1999 Ducati Monster 750

After taking the MSF Basic Rider course a month ago and getting my license, I finally pulled up the cash for a motorcycle. My heart was set on a BMW, like the F650GS or the older Dakar model, but they seem to keep an extreme resale value. About the only ones I could afford were broken and from the 70’s. So realizing my limitations, I started to look at some Honda or Yamaha bikes to find something reasonably priced that I could comfortably afford. There are a million Honda’s around these parts, especially from the mid 80’s, but I wanted something a bit more modern and without the issues that can come up with a 20 year old machine. So when I came across a 1999 Ducati Monster, for a reasonable price, I figured it was at least worth a look. And what a look it turned out to be.The bike is in perfect condition, with 2800 miles, and an asking price of $3350. It was apparent that the bike had been stored for a number of years, which is rather obvious from the low miles. My guess was that it had only been ridden extensively recently, but the engine started without effort and the bike ran nice and strong. The seller had receipts for the battery being new this year and that seems to be the only thing that was replaced. The tires were good, but I will probably replace them next spring. A little ride down the street made me sure that this was a bike worth its price. The seller also had a center stand for the bike, which I talked him into including, so I took his asking price.
So with a down payment, the bike is mine. I should have the balance paid in full in tomorrow or Wednesday, and if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to hit the road this weekend. Pictures will surely come once I get the bike.

Switching to Linux

After several years of dabbling in Linux and a few months of server administration, I’ve decided to make the switch and use Linux, specifically Gentoo, on my primary machine.  Although I do still have my Windows XP x64 install, it will be used only when necessary.  Based on my experiences running Gentoo as a server, I think the transition will not be as harsh as some changes I’ve made recently (i.e. Dvorak, and still using it).  Since I already have a familiarity with Gentoo, the main issue will be learning alternative programs for what I used on Windows.  My current frustration is finding a music player that compares to iTunes.  Rhythmbox works, but lacks some of the features that I liked about iTunes, like automatically organizing my music library.  I’ve heard good things about Banshee but have not tried it yet.

In terms of games, two excellent games run natively in Linux: Unreal Tournament 2004 and Quake 4.  With Gentoo, installing them was easy as pie, just emerge ut2004 and emerge quake4-bin and follow the instructions.  I might try to install Counter Strike Source under WINE, but that will be a project for a later date.

Webcam on a Telescope

One of my previous project ideas, stemmed from an article in Astronomy magazine, was to use my low cost webcam (Phillips SPC 900NC) to take high quality images of the moon and other objects.  I have recently been putting more time into this, but have been frustrated by an inability to focus properly.  I had intended to use my TeleVue Pronto refractor, however this will not be possible.  When used together, the scope is unable to focus on objects more than about 30 meters away.  Hardly far enough to focus on anything useful.  I think the problem arises because there is no lens in front of the CCD sensor to allow the correct compensation.  If my thinking is correct, a telescope with a longer focal length should be able to allow proper focus at astronomically reasonable distances.

So hopefully I’ll be able to make use of another telescope soon, so that i can at least get some images to play with.

Edit (12-27-2008): As noted below, the problem is solved by using the camera adapter that goes with this particular telescope.  I do have it, and it does work as intended, but time constraints have prevented me from following my initial plans.  Maybe after graduation I’ll have some time to spare…