The stress of dog ownership!

It has been a stressful week at château Nerdsville. Our youngest dog Eddie (a two year old Pembrokeshire Corgi) became seriously ill Monday night.

We were woken at around 1am by the retching sound of something being sick and the pungent smell of you know what! I went downstairs to discover a pile of white foamy vomit in the hall and a small pile of diarrhoea in the kitchen near the back door and a sheepish looking Corgi.

I wasn’t overly surprised as Eddie had been off his food and had already had a slight case of the runs when out for his afternoon and evening strolls the day before. So I let him out into the garden and set about cleaning it all up. We all retired back to bed only to be disturbed again at 5am by the sound of a dog running down the stairs and whimpering. I grabbed by slippers and dressing gown and hurried down to find Eddie in the kitchen again. This time I was also met with two largish pools of what initially I thought was urine but as I mopped them up it was obvious this was water with a dilute trace of blood (and was from the bowels as it smelt of faeces)

Eddie was out in the garden again and I found him squatting releasing a jet of liquid from his rear. This wasn’t looking good, but have had dogs for many years and have experienced all sorts of stomach upsets. Given the time of day I decided it wasn’t worth going back to bed and decided to sit up in the living room with the patio door open to allow Eddie to quickly get into the garden if needed (and I could catch up on the latest downloaded episode of Dexter on the XBMC).

For a while Eddie seemed okay, then at around 6:30am he ran out again to evacuate another jet of liquid. It was starting to get light and I could see that it was bloody again. The wife who was understandably worried reluctantly went off to work at around 7:30am and I went off to shower and dressed and planned to ring the vets to take him to morning surgery. However when I came down stairs I found another red pool in the kitchen this time it had the consistancy of pure blood, this was now getting serious and I rang the vet and was told to come in straight away.

I had already checked on the internet and my suspicions were confirmed as Eddie was diagnosed with Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) This is serious potentially life threatening condition and the cause in most cases unknown but there have been a cluster of cases in and around Nottinghamshire our vet alone had seen three dogs in the last week one of which had nearly died. We were aware of the warnings concerning Sherwood Forest, Clumber Park and other woodland sites but had been no where near them for weeks.

Thankfully following a number of anti-inflamatory steroids, antibotics and anti-emetic injections Eddie has started to make a good recovery, thankfully it was caught early enough so he didn’t need any IV treatment. He still isn’t back to full health yet, but is much much better.

Jean Michel Jarre

I came down with a severe case of man-flu early last week but recovered sufficiently to travel to Birmingham and The National Indoor Arena on Friday evening to see Jean Michel Jarre in concert. We almost didn’t go because I was still feeling unwell and the wife is having problems with her back and was recovering from an epidural steroid injection. I was glad we did go as it was a good night and a very impressive show both aurally and visually, just wish venues could see their way to giving an extra couple of inches legroom!

I had read in a pithy review of an early show that Jean Michel was actively encouraging the use of digital cameras and iPhones during his preformance so decided I would take my aging Casio EX-Z120 digital camera along. Arriving at the NIA we were met with signs banning the use of ALL photographic and recording equipment! Despite this I managed to take the camera in unchallenged and so did many others judging by the vast number of illuminated LCD viewfinder screens visible in the audience during certain parts of the performance.

One slightly annoying point of the evening was one particularly over-zealous steward who seemed to spend the entire evening tapping people on the shoulder or shining his torch into the faces of anyone who dared tried to make a digital memento of the evening – thankfully I was too ensconced in the crowd and was a little less obvious in my actions for him to pick me out, but he did target someone sitting just three seats away!

How ironic then on the last song of the evening Jean Michel did indeed ask the audience to send out a signal using their cameras on Facebook and YouTube! Unfortunately at this point I had already exhausted my memory card (I hadn’t took my spare!)

I have uploaded a number of short highlights onto my YouTube Channel.

A bit of a clean up and some repairs

The original plans for the weekend were thrown in to the air for a number of reasons. I spent most of Saturday with a saw, drill and screwdriver rebuilding part of the summerhouse in the garden and ferrying the old rotten parts and other garden waste to the local refuse tip!

Today (Sunday) I had the house to myself as the wife was off visiting her sister. As the weather has been absolutely atrocious, raining most of the day, I decided to have a bit of a clean up in the den. I’d noticed the fans in the main computer have been roaring under the slightest load recently and as I suspected the reason was the air intakes were blocked with dust and dog hair! While not quite as bad as these it was still pretty shocking as I do regularly check them.

As I had to pull them out from under the desk I decided to have a bit of a rearrange. While doing this I removed a redundant ethernet switch and an unused USB 1.1 hub, both were cheap far-eastern ones purchased many years ago. It now turns out they were a major source of interference on my scanners!

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The tidy computer centre (yes the external HD are sitting on a 1980 2001AD annual!)

One other task I achieved today was to replace the backlight on my Realistic PRO2006 scanner.

I purchase the PRO2006 from ebay about four/five years ago, I got it for less than £20 as it was advertised as for repair or spares. It was described as powering up with sound but because there was no display it couldn’t be operated.

When I got it (in it’s original box with manual) and opened it up it was obvious what was wrong as it appear to have spent most of it’s life in a shed or workshop, it was full of fine dust (I suspect from sanding wood) and this has blocked out the LCD display! It also had flecks of paint on the casing. The paint was thankfully emulsion and was easy to remove I just soaked the plastic case in warm water for a few hours. I stripped down the rest of the unit and removed the dust with a can of compressed air and a brush, other than that it worked perfectly!

One downside was the display backlight had faded, the backlight on many of the Realistic desktop scanners is an electro-luminescent panel and their output fades over time. Today I finally got around to replacing the panel, it isn’t as straightforward as it sounds as the spare part is no longer available but using the instructions found here I was able to replace it with a panel cut from a larger sheet purchased from Farnell.

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The display panel removed from the scanner with original backlight

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Original panel removed (top) and replacement panel cut to size (bottom)

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The new panel in all it’s glory!

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The only downside is from this angle you can just see the connector on the panel.

The backlight is now really bright, in fact I have had the ‘dimmer’ switch activated because it is so bright! I also have a Realistic PRO2022 and the backlight on that is fading too, it is nowhere near as bad as the PRO2006 was, but you can see the marked difference below.

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This shows the repaired PRO2006 compared to my PRO2022.

One other benefit of opening up the PRO2006 was I discovered a soldered connector on the shielding behind the front panel had come adrift. I have resoldered this and this has dramatically improved the reception and audio from the unit. Today has been a good day! 

Hamfest 2010

Took the afternoon of work today and went to the Newark Showground for a few hours to experience the National Hamfest 2010 Despite the weather which was absolutely appauling I had an enjoyable time. I resisted the urge to purchase any new equipment, this was difficult as some very nice receivers, scanners and antennas were on sale.

Because of the rain the intended outdoor carboot section was almost none existant which was a pity as I fancied a rummage. Inside it was mostly new ‘expensive’ gear a few surplus stores and a few clubs and others with some used and ‘junk’ stuff for sale. It is quite noticable that the cheap chinese import transceivers that are flooding ebay were also much on offer and I suspect if I do take the exam and get my licence I will end up with one of those initially.

In the end I picked up some adapters, a few books and I did take advantage of the RSGB special offer and joined up. I also signed up for the Group for Earth Observation (GEO) the members on the stand were very helpful and this was particularly interesting as the members of the group use relatively inexpensive equipment to receive data from satellites to produce weather images and other earth observation. I dabbled many years ago with receiving data from the NOAA polar orbiting APT satellites which can be done to a limited extent using a normal scanner and a PC soundcard. It was only £20 to sign up and the welcome pack for GEO was extremely generous and consisted of the last four quarterly magazines packed full of information and pictures and a lovely book all about the EUMETSAT system.