lunatechian (lunatech-ian)

one relating to, belonging to, or resembling lunatech

How to use flight tail numbers to track flights

This is a useful tool for people to check the status of a commercial flight using the tail number of the airplane, without the need to subscribe to any services. As a passenger, this is useful because you can see where the airplane scheduled to fly you is currently, which can help keep track of delays and cancellations.

The first step is to find the tail number of the flight that you are scheduled to take. Head to the airports page of flightradar24 and get to the page of the airport that you will be flying out of. For example, if you are flying out of Oakland, California, this would be On that page, click the "Departures" tab. This will give a list of flights, along with their tail numbers.

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For example, assuming that you are flying on the 8:05 PM Southwest flight to Reno (WN1282), the tail number is under the "Aircraft" column (N8313F).

Once you have the tail number, you can use to track the schedule, current location, flight path. Just put the tail number into the search box. Another useful tool is, which can show complete airplane details, as well as links to adsbexchange.

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build your own base debian docker image

This is for somewhat paranoid people. I am not a fan of grabbing docker images from docker hub, especially for base OS images. I would rather build my own images, the process is not too complex. Below is the quick way to get a base debian os container build:
sudo apt-get install debootstrap
sudo debootstrap jessie jessie/
sudo sh  -c "cd jessie/ && tar cf ../jessie.tar ."
sudo sh -c "docker import - debootstrap/jessie < jessie.tar"
Now you can check if you have the images:
$ sudo docker images

REPOSITORY              TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
debootstrap/jessie      latest              814d88e17a23        15 minutes ago      274MB

$ sudo docker run -i -t debootstrap/jessie /bin/bash
root@92d078f4f147:/# lsblk ^C

Did Terry Pratchett put a part of himself in Sam Vimes

I was reading Neil Gaiman's eulogy for Terry Pratchett. This part stood out to me:

Terry looked at me. He said: "Do not underestimate this anger. This anger was the engine that powered Good Omens." I thought of the driven way that Terry wrote, and of the way that he drove the rest of us with him, and I knew that he was right.

There is a fury to Terry Pratchett's writing: it's the fury that was the engine that powered Discworld. It's also the anger at the headmaster who would decide that six-year-old Terry Pratchett would never be smart enough for the 11-plus; anger at pompous critics, and at those who think serious is the opposite of funny; anger at his early American publishers who could not bring his books out successfully.

And that anger, it seems to me, is about Terry's underlying sense of what is fair and what is not. It is that sense of fairness that underlies Terry's work and his writing, and it's what drove him from school to journalism to the press office of the SouthWestern Electricity Board to the position of being one of the best-loved and bestselling writers in the world.

This description of Terry Pratchett reminded me of the character Sam Vimesfrom the Discworld series. Vimes is an idealist, but a committed cynic whose knowledge of human nature constantly reminds him how far off those ideals are. Vimes also has a dark side that comes out when Vimes loses control of his anger, especially when he temporarily lets go of "the Beast" (in the novel Thud!).

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revisiting the play Julius Caesar as an adult

I have had to read and take an exam on the play Julius Caesar. This had meant that I was forced to read the play and not see it performed. I had always assumed the play Shakespeare's Julius Caesar to be about the death (and life) of Julius Caesar. I got a chance to see the play performed by OSF and it has led me to question some ideas I had about the play.

Cassius was not Brutus's puppeteer

One of the impressions I had about Cassius was he was the villain in the play and he was the puppeter who was controlling Brutus's opinions about Caesar and inciting Brutus against Caesar. However, as the play progresses, it becomes clear that Cassius was not a scheming villain and he was perfectly happy to give Brutus the role of the leader of the assassination plot. This is very clear when he wholeheartedly agrees to not bring Cicero into the plot.


But what of Cicero? shall we sound him?
I think he will stand very strong with us.


Let us not leave him out.


No, by no means.




O, name him not: let us not break with him;

For he will never follow any thing

That other men begin.


Then leave him out.

The next time this happens is when Cassius warns Brutus to not let Marc Anthony speak


Brutus, a word with you.

Aside to BRUTUS

You know not what you do: do not consent

That Antony speak in his funeral:

Know you how much the people may be moved

By that which he will utter?


By your pardon;

I will myself into the pulpit first,

And show the reason of our Caesar's death:

What Antony shall speak, I will protest

He speaks by leave and by permission,

And that we are contented Caesar shall

Have all true rites and lawful ceremonies.

It shall advantage more than do us wrong.


I know not what may fall; I like it not.

Another scene when this shines forth is the argument that Cassius and Brutus get into at the battlefield and Cassius offers Brutus his sword to kill Cassius. This way the argument ends shows Cassius


Come, Antony, and young Octavius, come,

Revenge yourselves alone on Cassius,

For Cassius is aweary of the world;

Hated by one he loves; braved by his brother;

Cheque'd like a bondman; all his faults observed,

My spirit from mine eyes! There is my dagger,

And here my naked breast; within, a heart


Sheathe your dagger:

Be angry when you will, it shall have scope;

Do what you will, dishonour shall be humour. 

Was the play about Caesar or about Brutus?

The other thing that stands out is that it is a little difficult to say Julius Caesar is the protagonist of the play. A lot of the play centers around the internal struggle that Brutus goes through before and after the assassination of Julius Caesar.  There are monologs where Brutus tries to resolve his doubts about assasinating his friend and a man who trusts Brutus.

One part that stands out is towards the end of the play, when Brutus comments on how good his life has been


My heart doth joy that yet in all my life

I found no man but he was true to me.

I shall have glory by this losing day

More than Octavius and Mark Antony

By this vile conquest shall attain unto.

Even his enemies respected Brutus.


This was the noblest Roman of them all:

All the conspirators save only he

Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;

He only, in a general honest thought

And common good to all, made one of them.

This is in sharp contrast to the life of Julius Caesar who was assasinated by people who were close to him and thought of him as a tyrant. 

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safer browsing using Firefox

I prefer Firefox to be my browser, instead of Google Chrome or Safari. I do not trust Chrome, because it is made by Google, a company which has a strong incentive to collect a lot of data about user's behavior. Chrome also sends what you type into the location bar incrementally to the server to try to guess the URL the user is trying to get to. Firefox is open-source and has shown strong commitment for protecting the user's privacy.

Firefox browser is available on mobile systems as well (Android and iOS), so the same set of extensions and settings can be applied on the desktop and on your mobile device.

The first change I make is to set my default search engine to DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo does not track its users . It also hides the search terms from site that show up in the results (it calls this as preventing "search leakage").

My next step is to install the following Firefox extensions

  • Self-Destructing Cookies - Self-Destructing Cookies is not just a cookie manager, it's a new cookie policy. You set how long cookies from each website will live and this addon enforces your choices.
  • Adblock Edge - Adblock Edge is a fork of the Adblock Plus and it does not have an "acceptable ads" feature. It might be getting deprecated in favor of uBlock Origin. I have not checked out uBlock Origin yet.
  • NoScript - This is one of those extensions that will definitely break a lot of websites. This extension blocks javascript, flash, java and other executable content on websites. You then whitelist the domains that you want to allow to run javascript.
  • Ghostery - Ghostery blocks trackers.

I also make it a point to check the "lock" icon on the HTTPS sites - especially for banks and social media sites.

Even after all this, know that you can still be tracked, your data can still be sniffed. If you want to maintain your privacy and make it harder for companies to profile you, then I strongly suggest you have a look at this interesting video - Anonymity and Privacy in Public Space and on the Internet.

Ceaseless Reinvention Leads To Overlapping Solutions


The elegance of the brain lies in its inelegance.

For centuries, neuroscience attempted to neatly assign labels to the various parts of the brain: this is the area for language, this one for morality, this for tool use, color detection, face recognition, and so on. This search for an orderly brain map started off as a viable endeavor, but turned out to be misguided.

The deep and beautiful trick of the brain is more interesting: it possesses multiple, overlapping ways of dealing with the world. It is a machine built of conflicting parts. It is a representative democracy that functions by competition among parties who all believe they know the right way to solve the problem.

..... And consider the different systems involved in decision making: some are fast, automatic and below the surface of conscious awareness; others are slow, cognitive, and conscious. And there's no reason to assume there are only two systems; there may well be a spectrum. Some networks in the brain are implicated in long-term decisions, others in short-term impulses (and there may be a fleet of medium-term biases as well).

... On a larger anatomical scale, the two hemispheres of the brain, left and right, can be understood as overlapping systems that compete. We know this from patients whose hemispheres are disconnected: they essentially function with two independent brains. For example, put a pencil in each hand, and they can simultaneously draw incompatible figures such as a circle and a triangle. The two hemispheres function differently in the domains of language, abstract thinking, story construction, inference, memory, gambling strategies, and so on. The two halves constitute a team of rivals: agents with the same goals but slightly different ways of going about it.

Part of the importance of discovering elegant solutions is capitalizing on them. The neural democracy model may be just the thing to dislodge artificial intelligence. We human programmers still approach a problem by assuming there's a best way to solve it, or that there's a way it should be solved. But evolution does not solve a problem and then check it off the list. Instead, it ceaselessly reinvents programs, each with overlapping and competing approaches. The lesson is to abandon the question "what's the most clever way to solve that problem?" in favor of "are there multiple, overlapping ways to solve that problem?" This will be the starting point in ushering in a fruitful new age of elegantly inelegant computational devices.

Dark side of start-up acquisition

Quoting from a news article about a recent startup acquisition in Bangalore:

On the very next day after the acquisition, as many as 20 of the firm’s 50 employees got pink slips from the company, according to a report. The people asked to leave were employed in project management, engineering, user interface, testing and marketing. The reason cited by one of the employees was that the company no longer had suitable roles to offer to the employees.

The lay-offs highlight a dark side of the start-up culture in India, where initially high-profile acquisitions grab headlines, but not much is said about what happens after these deals transpire.