I'm back. In more ways than one... Apologies to anyone who missed me at the Winter Star Party, but it could not be helped and unfortunately the death in our family has put me out of work off and on for quite a bit over the last couple of months and kept me away from a lot of emails, tech support issues, and further development on many projects. Life is slowly spinning up to the "new normal" as some friends have called it, and my passion for my work is beginning to return in fits and starts. There is still much uphill to go, and I could be coy about my absence, but word has long leaked out throughout the industry about the death of my 20 year old son on a skiing day trip. I've been overwhelmed by some of the responses from many of our customers and friends here, and am grateful.
With that elephant out of the room, I can say that NEAIC and NEAF were a MUCH needed CHARGE to my psyche. Time with my vendor friends was fantastic and uplifting, and I got to catch up with a lot of customers I see regularly at these events (some of whom have now also become friends), some I see on the forums regularly, and I met a few new ones. Being surrounded by the industry has also rekindled my desire to get back under the stars and to see some projects get back on track. We did have quite a bit to show and talk about too. We brought a Paramount Taurus and displayed it on the show floor at NEAF, and people kept remarking about how BIG it was! Photos of just the mount don't do it justice, but seeing it with a person next to (or inside of!) it puts things in perspective!
My two pet projects, TheSky on Linux and on the Raspberry Pi also received a lot of attention. I put installers for "beta" copies of the Ubuntu build of TheSky on USB drives, and imaged a lot of SD cards for the Raspberry Pi. I've learned something from this experience right off the bat. My assumption was that we'd have some hobbyists with Raspberry Pi's and they might want TheSkyX for it. I've yet to meet one... everyone it seems is buying a Raspberry Pi just for the purpose of running TheSkyX on it so they can put it on the mount and reduce clutter and power consumption for mobile imaging. This is wonderful actually and exceeds my expectations as that's really what I have hoped people would do with it. There is an old adage that 'software sells hardware', and it's true of the Paramounts and the Raspberry Pi as well as everything else.
So the Taurus is real and shipping and you could put your hands on it this last weekend. I also brought one of my own imaging trains to put on the MYT to show off the Raspberry Pi in use, and a laptop running Ubuntu. These are now in the wild too and a general release after a tiny bit more work is forthcoming. We were also showing off recents builds of TheSkyX version 10.5 sporting a newly revamped and more modern, cleaner, and more professional looking user interface. I like it a lot, and the darker look (akin to recent releases of Photoshop) looks much better when your using it in a dark environment; like, say... imaging! The biggest new feature is excellent support for high DPI displays, such as the Retina display on Macs. The more I use the new version, the more the last one appears... well, I'd rather use the new one ;-)
Customers or not, one of the big benefits of shows such as this is that the vendors can get together face to face and our late night get togethers can be quite productive (when we aren't arguing about politics! - LOL). Projects, partnerships, and help between us and other vendors is in the works, largely because we can sit down and chat together and brain storm in ways that just can't happen over the phone or via email. I'm really excited too about some new products, including a new guider package from a team up between Losmandy, Starlight Xpress, and Stellarvue. Also we will be working closely with people like Optec, Moonlight, SBIG, and Main Sequence software (yes, I did say that out loud) on new device support and enhanced software interoperability down the road.
My next big adventure is my first trip to the Texas Star Party! I'll be setting up on the field (not inside the vendor tent) together with my friends from Sky-Watcher and Celestron and we'll be doing demos, answering questions, and with luck imaging all night! I'm even going to do a little impromptu imaging workshop for a couple of the guys there who also have Paramounts and TheSkyX with camera add on. After that is AstroCats in Canada, and then... well, we'll see what the summer and fall brings!
Next year... next year I will return to WSP with a vengeance, you can be sure!
04-12-2016 10:44 AM