Monthly Archives: March 2016

TeXlive install process, or developing an intelligent download timer: Part 1

I recently got a new laptop and during the process of setting up to my preferences, I install LaTeX through TeXlive. This means a massive download of many small packages that get included in the LaTeX install. In effect, this is how all software downloads go, many small parts that make up the whole. Installing TeXlive on Linux gave me the chance to actually see the report of the download, and of course to save it and plot it up after completion. Here is what the data output to the console looks like during install:data

After 3 downloads, the installer makes a prediction of the total time, and then reports the elapsed time against predicted time, along with some information about the current download. If we take this information for all 3188 packages and parse it apart for the desired information, we can plot the actual time, versus predicted time, so see how the prediction performs over time.timeseries

There are some pretty large swings in the predicted time at the beginning of the model, but by about 25% of the total download by size, the prediction becomes pretty stable, making only minor corrections. The corrections continue until the very end of the downloads.

Download time prediction is a really interesting problem to work on, since you are attempting to control for download speed which is largely dependent on things outside the realm of the personal computer and is likely to vary over timescales longer than a few minutes. I’ll be making a few posts about this topic over the next months, culminating with what I hope is a simple, fast, and accurate download time prediction algorithm. More to come!

Gastroliths in the Morrison Fm

I’ve recently returned from a trip to New Mexico for the field methods class of which I am a TA. It was an awesome trip and great experience for me in teaching, but that’s another story. The field area we work in is within the Jurrassic Morrison depositional basin (active roughly during the Kimmeridigan ~157-152 Ma). Within the Morrison Formation is the Brushy Basin member (abbreviated Jmb), renowned for the abundance of dinosaur fossils found within the rock unit. Jmb is found within our field area, so I told the students to keep an eye out for any good finds when walking with the unit.

Although Jmb has an abundance of fossils, we didn’t find any. BUT, the Morrison is also famous for its bounty of another paleontological tool, the gastrolith. Gastroliths are interpreted as stones that dinosaurs would ingest in order to aid with breaking down food and aiding in digestion. A gastrolith may be more generally defined as “a hard object of no caloric value (e.g., a stone, natural or pathological concretion) which is, or was, retained in the digestive tract of an animal” [1].

There are gastroliths all over within the Jmb, some small, and some larger. Below are three photos of the “best” gastrolith I found on our trip.

gastrolith3 gastrolith2 gastrolith1

Gastroliths are often recognized by their very smoothed and polished appearance (some other examples here). I suppose that to be certain my rock is a gastrolith, and not simply a rock polished by water or wind, it should be found in association with the remains of the animal it was within. Regardless, I’m really glad to be able to add a rock with such an interesting back-story to my collection.