2004 Archives

Transcendence 0.8b

30 December 2004

This is a minor version with no new features or game changes. The only substantive change I've made is to add some debugging code to diagnose a problem with a video card reported by a player in the Transcendence Forums. More...

The Orion Nebula (M42 and M43)

22 December 2004

The Orion NebulaWhat would the Orion Nebula look like if we could see it up close? Probably nothing like the image above. The human eye is probably not sensitive enough to see M42's winged mantle of nebulosity, even if we got a lot closer. The nebula would get brighter as we got closer, but since it would also get larger, its light would be spread out over a larger area and would be just as hard to see. Most likely, any future astronaut-tourists would just see the central core of the nebula, where newborn stars have carved out a diaphanous web of illuminated gasses. More...

The Horsehead Nebula

18 December 2004

The Horsehead Nebula

In some alternate timeline in which the descendants of horses, rather than of monkeys, evolved into telescope-wielding beings, perhaps fringe groups of conspiracy-lovers might look at this picture and believe that super-intelligent, alien horses created this stellar monument. Instead, in our timeline, conspiracy-lovers are more interested in a different picture.


The Crab Nebula (M1)

17 December 2004

The Crab Nebula (M1)On a summer day in A.D. 1054, Chinese astronomers looked up at the sky and saw a new star. At first, it was brighter than the planet Venus and visible even in daylight, but month after month the “guest star” dimmed until it finally faded beyond their power to see. Almost a thousand years later I captured the image that you see above. Now known as the Crab Nebula, it is all that remains of the brilliant explosion that the Chinese astronomers saw, visible to me now only by using a telescope, a digital camera, and a personal computer. More...

Anacreon 2.1c Released

16 December 2004

2.1c fixes a bad bug that was causing corruption when saving games. The problem was that I didn't handle the case where a player named someone else's construction and later that construction was completed. The name was left pointing to an invalid construction and the game structures became corrupt. Thanks to Michael O'Connell for finding this bug.

Download 2.1c to fix the problem.

Anacreon Scenario File Format Documentation

12 December 2004

I've just added an appendix to the Anacreon Reference Manual that describes the scenario file format implemented in version 2.0 and 2.1. The new appendix describes all of the commands, including the fancy text descriptions used by The Nebula.  More...

The Orion Nebula (M42 and M43)

23 November 2004

The Orion NebulaEven with the naked eye, the Orion Nebula is visible as a fuzzy patch of light in the center of Orion's sword. The nebula is a young star-forming region only 1,600 light-years away. Entire star systems are being born and the light from the new-born stars illuminates the cocoon of gas that surrounds them and from which they came. Perhaps our solar system was born in such a place. More...

Anacreon 2.1b Released

21 November 2004

Anacreon 2.1b fixes problems with losing the connection while uploading. If you are having problems uploading, please upgrade to this new release. More...


19 November 2004

 M15 is a globular cluster in the constellation Pegasus. It is not quite as large or as bright as M13, the Great Hercules Cluster and not nearly as impressive as Omega Centauri (at least, that's what I've read—Omega Centauri is only visible from the Southern Hemisphere). Nevertheless, M15 is an easy telescopic destination and one of the best Autumn deep-sky objects. More...

The Meade Deep Sky Imager

19 November 2004

The MoonThe new Meade Deep Sky Imager (DSI) is an entry-level CCD camera designed for beginner and intermediate digital astrophotographers. When combined with a fast (f/4) Newtonian like the 8" LXD75, the DSI is capable of some decent images. Of course, they can't compare to the pictures streaming out of a fat SBIG chip looking down the barrel of a Takahashi apo, but for that kind of money, I'd rather rent time on Hubble. More...

Transcendence 0.8a

14 November 2004

Transcendence version 0.8a is now available in the downloads section. This new version fixes several bugs and adds a few new features. For a complete list of changes, please see the version history page.

Play Anacreon on the Internet with Version 2.1

5 November 2004

Anacreon 2.1 is here! If you've been playing games by email, then this is the version for you. Anacreon now includes an online service so that you can play with anyone in the world. More...

Updated: Version 2.1a fixes some bugs in 2.1, including a problem with garbage in the chat screen.

Transcendence Forum

3 November 2004

Transcendence ForumTeslin K. R. has graciously set up a site for discussing Transcendence. Please check out the Transcendence Forum and contribute to the design of Transcendence!

Anacreon 2.0i Supports Multiplayer LAN Games

19 September 2004

Anacreon 2.0i includes new features for turn-taking, multiplayer games on a Local Area Network (LAN). When save files are placed on a shared drive, Anacreon automatically locks the file in use to prevent multiple players from playing simultaneously. More...

First Light

26 August 2004

A Meade LXD75 arrives via UPSThe first lesson of amateur astronomy is patience. Most of the time we wait for the weather--a month of muggy New England days can seems like a million years to an amateur astronomer waiting for a dark and crisp fall night. And then there's waiting for UPS. Fortunately for me, only a month and 117 days after ordering a new 8" Meade LXD75 Schmidt-Newtonian telescope, I signed for two boxes bearing those magic phrases: "MEADE INSTRUMENTS" and "MADE IN CHINA". Yes, my telescope had arrived. More...

Anacreon 2.0h Now Available

17 August 2004

The latest version of Anacreon fixes various bugs reported by players. In particular, this new version fixes some usability problems when using fortresses and command bases and fixes a serious crash bug during attack. In addition, this new version allows scenarios to be created with more trillum reserves than previous version. Download Anacreon 2.0h to get these fixes and more. Consult the Version History page for a full list of changes.

Transcendence 0.8

31 July 2004

Nebulae systems are one of the new features of Transcendence in version 0.8.The latest version of Transcendence is now in the download section. This new release further develops the encounters at the higher levels. Nine new encounters, five new enemy ship classes, and a dozen new weapons and devices are included in version 0.8. More...

New York and Washington DC

7 July 2004

This latest series of assorted digital photographs has no unifying theme whatsoever. On the other hand, it does have a picture of New York City, which invariably makes up for any and all other flaws. Also, it has a picture of a blimp mooring. Sorry.


A Picture of the Moon

27 June 2004

The MoonThe magnificent desolation of the lunar surface is visible even through a small telescope. I created this image by stitching together eight separate close-up pictures. I took each picture with an Olympus D-40z digital camera looking through an 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Then I arranged the pictures into a mosaic in Adobe Photoshop. The resulting image was 25 megapixels, but I've scaled it down for the web.

A Very Short History of Humanity

13 June 2004

There were only a few thousand of us back then. All of humanity could have fit into a ballpark. Every day under the burning sun the men hunted while the women collected berries and nuts. Every night under the brilliant stars we huddled together and told ourselves stories. And sometimes we were afraid, when the storms washed the land, or when a lion came to hunt, but we knew where to hide and we knew how to fight and every day we learned new things. More...

The Transit of Venus

8 June 2004

The Transit of VenusThe secret to amateur astronomy is to manage your expectations. The Whirlpool Galaxy in the eyepiece? Don't expect more than a glowing smudge. The greatest comet since Halley's? Don't bet on it. The first transit of Venus in 122 years? It will probably be cloudy. More...

Anacreon Reconstructed!

7 May 2004

A galaxy in ruins. A civilization torn asunder. And here and there, the powerful, the cunning, the ruthless, rise up to build an empire out of the ashes of a nuclear holocaust.

After more than fifteen years as a classic character-mode game, Anacreon has been rewritten for Windows. This new version of Anacreon features a modern and intuitive user interface, but it retains all of the depth and detail that make it a challenging game of galactic conquest. More...


4 April 2004

When the Renaissance shook the arts and sciences of Middle Ages Europe the epicenter was Florence—and no city better preserves and displays the beautiful aftermath of the rebirth of Western Civilization.


The Moon

14 March 2004

I take the moon for granted sometimes. I spend hours trying to take a picture of Mars or Saturn and end up with nothing more than a blurry disk a few hundred pixels across. My 4 megapixel camera ends up using 3.9 million pixels to record the color of deep black space. It's almost enough to make me give up astrophotography and take up a more rewarding hobby—maybe building perpetual motion machines would be less frustrating. But then I remember: The moon! More...


16 February 2004

On any clear night you can look out into space and see the other planets that share our little Solar System. You don't need any special equipment—five planets are visible to the naked eye—all you need is the knowledge of how to recognize a planet when you see one. More...

New York and Boston

31 January 2004

New York and Boston are two of the most photogenic cities on Earth and even a rank amateur with a digital camera can manage to get one or two good shots.