My Blog

I suppose that this is really a blog, though I hesitate to call it that. The real bloggers seem so much more interesting. I cover stuff which I find interesting, and I hope that you will too.

If you really want, you can get an RSS feed of Chateau Gladstone news here:

For more information about what I'm interested in, see the Ponding pages.

Topic: Pond   Meatspace & GEOURL  25 Nov 2003

Somebody pointed me at which is building a map of the physical locations that websites deal with. If you choose then you get to see who my virtual (physical?) neighours are.

At lot of them appear to be hosted on DeviantART -- which appears to be some sort of art site where you can submit your work and people comment on it. There is other weird stuff in this list as well. I found the Weather Pixie which gives you a small image that shows what the weather is like nearby. The bad news is that I can't see how to inject my own data......

Topic: Internet Radio   Beta Testing the Prismiq  21 Oct 2003 (Updated 22 Oct 2003)

I've been beta testing the new software (3.2) for the Prismiq Media Player. The good news is that Prismiq seem open (check out their forums) and the box runs linux. It is supposed to be a music, slideshow, video player where the media is stored on some other computer.

The bad news is that it doesn't meet the requirements. The Rio Receiver with JReceiver is a much better solution for audio. There are all sorts of possibilities with the hardware platform, it is just a matter of software to improve things.

For example, searching a large music collection requires entering text strings with the numeric keys on the remote. Tracks are not sorted by anything obvious. The use cases seem to revolve around using your PC to create playlists and then play them on the Prismiq box. However, I want an appliance that can be used by naive users.

Another gripe was that the slide advance button has no audible or visual feedback. Given that the next slide takes several seconds to appear (why isn't it preloaded?) there is the temptation to press the button again -- which causes a double advance.

Update for final release: It seems that there is now a visual indication of the next picture coming. This is a significant improvement.


Topic: Pond   Autofill addition  21 Oct 2003

I got fed up with adding water to the pond when it got low. I had a couple of close calls this summer when I had blockages and water flowed out over the side.

The solution was simple -- use a toilet fill valve from Home Depot for the princely sum of $6. With the addition of various bits of pipework and bent aluminium strip, I got it mounted in the pond and connected to the end of the soaker hose that waters the flower bed. The hose runs for an hour each night, and during this time it refills the pond. It appears to put in up to half an inch of water during hot weather.

Definitely a worthwhile addition!

Topic: Pond   The big bad bird came baaack!  10 May 2003

On Saturday morning at around 8 o'clock, we saw the Great Blue Heron (aka Big Bad Bird) standing by the fish pond. It flew off pretty quickly, but the fish were nowhere to be seen. We covered up the pond with a net (and regretted not having done it earlier) and went out for the morning.

After lunch, we put the net on properly, and while we were doing this, the heron came back and sat in a tree overlooking the pond. It didn't seem peturbed by us waving our arms and gesticulating wildly! Eventually it flew away to the pond in the Christmas Tree farm and stood gazing into the water.

By now, the fish have reappeared from their hiding places, and it is not clear how many we have lost.

Update: The BBB came back again and walked around the pond, looking nournfully at the unreachable fish. It then flew off into a tree and refused to leave. The kids banged on the gong and generally made a big noise, but it refused to leave!

Topic: Pond   The underwater camera sprang a leak  12 Apr 2003

I noticed on Friday that the picture seemed bad from the camera. I took a look at it this morning and the housing was half full of water! It is now out of the pond and hopefully will begin to dry out. I just hope that the water didn't cover the CCD -- otherwise I'll be left with a nasty residue on the surface when it dries out.

Before I put this module in the housing, I covered all the electronic bits with liquid electrical tape (though I got it at my local hardware store) to try and keep the water out! Foresight really does pay sometimes!

Topic: Pond   Colour imagery available of Massachusetts  3 Apr 2003

I found that the state has made the colour ortho imagery available online. This was shot in April 2001 and so is much more uptodate than the monochrome images that were availabe before. The resolution is the same (0.5 meter per pixel), and they have a snappy viewer that allows browsing of the entire dataset.

The interface seems a little bit flaky, but it works well enough to find the house and see the ponds!

Topic: Pond   The first flowers of spring appear, and then it snows again  31 Mar 2003

The snowdrops are coming up and adding a excitement now that the snow has finally melted away. We planted two sorts of snowdrop, Galanthus Nivalis and Galanthus Elwesii, and I'm not sure which one this is! I got these from Brent and Becky's bulbs -- however their website leaves a lot to be desired in terms of searching....

Of course, New England weather being what it is, the cold returned and it snowed overnight, and the weather forecast has more snow predicted. Will this winter ever end?

Topic: Pond   Spring is here, the peepers are peeping and the water is falling  29 Mar 2003

We opened up the ponds today. We put the pump back in, cleaned up the filter, cleared out the muck, added some fresh water.... We found four frogs, one for each member of the family. Unfortunately we haven't yet learnt to tell them apart!

Some of the plants overwintered at the bottom of the pond, and some in a plastic storage box in the basement. They all did pretty well, except that the inside ones had a bunch of aphids on them. The fish enjoyed eating them after I submerged the plants back in the pond.

I just heard on the weather channel that we are expecting snow tomorrow night. Well, with a bit of luck the water will be warm enough not to form any ice, and the plants will all be in the warm(ish) water and not come to any harm.

Topic: Internet Radio   You just have to see this..  24 Mar 2003

I'm colour-blind (red-green) and it has always been difficult to explain to people what I see. However, the answer may have arrived from Vischeck. They have a free photoshop filter that simulates deuteranopia, which, to me, does nothing at all! You should take a look.

Yes, I need a better set of icons/categories for these entries.

Topic: Pond   The ice is melting fast...  24 Mar 2003

The weather has finally warmed up, and the ice is melting fast on the pond. The water temperature is starting to get above freezing.

So far, I have found one dead fish (a small one) and two dead frogs -- one of which was a whopper. At least two frogs survived, as did the rest of the fish. I suspect that the frogs tried to overwinter on the shelf round the edge of the pond, but the ice came down and trapped them.

I think that I'll wait for another couple of weeks until I reconnect the pump and start up the waterfall. By then, the water should be a lot warmer and the fish should be taking more of an interest in what is going on.



Open source server for the Rio Receiver -- this is what I use.

Neat description of the Gunnera Manicata -- a truly monstrous plant!

Information about SPF (Sender Permitted From)

Open source audio/video streaming software -- this drives my pondcam

The Doc Searls weblog -- he seems clueful and I read him.

The Citizen Weather Observer Program is a loose collection of amateur weather station operators.

Philip Gladstone