Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun….

Demonstrating a fine sense of timing, I bought a folding bike over the weekend. It was a bit of an impulse buy – Katherine is preparing for a move to California, and hopes to cycle to work, so when she bought a Lite Ride bike, so did I. The local weather gods promptly delivered searing temperatures – 34 and 35°C over the past couple of days. In the back garden with no wind it was even higher, up to 38°C in the shade, and under the hammerstrike of the sun, an incredible 45.3°C! That is no weather for old men, on bikes or shank’s mare.

Assembly of the bikes was a chore – I did it in the garage, with the sun for light, and only afterward gave a thought to the possibility that I might perhaps just maybe have considered thinking about building the damn things in my hallway, where it’s both light and cool. I waited until this evening for the temperatures to drop into the mid-twenties before riding around the block. Less than a kilometre, but I was huffing, puffing, and, er, glowing, when I got back to the house. It’s going to be a lonnng summer getting even marginally back in shape.

The bikes fold down to the point where they can be tossed in the back of a car, so I’m taking one along with me when I go to work. I’m hoping to ride at lunch time whenever the temperatures are reasonable. I’m also hoping that a little exercise will slow the progress of my diabetes and lymphedema, so any well-wishers out there may wish me luck [Evil lurkers will of course continue to send spam and comment-spam].

Solar filter – first image

How about a bad solar shot? These were the largest observable spots on 26 May, and show very little detail at this image scale.

uncorrected solar image

It’s a Toucam shot through the FLT-110 at prime focus with the solar filter. In the light and glare I had difficulties in focusing, and have done no flat removal (note the big fuzzy).

In occasional moments of better seeing it was possible to see greater detail, but the image danced around quite a bit and it was difficult to achieve focus. I transferred the image directly to my computer screen and tried to focus there, but the surrounding sunlight made it difficult to see. While the scope performs well at night I think it needs further work to avoid flare and internal reflects when used as a solar scope. The filter is mounted to a wooden frame which is unpainted – I think at the least I need to paint the inside a flat black, and it might be helpful to paint the outside white. Finally, using the binoviewers to look at the sun was a bust – despite the fact the temperature in the shade was moderate, out in full sunlight I was very hot, and condensation formed rapidly on the eyepieces. I was moving into the eyecups to cut down on the glare from outside so there was very little chance for air to circulate. If I moved far enough away for that to occur, I had difficulty seeing because of the glare. More thought is obviously required to get better solar observing – so far it’s been hot and uncomfortable for very little return.

Sun Blahs

I finally completed a new white-light solar filter and slipped it on the FLT-110 today. The weather was mostly cloudy with rapid upper winds, but from time to time the sun peeked through, so after a considerable wait I managed to view the sun. There was little to see, however, with only a small grouping of sunspots visible towards one limb. This basically consisted of two pairs of spots, but with the turbulence of the air it was difficult to see much in the way of detail within any members of the group. One spot was larger than the others and occasionally there was a hint of internal structure, but nothing was definite. I tried various powers from 18x right up to 238x, but finally settled for 57x [FLT-110, binoviewer with 1.6 barlow, and 20 mm WO eyepieces]. Perhaps I should have tried to image the sun, but I passed up the opportunity since the air was so unsteady. A somewhat disappointing first light for the filter – but at least it wasn’t raining!

Such a deal!

I just got an offer from Roxio for an upgrade to the latest and greatest version of their CD-creation program, Toast 7. It’s a $30 instant rebate, and given my penchant for having the very latest version of as much of my software base as I can afford, that seemed like an offer I couldn’t pass up.

So… I logged onto their commerce site, which is run by Digital River, and pulled up the upgrade offer. Hmm, there’s a shipping charge for the full physical package. Hmm. the price is in U.S. dollars — but hey! they will convert and bill in Canadian dollars! Hmm, the shipping charge is in the U.S. — but hey! there’s a pull-down menu so I can choose to ship to Canada! The net price is C$102.44. And, given the shipment method, when it arrives in Canada there will be a C$5.00 surcharge for Customs clearance, for a final price of C$107.44, plus PST and GST.

The price downtown, without rebates? C$99.99, so the rebated price is actually a premium of C$7.45.

Oy, such a deal!

System is in trouble

Following a security update to the system, as I write this I am unable to logon under my own id, though other IDs seem to work after a lengthy wait. Once on, the first invocation of a program seems to takeforever as well, yet according to the disk utility there is nothing wrong. I am continuing to run tests, but so far I haven’t found the cause of the problem. In the meantime, service might be more than a little slow.

…4 hours later:

This aspect of the problem appears to have been resolved by removing “Remote Desktop Agent” from the Startup Items as suggested on the MacFixit website. There is no indication as to why this worked, so as soon as my laptop finishes its backup and is restored (the directory structure was munged when I used a bad memory chip), the main desktop will be archived and reimaged – hopefully without further problems, but I’m not confident of that. Something else I discovered was that a port was open on the firewall, so perhaps I’ve been compromised….

…10 hours later:

Most of the problems appear to have been resolved, except the system log shows a continuing problem with USB set up:

May 14 09:59:29 localhost kernel: USBF: 21298.847

+AppleUSBOHCI[0x19ec000]::ReturnOneTransaction(0xd89d3d4, 0x1a3248c, e0004051)

May 14 09:59:35 localhost kernel: USBF: 21304.848

+AppleUSBOHCI[0x19ec000]::ReturnOneTransaction(0xd89c18c, 0x1a3248c, e0004051)

May 14 09:59:35 localhost kernel: USBF: 21304.849

AppleUSBOHCI[0x19ec000]::MakeDevice error setting address.

err=0xe0004051 device=0x2f6c400 - releasing device

As far as I can determine, this is a timeout problem, and since every one of my many USB devices appears to be actually working, I’m at a loss to locate the source of this problem. I’ll continue to look at this over time even as the error is filling my log space, making other errors harder to detect. Perhaps — when I have time to track each one — removing each device one by one will reveal the culprit.

…13 hours later:

Pulling a card reader from the stack appears to have fixed things. Plugging the reader back in afterwards didn’t restart the chain of error messages, so it looks as though the exact triggers will remain a mystery.