Archive for August 2010

Haircut, Sir?

Posted by on August 31st 2010 in LMAO!

I found this while trawling for jobs. I wonder if they'll set me on part-time... at that salary rate, just one day per year would be enough for me :mrgreen:

Observing Report 30th-31st August 2010 Part 1 (Second Lunar mosaic)

Posted by on August 31st 2010 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics
Tags: ,

As long last - a dry clear night AND a working laptop! I had intended to take several images of Jupiter but the glare from the Moon was too bright. I did get some Jupiter data while trying to rediscover the camera settings that were lost in the Trojan Wars, but it's not much cop - I'll try to process it sometime soon. The Moon did make an inviting target though, so I grabbed some .avi data for another mosaic. This one's a stitch of 11 images from the DMK camera and C8N scope. Click it to see the BIG version:

The Moon (31/08/2010 @ 02:00).
11 stitched images, each 50/1000 stacked frames.
DMK mono CCD camera on the C8N.

Review – Salomon Exit Aeros – First Thoughts & The First Two Weeks

Posted by on August 27th 2010 in My reviews, Shiny new kit

A couple of weeks ago Adam at Fitness Footwear Ltd. was kind enough to supply me with a pair of Salomon Exit Aeros for review.

I'd opted for the Swamp, Dark Grey and Moss version, on the basis that after a good walk they'd probably end up with that colour-scheme anyway. They don't look too bad:



After the sizing confusion with the Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams I was expecting similar issues with these Salomons, but these were fine - definitely size 8s and they fitted reasonably well - there was much more room in them, enough to allow a decent pair of socks without feeling too snug. The arch-support is a little less that I'd usually choose, but it's acceptable in such bendy footwear. They do move around on my feet quite a bit though, so the feeling of security is less. The soles flex and twist a bit too much for my liking, but bear in mind that I'm used to stiffer footwear. Grip-wise, they're rather odd - in the dry they grip well, and they squeak like crazy on polished floors, but on wet ground they've been rubbish - I've already slipped over on the damp yard while wearing them, and they've been no good on damp grass or up ladders either. They do dry quickly, however, and the meshy uppers allow remarkably good airflow to the point where I get noticeably colder toes whenever I wear them in a breeze.

Like the Wrap Slams, they're still waiting for a decent test off-piste, but I know now that these aren't going to be the footwear of choice for my next outing to the Lakeland Fells - the risk of slippage is just too great. Maybe I'll wear them for the walk down to the Fish Hotel and back again, that way I can blame any slippage on the beer-intake!

In short, I don't like them for any of my usual outdoor activities, but that doesn't mean that I won't wear them - to dismiss them so soon would be unfair. I'll try to give them a fair work-out over the coming months and then report back in due course.

If you're interested in laying your hands on some Salomons, have a look at the items here.

Back from the Trojan Wars

Posted by on August 26th 2010 in Thanks

Thanks to the efforts of Alex and Dan at Computer Plaza, I have a fixed laptop with a clean OS installation. They weren't able to save any useful data but at least the thing works. I've spent a fair few hours downloading and installing stuff from the Lenovo website so as to get back to something like the OEM setup with all the bells and whistles such as the HDD impact-protection, the dedicated extra keys and all of the other original ThinkVantage utilities.

I'm still missing all emails/addresses/attachments, address-book data, organiser data, maps, 30+ years of walking routes, CVs, e-books, employment details, purchase records, service agreements and a few other things, but most of the apps have now been reinstalled.

I'm a tad happier now.

I guess that I have a lot of catching-up to do - Google Reader says that I have 983 posts to read 😯

I'll do another back-up first, though :mrgreen:

That empty feeling

Posted by on August 20th 2010 in A bit of a rant

Looks like that Trojan has affected more than just the laptop's HDD... the latest backup and the "old" version (both on the USB HDD) are now just empty folders, and the plain copies of the applications are almost empty too. Just folders, hardly any files, nothing of any worth.

Significant total losses include all emails/addresses/attachments, address-books, organisers, maps, 30+ years of walking routes, CVs, e-books, bought software and plugins, employment details, banking records, purchase records, service agreements, encrypted passwords, the list goes on and on.

If I wasn't so gutted, I'd swear.


Posted by on August 20th 2010 in A bit of a rant

Thanks to a bad-ass Backdoor Trojan infection, my laptop's been dead for nearly a week. The first I knew about it was when I came back to it after a short break and found that it was randomly and independently opening, moving and deleting files and folders. The mouse-pointer was whizzing about as if controlled by an invisible hand. The only way to stop the process was to pull the mains power and remove the battery.

A recommended and reputable Trojan-remover found the offending crap and dealt with it, but there's been a lot of collateral damage - the boot-sector is trashed and the registry is shredded. I have copies of most of my apps and data on the USB HDD, so losses will be minimal, but reinstalling and configuring all that software will take ages. The hardware's in the repair-shop refusing to allow a clean OS installation.

Luckily I have a kind neighbour who's been generous enough to give me access to his lappy so that I can get online now and again. Thanks, Graham, you're a star!

Sadly I've no access to my email yet, so if you've been expecting a reply from me, please be patient.

Review – Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams – The First Few Weeks

Posted by on August 16th 2010 in My reviews, Shiny new kit

Just a quick update on the Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams from Fitness Footwear Ltd....

I've worn them almost every day and so far they've given me no discomfort despite the size-issue that I mentioned in my initial review. My toes are still close to the end of the toe-box, but I've suffered no "toe-bash" yet. That said, I've not done any serious up-and-down walking in them yet, as the opportunity for that sort of activity has yet to arise.

The uppers are showing few signs of wear and they're easy to clean - after getting them caked in mud I just hosed them down and let them dry in the sunlight. I can live with that sort of maintenance regime.

The soles have retained their impressive grip (they provided excellent traction on damp grass when I wore them for a power-kiting session) and they are wearing evenly, which suggests that they are well-suited to the way that I walk. I find the scaly, reptilian sole-pattern quite appealing - they leave curious foot-prints which the kids find amusing.

One very minor gripe - the combination of the thick ankle-padding and the fabric that covers it is a magnet for the spiky stuff that gorse and heather throw at your feet as you walk by. Thorns and similar pointy bits tend to get embedded quite easily and it's worth digging them out now and again before get in too deep. Once they get fully beyond the fabric they can poke back through and spike you at will, and they're a sod to get out.

I noticed quite early on that I couldn't get on with the way that the tongues kept pulling up on my toes during the course of a walk, so I re-laced them to bypass the tongue lace-tabs. This is a much better set-up for me.

So far I'm very impressed with their performance, I just need to give them a proper work-out on some rugged terrain. We're scheduled to spend a weekend in the Lake District sometime soon, I'll wear them then (if the conditions are suitable) and report back accordingly.


Observing Report 11th August 2010 (Sunspots in Active Regions 1093, 1095, 1096, 1097 and 1098)

Posted by on August 12th 2010 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

Even more sunspots on display yesterday!

Mouseover the full-disc pic for the labelled version, click it for a bigger pic:


Sunspots in Active Regions 1093, 1095, 1096, 1097 and 1098 (11/08/2010).
D50 on the C80ED-R.

Just for comparison, here's the equivalent pic taken by the SOHO satellite:

Observing Report 8th August 2010 (Sunspots in Active Regions 1092, 1093 and 1095)

Posted by on August 9th 2010 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

Managed a few hours in the sunshine yesterday morning, there were plenty of sunspots on display.

Mouseover the full-disc pic for the labelled version, the (poor-quality) close-ups are a bit further down:


Sunspots in Active Regions 1092, 1093 and 1095 (08/08/2010).
D50 on the C80ED-R.

Sunspot in AR1092 (08/08/2010).
50/1000 stacked frames.
DMK mono CCD camera on the C80ED-R.

Sunspots in AR1093 (08/08/2010).
50/1000 stacked frames.
DMK mono CCD camera on the C80ED-R.

Sunspots in AR1095 (08/08/2010).
50/1000 stacked frames.
DMK mono CCD camera on the C80ED-R.

Observing Report 4th-5th August 2010 Part 1 (First Lunar mosaic)

Posted by on August 5th 2010 in Astrostuff, New tricks for an old dog, Observing Reports, Pics
Tags: ,

Unexpected clear sky last night was the cue for another look at the heavens. Jupiter was the main target, no shadow-transits this time but good views of the Great Red Spot. There'll be pics later when I've had time to clear the backlog of image data (yes, I'm still trying to find time to process the lunar data from the previous session).

Until then, you'll have to make do with my first ever lunar mosaic - 12 stitched images from the same camera/scope combo that I usually poke skywards. The image alignment is a bit off in places, I'll do it better next time. Click it to see the BIG version:

 The Moon (05/08/2010 @ 05:10).
12 stitched images, each 50/500 stacked frames.
DMK mono CCD camera on the C8N.

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