American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Wed, 03/12/2014 - 16:10


The "new" VPhot is online and running. I appreciate everyone's patience.

Let me take some time to tell you a bit about why this was done.

Over the last several weeks we have, more than once, run into what looked to be a space problem on VPhot. However, we certainly had enough space for images. That wasn't the problem. It appeared to be a problem with the space on the C:\ drive. Usually it looked like there was space there, but we kept getting these errors.

Now mySQL uses the C:\ (or the root drive of a Linux computer) as a scratch pad area. It dawned on us, due to the error messages and our experienced with this issue on the Linux systems here at HQ, that with VPhot's increased usage, and with more complex mySQL things being done with it (stacking, etc.), that we had developed a periodic space issue on VPhot's C:\  drive.

VPhot was our very first experiment in cloud computing. While it has served us well, we figured we could do better, and this was the time to do it. We couldn't expand the C:\ drive on the instance store (the "type" of virtual computer we had on Amazon) we had originally set up. The Amazon instance store also can't be stopped without it deleting itself (something I know very painfully from experience! Who remembers a couple of years ago when I accidentally deleted VPhot?  I still owe Geir at least one dinner for the help he gave us after that little incident!). So we decided to do a TINY bit of upgrading.

First we made the new VPhot what's called an EBS instance. This means we can expand or contract the drives as needed, and we can actually stop the instance, and reboot it, without deleting it. We also upgraded the operating system from Windows XP to Windows 2008R2. With some fantastic assistance from Geir - who honestly deserves 90% of the credit for this - the "new" VPhot is now up and running!

Why do I keep putting "new" in quotes?  Well, what can you, the user, expect to see from this new upgrade?  Well, if we did our job right - nothing!  And that's a feature!

You'll experience NO changes in the user interface and NO changes in login procedure. Images from the AAVSONet will continue to be uploaded to your accounts (had to fix a PERL module bug for that, but that's working now!). And the images you had on VPhot should still be there in your accounts. The only change, in fact, you should experience is a lack of space problems for mySQL which should make VPhot run in a far more stable fashion...which was the aim!

So, the "new" VPhot is up and going. Please let me know if you find any odd behavior. You can respond to this posting. I'll make it a point to hang out in this forum today. 

Thanks, folks!
Doc Kinne
Astronomical Technologist

American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)

HI Doc:

Thanks for all your great work on VPhot and the help you have given me in the recent past  as a new user of VPhot.

I am using Sierra Stars remote telescopes a lot lately because of the cold weather here this past winter...we talked about this before.

It is warming up here but sporadically with above freezing temps one night and then minus 20 C the next.

With the summer and not so dark skies approaching I will be able to contribute to AAVSO during June, July, and part of August using remotes and VPhot.

I will still do visuals using binoculars and my 10 inch Dobsonian and 5 inch refractor..

My wife says I'm using VPhot as an excuse to not do various chores around the house.


Dave Dowhos,  on the shores of 95% frozen Lake Superior in Thunder Bay, Ontario

American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)

Working normally at 2000 UT. Got email about AAVSONet images in my account. Reduced images with transformation. Submitted aavso report. Results as expected.

American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Nice work, Doc and Geir!!!

Nice work, Doc and Geir!!! VPHOT is an amazing tool and asset for the present and the future!

I am very much looking forward to the inclusion of Sloan standards from APASS DR8 so that I can reduce griz images with the same ease as BVRI!



Plug in the pipe


This may be unrelated to the updgrade, but the upload for VPhot has been plugged with the same file for the last several hours.  You might check it out when you have the chance.