Brett J. Deriso

July 16, 2014

Ain’t it Always the Case?  You spend eight years dorking around with your CMS software, swapping ISPs, ironing out a non-stop deluge of glitches, and finally beating the entire bloody mess into submission, only to find, once it’s all working the way you want, that you don’t feel like writing anything. Maybe, by the time I get my motivation back, WordPress will have that automated too :-/

It Takes All Kinds

Comment spammers really try, don’t they?  I mean, I almost feel a twinge of empathy for the poor, down-on-his-luck spammer, trying to scratch out a living on cleverly-phrased, but completely phony dialogue meant to read like actual correspondence.  I guess that’s why I feel particularly bad for the imbecile who posted every single SPAMbot form in his arsenal to one of my recent blog entries (as though it wasn’t already obvious that anything he “wrote” would have been a form letter).  Way to show your cards, D-bag! Continue reading

Brett J. Deriso

June 27, 2014

Sitting here at my desk, a fully capable computer and Web browser in front of me, nevertheless composing a post on my Android smartphone, because I can.

Red Dot Finder

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So, in case you don’t already know, the Orion EON 110mm ED refractor does not come with any extras.  Unless you count the front element cover, ring clamps, and the case (and I don’t), you will need to budget appropriately for your own dovetail rails, finder scope, diagonal, and eyepieces.

For my money, nothing beats the simplicity and minuscule profile of a red dot finder, but getting one attached to a telescope is never a straightforward affair.  I’ve already come to the conclusion that -notwithstanding Orion’s impressive design and construction efforts- nothing in astronomy is ever configured to do what you want right out of the box.  It seems no matter how many threaded holes Orion thoughtfully included in the stock configuration, there just aren’t enough, or they are in the wrong location to do what I want.  So it’s time to break out the tap and die set.

What you see here is the end result of three weeks of brainstorming and trial & error.  At the end of the day, all the dovetail and quick-disconnect pipe dreams ended up in the parts bag, and I settled on a simple, chamfered aluminum mounting plate, screwed to the outside of the ring clamp closest to the focuser.  Rock solid, low-profile, and unobtrusive.

Damn Meddling Kids!

I would’ve gotten away with it!

So, here’s the deal: if you move into an apartment community like Van Meter’s Woodland Park in Herndon, where the landlord has made an exclusive (read “monopolistic”) contract with their preferred broadband provider, and bakes the price of cable TV and internet access into your lease whether you actually use it or not, and said broadband provider installs their own gateway router in your unit and uses it to block all inbound TCP requests like a bunch of jackbooted fascists, you can’t host your own website and/or email with a Synology and a Dynamic DNS account.  For that matter, you can forget about standing up an FTP server, or remote desktop connections, or VPN tunneling, or personal cloud syncing, or anything else that every single broadband subscriber is legally entitled to under the rules set forth by the FCC.

There are basically two options at your disposal.  You can:

  1. Break into the telco closet and frog their WAN connection over to your own router to get a public IP address.  Doubtless, this will put you in bad favor with the totalitarian thugs on the other end of the pipe.  The moment they see a foreign node on their network, you can bet they’ll throttle or block it outright.  Or…
  2. Contract with a competing broadband provider -one who minds their own damn business and doesn’t dictate what you can do with your leased public IP (within reason).

Unfortunately, the latter isn’t an option for me, since the clowns who struck this antitrust violation of a contract with my current broadband provider physically severed the coax infrastructure leading into the premises.  Competing providers are literally blocked from penetrating this community, because that would interfere with the management penetrating the tenants.

I wonder what the Fairfax County Public Utilities Commission has to say about all this, and the fact that my landlord lied outright before I signed, telling me I could chose another provider if I was dissatisfied with the tin cans and string they offer from DirecTV & Hotwire Communications.

Looks like the only option I have left is to move the hell out.

In any case, that’s why I’m back to square one yet again.  I’ve given up trying to squeeze common sense from the dimwitted secretarial imbeciles in my rental office, and have handed my web hosting back over to the professionals at Bluehost.  At least now I won’t have to jump through hoops to prove to every ISP on the planet that my SMTP server is trustworthy.

By the way, nice folks, Bluehost.  They really know their stuff, and they make domain transfer/setup a simple point-and-click affair.