Following are the most frequently asked questions I get regarding TUMOL, TSOL, TCOL and OOLog.

1. When I download the file, all I get is some weird .ZIP/.HQX/.SIT/.BIN document. When I click on it, it isn’t recognized by Windows/Mac, and I get an error.

A. Your browser is not configured to decompress the downloaded file, or you do not have the right decompression program installed.

2. What are the system requirements?

A. PC: Windows 98 or higher, 8 megabytes RAM, 2 megabytes hard-disk space, 8-bit display.
Mac: Mac OS X 10.3 or later, 8 megabytes RAM , 2 megabytes hard-disk space, 8-bit display.
Palm: J-File or similar database application. About 12K of memory, plus space for new records you may enter.

3. When I double click on the TUMOL, TSOL, OOLog or TCOL database, I get an “Application not found” error.

A. You do not have Filemaker Pro installed on your computer. You need to either download the standalone version of the database, or purchase a copy of Filemaker Pro.

4. Why do you do this?

A. For fun. I originally wrote TUMOL for myself, because I wanted a database to help me with my Messier object search. I was especially angry after I ordered “laminated Messier finder charts” from someone on the ‘net, and I got two pieces of typewritten paper with the RA and Dec coordinates for the Messier objects in a plastic bag. So, I created TUMOL. I got a lot of positive feedback, and the number one request I had was to create an observing log. My friend Nick had created one, but he took forever to give me a copy, so I wound up making my own. I really like getting letters from other astronomers telling me how useful the programs are. When I was just starting out in astronomy, a lot of people helped me out, so this is my way of saying “thanks.” Because I love Brent Watson’s “Overlooked Objects” book so much (and it’s short), it was an easy choice as my next project. Finally, I wrote The Eyepiece Calculator as an exercise to improve my JavaScript skills. I was working on a Herschel 400 database, when I was contacted by Sue Rose of the Astronomical League, who wanted help creating charts for the Caldwell objects… the next thing I knew, I’d completed a database for that, instead!

5. If it’s all for “fun,” then why all the links to Amazon, etc.?

A. This site costs me money to keep up every year. The site-hosting costs alone are over $300 annually. And it’s gotten to the point where I am making changes to the software that do not pertain to me (based upon user requests). The links to Amazon to buy books, or to donate via the Amazon Honor System are just a way to help me defray costs. I wish I didn’t have to do it, but when TUMOL was shareware, I got a whopping $10 the first year of operation. Since becoming an Amazon Associate, I’ve increased that to an astounding $35 a year…. (And no, that doesn’t give them the right to claim “Amazon increases e-biz profits by 350%!!!”)

6. What’s your next project?

A. I’m almost done with a Herschel 400 Log. After that: Can you spell NGC? I’m hoping to release a database of the entire NGC catalog, with filters to display any or all of the sub-catalogs (Messier, Herschel, etc.). It will probably look more like TUMOL than TSOL… I just need to figure out how to conserve on graphics space for the star charts. With over 7,000 objects, this could be a HUGE file. I will probably have to release it on CD-ROM, and not via download. Due to the work involved, this will probably not be freeware. I’m also not sure I will use Filemaker Pro for this, and am considering a variety of other application formats. Most likely, it will be developed in Revolution, a nifty cross-platform development environment. If you have any thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them. E-mail me with your ideas. I’d especially like to know what you consider a fair price for such a program ($50? $75? $100?), and what you’d expect for the money….

7. May I link to your site?

A. Certainly. However, due to  the amount of spam requests I get, I no longer do reciprocal linking at this time.

8. May I distribute your programs from my site?

A. Although both my programs are “giveware,” I really only intend people to give a copy to a friend, or perhaps their astronomy club. If you want to distribute the logs on a more ongoing basis, I’d prefer you link to my site instead. That gives me a more accurate picture of how many copies are being distributed, keeps the hits on my site up, etc., If you still want to distribute my software directly (for example, you are outside the U.S., and can’t stand the delayed access to my site) you are welcome to, provided you give me full credit on your site and LET ME KNOW. Thanks!

9. Can I use your software to create a log book, then sell the log book?

A. Probably not. Most of my software was created thanks to the kindness of other organizations, such as SEDS, the Astronomical League, Space.com, NASA, etc., who gave me permission to user their copyrighted materials on the condition that I would give my software away. If you take my software and copy it, even if you put your own work into it, you are not only violating my copyrights, but those of the other organizations. That said, if you want to create and distribute a log book for free, or to support a non-profit organization such as an astronomy group or school, I may consider giving you permission. You will still have to get permission from the other groups though! Just e-mail me with details of your request, and I’ll see what we can work out.