Monday, November 07, 2022

this old dog learned a trick

On the weekend, I had a go at one of my Finest NGC images. I wanted to assemble the LRGB files collected by the BGO into a full colour image. I worked on the data set for NGC 7129, the little hazy cluster in Cepheus.

It didn't go well, but that's another story.

In the pre-processing stage, while converting the FITS files to TIFF, of course I used FITS Liberator. The new edition, installed on John Grim, under the 64-bit version of Windows X. I wrote about the newest version, FL4, in the RASC Journal back in June, conveying my satisfaction with the many improvements. Love the larger workspace, running full screen, dark mode. Joy!

Still, as I hammered away at the 7219 data files, it got the wheels turnin'. While there are many wonderful upgrades in FITS Liberator, I considered changes I'd love to see.

Then I thought, would the FITS Liberator development team entertain some wish list items from a random user, someone from the public, a tinkerer... No harm in asking, right?

Snooped around the NOIRLab web site a bit. In a contact page, I found some instructions for reaching staff. Then I constructed an email address for Robert Hurt. He was presenter in the helpful informational videos I had previously watched. He is noted on the site as the Head of Communications, Education & Engagement and a co-originator of the software.

The email immediately bounced. The fabricated addy didn't take. Hmmph.

Asked Google about Mr Hurt.

Found him at the Infrared Processing & Analysis Center (IPAC) at the California Institute of Technology. 

Regenerated my original request with a new address and hit the Send button.

No immediate bounce. 

That was a good sign...

Yesterday, I kicked things off with:

I'm curious if future updates are planned for FITS Liberator.  There are things I miss from the previous version;  there are features and capabilities I wish were available in the latest.  I don't know if you are actively supporting FITS Liberator.  If not, perhaps you could direct me to the individual or team responsible for this software.

I thanked him for his time. I also thanked him for his great usage videos.

Pleased as punch I was to find a response from Mr Hurt.

[I’m] glad to hear FL has been helpful to you over the years.  Personally it was my first step in almost every image I’ve made for Spitzer/WISE/GALEX/NuSTAR...  I am indeed part of the advisory team for FL, and the project is managed by Lars Lindberg Christensen at NOIRLab.  [There] is a new version in development (one key feature is adding M1/2 processor support on Mac).  Let me know what features you’d like to see and I can pass them on to the team!

That was awesome!

And good timing on my part.

So we went through my wish list...


zooming the histogram

I asked for this, for precision. FL3 supported it.

Robert agreed with me but said he wasn't sure if this was on the update list for this round. 

zooming the image

I noted that FL3 offered controls like Photoshop: Click to zoom in; Alt-Click to zoom out.

Robert's reply was very interesting.

Do you not like the more standard current implementation of scroll to zoom (mouse)/pinch to zoom (trackpad)?  

Wait, what?!

I didn't know it could do that. Fired up FL4 on the Surface Laptop Go, opened an image, and did a two-finger drag on the touchpad. Holy Universe. Then a tried pinching and unpinching on the touchpad. Would you look at that!

Told Robert I was very happy to learn that zooming was easy.

additional flipping controls

The app lacks full flipping control. It'd be nice to have both vertical and horizontal.

Robert said they had not considered this but asked for a use-case.

I explained that when pre-processing, I often wanted to compare to a previously captured image. Not a really compelling argument.

Undo feature

There is no Ctrl-z / Cmd-z keyboard shortcut or Undo command. For at least the last action. Sometimes I really goof up and would like to recovery quickly; instead I have to Reset and start from scratch.

Again Robert concurred. But, rightly, said it might be a pretty significant addition to the code. 

Still, he said, "I’ll forward it on..."


Who knows what will happen with FITS Liberator in the future but it was nice chatting with Mr Hurt, he was very accommodating, took the time to listen.

And it was great to learn the image zoom trick!

No comments: