Goodbye and Thanks for all the Fish!

July will be my final month working at NASA Ames Research Center. It has been a great run working under the ill-defined job title as “Geospatial Software Architect”. I’ve gotten a chance to work as Software Dev, a Principal Investigator, and most recently as a Flight Software Lead on a new robot for the ISS called Astrobee. I’m leaving this comfortable blanket I’ve had within NASA for 6 years for a chance to do computer vision at Google for Project Tango. Something I find exciting and terrifying, but I view this as an opportunity to learn ever more.

Despite this new opportunity I feel like I’m leaving my baby, Ames Stereo Pipeline (ASP). Honestly, though, I’ve been doing less and less with ASP for a while now. Oleg has been lead developer for quite sometime. Under his guidance the software has gotten more features that everyone wants and more people have started using it for Earth Science. Clearly Oleg is doing a great job! Recently another coworker, Scott, has started improving ASP as well. With those two on the job, I feel like ASP will continue to grow.

I’m extremely proud that a community has developed around ASP. I’m also grateful to APL UofW and the PGC for putting faith into the software. Their time spent using ASP, requesting changes, and offer solutions to bugs has made ASP a product worthwhile. I’m sad I won’t get to be involved anymore or at least hear about what new applications scientists have thought up. My time involved developing ASP was wonderful and was perfect for honing my skills. I hope others can do the same through the use and understanding of how it works.

Thank you ASP users and the Intelligent Robotics Group. It was fun!

Loud Bangs were Heard

A few friends and I own and operate a pair of vending machines at our local Hacker Dojo. This was a way for us to pay for our shared radios, antennas, trips, and other whatnots. This has for the last 6 months been pretty easy going. I just have to restock the machine every Saturday morning. We had our first hiccup tonight when I got the following email:

Just got a coke from the vending machine, and it was a slushy. “Boiled over” after I opened it. :/ There’s also soda muck on the bottom of the delivery tray, so I think someone else may have gotten a burst can.

More ominously, a member mentioned that the “Monster machine was making monster noises.”

Turns out that the refrigeration in the pop machine doesn’t really have a thermostat. It just has a power a setting. With the recent drop in temperature outside plus the fact that our pop machine was only a third full, this provided a situation where the cans managed to freeze and the explode slushy everywhere.

It actually wasn’t too bad to clean up. It was just more of a panic to figure out where the mop was and figure out how to remove all the pop from the ice and slushy. Unfortunately it means it will take me longer to restock the vending machine this Saturday. Currently we’re letting the machine defrost to allow all the slushy to unstick from the places I couldn’t see to wipe down. Thank goodness Brian Klug was around to help me find the cleaning supplies.

Planetary Data Workshop

2 Weeks ago I had the pleasure of going to Flagstaff AZ for the Planetary Data Workshop. It was a conference for scientists to express their needs and for engineer types to discuss their solutions. As can be guessed from the name, our topics were the dispersal, the processing, and the tools used for scientific imagery of the planets in our solar system (primarily from NASA’s robotic missions).

I was at the conference to discuss my software product, Ames Stereo Pipeline. I gave two talks and eventually they’ll be available on YouTube. I also gave an hour long tutorial that is now online. It’s the video above. I’m not sure how interesting it is to watch but it was a lot of fun performing the tutorial. I now realize how much of a nerd I sound like. I ended up throwing away my prepared HiRISE and LRO-NAC imagery. The crowd that attended seemed more interested in the mass processing of CTX imagery. I, unfortunately, did not have any CTX data on my laptop. Instead, I asked Fred Calef from JPL for a CTX stereo pair that he wanted processed. To my benefit, ASP v2 processed it autonomously without hassle during the demo! My laptop managed to chunk through the data in 15 minutes. I spent most of the tutorial just talking about the ancillary files and what users can look into to see if their output will turn out all right.

Shooting from the hip for a tutorial could have bitten me pretty badly. But I think ASP really has improved a lot and is ready for mass production environments. I’m trying to push for one for earth polar imagery but there are many more datasets that could have this same treatment. I think that idea became clear to the 30 guests who attended my tutorial. We’ve had an uptick in downloads and I hope that means I’ll be seeing some cool 3D models in the future.

Sidenote:  I found out that Jay Laura from Penn State has a blog going called Spatially Unadjusted. He’s a GIS guy who also uses ASP (Aww yeah). He presented a poster on his experience of using ASP v1.0.5 for LRO-NAC imagery.