Archives for: "January 2006"

Saturn attempt 2

Saturn

Made some further progress. Then the cloud rolled in again.

The Lord of the Rings

Saturn

This was taken through my TAL 2M 150mm reflector with a Toucam Pro II webcam at prime focus, the resulting image was stacked and processed from 5 frames.

It's just a shame the barlow lens I've got is too long for the webcam to be in focus, so I'll have to consider my options on that. As I'll need a longer focal length to get more resolution on Saturn.

Seeing tonight was terrible constant clouds rolling in, the telescope also needs some work done on the alignment of it's optics, as I believe they're slightly out, the primary mirror appears to be the biggest problem. Although I'll need to wait for some crystal clear skies so I can perform a proper star-test.

Overall relatively pleased, although I'll still need an infra-red filter to get some perfect focus, and a barlow lens that actually works, and I need a way to holding the camera's adapter onto the scope better - because the focal point is about 2cm beyond the reach of the focus mount - paper isn't a long term solution.

Update: This is the video that was captured.

http://files.dasmirnov.net/20060126saturn.wmv (10MB).

Saturn fading in and out is due to cloud. The reason Saturn is drifting to the bottom right is because of the Earth's rotation. Other vibrations are probably a combination of me moving, a car going down the road or the wind.

Darth.. WTF?

Adam's scary thing, thought this was cool.


New extra-solar planet

The European Space Agency is making a very big announcement tomorrow at 16:00 UTC. Nobody knows quite exactly what, other than it's at least related to an extra-solar planet. But the rumour mill is in over drive - an Earth-like planet?

Who knows for sure, but it seems pretty special, a lot of hype is building - a lot more than when they announced the planet with half the mass of Uranus orbiting Gliese 876 - until that point all the planets had been huge, tens and even hundreds times more massive.

I'm thinking this has got to be a terrestrial planet for sure.

Update on the day: Full story here, terrestrial planet with 5 times the mass of the Earth - and get this - it was detected 25 000 light years away.

Kameo - soundtrack of the year

Well since Wester seems to be in a bit of a Lord of the Ring soundtrack mood at the moment, I thought I'd talk a bit about one of my now all-time favourite soundtracks - Kameo Elements of Power, yes it's an Xbox 360 game and it probably has one of the best game soundtracks ever created.

It's composed by Steve Burke and performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Kings Choir.

Kameo Soundtrack

The soundtrack itself covers a wide range of styles, from the usual cartoony melodies to huge epic pieces that easily compare to the Lord of the Rings. Check out the Amazon.com page, where you can preview the tracks - some of my favourites being Shadow Realm, Hero's Theme, Forest Glade, The Badlands and Thorn's Pass.

New Horizons 3rd time lucky

New Horizons finally got the all clear to launch at 18:52, resumed the countdown at 18:56 and launched at 19:00 on an Atlas V rocket. It's on it's way to Jupiter and then on to Pluto where it should arrive on the 14th of July, 2015.

New Horizons launches
New Horizons launches
New Horizons launches
New Horizons launches

Catmoo redesign

Catherine wanted me to help redo Catmoo.co.uk, she's been messing around with it for about a month, so I thought it was time to go hardcore on a redesign, not a bad result for a couple of hours work. In fact I may have to steal it for some of my sites. :)

And before Firefox fanboys point out it doesn't work right. I'm aware of that and I'll deal with it when Mozilla fix the stupid rendering inconsistencies in Firefox, and the really funny thing is, it's the CSS side that breaks down - I thought Firefox was suppose to be good at handling CSS?

Apple a company I want to avoid

Got a few things to touch on this entry.

Microsoft recently announced that it would release no further versions of Windows Media Player for Mac OS X, instead it would enable Flip4Mac to release their plug-in for Quicktime for free with Windows Media support.

I hear a lot of things about this, largely coming from Apple zealots foaming at the mouths about how much "M$ suck". Yeah yeah yeah, the big question it raises will be Windows Media DRM support.

Microsoft unlike Apple, licence their DRM to third parties to enable the widest support. Microsoft had been personally developing the DRM for Mac OS X, however Apple had refused to give Microsoft the technical details on how to implement DRM on OS X. This stalled Microsoft greatly, and eventually resulted in them canning the entire effort.

This bugs me, Microsoft go out of their way (for 2 years!) to try and avoid locking you into using Windows for any music you purchase from somewhere like Napster, they try and give you the option of using it on another platform. Then Apple turn around and refuse to share details of Apple's Core Audio and Video systems, preventing anyone else using DRM on their platform. Now that's lock-in right there. "If you've got a Mac, you have to use iTunes".

So the Apple management block Microsoft from enabling DRMed Windows Media support on Mac OS X, to give their Apple zealots ammunition for accusing Microsoft of attempting to lock people into Windows. Unlike Apple, Microsoft make details of their OS available to everyone - including Apple so even Apple can get their DRM working on Windows.

So there we have it, you can now play Windows Media Audio and Video in QuickTime on the Macintosh. When are Apple going to release a plug-in for Windows Media Player so we can play all their QuickTime formats inside WMP? Or are they being too snobbish and arrogant and force us into using that QuickTime which runs loads of crap on boot?

What happens if you can't find QuickTime on it's own? The Apple website doesn't make it easy for people to get just QuickTime, it took me a good 2 minutes of looking around to find the tiny standalone link hidden down the bottom, I dread to think how many regular users are tricked into downloading it with iTunes, the latest version of which ships with spyware to track all your music listening habits.

Keyboards...

Microsoft, who probably make some of the best keyboards and mice in the world, develop a Mac-specific keyboard, all their other keyboards are cross compatible, but this had things like the Mac key and was coloured to match.

Apple refuse to allow Microsoft to use the Apple logo on the Apple key. How stupid is that? They're supporting their damn system, and yet they won't even let them use the Apple logo! Last time I checked Microsoft let anyone use the Windows logo or "Start" on keyboards.

And worse yet these ungrateful losers at Apple do all this after Microsoft make another commitment to release Office on the Mac for another 5 years.

All Microsoft would have to do is drop Office from the Macintosh and watch the whole platform sink. They try and play nice to keep all the anti-competitive crap off their backs and you get Apple executives being spiteful little bastards. And yet some how Microsoft is portrayed as being "evil" (although according to the blogosphere Google are the "evil" ones nowadays).

Lying...

Worse yet, you have probably the world's biggest liar aka Steve Jobs, suddenly announce to the world the new Intel powered Macintoshes, which apparently are 4 times faster than their PowerPC machines. This is the same guy who has been spouting for years that PowerPC was "twice as fast" etc etc, the same company who a couple of years ago ran "the world's fastest computer" adverts in the UK when they couldn't prove it the Advertising Standards Authority forced them to drop it all.

Come on where are all those Apple zealots from 12 months ago? Come on, you said the PowerPC was like twice as fast, where are you all hiding now? May be you could explain to me why Linux is about 40% faster than Mac OS X on the same hardware? No? Oh okay.

I don't want to deal with a company that behaves like this, sure a lot of companies will twist the truth, but this amount of petty-mindedness and outright lying is too much for me to stomach. It's just a shame the 7 Apple fanatics in the world seem to love it.

Tablet PC rocks

I say this loads and loads, in fact it's so good I find it really hard to even describe it on here, hence why the Tablet review never materialised, it's just so good, so good I can't even describe it, it's just so different and so natural. Yet a lot of people just don't get it.

Anyway here's an excellent post from a new convert, Mitch Tulloch.

Well I finally bit the bullet several weeks ago and ordered a Tablet PC. The one I decided to buy was an LE1600 from Motion Computing. I deliberately chose a slate instead of a convertible so I would force myself to experience the full potential of using a Tablet PC.

All I can say is, Wow. [...]

Last time I was at Microsoft's campus in Redmond, I was walking around and noticed their flag that said "Your potential, our passion." That's not just hype or bullshit. Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 is truly extraordinary in its power to unlock one's potential, and I recommend you take a hard look at it for both personal and business use before you purchase your next laptop.

I completely agree. I love Tablet PC so much I'm setting aside double the money I would normally for a Windows Vista generation Tablet, and yes that will be a slate model too, I just never use the keyboard on my M200 anymore.

Ten reasons to be with a geek

This was e-mailed to me and I don't know the original author, I just made some changes and threw it up on my blog. The ladies know geeks rock, here's why for all those who haven't worked it out yet.

  1. Geeks are useful, they can fix your desktop, laptop, … Those skills are very useful and can make your life run smooth.
  2. They are more romantic than they’re given credit for. Their idea of romance might be making up a web page about you. But hey it lasts longer than flowers and you can show your friends.
  3. They’ve got brains and they’re usually very well educated.
  4. They’re relatively low-maintenance. So there will be no complicated dinners needed. And if you’re not the best cook, you can order a pizza.
  5. You won’t have to worry about what he’s doing. You’ll probably find him at his computer.
  6. They trust you, so you can be yourself around them. You like to walk around the house in a ratty t-shirt for comfort? He won’t care. They won’t get pissy if you don’t wear make-up or don’t want to bother primping your hair.
  7. He will make you shine everywhere you go. No matter how clumsy your sense of style, no matter how awkward your social skills, you’ll be a fashion star and a classy diplomat next to your geek. He’ll make you look so good; you’ll fall in love with yourself.
  8. If you are not into computers, TVs and DVD and you don’t care about being popular and fashionable. What about the newest techie gadgets? You are going to be a proud owner of the latest gadgets if you ever decide to date a geek.
  9. He won’t cheat on you either. Place the sexiest woman on earth in a room with a geek, say Angelina Jolie. At the other corner of the room, place the latest model of some computer or other. I am willing to bet that your geek would want to play with that computer much more than getting to know Angelina Jolie. In fact, he might not even see her if the computer is on and connected to the Internet. C’mmon he has to check his email, surf the web and blog about the fact that he is in a room with Angelina Jolie.
  10. The final reason is: They actually give a damn about you. Not how you look (though that’s a plus), not how skinny you are, not how much make-up you primp yourself up with, but they like you for you.

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