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New project: use Python to read multibeam data

December 21, 2009

Am I getting in over my head before I’ve learned the basics?  Most likely.  But I find that if I set my goals high, I learn lots of unexpected things along the way.  This latest goal is probably not going to be completed from start to finish in any kind of linear fashion, and I will probably drop it and come back to it several times before its completion.

I’m hoping to figure out how to read S7K multibeam data format.  Not a simple challenge for someone like me who can barely piece together a print statement.  This isn’t like reading an ASCII text file.  I started reading the Data Format Definition document (DFD), and came upon some pretty daunting tasks right away, including reading headers, different number formats, and lots of bits and bytes stuff.  Scary, but sort of exciting.  When I took a computer science class way back in undergrad, I remember learning all the really basic stuff, but since I didn’t have a real application for it, it was sort of meaningless to me, and therefore did not stick in my brain.  But now it’s fun!  (I’m a nerd).  Hopefully it’ll stick this time 🙂

These links might be helpful:

Reading and Writing data using Python’s input and output functionality

Understanding Big and Little Endian

The Learning Python book says (p. 901): “If you are processing image files, packed data created by other programs whose content you must extract, or some device data streams, chances are good that you will want to deal with it using bytes and binary-mode files.”

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