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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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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They’re our servants, tools

"You can see that our real problem is another thing entirely. The machines only do figuring for us in a few minutes that eventually we could do for our own selves. They’re our servants, tools. Not some sort of gods in a temple which we go and pray to. Not oracles who can see into the future for us. They don’t see into the future. They only make statistical predictions—not prophecies. There’s a big difference there, but Reinhart doesn’t understand it. Reinhart and his kind have made such things as the SRB machines into gods. But I have no gods. At least, not any I can see."

The Variable Man, by Philip K. Dick

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mysql startup debugging tip

If you are not able to start the mysql daemon repeatedly using your linux distribution init scripts and you are ready to pull out your hair in frustration, here is a tip that might help you in finding the problem.

Try running the mysqld_safe from the command line (without using the init scripts). Try running /usr/bin/mysqld_safe -v, which should spit out some debugging information.

If that fails, try calling the mysqld daemon directly from the command line, with the "-v" option . mysqld is usually present under /usr/sbin/mysqld. mysqld can be called with --print-defaults to get the command line options it would be run with.

/usr/sbin/mysqld would have been started with the following arguments: --user=mysql --pid-file=/var/run/mysqld/ ..... --max_binlog_size=100M

Try adding the -v option to these options to get more verbose details. When run from command line, mysqld will not detach from console and will print debugging info that might be useful in finding the cause of the error.

I suggest using 3 terminals to figure out what is going on

  • one terminal with tail -f /var/log/mysql/mysqld.err
  • one terminal with tail -f /var/log/messages
  • one terminal where I ran the mysqld_safe / mysqld command

The init scripts are usually good for day to day work. However, sometimes the init scripts can impede a innodb crash recovery process on a large database. Some init scripts have timeout built into them and they can kill mysql while the innodb is still trying to recover its tables.

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Humor in the bookstore

"Atlas Shrugged" placed in the Humor section in the bookstore. The book on the left is "Undateable" and on the right is "11002 things to be miserable about". I salute the joker who did this - I liked the joke.
Humor in the bookstore

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Yoda was supposed to be a monkey

When George Lucas and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan decided to make the ancient Jedi at the heart of Luke's spiritual journey into a two-foot tall, pointy-eared alien, it wasn't clear how the character could actually be realized on screen using 1980 technology. At the time, animatronic technology wasn't thought to be advanced enough to pull off Yoda. .... they decided to try putting a trained monkey in a Yoda costume, including a full Yoda face mask. Rinzler showed a picture of the monkey on set, but he explained this idea was quickly abandoned when one of the people who worked on the primate scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey pointed out "Look, the monkey's just going to pull off the mask over and over again. It's never going to work."

In the picture, a monkey is outfitted with a cane and a mask and measured. The simian was also briefly considered for walking shots of Minch-Yoda that would have been impossible to execute with a puppet.

Pic taken from Vanity Fair

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