Canon DSLR and Canon Support

Well, I'm not a happy camper after a recent go around with Canon's online support. I exchanged email with Mike Unsold of ImagesPlus about getting both of my Canon 350XT (aka Digital Rebel XT) cameras working at once. I had originally purchased ImagesPlus after emailing Mike and learning you could control more than one camera at once just by launching multiple instances of the program.

Robotic Astronomy

No, this isn't what you do once you've fallen asleep and your body goes on autopilot....

I recently caved in and bought a new laptop with Windows XP. I despise Microsoft and now have to deal with self-loathing for my collapse. But this allowed me to also jump to my main goal which is to automate some of the telescope setup for taking real science data. Of course, courtesy of President Bush, I shortly thereafter lost an hour of my evening telescope time due to the new daylight savings time rules.

Worlds in Comparison

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific has a wonderful program called Family Astro that has various activities you can do with groups (such as families) that are fun and impart some astronomical insight. One of them is called Worlds in Comparison and involves making a set of models of the planets to the correct relative scale out of a lump of about 3 pounds of play-dough. Pluto (if you are inclined to include it despite its recent demotion) ends up being smaller than some of the random crumbs left on the table from the early divide and merge operations.

PS102 Science Fair Post Mortem

I'll put this in the better late than never category.

The PS102 Science Fair has come and gone. Jonathan did a report on Mallard Ducks. He was quite proud of it in the end, but Maria was about ready to scream before it was done. Jonathan had to do all the illustrations and writing, but getting him to focus on it was painful. Of course, getting him to focus is painful and he needed the writing work which is why we decided a report was the correct type of project for this year.

Science Demonstrations, more ways to fail

Sigh. One last control experiment. Put the baking soda in the control jar. Oops, the control jar still doesn't heat as fast as the other one (which is now effectively the "control"). I've got something which appears to be sensor/jar dependent but in an odd fashion. I did a check before running the experiment by heating the two jars for 10 minutes without any baking soda and they appeared to heat at the same rate. But the experiment ran for about 20 minutes and at 10 minutes the temperatures began to diverge. has a new look

After a long incubation period, I've finally moved the test web site over. It meant throwing away a lot of stuff I had custom written in PHP to run the web site, but the move was long overdue as trying to keep the information up-to-date was conflicting with having to mess with code on the backend. I ended up selecting Drupal as a content management system, in part due to my preference for Postgres on the backend. In any event it is here. Now to find time to do all the content updating....

G2Image Hacks

After a bit of work, I've been able to hack the Drupal G2Image module to allow inserting full-size images. This isn't exactly what I want, but it is better than inserting thumbnails. The problem with thumbnails is they look like crap when scaled up. The problem with full-sized images is that they end up being scaled by the browser to look pretty good, but you're downloading a much larger image than what is being dislayed. That means extra bandwidth usage.

Unbalanced - Not!

Well, after spending a lot of time remachining the bar on which I mount the cameras to give me better control over where they are mounted left-right, I concluded I didn't have a balance problem to start with. The pier is not vertical so when the counterweight bar settled it appeared I was overweight on one side but in fact I was fine. But I do have much better control over the balance now.


No, not me (well...), it's my scope.

I loaded everything onto my MI-250 as planned for next week and discovered I can't get a good balance left-right (uhm, declination). It's that 300mm f/4 lens on the Pentax 67.


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