Saturday, November 6, 2010

Meteor Detection Data Updated

The high level data summary page has been updated for the months of July, August and September.  July was a good detection month, despite July being mid-winter in Melbourne, with 49 meteor detections. Overall the months of August and September were very disappointing. 

August had a total of eight days where the system was down. The cause was determined to be the automated Microsoft updates being installed in Windows 7, which have now been switched off. On rebooting, the system would come up with the automated Startup Repair dialog boxes, as shown below. Hopefully this issue won't come up again.

This issue highlighted a significant problem with operating a remote automated system, that of being able to monitor the system's status. Currently I rely on the UFO Capture software to send periodic emails, once every few hours, like a heartbeat signal. This works well if I am able to access my email and remember to check for the last Meteor Hunter system email. This method of checking is a passive method, it requires me to perform some action to determine the system status. On a day to day basis this just isn't reliable, as like most people, I am too busy to maintain a consistent monitoring effort.

I have started writing some software to monitor the health of the system and to actively notify me of any problems. This would be a much better approach and should result in faster turn around time to resolve any issues. I'll write more about it when I have completed and tested the initial version of the monitoring system. It will take some time to do properly, but should be worth the effort.