We went into orbit!


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Our AMSAT Fox-1A satellite on board NROL55

Our AMSAT Fox-1A satellite on board NROL55

That’s right sports fans.  We went into orbit.

Yep … Low Earth Orbit (LEO)

Our Amateur Radio satellite, Fox-1A (now officially AO-85), hitched a ride on #NROL55 this morning out of Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Anyone with a ham radio license can utilize the transceiver on board the satellite, at least once we complete testing and confirm full functionality.  The satellite is currently transmitting telemetry.

  • FM mode
  • UHF uplink: 435.180 MHz, PL tone 67 Hz
  • VHF downlink: 145.980 MHz.  This is the frequency on which you listen.

Lotsa moar details (PDF): Fox-1A Operating Guide

AMSAT blog posting: Announcement



I chatted with a New York Times Bestselling Author


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Myself and Peter V. Brett (black shirt)

Myself and Peter V. Brett (black shirt)

We knew each other in high school, graduated together ….

Peter V. Brett, @PVBrett, author of The Warded Man series and more, tweeted that he was in Orlando for the SFSE2015 conference.

Hmmm ….. that’s only 3.5 hours. It always cool to catch up with people from high school and college. I grew up in New Rochelle, NY and many stayed in that area. Here in Miami, FL it seems to be just me lol.

He mentioned he would be in Author’s Avenue from 10-Noon. So at 630am I was enroute.

We ended up chatting for about 45 minutes and naturally we spoke about being an author and publishing and so forth.

Early on in our conversation he mentioned a specific book that helped set the foundation to getting his stories on the New York Times Besteller list:

Writing to Sell by Scott Meredith

With the things he learned in that book he dusted off his fourth attempt at storytelling, cut 2/3’ds out of it, rewrote and shortened the story.

That fourth book, the one his agent was able to sell to Random House, was The Warded Man.

The Warded Man: Book One of The Demon Cycle

Be sure to check him out. :)

My copy of Writing to Sell is already on its way to me. :D


Part 8 Surprises in writing a science fiction thriller


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Never let the technical overshadow the art.

Then I thought about how I might explain that, and came up with this:
Art always trumps the technical; the grammar, the sentence structure, the etc, the ad infinitum.


What is that mild illumination coming in through the window?  That’s the sunrise, and Juliet represents the sun.


But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?  It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Multiple online results talk about how Shakespeare had more freedom back then to use the English language in the manner in which he did.

Yeah, so?  What’s holding people back today?  Catering to the lowest demographic or something?

If someone were to ask me about writing in that form I would wholeheartedly encourage them to go ahead and write like Shakespeare.

But if you are ‘terrible’ at art and really have to work at it then how would you tell it?

First of all you can do art just fine, remember that.

Second, you don’t tell it ……. you show it.

Is that the early morning sunlight beginning to come in through the window?  Due to the rotation of the earth the sun rises in the east, and there is Juliet, her inner glow providing it’s own illumination, she’s just like the sun.

But soft! What light through yonder breaks?  It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Early on I was very much inclined to write in the ‘Tell’ format.  Showing is moh bettah and moh fun.


There is a last part:

STORY trumps all, including art.   Showing is good, but not at the expense of the story and it’s flow. :D


Update Dell 3531 Inspiron 15 Laptop


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EVO850 250gb SSD for Dell Inspiron 15

EVO850 250gb SSD for Dell Inspiron 15

I couldn’t resist.  I went ahead and swapped the spinner for a solid state hard drive.

(HERE is the original review)

Big, BIG, improvement in speed.  I could finally use my laptop the way I use the desktop.

It was ok for a few hours.  Then I ran into the RAM memory limit, with the operating system (Win 8.1) closing down windows every now and then, typically webpage tab(s), again owing to the way I use a computer.

Some might say that I could simply increase the size of the page swap file.  Yes, and I did do it and yes it does ‘solve’ the memory issue.  For those unfamiliar, the page swap file is what the operating system uses as ‘hard drive RAM’.  This activity results in a lot of read/write cycles on the hard drive.  Not much of an issue with spinner drives but it can be a problem for solid state drives.  Solid State Drives have a finite limit of read/write cycles.  It’s way up there in number but still, there’s a limit.  One interesting way to differentiate cycles between SSD models is actually to look at the warranty, some are five years, others are two years and the really expensive ones are 10 years.  The cycles directly correspond to the warranty time.

So I finally got the 8gb RAM stick (THIS) and swapped out the 4gb RAM stick.  The 3531 uses one stick.  Fortunately the 8gb stick is only $60 bucks or so.  I often maxed out the 4gb.  My usage pattern seems to touch on 6.5GB according to the Task Manager.

Another speed ‘improvement’ of sorts, specifically when web surfing, is to activate the ActiveX Filtering.  In IE tap on the Gear graphic, mouse down to Safety,  and tap on ActiveX Filtering.  What this mostly does is stop the webpage from taking over your computer in order to load those infuriating sidebar videos lol.

This Celeron processor model, with an SSD and 8gb, has the speed feel of an i3 chip model.  All told, given the original price, this is now an $410 laptop.  The SSD was $110 and the RAM, $60.

It appears that the 3551 is the new version of this laptop, as of 7-9-15.  Of course the EVO850 250gb is now $97 and the 500gb is $162.  But that’s going to always happen and there will always be something better/faster/cheaper.  I knew that when I bought the parts.  If I didn’t I would continually be waiting and never actually have the components that would be useful.

Yeah, just do it :D



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