Monthly Archives: February 2012

Raspberry Pi Launched

Today sees the launch of the Raspberry Pi. This device is small and for a computer cheap.  It dispenses with most of the hardware that fully fledged PC’s have but contains the essentials.  It has a graphics card with HDMI output.  Network port, USB ports and an SD card slot.  the idea is that the SD Card will contain the operating system and boot from there.

This little board promises to inspire a generation, dare I say… in the way that the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and BBC Micro did in the 80’s.

I have registered my interest in this little box and will be very interested to see what it’s possible to do with this thing.  Immediately, I’ll be looking to get this thing working with a media centre to stream video to a TV.  Also, I’ll be very interested in seeing if that little device can be programmed up in a way that it can work outside with my Telescope.  Just imagine, a fully robotic telescope like they have in observatories running from a Raspberry Pi.  All, I’d need is a USB-RS232 converter a wireless network card, USB Hub and some software to capture video from a Meade DSI or my Philips Toucam pro II.

I can also see a lot of professionals getting hold of this device as well, some to tinker with it themselves, others to make up libraries to make it easier for kids to get going with this thing.

Could this thing also be the “only computer” is some houses too!  Now how’s that for a thought.  It would make for a wonderful entry level device.

Astronomy.cjdawson.com

I made good progress transferring the site from the old template.  There is still more to do, there’s some broken links, some of the images need changing up, some of the gallery items still need to be bought into the new format.  But the majority of the site is there.  Rather than leave the old site up, I decided that was time to update to the new format.  I think it’s better than the old site, much more navigable, and hopefully much more manageable on my part.  Time will tell on that second point, but with the liberal use of templates I think that I’m onto a winner.

Nested Templates

I’m still pulling content across from my current website into the new layout.  After messing about with dreamweaver for most of the weekend, I created a base template that the entire site will be built upon. (see my post New face of Astronomy.cjdawson.com) However, some of the pages have multiple items in each category, so I wanted to have a menu on the left side of the screen for this.  There are several ways to accomplish this, using PHP is one really flexible method, but for now I decided to use nested templates in dreamweaver.   This technique allows me to create a template based on another template.  So, I can use my base template, as a file which is a template for the projects section.  The project section can have it’s own template which is used for the articles.

This method become really cool when I need to make an adjustment to the base template – for example when I decided to alter the way that the section buttons appear.  I simple alter the base template and it will update all the documents for the entire site.   Everything gets processed correctly, and the change is cascaded throughout the entire site with no effort on my part.

The other way to accomplish the same thing is to have the site programmed up using PHP,  I’m sure that eventually I’ll move over to a PHP data driven web layout but for now, having everything processed locally is perfect for me.

New face of Astronomy.cjdawson.com

Having spend a little time looking around the web, checking out sites, seeing suggestions of layouts and generally having a good look around, I realised that my Astronomy website needs a couple of approaches to solving the display problems.

The website is made complex because there is the need for a both general categories and within that there are for some of the items sub menus needed.  Some of these in time will become quite long – 110 items needed for the messier object list alone.

To add to the fun, the landing page for the site doesn’t need an sub menu items at all. So having an empty menu will look silly. Neither will the links page.

So, how to solve that problem.

New portal page

For a long time I have wanted a good looking portal page.  At first, I wanted to do something “cool”.  I was going to make a collage picture, and have parts of the site linked off that.  For my BTeC I actually started to put it together.  I was good for the course, to prove that I was able to do it and the instructor loved that it was different.  However, I wasn’t happy with it, The images did not lend themselves to a good website design, and it wasn’t intuitive.

Website redesign

astronomy.cjdawson.com screenshot

astronomy.cjdawson.com screenshot

Time has finally come.  After having had my astronomy site up and running for over 10 years, I figured that it is finally time to give my astronomy website a complete make over.  The current site is rather inconsistent and has a very distinct 90’s style.

My plan is to bring the site up to day, give it a much more professional look and feel, and give me a better looking site to update everything from.

Paypal Donate button

After receiving this comment.  I initially posted back saying that I wasn’t interested in making any money from my site.  But then, over the last two weeks I started to think, well if someone really wishes to throw money at me, why should I stop them?   Before I go on, I’d like to state that I am not interested in making money from the site.  I have no interest in turning this into a business.    I decided to do this because I like doing things that I have not done before.