1. 2020

    November update: Fun with Docker

    In honor of November, which used to be my NaBloWriMo (“National” Blog Writing Month), I’m determined to exceed my usual output of zero posts per month.

    A haphazard introduction to Docker

    My latest hobby project has been changing this website to use Docker. For anyone who doesn’t know, Docker is a containerization system, which means that it lets you run programs in their own individual “containers” that prevent them from interacting with other programs running on the same computer (except when you specifically allow it). For example, a file stored in a container is typically accessible only within that container, each container has its own set of network ports to send and receive communication, and so on. Containers are a lot like virtual machines, but whereas a virtual machine runs an entire operating system — that includes a kernel plus any number of programs — Docker runs only one primary program in each isolated environment, and when that program needs a kernel to do something like reading data from a file, it uses the underlying host system’s kernel. So you might think of containers as “partly-virtual machines”.

    The isolated environment of a container works the other way around, too …

  2. 2017

    New site!

    I’m back! After lots of work improving the theme and the implementation of my website, I’m getting back to regular blogging!

    Most of the site looks pretty similar to how it did before, but there are some significant changes under the hood.

    • I’ve converted almost the entire site from my homebrew content management system (Modulo) to the static site generator Pelican, omitting only a few pages that that mostly involve dynamic content. I’ll keep the old site active until I get everything converted. This will make it a lot easier for me to write blog posts.
    • I switched web servers from CherryPy, which is designed for dynamic sites implemented in Python, to Caddy, which is designed for mostly-static sites. Caddy also provides an easy way to enable HTTPS, which is long overdue for my site.
    • I’ve converted the math in blog posts to use MathJax, which looks way cleaner than the LaTeX-generated images I used to have.
    • I have a new icon, a simple design with three circles that fits right in with the site’s theme.
    • The design is now responsive and adapts to mobile browsers better. This still needs some work but at …
  3. 2016

    Coming up: a week as @realscientists

    I’m back, with a big announcement: next week I’ll be curating the @realscientists Twitter account!

    @realscientists is a rotating-curator account, which means that every week, a different person takes over the account to post about their work and life and anything else of interest to Twitter. Some weeks they have a traditional academic scientist posting. Other times it’s a journalist, author, policy maker, an industry scientist, or anyone else who is involved with science.

    Tweeting for @realscientists is kind of a big deal: the account has more than 35 thousand followers! I’ve wanted to do this for a couple years, though I didn’t apply until just recently… for reasons that seem kind of silly now. As luck would have it, the original curator for next week had to cancel, so I get to step in at the last minute. Props to the Real Scientists mods for getting everything ready in about 3 days.

    I’m really glad I got the chance to do this before leaving China. As far as I can tell, there’s never been a Real Scientists curator from China before — probably not surprising, since Twitter is blocked by the national firewall …

  4. 2015

    Technical problems this summer

    It’s been a while since I updated the blog — I’ve been busy, but there have also been some technical problems with the site, so I couldn’t put up blog posts until I fixed them. I’ve got a lot to report about my adventures traveling over the summer, though! More to come soon.

  5. 2015

    Checking in after a busy semester

    Greetings, readers!

    I’ve been absent from the blog for a while for a few different reasons — between some issues to deal with in my personal life and a bunch of projects for work, I haven’t been able to focus on a blog post for about six months. But I thought that streak has gone on long enough. Here’s a quick status update:

    • My group has put out a paper, which was just accepted for publication into Physical Review D! This paper is a generalization of the same calculation I did for my PhD thesis, which I’m 2/3 of the way into a series of posts explaining. The third post is coming at some point, I promise.

    • I’ll be traveling to two conferences to talk about this paper. First, the Rencontres du Vietnam workshop on heavy ion physics, held at the brand new International Center for Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (PDF), which is taking place next week. This is the first time I’ve been invited to present at a real conference! The venue also looks amazing.

      (image from the Rencontres 2014 website, all rights reserved)

      When the official schedule includes time for “Beach and …

  6. 2015

    A look back at 2014 on the blog

    Every New Year’s Eve I do a review of my favorite blog posts from the past year. And normally I have too many good physics posts to make a top 10 list like so many other sites seem to do. But not this year. It’s been a pretty quiet year for blogging, especially for physics blogging (unless you count that one really big blog post they call a dissertation).

    Therefore, New Year’s resolution #1: write more blog posts about interesting physics. This is one I actually think I can keep.

    For now, here is a short list of my favorites out of the 32 blog posts I wrote this year.

  7. 2014

    Website back up

    Hooray, it works again! It took about 3 days of frantic hacking in the free time I had left over from research, but my website is back up and working properly (so it seems) on the new server. More blog posts to come, when I have time. Soon, I promise.

    That is all.

  8. 2014

    Switching servers

    The (virtual) computer this site runs on is showing its age, so I’m switching over to a newer one within the next day or so. Just so you know in case you have any trouble accessing the site.

    While I’m on the subject, kudos to Linode for having a very solid migration plan and for making continual upgrades to their hardware while lowering prices. The new server costs about a third as much as the one I’m using now.

  9. 2014

    A return to blogging

    It’s been three months since my last blog update. Writing a dissertation really doesn’t leave time for anything else! Thankfully, it’s now done, so I can get back to posting cool physics stuff any day now.

    In other news, this fall is the 10th anniversary of ellipsix.net! I started this site a decade ago, just after starting college, because I wanted a little project to tinker with building dynamic websites. Hopefully I’ll have time to put some special content up to commemorate the occasion.

    For now, I’ll be at the meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Section of the American Physical Society this weekend. I’ll be posting updates on Twitter if you want to follow.