A little snow on the ground

Winter has finally arrived, albeit a month and a half late, and with it the remarkable difference in the brightness of the night as the clouds reflect city light back to the snow, and the snow in turn reflects the light back to the clouds, and so on. Here are two images taken at the same time of night [48 hours apart] under roughly the same cloud conditions but with snow on the ground in one case and essentially no snow in the other.

Observatory at 8 in snow

Observatory at 8 without snow

The sky is so much brighter in the one case than the other, yet the camera settings were nominally the same for each image, though in fact there may be more gain in the image without snow as the camera automatically tried to extract something from the darkness. The images are unmodified except for a single pass through Noise Ninja to smooth out the noise which normally shows up in dark image captures.

As another one bites the dust….

Hard drives have a rough time. In my home system they run just about all the time, and after a while they grind to a halt. In my laptop they’re under constant pressure as I carry the laptop back and forth to work all the time. With the high runtime and the environmental pressure it’s a wonder they last as long as they do – and right now, the laptop drive is essentially dead. I’ve been running Alsoft’s DiskWarrior against it, but for the last 24 hours the software has been displaying a message, “Speed inhibited by disk malfunction” which can be interpreted to mean that the drive is cooked. I knew the directory structure was in bad shape, and this message tells me it’s a hardware problem rather than software. I’ll give DiskWarrior another 24 hours to be sure, but after that if there’s no progress I’ll shut the system down, retrieve anything I can, and then take it in to Apple for service. I’m hopeful that this will be covered under AppleCare. If it is, and if I can scrape enough money together, I’ll get the laptop repaired, trade it in, and come home with a new MacBook. That’s probably one too many ifs, though. Recently I upgraded my desktop to a new system, so this is a little close in time to be getting a new laptop. Sigh.