Astrolight 1.1 Update for Windows Phone Mango

Objects: My Camera

This is the second post in my Objects Series about how much I appreciate the possesions I have, and the choices I made when bringing them into my life.

I have enjoyed photography for as long as I can remember, but the first camera that I owned which really let me take impressive photographs was my Canon G9. I absolutely loved that camera – it had manual controls in a compact body, and with the zoom adapter I was even able to capture a photograph of Jupiter’s moons. Although the photograph itself was very poor, it really got me interested in being able to photograph the night sky. To do this properly, I’d have to get myself a some more stuff.

When I started looking around at the equipment I’d need to take decent photographs of the planets I realised that I’d need to get myself a proper telescope. But then the problem is which should I get first, the digital camera or the telescope? And should I get a CCD or an SLR camera? Because I also wanted to take photographs of other things, I decided the best thing to do would be to get myself a decent SLR camera with a good general purpose lens, and invest in a telescope at a later date.

Next problem is which SLR camera to get. I asked a lot of my friends for advice and they basically came into two camps:

  • Get yourself a low end camera to get you started, upgrade later
  • Buy the best camera you can afford, upgrade much later

I went around the shops and tried out various cameras to see what I thought of them, the two I was looking at was the Canon EOS 550D and the Canon EOS 7D. Both very impressive cameras which would suite my purpose. But upon actually holding the 7D, I quickly realised it felt a lot more substantial than the 550D and felt really good in my hand. I knew which one it had to be.

I’m very happy with my Canon EOS 7D, it has served me very well so far. I don’t know if the 55D would have survived the freezing temperatures of Kielder – where my camera was literally frozen over night. Plus I’ve already taken way more photographs with my 7D than I have with any other camera I have owned, and I’m not just talking about the timelapse videos!

If you are interested in purchasing the Canon EOS 7D, or any other camera for that matter, check out Camera Labs. Their in depth reviews and videos really helped me decide which camera I wanted.

Objects: My Watch

Having too many possessions is a problem that a lot of people seem to have these days. While I now I try to avoid collecting unnecessary baggage, I also like to appreciate the things that I do have in my life – big and small. Over this month I’m going to write a few blog posts about these objects that I appreciate. Objects Series.

A couple of years ago I spent months looking around various G-Shock websites looking for the perfect watch. From past experience, I had a number of requirements that had to be met:

  • Tough
  • Long Lasting
  • Analog Display
  • Alarm
  • World Time
  • Solar Powered
  • Atomic Timekeeping
  • Stop Watch
  • Countdown Timer

Though I had to import it from Japan, the Casio GIEZ GS1300B-1 fit all those requirements, and came in an attractive black body. Unlike the majority of G-Shock watches, the labels for the buttons are actually written on the back cover. To me, this is a lovely touch – the information is hidden by default, but easy to learn. This actually makes this model feel significantly more subtle when compared to other models in its G-Shock family.

The front face of the watch may still be seen as complex to some, but it shows only the information required for the function it is performing, and nothing more. The numbers and lettering is bold, clear, and the main hands glow in the dark for hours after being in light.

Under the face there are some invisible features that you’ll never notice. The tough movement ensures that the hands are always pointing in the correct direction – even after a knock, the time is calibrated every day from radio signals, it’s 200 meter water resistant and it saves battery power by turning off the second hand when it is dark.

To me this device shows how a timepiece can be a functional tool, as well as being well designed and attractive. There is a theme behind the design of this watch, to enable to user to know what time it is based on the criteria they are interested in.

Previous watches of mine have tried to do too little or too much, and out of all technological trinkets I own today – this is my favourite piece.

R2-D2 is the best Star Wars character

So recently I watched all six episodes of Star Wars (again) and while the general idea of the story is a good one, I can’t help but find that these days I don’t really like any of the main characters. Mostly because of the excessive killing.

Obi Wan is pretty cool in the original trilogy right? Well the first three episodes show Obi Wan as a bit of an ass hole. He doesn’t show much respect for other creatures of the universe, and while he seems to do his ‘duty’ well, he’s not very endearing.

Luke doesn’t really do it for me either. Yes he’s generally a nicer person than any of the other Jedi in the movies, but it’s not until right at the end that he seems to be a well rounded guy.

R2-D2 is the only character in the movies who gives without asking for anything in return, and while he does protect himself by setting fire to a couple of battle droids in Episode III, he doesn’t kill any other living* beings. This is quite different to the ‘enlightened’ Jedi in the movies, who seem slice through anyone in their way in every other scene.

He shows qualities that few of the other characters have including compassion, bravery, intelligence, comedy and friendship. I like him a lot.

Finally, one of the things that makes Artoo the real hero of the entire saga, is the fact he’s the only one who knows the full story, unlike C-3PO, he never has his memory wiped – despite letting other people think he doesn’t know what is going on at times. He is pure awesome.

* Clearly the droids in the Star Wars universe are shown to be intelligent, have emotions, feel pain and fear death. It’s up to you to decide if R2-D2’s taking of another droids life to save his own is acceptable behaviour or not. The validity of these droids as sentient beings is outside the scope of this blog post. ;)

Jupiter in December 2011