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Comment Celestron FirstScope (Score 1) 187

I once won a Celestron FirstScope as a door prize at an astronomy club meeting. Its size and shape might make it a nice instrument for a child to call their own. However, the view it provided was about what you'd expect for $49 retail -- not particularly good. When I donated it to a friend for his kids to use, I wondered afterward if I did him a disservice by giving it to him. His kids might take a look through the thing and think "that's it??" and lose interest in the hobby. Then again, maybe an inquisitive child wouldn't mind. I'm a jaded old geezer and my sense of wonder isn't what it used to be.

In my opinion, good steps are:

- Don't buy a cheap telescope.
- Find a local astronomy club and go to one of their outings. Every club I've encountered has enthusiastically welcomed visitors and new members. I was hooked when I got my first view of M42 through an 18" Obsession. Clubs are a great way to see what the hobby offers and experience a lot of nice equipment without spending any of your hard-earned money first. A lot of clubs even offer free loaner scopes to members.
- Buy "NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe" and/or "Turn Left at Orion"
- Get a pair of decent binoculars. You'll have them forever and they have uses beyond astronomy if interest wanes.
- The "Zero Gravity" folding lawn chairs that you can get at Walmart and other places are awesome for using binoculars. You can lay almost flat with them and they are very comfortable. It's much easier to hold heavy binoculars and avoid straining your neck when you're reclined that far.
- Get several *red* LED flashlights. They'll preserve your night vision when you're in the field, and kids might think it's neat to have their own to use. You can find cheap plastic ones that have a dimmer built in and run off 9V batteries, with a lanyard to wear around your neck. They're great.
- Warm clothes and boots. You'd be surprised how cold you can get when sitting motionless in an empty field at night.

After that I'd look at buying a basic 6" dobsonian. It's big enough to see some interesting things but still relatively easy to manage. The largest piece in an Orion XT6 weighs less than 21 pounds. Personally I would skip the fancy add ons like digital setting circles. Spend your money on good eyepieces instead. Hunting through the sky without assistance can be a lot of fun. With a 6" dob you might also want to get an "astronomy observing chair"; these specialty chairs can quickly adjust their height and make it easy to sit close to the eyepiece and observe comfortably.

Comment Re:Well Deserved (Score 4, Insightful) 195

Until I bought an antenna. Boy, they must hate that, eh?

^^ This a million times. If you don't like Comcast, TWC, etc., give them the middle finger and cancel your TV service. Put up a decent antenna, perhaps buy a TiVo if you want a turnkey DVR appliance with a good UI (and pay their outrageous one-time service fee), and enjoy your uncompressed HD content from all the major broadcast networks.

I'm *still* stuck paying into the local cable monopoly to get internet access, but I'm paying them a lot less than I was before. It didn't take me long to break even on my antenna/wiring/tivo/etc costs.

Comment Re:And I Will Stop Buying... (Score 1) 521

I'm seriously asking here, in what ways did the TJ or JK step backwards in terms of durability?

I drive a JKU (top off doors off == love) and I've noticed that the sheet metal is awfully thin, especially the door skins. It's disappointing, and I bet older models weren't like this. Gotta admit though, I do like my frou-frou steering wheel controls and bluetooth audio streaming.

Comment Re:Speaking as a game designer, what I noted (Score 1) 219

There is quite a huge market for frivolous items which make your character "look cool". It was a long time ago that I played World of Warcraft, but there was a certain % of people who paid vast sums of in-game money for basically cosmetic reasons. Similarly, Valve's Hat Fortress 2 has had great success in selling purely cosmetic items.

Yup, vanity is alive and well in these games.

In World of Warcraft there's now a "transmogrification" feature where you can apply the look of older gear to your current gear. It lets your character continue to look cool after a new expansion comes out and you're replacing your awesome looking epics with ugly vendor trash. The transmog feature costs some in-game gold to use but not much in the grand scheme of things. Some players spend a great deal of time running old dungeons to get gear for the purpose of acquiring a certain look.

Then there's a huge market for pets (critters that follow you around and do nothing useful), mounts (critters that you ride to travel more quickly, and some look better than others, but they almost all fly/travel the same speed), etc...

Comment Re:Bring the million-plus iOS apps to Macs... (Score 1) 512

Apple has different UI frameworks for OS X and iOS. One will not run on the other and vice versa. Thank God!

This migration article is useful:

As is this stackoverflow accepted answer for a higher level overview:

Comment Re:When to go to war? (Score 1) 659

Why is dying for a war in Europe OK, but not in Syria?
Wan't are problem that people where being gassed.

I hope you're just trolling. It's not about location, it's about scale. The civil war in Syria and the conquest of major foreign nations by the Axis powers during WWII are not at all comparable.

Comment When to go to war? (Score 1) 659

One way to decide if you should support a war is to ask yourself this:

Would you support a draft that would put you and your loved ones on the front lines?

For me, World War II was the last war that I would have supported in that way. All the wars since then would be a big hell no.

Comment Re:absence of malice (Score 1) 458

Sorry I was being trollish. My spouse actually likes the series quite a bit, much to my dismay. I have tried on several occasions and it is simply too childish for me. I can't understand how a college educated woman can read what is maybe a year further along than one fish two fish.

I tried to watch some of the movies and they were just as bad. I watched one quite drunk and that made it pretty manageable.

It's just plain fun!

Maybe she finds intellectual stimulation in other areas of her life. It's nice to be able to relax and read a story without putting a lot of thought into it. I've met people who only read "literature" and look down on works like Harry Potter, and I think those people are nuts.

For what it's worth, the Potter series did get darker as it went on, as if it was aging along with its initial audience. It didn't end happily ever after for all the characters.

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