Wednesday 31 October 2012

SanDisk microSD packaging overkill

If you'll forgive me, I'm going to get on my soapbox for a few seconds...

I recently had a faulty microSD card which I returned to SanDisk for replacement. I've had no problems with SanDisk in the past, and they were reasonably efficient at sorting out a replacement card. However, I was dumbfounded at the amount of packaging they used to return the card...

SanDisk microSD packaging mistake

The card was inside the white padded envelope (you can just see it sat on top of the envelope in the photo), which was inside the cardboard, which was taped up and wrapped with four plastic straps...

I think I might email their sustainability manager, if they have such a thing...


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Sunday 21 October 2012

Changes in the woods over the years...

I was just updating some info on my YouTube videos, and looking at old blog posts, and could scarcely believe the changes over the past few years. Here's a couple of photos of roughly the same part of the wood in 2008 and 2011, both featuring my nephew Joshua:



Amazing, eh?


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Saturday 20 October 2012

Transition Rye: Recycle Swap Shop

If you've never heard of, or been to, a Recycle Swap Shop, then you need to read this story I've just posted on the Transition Rye website about what we got up to in Rye this morning:

Recycle Swap Shop shifts quarter of a tonne of stuff!
This morning, St Mary’s Ecology and Transition Rye ran the first ever Recycle Swap Shop in Rye! As a result, at least a quarter of a tonne of stuff went to a good home, and didn’t end up in landfill or just cluttering up someone’s house. We had 300 people attend, which was more than we had ever hoped for!

DSC_4982 Rye Recycle Swap Shop Oct 2012


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Monday 15 October 2012

Back to the woods: fungi, a woodpecker and chainsawing windblow

I had a good day in the woods today; not only did I get a decent amount of work done, I also got photos of some of the wildlife, including a Greater Spotted Woodpecker. The first thing I saw upon driving in though was these Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria), so I stopped to get a pic:

DSC_4884 Fly Agaric

Once out of the car, I realised they were all over the place!
DSC_4888 Fly Agaric

Lots of other fungi out too, such as this decaying bolete:

and some Brown Roll Rims:

While I was getting my tools together I heard a woodpecker up in the trees. They're normally quite hard to photograph in the woods, being a bit shy, but this one came out in the open, though still a fair distance away:
DSC_4944 Greater spotted woodpecker

DSC_4937 Greater spotted woodpecker

DSC_4934 Greater spotted woodpecker

I eventually got on with the job for the day, and headed over to Sweep Wood, using the log trolley to transport my tools:
DSC_4951 Moving equipment on the log trolley

The area I was working in had suffered from some windblow, here it is a week ago, before I did some work on it with my friends Paul and Marcus:
DSC_4539 windblown trees

At the start of today the main clearing that's been created just had a couple more to take down:

but there were still quite a few trees across the path and some broken stools to deal with:


Here's a short timelapse video I took with the GoPro camera to show you what I was up to...

So now there's a new clearing, which I'm sure will spring into life next year with the light coming in:

and the path running past it is clear and safe to walk along:

Some of the logs that were produced were fairly rotten, so I left them for the bugs to live in, but there was quite a bit of good stuff, which I moved with the log trolley.
DSC_4538 Logs on the log trolley

From today and the day I did with Paul and Marcus, we've got a decent pile of wood out of this bit of work!
DSC_4969 logs stacked for seasoning

We only need 4-5 times what's in that picture to do a year's heating at home...


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Sunday 14 October 2012

Deep sky astrophotography

Enthused by my recent visit to an open evening at Herstmonceux Observatory, yesterday I made an attachment to fix my SLR camera onto a telescope mount, and tried getting a few pics of part of the Milky Way. I pretty much just aligned the mount and point the camera up into the sky, not at anything specific, so I'm pretty pleased with the results! I've produced two versions of the image I got, the first is adjusted to highlight the brighter stars (click it to view full size in Flickr):

Stars in the Milky Way

and this one which brings out the dimmer stars, getting some of the 'cloudy' appearance of the Milky Way:
Part of the Milky Way

For those interested in the technical info:
  • EQ1 telescope mount, polar aligned and with a very basic RA motor drive
  • Nikon D60 with a Sigma lens, at 18mm and F2.8
  • Five 30-second exposures at ISO1600 (I took seven, but two had a plan on them!)
  • DeepSkyStacker software used to process the images, using flat, dark and bias frames.
I'll be trying some different shots over the coming weeks, when time and weather permit...


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Sunday 7 October 2012

Herstmonceux Observatory open evening

Last night we went over to a Herstmoncuex Observatory open evening. If you're even just remotely interested in astronomy or space, this is well worth a visit. All the usual hands-on science displays and exhibits are open - these are great for kids, but I quite enjoy them myself too.

DSC_4543 Hersmonceux Observatory open evening

DSC_4544 Hersmonceux Observatory open evening

Of course, they do look a bit weird lit in red lights! This is necessary to avoid ruining your night vision, which you'll be needing when it comes to looking through telescopes...
DSC_4545 Hersmonceux Observatory open evening

Outdoors, the courtyard is also lit in red, though you may still want to bring a torch - red ones preferred, of course!
DSC_4551 Hersmonceux Observatory open evening

The real treat is looking through the big telescopes. Some of these are up to 150 years old, but have been restored to working order and are still much, much bigger than anything you could have at home in your garden!
DSC_4556 Hersmonceux Observatory open evening

DSC_4553 Hersmonceux Observatory open evening

DSC_4554 Hersmonceux Observatory open evening

They used to be part of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, and were moved to Herstmonceux when the the light pollution got too bad in London. Of course, the same happened here due to Eastbourne, and the RGO is on an island overseas somewhere now.

As well as these, out in the courtyard are lots of telescopes of varying designs and sizes, provided by the local astronomy club and its members. These are all pointing at various interesting points in the sky, and available for visitors to look through:
DSC_4561 Hersmonceux Observatory open evening

I tried taking a few photos of the sky with my camera, and got this one of Cassiopeia:
DSC_4564 Hersmonceux Observatory open evening

The Milky Way is running vertically through the centre of this one, though you'll probably have to take my word for it!
DSC_4565 Hersmonceux Observatory open evening

It all takes me back to before we had the woodland, when I had time to do my own astrophotography in the back garden - here's a few of my best pictures...

Orion Nebula:
Orion Nebula 2Mar2010

saturn 03May07

Jupiter 09Jan2011b

The Moon:
Moon, taken with SkyWatcher Explorer 200

Maybe I'll get back into this one day, but it'll probably have to wait till I retire!


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Thursday 4 October 2012

Moving logs in the rain...

This week the weather has helpfully delivered sunshine on the days I've been working and rain on my days off for work in the woods... So yesterday, despite the rain, I took the trailer to the woods and got on with moving some logs.

This needs doing to get the logs in a place that's dry and windy, and under a tarp, so that they can continue to dry out. I went down to Alex's wood, where I did some work last winter, and collected four trailer loads during the morning and early afternoon, getting a bit damp in the process. One rack had shorter logs, which neatly fitted into the trailer:

DSC_4533 Trailer load of logs

Here's one of the racks I was emptying. As you can see, it was a damp and shady spot, so the wood is a bit damp still - but it won't be burned for another year or two, so there's plenty of time for it to dry out.
DSC_4530 Nearly emtpy log rack

For the first time (for an actual job, rather than testing it) I used the bridge that EWB students built in the woods back in March.
DSC_4536 Moving logs over the woodland bridge

The log trolley also came in handy, moving logs from a rack deeper inside the wood to the trailer, as there's still some tree stumps that prevent me bringing it further inside the wood at present.

There's still some more logs to move, but after that coppicing can start! :-)


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