report the normalized power between 0 < p < 1, where power = 1 is a perfect fit. — This is a bug corrected in 2.172.
– FIXED: bug where the semi-amplitude would be calculated incorrectly for massive bodies. (credit: Trifon Trifonov)
– FIXED: bug in simplex that would crash the application if the minimizer encountered a NaN value.
– FIXED: bug in the GUI that would crash the application in case of excessive text output.
– FIXED: Fixed naming of columns in the matrix returned by kdata().
– FIXED: bug where the radial velocity curve or periodogram would look excessively jagged.
– FIXED: bug in kperiodogram.boot where the function could crash.
– FIXED: bug in kperiodogram.boot where the function would only calculate the ‘full’ periodogram (instead of the periodogram of residuals) for certain inputs.
– FIXED: bug in the GUI periodogram routine, where you could receive an error for certain power spectra.
– FIXED: Kernel plot using plot() respects the chosen xlim.
– FIXED: MCMC would crash in certain situations when set up from the menu.
– FIXED: 1LO-crossval returns the signed sum of logs, instead of the absolute value.
– FIXED: clarified the installation instructions (Readme.txt) for Linux. (credit: Franz Feldtkeller)
– FIXED: you can now choose a path for R that is not /usr/bin/R by selecting Help -> Set path to R…
– FIXED: F-test menu item uses the current kernel instead of the kernel named “k”.
– Various bug-fixes in the plotting routines.

Bugs reported at are unfortunately still open due to lack of time to address them. They will be fixed in 2.18.

Funniest Software Bugs

This is a cute collection of fun software bugs from Michael Tsai’s blog: Funniest Software Bugs.

I incidentally enjoyed learning about the units shell command, a useful utility to convert between units from the command line:

stefano ~$ units
586 units, 56 prefixes
You have: 100 feet/s
You want: km/hr
	* 109.728
	/ 0.0091134442
You have: 30 J/yr
You want: erg/s
	* 9.5066294
	/ 0.10518975

(Its man page informs me that it cannot convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, since it can only handle multiplicative scale changes: boo!).  And what the heck is a fathom?