Faaassst!

Digital image sensor. Magnificent!

Aaaah, summer. A beautiful day, cloudless blue sky, calm and 32degC max. Luvverly.

My friend is in Austria and she sent me the view from her window:

Austria.

It looks nice to us, but I’m sure it’s less pleasant if you have to trudge through it. Or shelter from it.

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My title today refers to a PayPal transaction. In August I placed a web order for an electronic device from China (I blogged about it at the time, a “digital telecine”). The price was US$67 or approx. A$97 and I paid by PayPal.

Well, it was one of those “too good to be true” items and nothing arrived, no goods. I sent an email a week ago asking what’s the deal? As expected, I got no reply.

OK, I thought, let’s see how PayPal will help. So about 5pm today I filled out the “Problem” form on PP, and to my amazement, in seconds, within 10 seconds anyway, I got a notice to say my issue has been resolved and I have a refund of the full amount. Brilliant!

This was not a trivial amount – A$97 was a bit too much to just shrug my shoulders. I am impressed! Thank you, PayPal. I use them for almost all my transactions and this is the first time I’ve needed to complain – this is great.

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I’ve just placed yet another order for a new Li-Ion battery for my Sony Clie PEG-NZ90 hand held PDA (Personal Digital Assistant).

I’ve been trying to get this battery for the past couple of years, but they seem to be as rare as rocking horse shit. In the past few years I’ve ordered from four or five suppliers in NZ, New York, Canada, the UK and somewhere else but each time, my order was cancelled and thankfully, my money was refunded. Strangely, the NZ guy said he didn’t post to Australia. Huh?

Anyway, once again I’ve found a supplier in the USA (what did we do before Google?) and ordered two at US$7.95 each, plus $15 p&p. Let’s see how we go this time.

The original battery (I only ever had one) started swelling up and wouldn’t hold a charge, back in the late ’00s. I don’t really want to use the device, but it’s a very neat machine and I reckon there are people around the world who’d like to own one for nostalgia reasons. I’ve seen one advertised on eBay for US$285! I’ve still got all the bits – manuals, CD with software, charger, earpieces, cords and so on, the complete set. I can’t remember exactly what I paid. It was from the Sony Shop in Murray St in 2003 and I think it might have been around $800. Wow.

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Look at this!

No, it’s not scratched film. It’s a shot of the night sky using a telescope, and this is what astronomers have to put up with now. These are the very bright light trails from a new group of satellites put into orbit by SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company.

Amazingly, these are just the latest thousand approx. of around 12,000 satellites that he is planning to put into orbit, to provide world-wide internet coverage. At his profit, of course.

The thing is, there are no rules or laws to regulate who can put satellites into orbit or how many! As you can imagine, astronomers are livid. This is going to spoil earth-based astro-photography and telescope observations forever more. Unless someone can take these satellites out of orbit, which is very unlikely. One man, one company can spoil astronomy, and no-one can stop him!

The only answer is for astro-cameras to be placed into orbit outside the orbit of these small bright satellites. That will be hugely expensive, and who will do it?

There’s one bright prospect: the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Telescope, is to be finally launched from the Guyana launch site in the next few weeks. This promises to be a fantastic addition to our view of the universe and it’s been decades in the making. I fear for it, though. It is a huge job and incredibly risky and expensive. The lift-off will be in a few weeks, but once it reaches Earth-orbit, it then has to be tested, then boosted to a Lagrange point, where the gravitational pull is equal between Earth and the Sun. This is around 1/3 of the distance between Earth and the Sun and means the telescope will be much too far away for repairs if anything goes wrong.

Once it gets there, a few months from now, the satellite’s sails (solar panels) have to be deployed, then the huge mirror optic has to unfold and lock into place before it starts to work. The potential for something to go wrong is huge, and if it does, it’s hard to see how it could be fixed. There are going to be some very nervous NASA people for the next few months.

But assuming it all works, WOW! We will be able to see the universe with something like 100x the resolution of Hubble, and that was pretty amazing. I can’t wait.

Next day: completely by coincidence, this superb article explains it all much better than I can – https://www.quantamagazine.org/why-nasas-james-webb-space-telescope-matters-so-much-20211203/?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits The drawings and diagrams are excellent. I highly recommend the article, it’s long but worth reading.

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I’m very happy to see the end of the political career of the member for Pearce (my federal electorate). This is a guy who showed from his early university law course that he is arrogant, misogynist and boastful. He grew up in a Liberal Party family and thought he was destined for a great career. Unfortunately he put his boasts in writing.

He was elected to the WA state parliament, then moved to federal politics and soon made attorney-general. But his boastful, sexist past came back to bite him, unfortunately involving the suicide of a talented woman. He is not accused of her death, but there’s no doubt that mud stuck.

He’s been forced to give up his high ambitions and is quitting federal parliament. Good result, as far as I’m concerned. It just reinforces the lesson I learnt in life, if you do wrong things, it will come back to bite you. Nothing more sure.

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Canon Pro 1 digital camera.

This is the inside view of one of the first all-in-one digital cameras, the Canon Pro-1. It was one of the first, in the early 2000s, with a high quality zoom lens fixed to a body with a 12MPx digital sensor.

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