This morning was a partial solar eclipse in Melbourne. Back up where we saw the total solar eclipse last November they got an annular eclipse which would have been spectacular, but work is too frantic at the moment bringing up a new machine to even think about going up!
The first glimpse of it was from the train going into work with (of course) eclipse glasses (from Ice In Space) and by the time I got to Richmond I remembered I’d not taken a photo so had a go with my phone and the eclipse glasses and came up with this:
My plan though was to go to the playing fields at the University of Melbourne where I’d learnt before (via Twitter) that there would be some astro folks. There was a small group of people there with a telescope set up to project onto a screen at the rear who were having fun trying to keep it on target as it wouldn’t lock into place. The nice thing about projections like this is that you get a nice big image, like this:
I had a couple of left over eclipse glasses from the total eclipse so I passed them around and left them with them, they seemed to go down well!
For those WordPress admins who are lucky enough to only access via certain defined IP addresses (IPv4 or IPv6) you can lock down access to the wp-admin and wp-login.php URLs in your Apache configuration with just:
Deny from all
Allow from 127.0.0.0/255.0.0.0 ::1/128 10.1.2.3/32 1234:5678:90ab:cdef::/64
Deny from all
Allow from 127.0.0.0/255.0.0.0 ::1/128 10.1.2.3/32 1234:5678:90ab:cdef::/64
Friday night I was at the Mount Burnett Observatory for the talk about the ASV’sNew Astronomers Group (NAG), but we took a break from the talk shortly after sunset to look for the two comets in the southern sky that night, C/2011 PANSTARRS and C/2012 F6 Lemmon. It was a lovely clear night, though very windy, and we managed to see both of them. I’d brought my camera and tripod along and got these photographs:
Comet C/2011 PANSTARRS as seen from Mount Burnett Observatory
Comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon as seen from Mount Burnett Observatory
…and this time with a passing aircraft…
Then on Saturday night I got this photo of PANSTARRS from Upper Ferntree Gully, visible as a naked eye object.
Sadly PANSTARRS is heading off to the northern hemisphere so we may not get much more of it here in Australia.
My father was a sign writer and glass embosser by trade, working in the business started by his grandfather. He loved old mechanical things and one part of his work that gave him pride was hand painting museum acquisitions to their original standard. Here is a trailer for a steam road wagon originally operated by J.E. Thomas and Sons in Oswestry (and here’s a link to an advert for them, with a different livery).
One summer holiday (1988 I think) I helped him paint three coal railway trucks for the Maritime and Industrial Museum in Cardiff (part of the National Museum at the time), the museum is long gone but they now seem to have moved up to Big Pit museum at Blaenavon).
From 1992 through to 1994 I was working at the Computer Unit at the University of Wales (well, wrangled an “Employment Training” position there on my own initiative) as a sysadmin and was running Linux on an IBM XT (from very dodgy memory). A friend of mine, Piercarlo Grandi, suggested to me (semi-seriously I suspect) that you could now build a large enough PC to support quite a number of users, and that the Computer Unit could use it as a central server (they were running DEC 5830s with Utrix), so I knocked up a text file and discussed it with my colleagues. They didn’t take it very seriously – little did any of suspect how much that would change.
Well tonight I indulged in a bit of computer archaeology and managed to get the data off my Amiga hard disk (from a GVP A530 expansion unit) and browsing around happpened to stumbleover that text file, dated 8:20pm on the 8th August 1993. It’s quite touchingly naive in places, and my numbers are pretty ropey..
Preliminary Hardware Configuration for a Main Service Linux Machine
Item Each Number Total
Case 100 1 100
Keyboard + Mouse 100 1 100
Floppies 100 1 100
DAT Drives 750 4 3000
EISA SCSI Controllers 300 2 600
Memory (Mb) 25 256 6400
Pentium EISA Motherboard 1000 1 1000
3.5Gb SCSI-II Disks 1800 5 7000
Screen+SVGA Card 1000 1 1000
EISA Ethernet Card 200 2 400
CD-ROM Drive 300 1 300
Projected to be able to support between 200-400 users running Linux 0.99.p12
(Alpha release kernel with patched IP - appears stable)
(1) I've seen reports that the ethernet driver code may suffer from a
memory leak, but I've not seen any evidence for this yet as my
machine hasn't been turned on for a long enough period for it to
cause any problems.
(2) As it is so new there is very little commercial software available
for it, but there is a quite sizeable free software base with many
of the GNU packages already ported for it, and this is generally of
(3) The Linux kernel is well thought out, and includes support for shared
libraries (which Ultrix sadly never picked up) which significantly
reduces the amount of memory applications need.
(4) A Linux box of the size proposed for the service machine has not
been attempted yet (as far as I know), but ones of the size of the
proposed testbed machine are already in usage on the Internet. I
believe that Linux can handle this scaling up with no problem.
(5) There are apparently companies within the UK who sell support services
for Linux, I will investigate further.
(6) There is already a large amount of Linux expertise on the Internet,
including the comp.os.linux newsgroup, the linux-activists mailing
list and even an IRC channel dedicated to Linux users.
This post is dedicated to Rob Ash, my then boss, who took a chance taking me on after my time as a student mucking around on computers when I was meant to be doing my Physics degree, and who was a great mentor for me.
For almost a year now I’ve been a member of the Mount Burnett Observatory, a community project at the old Monash University astronomical observatory at Mount Burnett in the Dandenong Ranges. It’s great fun with both the original 18″ telescope and new 6″ and 8″ Dobsonian telescopes (some thoughtfully sponsored by the Bendigo Bank for education and outreach purposes).
It’s had a Facebook presence for a while, but nothing on Twitter, so after speaking to the webmaster and the president I’ve now set up a Twitter presence as @MBObservatory.
So if you’re into astronomy and around Melbourne (especially the south-eastern suburbs, though we do have people travelling in from quite a way) and use Twitter please do follow us!
With just one sleep left to the annual celebration of Sir Isaac Newtons birth on the 25th December I’d like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy Newtonmas and may gravity not weigh you down too much in the coming new year.
This photo was taken this evening at Cardinia of the sun setting through grass, the choice of where the real horizontal lies is yours.
Donna and I travelled up to Trinity Beach, about 20 minutes north of Cairns, for a holiday with a total solar eclipse in the middle of it.
We were really lucky as firstly we nearly didn’t make it up there at all as Jetstar cancelled our flight up and couldn’t get us another seat until Wednesday which would mean missing the eclipse and losing the accomodation we’d booked. Fortunately we were able to get a flight up with Virgin instead on the same day as our cancelled one, but it cost more than the refund from Jetstar. Then there was the weather; we arrived on a nice sunny Sunday and it looked quite promising, but Monday and Tuesday were both pretty cloudy and wet at times, so it wasn’t looking good.
Wednesday morning rolled around and we were up early (with three different alarms, just in case) and it was clearer than the previous days, but still plenty of broken cloud around.
There were probably a few thousand people around on Trinity Beach…
…who watched the partial phases nervously, but with growing excitement, through the cloud.
We were getting close to totality, but a large cloud was looming, and we wondered if we might miss the total eclipse phase!
Our luck held though, and we managed to see totality through broken cloud.
Of course, after third contact and the end of totality the cloud started to clear and we had a good view for once.
The folks down in Cairns (including my friend Ian Grant from the Bureau of Meterology who lent me a 1976 solar eclipse filter) were not so lucky, they saw the partial phases but missed totality due to cloud. An American in front of him told him that was the third time in a row it had happened to him!
This is my attempt to capture the view of the total solar eclipse as seen from Trinity Beach in Queensland, Australia with my D90 DSLR, uploaded to YouTube with a CC-BY license.
Our tripod wasn’t usable unfortunately so this was taken resting on my knee and, as you’ll see, I got distracted by totality so it wandered off target a couple of times. I stopped filming so I could try and take a still photo as it looked like we were about to get clouded out, hence stopping short. We did manage to see the diamond ring just after though!
Greg Kroah-Hartman, the maintainer of the stable releases of the Linux kernel (the point releases after a 3.x release, e.g. 3.6.5, etc) is looking for help for about 6 months as he’s getting overwhelmed.
I’m looking for someone to help me out with the stable Linux kernel release process. Right now I’m drowning in trees and patches, and could use some one to help me sanity-check the releases I’m doing.
Specifically, I’m looking for someone to help with:
test boot the -rc stable kernels to make sure I didn’t do anything foolish.
dig through the Linux kernel distro trees and send me the git commit ids, or the backported patches, of things they are shipping that are not in the stable and longterm kernel releases.
do code review of the patches going into the stable releases.
If you can help out with this, I’d really appreciate it.
You’ll need to show you’ve had kernel patches accepted, are running the latest stable release candidate kernel and can find distro patches (details at his website). You’ve got until November 7th to apply!