Archive for June 2009

Zoto’s finally gone to the knackers yard

Posted by on June 24th 2009 in Photo hosting, Pics

Time was when Zoto was an excellent photo-hosting service, providing quick and easy access to many ways of viewing and organising uploaded pics. Sadly, it's been going downhill for some time now. Today it seems to have shuffled off the mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! Hyperlinked pics still seem to be working (slowly), but I suspect that it's more of a reflex action than a sign of life.

Don't bother going to the "My pics and albums" page - it's a complete mess. I'll repair it when I've finished downloading the 1500+ pics, renaming them and uploading them to a safer place. Then there's the ball-aching job of going through nearly 500 blog posts updating all of the photo URLs. What joy!

Anyway, I've still not decided where to put the pics - Flickr's cheap and cheerful, SmugMug seems to be a better option, Zooomr is still a no-no even though I still have a pro account there (which they still haven't closed after all this time). Maybe I should take on the hassle myself and go down the self-hosting route? Hmm, decisions, decisions...


Pics and Albums

Observatory progress – Phase 7 – The last few bits

Posted by on June 18th 2009 in Astrostuff, Making stuff, Projects

I've received a few emails from folk asking how much more needs doing to the astroshed, and indeed wondering why it doesn't fall to bits, go off the rails or just refuse to close due to misalignment. Hopefully the following pics and text will be sufficient to answer such probing questions:


In order to allow the scope to fit inside in the "parked" position, the roof sits a good three inches
above the shed walls to give sufficient clearance.The resulting gap has been covered with a couple of
rows of feather-edge timber, fixed to the roof. Regarding the other stuff in view, a neighbour kindly
donated some carpet and I dug around in the attic to find the 1960s coffee-table.
The plastic chair is just one of many that Chris wants me to take to the tip.

Another row of feather-edge timber creates an overlap twixt shed-walls and roof-frame on one of the long sides.
This setup is weatherproof but still allows good airflow to minimise condensation.

The wheels are cheap 40mm fixed castors, the channel is a strip of plastic conduit braced with some spare stripwood with chamfered ends.
The castor-wheels have sufficient sideplay to allow for a reasonable amount of flex/warp of the runner.

The leccy's all sorted out, with IP55 or better fittings throughout for anything mains-related,
and with power being supplied via an RCD-protected steel-armoured cable circuit...

... which means that the cheap Ikea low-voltage halogen lamps above the doors are now up and running.
Also visible above is the guide-wheel arrangement that ensures that the guide-rail fixed beneath the ridge of the roof
is always central when the roof is closed or in motion. The barrel-bolt serves an obvious purpose.

Here's a view of the guide-wheel arrangement at the other end of the shed.
The guide-rail is chamfered at the end to ensure that it always ends up between the wheels.

At the moment there isn't much wiring around the pier, but I'm sure that after a few weeks the thing will be festooned with all sorts of gadgetry.
I'm aiming to have just the one "in" cable (for power) and one "out" cable (for data (USB)).

The planned change to the window-wall has been completed - the windows have gone, to allow a better view to the south.
A "mock" panel has been fixed to the moving frame, the results are shown below:

This means that there's now no need to conform to the standard idea of having the upper section of the southern wall on a hinged flap.

As you can see, there's plenty of "gap" to look through.
I knocked up a small removable roof-panel (visible just behind the scope) which serves several purposes -
it's a draught-reducer, it provides shade from the night-lights at the old folks' home just up the way,
and it prevents the neighbours from peering over the fence to see what's going on.

So, it's about finished. The kettle and the beer-fridge will go in when I've put up shelves for them.
The only thing still needed is a small fire-extinguisher.
That, and some clear nights so that I can get on with some observing.

Centurion Mk II

Posted by on June 14th 2009 in Congratulations!, Just for fun

Congratulations go to Duncan/Aktoman, who upped his tally of comments to the 100 mark last week, thus earning himself this special mention.

Although I've got a suitable picture of him, I thought that this one would be better:

A handy little runaround for the outdoors type, no?

Spam Reduction revisited

Posted by on June 6th 2009 in Plugins, Site update

Last month I went into some detail about the measures that I've taken to reduce the amount of comment-spam. Despite all of the protection in force, a few hardy YSMs have managed to get through the barricade. Not many, and not a lot to be worried about.

Nevertheless, there's no harm in strengthening the defences.

The upshot of this is that for the last week or so I've been trying out the WP-SpamFree plugin and I can confirm that it's caught every scrap of spam since installation. It's got a few nice bells and whistles such as logging options and the facility to set up safe contact form (I'm not using this yet), so it's worth a look-see.

Just how long it'll take for the malevolents to figure a way around it remains to be seen, so I'll keep you posted.

Steering committee

Posted by on June 6th 2009 in Car stuff, LMAO!, Video (YouTube, Vimeo etc.)

Clever folks, them furriners:



Cheers, Mick



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