Dining room table surgery
This week: Surgery on the dining room table; But what to do?; Blue marble; Fruits and flowers; Inside outside;
This is the first time this year, but I had not heard one at home.
Then on Friday morning I was woken by one calling from one of the trees which surround my home.
These are large birds, about the size of a Blackbird and their distinctive canary yellow and black colours make them immediately noticeable when you see them.
So they are starting to arrive back from the wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa.
Then on Saturday morning, I was surrounded by birds calling from the trees.
They are a few days later than last year, but will soon be nesting and rearing their 2023 brood.
Updating my Springwatch spreadsheet with the date, there are just a couple more avian species which I am waiting to hear / see this year. The elusive Cuckoo and the Hoopoe.
There can be few readers who will not be aware that today is the Coronation of King Charles III in London.
Preparations have been going on for some months, but today is the day when I will be thinking about my colleagues and wishing them well on a day they will always remember.
I have been very fortunate to have escorted most members of the Royal Family at one time or another, over they years I was an motorcyclist on the VIP Escort Team.
I wish His Majesty a long and happy Reign.
Surgery on the dining room table
I realised this week how reliant I am on computers.
Around my home I have several computers. They vary in age and complexity, from a new tablet, a recent all-in-one system I use for scanning, through an older laptop and an even old desktop system.
My desktop system is in use every day. It is what I am writing this blog on. I use it for many other purposes too.
It is home built, from components I bought when I was in Abu Dhabi.
Because of this it is upgradeable and since I bought the main parts in 2010, I have changed in and out several pieces.
On Sunday afternoon I turned the system on and it failed to start.
The most basic part called the BIOS, some software in permanent memory on the Motherboard which starts everything when the power button is pushed had failed.
Fortunately I have always used Gigabyte motherboards, because they have dual BIOS, so I was able to back up and restart the system.
But it failed again the next time I started the computer.
I opened the computer and was surprised at the amount of dust which was inside and decided I needed to clean it.
So on Monday I could be found carrying out open heart surgery on my dining room table….
The deeper in I went, the more I realised I needed to strip everything down. So I took the thing apart, down to the last nut and bolt.
Those parts I could wash I did. Those I couldn’t were cleaned with a vacuum and compressed air.
Putting it all back together was not difficult and when I pushed the power button on Tuesday, the system started.
However it is clear that the Motherboard’s age has caught up with me and I need to plan for the next failure.
You see, I am a planner, so having received the “warning shot” I’m now looking at options.
But what to do?
I can’t write, record weather data, complete statistical analysis, or do any of the historical research I do, without my desktop computer system.
With the system powered up and just-about-working I spent a wet Tuesday afternoon looking at what is available to the self-build computer market.
Starting at the bottom, looking for a new Motherboard, I was confronted with hundreds of different types. Simply too many to make an objective decision about.
Then none of the components on my current motherboard are compatible with new boards.
So I would need ‘new’ everything!
I compromised and using AliExpress, I have ordered a newer, reconditioned version of the Gigabyte Motherboard already in the computer. That way, everything I have will still fit.
But this is a stop-gap measure only.
Now I need to think about what to do next.
I might get another 10 years of use out of the replacement board, at which point it would be a museum exhibit. However there again, I might not.
But for the way I work, I need a desktop system, with two 21″ screens, to do the graphics, photo editing and other tasks.
Moving into the computing cloud is not for me!
Equally, doing work on a small screen, like a 10″ tablet is just not possible.
So I am now starting a process of trying to decide what to do next.
However when I began with the Gigabyte website, selecting the options I was looking for, it came back with 638 different motherboards.
At which point I gave up and made a coffee!
While I had my system in pieces, I photographed every component so I know exactly what is inside the box. Almost everything uses the eSATA connection method. So that is the starting point.
eSATA was the latest, fastest standard in 2010, but has been superseded with eSATAp. However the SATA standard is written to be backwards compatible, so that is an advantage.
Cost is important and it seems that if you think of a price, double it and then add some to get an idea of what it will cost.
In a typical planners methodology, I have started writing a list of the must haves, the nice to haves, and the not necessary. That should helpwhen I really start looking.
However, once my replacement Motherboard arrives, in about two weeks time, it will be installed and I will not be concerned about getting the blog out on time…
The first images from Europe’s new weather satellite, Meteosat-12, have just been released.
The spacecraft, which sits 36,000km above the equator in geo-stationary orbit, was launched in December and is currently in a testing phase that will last most of this year.
When Meteosat-12’s data is finally released to meteorological agencies, it is expected to bring about a step-change in weather forecasting.
Warnings of imminent hazardous conditions, for example severe storms within the next hour, should improve greatly.
This is something called “nowcasting”, which is the ability to say with great confidence that violent winds, lightning, hail or heavy downpours are about to strike a particular area.
Europe has had its own meteorological spacecraft sitting high above the planet since 1977. The new imager is the third iteration in the series.
Meteosat-12 sits in a “stationary” position, keeping a permanent eye on Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
It will return a full picture of the weather systems racing across Earth’s surface at a rate of one complete image every 10 minutes. This is double the frequency which was available up to now.
The satellite also views the planet in more wavelengths of light. Sixteen instead of the previously available 12, from visible to infrared light\.
The additional bands of light being sampled allow for true colour images. In other words, the pictures are much closer to what the human eye might perceive if looking down from the same vantage point.
This new satellite will not alter the climate breakdown we are all experiencing, but will improve the collection of data on what is happening.
Fruits and flowers
This week I have removed more of my weeds and also cut some of the long grass in the Top Orchard.
In the spring I planted out my new Pistachio and Pecan nut trees. I have protected the base of the trees with cardboard to maintain soil moisture.
However I have also been irrigating them when I saw the soil was drying out in the hot sunshine.
One of my Pistachio trees has now produced flowers and some fruit.
These trees have been in large pots for two years, so that they could develop a good root ball before planting.
My experience here is that “bare rooted” trees do not establish as quickly as ones grown on in a pot, then planted.
This is experimental horticulture, but with a local basis, because all around my home are wild Pistachio trees, Pistacia terebinth.
These trees are also in flower and have the first fruit showing too. They are the rootstock which Pistacia vera is grafted onto.
The wild trees have many more fruits than the cultivated varieties, but they remain small, black and inedible.
My tree with the flowers is the largest of the three I have planted. I was thinking about removing the flower spikes, so the tree puts its energy into growing, however I have decided to leave them for now.
Allowing fruits to grow may just check the growth a little and allow the others to catch up.
However later in the year, I can always remove immature fruit if I see the tree is under stress.
I have not forgotten about my inside work on the Konoba and the associated wooden flooring.
This week I brought the hardwood flooring out into the courtyard and have been applying coats of varnish.
I am using a more environmentally friendly water based varnish to seal the surface.
Because it is new wood, each four metre length has been given three coats, over two days. This has allowed ample drying time between coats and a rub down with sandpaper between each as well.
Being able to work outside in just the right temperature, but with out our biting mosquitoes has been very nice.
I have also been emptying the bookcase in the hall because I need to move it before I can begin to lay the floor.
As usual, everything is reliant on something else.
I need to move the books and bookcase, then cut and fix supporting beams, before I start laying the flooring. However, because the Konoba isn’t finished, I don’t have anywhere close by to move the books into.
This next week I will continue working on the problem and try to come up with an easy solution.
Once again, I want to apply my OHIO principle – Only Handle It Once… NCG