4K Screen Backgrounds

I was just re-editing one of my photos for use as a background. In my life complicated by multiple computers, many of which are virtual, I use unique screen backgrounds to remind myself which computer I am on.

Zodiacal Light over Keck
Zodiacal Light over the Keck telescopes

Hmmm? Maybe I should share a few.

These are sized for the newer 4K monitors at 3840 x 2160, which is the usual 16:9 aspect ratio now used for most monitors. The images should display well on full HD monitors as well. You can use these for personal use only, no commercial use or re-posting to other services!

Use the ‘full size’ link under the image to download it.

A Pop, a Puff of Smoke, and an Ominous Red Glow… Not Good

When powering up a nearly three decade old computer for the first time I should really have a video camera running…

The loud pop, and the stream of smoke issuing from the side vents was bad enough. It was the ominous orange glow seen for just a couple seconds from the same vent that really sent me the message…

Not good.

Compaq Portable III
A Compaq Portable III personal computer, circa 1987, photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
I yanked the power cord as quickly as I could, then just sat there for a moment considering the implications of disaster. A Compaq Portable III, a design first marketed in 1987. A computer that runs DOS, predating the first versions of windows. This is the computer that holds the software that operates the Keck II dome.

Without this machine it will be very difficult to program the old PLC the dome runs on. I do have a replacement for that PLC controller running in my office, but I face the challenge of verifying the design, I would like to run the old software in the test setup to compare it to the new. I would also like to have a backup in case something goes wrong during the transition, a way of putting the old PLC back into the system and programming it.

Continue reading “A Pop, a Puff of Smoke, and an Ominous Red Glow… Not Good”

Passing of an Icon

My first computer was an Apple II+, I left home with an Apple IIe, and for a few years used a Fat Mac then a Macintosh LC. I carry an iPhone, my little iPod Nano looks quite worse for wear, and I am typing this on an iPad 2. Few people have had the impact on my personal life as Steve Jobs.

We constantly receive news of deaths… newsmakers, celebrities, sport heroes. Most mean little or nothing to me. Today’s news connects in a very unexpected way. Steve Jobs was a geek like me. One of the first icons of my generation to go. The products made by Apple have impacted my life in so many ways. While typing this I am taking stock of what he meant to me, and to our technological society. It is difficult to understate his impact. I hope that Apple can continue to innovate without his vision.

He will be missed.

Postcard from the Summit – Blinking Lights

Walking through the room I somehow fail to notice just how much equipment is there. At night, with the lights off, the sheer quantity of LED’s and other indicator lights underscore the number of servers and other equipment the room contains. Every direction you look, the room is filled with equipment… The telescope control computer, network switches, terminal servers, instrument servers, the ACS controller and the telescope drive system itself. All necessary to keeping the telescope on-sky…

Keck 2 Computer Room
Servers of the K2 Computer Room at night