Tuesday, February 04, 2020

just work, please

A bunch of things... all circling around Backyard EOS. I had wondered how old the version of BYE was so visited OTelescope and saw that version 3.1.18 had been released fairly recently, in December. Not that old. Still I downloaded it to John Max, transferred it to John Repeat Dance, and then ran the installer. That seemed to go OK and when I launched the app the new version number showed in the title bar. Great.

But when I tried to switch out of red night mode, it flickered, and ignored me. When I try to go into Setting [SIC], it threw a scary error message, and ignored the request. When I tried to connect to the camera it prompted for the camera SDK drivers but the screen was blank! Crikey. Reinstalled the software. No joy. Got scared that the latest app was now incompatible with the old clunker OS on the netbook and I had just lost my excellent remote camera control facility. Would I have to roll back? Could I?! I seem to breaking a lot of software lately...

Jumped into the forums and saw remarks about bad cables and other issues. Not promising. But "admin" aka Guylain said it was an installation problem and all one had to do was install in a different folder. Except my installer was not prompting for a folder location. Schlanger! How was I supposed to change it?! If it doesn't fit, get a bigger hammer. So I sparked up the Control Panel installed apps list and removed Backyard EOS, Backyard Nikon (that I had used for testing), and Red. Removed everything! There! Happy? I crawled into the primary drive and killed all the lingering files and folders. Out with you.

Reinstalled again. Better. Was able to flip to day and night modes. Going into the settings panel did not create errors. No scary sounding messages in the log panel. Tried to connect to the camera. Yeh. The driver choices appeared. Chose an option and got errors! Oh no, now what. Oh, wait. User brain damage this time. Triggered the connection again and chose the Canon210 SDK to match the 40D body. Right. All was well. Back in business. Whew!

Noted the new BYE 3.1.18 features, like the zoom buttons. Ha! Ha ha. And the flip buttons. Good. Looked for the "Start At" absolute control but didn't see it. Later I clicked in a non-descript empty grey square. A clock icon appeared. Oooh. That's how you do it. Posted an interface suggestion on the "features request" forum.

Did a run-through of the whole app all while examining my BYE quick reference guide documentation in Evernote. Fine-tuned my notes. Tried to understand some mysterious things. Like the HD mode with its enhancements. Got a better handle on that. And also developed a better understanding of Frame and Focus and the exposure simulation and the interaction of the exposure controls, confirming they did actually change the camera. And understood, perhaps for the first time, how exposure simulation truly is just that, a simulation, that it is NOT stopping down a lens, like how I learned to do 40 years ago with Depth-of-Field preview on a Canon SLR! Wow. Eye-opener, that one.

Did another read of the BYE user manual. Gah. Written for 3.1.x. Not updated for the new features. Old screen snapshots. New features simply not mentioned. Still has placeholders in the document from a year or two ago. Come on! Keep the user guide fresh for crying out loud. Help us... Oh. Right. Don't ask programmers to write user documentation. Right, right, right. What was I thinking!

I also had another go at the Weather Center [SIC] importing in BYE. I had tried this before but found the file opening process incredibly slow and then ultimately that BYE would hang. Despite using the latest cleanly installed version, I had the same issues! The weather section of BYE remains useless to me, taking up space. I posted the suggestion for manual entry. The bizarre thing is that I saw this work fine in BYN so it sure likes like bad code in BYE.

During all this I worked toward making a QRC card for the portable computer, like what I did for TheSkyX. A red-on-black document, red text on a black page, to be astronomer friendly. Completed that and transferred to the ASUS machine. Opened up the stark new doc in Foxit Reader on the portable computer. It looked good. Tried to find a "full screen" mode button to get rid of the distracting bright chrome elements (which the Foxit people won't let you change and that does NOT follow the Windows colour schemes). I must have missed it. Couldn't see anything in their ribbon. Googled the issue. Many were complaining about the lack of dark mode in Foxit to support people who were not reading the question but at least I stumbled across the keyboard shortcut, curiously, F11, like some other apps I use... In full screen it looks fantastic.

Checked the ribbon in Foxit again. I am NOT seeing a full screen option. That's just silly. Crazy.

Sheesh. A lot of battles and struggles. I just wanted Backyard to work again. It does. I'd really like the weather data insertion but that's wishful thinking. And I suppose I should not complain too much about free software. At least I was able to figure out how to order Foxit to work the way I wanted. Right? Help the user.

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