ZIP Recovery Tools - Not *Exactly* an Endorsement

I was going to make this just a comment on my previous blog entry, but after spending a couple of hours trying various tools and making notes, the "comment" was getting longer than the original post. So it gets it's own entry.

I've kept poking at various tools to try to recover some of my data. It looks like most of it is recoverable, at least with the right tool. The going price for zip repair tools appears to be about $30. I haven't forked over the money yet, as I'm still going over my options. If they were under $20, I'd probably have already bought one, and if they were $10-15 I might have bought a couple to try different things. But my cheapness has paid off in that there is one free solution I've found that appears to work well.

Windows XP Ate My Images

In order to save space on my Windows XP laptop, which I use for a lot of my imaging, I used the built-in compression to zip up the entire directory tree from the 2009 Summer Star Party. When all was done, the final archive was nearly 4 GB. Nearly, but not quite. To my horror, today, when I tried to unzip the archive to get at some of the files, I got a dreaded

The Compressed (zipped) Folder is invalid or corrupted.

Site upgrade rolled back

After fighting for a week, I've rolled back the Drupal upgrade. Since I posted nearly nothing in the past week (except some comments on the upgrade woes and one event listing which was more of a test), nothing was really lost. I'll be doing this upgrade the more traditional way which is by staging it internally first.

Life in the Fast Lane?

I don't think I'm actually in the fast lane, but it sort of feels like it. The past month has had me away for two weeks, one with the Cub Scouts in Alpine, NJ and another at the Summer Star Party in Savoy, MA. Between that and being in physical therapy three days each week since the shoulder surgery at the end of April, time is passing too quickly and I can't keep up. Fortunately, most of our bills are in autopay mode, so the only bad thing happening is that too much paperwork is piling up and not being recorded and filed.

Modeling the Moon's Phases

I originally built these models a couple of years ago, but didn't realize it was something "novel" until I got some comments at this past year's NEAF where I had brought them for the children's section. Quite frankly, I think it works well with adults, too, as I've heard some well-educated adults propagating common misconceptions about what causes the phases of the moon. The idea is simple enough. One side of the moon is illuminated by the Sun, the other is not.

Performance of AstroTrac TT320X-AG

It's been a busy year. I bought this at NEAF back in April and have only just now been able to get out and give it a spin. The new feature, of course, is the autoguiding. With the original TT320, the specifications state a periodic error limit of 5 arcseconds per 5 minutes. As it works out, when using my Borg 45ED lens, the pixels in my Canon 350D are about 5 arcseconds wide. What I've seen is that I can, with great care, get exposures up to 4 minutes long, but some of them invariably show trailing and have to be thrown out.

Estimating Risks

The April 24, 2010 issue of Science News has an interesting article entitled "Gambling on Experience" which reports on research into how we (people) guestimate risk in real life. I call it interesting both because it is an interesting social question, but also because of a recent dialogue about the topic of cell phones and brain cancer risk reported in a popular magazine.

Light Pollution in Missouri

Missouri is my home state.  I grew up in what was then a rural area south of St. Louis, in Arnold.  Seeing the stars at night was no big deal, and something I took for granted. Arnold can longer be considered rural and in the intervening 40 years has gone through the typical suburban sprawl growth pattern along with major increases in bad night-time lighting.  During our family visit last summer (2009), it was apparent that the skies are only slightly better than here in Brooklyn, NY despite the lower population density of Arnold.  I'll come back to that in a minute.

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