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Actual, frustratingly long entry coming soon. ^_^

Meanwhile, I was curious.. if it's not terminally embarrassing (or even if it is =:) - how did your parents explain How Babies Are Made to you?

In my case, it was my mother who explained that Dad had put a seed inside her. O.o;

Which.. well, no, didn't really explain very much. All I thought of was the racks of seeds in gardening shops, and even I knew that didn't quite seem right. It's not that I was shielded, though - a year or so later, I was reading a children's guide to it all, well illustrated. All seemed rather squishy and icky, so I didn't pay such matters any mind for several years. =:)
So, the Sigmonster was returned. The rental company apparently did want it back after all. Meanies. =:) Still, I have to say, even if I had a few thousand kicking around for such, I'd be struck with the option of the far more portable 200-400mm f/4. Not as long in reach, but, not requiring a tripod - and that's been uncomfortable to deal with, impressive a lens as it is. Still wonder if I should've rented a 2x TC to go with it, just for the hell of it. =:) Meanwhile, I've thrown my hat in toward another contest - in part because of the allure of the grand prize (an eight day National Geographic tour of Alaska's coastline!), and partially simply the prestige of the contest itself. Whether or not I stand a chance - WTH. =:D They'll be selecting the winners over July, so, I shan't be held in suspense for long. The competition is, naturally, hefty: something in the order of 25,000 entries, and the judges will be selecting ten out of all that, then ordering those into the winners and runners-up. (FWIW, this shot of the lens was at my original rabbiteering spot - it was the final day of the rental, so I thought I'd give it a try there, while I had the chance. Unfortunately, the weather was looking iffy, with rain coming at some point in the evening - one forecast said around 6pm, the other, more like 9pm. 'Course, it had to be the former.. and there's no cover as you walk back into town, about 20-25 minutes.. still, it wasn't heavy rainfall, just a prolonged shower. Here's one moment from that evening, showing just how concentrated rabbits' attention becomes in a pursuit)

That was a seriously fun weekend. =:D I'm not really given to appearing in public, but the venue beckoned - and, as it turned out, I finally got to meet lupestripe. ^_^ Plus a few other furs, including a very cute tanuki. ^_^ We met at a coffee house, where I was able to catch up on some well-needed caffeination in the form of a cappuccino with an extra shot (but no caramel syrup! They don't offer any), before we ambled off toward the market, splitting briefly to grab something lunchable. Much admiration was found for the bejeweled pig. Then, off to the canal, for a pleasing stroll beneath some undecided, yet moderately happy skies, passing by many narrowboats and other folks enjoying the walk, before ascending to one of the higher parts of town, followed by a most welcome descent upon the Bell, a particularly cozy pub with a good line in both ales and ciders, and a surprisingly strong line in live music (demonstrated the next day by a 4+ hour set by Truckstop Honeymoon, originally of N'Awlins, latterly Oklahoma, "following the inclement weather") - but then, if you check their site, you'll notice an applauding quote regarding the place from Robert Plant.

Then another coffee house - but, having enjoyed a delicious Bitter and a beautiful local medium-dry cider from nearby Box (yes, you can indeed live in Box), my palate was out of coffee mode, so I simply enjoyed good conversation with Lupestripe, Wolfie, Ambery, and others. After this, as the puppy and coyote were both keen to watch the evening's World Cup game, it was off to a pretty neat venue that only opened after I left the town, with a good line in casks, kegs, and well-done pub food - in my case, just a snack of a nicely soft-boiled nommy Scotch egg. =:9 Oh, and there may have been one or two pints involved. Maybe.

As the game finished, with Lupestripe mostly managing to multiplex his consciousness between the game and the conversations around the two tables, some of the attendees took their leave, whilst the rest of us headed off to dinner at the Salamander, one of my old haunts, which I'd recommended for reliably good food, and Bath Ales' wares in as top-notch condition as you'll ever find them. (Gem in bottles is quite pleasant, but on cask, it's an entirely different, magnificent animal =:) Finally, with the loose intent of probably taking a taxi up to campus for my room for the night, I wound up walking the whole way. I slept well that night. ^_^

Here's a place that brings out my inner Rarity. ^_^ I know I'm going to have to get along to Artesian (assuming their "smart casual" dress code doesn't rule me out, given I'm incompatible with formality) sometime before very long - such wonderfully imaginative cocktails, and simply beautiful to look at as well; a feast for the palate and the eyes likewise. How about the Magician? "Becherovka, cherry, smoke, jasmine. Presented in a special cup from Czech Republic with an inbuilt straw in the handle, this particular cocktail is designed to reveal a new taste with every sip, changing from red fruits and cherry to jasmine and smoke." Or to finish off with, perhaps What is Agugu?!: "Talk about indulgent, this rich chococlatey blend of mezcal and tequila, sweet vermouth, chipotle and high-grade Mexican chocolate is the ultimate dessert as cocktail. Swizzled and poured in front of the guests at the table the thick, intense layers of chocolate, chilli and tequila dance around the palate very nicely. Prepare for a head rush."

The furry short Kaze: Ghost Warrior's been uploaded, legitimately, to YouTube.

And on the trailer front, you might enjoy the recently completed one for Stina & the Wolf, coming out soon. It's perhaps presumptuous to make any conclusions on a trailer, but it strikes me as a production you might enjoy if you liked, say, The Company of Wolves, or Labyrinth, with a tiny bit of Final Fantasy.

And, apparently there's also one now out for the forthcoming Astérix: Le Domaine des Dieux. It's CG, but, looks like it might be handled quite well, though admittedly, there's not a lot to judge by. Anyway, it comes out in France on Nov 26.

If you enjoyed Yonderland last year, you may be pleased to hear it has been renewed for a second series, filming this autumn, airing in 2015.

As for Ridley Scott, his next project won't be Prometheus 2, but The Martian, "the story of an astronaut who becomes one of the first people to walk on Mars, only to then face the prospect of dying there too when circumstances leave him stranded."

The University of Bath has an interesting series of public lectures available as free downloads (MP3 only, no video, unfortunately), with diverse topics including the science of time travel, pain management, artificial photosynthesis, and infinity.

If you're looking for a good biology/natural history set of books, I see E.O. Wilson's "Life on Earth" series of seven iBooks is now free. They're a good example of blending video and animation where appropriate - they're not merely text and drawings translated from a paper format into electronic form. Well worth downloading!

In something of a coup (so to speak), as part of the British Library's 2015 celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, they've arranged loans of two other rather significant documents: the Declaration of Independence, copied by Thomas Jefferson ("It is particularly interesting because it shows passages subsequently excised in Congress, such as Jefferson's lengthy condemnation of slavery"), and Delaware's copy of the Bill of Rights, one of twelve surviving copies, out of the fourteen produced.

And to wrap up this entry, another shot produced with the aid of the above monstrous lens - nothing dramatic, just rather adorable. ^_^ There was a lot of nuzzling and bonding going on between these two. Now and then, the seemingly dominant one would pause for a few seconds, leaving me plenty of time to catch this moment.

So, it's been revealed that Linden Lab is working on a new, next-gen virtual world, to some extent compatible with Second Life, but without that as a confining criterion. Overall, I'd say this is a very good development, as trying to maintain compatibility seems like a very easy means to swamp the new project with hacks to try to make it behave like the current world, rather than being able to learn from experience. Importation appears to be an intent, where practical - I know I'm quite attached to my av, though I suppose I could be won over. There've been other leporine avs since the Kani, of course, but there's just something about that look which.. feels like quite a part of me, by now. (Kudos to Ebbe, CEO of the Lab, for actually joining in the discussion!) Perhaps most significantly, for me, is the intent to head away from a land-based economy, where (almost) all sims cost $299/mo, leaving purely social venues or artistic projects in an awkward position, dependent on someone being able to shell out that much every month. If the simulator becomes more dynamic, only being required when necessary (an SL sim is always running, regardless), it's conceivable the cost could drop dramatically. Concurrency, of course, remains a tricky subject - WoW goes with shards, with its own issues, whereas an SL location is shared by everyone, making for very modest numbers - from 40 up to maybe 100 - possible before the lagmonster grips everyone.

I really hope Resan Till Fjäderkungens Rike receives English subtitles! What's not to love about seafaring bunnies, pirates, and a travelling circus? And all starring bunnies. ^_^

In CSS colors, from now on, rebeccapurple means #663399. Not that anybody wishes it'd been this way.

Double Fine's Broken Age: yea or nay? OS X or iPad? The latter version being about 1/3 the price, so, I'm not sure if I'll get significantly more or less between the two versions.

Yay, tickets booked for a return to my previous haunt next weekend. ^_^ First, stopping off overnight to visit Mum and take her out for dinner somewhere, before meeting up in town for an afternoon/evening of chatting, drinking, and generally enjoying the wonders of the locality. (And for the second time ever, I'm taking First Class. ^_^ Not that it's a long trip for the main leg, but still, FGW's seats there are rather nice, plus tables for everyone, and much quieter, plus the freebies - not much of a price difference, either. Indeed, cheaper than the South Western route I was originally intending on the way in, until I read of what weak sauce their First Class offering is - possibly a different design seat, and that's it, if anything)

Here's rather a good discourse on the value of Sailor Moon in feminism. Its image may be humble in some eyes, but, you might be surprised at how game-changing it actually was.

So, I'll be heading down to the old bunspot today, with the rental lens in tow. (At least, if the weather doesn't threaten to turn dramatically rotten) 'Course, buns are dreadfully unpredictable sorts, so I might well wind up looking at a meadow all evening, but they usually tended to be in evidence, particularly as the day drew on. Much as I'd love to visit the cider Mecca, the timing wouldn't really work, and the lens kit is enough to haul around. ^_^; Ah, someday. Definitely something I miss from living thereabouts, but there are always gains and losses wherever I move - I love the Bay Area, but there are precious few wild buns to be found, even in Tilden or San Bruno Mountain. Even as fond as I am of Bath, again, very little by way of wildlife, though I did finally twig that they were simply laying in wait on campus, until the afternoon stretched on, in a couple particular spots.

As for the buns - here's one of the recent shots, courtesy of said monster: "The art of the stretch", taken at improbable distance. I was absolutely delighted to find it hit Flickr Explore, resulting in around 7,000 views, and about 120 faves. Yay! All the better to spread the word of lapinity. =:)

(Interesting - looks like they've rejigged the layout again, this time for the better! Now, there's the photo, all the comments, the tags, the groups, all visible at the same time. Much as it had originally been, but still, if that's how Flickr's heading now, I'm all for it)

I noticed some welcome tidbits in the recent LJ News posting: LJ friends pages will remain in your journal style, with the new "feed" being another option (just use /feed instead of /friends), and that comments in new-style pages once more have subject lines.

SF Pride is next weekend, and yes, there will be a furry float. ^_^ If anyone's going along, I'd love to see photos!

Bounce Below "is a network of trampolines and slides mounted to the walls of an abandoned slate mine at heights of 20 feet to 180 feet off the ground. Visitors are welcome to climb, bounce, slide, and jump in the netting amidst a technicolor light show." - so, if North Wales is within reach.. !

Did you know it's International Red Panda Day on September 20th 2014?

Damn, that so much fun.. saw Avenue Q for the second time. =:D Even if you've heard "The Internet is for Porn" a thousand times, to actually see it performed in front of you is quite an experience. I'm deeply impressed by all the performers, bringing such life to their puppets - it feels oddly almost shameful to admit they are such. ^_^;
Yesterday, I was all ready to pick up the lens today, when I noticed something.. now, I'm aware it's a heavy lens, at over 5kg, much of that toward the front. Still, handlable, if not really handholdable. Then, on its page on the rental company's site, I saw "Packed weight: 15kg". Erk. Add in the tripod and mount as well, and that'd be 20kg I'd be trying to heft around back onto the bus. Cue quick arranging of courier for delivery and collection. ^_^; Uncased, it'll be heavy, but it should be okay in the usual camera bag, albeit with about 9" poking out through the top. =:D

And here it is.. O.o; On the left, my usual go-to wildlife lens, the Nikkor 300mm f/4D - very sharp, relatively light at about 1.5kg, so it's easily handheld. Next, the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 - significantly heavier at about 3kg, but a stop brighter, plus stabilisation, making it ideal for weaker light. Then, the rental: the Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6. It's not quite as compact or as light, but with extraordinary reach, even without adding a teleconverter. (It does indeed "fit" in the usual camera bag, but given the others fit in just nicely, it means the top half is protruding through the top zip) Ye gods and little fishes, though, this will not be a nimble setup! With a lens of this size and weight, it's highly advisable to use a gimbal mount for easy movement of the lens, which adds bulk, and even getting the lens plus release plate onto the mount is necessarily a careful operation. But.. wow. Once it's set up, it's ridiculously fluid - just nudge the lens where you want to point, and it follows, effortlessly.

Does it work?

Yep. =:D

It is, undeniably, a cumbersome setup - tripod in its bag, the gimbal head in another, and the lens sticking out of the camera bag a little comedically. There's no subtle way of putting it all together, so it is basically a matter of getting everything together once in position, and then letting the wildlife return. True, with small sorts like buns, you'll still have to crop, even at 800mm, but - I think I can say it works. ^_^

Leading into the final days of the Studio Killers' Kickstarter, by Saturday, they were around £42k, of a £50k target, ending at 5pm on Monday - possible, but it'd take quite a bit of activity. Late on Sunday, the target was met, and by the time it wrapped up, the target had been left comfortably in the rear view mirror, with a final total of £55,176. Yay!

Here are some insights into how subtly, yet overtly, women are often either overlooked or outright ignored in conversations or meetings. "Solnit’s tipping point experience really did take the cake. She was talking to a man at a cocktail party when he asked her what she did. She replied that she wrote books, and she described her most recent one, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West. The man interrupted her soon after she said the word Muybridge and asked, “And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?” He then waxed on, based on his reading of a review of the book, not even the book itself, until finally a friend said, “That’s her book.” He ignored that friend (also a woman) and she had to say it more than three times before “he went ashen” and walked away."

Yay! Yosemite DP2 and iOS 8b2 appeared on Tuesday, fixing various minor bugs, including one which left the keyboard in Scrabble appearing weirdly offset at the top left of the display. Air Display doesn't seem to be wanting to play, though - a pity, as it's occasionally quite handy to turn the iPad into a second monitor for Hazel, spanning or mirroring. All in good time - the app's still being actively worked on, so I expect an update'll be forthcoming. And thankfully, LJ's playing nicely again with Safari - not that I've anything against Firefox, but too many browsers gets confusing to my simple mind.

Drink of the evening: a little caramel syrup (the kind typically used for espresso drinks), tiny bit of lime juice, a similarly tiny quantity of vanilla infusion (some cheap-ass spirit that's had some cut-up vanilla pod steeping for weeks - smells wonderful!), with the body provided by a very healthy shot or two of Chase vodka. (Quantities very approximate as I wasn't using a jigger, just pouring straight into a cute Precocious Rabbit Bar tumbler. ^_^ Which I hadn't reckoned on - but the friend who wound up sending my iPhone 5s along included a pair of them in the parcel. Yay! Such a great guy) So.. how about I call this a Precocious Rabbit? ^_^

On the new £1 design: I was quite surprised to realise the denomination is even a target for forgers, let alone quite so popular, with the Royal Mint claiming some 3% are fakes. As for the security measures incorporated, this StackExchange posting offers some likely options - probably luminescent particles embedded at differing heights of the metal.

Science can be wondrous to behold, in so many ways - and in the form of world-class telescopes, you get to behold some quite outstanding feats of engineering. Currently, the largest telescopes are the Gran Telescopio Canarias in the Canary Islands, and the Keck telescopes in Hawaii, effective apertures of 10.4m and 10m respectively. But, as we seek to peer ever further back into the Universe, we require larger mirrors. And so, construction has just begun on the new European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), atop Cerro Armazones, a 3,060m mountaintop in Chile's Atacama desert. Its effective aperture? 39.3m, composed of 798 segments - that's a tremendous increase in light gathering ability. "The E-ELT will search for extrasolar planets — planets orbiting other stars. This will include not only the discovery of planets down to Earth-like masses through indirect measurements of the wobbling motion of stars perturbed by the planets that orbit them, but also the direct imaging of larger planets and possibly even the characterisation of their atmospheres."
Is anyone interested in joining an order for a few of these rather amazing Toothless plush? They're being sold by Myer in Australia - with any luck, having them delivered together will save on postage costs. The catch? They only deliver within Australia. =:P marko_the_rat, drhoz - any chance you could be persuaded into helping make this happen? (Of course, if anyone can find them for sale in the UK, even better!)

Does anyone know of a tool (application or browser plugin, say) for consolidating LJ tags? I'm at the limit of 4000, and there are, inveitably, a lot of near-duplicates, especially singular and plurals of the same word. I've found LJ tags to be quite handy in locating old entries for some specific thing, beyond even the abilities of the big search engines, so hitting the cap is a bit of a crimp in that regard.

Here's a good synopsis of the kinds of tax dodges multinationals use in Luxembourg, leading to such companies depriving the countries in which they actually trade of billions of pounds and euros in tax revenue.

I brought my mother up to the city for a weekend, a few weeks back, and introduced her to sushi. ^_^ Which went remarkably uneventfully! I'd been concerned she might not go for raw fish, but she attacked it happily. ^_^ Dinner, meanwhile, was at a place I'd picked out as being quite close to the hotel, and which had a very tempting menu, with an Argentinian chef offering some cool twists on classics. The lamb was as unutterably delicious as I've ever had, and perfectly cooked, whilst the dessert - well, with the chef's background, I could hardly decline an opportunity to try real dulce de leche for the first time. <3 We didn't, unfortunately, get to Kew Gardens as we'd hoped - time was running short to begin with, with nasty traffic making her arrival late, but we then boarded the wrong tube replacement bus, which took us (slowly - traffic was bad enough it took about eight minutes just to go down the off-ramp) directly to the end of the closed section of track, rather than all the stops as I'd expected. =:P So, having finally arrived at the hotel's stop in Chiswick (for anyone outside the UK, the pronunciation is "Chizzick", rhyming with "physic"), I thought a spot of lunch wouldn't be a bad idea - and having just said earlier on I could really go for sushi, we passed a sushi joint. No toro available that day, but the offerings were as good as I've known in the Bay. =:9 A real delight. The housemate finished his lunch off at an ice cream parlor down the road, with all manner of sinfully delicious offerings. Great stuff. It's always so good to see places really pouring passion into their cooking, and being rewarded by being packed out.

So, a few random observations on OS X Yosemite and iOS 8:

- Handoff is just downright nifty. Start typing an email on the iPad, and it's available to continue on Hazel. Browse a page on one device, and it's available to pick up on any other. Finally, handoffs are as effortlessly seamless as they should always have been!
- AirDrop is finally compatible between OS X and iOS. That's going to be quite handy.
- iOS 8b1 will regularly drop all comms, about daily, requiring a restart. Odd kind of bug, really - seems like something lower level. Still, so it goes - first beta, etc.
- the two apps that were nobbled - OmniWeb 6 and Tweebot for iPad - were both updated within a few days, leaving them frolicksome once more. ^_^ (Quite impressed in the case of OW especially, given it's just a hobby for the Omni Group these days)
- Very nice to see DuckDuckGo added to the search engine options in both versions of Safari.
- I don't know if it's new in Yosemite, but I'm very happy to finally have an option to show the current scale in Maps. (Enable the option, and you're given a ruler at the lower left, which dynamically rescales as you zoom in or out) Never understood why that's absent in many mapping apps and sites.
- the latest release of LiveJournal's code breaks current WebKit and Yosemite's Safari, with fun highlights including no comments appearing in journals with "new" themes. This seems to be JavaScript-related, or possibly something cross-domain, as Firefox 29 shows the same behavior until scripting is permitted from
- Mail remains flaky in its polling of new mail, significantly worse than with Mavericks. It's easy enough to work around, by either manually kicking off a polling, or restarting the application, but it really shouldn't be necessary.
- looks like photo importing isn't implemented yet. Inserting the SD Card/USB adapter and a card doesn't do anything - no error, no option to import.
- if past iOS betas are any gauge, updates may be posted about fortnightly; so, there could be a second beta arriving on Monday.

A free font: Intel's, which they call Clear Sans.

If you need more shininess in your life, how about this amazing offering? The patterning is indeed as wondrously multi-hued and shiny as in the photos, and feels as good as it looks. ^_^ (The only hitch? It's leather - and so, not terribly practical in the current warm weather..)

YouTube obscura of the day: the recording of the U.F.O. theme, takes 3-6. Everyone in one room, and that's the theme, done. =:D

One dish I'll have to try again! I was feeling in the mood for something a bit special, and went for some scallops. =:9 Tossed those in some Drambuie and pepper rub, along with a good handful or two of samphire. The bed for it all, meanwhile, was a cheap & cheerful salad mix with some rocket (arugula), a bit of mixed antipasti (grilled artichokes, sundried tomatoes, and olives), and a slice of Brunswick ham, sliced into short ribbons. The scallops and rocket went on top, and the cooking juices too. Really pretty good. ^_^ The samphire's not essential by any means - I'd just seen it in one of the local supermarkets, and having enjoyed it at one of my favorite pubs a few months back, wanted to try it again.

A couple months back, we had a project meeting - and, through serendipitous timing, Terry Gilliam was holding a chat about the then-just-opening Zero Theorem, over at the Regents Street Apple Store. I quickly reserved a place (given the Apple Store venues are fairly small, only seating some dozens of people), and turned up about half an hour early, thereby just managing to secure a seat. ^_^; Perhaps not surprisingly, he was as energetic and enthusiastic as he always seems. You can download the session off iTunes over here, free, as video or just the audio.

Here's quite a substantial list of free satellite resources of various kinds.

It's been a while since I saw anything from Woody Allen, and Friday a few weeks ago saw that spontaneously remedied, with Midnight in Paris. (Which, of course, led me to think of one fur in particular =:) There's.. so much to said for living in a metropolitan area. The expense isn't one of those attributes, but that's such a small fraction of the wonderment afforded. FSM knows, I loved living in San Francisco, even if only for a matter of months, beyond the longer periods down in Fremont and the nether reaches of San Jose. Sydney, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, London.. just such vibrant places! Of course, there are compensations to being in the sticks, too, such as utter gems of country pubs, and fairly modest rents. But.. the rents in such locales tend to be high for some pretty good reasons. =:)
If you use Master of Malt for your whisky, rum, and other essentials, you may be pleased to know that DPD is an option for delivery, even though they often tend to use Parcelforce. In a response to a query on the matter, they replied that you can specify to use Interlink in your delivery instructions. Interlink now partner with DPD, offering the same one hour delivery window, confirmation by email and SMS, and even GPS tracking of the vehicle. =:D

I've long enjoyed Potato Otter's work, with this shiny kitty (NSFW) being a particular favorite. But, he hasn't been taking commissions in quite a while. At random, I thought I'd enquire anyway - and received a "yes". ^_^ Voilà!

Amongst my recent order with Master of Malt were two drams - a superb way of trying out spirits you might not be sure about, or can't afford as a full bottle. In this case, Professor Cornelius Ampleforth's Cold-Distilled Absinthe - reviews seemed very warm, suggesting it was very well balanced, and that the anise side wasn't overly pronounced - a good thing for me, as I'm not especially attracted to anise fundamentally. Part of what contributes to its cost is that it's vacuum distilled at room temperature, resulting in a near azeotropic mix of 91.2% ABV. And.. yes. It's probably unlike any spirit you've tried, due to that, but also the exquisite infusions. It's extraordinarily dry, but the alcohol vanishes fairly quickly, leaving such an elegant bouquet! It's quite absurd.

Preceding that, however, was a Scotch, distilled by BenRiach in 1971, maturing for 42 years. At £470 for a bottle, not quite something I could pick up on a whim. =:) But as a 3cl dram? Much easier. =:D Was it worth it? Oh, fsck yes. I shan't even attempt to describe or critique - I'm useless at that on any level. But there were so many levels of flavor, so many dimensions sprouting out every which way.. just amazing.

And apparently (wish I'd known about it!) last night there was an AMA from Goldie Foxx of Studio Killers. Don't suppose anyone has £4k they can spare to turn me into a Studio Killers character? =:D
Well, that was pretty cool. While I was out rabbiteering on Thursday, one of the security guys rolled up to the small field in question for a routine checkup. As he came back out, I asked if I might be able to slip in for a better view of the buns, also noting that I'll be renting a lens next week, which'll require using a tripod, so I won't really be able to just nudge it up against the metal gate and pivot myself around that axis, as I normally do. And he's cool with it. ^_^ (It's security on the honor system, as whilst the gate is quite sturdy, you can simply walk around it, on the left side) The guards have seen me there plenty of times, though, and know why I'm there. (The lens? The Sigmonster. Back in February, LensesForHire ran a 50% off sale. Even renting a supertelephoto can be expensive, so halving that made it much more tempting. It'll be my first time with anything that long or exotic, but I'm interested to find out how well something of that kind might fit in with my sort of usage. I'm not sure I'll enjoy having to use a tripod, though, as I'm very much a handheld sort - but, at 5kg, and fairly front-heavy, with a 6" front element, it's not really a lens you'll be wanting to keep held out - and steady - for very long =:)

I imagine tickets will go rapidly - fancy a steam journey.. on the Underground? =:D Got my ticket: 1425 on Aug 2, in the 1st class Carriage 353.

What's been your experience with job interviews? Any great tales or war stories? Overall, I'd have to say my experience has been oddly consistent: the more direct and up-front the interview process, the more likely they are to say yes. (The previous one was a pretty cool example, with the interview being about fifteen minutes long, and done. A fortnight later, I received the good word. And indeed, it turned out to be quite an excellent position - just, sadly, of a fixed duration) Still, my favorite probably has to remain Trilobyte, a casual chat with a few guys at the company, two of whom happened to be the founders. As they'd had to fly me in from Minneapolis, I was staying for a couple days, so the day after consisted of another to-be co-worker asking what I felt like doing for Saturday; I suggested skiing on the nearby mountain, and so it was. ^_^ The day was wrapped up with pizza and wine against ST:TMP at the to-be boss' house. The job lived up to the promise, needless to say - an amazing place to work, brimming with enthusiasm.
A rather fun competition for the artists: transformation art, sponsored by Microsoft. Yes, really: "You get three panels to show us a three-stage progression into a radically different person or thing." Three winners will be flown, from anywhere in the world, to Brooklyn, Honolulu, or LA, to collaborate with one of three artists, as well as receiving a Surface Pro 3. Entries close on June 24 2014.

If you're in need of new ponymusic, one artist I've only just stumbled upon is OhPonyBoy, who seems to be in quite a groove. Four tracks I found particularly fun: The Stellae Key, part 1 is (perhaps) the opening to an animated storyline; Squirrelnies is a sort of abstract animated uptempo oddity; It's About Time is a nicely animated recounting of the emergence of Nightmare Moon; and whilst not really a music video as such, more a cool visualiser doing its stuff, the track's worth sharing regardless - Find My Place.

Hearth's Warming Con is a nascent MLP:FiM con in the Netherlands, currently raising funds to put it together in February 2015. Sort of tempting - it's been a while since I was in .nl, and that'd be a pretty good excuse. ^_^

And if you've been pondering backing Studio Killers, go for it! It's looking possible they'll succeed in their target, but it's going to be painfully tight. They've updated the rewards again, leaving me with no option but to bump up to the £65 level, giving the "Name in Lights" as well as the pre-stuffed USB drive.

Cthulhu's an interesting looking AU/VST plugin, mapping a keyboard into chords; it comes supplied with the chords from a large number of Bach's chorales, making for surprisingly highly effective use in electronica. The demonstration video shows it off far more effectively than I can merely describe it.

I must've missed it when the article first appeared (but, I am a bunny of very little brain), but here's a refreshingly non-sensationalist story about a theory for a modified Alcubierre Drive. In its original form, it's technically not impossible to make a drive that would permit interstellar travel in a matter of weeks, by essentially deforming space, rendering the space in front.. less so, whilst "expanding" the space behind it. It could work, hypothetically, but would require vast resources, on the order of planets. The trick here might be able to bring that down to more a matter of hundreds of kilos. It's a long way from being reality, needless to say - first, they'll be trying to demonstrate the basic effect in the lab, on a minute scale.

Here's a few minutes of utterly wonderful interplay between Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson, in one of their stage productions of Bottom, wherein they slip in and out of character repeatedly. (And yes, the effort to propel "Noble England" to Number One appears to be working.. not quite there yet, but very close. And it's actually a genuinely good track! You can see the video over here, and buy it in all the usual places, either just the radio edit, or the full EP; eg iTunes. Be warned, it is something of an earworm)

As a result of their recent Kickstarter, I'll be making an appearance in one of the Scandinavia and the World animated shorts. ^_^;
Just curious: what's your favorite cocktail(s)?

For me, I think it's got to be the Long Island Iced Tea. ^_^ There's just something about the complexity of flavor that results that leaves it so desirable.

The mix I'm using today:

Equal measures of:
- basic white rum (Morrison's, in this case)
- London gin (same)
- Curaçao (don't skimp here - Gabriel Boudier's is superb, from Waitrose)
- tequila (here, Aqua Riva reposado - you want a fairly up-front one, not something superbly mellow like Patrón Silver)
- vodka (in this case, Chase, but pretty much anything will do)

Add a shake of lemon juice, ice, and a good dash of cheap diet cola. Yum!
Just a couple brief notes, by way of initial impressions:

- a little surprisingly, if you're on the iOS dev program, you'll also be good for OS X Yosemite, as well as iOS 8. I'm pleased about that, as the whole seamless iOS/OS X integration is something I've long wished for.

- upgrading was almost uneventful, save for the initial launch of Mail leaving me with an immobile progress bar for updating. Force-quitting it and relaunching brought Mail up immediately, so I suppose that's just its idea of a prank. =:/

- the typography is, as you'll have seen from the keynote, unified with iOS. It's a little odd, but I think I'll warm to it fairly readily. The WiFi icon could do with being heavier, to distinguish it from inactive/activating.

- no big problems on the iPad or iPhone thus far. Had the Preferences quit on the iPad on first launch, but hey, early beta.

- launching Xcode for the first time requires a few extra components, requiring iTunes to quit, which it seemed unwilling to go along with. (See above)

- iOS 8 installed on the iPhone and iPad uneventfully. Odd that iTunes can apparently only handle updating one device at a time, though. =:/

- annoyingly, the default on the iPad requires immediate entry of one's passcode to unlock. Worth resetting that to something lenient, if you're in a setting where it won't be abused. The iPhone required re-enabling of use of touch ID for unlocking, with the existing print data untouched.

- no devices have yet exploded.

As for the rest of the keynote.. well, that was a thing. =:D Really liking the whole "continuity" thing, which has seemed so obvious for such a long time. A new lower-level graphics API? That'll be interesting to follow. And a new language? If it can indeed provide the performance gains advertised, and do away with some of the more common programming banes, that'd only be a good thing. True, it's yet another language, but then again, I'm not really impacted, being currently on the C++11 team, with a distinct leaning toward the lower level side of things. (My, how marvellously uncomplicated Intel's ISA is!)

- as Byzantine as LJ's coding is, it's apparently reversed tack with Yosemite. Where previously OmniWeb 6's preview/post buttons didn't do anything, and only mainline Safari worked, now OW6 works fine, and Safari's dead in the water. I can live with that. ^_^;
Studio Killers have a Kickstarter running! Only a fortnight long, though, and it's quite ambitious, with a £50k target, to permit them to play live gigs. =:D (Kicktraq) It's also worth noting the updates - they've revised the rewards, so higher tiers do indeed receive all the digital goodies of lower levels.

And, they also have a new EP out, "Grand Finale", which you can find at all the usual venues, eg iTunes. ^_^ And if you're somehow unfamiliar with their work, here are their two music videos so far: Eros & Apollo and Ode to the Bouncer.

The other night, I had the tremendous privilege of enjoying most of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - which may ring no bells with many of you, but will with some, I know. ^_^ I shan't critique the show - suffice to say, they're much less sensible than you might expect - but I wanted to note one of the CDs they were selling, a spread of the 1920s jazz originals they went on to add their distinctive style to. One in particular caught my eye, "Masculine Women and Feminine Men", by the Savoy Havana Band, released on February 26 1926. "This track wins our vote for the most rock and roll lyric of the 1920s. Almost pre-empting the gender bender glam rock of the 1970s, this nugget features the lines 'Girls were girls and boys were boys when I was a tot, now we don't know who is who or even what's what. Knickers and trousers baggy and wide, nobody knows who's walking inside, those masculine women and feminine men.'"

The UK apparently now has its first pinball museum, located in Ramsgate. =:D Don't suppose anyone knows of some machines in London? There must be some lurking there somewhere.

I noticed TashiroYu's produced a guide to making your own fursuit, starting on that page, and proceeding for another twenty or so pages - just keep navigating "newer" for subsequent pages. It'll be a handy refresher for me, as it's been way too long since I last attempted a 'suit - and then, it was (as with Red) a foam carved head, whereas I feel that wouldn't be quite appropriate for bringing my SL self into RL, as that's better for larger, more toony heads.
A mysterious benefactor offers you the means to live anywhere you'd like in the world. The place is yours, and there are no visa issues.

Where would you choose, and why?
A Kickstarter to consider: eight animated Scandinavia and the World shorts. =:D Perhaps not surprisingly, it's blown past its original £5,000 target by a few times already. And I'm delighted to note that the short film "Roxanne" has succeeded in its £10k target.

The trailer for Book of Life is worth a look. ^_^ The story itself might be fairly conventional, but the visual style at least seems fabulously vibrant, with a distinctly Mexican vibe. Comes out in mid/late October 2014.

Remember I mentioned the crowdfunding project to contact a probe, long in space, now returning near Earth at last? They have control. ^_^ They've made contact, instructed it to enter a telemetry mode, and have confirmed it's sending valid telemetry data. It's all being achieved with the use of software-defined radio, as the original equipment no longer exists - well, that, and some fiendishly bright sorts able to come up with these solutions on the fly, a good dose of complex orbital mechanics, and the help of facilities like Arecibo. SCIENCE!

I'd never actually twigged until just now - the character in Tron: Legacy whose name is pronounced similar to "Zeus" is actually Zuse. And I've had it confirmed by the co-writer of the script that yes, that is indeed in homage to Konrad Zuse, a relatively lesser-known pioneer of computing in 1930s Germany.

xyzzysqrl recently pointed out a rather cool undertaking: someone's translating a Chinese manga of Star Wars, circa 1980, back into English, along with the original artwork and text.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) recently set up a mini-site covering MH370, with a few quite worthwhile documents on offer, such as "Considerations on defining the search area". It's an authoritative summary of the facts as known, including the primary & secondary radar path it's known to have taken, doubling back over the peninsula, changing course as it passed Kuala Lumpur. It goes into how the known search area was established, explaining the ping arcs, even noting "The satellite’s normal function is essentially communication and it was never initially intended to have the capability to track an aircraft. Following the Air France 447 accident, Inmarsat engineers began recording the [Burst Timing Offset] in order to provide another potential means of geo-locating aircraft in the event of a similar accident."

Does anyone have Mac repair recommendations? I'd like to get the old MBP back into action, but that'll require someone with the means to remove and replace the SMC, responsible from fundamental actions, including monitoring the power button, and sequencing power-up for the devices within. With that microcontroller down, I've got a pretty decent spec system that can't be turned on. (Not that I regret buying Hazel, obviously. ^_^ With the sometimes multiple VMs, and Aperture, an 8GB ceiling for RAM was becoming a bit of a hindrance, let alone the raw CPU capabilities, or the 900MB/s performance of its flash storage)

Ever felt the need to help fund a giant rotating 3D maze for bowling balls, for Burning Man? Now you can. =:D

I'd long enjoyed it - so, I finally bought the music edit of Masterchef Synesthesia off iTunes. ^_^ (Did Gregg Wallace ever pass any public comment on the video? =:) (I admit, I enjoyed this tidbit on his Wiki bio: "Wallace met his third wife Heidi, a teacher from Cumbria who is 17 years his junior, in 2009 after she asked him a question about celery and pollock on Twitter.")

Interesting to see an active rather than reactive approach from Royal Mail, who will be piloting Sunday services this summer, with Post Offices and deliveries both going seven days a week in the trial areas.

Here's a two minute commentary on the first openly gay player in the NFL. Superb.

Does anyone know the roots of the American English quirk of adding "fish" to "tuna", and that fish only? Is it regional?

I was intrigued to learn the other day of the existence of RateSetter, a UK outfit offering peer-to-peer lending. For savers, it means an actual return on their money, rather than the near-zero rates offered by banks; for borrowers, it means substantially lower rates than usually offered. Each party specifies what rate they'll be happy with, then RateSetter matches compatible borrowers and lenders, performing soft credit checks along the way. If a borrower misses a payment, the lender is covered by their "provision fund" - not a guarantee, but they seem proud that every lender has received what they should have.

While reading all of Chris Baldwin's recent (as in, 2010-2013) strip, Spacetrawler - I'd been reading it up until I sort of forgot about my RSS reader, so I just went with reading the whole thing from the beginning, first on the site, then the collected PDF (a couple years of work for $12. Easily done!) - I noticed a recommendation for "Faraday the Blob". In particular, this strip, about an HP Lovecraft printer.

I placed an order with Waitrose the other day (mostly beer and cider =:), but, two items were missing - a chorizo Spanish omelette, and some smoked anchovies. I called the local branch up, and they arranged a redelivery a few hours later, even though I'd said it wasn't critical they arrived today. They also refunded me for the cost of both items, at their original price, despite being on a special offer. Whilst it would've been preferable for the order to've been perfect, I'm delighted with how they handled this minor mishap. Mistakes happen - but so much can be said of how you handle them. ^_^

The Sci-Fi Air Show is worth visiting.

I was randomly curious the other day, and checked up what had become of one of my (many =:) old haunts, The Greys, down in Brighton. Frustratingly, I'd previously discovered it had closed/changed hands back in October 2012, being taken over by the owner of a local wine bar. =:/ But, it seems that didn't last too long, and it's now under new management, with what sounds like a reinvigoration of its long-time standing as a cozy music venue, pub with good beers (including several Belgians, sold relatively cheaply, at least back then), and food - now South Asian, it appears, ranging from Pakistan to Goa. No idea when I'll get along to try it out, but there's a good chance I will at some point, as it'd be a relatively practical visit after an afternoon's rabbiteering at the old place. I don't mind places changing (that said, I think I'll always miss the old Magnolia Cafe, which just had a more mellow, fun vibe to it, versus the slightly more prim airs of its new decor, though ultimately, not really much actually changed), but I'd been feeling a little wistful that The Greys had seemingly vanished into history. Sometimes, you really can't keep a good pub down. ^_^

A promising new candidate in the free, end-to-end secure email stakes: ProtonMail, based in Switzerland. This brief interview notes that when it leaves beta around August, they will be offering paid accounts with more features - however, the basic service will be free, without ads.
I noticed a bumblebee in the house, seemingly exhausted - I had to gently nudge them to even realise they were still alive. Carefully, I picked them up on a piece of paper, and left a few drops of sugar syrup for them.

A few minutes later, I went back to check up on them, and found it being hungrily slurped down.

They've had their fill, it seems - now, they're wandering around the sill in the bathroom, occasionally buzzing briefly, as if warming up.

ETA: having checked up on them periodically, I now see they've apparently made it outside. ^_^ Which means they were well enough to fly upward about two feet to the window opening. Still, I'm left wondering why they might've been in such a seemingly poor condition originally. In any event, I'm happy there's a bit more pollenation going on in the world. ^_^

ETA2: nope, they were caught in between the bottles of bubble bath - I thought I heard some energetic buzzing, and eventually found them. They did seem to have energy again, though, with a lot of hovering-level flight, so I lifted the bottle they'd semi-attached to, and hoisted it to the window. Sure enough, they went buzzing off loudly into the big wide world.
The first full trailer for Interstellar was finally released the other day. And yes, it ought to be well worth waiting for. It's the latest from Christopher Nolan, who's proven his sci-fi chops with Inception (not to mention the ability to please studio investors) - this time, it's a tale of humanity's need to escape an increasingly barren Earth, and settle elsewhere in the Universe.

Saturday was.. a good day. And so very, very geeky. ^_^ I'd hoped to fit more into the day, but with some broken sleep and a wonky memory (still, at least I remember the ticket before getting on the train), it wound up being a little more concentrated. Still: who can't appreciate the awe of an institution like the British Library? In one gallery, I saw the first known complete New Testament, a letter from George III to Parliament announcing the Union, one from Winston Churchill backing the elevation of the League of Nations to a greater level, in the hopes of averting such severe conflict as he was then enduring in 1944, a letter intercepted from Napoleon, illuminated scripts from 1410 and thereabouts, an example of movable type from Korea, predating Gutenberg by centuries.. ye gods and little fishes, the sense of history was almost overwhelming. I really can't recommend the establishment highly enough, whatever your location upon the globe.

After that, we headed off toward Canada Water, to walk in a tunnel. *grin* See, this is a special tunnel. No, no. =:P This one was designed by Marc Brunel, and his son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and was the first tunnel anywhere in the world to head beneath a major waterway. And as you'd expect, constructing it proved to be a severely testing endeavour, ultimately taking eighteen years to complete. Normally, it's completely out of bounds, being part of the TfL Overground network, with trains running back and forth - but, for this weekend, they allowed groups in to witness it first hand, walking from Rotherhithe to Wapping, then back again. And yes, they were entirely fine with photography, providing you didn't use a tripod. The cocktails at the nearby Brunel Museum hurt none, either - quite imaginative creations, too, and sensibly priced. Dinner wound up being at a nearby place, at random, as the roomie was wanting to head back for some blues - turned out rather well, with my squid starter on a chorizo salad proving to be as tasty as I'd hoped, and the belly pork we both went for being served on a healthy bed of bubble & squeak plus red cabbage. Bonus points for energetic seasoning, and crunchy crackling. =:9

Does anyone have boot polish recommendations? I'd really like to do the MBT Kisiwa justice - the cheapo stuff I've been using so far really isn't much good. (For that matter, any other footwear sites would be welcome. Lately, I've been leaning toward Asos and Debenham's, but more variety is always welcome. If the design really grabs me, international shipping is an option - as indeed turned out to be the case with the MBTs, with the local company unable to source them in my size, compelling me to go with Amazon US)

Here's a strip to consider following: "Starbunny, Inc." ^_^ It'll be a regular webcomic shortly, but for now, you can get a feel for what's coming in the preview comic, "The Great Bunny Migration", that would seem to set the stage: "Everyone knows that bunnies make the best milkshakes in the galaxy."

So, 2014's MasterChef was finally revealed last a couple Fridays ago. =:D I'm very happy, and frankly, not all that surprised. ^_^ In all seriousness, is anyone reading this contemplating applying for the 2015 series? Applications are now open. And, I notice September will see a month-long pop-up restaurant open on the South Bank, with winners and finalists of the past few years of MasterChef cooking for you. Bookings open at 10am today. ^_^; FSM knows, I'd be thrilled to have Ping or Jack cook for me. =:D (Or indeed, any of them - get to the final six or so, and you've already proven your mettle. FWIW, if you'd like to see the final episode of this series, you can download it over here; then you'll see why I'm keen to enjoy their cooking for myself!) Anyone want to join me? I may well book for two anyway, given I'm posting this so close to the time. (Of course, whether I'll be awake in time remains to be seen..)
Here's a kitty worth sharing (SFW). =:9 And for some serious cuteness, Toothless & Stitch, cosplaying each other. ^_^

whitetail just might like to look at this collection of Disney cakes (from Cake Wrecks, but from their Sunday Sweets selection, highlighting exemplary works of cake art - a change of tone from their usual role).

Who'd like a wine tasting? I'm not absolutely certain I can transfer it, but I can specify the venue, time, and date, which seems like much the same thing. I bought it (cheaply =:) at Grillstock last year, but, regrettably, the roomie/landlord's not been forthcoming with any options since. It's good for up to four people. If I recall correctly, they'll supply the glassware, but nibbles are up to you. ^_^ I believe they'll go anywhere in the UK.

A photography thread I found interesting, on unusual assignments - some quite odd, a few rather gruesome. (I'd recommend the site in general, too, if you have any photographic inclinations)

Vinyl Scratch would approve, I feel, of this bass cannon tank. =:D

I see Zero Theorem's pre-release page on the UK iTunes Store has gained an actual release date: 21st July 2014. Still a little way off, but, good to know I'll be able to finally see it then, given how rapidly it departed most screens.

While idly perusing the iTunes Store the other day - sort of digitally window shopping - I noticed one indie film Apple had highlighted, whose poster design caught my eye, and a title that positively beckoned me to take a further look. No reviews there, but IMDb showed it sporting an 8.7: "Neurons to Nirvana: Understanding Psychedelic Medicines". It would appear to be a genuine examination of the utility of psychoactives, as detailed in an interview with the director over on Motherboard, "a look at the history and the future of scientific research into five psychelic substances: LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca, MDMA, and cannabis. In it, various highly-regarded scientists and experts in the field talk about the medicinal potential of the drugs. The filmmakers are careful in their approach. Each of them notes that scientific studies and vocabulary, presented in a mainstream way, are necessary to educate the public about psychedelic medicine. They realize they are up against a lot of government—not to mention big business—disinformation, and paranoia about psychedelics."

I noticed the other day that not only is/are WeLoveFine offering leggings - I'd previously picked up three pairs from them, and definitely recommended - but cire leggings. =:D Whilst the Loki helmet design was very tempting, the ones I went for this time around were the Miku chromatic. Also finally got around to augmenting the t-shirt stock, too, with Daft Pon3, the wonderfully understated Lazuli Skies, and The Music.

This comic by Immelmann, "Lagomoria", pushed many buttons for me. ^_^ It's actually SFW, too, though you might still have to account for reading about shiny mind-control bunnies from space that transform those around them into more of themselves. Please record or transcribe any such conversations.

Does anyone have an easy solution to remove twitter autoposts from LJ feeds? Perhaps a Safari extension? Though, a proxy filter would be best, as my primary browser remains one that doesn't support plugins, but does sport the best tabs implementation, with scrollable graphical thumbnails. Thinking of which, is there an extension for Safari or Firefox that accomplishes a similar result? Safari's a capable browser these days, but I still just really don't like those text-only tabs butting up against each other.

Has anyone seen the film Ruby Sparks? It's what seems to be an imaginative romantic comedy, of a relatively mellow nature - sounds quite appealing. ^_^ I'm asking as iTunes has it for £7.99, including extras, which feels like a reasonable price. If it's something I'll watch a few times, I'd far sooner pay for it than simply fetch it off the usual venues. (And if it isn't, I'll probably just not see it at all. There are a billion things to do with one's life, and sitting through bad films - as opposed to good bad films =:) - isn't high on my priorities)

Here's what life on minimum wage is like in St Louis, Missouri. It's an earnest account of just how difficult it is - not a matter of making ends meet, but deciding what can't be paid for, be it fuel for a car, a monthly bus pass (of course, daily tickets work out more expensive, but if you don't have the money up front, what choice do you have?), or heating.

The League Against Cruel Sports is running a worthwhile campaign against the use of snares.

Well, that's a bit disappointing. I recently gained another card identical (in rating, at least - SanDisk 90MB/s SDXC. The packaging's slightly different) to my first one, so I thought I'd set the D7100 to simultaneous writing mode, wherein each frame is written to both cards, serving as a backup in case one card goes south. However, I hadn't reckoned on the D7100 evidently having only one SD Card controller - so, rather than writing both simultaneously, it appears to write to one and then the other, halving the continuous shooting speed. That's seldom a problem for me, as I'm almost never running over the D7100's unfortunately bijou buffer, which can hold about six losslessly compressed RAWs before the speed drops to that dictated by cards. That is, when you're taking those first six shots, the shutter rate is the full 6fps (12 bit, DX frame; 14 bit drops by 1fps, "crop" mode raises it by 1fps), after which it's however quickly data can be written to the card(s). Of course, a couple days after changing that setting, I encounter a pair of buns engaged in a furious melée, chasing, leaping, biting - and run headlong into the buffer. The end result is that once the buffer's filled up, in parallel write mode, it's about 600ms between shots, and 250-350ms if using overflow mode, where only one card is used, then the other. So, I suppose it's back to the latter for me. All the same, I'm pleased to report some quite exciting moments were caught. ^_^

So, LJ's rejigged the "post entry" page, along with the preferences. I quite like the appearance, but, it sort of loses in the usability stakes - while trying to post this, OmniWeb wouldn't load the preview's CSS, rendering it useless for previewing the entry's layout (you might not believe the time I spend getting images cropped and sized, then making sure that the text flows around in a reasonably uncluttered manner). The nightly of WebKit shows the preview button, but it's dead. The "mainline" release of Safari is, thankfully, fine. (Regarding Safari, if you want to geek out, check out this WebKit development blog entry on the project's new integration of LLVM into the JavaScript pipeline. Did you realise how multi-layered the approach of modern browsers is when it comes to executing JS?)

Yay! Just picked up (well, booked) tickets for a talk, A British Revolution: 2000 AD and Beyond, featuring Pat Mills and Dave Gibbons, amongst others, at the British Library's ongoing comics exhibition, "Comics Unmasked". Monday, 7th July 2014, 6.30pm.
Should I be quite so excited for Eurovision? If Austria wins, I'm liable to explode in a rainbow of squee. ^_^

Anyway, all the supplies are in for the event: just picked up the bread (two crusty baguettes, warm from the oven, along with a sourdough bloomer and an olive focaccia) and some sliced meats (some more of the superb Italian style ham I tried the other day, as well as some hot Italian salami and some peppered salt beef), and some cream cheese stuffed sweet peppers. And to ensure the availability of really good Long Island Iced Teas, some good London gin (much as I enjoy the graanjenever here, it's really quite a different animal) and white rum (similarly, Captain Morgan's spiced is highly palatable, but it wants to take over the flavor in a cocktail).

Anyone else watching? ^_^
Where did your handwriting style come from? In my case, I think it was an early teacher - the style stuck, quickly, so I was fluently cursive when others were starting to come to terms with it. Mind, that was partly just due to how often we moved around, so our teaching schedules were probably all askew. Not that I literally write much at all now, of course, though perhaps I'll take up calligraphy again. (At the second restaurant we owned, I wrote the menus, in Old English font. Couldn't do that so easily at the first, as that's where I came into the world =:)

Here's a crowdfunded project with a difference: help capture a probe passing by Earth again after decades in space. "We intend to contact the ISEE-3 (International Sun-Earth Explorer) spacecraft, command it to fire its engine and enter an orbit near Earth, and then resume its original mission - a mission it began in 1978. ISEE-3 was rechristened as the International Comet Explorer (ICE). If we are successful it may also still be able to chase yet another comet." They're operating with NASA's blessing (indeed, working out of an old McDonalds on NASA Ames), but without any official funding available. "ISEE-3 must be contacted in the next month or so and it must complete its orbit change maneuvers no later than mid-June 2014. There is excitement ahead as well: part of the maneuvers will include a flyby of the Moon at an altitude of less than 50 km."

So, it seems Larry Wilmore will be succeeding Stephen Colbert in his show, with the new production being "The Minority Report". =:D

Answering a question I raised a little while back, wherein I pondered when is MasterChef filmed (as in, how long ago): this article from the Cotswold Journal notes that last year's episode featuring the Fire Service College in Moreton aired in April 2013, and was recorded in November 2012! So, if that kind of schedule's been kept this year, that would mean whoever is MasterChef 2014 has (quietly, we presume =:) been thus since December 2013 or January 2014. (Confirmed by the Daily Mail in this story of 2010's winner, Dhruv Baker, who had to stay quiet about his victory for six months) Still, it's no less engaging for that. ^_^ And we're well and truly at the point where all of them are highly capable, skilled, and imaginative, as we saw so ably demonstrated in Thursday's invention test.

I have business cards! ^_^ 100 of them, with all twelve of the original set (I added three in May's site update) cycled through on the front, and the text info on the rear of each. I'm pleased with them. ^_^ That said, I think I'll shift the logo upward just a tiny bit on the next version - the "L" feels like it's sitting a bit heavy on the bottom edge. (And I must thank momentrabbit for his favicon for the site - such an improvement over my original doodle!)

Is anyone familiar with the wild and woolly world of unRAID? At some point in the next year or so, I might migrate all my storage to such a setup. One thing I'm unsure of, though, is: can the drives be external (probably USB 3), or must they be internal SATA? I'd prefer to use something tiny (similar size to a Mac mini, say), and just plug an extra drive in somewhere nearby. As for the duff drive, sadly, that seems dead beyond easy retrieval - I tried putting it back into the freezer, but this time, not even a directory could be read. Just repeatedly came up as "4.14TB Seagate USB Storage Media", rather than the correct capacity and model name. Bit of a curious failure mode, really - clearly, it's managing to go through much of the USB negotiation sequence. Still, that coupled with the occasional loud squeaks and repeated head seek sounds suggests it's not something that'd be a data source again without a clean room, and it's really not that important a drive - so, it's on its way to meet its maker. Not a very impressive lifetime, given it was only bought in January 2013 - it'd seen some use, but relatively light, just serving as part of the house storage network.

w00t! Finally got my Mountain Lion & iTunes 10.7 VM back up and running. Not as easy as it might be, as the version of ML you can download from Apple already has iTunes 11. That said, it's also not especially difficult to downgrade - use something like AppZapper to remove iTunes 11, then Pacifist to drop 10.7 in place instead. (Why? With Requiem 4.1, I can strip the DRM from iTunes Store purchases, rendering them playable on the BD player downstairs. But, the developer retired from the project a while ago, and subsequent iTunes and Java updates are incompatible with it) So, I've been gradually redownloading all my past purchases - and, of course, realising how much I've still got to watch. ^_^; Most of The Fades and Frozen Planet, especially, plus a couple films (links to trailers): Somm, Mr Nobody, and Tale of a Forest.

Who's going to be watching Eurovision? *yay* I do hope there'll be some fun acts - ones with a sense of fun, trying to be different, or just plain shiny. ^_^ I'm getting some bits together for a good evening's finger food feast, for the occasion - a few good cheeses, some very nice (and cheap!) Italian style ham, a probably good pork pie, some Scotch eggs.. we've got no shortage of beer, cider, and spirits around, but maybe a great Shiraz or Barolo seems like a good idea as well. And something fishy.. maybe some good smoked salmon. Some sundried tomatoes and/or chargrilled artichokes might not be a bad idea, too. (Yep, picked up some gravlax and crab pate, so that's covered, plus Waitrose's particularly tasty chargrilled artichokes. Also thought it'd be useful to get some Boudier Curaçao triple sec from Dijon, for authentic Long Island Iced Teas - wow, this is seriously yummy! It's brimming with that lovely crisp, fresh orange nature. Mixed with two volumes of ginger ale, you wind up with a supremely relaxed, refined, mildly spicy orangey drink. ^_^)

And with a little prompting, I watched Austria's semi-final performance for Eurovision. Oh, my. <3 If they're joint favorites with Sweden, they must have something pretty wonderful on offer too.

Add in a six-episode session of MLP:FiM (I'm about four behind at the moment), taking in the day's finale, and yes - Saturday could be a seriously fun day. ^_^
Eep! I'd only just realised: Eurovision is almost upon us! The semi-finals - this year, being held in Copenhagen - will be on the 6th & 8th of May, with the final on Saturday, 10th May 2014. =:D I haven't yet paid any attention to the songs, so I've no idea yet what anyone's putting forth, though I'm led to understand the UK's entry might not be nul points.

Harking back to my reminder last time about the EU (and local, in some constituencies) elections on May 22 2014, you might find it fun to check how your inclinations jibe with those of the main UK parties, based on 26 questions. VoteMatch 2014 will then rank them according to compatibility. How will you (and they!) fare? ^_^

There's rather a good Animal Crossing-like game coming out for iOS soon: Castaway Paradise. Indeed, it's actually available now, but only in Canada - a strategy devs sometimes use as a soft launch or beta, so they can get it out into the real world, without the full strain on servers or suchlike of a worldwide launch. Looks perhaps even better than AC:WW, though I suspect they may also adopt AC's way of ensuring you can only be human, whilst everyone else gets the fur. =:P (That said, I pretty much always wore the bunny hat, which sort of made up for it =:)

I've just joined a political party. You can probably guess which. ^_^

If you've been tempted by a Lapinity print - including one of the rather spiffy Fotoflot bonded prints, it looks like I may be able to offer quite a good sale on May Day - the various labs involved are all holding a sale, so I ought to do likewise. ^_^ It'll run from noon to midnight UK time (Pacific 4am-4pm), May 1 2014.

So, I finally got to see Frozen the other night. ^_^ Visually, one of the best Pixar/Disney's come up with yet - but, I admit, it didn't quite ring with me. Plenty of talent on show, absolutely, but I feel I actually enjoyed Brave much more. Still, I definitely appreciated the fact the "act of true love" wasn't of the kind traditionally associated (nigh mandated!) with Disney - and more realistic for that, insofar as one can use the term in such a tale. =:)

If you've played Device 6, the devs have posted a guide to the many references included in it, and its inspirations.

For foofers: Boomer, a tiny robot dinosaur. ^_^

Seems John Lewis are planning some little celebrations to mark their 150th anniversary. "The [300 Oxford Street] store will also open its roof to the public for the first time with a roof garden designed by Royal Horticultural Society National Young Designer of the Year, Tony Woods. We’re promised events such as film screenings, pop-up restaurants and World Cup parties throughout the summer."
First off, I really ought to point out an important date: May 22 2014, when the next EU Parliamentary elections are being held. As they're proportional representation, you can be confident that your vote actually will make a difference, not only if it's for one of the two largest parties. (Note that that's just before Confuzzled 2014 - if you're heading down there early, you could arrange a postal ballot, or let someone cast your vote by proxy, as outlined here)

Almost as important (*cough*) is MLP:FiM. Sadly, it looks like one of my network drives has gone south, taking with it a lot of TV, including all of my ponies. I've recovered the first half of this season, which had been synced to the iPad, but the rest.. has anyone else been fetching them off YouTube as they've been posted? (They're usually gone after a week or two, so it's not as simple as just fetching them again) Maybe, in my next reshuffling, I'll repurpose the old RAID for important TV and film. Though what I ought to do, I suppose, is look into the practicality of an Unraid server using purely external drives.

Should I so excited about a tunnel? ^_^ I noticed, the other day, that the London Transport Museum was, unusually, making it possible to walk through the Thames tunnel between Wapping and Rotherhithe - normally, it's alive with trains, but between May 24-26 2014, they'll be letting people view close-hand the first tunnel beneath a major river, started by Marc Brunel in 1825, completed with the help of his son, Isambard. Tickets went on sale at 10am on Thursday, and were completely sold out by the end of the day. =:D (Though, there might be scope for cancellations - I see the 1710 slot on the 25th shows some availability, but that could be a single ticket)

Quite a neat (UK) competition being held by Morrisons and McGuigan wines: win a trip to Sydney for two, with a tour of the vineyards and lunch hosted by the owner and John Torode, co-host of MasterChef.

Of possible interest to austin_dern: a Kickstarter to restore a vintage diner in east Detroit. "Rose's Fine Food is located on the east side of Detroit, in an area that has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Our dream is to be a part of bringing stability back to this neighborhood by providing a spot where its easy and comfortable to access delicious food made from scratch with quality ingredients. The items on our menu will boast produce from many of the farms in the city, and we will bake our own breads, pies, cakes, pastries, and anything else we can think of in a wood burning oven. Picnic baskets stuffed with the bounty of summer will sail out the doors in the arms of hungry patrons, bound for a lunch on historic Belle Isle. Instead of building a new building to house our dream, we chose a vintage diner with all the charm and memories still intact." And the good news is, they're already successful: with 23 days to go, they were already over 90% there. Three days later, they've breezed past their target. ^_^

Music Tech Fest has announced their dates: 5-7 September 2014, in conjunction with the London Symphony Orchestra. "We have some fantastic collaborations, experiments, performances, showcases, demonstrations and ideas to share with you over the course of the weekend - with special guests, live cinema, a music hackathon like no other - and a gathering of some of the world’s finest minds, fresh from inventing the very future of music itself."

OnLive recently brought out a service offering full-blown SL on Android devices, but came in for some well deserved criticism of their pricing. They've since lowered the fees to something much more interesting: $10/mo for unlimited time, or $1/hr. It's obviously more expensive than a text-only or partially graphic client you can buy outright, but as it's all rendered server-side and streamed to you (so, be sure you're on good WiFi or an unlimited 4G plan =:), it has all the in-world graphical wonder possible. 'Course, I'm still hoping the Lab eventually comes through with their own native mobile clients, rendering on the device, but this does seem like a reasonable interim solution, with the caveat of the high bandwidth requirement.