2008 June 4
I continue to work on ATA-related things without actually trying to obtain new ATA data. There are just too many elements of the system that are in flux right now for it to be worthwhile to observe, in my opinion.
On Monday I gave a short demo of some work I did looking at the reproducibility of fluxes that one can get with the ATA. With the right poking and prodding I can get things consistent to the 5% level, which people seemed fairly encouraged by. But those 5% variations are definitely not just due to the inherent noise in our observations; we have some crazy systematics going on. As always, I wish I could understand them better. I’m doing what I can.
I’m also spending some time working on a “cookbook” for ATA data reduction that will hopefully be useful for people. The idea is to record the standard way of processing such- and-such kinds of data. I think by now I’ve worked with enough ATA data to have some useful contributions to the cookbook.
Unfortunately, my contributions depend on the special analysis programs I’ve written, and they have an enormous learning curve. There’s no chance that a non-computer-guru will want to, or easily be able to, learn how to use them, and because of the number of support libraries my tools require, it takes a fair amount of work to even get them to run at all. So over today and the next few days, I’m basically performing the frustrating task of stripping out some of my favorite features to make my tools 1) easy to run and 2) easy to understand. If the cookbook actually gets used, it’ll be very much worthwhile, but so far there’s been frustratingly little willingness among ATA users to share any of their algorithms or techniques. I’m certainly guilty of that myself a bit, but I feel like most people are a lot less willing to spend time dicking around writing their own programs than I am.
Over the course of the next week, the cookbook will probably take most of my time. I might make a computerized version of a useful little block diagram that I drew of the ATA signal path. I also could look at tidying up a little tool I wrote for checking the status of the ATA from Berkeley, but that ties into some software tasks that could end up taking a fair amount of time to take care of.