Back in college officially.

Yes, the time has finally come, where I get my arse in gear and forge ahead with the completion of my Master’s Thesis, and to finally complete this Masters of Engineering course that I’ve been pursuing over the past while.

My letter of re-admittance arrived this morning, I’ve contacted the relevant Department personnel with regards to my supervisions and other relevant internal matters, and all looks good. I’ve been given a deadline to complete the document by in order to graduate this January. It’ll be tight but certainly possible.

A nice side effect will be being properly of student status again, and eligibility for reduced cost gym membership etc – as well as kayaking Intervarsities competition eligibility once again for the next year as a student and the year after as a year’s grace!

Now to knuckle down properly and get this thing done!

C&S Recruitment drive – a long, but fun day..

Yesterday was the annual ULSU Clubs and Societies recruitment drive, hosted in the UL Arena.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been preparing the Skynet cluster infrastructure for this event, resurrecting the physical webserver after the hdds cooked during a previous aircon failure, and getting a few other little bits and pieces sorted. I had a lot of work to do to facilitate Keith O’Neill of Bluechief, as he was updating and upgrading the ULSU website, and Skynet had agreed to provide the hosting and backend management for that site.

The day itself was a long long day, in the college for 9 and immediately lifting and dragging the pod constituents from the new Sprinter in to the Arena. Then back up to the Stables and SU to collect the rest of the part as well as the Compsoc equipment to network some 80 PCs in three basketball courts with zero infrastructure..

Some 3000-4000 people attended the Drive over the 3h30 it was open to the college population. Many new members in all of the attending clubs and socs, and some good showings for the Kayak and Mountain bike clubs. Lots of good chats with people that I hadn’t seen in a while, great to make new acquaintances as well as meeting up with old friends.

I had to help out with the takedown as well, and I got out of the Arena at about half past 9 or so, got treated to pizza (lunch!) from the OPC after that as thanks for my assistance lifting and dragging..

Satisfying day to see so many new people around the Arena, and I’m looking forwards to seeing all of the new people at the club events as well!

Fun in Bikepark Ireland

I was recently out in Bike Park Ireland and had a great day out there. John came along for his first time there, and he brought his ’07 Specialised Enduro and I brought my Santa Cruz V10 dh bike. It was definitely far too early for me to be getting up at that hour of the morning after finishing work at something like 4am, so I was definitely slower than I’d like to be but John was definitely getting up to speed as the day went on.

Definitely a good day. Somewhere about 20 runs in total, mostly on the Red, but a few Black 2 runs to spice it up were taken as well. David was supposed to come along as well but he had farming duties to attend to – pity as he missed a great day’s biking. Here’s a clip of one of our runs on the Red:
My chasing John

At the end of the day I found a little bit of a wobble in the rear of the V10, so I dropped it into Rory at RAW for a bearing replacement and general fixup, and it’s about as good as new now, nice and taut and ready for more abuse!

More toys.. A Wii has been added to my collection

Yes, I’ve sourced a Nintendo Wii!
I was doing a little tidying up of some stuff in the house, and I came across an old external harddrive. Looking at the contents I realised that I had backed up the games that were there when a Wii used to be under the television. I remembered fondly some of the games, and after some checking on I found a decent set of a Wii and accessories and a nice games collection for a decently low price.
So I picked it up yesterday evening, and immediately proceeded to set about softmodding and adding the Homebrew Channel. It is good to be able to execute code on this device that Nintendo have not blessed! Especially since Nintendo stopped providing the Connect24 framework that provided the news and weather channel content, keeping that exclusive to the Wii-U.
The console, though nearly 9 years old, fits nicely beside the amp, and I have it upscaling through the AV amp onto the HD tv. Good picture, and I have been able to play my backups on the new Wii as well.
The next steps are to get MAME working with the 30Gb Google library of arcade roms that I have on my server.. That could lead to some very interesting gaming experiences!

A little bit of solar system astrophotography!

Saturday night after work, I set up the 12″ dob with the camera attached, and I tried recording some video clips of Jupiter and Saturn, and after a bit of processing I got these two spectacular pictures out at the end..

Jupiter, with Io and it’s shadow on the cloud tops:


Saturn, with a clear Cassini’s division :


Quite happy with these pics, and it’ll only get better!

Some bike maintenance work, and a shiny new XC helmet

After my little ground collision at speed in Wicklow before Christmas, I decided I had to retire the helmet that I was wearing on that trip. CRC were doing clearance sales on a few bits, and included was a Cratoni Terrox helmet at 70% off. I wanted a helmet that I could use with my goggles and this looked as though it should work okay with them. Opening the box I saw that the helmet has a carbon fibre frame, a range of foam inserts to velcro on for fine tuning the fit, and there’s a net insert to prevent bugs and crap getting to your head. The fit is pretty good, the ratchet adjustment is perfect for me thankfully. Plus I can fit my goggles around the helmet without too much hassle and they are held by a little notch at the back. A very shiny helmet for sure. Would I have paid full retail? Hell no, but it’s better than what I was going to get at the price I wanted to pay. CE certified as well.

I got a new goggles insert as the shiny one I was using got badly scratched on the floor of the Sprinter heading over to Chatel last summer and my vision was being impaired by the gouges inside and outside directly in my field of vision. I got the double-skinned and vented persimmon visor. Appears to work well enough when I was wearing it around the house and in the back yard today. Tearoffs are on the way to minimise the chance of getting the visor gouged again.

There was also a set of finned SLX metal pads to install on the Reign, and they went in with ease. Got to love Shimano brake systems for that!

I also shortened the rear Zee brake hose on the V10, and both brake hoses on the Reign so there should be a lot less flapping at the front of the cockpit now.

All in all, a good hour or two sorting things out that I wanted to get sorted.
Now to actually go ride the damned thing :D

Je Suis Charlie

Je Suis Charlie.

Just because you may take offence is no reason to persecute. The issue is with you and the lack of acceptance, not the entity you take offence at.

That is all.

New telescope!

I saw a Skywatcher 12″ FlexTube Dob for sale on DoneDeal recently, and managed to scrape together the cash to go and get it.

For once the new astro equipment curse did not hold true, and I had a clear night sky to play with. First light was with M35, M1, and M42. M42 is beautiful with 12″ aperture.

Then I decided to go and clean up and start the modding process. I took the mirror out and gave it a good rinse, carefully using fingertips and hydraulic pressure to remove the crap that had built up on the mirror while the scope was in storage, I cleaned and lubed the poles, then I recollimated the scope.

Back out and I left it to thermally stabilise again. Target list includesM81/M82 (M81 is bright! M82 has structure), M65/66, M95/M96, NGC2903, NGC2392, M97/M108, M51 (can definitely see the spiral structure), Sunflower, M94, Cocoon galaxy, NGC 4565 for the first time in a decade or more. Seeing Jupiter through it was a real eye-opener, with finely detailed belts with bays and festoons. A beautiful sight.

This scope is so easy to set up and take down, it’s pretty much a grab’n’go scope for me. I’ll be moving onwards my 6″ and 8″ scopes and a few of the eyepieces that I no longer use to make room for the new scope. I do foresee an equatorial platform in my future though, especially if I’m going to do video astronomy with this scope.

Elite Dangerous – removal of offline play – looks like they lied to get the Kickstart backing..

So I backed Elite Dangerous some time ago on Kickstarter, and I was looking forward to a modern interpretation of the old Elite games.

However, the developers have made a design decision to completely remove the offline play component of the game, meaning that all in-game interactions with planets and other ships and systems absolutely require interaction with an online server to complete. This means that there is no opportunity to pootle about in a true single-player mode, as the universe is constantly updating as other players (who likely will have lots more time to play and advance) explore and interact. For some this is not a bad thing, but seeing as I am not going to be a 40 hour a week player I am not expecting this game to be as fun as I was expecting it to be.

Shame on you David Braben, and shame on you Frontier Developments, for lying to your fans in order to get the backing.

It smacks of greed that there’s a requirement for always-online. In-game advertising, micropayments for “upgrades” and all of the crap that comes from always-online.

If I wanted another Eve online, I’d have bought Eve online. I wanted an improved Elite, and it looks as though I’m no longer going to get that. Shame!