Podcast - This Is Only a Test

Episode #198 – Robot Economists – 1/23/2014

This week, Norm and Will are joined by the Internet’s Dave Snider to discuss Netflix and net neutrality, supernovae and Stargate, and Candy Crush. All that, plus what we’ve been testing and reader questions. Enjoy!

Comments (22)

22 thoughts on “Episode #198 – Robot Economists – 1/23/2014

  1. Norm is (mostly) correct in his pronounciation of “saga”, Will is way off.

    Also, Kon-Tiki is not some giant sea-creature, it was the name of the raft used by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl to travel across the pacific from South America to Polynesia in 1947. He got the name from an alternate name for Viracocha, a pre-inca creator god. 🙂

    Heyerdahl wrote a book about the expedition and the crew made a documentary that won the 1950 Academy Award for best documentary feature. A Norwegian feature film dramatization of the story was released in 2012.

  2. First 15 mins spent lamenting the failure of net neutrality laws then right after give a perfect explanation as to why it’s good that it has been set back. The market, through the customers, will work the issue out. Keep the government out of it.

  3. outro bit – episode 191 women got speeding ticket while wearing google glass

    also where’s Gary, its been a while since he’s been on

  4. I had a thought about live CDs (or usb sticks, which are the future). I don’t relly like ubuntu for the same reasons I don’t like their live disk. Not trying to start a flamewar here but the reason I personally don’t use ubuntu is because it starts a lot of things in the background that I usually don’t need. I’ve been running linux machines for about ten years and feel comfortable picking the programs I want/need and starting them myself instead of having everything started just in case I might need it.

    I feel like this problem is pressent on the Live CD as well. If you don’t know what you need that’s great but there’s no point in burning and booting that DVD-size image just to format a drive. Use the Gparted-live disk instead (which is the same program ubuntu uses). If you want to go in and edit a config-file, you can use basically any small distro that will be faster to both burn and boot.

    Anyway that’s my take on live CDs, thanks for a good podcast and a good site 😉

  5. With regards to your Meade telescope (assuming that it’s one of the ones that has an autoguiding mount, if not then what I’m about to say is of no help to you), if you didn’t get the software for it, find and older laptop that still has a RS-232 (serial) port on it and install your preferred Linux distro to get KStars. You can then use KStars to drive your telescope to make looking at interesting objects easier. Just verify that your telescope has the controller that’s compatible with the INDI protocol that KStars and a few other astronomy software packages use, you can get more detail on supported devices here:


    I was the SysAdmin for a telescope in New England for a couple of years and we used Kstars a lot with some of our instruments. Once you’ve connected it to your telescope, it’s pretty much select an object you want to look at in KStars and tell it to drive your telescope. With a decent camera on the telescope, you can get some good images as well.

    The hardest part of using a portable telescope once you’ve figured out the software is getting the telescope itself setup and aligned. The meade autoguider controller should help out a lot with it, provided it has a GPS in it. Once you get the base setup and pointed north (and adjusted for your latitude), you start the alignment procedure in the auto guider which will direct the mount to point at Polaris (in the northern hemisphere), then you make minor adjustments to it to center Polaris in your field of view. From there, you can have it go to 3 more stars to fine tune your alignment. After that, it’s significantly easier to find the stellar objects you want to look at.

    I believe you mentioned that you didn’t have the manual for the telescope either, if you haven’t found it already, the manuals for most of Meade’s telescopes are available here:


    This telescope talk is making me want to resume my sideline plans of building an observatory shed in my front yard again so that I could justify the purchase of a decent instrument.

  6. Hopefully it helps out. It’s been a year and a half since I left the telescope, so I no longer have accesses to all the resources I had there. There are a decent number of amateur astronomy websites out there and I don’t remember most of them, but one good resource for planning a good night to go out and look at the sky is the Clear Sky chart:


    It takes a bit to learn how to interpret the data, but it helps in aiding to know if you’ll have a clear sky the night you want to set things up or if things will be clouding over right after you’ve finished your alignment.

  7. I’m with Will on safe deposit boxes. Every 6-12 months, I drop some DVD’s that hold copies of irreplaceable files (photos, my source code etc) in a safe deposit box. I also keep documents like car title, insurance, and birth certificates in there. It’s cheap, private, and safe from theft or fire or loss. Totally worth it.

  8. Hey. Thanks for the write up. My telescope is a Meade LT 8. Which I believe is this model. http://www.meade.com/lt

    Would all your advice still apply. It’s a little older model and from I understand isn’t as computer driven as the rest.

  9. I did a quick look over the manual and it looks like it may be using the same AutoStar controller as the rest of the Meade controlled instruments. Therefore I’d like to think that it’d work with Kstars. The only bit that woudn’t apply is the comment about the GPS setup, it’s pointing may not be as accurate as you tell the controller your zipcode rather than an exact location. However, for most astronomical objects, the pointing based on zipcode is good enough. You really only need really accurate positioning if you’re trying to look at satellites.

    Did you get the serial cable for the controller with it? If you can upgrade the firmware on it to the latest available[1] from Meade, then I’d be pretty confident that it’d work. Though, without being able to physically interact with it, I can’t say for certain as I’ve never used that particular model. The one I had the most experience with was the Meade 20″ Max, which used a slightly different controller.

    [1] http://www.meade.com/support/auto.html

  10. Making telescopes is my full time hobby at the moment. I am currently working on casting a honeycomb mirror blank for a 24 inch dobsonian telescope.

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