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A new con, with an interestingly geeky backer: Woz introduces the Silicon Valley Comic Con, March 18-20, in the bowels of San Jose.

With Y'allqaeda safely out of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the task of cleaning up after them begins. The Oregon Natural Desert Association is soliciting for volunteers, or donations to the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Oh, this is wonderful.. I was curious to see if the Judge Minty team were making a sequel, and it seems not, with their energies directed instead at another long-time 2000AD (okay, originally Starlord) series: Strontium Dog. =:D

Some new details have emerged regarding 2017's new Star Trek series: "The creative plan is for the series to introduce new characters and civilizations, existing outside of the mythology charted by previous series and the current movie franchises." Fascinatingly, the showrunner will be Bryan Fuller, who gave us Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me, and is also in charge of the forthcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Could be fun!

Tell me about your spice rack. ^_^ What wonders does it hold? Here, I maintain a reasonable mix of herbs, spices, and blends. Off the top of my head, there's: basil, sage, rosemary, Tellicherry pepper, sweet paprika, smoked hot paprika, asafoetida, mace, lemon myrtle; Berbere, ras el hanout, and a peppery mix whose name I forget; black cardamom; shrimp, ginger, and mango powders; balsamic vinegar, fish sauce, dark soy sauce, and probably one or two I've forgotten about. ^_^; In the fridge, there's always oyster sauce, which I find very useful in stir-fries, either as a primary flavor, or just a taste booster, as well as garlic paste, mustard (usually Maille dijon), and some variety of heat, such as chipotle paste or finger chillis.

In a holy shit moment for physics, it appears that yes, gravitational waves have been detected. =:D "The frequency of the chirp was too low for neutron stars, the physicists knew. Detailed analysis of its form told a tale of Brobdingnagian activities in a far corner of the universe: the last waltz of a pair of black holes shockingly larger than astrophysicists had been expecting. One of them was 36 times as massive as the sun, the other 29. As they approached the end, at half the speed of light, they were circling each other 250 times a second. And then the ringing stopped as the two holes coalesced into a single black hole, a trapdoor in space with the equivalent mass of 62 suns. All in a fifth of a second, Earth time.

Dr. Weiss said you could reproduce the chirp by running your fingernails across the keys of a piano from the low end to middle C. Lost in the transformation was three solar masses’ worth of energy, vaporized into gravitational waves in an unseen and barely felt apocalypse. As visible light, that energy would be equivalent to a billion trillion suns. And yet it moved the LIGO mirrors only four one-thousandths of the diameter of a proton."

I can't believe I've forgotten to mention this video! Basement Jaxx "Do Your Thing", set to an outstandingly well edited Pinkie Pie tribute by mrdeloop. It's a brilliantly bouncy, jazzy track - great for listening to (or indeed, watching) on the bus, or as morning commute soundtrack. ^_^ Or, if you're wanting something far more bittersweet - also pony based - Remembrance, by Argodaemon, is well worth viewing. Yes, you'll cry. Or! How about something much more upbeat, and very, very silly? The Last Saskatchewan Pirate, soundtrack by the Arrogant Worms. (h/t ungulata)

Within the same day or so, two significant sites took quite disparate public stances on adblocking: Wired will block adblock users, whilst Stack Overflow doesn't mind if you do or don't block ads. Tragically, Wired's claiming a mere $52/year will suffice for them to accept you blocking ads - which, compared to some $20/year for the iPad edition, might not seem like the absolute bestest deal in town. Stack Overflow, meanwhile: "An important part of the QA process is ensuring that not just the creative, but the advertiser is relevant to our audience. Every single ad to appear on any of our sites is vetted by the operations team. We check copy and content on the ads as well as the landing pages. What we repeatedly ask ourselves in this QA process is quite simple: is this relevant to users? ‘Kiss your hosting problems goodbye’ with a provocative image is not something we want on our sites, and I’m sure our users don’t either. The purpose of this heavy QA is to ensure that our users get the most out of their experience on Stack Overflow. The content is helpful-- why can’t the ads be the same?" Can we please see more of this attitude? Much as I loathe the incessant waves of advertising everywhere, with some notable exceptions, I'm happy to let Project Wonderful ads through, as I've discovered quite a few good new comics through them, and only exceptionally rarely are the ads distracting.

How to listen to radio using a weed. (The transmitter shown, now demolished, was in Brovary, Ukraine)

If you have five minutes to spare, and want something simply heartwarming, try Guess How Much I Love You, a beautifully animated version of a children's book featuring Little Nut Brown Hare trying to express how much they love Big Nut Brown Hare - and vice versa. You can also see more from the artist, Anita Jeram, over here. (Many thanks to mondhasen!)

I finally got to see Spectre. And I'm quite pleased I did. ^_^ It was a fabulously refreshing change from the recent Gritty Bond™, where humor was forbidden - instead, this felt like a harkening back to the classic flicks, or even Goldeneye. So, I can see why some folk felt disappointed, if they went in expecting something as comparatively grim as Quantum of Solace.

You might recall I mentioned the then-forthcoming Rusty Lake Hotel adventure the other month. I'd forgotten about it, but it does indeed appear to be available now, and garnering plenty of positive sentiment.

Meet Atlas, a continental giant rabbit, who may eventually grow to 1.2m long. =:D He's in need of a home, and currently being cared for by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. So adorable!

Interesting to see the Guardian take a look at fursuiting. It doesn't cover any new ground, but does manage to stay reasonably level-headed about it all, accepting it's a lot of fun for everyone. Sadly, of the three photos, only one is actually suit-related, of a rather spiffy canid head - a link to some furcon's trailer, or fursuit walk video, would've surely helped convey the spirit of that aspect of furrydom much better. One which comes immediately to mind, f'rex, is Revit's Megaplex 2014 Con Video, very nicely edited indeed. (via supergee)

You may have seen Wendelstein 7-X produced its first (brief) hydrogen plasma recently, entirely successfully. If you've been wondering what the big deal is about the device, peer over here, for some explanations from Thomas Klinger, director at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics.

Following a ten year, £4.2 million refurbishment, the Flying Scotsman is back!

With spam filtering now taking care of a lot of 419 scammers automagically, I see almost none these days. But, they do nonetheless manage to ensnare some folk, and milk them for as much cash as they can muster. So, it was with some relish I read this worthy list of ten legendary scambaiting operations. (My favorite probably remains one I read a while back, involving a rather well carved replica of a Commodore 64)

Until I read of it in Wanderlust's reader awards, I hadn't even known about the four part "Stephen Fry in Central America" travelogue. In it, he travels through from El Paso to Panama, through as diverse landscapes and economic scenarios as is possible to imagine, from a junior football team in Honduras, where he asks (as kidnapping is rife thereabouts) who's seen a dead body, and finds just about everyone raises their hand, to the region's sole billionnaire, setting up the region's largest solar energy plant. Easily recommended. ^_^
ZOMG. I've just learned the results of the 2016 Wanderlust Photo of the Year competition - and I was awarded second place! (Each category received a winner, a runner-up, and a highly commended entry)

I may not have won the first place, but still, this is tremendously exciting. ^_^ Indeed, it represents my first win as a wildlife photographer - and with it, public exhibition of the piece at the Destinations Show 2016, through this weekend, helping show there can be such wonder and beauty in the lives of a species often overlooked as a wildlife subject.

Apparently, The Danish Girl sees its digital release on Feb 16, and on physical media on Mar 1. ^_^ I admit, I'm torn - it's an excellent film, no doubt, but is it one I could really watch often?

So! The little Edinburgh break is arranged: Monday to Wednesday, Feb 15-17. ^_^ I'm so looking forward to this - I'd never really realised what a gem of culture in so many regards the city is. Staying in such a wonderful hotel certainly won't hurt, but I imagine we'll have plenty keeping us out of the room, between the many top notch restaurants, the castle, the museums, and the Whisky Tasting Experience, let alone a cheap day ticket on the buses, or a hop further on the train.

Saturday night was a bit of a collection of shorts, on the TV front: first, The Chickening (which I do hope you've seen =:), followed by another I only vaguely recalled downloading some time ago, The Leap - and which I'll make a point of recommending. It's not an especially fun short, but.. I shed some tears of happiness. Then, at long last, Prelude to Axanar, a fan-made TNG-era short, looking at the years before the Klingons began cooperating with the Federation. For the feature presentation, the roomie chose Lady Snowblood, a 1973 Japanese flick, being a Meiji era tale that could so easily have been a Western, a tale of a daughter's quest for revenge on the four assailants on her parents.

For anyone enjoying photography in the UK, I see Lenses for Hire are running their traditional 50% off February: all rentals are automatically half price until the end of Feb 2016, and can be booked months in advance, only chargeable immediately prior to the rental. If there's an exotic lens you've been wanting to try, now's the perfect opportunity to give it a shot for a lot less than usual. (And they've very good people to deal with, too)

You've probably read of the idea of paving roads with photovoltaic panels: and now, it's happening, in France, where the Minister of Ecology and Energy has announced that they intend to pave 1000km of road with such panels, in the next five years. "According to France’s Agency of Environment and Energy Management, 4m of solarised road is enough to supply one household’s electricity needs, apart from heating, and one kilometre will light a settlement with 5,000 inhabitants. So the maximum effect of the programme, if successful, could be to furnish 5 million people with electricity, or about 8% of the French population."

The only search engine you really need: the Frinkiac. Give it anything Simpsons-related, and it'll offer relevant screenshots.

Until Feb 14 2016, Final Fantasy II is free, if that's the kind of thing that rocks your world. ^_^ Launch the Final Fantasy Portal app (which acts as a container app for all of them), and you'll be able to purchase it for nothing. (If you get a somewhat unhelpful error about some elements of identity not matching, quit the app and relaunch it, and the next attempt should work fine)

Interesting times in aviation, with the Iranian sanctions finally lifted: Iran Air has already placed an order for 118 new Airbus craft, including a dozen A380s.

I really need to look into some gloves - Tuesday's rabbiteering was.. quite uncomfortable, with a strong, cold wind. Repeatedly, I had to hook the camera on the gate, and try defrosting the poor paws in the coat pockets, while the head remained somewhat protected by the hood. But.. it proved worthwhile. ^_^ Here's a touch of the seldom witnessed Bunny Conga.

A previously undiscovered Beatrix Potter story has been found! "The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots was rediscovered by publisher Jo Hanks after she found a reference to it in an out-of-print Potter biography. Quentin Blake, best known for his work with Roald Dahl, has illustrated the story, to be published in September."

Well, now. Isn't this a thing? The Chickening is.. well, think of The Shining, but all about chickens. (And, I discovered that 4K Video Downloader helpfully bypasses YouTube's requirement to sign in)

I was hankering after a new SL machinima or two, and happened upon Pursue Impossible, which is really rather well thought through, and edited remarkably professionally, with narration provided by a thought-provoking exerpt from a lecture by Alan Watts, on the theme of "if you could do anything, what actually would you do?".

I'm sort of muttering to myself with this, but WTH. ^_^ You might recall I mentioned the Italian French Bakery some entries ago, which had changed hands, and recently closed. Apparently, it is indeed reopening. Seems entirely sensible, especially given they've got those wonderful old (about a century or so) ovens in place - might as well use them productively! (Someone nudge me about getting a photo or two of the place included in a future entry)

I finally got to see The Danish Girl, having encountered all variety of reasons to put it off to another day, from tricky timing to (plenty of) grotty weather. I'm impressed. The narrative is very well handled indeed, resembling the feel more of a romance than a drama/documentary, but a romance of such a fundamentally different kind than was acceptable at the time, least of all by the medical establishment. I'll recommend it - perhaps not happily, but with profound respect, and happiness nonetheless that they knew such love.

Open this URL for Glittering Blue, and set that tab/window to full screen. (Might not work on mobile devices) Is that not beautiful?

More MLP:

- The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows: brilliant. ^_^ I suppose the simple structure helped - the story was set in motion early on, leaving almost all of the rest for Pinkie to demonstrate just how excrutiatingly good shecan be at keeping a promise, whatever the cost. ^_^;

- Hearthbreakers: not nearly as awkward as I feared. ^_^ I liked the way in which AJ recovered the crisis, and managed to turn the situation around quite deftly, combining the traditions of both families to good effect. (And as for that huge stone - the huge egg shaped stone, found in a dragon's cave? We'll surely be seeing more of that someday)

We watched "The King of Kong" on Saturday night, a rather interesting little exploration into the world of competitive "classic" gaming, particularly Donkey Kong. I shan't say too much, but, suffice to say there were a couple figures who've had quite a long running battle between them. Easily worth a look, if the topic's of interest.

Well, there's an interesting bit of casting: Matt Smith will play Robert Mapplethorpe in a forthcoming biopic.

It's been quite interesting to see the Apple head honchos confirm they're very interested in VR tech. Quite how that'll pan out, of course, is anybody's guess but theirs. I doubt they'll buy out an existing headset provider, though if they were to do so, Avegant would be my first choice, being fine tech and very non-geeky in appearance. More likely, if they ever released a headset, it'd be locally cooked, including tech from smaller acquisitions, given Apple's previous corporate behavior.

Also on the fruity front, I noticed this rumor claiming that they may, at long last, indeed be looking into producing their own TV shows. I've long thought that'd make sense for them, given the Apple TV's finally become a real player, and the company's not exactly short of the financing that'd be required.

Thursday was a surprisingly good day for rabbiteering - one of the best in months! After noticing a bun or two in the "dip" (in the middle of the footpath, which unfortunately can get quite muddy at this time of year), only to have them scattered by a couple walkers approaching me a few minutes later, I headed back to the aerial spot, which seemed unoccupied by rabbitkind, plus having one of the owner's vehicles parked within, for some work on the site. So, down to one of the first spots when I discovered this circuit - and there were up to around a dozen there, including a couple youngsters. ^_^ I always enjoy watching buns going about their lives, but when there are so many, placing me in the fortunate dilemma of having to constantly choose who to watch in the viewfinder, sometimes hopping between different groups, it becomes a complete joy. (And indeed, today was almost as good! But that wind! Oof, that got quite uncomfortable. I should look into some gloves)

First, a demonstration of why life can be tough for a doe, with bucks wont to spray them, which they enjoy about as much as you'd expect.

And from today, the opening manoeuvres of a brief pursuit, with the pursuer even baring their teeth:

We're considering dates for our little prize trip to Edinburgh next month. ^_^ Probably Monday to Wednesday, getting there around 4pm, leaving at a similar time. (The prize is good Sun-Fri) Might anyone have particular recommendations for venues we really oughtn't miss? Whisky, good food, general culture, architecture - with not much time there, is there anything we'll be kicking ourselves for having missed? (Though, I'd certainly hope it won't be our last visit there. Indeed, we're already tentatively planning a slightly longer visit, if the coming weeks work out well) It certainly doesn't look like there's any shortage of venues on any of those fronts, and that's just considering the central portion of town, all eminently walkable.

Oh, no.. The Moff is leaving Doctor Who - which would be enough of a wrench by itself, but he's being replaced by Chris Chibnall, fondly remembered for his risible "Cyberwoman" Torchwood story, amongst other elevated fanfic outings. And I never did make it through his Silurians two-parter..

At long, long last, I'm finally getting started on learning Japanese. ^_^ I'd had the trial version of (rather inappropriately, but still) Human Japanese on the iPad around for a while, and it quite impressed me - animations of stroke order on hiragana, pronunciations of all Japanese words by native speakers, hints on just what to look out for when writing Japanese, and other miscellaneous insights - it's a genuinely insightful course. It's available for various platforms - in my case, iPad, for which you can buy both the beginner and intermediate apps as a twin bundle for £16 (or £10 each), which seemed entirely fair. I'm still very early in, trying to pound hiragana into my tiny brain, with some success.

I know I can't really afford it, but good gods, that 36 month Iberico ham from Waitrose (in the chilled section, not the deli, and only some larger branches) is absolutely phenomenal. It's what you'd expect of that kind of ham, just even more so, with a deliciously intense flavor, and still meltingly soft on the tongue. If you've been very good, consider treating yourself to a packet thereof. ^_^ Of course, working out just what cheeses pair best with it requires research. Extensive, delectable research.

The story of Laura Meyer, head chef at Tony's (an excellent pizzeria in North Beach) and first American and first woman to win the World Pizza Championship, in Parma, back in 2013. (Her winning creation: "La Regina", "a play on a classic diavola pizza with tomato sauce, soppressata picante, prosciutto di Parma, arugula, and Piave, Parmesan, and provolone cheeses")

Some fairy tales, as the Brothers Grimm thought, date back quite some time - further than even they'd suspected. "Dr Tehrani said Jack And The Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre's Treasure, and could be traced back to when Eastern and Western Indo-European languages split more than 5,000 years ago. Analysis showed Beauty And The Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old."

I know it's BuzzFeed, but still, these photos of huskies training in Scotland for the Aviemore Sled Dog Rally are quite superb. ^_^

Who knows? I might finally be able to get around to seeing two films I've had my eye on: Star Wars, and The Danish Girl. (In SW, does the 3D add much? I'm tempted to see it thusly, as it was genuinely filmed in 3D, rather than having that added in post)

There's an unusual planetary alignment occurring, with five planets side by side in the morning twilight sky.

Pornhub's worldwide survey of preferences makes for some amusing reading. ^_^ "The Italians are the only consumers for whom footjob and feet make it into the most-searched. In Brazil, some of the fastest-gaining search terms include Pokemon and Scooby Doo. In Russia, my little pony was the 7th most searched term last year." Meanwhile, in the UK, british chav made its debut as one of the top search terms. O.o; (h/t supergee)

Here, have a small leap. ^_^

It's quite to be expected that when a famous musician dies, their albums see a bump in popularity. A "bump" in the case of David Bowie apparently means 25% of the Top 40 is his, with nineteen albums in all (re-)entering the Top 100. It was indeed sadly impressive to see just how extraordinarily widespread reporting thereof turned out to be, appearing on many sites otherwise unconnected to music, even topping Y Combinator's Hacker News, the geek news hub.

Comic recommendation of the day: Never Satisfied. The story begins with a group of magical apprentices attempting to prove their worth in a somewhat unorthodox competition of capturing birds. The art style is somewhat reminiscent of the animation era of the 1950s and 1960s, drawn with panache, without being self-conscious, as with Little Kitten Teeth. Meanwhile, Snarlbear is.. sort of a fantasy, set in a strange world with variously ravenous animals and plants, and with a beautifully unconstrained use of vibrant hues. (The title comes from our hero's nickname, given to her upon entering the world abruptly, and promptly vanquishing a bear with entirely too many pointy teeth)

On geek tools: Ops 'n Lops. Have a peek within, to see how easy it is to manage a large operation remotely, with the right tools. Myself, I hadn't been aware of mosh, helping make secure connections sane over potentially high latency connections, such as cellular, as well as transparently restoring a session even from a new IP, such as going from cellular on the move to DSL back home.

Following something of a recommendation from lovelyangel, we finally saw the recent version of Jem and the Holograms. Which, yes, we both thoroughly enjoyed. ^_^ True, the writing at points could have used some fine tuning, but fundamentally, the sense of exuberance at success, and the desolation following, rang true. (And it has to be said, who wouldn't want to enjoy such a series of incredible makeovers? Not sure I'd really be one for violet hair, though. Maybe a rich auburn, or maybe just absolutely in your face fluorescent pink. ^_^)

And: one guy's intrepid experimentation to recover teletext data from old VHS tapes. Previously, the quality stored wasn't sufficient to decode with any useful level of accuracy, but with current processing, that's become possible. So we're receiving stacks of teletext pages from the 1980s. =:D

Poll #2033943 Oingo Boingo

Have you heard of Oingo Boingo?


Have you..

seen them live?
bought their music?
got the t-shirt(s)?
anything else we should know about?

About those gravitational wave detection rumors.. they're very much just that, and no more. As the writer cautions: "The current excitement could easily be a false alarm. Even if LIGO has a promising signal, it may be a false test signal planted as a drill. It's been done before, in 2010 near the end of LIGO's last pre-upgrade run. Three members of the LIGO team are empowered to move the mirrored blocks by just the right traces in just the right way. Only they know the truth, and the test protocol is that they not reveal a planted signal until the collaboration has finished analyzing it and is ready to publish a paper and hold a press conference. “Blind tests” like this are the gold standard in all branches of science." It's a spectacular experiment, regardless, "looking for changes in the distance between mirrored blocks of metal 4 km apart as slight as 10-22 meter, about a millionth the diameter of a proton. In other words, changes in measurement of 1 part in 1025."

The US election process is ridiculously convoluted, but still, as it stands, I've found it most encouraging to see Sanders and Clinton go neck and neck in Iowa. "The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll released Thursday morning shows Clinton with the support of 42 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers, compared to 40 percent for Sanders. Former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley received just four percent support. Clinton led Sanders by nine points in the same poll last month, 48 percent to 39 percent."

January has, thankfully, seen a few more bright days than December 2015 - or, sometimes, just a bit brighter, as in this instance, where there'd been a little light rain earlier in the day, leaving the grass sparkling with tiny beads.

Don't suppose anyone's seen Adventures in Comedy? "A mockumentary that takes place in the cut throat world of stand-up comedy. It follows the struggles one comic faces as he gives his dream one last shot." It stars the likes of Rob Cantrell, Margaret Cho, and Janeane Garofalo, so.. there's definitely some distinct potential. (I occasionally browse the iTunes Store, and stumble upon little oddities - in this case, sufficiently unknown IMDb has no rating)
And there was great rejoicing in the Nikon lands, as the D300s replacement finally arrived, in the form of the rather sublime D500. People had been hoping for a new pro DX body for years, but nothing appeared, with the D90 simply evolving through the D7x00 line. (It's rumored the Thai floods disrupted these plans) It'll be a while before I can consider migrating, but when I'm able to, I'll do so with enthusiasm - the new body's 10fps maximum continuous shooting speed will be very nice to have on those occasions where there's a frenetic chase or a tall leap, not to mention a very generous buffer. (The D7100 can manage 6fps, with a bizarrely bijou buffer of only about 4 RAWs; the D500 offers 10fps, and whilst the buffer itself is "only" 14-16 RAWs deep, the speed of the cards permits around 79 RAWs in uncompressed 14-bit mode, or 200 in lossless compressed 12-bit) For anyone interested, Nikon has a technology digest available, which goes into more detail on aspects like the AF specifics. The catch is that it's priced commensurately, similar to the FX wunderkind, the D810. But, its 36MP would do me little good, given I'm much more interested in pixel density, let alone its rather modest continuous framerate, or the various other nifty goodies the D500 offers, like easy AF fine adjustment for any lens, or flicker compensation, which times exposures to take place at the peak of fluorescent or similar lighting's AC cycle - something even the new D5 flagship doesn't offer!

As for what it brings to the party: UHD video (including uncompressed video out over HDMI), 10fps, XQD support (one XQD slot, one SDXC slot), new AF module with 153 points, ISO up to 51,200 natively, expandable to 1,640,000, 2.3MP touch LCD with tilt articulation, WiFi working alongside Bluetooth, and more. It's essentially a DX version of the D5. =:D You can even read an in-depth review, from someone who was sent one in November 2015. There are also a few extra clarifications in this internal document, and in the comments, where it's noted that the D500 buffer is actually more around 14-16 RAWs deep, with the balance made up by the far faster card writing possible with XQD and UHS-II SDXC. Interestingly, it seems the XQD version of the D5 can write faster than the CF version (the D5 comes in two versions, one with twin XQD, the other with twin CompactFlash) - finally, CF's days appear to be numbered.

This SatW comic delves into film title translations - worth a look, and do go down into the comments for many more manglings, some quite poetic. ^_^

If you have questions to ask of Ebbe Linden, he's now accepting questions, to be submitted before Friday, Jan 15 2016, for a meeting on Thursday, Jan 21, 1030 SLT (1830 GMT). (Yes, I'm a bit late in posting this.. ^_^;;)

jeriendhal's daughter is participating in a half-marathon in May 2016, should you feel inclined to sponsoring her, via the charity Love Without Boundaries, which "provides life-changing surgeries and medical care, runs well monitored foster care programs, operates in-orphanage schools and offers student support, and gives quality formula and nutrition to orphaned and impoverished children."

Rather cool to see.. say you're an airline, and need to get a spare engine out to another craft in a hurry. How would you transport it? In this case, Qantas mounted it on the wing of another 747. Not operational, of course - the blades were removed, and fairings added to reduce drag, but there it is: a 747 with five engines on its wings. =:D

Dirk Gently lives again! BBC America & AMC have ordered eight episodes. I am, however, a touch nervous, as the writer is the guy responsible for 2012's "Chronicle", which wasn't exactly a masterpiece of subtlety. Still, we'll see.

Ah, that's a (minor) pain.. we enjoyed a power cut from around 10am-3pm on Monday, which I didn't actually notice for a good hour, given my primary system is a MacBook Pro, backed up by an iPad Air. I did notice the iPlayer downloads seemed to be running a bit slowly, but thought it must be just one of those things, especially as the entire BBC site had been down a few hours previous. Eventually, I noticed I wasn't actually connected to my usual WiFi node - it'd helpfully fallen over seamlessly to another access point. Unfortunately, not the iPad, which is on a 10GB/mo plan, but the iPhone, on a nominal 500MB/mo (plus 250 mins, unlimited texts).. so, yep, those iPlayer downloads slammed that data allowance into the ground, leaving me data-less until I buy another bundle, which I'd just done on Saturday. =:P (I can still use the voice time and texts, and data on the phone's fairly unimportant - the iPad's the mobile workhorse. Still, frustrating, for want of accidentally leaving the phone's "personal hotspot" pref enabled)

I finally got to see the "original" buns again. ^_^ That was the first time since July, which turned out to be a touch less rewarding than I'd hoped, as the field was all but overrun with wildflowers and other tall vegetation - for which the buns may well have been very grateful, but, I'm not currently equipped to shoot in infrared. =:) There weren't really any gasp-worthy moments, I'm afraid, but it was nonetheless a delight to see them all out and about, across the length of the space - and being relatively accustomed to people walking and cycling by on the path, they tend to be a good notch less skittish than most. (I did, unfortunately, forget to provide a tribute of raisins. If I get another opportunity in the coming weeks, I must try to remember. And the new Doc Martens came in beautifully handy, as there'd been some rain recently, making for a substantial puddle of a couple inches' water across the entire width of the path, through which I could merrily stride, casting my hair back with a laugh. Or something like that =:)

It's a bit of a messy composition, with so much bramble around, but still - I had to try capturing that moment, with the two of them quite deliberately nestled up to each other, side by side. ^_^

Do you go out to see many films on theatrical release, or do you tend to leave them for video nights, when you can invite friends over? For my part, it varies a lot where I am at the time - back in Bath, I loved going along to films at The Little, set in (of course) a Georgian building, with so much atmosphere, and the pleasant ability to buy lovely choc'lit and cider. Here, rather less so, with the local place being a generic multiplex. I am, however, tempted to try catching The Danish Girl - I'm a little surprised it even reached here, TBH, let alone four times daily. There's also Star Wars, of course, but I'd prefer to keep that for some monumental screen - I understand the South Bank's IMAX is quite good. ^_^ And I might see what The Good Dinosaur's like - that's also apparently still showing.

So, I finally got to see "Crusaders of the Lost Mark". Of course, I cried. ^_^ Not just for the CMCs, but for Diamond Tiara as well, finally breaking free of her mother's selfishness, becoming the pony she wants to be. There've been some very good episodes in season 5, but that's one of the best of all. Just beautiful. ^_^

Huh. Is "mutual friends" screwed up for anyone else's profile? (And then there's LJ's adoption of that wretched web design fad for hiding as much as possible, on profiles) If I show "friends", it lists everyone correctly - but if I ask for "mutual friends", it only actually offers up the names of about half the actual people, the rest sucked into some bit bucket along the way.

We watched "Alejandro Jodorowsky's Dune". I'd heard about the project, and a couple of the notable figures involved, but to see that extraordinary assembly of talent.. ye gods and little fishes, it would have been truly glorious. Ah, the film? It's about the making of, or rather, the non-making of - tragically, even once all the talent had been assembled, and a weighty tome produced with the entire project storyboarded out, and all the effects work considered, Hollywood simply wouldn't bite, leaving the production without the full money required to make it happen. So, you've got him as director, of course - and then, on visual design work, there's Mobius, Chris Foss, and Giger. As one of the main protagonists, Mick Jagger. As another, the director's son, who was trained for the role in all manner of martial arts, for six hours a day, for two years. As the totalitarian leader of the Universe, Dalí. As Baron Harkonnen, Orson Welles. Music by Pink Floyd, who were just putting the finishing touches to Dark Side of the Moon. Intriguingly, toward the end, AJ actually specifically notes that today, this could be perfectly feasible as an animation project, not necessarily with him involved. FSM, if there were any way I could play a part in bringing that into reality.. !
A music video I'd like to recommend: Julia Nunes - Make Out. It's a bit of a departure from my usual electronic leanings, but it's such a happy, warm video, and an absolute delight of a track as well. If you need a bit of cheering up, or just want some warm fuzzies, watch it now. ^_^ (And on the making of the video, she notes, "I did not account for bystanders watching. We filmed at a hotel with an open walkway and people were snapping pics all day. They started coming out of their rooms around the fifth play through "Make Out." They probably heard it another 70 times. I was also not expecting my DP to be wearing mechanical arms. I walked on set at like 7am and saw a robot human and thought maybe I was still dreaming.") There's more on the background to the video and the album over here.

"FYS: Chat Room" is a brilliant little short story by jeriendhal. You'll pick up on the setting quickly enough.

New Year turned out to have a good deal of coughing and aching, unfortunately, thanks to a fantastically poorly timed - and rare - bug of some kind, culminating in sleeping from about 2am-3pm after New Year's Day. (You know a cough is deep when you can feel vertebrae shifting position as you cough..) Thankfully, I'm now mostly over it, just in time for both our guests to have left. =:P Bah, pesky organic bodies. (Hence the lack of replies to comments lately, for which I must apologise) Nonetheless, we did enjoy some very welcome mutual chilling out, including several games of Exploding Kittens (but none of Pandemic, much to my regret), watching Battle Beyond the Stars for the first time in ages (and I noticed one "Jim Cameron" listed in the Art Department - yep, him!), and my suggestion of Tank Girl was happily accepted. (And why is Tank Girl still not available in the iTunes Store? Agh, I'll never understand studios whinging about "piracy", whilst doing all they can to encourage it)

The actual trailer for Zootopia is now out! I must find out if there will be a full-size Judy Hopps for sale at Disneyland. ^_^ (There was, back in 1996, a "life size" - about 4' tall - Br'er Rabbit, perfectly on model. Absolutely wonderful! Sadly, yet another victim of all the moving around)

Sort of a mini non-parable from rav_bunneh: The Glass. It's amusing, true, and encouraging.

davesmusictank pointed out a sobering read: "The Really Big One", from the New Yorker, on where we might next expect an especially powerful earthquake - and no, it's not where you're thinking. And yes, it would be very, very bad news. The odds? They're estimating around a one in three chance of it occurring in the next fifty years; the last such subduction event was in 1700, and such events in the Cascades occur, on average, every 250 years or so. "In the Pacific Northwest, the area of impact will cover some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people. When the next full-margin rupture happens, that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America. Roughly three thousand people died in San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. Almost two thousand died in Hurricane Katrina. Almost three hundred died in Hurricane Sandy. FEMA projects that nearly thirteen thousand people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Another twenty-seven thousand will be injured, and the agency expects that it will need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million."

Complete with many, many examples: The Website Obesity Crisis.

Laurie Anderson Reflects On Life And Loss In 'Heart Of A Dog', via NPR. "Multimedia artist Laurie Anderson has made a new film that's a personal reflection on death. The film is dedicated to her husband, Lou Reed, who died in 2013. But his passing is not spoken of in the film. As you might guess from the film's title, "Heart Of A Dog," a central focus is her late dog, her rat terrier, Lolabelle, who died in 2011. But Anderson also tells stories about her mother's death, the accident which nearly killed Anderson's twin brothers and one that nearly killed her. Anderson narrates the entire film, did the drawings and animation and wrote and performed the score. Home movies from her childhood as well as video diaries are woven in. Lolabelle went blind before she died. To give her some sense of structure and pleasure, Anderson got her a form of music therapy including piano lessons, using an electric keyboard which was placed on the floor."

ChipWorks published their examination of the Apple Pencil, which has quite a lot crammed inside. Sadly, their investigation into exactly how the Pencil actually interacts with the iPad Pro's display is ongoing, but they do offer one teasing tidbit: the chip at the very tip is a high voltage low current driver.
Looks like it'll be a fun, mellow time in the warren tonight. ^_^ Another old Uni friend's down for a few days, so we're enjoying chilling out with a motley assortment of vodka, gin, triple sec et al, with a view to plenty of Long Island Iced Teas and dangerously smooth fruity cocktails, plus various bits playing off the main server, starting with three episodes of The Expanse, a SyFy production set on Ceres, now a major trading hub, rather reliant on Earth and Mars for survival, if not much more than that. All is going as normal, until an ice freighter receives a distress call from a disabled ship, which goes about as badly as could be, bringing Mars and Earth within a hair of war.

I did, unfortunately, also experience Pixels - its origins as a short were quite evident, padded out with obnoxious lead characters who nonetheless all Got The Girl. Nicely produced effects work, at least, and a surprisingly good soundtrack, ironically from the same guy responsible for Wreck-It Ralph's music.

Hmm.. I've come out of the bath to "Wildcats" playing, starring Goldie Hawn.. we shall see. ^_^;
And so, last week, the time did come for the bunny to make their way down to the maternal warren for Yuletide, where a chasm of cellular signal did most grievously interfere with the casual plan to rendezvous for dinner. ^_^; But then, it seems to be a rule that all good pubs must have ropey cellular service, to the point where there's enough to place the call, but not enough for any actual voice data to pass. Which is how I managed to spend over half an hour trying to arrange a taxi for her to join me where the bus had (conveniently =:) let me off, at a pub I'm especially fond of, with food that's quite simple, but really well done, lively atmosphere, and a bevy of great local ciders on offer. Nonetheless, she was eventually safely delivered, and we did feast upon their chicken, gammon, and leek pie both, with hand cut chips, and peas. Like I said, simple fare, but absolutely delicious - packed with chunks of chicken breast, pepped up with little flecks of gammon, and that nice edge of leek in a creamy sauce. We returned the next day as well, where I enjoyed beautifully intensely flavored beef cheeks with tagliatelle, though I admit I needed to add a tiny bit of salt and pepper, after which I felt it just right.

Thursday saw me pick up a few extra bits and pieces I thought might help for the grand Yule meal, and later in the day, including some prawns to go with the avocados, and what proved to be a very pleasant Shiraz to go with the centerpiece of the meal, a generously proportioned duck. =:9

I'll offer up a final note to the current Humble Comics Bundle, expiring in mere hours (7pm GMT today, 11am Pacific) - there's so much great work in there, not just the excellent Lumberjanes. ^_^

I finally got to see Albert Nobbs, a veritable tour de force by Glenn Close. I shan't say more, as much of the film rests on the strength of the performances, but I'll happily recommend it.

Autostraddle published a magnificent list of longreads written by women (ie at least 3000 words), covering a huge variety of topics, courtesy of many venues, including a few from themselves.

Cute corporate furriness: Slack Teams: Animals. Really liking the hare, of course. ^_^

I changed my background image. ^_^ Not a huge deal, but the last time I did so was somewhere around 2009. The newcomer is Noben's rather delightful "Art of the Carnival", featuring a thoughtful leporine artist. It might take me a little getting used to, with the dominant hue now green rather than blue, but.. yes, I'm pleased with it. It belongs. Et voilà!

I am, of course, delighted that the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir topped the charts with their "A Bridge Over You", sending a not very subtle hint to the Conservatives that yes, the NHS really is a wonder that should be far better funded, not hived off into private hands.

Fun little fact in BBC News' obituary for Lemmy: "Motorhead went on to sponsor the Greenbank under-10s B [football] team, which had the internationally renowned band's name on their shirts along with the band's motif - a skull named Snaggletooth. The team also ran out to the band's famous Ace of Spades track."

There's one quite reliably active warren on my usual local rabbiteering trail, with a frustrating caveat: there's no good visibility. I can get a reasonably clear view (but still with the odd branch and bramble that can get in the way while tracking for a shot), but a bit too far away from them for good photos; or, I can be on the trail running behind them, but with a thicket in the way, mostly obstructing any view. But, I was lucky enough to have one or two within the thicket itself - and thanks to the magic of a comparatively wide aperture lens, I was able to shoot through it all, and still wind up with a reasonably clear photo. ^_^ I'm delighted how close they let me come, despite them knowing very well that I was there.

I hope everyone's having a wonderful time, whatever you're celebrating, and wherever and whomever that may be with. ^_^

Here, I've finished a couple hours' cooking, for a lunch that proved almost as good as I could have hoped for, save for overcooking the vegetables somewhat, though not badly. I treated Mum to roast duck with reasonably crispy skin, roast potatoes, Brussels wrapped in smoked bacon (the fat in the pan was indeed delicious =:), accompanied by some baby carrots, tenderstem broccoli, and green beans, with a pre-made gravy I'd bumped up in appeal with a dash or two of spiced rum and the Shiraz for the table. =:9

We are duly stuffed. ^_^

I'm happy. She enjoyed it, as did I - duck's such a tasty meat, and all the trimmings went so well. And now the TV's got "Brave" playing, which I see no reason to dismiss, being one of my top Pixar favorites, along with Ratatouille and The Incredibles. And after that.. Doctor Who. =:D
I've learned that I'm a finalist - one of some ten or twelve! - in the Wildlife category of the photography competition I mentioned the other week. =:D Thus, Momentary will be on display at the Destinations show in early February, in London's Olympia Exhibition Hall. =:D It goes without saying I'm hugely excited - there'll be thousands of people seeing my work, and I'll be helping spread the word that there's actually quite a bit to the social lives of wild rabbits. And who knows? I (or rather, the buns in question) might even sway the judges into extending an award.. well, we'll see. ^_^

In the spirit of the season, one of Autostraddle's writers took it upon herself to research, make, and review a variety of butterbeer recipes. ^_^

MLP impressions:

- Party Pooped took a bit too long in the first act, rather hammering home the whole "yaks are impossible to please" angle, before getting into the far more entertaining second act with Pinkie Pie going on a toon-grade epic quest. The ending was a delight. ^_^
- Amending Fences perhaps spent rather too long on Twi's attempts to reconcile, and not enough justification for Moon Dancer's rather absolute antipathy toward her, and her former friends - having a prized friend blow off a party's a low move by Twi, absolutely, but it didn't really seem enough to cause MD to enter a life of solitude. Still, the ending did leave me teary-eyed, and I do hope we see more of Moon Dancer in the future - indeed, the other Canterlot friends as well, which was a bit of a background gap in Twilight's story, given we only joined her as she moved into Ponyville, with little said of her time back in Canterlot.
- Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep? - a veritable classic. So many wonderful little gags, from Lyra and Bon-Bon being overjoyed at being halves of the same pony, to Big Mac's magical princess aspirations, and not forgetting Giant Adorable Derpy. =:D And perhaps one of the best lessons, too.
- Canterlot Boutique again perhaps overstated the main theme, with Sassy Saddles all but becoming Rarity's boss, rather than her boutique's manager. I admit, I'm a bit surprised to find Rarity letting herself be steamrollered like that, but I suppose it's excusable on the basis of deferring to someone who knows the business practicalities and local scene very well. (Although, that mention toward the end of "another failed boutique" opens some room for doubt?)

I haven't yet seen the new Star Wars, but intend to, hopefully on a big screen. ^_^ Is there any consensus on whether its 3D adds much/anything/lots?

If you have a yen to get into RoR, Daniel Kehoe's Learn Ruby on Rails is currently free, until Dec 25: Amazon UK, Amazon US.
Research links creativity with inability to filter irrelevant sensory information, from Northwestern University.

w00t! Whilst I've stopped entering new competitions for the moment, it was quite a surprise to receive word I actually won one of the.. well, quite a few I entered: two nights in an executive room at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, travelling on Virgin East Coast in first class. Which, from London, ought to be quite a pleasant journey. =:D That's a prize I'm very pleased by - I've never ventured into Scotland, and I'm keen to correct that. And there's so much to be said for a good, long train journey. (I can highly recommend the Coast Starlight from Oakland to LA. Once you're south of Monterey - the tracks run mostly through industrial areas up to then - you're into some gorgeous vistas, with the line at times running very close to the coast)

I wound up getting myself a couple presents. ^_^ First up, some boots I'd seen around a while back, and really liked the look of - but, as the style's at least a year old, they've been becoming rather scarce. And then I stumbled upon a place with them at 40% off.. and apparently just one pair left in my size. I could hardly say no. ^_^ Some typically subdued leggings, and, as I was down to just a single pony shirt, a replacement Vinyl Scratch.

I was looking at what's apparently going to be the new Alamo Drafthouse's menu, down in the Mission - via SF Eater - and one pizza particularly caught my eye: pepperoni, yes, but with a dash of truffle salt. I can't say I'd thought of combining pepperoni with that wonderful truffle pungency (which might be considered an odd menu choice for a cinema =:), but I think I'm going to have to try something like that. (My usual thing with pepperoni, as I've mentioned before, is adding capers and anchovies)

For the first time in.. ever? Linden Lab's actually overhauling the skeleton - bones for ears, hands (full articulation!), tail, lower jaw, lips, and more!

Amazon's apparently made their decision as to which of the new shows I noted the other week will be commissioned, including Danger & Eggs, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Niko and the Sword of Light, Good Girls Revolt, and Highston.

Gah. Checking prices for a replacement cable for the headphones gave rise to a touch of sticker shock.. the official Sennheiser part comes in around £34, whilst a knockoff from Zomo is more like £21. At that kind of price, I'll first make quite certain it isn't just a matter of the plugs having worked very slightly loose over time. As is, the left usually needs a push down before putting them on, sometimes the right as well - given they're only about two years old, I'm a bit surprised they're giving any trouble yet.

An amusing little minute or so: A Kind Drone, being a helpfully censored nude ballet. ^_^ Meanwhile, somewhat less worksafe is this hilarious French ad for a Star Wars-themed glow-in-the-dark condom. =:D

If you've got the odd afternoon to waste, there's a thread on Ars Technica that's surprisingly civil and informative, considering it's in the Battlefront: Is Intel Doomed? Forgiving the inflammatory thread title, it does nonetheless manage to explore the awkward situation Intel now finds themselves in, with the largest processor segment - mobile - almost entirely ARM-based, with the latest generation of such SoCs, like Apple's A9X and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820, becoming competitive in performance with Intel's wares, at much lower prices. Intel isn't competing at all in SoCs, and can't readily offer its services as a fab, versus companies like TSMC and Samsung, who do very well out of that line of business - and fueled by mobile incomes, are even edging ahead of Intel in the race to 10nm.

So! I made some new comic discoveries. ^_^ First I've got to mention is O Human Star, which opens to a man being told that he's dead, and has been brought back as an accurate synthetic copy of himself. First stop: his partner in said same robotics development. New pages arrive every Monday. It's all available freely online, but you can buy the first volume, covering the first two chapters (about Jan 2012 to Feb 2014) for a princely $5 as a PDF from Gumroad, or as a paperback book for $20 from BigCartel.

And then there's Lumberjanes, which may appeal to.. well, anyone between MLP and Scary-Go-Round/Bad Machinery. Great sense of humor, no shortage of whimsy, plus darker overtones. Or, as the publisher puts it: "WHY WE LOVE IT: Five best friends spending the summer at Lumberjane scout camp... defeating yetis, three-eyed wolves, and giant falcons... what’s not to love?! WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: It’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Gravity Falls and features five butt-kicking, rad teenage girls wailing on monsters and solving a mystery with the whole world at stake." Buying it is more complex, as Amazon and a publisher are involved - so, you can buy each issue individually, or as a collection of eleven issues (but there are more?), or as volumes of four or so issues each, or a edition with extras.. O.o; It looks like buying the bundle of separate issues is cheapest, but it'll be great fun, whichever way round you choose. (Ah! I see issues 1-20 are included in the current Humble Comics Bundle, if you pay $15 or more - cheaper than just Lumberjanes, plus all the other titles, including Bee & Puppycat, Bravest Warriors, Hacktivist, Robocop, Sons of Anarchy, Steed & Mrs Peel, and more)

I'm not a superhero sort, with occasional exceptions - so, I shall have to confess to actually enjoying Supergirl. ^_^ I suppose it doesn't really add anything revolutionary to the genre, but still - yes, enjoyable. (Speaking of which, I should try catching up with Heroes Reborn at some point. And Sense8, Transparent, Extant, Orange is the New Black, Boy Meets Girl, etc =:) Still, I am now starting to catch up with MLP, having watched Princess Spike (much better than I'd expected, as it seemed to be quite roundly panned, as I recall), and midway through Party Pooped, which is proving amusing, but a bit of a thin joke so far.

That was a happy little retail accident - supermarket received a delivery of Bristol Beer Company's rather good Southville Hop by accident, but - understandably - put it out for sale anyway. Naturally, I snagged six bottles. =:9 Now, if they can only also accidentally receive a consignment of Ermie & Gertie's Yarlington Mill & Pippin cider.. definitely not a cider for everyone, being very forthright, and rum casked, but easily one of my top favorites, and (of course) essentially impossible to buy except in a couple branches, and from them in person.
Wendelstein 7-X is alive! If you missed my earlier mention of it, it's a new take on an older concept for a fusion reactor, a Stellerator, which seeks to address the difficulties tokamaks experience in maintaining plasma stability. The rub? It's extremely complex in design - it's sort of similar to a tokamak in concept, maintaining the plasma in a ring, but in a much more complex shape than a torus, only recently computationally feasible. 7-X isn't a generator - it only seeks to demonstrate the feasibility of prolonged plasma generation, on the order of thirty minutes at a time. Will a stellerator or a tokamak be the first to achieve net generation of energy? We shall see. Though, that may still be decades ahead, given the scale and complexity of such undertakings, but with such a profound payoff.

Coo.. seems they're finally daring to contemplate a second Transbay tube. I'd be happy about that, given the existing one is fairly much at capacity, and BART's not exactly running out of passenger demand, but the pace on BART projects is positively glacial when it's all surface and elevated work, let alone going underground. Consider the exciting plan for BART to San Jose, for which a sales tax measure passed back in 1999, with the Warm Springs and Berryessa stations approaching opening in a year or so, with the main San Jose ones likely to follow around 2028. ^_^; Still, it would be very good to see, as a second tunnel could extend service to Alameda, before continuing west along Geary, potentially terminating at the beach, with another spur arcing southwest and south to eventually meet up around Daly City.

I am vindicated! Douglas Adams concurs: Earl Grey is delicious with milk. ^_^

Here's quite a sobering look at the fate of Jersey, which, back in the 1960s, set out to exploit its unusual legal status to become a tax haven.

Quite how I missed this when it debuted, I'm not sure - but Autostraddle took a sympathetic look at MLP:FiM, including the aspect of shipping, back in 2012. (I noticed one artist referenced, IAmNotACleverPony, has apparently since left DeviantArt - don't suppose anyone knows what led to that?)

Rusty Lake Hotel looks like being rather good fun - it's a furry point & click adventure title, coming out next week for iOS, Android, and "desktop". And per my previous mention of Maestria, I'm very pleased with that - gorgeous design throughout, and engaging game design emergent from a few simple rules.

If you feel like chipping in, the Internet Archive folks will be holding a 24-hour live & streaming telethon on Dec 19/20: "The Internet Archive, the home of the Wayback Machine and millions of movies, books, software and music items, is spicing up its fundraising season with an actual Telethon, hosted and run by Internet Archive employees, and in front of a live audience! For 24 hours, from Noon on Saturday, December 19th, and going straight through without breaks until Noon on December 20th, we will be featuring a variety of performances, interviews, games and straight-up silliness from our 300 Funston Avenue location in San Francisco."

Wow. =:D If I'm interpreting Wanderlust's notes on their competition site correctly, I may be one of ten folk on the wildlife category shortlist. ^_^ I can't be certain, as their email only said that I'm through to the "next round" of judging; that said, on the site, they note "judging will take place shortly and if you've made it through into the shortlist of 10 per category you will be notified." Eeee! It looks like each category will have three winners: the overall winner, receiving that magnificent trip; a runner-up, receiving a D5500 and 18-55mm lens; and "highly commended", receiving a Coolpix P610 superzoom bridge, with a fairly insane reach of 24-1440mm. (As you'd expect, with a small sensor, you don't get the same quality and low light performace of a DSLR, but that said, it does indeed work!)

Has anyone migrated from Google Apps email for their domain(s), over to Fastmail? I'm giving consideration to finally shifting away, with their pricing looking quite moderate, at $40/year for the level I'd need, permitting use of your own domains.

Bah. Had to give rabbiteering back at the original spot on Wednesday a miss.. the forecasts were converging on just "sunny spells", and that's about the best outlook for the next week or two. But, with the back being a bit twinge-y, I'm not sure a journey like that would've be the very best thing possible: 30 mins train, 30 mins Tube/walk, 1h20 train, 30 mins walk. (As it turns out, the forecasts continued to slide into "meh", so I didn't miss too much)

The other week, I noted that the Elbo Room was listed for being a thing of the past - but not so! They're apparently safe for a little longer yet, into 2018. ^_^
Here's rather a good interview, with Michelle Tea, exploring the quite adventurous life she's led over the years, as explored in her new book, "How to Grow Up: A Memoir". "So when I was living in the blue house it wasn’t like, Oh my, what is this squalor I’ve succumbed to? It made a certain amount of sense. I was a punk teenager and grew up in a house where people with money and ambition to better oneself were mocked. Toughness was a prized quality in Chelsea, Massachusetts, where I grew up, and you had to be tough to live in a place like the blue house, and I felt good about that. There was a certain amount of endurance to it that I enjoyed, like, How bad will this get before I break? I can handle it! And I have a dark sense of humor, so the absurdity of, say, your roommate painting the cockroaches with glow-in-the-dark nail polish was not lost on me. But when I found a cockroach in my hair I really lost my shit. I did have some limits."

Cards Against Humanity made $54,000 on "Black Friday", selling absolutely nothing. =:D

Here's a good story on ITER, the gigantic tokamak being constructed in southern France, a collaboration between 35 countries. It's a long story, examining the history of the project, its aims, and the inevitably complex bureaucracy that comes with so many stakeholders and budget-wielding politicians.

I seem to be gradually "waking up" again. ^_^ I noodled around with the Keystation 49e attached to the iPad again for the first time in many months, and picked up NI's iMaschine 2 to explore further musical options. I imagine it'll be a while before I've got anything approaching something worth sharing, but it'll be fun getting there. ^_^

Do you have any good net.radio offerings to share? Myself, I've been quite enjoying Apple's "Beats 1", for having a bevy of genuine DJs, sharing what they're liking, and with minimal advertising (just "Beats 1 is made possible by McDonalds", or suchlike, once or twice an hour). They run the operation out of three studios, in London, New York, and Los Angeles, with a roster of regulars, and occasional guests, making for quite a good variety of musical styles, although I do sometimes find them leaning toward rap/urban, which sends me scampering off, usually rapidly taking solace in rigelkitty's mixes, or sometimes Studio Killers, or the Pinker Tones. Elsewhere, I enjoy the diversity of En Lefko, based in Athens, making for unintelligible ad breaks, and ABC Dance. (Streams: En Lefko, ABC Dance)

On the iOS front lately: One Button Travel is a rather neat little interactive fiction game, which begins with you booking a journey, except.. it's not quite what it seems, as someone from the future is trying to warn you. The latter's trailer is appropriately cryptic, too. =:) It's a very simple gameplay mechanic indeed, yet, it manages to pull you into the scenario easily. And on the puzzle front, Maestria looks like it could be very promising, with challenging puzzles, and beautiful isometric graphics.

A few folk might be interested in this, though I haven't watched it myself yet: "Guy Martin: Last Flight of the Vulcan Bomber", which apparently aired on 4 last Sunday, 90 mins long, and available from the Bay.

I hadn't actually been aware that grapes and raisins are apparently potentially highly toxic to canids; intriguingly, the actual cause is, as yet, unknown, as confirmed by the Merck Veterinary Manual and the Veterinary Poisons Information Service. Intriguingly, the effect seems to vary widely between individuals - some dogs even seem fine with them, whilst others may be killed by just a few grapes, caused by kidney failure. I rather wish I had a good understanding of veterinary biology, to understand what could cause such a wide variation, more akin to an allergy than, say, a neurotoxin.

And time marches on.. I wound up checking up on what the Italian French Bakery back in North Beach was up to, and - well, at first, I couldn't even find it on Yelp, eventually only digging up the link courtesy of Spotlight picking up on an email message I'd sent with the URL in it. It seems they changed owners in 2013, and are now closed for renovating for "an exciting new bakery concept", which is either foreboding or intriguing, with me admittedly leaning toward the former. =:/ Still, we'll see. It was a great little neighborhood bakery, supplying several of the local restaurants with their bread, and deservedly. I used to enjoy wandering up there to pick up a focaccia. A slice or two of that, with a little nice butter, was quite the simple delight. (Which all reminds me: I do have a few photos of the place, which I've not yet put up anywhere. They were fine with me getting behind the scenes, resulting in some up close views of their circa 1911 ovens, in their fiery glory) And my favorite review? This one, which had both of us laughing out loud, wondering simultaneously if they were even thinking of the same place, and that for such a negative tone, they still wound up offering four stars. ^_^;

At some point in the future, I may return to Twitter - but it couldn't be on the same basis as before, as that was an absolute timesink. (When you're reaching noon before catching up with tweets from overnight, you know things are in emergency need of realigning) But how? I've always kept my net.presence simple - if I'm following someone, I'll read everything they write. Which seems to leave few options: either drastically cut back on the numbers I follow, which I'd hate to do, or set up a secondary account that would be explicitly for not keeping up with everything, leaving just some kind of small "core" I would try to keep up with. Still, I suppose it's hardly an immediate concern - just a theoretical, given I first want to be able to keep up with LJ properly again, before considering any kind of "expansion".

w00t! The migration from Parallels Desktop 8 (now at version 11) to VMware Fusion 8 went perfectly smoothly. (So far? =:) Mountain Lion is back and usable for Requiem, to strip iTunes video DRM from purchases made, and the Windows 7 VMs similarly were imported without a hitch. I'll probably just go with a fresh Ubuntu LTS release, rather than importing that. (Updating the bootable SD Card may be fun, but I recall I documented the process completely - handy for times when I need the code to see the actual hardware, not just the virtual machine, as with OpenCL work) Yep, installing 14.04.3 went like a breeze - just pointed Fusion to the ISO, and let it take care of everything else. So far, so good! (Tune in next week to hear the 24x7 grinding of teeth =:) Only surprise has been a minor glitch in that after a VM is resumed, the window is sometimes corrupt - resizing the window by a tiny amount, causing it to explicitly redraw, solves that. Next, I think, should be trying to build the vector video project in VS2010 again, to be sure everything's bedded down nicely on that front. I haven't yet done anything on the Windows 10 front, as I'd prefer to make sure that won't invalidate the 7 VM's licensing, or if it does, that I'm aware of such before taking the plunge.

That was rather cute - popped into the supermarket, and they had a small (eight member or so) brass band playing seasonal tunes. Really rather lovely. ^_^

A couple days ago, I received a voicemail message I couldn't have been happier about. Normally, I really don't like phone calls much - so intrusive, demanding your attention, disrupting your train of thought. (I now have mine set to only alert on a whitelist of a few numbers. Email's definitely the best way to reach me) It was from my mother. ^_^ The last time I'd been able to speak with her was in early September, back when she was in hospital for a brief round of observation, having fainted and taken an awkward tumble. Then, it was via the hospital's phone system, as she didn't have her own phone at hand. But even once out, I couldn't reach her - I'd only reach her voicemail, which I know she doesn't check (when I visit, one of my duties is to report any voicemail and text messages of note =:). I knew she was okay, as a social worker calls by daily, and a friendly neighbor had confirmed she's alright, but still - it was feeling deeply disquietening to not be able to speak with her myself, to the point I was ready - despite the finances - to head down to visit. So, you'll understand, to find her calling me, and promising she'd answer if I called back.. was a fabulously happy moment. Which reminds me, I need to use up a couple hours of talk time on that bundle tomorrow. Hope she's not doing anything. =:D

Thanks to a couple friends, and a surprise from the credit card company (I'd asked for a limit increase a couple weeks back, which, despite the impending income, they declined; they've now extended it to me after all), and the news that the paperwork for the next gig is indeed creeping along.. I'm breathing one hell of a lot more easily today. ^_^;; (I admit, I splurged: two new bottles of bubble bath - rose & calendula, and ginger & shea butter - and a bottle of Martin Miller's Gin, one of the most extraordinarily gentle, aromatic, smooth gins you'll ever find) Weirdly, checking for flights around Dec 16 last week was showing they'd actually fallen heavily since a few weeks before - though, at this pace, I suspect I shan't be making any booking until the end of the month, for sometime in early/mid January. What a long, crazy ride it's been..
OhPonyBoy has a new video out! Blob It is a brilliantly bouncy electronic track with a dirty edge that pushes all the right buttons, to an adorbs video. ^_^

I've recently been reading all of Christopher Baldwin's current sci-fi/comedy/action strip, Anna Galactic, and perhaps unsurprisingly, I'm enjoying it hugely. I've almost always enjoyed his artwork styles (they can range quite broadly, from Bruno to Little Dee), and he's especially good with characterisation. Give it a try! New strips come every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so it won't take forever to catch up with the story so far, as it only began in January 2015, and looks set to complete somewhere in late 2016.

A random short story on uplifting: Concerning your Recent Creation of Sentient Horse-things on the Next Planet Over. (No, not related to ponies, although it might not be too much of a stretch =:)

Here's a sort of skatepark with a difference.. part artificial, part natural. =:)

Maybe it's finally time to update the VM setup. =:/ I don't particularly need any of them just yet, but, I'd far sooner have everything ready to roll when that time does come, than be caught with some weird-ass migration issue when the pressure's on. (I'm probably going to hop back to VMware Fusion - back when I started with them, I found the integration a touch more seamless, and it looks like Fusion 8 has an edge on Parallels 11 in performance) But.. do I update my Windows 7 Pro VM to Windows 10? I'm guessing that once the update's taken place, the license would be transferred, rendering the 7 VM unusable - or is that not the case? I think I'd prefer to go with 10, simply for being up to date, both on security and features. Anyway, VMware's running a modest extra sale for (*sigh*) Black Friday, so at the current price - valid for updating from even my relatively creaky version of Parallels - it's not a difficult proposition (around $42/£27).

Well, there go the RAW and full res JPEG off to Wanderlust (and YouSendIt still requires Flash to function? Egad. Still, it was easy enough to reinstall it, then remove it immediately afterward). Who knows? Being a runner-up would be wonderful, but I will admit, receiving a paid photography commission in Western Australia would be just amazing. =:D Even if it goes no further than this, it's gratifying to have that nod of making it through to the second round of judging.

Great accomplishments of crisps technology of our time now include M&S' new "winter berries and prosecco" flavor, complete with tiny edible gold stars. =:D They're actually very tasty, with a mild berry nature, and very tangy.

Well, that's an interesting acquisition.. Apple's bought FaceShift, a real-time facial mocap company. The article notes their tech was "used in the most recent Star Wars film to make non-human characters have features, characteristics, and expressions more similar to real humans".

And.. this is a limerick. =:) If you want to try working it out for yourself, don't click through, as that'll bring you to the "answer". ^_^

Here's an interesting breakdown of various categories of games, and the gender balance each holds. There are some more obvious results, like FPSs being (very) male, but I hadn't expected hidden object adventures to be quite so heavily female. Infinite runners are quite egalitarian, too. And the larger category of "puzzle" being so strongly feminine surprised me. Have a look!

Oo! I just received word from Wanderlust that "Momentary" is through to the second round of judging in the Wildlife category of Travel Photo of the Year. ^_^ I now have to supply the RAW and full res JPEG, by Nov 27. And what a prize for each category winner. =:D

So very, very (hilariously) wrong: Pinkie Prime.

Or, if your artistic inclinations are a touch more classical, SF Gate recently offered up a little review of quite a fascinating exhibition on at the Asian Art Museum until Feb 7 2016, noting the influence of Japanese art on Western masters such as Van Gogh and Monet.

I should like to advise everyone that Kettle Chips have a new flavor out: Crispy Bacon and Maple Syrup. They are indeed every bit as good as one might hope. ^_^

Ro-Busters ahoy! Seems Honda's developing a version of their ASIMO robot for disaster response. As you'd imagine, that requires considerable agility, here demonstrated by what might seem unremarkable for a human: edging along a catwalk, and then ascending a vertical ladder.

BBOWT are hoping to expand one of their nature reserves by a third, and are seeking funding to buy the three plots they're hoping to acquire.

Rather heartening to see: not only are TinyMUCKs and their ilk surviving, but new ones are apparently continuing to appear. ^_^ The MUD Connector's listings offer plenty to choose from. (Beware the category listings, though - "furry" doesn't list a few I'm familiar with, whilst an alphabetical search turns them up happily - and ye gods and little fishes, it felt quite strange to see the FurToonia banner pop up again, on telnetting to ft.furtoonia.net 9999! Ah, maybe I need to drop by again sometime. It was always a good place)

Christopher Baldwin's always one to keep busy.. not, apparently, content with currently running two ongoing strips, Anna Galactic and Yontengu, he's bringing back Little Dee!

Interesting! Did you know that if you fly at up to Mach 1.2, at 35,000' or above, the sonic boom won't reach the ground?

The SuperBowl 50 Committee apparently abandoned their plans to get Muni to temporarily remove overhead bus wiring. ^_^ I know it might sound a bit trivial, but the system's very heavily used - there'd inevitably be great disruption (well, more than just the Fan Village will entail..), and the system's actually quite a symbol of San Francisco, with those grabber arms extending upward, extracting clean (Hetch Hetchy hydro) energy, with the side effect of the buses themselves being virtually silent at standstill. Of course, the big lure of an electric system in SF is, as much as anything, the torque - it's easy for any bus to ascend the city's hills with aplomb.

There are a few quite cool photos of the Central Subway project in this Chron article. It's still got some way to go before it enters service, though - it's only the naked tunnel that's all but complete. Next comes all the comms and other infrastructure, and the rail lines themselves. Still, highly welcome, and as the story concludes, it'll surely spur demand for the line to be extended the full way to Fisherman's Wharf.

Study Finds Controlled Washington, D.C. Wildfires Crucial For Restoring Healthy Political Environment.

Well, that proved to be a fun little surprise - I got to meet lupestripe and his partner Wolfie for the second time! Being a bunny of very little brain, however.. having agreed to meet at the next stop down the line, to introduce them to one of my favorite watering holes, I promptly waited for the train, on the right platform, and got on, at quite nearly the right time.. onto a non-stop into the city. ^_^; Thankfully, they were also running late, so we wound up discussing options and plumped for the original idea. A little (more of a) ride later, and about 25 mins walking out into the countryside - including one gently uphill, muddy section of field footpath that would, without due care, be positively hilarious - we were there, amidst a pub that saw the Saxons and Jutes swing by. 'Sa good place. Some very good food (it's the best French onion soup I've had!), a carefully selected range of beers and ciders, and of course, such atmosphere. The only thing that can make such a combination better is good company. ^_^ And of course, I'm so happy that they found their choices to be uncommonly good as well.

Via jenndolari, some fascinating, encouraging research into uterine transplants.

Oh, I wish I were back already.. the Castro Theatre will be holding a parody performance of Peaches Christ's "Addams Apple Family Values", prior to a screening of the film itself, on Sat, Nov 21 2015. ^_^

If you're itching to try out some new TV, Amazon Studios has some pilots they'd like people to try out, and give feedback on, to see what might be worth commissioning for full seasons. There's a good variety, including some interesting looking animated offerings, such as Everstar, Danger & Eggs, and Eddie of the Realms Eternal.

First reports of the iPad Pro & Apple Pencil are beginning to come in, and it's looking very promising as an artistic tool, as demonstrated here. The Pro's a bit big for going out and about, so I'll likely hold off until the screen arrives on the Air family. (The Pencil functionality operates differently to finger touches, so for now, it literally only works with the Pro)
Joel wants to bring MST3K back. =:D It doesn't look like the hefty funding goal is proving much of an obstacle, with over half its $2m goal raised within the first day or two. ^_^

Here's a temporary freebie that may be of some interest: "The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers: Gold Edition", as a Kindle book, from Amazon UK, Amazon US. "This book reveals more secrets about the history of Japanese games than ever before, with 36 interviewees and exclusive archive photos. Konami's secret games console, the origin of Game Arts and Quintet, unusual events at Telenet, stories on Falcom, politics behind Enix's game programming contests, a tour of the Love-de-Lic and WARP offices (with layout sketches). Every interviewee is asked about unreleased titles."

Apparently on Peter Capaldi's wish list for guest stars on Doctor Who: Tom Hanks, Keith Richards, and David Bowie. I know I would squee at the latter. ^_^

Before every screening at the Castro Theatre, the mighty Wurlitzer would ascend from the floor, with the organist du jour offering a performance before the film began. Truly a wonderful experience. ^_^ Sadly, its time eventually came, and on Sep 23 2015, the last performance was held, as it was simply wearing out, and would require a full refurbishment, liable to take years, which the owner simply couldn't commit to. But! The story doesn't end there. ^_^ They're having a new organ purpose built - and it promises to be even more of a grand experience. "We go by sets of pipes, called ranks—one pipe for each note of the keyboard that creates one particular sound—and we had 21 ranks in the Wurlitzer altogether on both sides. Now, we're going to have 16 ranks of theatre organ pipes and 16 ranks of classical pipes, which produce the sound of a classical organ. The rest will be made up of digitally-sampled organ ranks, taken from other organs around the world. The listener will not be able to tell which are the actual pipes and which are the sounds of the pipes coming through speakers. We're going to be incorporating about 120 speakers around the room that will fill the room above the balcony and all around. It will be a surround-sound experience like no one has heard before."

Rather a nice little compo, and open almost worldwide (not Canada, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, or AL/AK/AR/NH/IA/KY/MA/MS/ND/PA/UT) - Ask #WhiskySanta, for those of a Twittery disposition. Just browse their site, and ask for any item they sell. And that covers some seriously wonderful territory.. =:D #WhiskySanta will pick one winner every day, up to Dec 24 2015.

Does anyone else follow MasterChef? I'm always very fond of the competition, in all three of its guises, as wonderfully disparate as they are (regular, professional, celebrity). The pro contest's just begun airing, seemingly on a thrice-weekly basis, an hour each on Tue/Wed/Thu, at 8pm on BBC2. (On which note, am I alone in not being familiar with an "omelette Arnold Bennett"? Does look delicious, though! It's basically a flat omelette with poached haddock running through it, topped with a glazed Hollandaise. I know I couldn't survive as a chef in a commercial kitchen, but one aspect I know I would like, at least, would be the ready availability of all the ingredients I could want. ^_^ I do try to keep the fridge and larder well stocked, but there are definitely limits, especially when it comes to anything like cream, which I use quite rarely, or fun salad leaves, which I may only use relatively occasionally - in that kind of setting, you've got the fresh stuff always at hand, for the best results.

Want to see something quite awe inspiring? How about the Sun, in 4K, courtesy of NASA. And by contrast, I wondered - how dim is the light on Pluto? NASA has the answer - locate yourself on the map, and it'll tell you when (a few minutes before sunrise, or in the case of the UK, just about any point in the day) the light you'll see is equivalent to noon on Pluto. (EarthSky offers some photographic examples)

Many a multinational evades tax perfectly legally, through mechanisms like paying "royalties" to a shell company in a tax haven, thereby shifting most or all of their income out of the source of that revenue. A small Welsh town has decided to do the same. =:D "Crickhowell residents want to share their tax avoidance plan with other towns, in a bid to force the Treasury into legislation to crack down on loopholes which allowed the likes of Amazon to pay just £11.9m of tax last year on £5.3bn of UK internet sales. In the BBC2 documentary, The Town that Went Offshore, the residents express their anger at companies including Caffé Nero, which has not paid corporation tax in the UK since 2008, despite recording sales worth £1.2 billion."

I missed the first half of the latest Doctor Who tale, on its original broadcast, as I misremembered the bus time back - and rather than turn up halfway through, I opted for some good beer instead. =:) So, catching up with it on Saturday, then watching its conclusion almost straight afterward - I'd have to rate that quite highly indeed, with some exceptional writing. And admittedly, a far more creative use of the Zygons than I'd feared - so much more than Alien Invasion of the Week. I'm also quite pleased to note that the writer of the first part, and co-writer on the second, was previously responsible for the.. less than stellar Kill the Moon. I'd say he's acquitted himself well. ^_^

Encouraged by lovelyangel's positive sentiments on the recent "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.", I finally managed to catch it on Wednesday night. And thoroughly enjoyed it. ^_^ It is an UNCLE film, I'm pleased to say, even if the dynamic's been jostled around somewhat, with the plot well up there with the best of 60s spy capers, although exceeding its envelope on a couple occasions, as with the torture chair. Immaculate set design, and the costumery was impeccable, not least the villain's, but then, they always have the best dress sense. =:) Ah, maybe I should've been mature in the 60s, and unspeakably rich. Maybe not so evil, though - I'm not very good at that, although that may be a matter of perception - the trillionaire Waltons might not be in complete accord with my preferences for a fairer society. =:) Very cool soundtrack, too.

Some Ghibli goodness: how about this set of Mucha-inspired Ghibli film covers? Nausicaä works especially well, and I had to laugh at Totoro's so characteristic expression. ^_^ And for quite an obscure gem, how about a short manga by the man himself, "A Trip to Tynemouth". The full comic is offered up there, slightly wonkily translated, as separate page images. "It's easy to see Miyazaki's love of Westall, from his love of military history, his obsession with aircraft, and the traumas of World War II that, to a great degree, defined him. And although the two never met (Westall died in 1993 from respiratory failure), he considered Westall a kindred spirit. The "Tynemouth" comic follows several story threads. In the main story, Miyazaki (as his pig alter-ego) travels to Tynemouth to search for Westall's ghost (depicted here as a Scottish Terrier). On his journey, Miyazaki shares numerous details about British bombers in the war, recalling details in Blackham's Wimpy and other Westall stories. And he reminisces about his own childhood, captivated by those flying machines, and, of course, the war."

The WSJ's iPad Pro review notes of its capacity as a drawing instrument: "We were both surprised just how quickly he picked it up. In fact, Mike says it was “more natural to sketch and shade” on the iPad Pro than on his Mac’s Wacom tablet. He was impressed most by how the glass-and-pen combo could imitate his art-paper experience: the gentlest tilts of his watercolor brush, light shading with his pencil and deep presses with a flat marker all were lag free. His only complaints: The pen slid a little too smoothly on the glass and made faint tapping sounds when in use. The Surface Pro 4’s pen was quieter and had more resistance but Mike said he far preferred Apple’s for speed and sensitivity." And it's fascinating, on a pure specs level, to see how close ARM now is to Intel performance - indeed, it's faster in some benchmarks than i5-based MacBooks and MacBook Pros.

I'd never noticed that before: Muni has a walking/cycling map of San Francisco available to download (albeit curiously watermarked, for no readily apparent reason), including height contours and grades.

FFS. Seems the SuperBowl 50 committee has, quite seriously, requested Muni take down the overhead wires down Market Street, which power the buses. What a superbly reasonable idea! I see no way that could cause problems. ^_^;

We may have spotted dark matter. =:D Not literally - but the consequences of what we might expect of interactions between such particles, in the form of gamma ray streams from the core of the Milky Way.

TekRevue recently offered up quite a comprehensive comparison between Parallels 11, Fusion 8, and VirtualBox, for folks wanting to run other OSs alongside OS X. As one might expect, it's not a clean sweep for either of the commercial contenders, though Fusion seems to prevail; sadly, the free offering does lag - which is unlikely to be noticeable outside of gaming. Having started with Fusion, before switching to Parallels for a bit, I'm quite tempted to hop back to Fusion - back then, I felt their integration a touch more seamless, and if the graphics performance angle has largely been won by them (this time around), why not?

Wow. So, apparently the concept of cauliflower "couscous" has reached far enough for even one of the less reputable supermarket chains to offer such as a pre-prepared vegetable option. ^_^

And so, on the weekend, I came to the end of my prescription for terbinafine. ^_^ There's still a little left to grow out on the big toes, but otherwise.. I'm - well, it's not overly charateristic of me to celebrate normality, but, they're actually all quite ordinary now. ^_^ (Biology fascinates me from so many levels. The mechanisms of genetics, the manners in which vanishingly tiny amounts of compounds can have profound effects upon one, from curbing depression to being terminal - a subject fungi are indeed past masters in)

Hmm.. interesting to see BAE taking a 20% stake in Reaction Engines. And for a paltry £20.6m, too! Boggling to think the makers of apps like Skype and WhatsApp sell for billions, whilst this could be bought for Tim Cook's spare change.

Here, have a sqrl from Friday. ^_^ I'm just rather taken by their happy expression. (And ye gods, but I like the Nikkor 300mm f/4D - see how every little hair, every whisker is perfectly sharp, from 50' away?)

Fireproof Games recently came out with The Room Three, their continuation of a series of puzzle adventures, which is worth every penny. ^_^ I love the attention to detail in the puzzle design, let alone the impeccable graphics; it's rather wonderful, to me, to consider that something as simple as a transition from one room to another was, in The 11th Hour, something we'd have to render ourselves ahead of time, on all the computing resources we had available. Now? Rendered real-time, on an iPad Air. =:D Isn't that pretty amazing? ^_^

If you enjoyed The Golden Compass, you might like to hear that the BBC will be adapting the series for TV. "Pullman has given his blessing to the project, and is helping recruit a writer to produce a faithful adaptation of the novels, which centre on a girl called Lyra living in a parallel version of Oxford. Producers have promised to sound “every note” in the much-loved trilogy and stay true to the source material. Pullman said the many adaptations of the books on screen, radio and stage had been a “constant source of pleasure” but shows such as Game of Thrones and the Wire had shown that TV had the capacity to reach “depths of characterisation and heights of suspense by taking the time for events to make their proper impact and for consequences to unravel”."

Jon Stewart will be back, with "short form digital content" c/o HBO, expected to get underway early in 2016. One imagines the year will not be deficient in source material for satirical comment. =:)

Moore on Martinis. "The worst martini I’ve ever had was in a club in New Zealand, where the barman poured juice from a bottle of olives into the vodka. That’s called a dirty martini and it is a dirty, filthy, rotten martini, and should not be drunk by anybody except condemned prisoners. My dry martinis taste amazing and the day they tell me I’ve got 24 hours to live I am going to have six."

I'm pleased to see there are, inevitably, knockoffs of the Double Tour band for Apple Watch - seemingly quite decent quality, good leather, and a touch more affordable than the Hermès original.

Old school (or what some now try to deem or dismiss as, "casual" =:) gamers might like to peek at the source code for Star Raiders, a classic Atari 400/800 title.

Photo of the week has to be from the renowned Guy Fawkes' Night festivities of Lewes, in Sussex, where special "guests" included David Cameron and pig, Sepp Blatter, and Jeremy Clarkson. =:D

I finally got to see Inside Out a few days ago - ye gods and little fishes, I hadn't expected a Pixar production to be quite so emotionally intense, but then, given the narrative.. =:) Maybe just as well I didn't see it theatrically, else I'd've missed plenty through dabbing away tears. ^_^;

huskyteer particularly might want to check out the new iOS release "Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise", a rather stylish point & click adventure with a distinctly "classic Bond" vibe to it, in animation reminiscent of the era. And, coming soon is Leonardo's Cat, a puzzler based around creating contraptions to convey said moggy safely around the levels. It's aimed at a young audience, but looks well crafted enough to appeal to all - and, perhaps best of all, Leonardo's voiced by Patrick Stewart, with design by Michael Frith, whose resume includes The Muppets and Fraggle Rock. The character animation seems rather wanting, curiously.

Here's a talk by Douglas Adams, from about a month before his death, talking about Last Chance to See, at UCSB. It's transcribed from this video, recorded by the University.

The Atacama desert, normally one of the driest regions on the planet, is currently in bloom.

Compo of the week: Tanzania safari for two c/o the NHM, valued at £12k. (UK entrants only) Or, if you're a musical sort, how about a suite of classical instrument applications, totaling £1800/€2420? (Open worldwide, closes today, Oct 31 2015) Or maybe an eleven day tour of Taiwan?

A couple years back, Quantic Dream released what they termed a technology demo: the taut short Kara. At the time, they noted this wasn't a new game, just a demonstration of the PS3's capabilities. I'm absolutely delighted to see she'll be the protagonist of their forthcoming Detroit, for which you can see the trailer over here. The game 'carries the tagline "Become Human," explores what happens when Kara, an android, leaves her factory and explores a life she wasn't built for. Cage says the PlayStation 4 game will also explore the question "What does it mean to be human?"'

The Burj Khalifa's certainly very tall, but, it resides in a relatively meteorologically calm region. Consider, instead, the Taipei 101, right in there with typhoons and earthquakes (indeed, it's 660' from a major fault line), but still an impressive 509m tall. To achieve stability, then, they used a tuned mass dampener mounted high in the tower, weighing 660 tonnes. So far, the largest movement observed was 100cm, during typhoon Soudelor. Lifts, of course, are always a key feature in such structures - here, they run at 55' per second, or 37mph. =:D

Whitechapel is a true gin palace I must visit, modeled along the lines of a slightly steampunk Tube station - and sporting some 350 varieties of gin. =:D And even the food options are interesting, like "A Brace of Quail", being "stroopwafel, scotched quail egg, corn ash", "King's Porridge" as "kamut, runny yolk, brassicas & their juices", or the entirely literal "Haunch & Flagon", being a "bone-in hunk of meat, trimmings, and tankard of ale". =:D

Well, poop. Seems The Elbo Room, where I was first introduced - and how! - to the Long Island Iced Tea is closing, with the owners not renewing the lease. Still, it's enough of an institution that I wouldn't be surprised they'll be back somewhere else.

Don Bluth wants to make Dragon's Lair: the Movie, so they've taken to Kickstarter to try raising $550,000 to fund a teaser for investment in the full production, which they're estimating at some $70m.

I'd thought it came out a while back, but jenndolari pointed out the live action Jem and the Holograms is coming out in the US, though the studio's reckoning they'll do much better if they sit on the international releases for a few months. O.o; lovelyangel noted this review over on The Mary Sue that's actually quite positive. I suspect I'll love it. ^_^

Via davesmusictank, the Independent recently published a poll showing where the UK public stands on Corbyn's positions. The results are quite illuminating, with some modest surprises, depending on your own stances.

An interesting possible lead into a treatment for tinnitus: acetyl-L-carnitine ("ALCAR").

I don't suppose anyone has all of Sweet Valerian, a 26 episode anime series of three minutes each? Checking back in my DVD catalogue only shows some of them - I appear to be missing episodes 1-2, and 22-26. There's no official English sub release (or is there?), and there doesn't appear to be any sign of it on Usenet, nor even the Bay. There's a torrent listed on AnimeSuki, but seedless. (And I may well be missing more, depending which of the few DVD-Rs they're scattered across I can actually locate)
If you've taken any photographs of a high standard on the theme of travel, you might consider entering Wanderlust Photo of the Year 2015. Entry is free, and appears to be open globally, though the travel prizes do originate from the UK, and they explicitly note you're responsible for getting to the point of departure. The four categories are People, Wildlife, Landscape, and Travel Icons; you can enter up to four photos, in any combination of the categories, with category winners receiving a photo commission to Western Australia, and can bring a companion along. Entries close soon, though: Halloween.

You might want to take advantage of rather a generous free ebook offer, for Tiffany Taylor's compilation of illustrated scientific poems, "Great Adaptations". Confirm your email address, and you'll receive an unprotected PDF of the work (Creative Commons attribution-noncommercial 3.0 Unported license!). I'll leave the first two of the five pages visible, and pop the others under a cut, to keep the entry from growing to skyscraper proportions. Each links to a full res version, though just getting the original PDF would probably be simpler. ^_^

There"s more!Collapse )
The tiny end of an era.. =:) I finally removed Slashdot from OmniWeb's favorites bar, demoting it to residency in the Computing News main bookmarks. It's still not a bad site, but Hacker News tends to be more timely, as well as having markedly superior comments, occasionally involving the authors of the article in question.

We could soon be learning more about Venus, with Akatsuki due to be placed into an eccentric orbit on Dec 7 2015. It's not clear sailing for it, though - it had originally been planned to be put into orbit in 2010, but thruster failure meant it's been in a heliocentric orbit since then.

A scene of geeky wonder: 2600 people celebrating DNA's discovery.

I finally got around to checking out what the sound track for Kyowe - 幸せになれる隠しコマンドがあるらしい (踊ってみた) was (one of my favorite short furry music vids!), and established the official vid is a somewhat different mix, Yuzuki Yukari - There's Supposed to Be a Cheat Code for Happiness. (The ending of the furry version now makes a bit more sense =:)

You've probably heard about the rather odd "doesn't really seem like just a planet" that was discovered recently, which certain segments of the media have been playing up into a full-blown alien hunt. Well, now there's a comic strip to match. ^_^

Of some random geeky interest, in the wake of the news that Western Digital's buying SanDisk, a chart showing HDD industry consolidation, if you're wondering where all those other companies went, like Maxtor and Quantum. Now, we're down to three vendors (and loads of brands): Toshiba, Western Digital, and Seagate.

Electrically powered flight is still very much in its infancy, but it's fascinating to see it is indeed beginning, with far grander plans in Airbus' long term E-Thrust project. There, the current concept has one jet engine, supplying power to a battery array, in turn powering six fans for thrust. The key is that the jet can be optimised for electrical power generation, improving its efficiency, and be much smaller, as on takeoff and ascent, power would be supplied by both the jet and the battery; in cruise, the fans would help recharge the battery. There is, of course, much work ahead, with lithium air cells to develop, as well as the superconducting cables required - this isn't an aircraft you'll be able to experience any time soon.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie has entered production. =:D

A wonderful review of a memorable performance of La Vestale, by Bernard Levin. =:D

Here's another rather nifty inflatable Toothless costume. No idea what the price is, but Qian Abby and her minions apparently make and sell them.

Relatedly, here's one person's account of dealing with the news that that pain in their back is actually cancerous, likely terminal within months. (Note that it does lean heavily into the political and religious sides)

ponitacupcake noted the existence of a My Little Pony café, in Harajuku. Regrettably, it's only a pop-up, until Nov 29 2015 - but, who knows? Maybe Hasbro will see the concept can work. ^_^ (Interestingly, it embraces not only the current FiM generation, but previous ones as well)

I threatened, a while back, to highlight some folk you might like to befriend here, if you indeed don't already know them. ^_^ So, maybe I'll start with..

  • jakebe's vignettes convey you to new worlds in but a paragraph, with people you'd love to meet. His entries are similarly eloquently written.
  • huskyteer publishes her short stories less frequently, but they're always an absolute delight - and you'll also get to enjoy daring tales of travel on two (powered) wheels, with insightful observations along the way.
  • lupestripe doesn't believe in photography, but his travelogues nonetheless are meticulously, engagingly written, going into historical detail you won't find in mere guide books.

    I've only met two of the three in person so far, but I'm hoping to remedy that in the coming weeks. ^_^ (And, at least the delay in being able to do so might mean being able to go along to the White Horse's excellent Barleywine & Old Ale Festival in late November! Perhaps my favorite styles of beer, and not generally easily found, let alone maybe thirty of them in the same place. Add in some very good food, and it's not a difficult decision to make =:)

    And the buns have actually been relatively active lately! It was quite a joy to see so many out and about on Thursday evening - in one spot, I could see around a dozen out satisfying their grasslust. (Even including one tinybun!)