A Mesmerizing Model of Monster Black Holes

Just about every galaxy the size of our Milky Way (or bigger) has a supermassive black hole at its center. These objects are ginormous — hundreds of thousands to billions of times the mass of the Sun! Now, we know galaxies merge from time to time, so it follows that some of their black holes should combine too. But we haven’t seen a collision like that yet, and we don’t know exactly what it would look like. 
A new simulation created on the Blue Waters supercomputer — which can do 13 quadrillion calculations per second, 3 million times faster than the average laptop — is helping scientists understand what kind of light would be produced by the gas around these systems as they spiral toward a merger.
The new simulation shows most of the light produced around these two black holes is UV or X-ray light. We can’t see those wavelengths with our own eyes, but many telescopes can. Models like this could tell the scientists what to look for. 
You may have spotted the blank circular region between the two black holes. No, that’s not a third black hole. It’s a spot that wasn’t modeled in this version of the simulation. Future models will include the glowing gas passing between the black holes in that region, but the researchers need more processing power. The current version already required 46 days!
The supermassive black holes have some pretty nifty effects on the light created by the gas in the system. If you view the simulation from the side, you can see that their gravity bends light like a lens. When the black holes are lined up, you even get a double lens!
But what would the view be like from between two black holes? In the 360-degree video above, the system’s gas has been removed and the Gaia star catalog has been added to the background. If you watch the video in the YouTube app on your phone, you can moved the screen around to explore this extreme vista. Learn more about the new simulation here
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Let’s Encrypt Renewal

Yeah yeah, SSL certificates expired like what, a month and a half ago? Anyway, I needed to renew it but it attached a bunch of domains to the certificate on this host and I needed to start over. There are a bunch of options but the most straighforward for me was to just delete everything and start over. So, in the shell:

# cp /etc/letsencrypt /etc/letsencrypt.backup -r
# rm -rf /etc/letsencrypt/live
# rm -rf /etc/letsencrypt/archive
# rm -rf /etc/letsencrypt/renewal/YOURCERTIFICATEDOMAIN.conf
# certbot certonly

At this point it’ll ask you for webroot an’ stuff so just answer the questions and nobody gets hurt. These instructions work for Apache but I’m using NginX, so then you have to edit the configuration for the site(s) in /etc/nginx/sites-available/. There will be a couple lines going like:

ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/OLDCERTIFICATEDOMAIN/fullchain.pem; # managed by Certbot
ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/archive/OLDCERTIFICATEDOMAIN/fullchain.pem; # managed by Certbot

Just update them to point to the most current certification location, then restart NginX with service nginx restart

Ugh, doubles. My personal scourge.

Due to scheduling vagaries at my two jobs I end up working doubles three times a week at the least. And not just regular doubles, but “clopenings”; that is, when you close the night and then open the next day. Never any fun to be had during those days… Specially in the weekends.

I work brunch.


Sooo I guess I’m back on my bullshit

I just picked up another full-time job at a kitchen in downtown. Went and staged today and by the end of it got offered the job. I took it.

That means I now have FOHjob, in which I’m just a wait assistant with nary a chance of moving up the chain; and BOHjob, in which I’m supposed to show up at ungodly hours of the morning and… Do kitchen stuff? I’m not even sure what I’m going to be doing yet.

loud sigh

My issue is going to be scheduling. Oftentimes I end up closing at FOHjob, which will cut into my sleeping time and increases the risk I’ll be late to BOHjob. It’s not a nice feeling…

Never grow up, kids. It leads to situations like these.

You did good!

After two years…. it was time to retire my trusty Thinkpad T60 that I turned into a WiFi AP for my LAN. Its name is blackslab and it’s been with me for about 8 years now. She’s earned a nice long break.

Thinkpad T60

I had been running into a ton of issues lately:

  • There are way too many wireless networks around me. A quick look at the network selector on Windows has 11 networks in there. This was interfering with my gaming.
  • Debian is a fucking bitch to deal with these days. Systemd is polluting everything in it.
  • Network instability is a thing. After every reboot I had to manually bring the WAN interface up. It’s a thing and I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore.

So now I’m setting up FreeBSD on a small form factor PC to take its place. It’s not the cheapest when it comes to energy use but it should do the trick. In the interim I’ve got a cheap ASUS router running things since Windows ICS is so fucking unreliable; tried setting up FreeBSD through it and it was a slog.

Hopefully I’ll be able to stop banging my head against PF sometime in the next 12 hours so I can actually set the thing up as the main LAN controller.


The fear of the blank page is real, goddamnit.

Every time I open up the WP editor I forget what I was going to write about. Need to figure out a better way to get what in my head out into the screen.