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Week of 21 March 2005

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Monday, 21 March 2005
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08:43 - There are now ten days until my self-imposed deadline for having a finished book. Here's what I plan to do over the next ten days:

1. Write short introductory text for each of the three chapters, "Observing Hacks", "Equipment Hacks", and "Accessory Hacks".

2. Assign hacks to chapters, and reorder as they'll appear in the book.

3. Shoot the images we haven't done yet.

4. Incorporate changes/comments/edits received from our editors and others, and adding cross-references to other hacks by titles.

5. Write the preface.

6. Continue adding new, complete hacks.

I want to have the book ready to go by 1 April. Then we can use the final ten days to add more hacks as we have time available, and to generally polish the book and make it as perfect as possible. One way or another, this book will be ready to go to production on 10 April.

Have I ever mentioned that I HATE Microsoft?

I have one Windows XP system sitting here on my desk, running Windows astronomy software. I'm using it to do screen shots for the book. This morning, that system tells me that I have "8 days left for activation". When Microsoft announced XP product activation, I swore I'd never go along with that, and I don't plan to start now. That means I either have to shoot all my screen shots in the next eight days, or re-install XP.

Screw that. I'll just get all my screen shots done in the next eight days and then give XP what it deserves, which is to be formatted. That box will be running Xandros before much longer.


Tuesday, 22 March 2005
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08:03 - We're in the end game now, with three weeks until the drop-dead deadline for the book. I'll be busier than the proverbial one-armed paperhanger from now until 10 April. I have 57 hacks complete. I'd like to end up somewhere in the mid-60's, but several of those I want to finish are rather long ones. Also, I have a bunch of images to shoot, changes and edits to incorporate, chapter intros and the preface to write, and so on. O'Reilly wants all the images by 3 April, which means I may end up shooting images for hacks I haven't written yet.

So you won't be hearing much from me around here until the book is done. Even my email is stacking up. I've had time to respond only to the highest priority messages, so my inbox is not a pretty sight.


Wednesday, 23 March 2005
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Thursday, 24 March 2005
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08:30 - I sent the following message to subscribers this morning:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [RBT] Xbox fire hazard
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 08:25:22 -0500
From: Robert Bruce Thompson
To: Subscribers

I've been following this story for a couple of weeks, and as far as I know no mention of it has been made in the mainstream media. I'm still unsure of the complete details of the situation, but they appear to be as follows:

1. There is a design flaw in the Xbox mains power connector that causes a fire risk. Affected Xboxes are those shipped in Europe prior to 13 January 2004 and in the US and elsewhere prior to 23 October 2003.

2. There have been numerous catastrophic failures of Xboxes.

3. Microsoft denies there is a design flaw in the Xbox, but has recalled 14.1 million power cables. You can determine if your Xbox is affected by visting xbox.com. If yours is one of the affected units, Microsoft will ship you a new power cable. Microsoft refuses to replace the Xbox units themselves.

4. The new power cable doesn't fix the problem, but merely eliminates the risk of fire. The new power cable contains a fusable link. If the Xbox starts to draw too much power and overheat, the fusable link blows, preventing the Xbox from catching fire. The Xbox is still destroyed, of course.

I don't own an Xbox, so I have no way of verifying the conflicting comments made by Microsoft versus those made by thousands of irate owners. But it seems prudent to discontinue the use of your Xbox, at least until you replace the power cord.

Best regards.



Friday, 25 March 2005
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09:00 - Things are moving right along. Here's a mock-up of the cover.

Astronomy Hacks Cover

I am now in heads-down mode, so you won't be hearing much from me until the book is finished. I don't even have time to reply to email that's not related to the book. Sorry.


Saturday, 26 March 2005
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Sunday, 27 March 2005
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