Kyoto, Japan

Discount Hotel Econo-Inn

You pay for your room in advance and have a choice of double or triple room with self contained shower and toilet. The rooms are only serviced once a week and there is a communal fridge in the lounge area downstairs. Free wireless internet access is supposedly available in the rooms but I couldn’t get a signal on the 6th floor. We also identified some setup issues with the internet connectivity that meant only wired access worked reliably however there were a few ports available so that wasn’t really a problem.

It is fairly well located without being particularly close to any rail transport. This was fine when the weather was good but meant 5-10 minutes walk in the rain to the closest subway. There are two grocery shops across the busy road.

Two hundred metres back towards Kyoto station is Shousei-En garden.

67 Hirai-cho, Kawaramachi-Gojo Sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
TEL: +81-(0)75-343-6660
FAX: +81-(0)75-343-6667

Center map
Google MapsGet Directions

Umeda OS Hotel

You pay for your room in advance and have a choice of a single (didn’t see it), a studio twin (9000yen) which is kind of fun at first because the room really is rather small but you wouldn’t want to stay more than a couple of nights, and a normal twin (12800yen) which is actually pretty good.

From the rooms with south facing windows you can see the Hep Five ferris wheel which is particulary pleasant at night with lights slowly cycling through a series of patterns.

2-11-5, Sonezaki, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi Osaka 530-0057


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MBP 1% Bad

You know how kids can often take their mum for granted and only realise how good it was after they move out of home? At 44 I’ve got a similar feeling now with my MBP in the shop for repairs.

After surviving a liberal dash of scotch and water and me putting up with the 2/@ key not working as the only apparent lasting damage, my poor laptop started abruptly shutting itself down and I knew that I would have to survive alone for a while.

I have this strange sensation during the day when I reach out to where it normally sits to check my email or surf the web only to find empty space. It’s almost as bad as when my internet connection is not working and I think to myself that I might just read some email while I wait for the connection to come back. *doh*


Live on Joomla!

I have just migrated from my old static web site to this Joomla based site which features a nice content management system.

I will continue to migrate further content from my old site over time.

MBP 99% okay

My rescue mission was mostly successful with the exception of the 2 and @ keys which silently fail to work as well as the keyboard back lighting no longer operating. I am working around this by cut and pasting the characters when I need them but I expect that the novelty value of that will wear off fairly quickly.


MBP + Scotch = BAD

As I boogied in my chair, I accidently nudged my scotch glass and splashed a generous portion over the keyboard of my MacBook Pro. Uh oh! I shut my laptop down and turned it upside down to drain the fluid out. I got quite a bit out but liquid has a habit of sticking to things and I knew there was likely to be plenty inside the case.

In the morning my laptop was happy to boot but the keyboard was not functioning. I took a deep breath and decided to dismantle my laptop to examine the extent of the problem and hopefully speed up the recovery process.

I found some really nice instructions at

Mac/MacBook-Pro-15-Inch-Core-2-Duo/115/”>MacBook Pro 15″ Core 2 Duo Disassembly: MacBook Parts
and after a couple of outings to my local hardware and electronics stores for a #00 screwdriver and a T6 torx driver, I had the laptop in pieces including the keyboard itself which is now sitting on a heating vent to dry out the obvious moisture.

I thought I’d summarise my experience so far in case there is not a successful outcome and I need to get my MBP professionally repaired, which will no doubt result in a blog entry of a far different tone than cautiously optimistic.


Joomla adding pictures

I have started adding the pics back in so I can get at least the Astronomy content completed. Once that’s done I can migrate the site to production.

ASCOM Star Book Driver Download

People seem more than willing to pay a small fortune for their telescope and accessories but very little on associated software.

A donation is not required for you to use my software but it will make me and you feel good to see some recognition for the hundreds of hours I have put into developing this software with no acknowledgement from Vixen! Download ASCOM Star Book Driver

ASCOM Star Book Driver

No Longer Supported

Please note I am no longer supporting or developing this driver. I had a long love/hate relationship with my Sphinx and the lack of official support from Vixen but hate ultimately won.

Decent mount hardware but the Starbook and its software just doesn’t work as a serious front end.

I will keep this page up for historical reference purposes and host the last release of my ASCOM driver.


The Sphinx GOTO mount from Vixen Japan has a number of highly innovative features that make it a one of a kind at present.

One particularly tantalising feature is the ability to communicate with the Sphinx via a network interface. Unfortunately Vixen Japan have shown no interest in providing English software to utilise this interface.

As I do not speak or read Japanese and in the interest of being able to control the Sphinx myself, I have developed an ASCOM driver for the Sphinx to allow it to be managed from any ASCOM compliant program.

This driver has been developed with little or no support from Vixen Japan and to date they have not officially recognised its existence. It has been entirely a labour of love (and some pain!) for myself and I decided early on to make it freely available to the Sphinx community – I hope you like it!

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