Grading Season

I have been very silent in mail, forum and video lately – it’s simply the grading season. Still standing in waist high piles of numbers, spread sheets and student output. Next week the worst is over.

EDIT Jan 23 – Well, one can dream…. I had a corrupt grade table to fight and some minor trouble with printers and paper. And then my PC power supply went dead Friday night. One Capacitor had a nice bulge on it’s head. Bought a new one, it stopped working after an hour and then of course the store was closed. Now I have a new one which seems to work fine. Tomorrow is completely filled up with work but on Wednesday I have a free afternoon for making a show.

Image Stacking in Astronomy

Bob pointed me to a Blog post about a splendid image of Saturn made by a hobby astronomer. He takes video footage with a CCD (basically a black and white digital camera) at his telescope and changes RGB filters in the light path.
Then the images are stacked and processed by a lot of different programs.
The Blog is on Periodic Videos which also hosts this “have to click” for every Chemistry Geek.

And if that was enough to read for you – here is the video from the Blog.

Server outages


From time to time something on the new server runs amok. Ping then is still working, ssh login and all other I could think of is not. Most of the times everything comes backup OK after some minutes, but I had to reboot the server twice. And the last outage took MySQL down.

The weather is fine, I am sitting on my balcony, drinking tea, eating cookies and reading “Zero History” by William Gibson. So I will will not try to work this out just now. 😉

Update (Oct 3 18:12):

I found the reason after thinking a lot about things that occur every 6 hours on my machine. Nothing – but then I filtered the access log of the server. A massive parallel scraping of web pages from one IP. I have blocked that IP now and am thinking about limiting the number of parallel connections of one IP.

Update again: Complained at amazon web services.

Update Oct 5: Reply from Amazon:


This case has been investigated and resolved by the Amazon EC2 Abuse Team. Instance has been terminated.

Thank you for your attention in this matter.

Amazon EC2 Abuse Team


Terminated. This somehow gives me a mental image of a guy in trench coat and his face in the shadow of his hat leaving the scene….


New show on Sep 28 – 20:00 GMT


Nearly everything seems to be ready – the show has been recorded and rendered.

In about 23 hours we’ll release it. Please hammer the server, it needs a thorough test. 😉

EDIT: I drove to school and the server died. 🙁 I had to reboot it, no idea what happened.

flattr – “just for my pleasure”

flattr is an experiment to get one of the usual ways of saying “Thank You” into the world of the web. Material gifts – money, to be precise.

The basic principle is easy to understand. If you join flattr you have to give them at least 2€ a month. They take 10% of them to get rich pay for the service. (I have no problem with them getting rich. 🙂 ) Then you can play two roles in the scheme, consument and producer.

As a consument of digital media you can click on these little flattr buttons:

Each month the money you have put in is divided by the clicks you have made. I tried it yesterday with Boris Nienke’s bnsonic blog – he would have got 1.80€. But today I clicked on Tim Pritlove’s “Not Safe For Work” podcast – and now each of them gets 0.90€. If I click more, I divide further, but I don’t have to increase my payment. The video on flattr compares it with a birthday cake that you bring to school or office.

As a producer of digital content you can place this little button in your content and wait for people to click on it. And of course, hope that they only love you. There is no special registration necessary for becoming a “producer”, if you are a participant you can play both roles.
I expect flattr buttons to come up on a lot of sites – also photo sites like flickr and 23. When I see an image that I really like, why not click on that button?

I want to emphasise that I see this mostly as an experiment. I take a lot of gratification out of your comments, forum activity and “thank you” mails – enough to keep me going. My job is well paid and I really don’t need more money. If there is something coming in on this channel I’ll use it NOT for the show, I’ll spend it just for my pleasure. And of course I’ll report about the success and post an image of the chocolate bar, glass of beer or what else I can get out of this.

Take only part if you are convinced of the concept, not to flatt(e)r me. If you want to do that, just send me a mail, postcard, beer crate… 😉 Make a video for me to play (nachbar, your’s will be on soon, Peter, I havent forgotten your images…..) or blog about Meet the GIMP or drop the link somewhere appropiate. (BTW, we have a Google Pagerank of 6 now, that is really not bad and better than the rest of the Photocast Network and I am getting nice advertisement offers which I turn down all.) Or just watch the show and enjoy, I see the download numbers too. 😉

This project will still be financed by your contributions, there will be a new funding rally for 2011 at the end of this year. The funds for this year are sufficient, the server is covered and part of the new audio equipment I bought and try to get running, too.

“Real” New Year Resolutions.

After viewing Rolf’s recent resolution videocast ( Episode 26 ) you may be interested in some help with “real” new year resolutions, but photography ones of course! An article by Thom Hogan available here is an excellent read and provides some advice on having attainable photographic goals.

It was not written with new year in mind but I stumbled across it just recently. He suggests having combinations of short and long term goals, all with quantifiable results.

As there is little I can add to his piece I will just list some of the goals I came up with myself after reading it:

  • Enrol on a photography course. Starts Jan 16th!
  • Tag those thousands of images that do not have tags, at least an hour a week.
  • Create a photography website. Work on it at least an hour a week.
  • Shoot at least one half day every week and produce one printable image that I would be happy to hang on the wall.

Now all these objectives have dates and specific details assigned but be warned, I proudly showed these aims to my wife. Her response “It looks like you have resolved to do even more of the things you already enjoy doing”.

“Errr…Yes…” 😉