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Well, this is pretty cool. ^_^

Be sure you're logged in, as there's a friends-only entry from a couple days ago. ^_^ (On which note, having viewed the first set of proofs - I may have to offer a 36x24" of Marin's End. I'd really only ordered it for myself, to see how well it would print at that scale - but.. it's gorgeous! It really calls out to be seen at that kind of size)

You've probably not seen a set of ads for bananas quite like this. Needless to say, they're Japanese. ^_^

Here's a grand list of photographic documentaries, ranging from the early pioneers, to war photographers, Ansel Adams, Annie Liebovitz, and more, including YouTube links for all of them.

What's more adorable than meerkats? How about baby meerkats in Botswana, courtesy of wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas?

If you're in the UK, do you have any recommendations for a futon supplier? They're vastly less convenient to source than in the Bay. =:P Most of those I've seen from the usual race-to-the-bottom vendors appear to be effectively for ornamental purposes only. On that note, does anyone have words for particularly fluffy pillows, or shiny sheets?

iOS game of the month has to be Monument Valley, a sort of puzzle platformer, quite gorgeously playing with isometric perspective. It'd be a very attractively designed game without that crucial twist, but with, it's quite an original design, commendably realised. Its trailer gives some idea of what to expect.

I hadn't realised CloudFlare offer a free level of service - quite impressive, given what they can do to avoid DDoS attacks. That's obviously not for business use, as noted by the exclusion of SSL support at that level, but the lowest paid offering is $20/mo for the first website, $5/mo for additionals - perfectly reasonable for any commercial entity. The free service would be easily worthwhile simply for the DNS support, let alone their ability to ensure your site can withstand any amount of traffic tomfoolery - they have some quite extreme bandwidth available to absorb any attack.

That came from a thread on DynDNS finally outright ending their free domain support - not a surprise, really, following their purchase of EasyDNS, and their subsequent actions in ceasing opening new free accounts. (I'm the first to support paying for services, rather than placing them at the surveillance of advertisers, but for modestly trafficked personal websites, the burden on a DNS provider is quite light) Meanwhile, other reputable free options include FreeDNS and yDNS.

I see what poliphilo meant about the vitality of MasterChef! It's surprisingly engaging. True, it helps to have an interest in good food, but as much as anything, for me, it's about these hopefuls all displaying their passion, enthusiasm, and often, talent. That kind of energy is a real delight to witness, let alone the often remarkable dishes created. FWIW, there's also a sort of soundtrack available, "Cut the Tension". Quite a few fun highlights, I'd say, including track 4, "Heal the Breach", and track 10, "The Inquisitor". Get some good headphones on, bump the volume up, and have at it. =:D (One caveat: unfortunately, the current upload of the first track cuts to silence about 46s in. However, Apple support were entirely understanding, and refunded not just the cost of the one track, but the entire album!) Out of curiosity, does anyone know how far ahead the show's recorded? Has the winner of MasterChef 2014 already been annointed?

Thus far, I've enjoyed the most recent three series: the "normal" one from 2013, the Professionals, and Celebrity. The winner of the latter quite tickled me, but the former - ye gods, what an astounding contest that was! Truly, an impossible decision at the end, with all three finalists displaying skill many professionals would be envious of, technically and imaginatively.

2013's Masterchef Professionals also proved worthy. Having watched the second semi-final, wherein "Luke" was eliminated, I wondered what he was up to now - and a quick search showed he's at The Victoria, a gastropub just on the edge of Richmond Park. And lo, a couple of his signature dishes are on there, notably the semi-final dish: "Pan roasted guinea fowl, spiced pastilla, wilted spinach, smoked aubergine, golden raisin & harrisa jus". Which looked absolutely superb, and despite the complexity, married the spices with the flair he'd exhibited throughout the competition. I'm delighted to realise I'll be able to try it for myself. ^_^ (Love the idea behind the first round of the finals.. previously, as you'd expect, they'd always had whatever great ingredients they'd been offered, or requested. This time around.. pretty much the opposite, including vegetable trimmings, over-ripe Brie and fruit, meat bones, and a cod head, from which to create two perfect dishes) And then, they're given over to Massimo Bottura, of Osteria Francescana, holder of three Michelin stars. (For reference, it's series 6, episode 22; you can download it here) And ye gods, what a fantastic guy! I adore his passion for food! It absolutely shines through. Even if all you ate were McDonalds, you'd have to be dead not to be illuminated by that zest for life. =:D (So, I suppose, if I ever happen to find myself in Moderna, I'd have to go there.. I really like his unorthodox style, and of course, scintillating creativity. And looking at the menu options - yep, easily done. Not cheap, but for such top-tier wonderment - it'd be a night to remember for years. How about it, pawnytail?)

Let it be known, however, that I shall be applying to have the word "gutted" removed from the English language, on the grounds of deserving an honorable retirement at the hands of tragic overuse. Rare indeed was the contestant who left without its use. All the same, another thing that impresses me with the show is the superb cameraderie exhibited - they may all be vying for the one award, but they'll all congratulate and commiserate together, whoever's leaving or has gone through.

I've got to ask - what kind of cooking do you really enjoy engaging in? Is there a special favorite you keep coming back to? For my part, as a complete rank amateur, I'm quite a fan of light Thai curries and stir-fries - my style involves no oil, with the meat cooked either dry, in a bit of milk, or glazed in a sweet liqueur like Drambuie or Jack Daniels Honey, then adding milk for the body of the sauce, and then whatever spicing and vegetables (Sainsbury's vegetable mix is a handy combo, including a nice pepper and stalk of lemongrass, plus baby corn, baby broccoli, and mangetout). For the spices, I'm a fan of galangal (just powder, out of convenience), and Bart Spices' Berbere seasoning is one of the most fragrant blends I've tried. Potted curry pastes can be excellent, too, and of course, fish sauce and oyster sauce will often figure in.

The title of this entry, FWIW, is the result of a curious accident of timing yesterday. With the weather being a bit dull, but dry, I thought it'd be a good day to go on a bit of a stroll, to wind up at one of my favorite watering holes for dinner (gravlax, duck leg, bread & butter pudding =:9). My booking was for 6pm, and I set off around 3.30pm, with the intent of just enjoying some new footpaths and sights, maybe arriving a bit early. I arrived at 1800 precisely, quite accidentally. ^_^;
I think I need to take a little time away. Be cool. ^_^
The music weblog Pigeons and Planes recently offered a good article examining the furious creativity to be found within the MLP:FiM musical crowd. (via schnee)

It's regrettably only 74s long, but this Japanese fursuit music video is pretty niftily edited. =:D

As I noted a while back, Stan Sakai, creator of the long-running and deservedly acclaimed Usagi Yojimbo, is suffering under tough times, courtesy of medical bills. A comics anthology was planned, and is now due to come out from Dark Horse Comics on July 23, featuring submissions from the likes of Mike Mignola, Jeff Smith, Matt Groening, and Howard Chaykin.

Another means of opting out of the ConDems' plans for selling people's individual NHS data: FaxYourGP.

Here's a bundle, but not so humble, at least by name - The NSFW Bundle, supporting CSC: healthy sexual knowledge, education and public health. It's a collection of books, video, games, and music, including "Chester 5000", a graphic novel of Victorian sex robots, "Labour of Love", an amateur porn disaster on celluloid, "Vampire Hookers", sexploitation in 35mm, and "Animal Chuki - Nativa", from Lima, "slow-burning, floor-shaking music infused with animal desire and tropical intensity", plus much more. As for CSC: "Based in San Francisco, this award-winning nonprofit offers judgment-free education and events to audiences across the sexual and gender spectrum, as well as framing and informing issues of public policy and public health." Unlike Humble Bundle, the share ratio's fixed: 70% creators, 25% VODO, 5% charity. And VODO? I hadn't heard of them before; "A gang of filmmakers, musicians, artists, writers and technologists, spread from Wales to Germany, Canada to China. We’re dedicated to finding amazing content and getting it to you in ways that make sense."

Looking around, vendors' OS X support for DVB-T2 (not just DVB-T) receivers seems dismal. As an alternative, has anyone put together a receiver using some DVB-T2 stick and a Pi? The idea being along the lines of the Broadway TD, which would then be able to save the streams to an attached drive, and relay them over WiFi as well. (In a related, encouraging note, it might be the case that ATSC 3.0 will be DVB-T2 based. Whether or not that'd mean direct compatibility, or at least an easier path toward a globally useful HDTV stick, remains to be seen, but at least it wouldn't be an entirely different animal) That said, given how little TV I'd actually be interested in recording, maybe just a cheap DVR would be fine, like the DVB400, recording onto a thumb drive - not as flexible, but much less faff.

Does anyone know authoritatively how to pronounce Bill Nighy's surname? Is it nEYE-ee, or KNEE-ee, or something else entirely? Either way, someone whose work I never cease to be entirely charmed by, whether in Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, or one of his very best minor roles, the curator in the Van Gogh episode of Doctor Who. (Aha! "pronounced 'nye' but he has been called a number of different things - and he has learned to smile gracefully. He says, "My father used to squirm on the sofa when everybody would say Ni-ey. It used to drive him insane. "I gave up. I get Nigey, Nigley, Nigee, Nigby. The first time I was ever in the newspaper I was Nigby. I'm sure everybody gets a weird name. I don't mind. You can call me nearly anything you like."")

Et voilà! Duly took advantage of LensesForHire's 50% off special, with a Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 for Grillstock in June (I wasn't entirely happy with the quality of the shots from the 120-300mm f/2.8 OS - certainly good, but not quite ideal, whereas this is rated very highly by its users; it's also half the weight, similar to the Nikkor 300mm f/4, at a bit over 1.5kg), and a Nikkor 200-400mm f/4 VR in mid-July, tentatively with a trip to Skomer in mind, though I'd easily be able to make use of it just on my usual rabbiteering rounds if that doesn't come to be. If I can manage it, I'd rather like to add a Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6 (aka the Sigmonster =:) - with half off, it becomes a much more attractive experiment, though I'd pretty much have to obtain a suitable tripod first, as it's not exactly a featherweight lens at around 5kg, and fairly front-heavy.

Here's an interesting music app: AudioTool. Requires Flash, but offers a variety of synths and processors you can hook together, reminiscent of Reason's racks, but following more of a spread-out approach than a rack. A rather nifty twist is their ongoing competition, with the winner receiving flights and accommodation for Moogfest 2014 (April 23-27), in Asheville, North Carolina, and the opportunity to play a set at the event, with electronica performances from the likes of Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys, M.I.A., Giorgio Moroder, Laurie Anderson, and quite a few more.

Why should you run BOINC? Here's a good example, in which the results of a World Computing Grid project sifted through some three million candidate molecules, resulting in seven that may be useful in attacking neuroblastoma, currently with only a 30% cure rate. Running BOINC simply means that instead of turning off your system at night, you instead leave it running on these computationally intensive tasks - there are many projects you can choose from.

TIL that the Chupa Chups logo was designed by Salvador Dalí. =:D

A few iOS games you might want to have a look at, which struck me as different:

Tengami, with a Japanese pop-up book style. Utterly gorgeous. Really, to appreciate what it's about, I'd recommend viewing the trailer - then you'll (probably =:) see why I had to make a point of mentioning it.

Perloo, "a compact one-of-a-kind puzzle adventure that challenges you to think outside of your comfort zone. See how the real world influences the virtual one – and vice versa. Perloo plays with physics, quantum mechanics, philosophy, optics and perception to create a world with rules of its own."

Oquonie, an isometric adventure where you begin with no introduction, and instructions from someone in an unintelligible pictographic language. It's up to you to work it out from there. =:D

And somewhat more normal:

Astro Golf, miniature golf as played with robots in a spaceship's cargo hold.

Ava's Quest, a platformer with a sense of style.

And I thought this not-quite-'suiting tale might appeal to foofers. ^_^

"Candy, cookies, soft drinks, cereal…sugar, sugar, sugar. This sweet additive is everywhere, with an average consumption of 130lbs per year for each American. We’re infatuated with sugar. But where does our beloved sweetener come from? and who tended the crops? More importantly, how does sugar affect them? In Nicaragua, which exports 40% of its sugar to America, the average life span of men who harvest sugar cane is 49 years. At the root of these early deaths is an epidemic of fatal Chronic Kidney Disease (CKDu). In the town Chichigalpa, often called the “Island of Widows,” 1-in-3 men, mostly cane workers, are in end-stage renal failure. This fatal disease is not only a public health crisis, but also a social injustice. The cause of this epidemic is unknown, which is why we are launching this documentary project. Through our efforts, we can help draw attention and resources that could help save lives."

Here: links to every episode of Duckman, on YouTube.

Well, here goes nothing (except the entry fee) - just registered for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, hosted by the Natural History Museum. It's extraordinarily unlikely I'll come close to even being a finalist in this, given it's pretty much the most prestigious wildlife competition around, so the standard of entries tends to be especially high. Still, the only way to guarantee not winning is to not enter. (If you're interested as well, entries must be submitted by noon GMT on Feb 27, with finalists being notified in confidence in May)
Here's a bit of linguistic fun: The Great Language Game. You begin with three lives, and are presented with short audio clips. Beneath, a few choices of which language it might be. I suspect there'll be some impressively high scores from some folk here..

paka pointed out a neat little discovery of 8,000 year old artefacts including flint tools and knives, courtesy of an industrious local warren. ^_^ "They dug two little burrows right next to each other and all these treasures were thrown out of the earth. No one knows the scale of it but it's a gold mine. A family of rabbits has just rewritten the history books."

David Attenborough, rarely, has spoken of his frustration with climate change denialists and creationists.

A couple friends leave a bar in San Francisco late at night. On their way home, they spot a bicycle accident, leaving one rider with an injured chin and foot, so one of them calls 911 to summon assistance. What happens next? I admit, not top of my list of possible outcomes would be getting locked up in solitary. The comments here provide no comfort.

One animated feature I'll have to seek out, I think, is Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury, an epic tale of "six hundred years in the life of an immortal man who, obsessed with finding an existence with the woman he loves, continually takes on the role of a revolutionary fighting the system. “The film is about resistance, that’s the point. The hero is not a hero. He is a loser—he loses all of the time, but he never stops fighting.” Whether he’s facing colonization during the 1500s, social unrest in the 1970s or class warfare ignited by dwindling natural resources at the end of the 21st century, he always finds himself in the role of an everyman whose life is at the mercy of the greedy and the powerful."

Maybe something a little more contemplative? How about Michael Dudok de Wit's The Red Turtle? "Dudok de Wit, who is using the charcoal drawing and watercolor wash techniques that he used on Father and Daughter, has said that the film “shows a deep respect for nature, including human nature, and conveys a sense of peace and awe at the immensity of life.” His name alone should be reason enough to get any animation fan excited, but if you’re not convinced yet that this will be a special film, you may be interested to know that Studio Ghibli has signed on as a co-producer, marking the first time that the famed Japanese studio has attached their name to a Western film project."

The French animated series Wakfu is coming to the end of a highly successful Kickstarter, intended to fund international dubbing and subtitling. If you want to chip in, you can get both seasons on region-free Blu-Ray, plus other nifty goodies, for a mere fifty-five Canadian dollars. ^_^ You can get some idea of what it's about from the opening sequence from season two. (And if you're pondering backing Three Halves, do! Looking at their Kicktraq page suggests the funding's stalled in the past few days, currently leaving them at about two thirds of their £6,000 goal)

Want to find out how many Americans believe astrology to be "sort of" or "very" scientific? You may be surprised, and not in a good way. Perhaps more surprising is that the trend is for greater belief in astrology in the younger age groups, descending with age, with some 55% holding a "scientific" belief in the 18-24 bracket. There may be some degree of comfort, however: it seems highly likely that at least some of these people were simply confused between "astrology" and "astronomy".

I had no idea there was such a thing as a Madness musical, but lo: Our House was apparently on the West End in 2003, and won the Olivier Award for "best new musical". Customer reviews seem glowing, too. Had anyone else heard about it before? In any event, I've ordered a copy. ^_^ (On the film front, one rather fun title we watched recently was Juggernaut, aka "Terror on the Britannic". While we were expecting something enjoyably cheesy, it turned out to be quite a bit better than that - a good ol' disaster flick, but with quite a British style to it, like the passengers still persisting on enjoying the games on deck despite the terrible weather. ^_^ Then there are other tiny touches, like the Captain's interest in curious paperweights, and the state-of-the-art Pong machine - this being 1974 - being enjoyed by a couple children. With Richard Harris, Omar Sharif, Anthony Hopkins, Ian Holm, and Roy Kinnear, it's got the cast to make a creditable production, even if the dialogue rarely inspires. Irksomely, the DVD mastering left a thick border around all edges, so, TBH, you might be just as well off finding a good rip that's already taken care of that, and the somewhat low level audio)

Looking at the trailer, it does seem like Zombeavers delivers precisely what you'd expect: zombie beavers. ^_^;

Revisiting the jenever from the other week: it's undergone quite a transformation, and in a very pleasant regard. ^_^ It's now.. still quite distinctly a sort of gin (and clearly not English), but with an additional degree of complexity I hadn't found on its initial opening, as well as somewhat mellowing. If anything, it's headed along to Scotch land. =:D

Appropriately, the first game I've known to heat up the iPad Air significantly was Little Inferno. ^_^;

You may have seen a rather fun YouTube video with a bunch of old floppy drives playing Tainted Love. One such person was Marc Almond, who recorded vocals for it. =:D
So, we saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 recently. Quite enjoyable, but the storyline didn't quite come together, for me - it felt rather as it was, a generic story involving characters from the first film. =:/ On the other paw, the night felt right to finally get around to Ernest et Célestine - which was an absolute delight. ^_^ The characters felt so genuine, the settings and their innate prejudices quite convincing, and that beautiful hand-drawn animation! Gorgeous! Absolutely, see this if you can. (And I'm pleased to note its English dub is actually quite good, and due to debut in LA and New York, followed by a "nationwide expansion to major markets")

If you enjoyed Ratatouille (not that I'm thinking of anyone in particular here =:), you might enjoy learning there'll be a Ratatouille ride at Disneyland Paris soon, with the emphasis being on experiencing the world from a rat's perspective, close to the ground. =:D

An SL area I think I may have to visit: Onderon, a neutral world in the Star Wars universe, here photographed by Inara Pey. It sounds entirely accommodating of visitors of all species, providing you wear an Observer tag, unless you're wanting to participate in the RPing.

rigelkitty released a new electroswing set. Can't go wrong. ^_^

Here's a documentary Kickstarter to consider, on being transgendered in India, Three Halves: "Needless to say, India's estimated one million TGs undergo immense hardship on their journey to inhabit the body they feel they were born to live in. The festival offers a rare opportunity to escape, where ‘hijras’ can relax in a unique environment, free from judgement or mockery. The Koothandavar Festival, in Koovagam, Tamilnadu is an important part of ‘hijra’ history. Each April, thousands of ‘hijras’ visit this tiny hamlet to dance, sing, socialise and re-enact this extraordinary tale of love and grief:

On the eve of battle, the warlord Aravaan prepared himself. He was ready to die in combat but before he did so, he wanted to be married. Who would agree to being a wife for only one night? Lord Krishna, on hearing this, transformed himself into the beautiful Mohini and fulfilled Aravaan’s wishes. The battle dawned and Aravaan was killed. The last thing he saw was Krishna/Mohini standing on the side of the battlefield, wailing with grief."

An event that might interest one or two folks: the RAF Museum is holding an Open Cockpits Evening on Friday, March 11 2014, 6-9pm: "For one night only the Museum will open its doors and allow access to some historic aircraft. Get up close and personal with these beautiful machines and experience the collection in a new light." The highlight for me would be cockpit access to a Vulcan. =:D

If you have an iPad, keep an eye out for the release of RymdResa. I'm participating in their beta testing, and it's rather a special kind of "game". I say that ambivalently, as it's a game in a similar way to Second Life - it's not inappropriate to term it thusly, but it's not really a game either. =:) You're exploring the universe, following the loss of your homeworld - sometimes, you'll encounter helpful artefacts, sometimes, wastes of time. Ah, and there are poignant observations about it all, professionally voiced. It's all rendered lovingly in 16-bit style - not a conceit I'm generally taken by, but it does work.

Rather an impressive bit of kit, and a little reminiscent of the opening scene of BTTF: Large European Acoustic Facility, the loudest sound system in Europe, capable of more than 154dB. (It's used to subject satellites to the noise of a launcher taking off and in flight)

For the SL nerds, this posting by Monty Linden goes into technical detail on their HTTP project, aimed at substantially raising the number of simultaneous connections possible, based on ping time and request rate. It's quite illuminating to see how complex an issue this becomes, given the variety of factors - some under their control, some not. Addressing them all, as such, becomes a multi-layered affair, laying modest foundations at first, then building upon them.

Speaking of which, the Lab recently gained a new CEO, succeeding Rodvik - one Ebbe Altberg. So far, so good - he's been happily engaging folks on Twitter, and SLU. It's quite a challenge he has, of course - there aren't a huge number of MMORPGs around, and fewer still that revolve around user designs, rather than the company itself, leading to a good part of what sets SL apart: you can be pretty much anything you want to be, not just the designers' vision, but at the cost of an inherent lack of optimisation when it comes to rendering the world, be it over-complex models, or needlessly high resolution textures. Still, it's a fairly unique venue, and I'm delighted to be there. I hope he will be too.

Here's a very cool robobunny, NyoROBOtics Brownie-chan. ^_^ (Some more stills can be found over here)

If you're a UK photographer, and have a hankering for expensive lenses, you might be interested in Lenses for Hire's February special: 50% off all rates! That's making the notion of a short spell with some eye-wateringly costly lenses quite attractive. In particular, I'd love to try out the Nikkor 200-400mm f/4, and possibly either the 500mm f/4, or the infamous Sigmonster (300-800mm f/5.6). If I did so, I might try arranging a trip to Skomer to use them. And while I'm at it, maybe a Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 for Grillstock.. the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 does a good job, but I wasn't entirely satisfied that it was as sharp as I'd've preferred - arguably something of an inevitability with zooms vs primes. (And it has to be said, the Nikkor 300mm f/4D is phenomenally sharp, even with a 1.4x TC, on a 24MP crop sensor) FWIW, I've had it clarified by them that this discount does indeed apply to all rentals booked in February, rather than taking place in February - if you're renting for at least seven days, you can book a lens up to six months ahead. You're charged only upon dispatch, though they will place a week-long authorisation hold on the required funds when the booking is placed.

Don't suppose anyone's using multiple hard drives on a USB 3 hub? I'm just wondering if the interface finally offers sufficient bandwidth to service two drives simultaneously without impinging on performance. My photographic archive resides primarily on a pair of external USB 3 drives in a redundant RAID configuration, which I currently just connect directly to Hazel - but, as the current rMBPs only have two USB sockets, rather inexplicably, I'm pondering a hub to leave some USB connectivity free, but not if having all the traffic hanging off one interface slows things down, given the volumes of data that I tend to shuffle around on them. Still, I suppose it's not that often I delve into the archives anyway.

Unrelatedly, if you use external HDs, do make sure your power strip setup is solid, lest you wind up having it commence an automatic eight-hour rebuild when their power is suddenly cut. *cough*

On that note, I noticed French ISP OVH has a cloud backup offering, hubiC, with some quite attractive pricing, topping out at 10€/mo for 10TB (or 1€/mo for 100GB), which compares quite well against Dropbox's 100GB for $10/mo. At the top level, I'd be able to store every photo I have in the archive, and still have plenty of room to spare. Don't suppose anyone has experience with how well they fare in reality?

With huskyteer's prompting, our latest Master of Malt (a dangerous site indeed - and they do ship worldwide, though that doesn't come cheaply) order included an example of jenever, the Dutch breed of gin. In our case, Filliers 1992 vintage 2nd release graanjenever - quite different to the London examples I've tried! Quite a bit lighter in nature, a little more herbal. My other bottle was a Dictador 20 year old, from Colombia - the defining characteristic here is a long, long, happy tail of caramel, almost Christmas cake. The roomie, meanwhile, plumped for Auchentoshan Three Wood - still not as complex as last year's 25y.o. Glenglassaugh, but then, that was a couple times the price. =:P Oh, and a couple samples: what promises to be a very nice 17y.o. calvados, and an example of sotol, a Mexican spirit made from the Desert Spoon plant - not a name I'd heard before, so I had to give it a shot.

If Cambridge (the original, not the Massachussetts one) is within reach for you, you might want to take note of the Retro Gaming Night at the Centre for Computing History, on Friday, Feb 21 2014, 7pm-1am. It's a "bring your own booze" affair, 18+ only, with systems including "Atari 2600, Grandstand Tennis Console, Nintendo NES & SNES, Sega Master System, Megadrive and Mega CD, NEC Turbografx, Panasonic 3DO, Sony PS1 and PS2, Nintendo N64, GameCube, Atari Jaguar, Sinclair ZX Spectum, Commodore 64, Amiga and CD32, Atari XE, Atari 600, Sord M5, Sam Coupe, Canon V20 MSX, Sharp MZ-80K, Toshiba MSX, Acorn BBC Micro, BBC Master Compact, Original IBM PC, Apple Mac, Commodore PET, Enterprise 128, NEC PC-FX, Super Famicom, Philips CD-I, Commodore VIC-20, Mattel Aquarius". =:D

Here's a time-lapse compilation worth a couple minutes of your time, Outside My Window, from aboard the ISS. It's quite wonderful, in the simplest sense. This is what we're capable of!

While viewing Blood & Oil, about the necessity of following your passions, I noticed a welcome tweak to the site: it's now possible to tip creators directly, not involving PayPal, though that's also an option. I'd love to see more support for non-PayPal tipping, whether Flattr, Amazon Payments, or a conventional payments processor.

A little geegaw of interest to users of newer iPads with Lightning connectors: a combo USB/memory card adaptor. Whilst it's not been a priority for me, on occasion, I've wanted to review the day's shots on a larger display than the D7100's own, and the iPad's obviously the ideal candidate for that. And lo, it works! It does feel as cheap as it is, but at least prima facie, it seems to do what it claims: reads SD Cards (at least, the 32GB SDXC I tried), and provides USB connectivity, proven here with an M-Audio Keystation 49 MIDI controller talking to VirSyn's Addictive Synth. =:D (And no powered hub required - just the keyboard straight into the iPad)

Apparently, the UK government intends to sell your medical records. Here's how to opt-out (also rephrased here).

So, that was a little out of the ordinary - received a call identifying itself as coming from a UK 0845 number (a relic of a bygone age, originally intended to make calling companies cheaper than doing so with their normal, geographic number, by charging all such numbers at the cheapest "local" rate. Of course, now, with most people either using cellphones with umptykajillion days of calls included, or landline plans with calls up to an hour free, those 0845 numbers wind up costing more than they would - a portion of which goes to the company in question), so I was expecting it to be some corporate follow-up or somesuch. Then I heard the words "Barclaycard" and "fraud" uttered by the synth voice on the other end.. =:/ I've had those a few times in the past, innocuously, usually after Linden Lab's tried processing a payment: the system reads out the most recent few transactions, and asks whether you recognise them or not. In this case, that was a tiny amount to some children's clothing company, then increasing amounts to a telco based in Ireland - first two for £25, then £100, then £300, followed by £2000 to a college (!). The larger ones were rejected, just leaving the two £25 and clothing to dispute online, when the replacement arrives on Friday or thereabouts. So, no huge harm done, though I'm left wondering which retailer's going to be announcing a data breach shortly..

And just out of random curiosity, how about sharing drinks you enjoy? ^_^

Poll #1953502
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 21

What’s in your drinks stock at the moment?

View Answers
10 (9.8%)
8 (7.8%)
9 (8.8%)
6 (5.9%)
5 (4.9%)
10 (9.8%)
Spiced rum
9 (8.8%)
Light rum
3 (2.9%)
Red wine
10 (9.8%)
White wine
7 (6.9%)
2 (2.0%)
4 (3.9%)
4 (3.9%)
4 (3.9%)
Other spirits/liquors (tell!)
11 (10.8%)
Okay, I suppose it's sort of time for an actual entry again. ^_^; (Without quite such a gap between entries!)

First off, a series of weblog posts from Chris Giles Photography, on marketing yourself as a photographer. They're an entertaining read, perhaps even if you're not any breed of photographer, going into the effectiveness of different forms of print advertising, commercial and free directories, social media, et al. He's writing from the perspective of wedding photography, but the insights (complete with specific, actual costs, and the results obtained) are food for thought, whatever your genre. The anecdotes aren't just useful, but quite surprising sometimes - like the introduction to one wedding fair, for the massive outlay of £50 for a 6' table, held at a local private airport. Despite being poorly advertised, with not one person actually coming along on the day for the fair, it yielded a booking, plus repeat work for a medical company's Spring Ball. Go figure. =:D (And massive bonus points to the guy for referencing The Adventure Game directly after =:)

I also stumbled upon a manga series which might be of some interest to.. quite a few of you. ^_^ Kigurumi Planet - all the issues are there, translated into English, downloadable as plain zip archives, and thus ready to haul into your favorite reader app. (On the iPad, one I've long liked - a bit simple, but none the worse for that - is Cloud Readers. Completely free, and Universal, though I've only ever used it on an iPad) The manga itself? "One day, university student Narumi Daisuke meets a pink kigurumi rabbit in the street. This kigurumi, named Arita, falls in love at first sight Daisuke! But, no matter where the two meet, it seems that Arita won't take off his bodysuit. To Daisuke, who finds this strange, Arita makes a shocking confession! If he takes off his costume, he will die... "The truth is, I'm an Undergrounder!" Is he for real?!" It's really quite a delight to read - very cute, of course; and being a tale of romance, too.. ahh, it left me smiling on so many pages, recalling my encounter with Twue Wuv. ^_^;

Finally, the iPhone 3G's time has come - I'll be giving it to my mother next time I visit, probably in a week or two. In its place, an awfully shiny golden iPhone 5S. ^_^ Too early to say very much about it, but I'm surprised how well the fingerprint reader works. I took its arrival as my cue to finally abandon Yoru Fukurou as my "desktop" client, and go with Tweetbot there, and on the new device as well, replacing my long-time favorite, Twittelator Pro. Why? Well, Tweetbot's UI is particularly nice (whereas YF's was rather more just functional, and the ability to sync position between all of them is pretty cool - if I scroll to the top on the iPad, I'll automagically be put at the top on the other devices as well. Hardly a huge matter, but convenient, given I'm often reading on the iPad, and may then resume on another device - this saves that bit of nuisance in having to manually sync position.

Whether it bodes well for the rest of the Winter, we'll see, but Saturday saw some of the most enjoyable rabbiteering in several weeks. ^_^ It was an unusually bright, sunny day, and in one of my usual spots (indeed, the only one that's really been active of late - a small field used for antenna testing, with a rather foreboding "24 hour surveillance" sign on the gate. But, the patrol's visited a few times while I've been there, and they've been entirely cool with it), about five buns were out and about, even engaging in a few good chases, such as below. Whilst my favorite spot, by an old dairy, remains unfortunately completely dormant, as far as I'm able to see (which, of course, can easily mean they're mostly underground during the cooler months), a little further up the footpath I did spot a couple buns - and with the option of a pretty good vantage point, too! If that can become a new bunspot, I'll be delighted. And a little further up, what could have been a youngster, in a similar spot as "Newcomers" last year. That's rather less of an observation point, but with the chance of a memorable candid shot.

BTW, if you've backed Kung Fury, or have been considering it, they now have an ambitious stretch goal (having blown past their original $200k goal): if they can hit a million, it's go for a full-blown feature film. =:D And if you've not yet encountered it.. think of all the wonderfully over-the-top action flicks of the 80s. That's what they're aiming for, with a good dose of Airplane-grade silliness. I could describe it, but, really, their trailer says it all. =:D

Turbo. Oy. What a mix-up of a feature that was - a pretty limp script with a flyweight plot, yet still, actually quite watchable, thanks to some quite outstanding direction and lighting. If this is what Dreamworks can come up with when there's no intelligible plot, I'm quite looking forward to HTTYD2 this Summer. =:D (Reminds me, I must pick up a Kinzart Midnight Dragon av sometime..) [Edit: done! I should perhaps note they’re available from a separate vendor from Kinzart’s other offerings, wall-mounted on one of the cavern’s columns, not the main vendors by the walls]

Well, I have cause to cast praise upon the fruit factory. ^_^

A few nights ago, I was enjoying a quick bath (only a couple hours), with, of course, the iPad. I got out, back into the bedroom, and woke it up again. Or.. tried to. The display simply wasn’t coming on. I took it out of its protective case (one that really appealed to me: the Maroo Candy Red leather case. That shade’s just gorgeous, and the leather is indeed beautifully soft to the touch), and saw a little water on the case rear. The display looked almost fine, but with a small triangle in the lower left corner looking a little misty.

Suffice to say, drying it by leaving it not far from a radiator had no effect, nor did burying it in rice for a couple days. Oddly, it did still show up in iTunes.

Fearing the worst, given this was quite possibly the result of accidental water damage, I started looking around for repair options - but, being a new model, it seems parts haven't reached such outfits yet. Apple do list "out of warranty" repair pricing, specifically noting water damage may be okay for that - just not severe damage, like being in multiple parts. ^_^; So, I duly arranged the option of a loan with the roomie to cover that cost, and headed into the Apple Store this afternoon to see what they could do.

A few minutes later, a shiny new iPad was in my paws, at no cost - covered under warranty. =:D

Needless to say, I'm tremendously relieved. I've found the iPad to be so very useful, for everything from casual browsing to keeping an eye on the impending weather conditions while out walking or rabbiteering. And whilst the roomie's loan was an option (thankfully), it wouldn't have been a great time to add to the financial pressures, fresh out of Christmas and New Year, with the new gig not commencing for another few days, and thus, no paycheck for another few weeks. That Apple would happily replace it under warranty, even having admitted there may have been water damage - I'm very pleased.

In other happenings: we've had a mutual University friend over for a few days, which has, naturally, been a lot of fun. No big happenings, just catching up on things, enjoying the odd film (Wreck-It Ralph amongst them - even showed an episode of MLP:FiM without any howlings of pain =:), plenty of games of Pandemic (I seem to align with the role of Scientist - the ability to cure with four rather than five cards is often useful), and even exploring the outside world a little, even if the nearby barbecue joint turned out to be closed on the 30th (without, of course, updating their website) - the Indian substitute worked out rather well, even if the service turned out to be a touch on the comedic side at times. Last night's outing, however, at what claims to be England's oldest alehouse (they were around before the Normans arrived, though did change their name around Cromwell's time). I'd had a hankering to visit them for a while now, but as they're a bit of a walk out of town, I'd never got around to it - it's so much easier to simply hop on the train and visit one of my old haunts, like the White Horse on Parson's Green, which even brews its own Pilsner Urquell - definitely recommended, if your beer tastes lean more toward lager than heavier ales. It's a touch mellower than the bottled variety.

Anyway! We arrived, and entered a building that was clearly old, with walls that weren't necessarily flat, sometimes bulging a bit, and beams that called out to centuries of busy occupation. The beer selection was indeed worthy, with a few good local breweries represented, alongside good ciders (eg Orchard Pig's Reveller) and some careful Belgian selections, including Rochefort 10. =:9 The real point of the visit, though, was the food - and it excelled. The smoked fish platter (salmon, mackerel, and eel) was top-notch, each beautifully moist and flavorsome. That left me hopeful as to the main I'd selected: a braised lamb shank with puy lentils. And that - well, that was the best lamb shank I've had. Ridiculously tender, just requiring the suggestion of a knife's touch to flake off the bone, and such tasty meat, so rich! The lentils provided a perfect accompaniment, with a robust sauce of their own.

Thus, I can strongly recommend The Royal Standard of England - worth making a special journey for. Do, however, ensure your map-reading is up to snuff, if you want to actually find it. =:)
In brief, if I may: 2013 was, personally, mostly quite a positive time. It did, unfortunately, mark the end of the now-previous project - but, we marked that with a well-attended celebratory dinner. ^_^ We did well. It’s far from done yet, with a good bit more research required, but with a fair bit of luck, that might happen in 2015.

Meanwhile, courtesy of an enquiry forwarded by the professor overseeing the project, I’ll be embarking on the next gig in a few days, again working purely remotely. (I’ll likely say a bit more in a non-public entry) Suffice to say, the project’s of an eminently suitable nature for my background and talents - I’m really looking forward to getting into it. ^_^

So, I look back on 2013 with a bit of a bittersweet blend - largely, an exciting (if highly challenging) time, alongside its ending, for now.

Photographically - well, the store is still yet to open. That must change. I laid my paws on a Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8, which has yielded some enchanting shots indeed, though I’ve wound up remaining with the 300mm f/4 much of the time, mostly for the lighter weight. The D7100’s higher resolution constantly proves its worth, given I’m almost always having to crop down, given the shy nature of my primary subjects, and their strong preference to remain at some distance. “Momentary”, though, has to stand out as my favorite shot of the year - a perfect instant. ^_^

November saw a fairly memorable combination, too, personally: a rather good dinner, with pawnytail in attendance, at one of my favorite haunts, which happened to be holding an Old Ale Festival that weekend - barleywines, Imperial stouts, and all those superb, flavorsome, dangerous brews. As soon as I learned of their timing, I had to make a booking for that night. =:D The next day: The Day of the Doctor, which I enjoyed in 3D at a completely packed out cinema, with an atmosphere unlike any I’ve known such a presentation. And finally, Sunday held a unique day: the official 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Celebration, with many of the stars in attendance on stage, and all manner of exhibits, including K-9, Bessy, and an in-depth session on how the new Cybermen were designed and crafted. Not just on show, but right there, with no barriers, just polite signs requesting paws off. (That said, a costume trailer included many other outfits, which you were entirely free to thumb through. And throughout, absolutely no problem with any kind of photography you wished to engage in, whether a cameraphone or a pro DSLR) I even, at long last, met huskyteer in person. ^_^

2014? Mmm, could be good. With luck, I’ll be able to engage in a bit more travel than in 2013. I’d very much like to see my photography develop further, both in a purely creative sense, as well as entering some degree of commercial activity. And the diet will resume on January 6 2014, with an anticipated conclusion around May-August - which will have even more of a positive impact on my self-esteem than it has already, as a few of you may already suspect. =:)

Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes!
FWIW, you may notice my journal’s images are currently unavailable. With all due thanks to timberwoof for the hosting he was able to offer over the years, in turn thanks to one of the folks from our mutual engagement (so to speak =:), that’s now come to an end. I’ll likely wind up hosting the site myself hereon, though I may go for some low-end commercial option - I’d need no processing capacity, after all, though I’d want to be careful about low traffic capacities. (If I wanted to share a 200MB video clip, that could add up fairly quickly against the tiny allowances I recall seeing on some offerings!)

On that note, might anyone have any recommendations, if I do go with an external offering? Low cost would be very good, but they must be a good bunch - Godaddy, f’rex, isn’t an option. =:D

I hope you’ve all had, are having, or will have (yay time zones =:) a fun time of today, and the season at large. ^_^

Here, I’ve just been out with my mother for a pretty damned good lunch. ^_^ They were offering the usual à la carte options, or some platter options, which were too tempting to resist. So, the starter was a selection of six miniatures, including a taste of deliciously seasoned belly pork, a fishy wonton, and a goat’s cheese croquette, amongst others.

For the main, I went for the roast beef, while Mum chose sea bass. I’m very pleased with my choice - beautifully lightly cooked meat, medium-rare, with even the roast potatoes being mysteriously delicious.

Desserts were another variety, featuring cheesecake, zabaglione, and Christmas pudding - now, I’m really not one for the latter, but that was just so tasty!

Finally, cheese. =:9

Suffice to say, I’m not sure I’ll be eating again today. ^_^;

Anyway - sincerely, I hope you’re having a good time. I’ve been on LJ for a while now, and only now am I venturing to try meeting up with folks I’ve known here for all that time. I’m a bit of a shy sort, and not really that fond of being human, but it was a positive delight to finally meet huskyteer for the Doctor Who Celebration last month, and jayblanc for The World’s End (which we saw after having enjoyed a pint of The World’s End, at The World’s End =:).

I’m happy to know all of youse fuzzies. Long may it continue. ^_^
This is not an actual entry. ^_^;

Just to note that I'm still here, and now, with the previous gig concluded, I have time on my paws.

Yes. Be afraid. =:)

(Actual LJ entry coming.. mm, probably in the next day or two, given I doubt Friday's going to be any use photographically, and Wednesday did actually turn out well worthwhile for a good stroll. Meanwhile, there's so much to catch up on documenting, notably the whole weekend of Nov 22-24, which also saw me finally get to meet up with one LJer of distinction, and another fur who lurks adorably, and very shinily =:)

Meanwhile.. what spirits do folks love? Spiced rum, ancient whisky, mellow potato vodka.. ?
I finally received notification that the next project is indeed going ahead, with all the financing sorted out. ^_^ It should now just be a matter of agreeing on a contract, and I'll experience the strange sensation of smoothly segueing straight into another engagement. (For better or for worse - a few times previously, I've used the end of employment as a great excuse to go wandering for a bit. On the other paw, that was with money in the bank =:)

The "WATCH THIS NOW" clip for today is Beyond, an eight minute sci-fi short. Arya is the last of her kind, able to travel through space and time; eventually, she's alerted to an extremely remote destination. This is the kind of sci-fi I'd so love to see more of: genuinely speculative, arguably hopeful, and without a single rampaging alien species intent on conquering Earth. If you liked Contact, this will appeal. Remarkable production values, too, but then, we're now into an era of filmmaking where cinematic color grading, compositing, and modeling are all entirely feasible on home equipment - the barrier now is but talent.

So.. naming suggestions, please. ^_^ Realising that my time qualifying for Apple's edu discounts was drawing to a close, I gritted my teeth and plumped for a new MacBook Pro. 15", unfortunately, as all the 17" models were discontinued a year or so back. Still, 2880 x 1800 will be rather easy on the eyes. One big improvement will be 16GB vs 8GB on Dandelion - with Xcode, VS2010, and the codec all kicking around, the current 8GB can get chowed down quite easily, let alone all the other apps. USB 3 will be welcome, as will 802.11ac, given the volumes of data I'm often shuffling between drives and over the house network. 2.3GHz quad-core i7, joint Iris Pro and 750M with 2GB for graphics, 1TB of SSD on PCIe yielding around 900MB/s read and write.. and to go with it, a 128GB WiFi/cellular iPad Air. Going from my current first generation iPad.. might be noticeable. =:) (That'll then be going to my mother, whom I'm determined to get online)

Anyway! What should I call it? I'd like something leporine, I think, in keeping with its recent-ish predecessors, Hyzenthlay and Dandelion.

Easily the most detailed review of the iPad Air is Anandtech's. Whilst any will note the obvious, here you'll be able to dive into the geekiest details, such as the improved dispatch/retire of the A7, and performance under sustained load, once throttling engages, alongside all the comparative benchmarking you can shake a modest-sized forest at. One interesting, minor point that caught my eye was the Air's use of a second microphone, for noise cancellation, which he demonstrates to great effect on page 6, versus an iPad 4. A similarly minor disappointment is that whilst it shares the rear camera module with the iPhone 5S, it doesn't offer the latter's high framerate video recording. Perhaps just as well, else I'd be trying to rig up the 300mm f/4 to it somehow. =:) (If I ever come into a huge amount of money, I'd love to pick up a Phantom Flex4K - 2000fps at 2K, or 1000fps at 4K. Imagine a rabbit chase or leap at that kind of framerate! But, such tech comes at a price - around $100-160K, with rentals around $1,800/day and upwards)

"Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?" is a project that I imagine I'll find rather interesting, putting the writings of Noam Chomsky to animation, courtesy of Michel Gondry, best known for his notable music videos, as well as a couple feature productions, including The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Could be quite a pairing!

Here's a KS I could hardly not mention. =:D The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour finally receive a sequel! T7G3: The Collector awaits funding. I'm not involved with its development this time around, but I may see if they can slip something leporine in somewhere. =:)

Who else is seeing Day of the Doctor on the big screen? ^_^ After some hesitation, following the realisation that the local fleapit wasn't in fact showing it (the BBC's locator lists all of a chain's locations, not specifically the ones participating), I realised there was another location I could opt for, still easily reached, and part of a decent chain. With, it looked like, about three tickets to go. =:D

We recently watched some of "Paul Merton in China", which turned out to be much less trivial than I'd feared. It's actually.. well, yes, they certainly apply industrial strength lacquer over parts of Chinese modernisation that aren't so palatable. Followed a night or two later by "The Chinese are Coming", looking at the real-world effects of mainland China's growing prominence on the world trading front, in Tanzania, Zambia, the Congo, Brazil, and the US.

A modest competition: a city break in Oxford. Maybe something for moth_wingthane? (Whom I must also thank for pointing out a dirt cheap dual-band handie, which I'll be using to get on air again for the first time in ages. ^_^ First, though, I need the examining body to locate proof of my qualification, so they can issue a replacement certificate, so I can reactivate my license - now, apparently, good for all bands!) Two nights in a plush hotel (not that kind of plush, more's the pity), dinner, and first class train travel. Just a matter of dropping your name and email in, apparently with the option to subscribe to GWR's email, not forced. Entries close Nov 30 2013.

How to crack GSM for $30. Caveats: it isn't real-time, and the victim must be on the same cell. Whilst GSM interception is nothing new, this brings the costs down from a few thousand to peanuts.

Each year, the University of Warwick’s rowing team strips down to produce a charity calendar against homophobia. These are very fit individuals. Several example scenes and animated GIFs are included, to assist with your purchasing decision. (There’s no dangliness, but likewise, they’re not wearing anything; could be NSFW)

So, who caught The Burrowers? "Chris Packham sheds light on the magical underground world of three iconic British animals, badgers, water voles and rabbits. In one of the biggest natural history experiments ever undertaken, he investigates wild burrows to recreate full-scale replicas for the animals to live in and be observed, including the largest man-made rabbit warren of its kind ever built. This creates a window on their lives never witnessed before, from birth in winter to their emergence from the burrow in summer. How do they create their burrows? How do they breed and give birth? Observe fascinating new science and new behaviour as the team design and build a rabbit warren, a badger sett and a water vole burrow with its own riverbank." (Many, many thanks to DH Winterwolf & Darac for furnishing me with 1080i copies straight from the sky) If you missed it, you can find all three parts on YouTube: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, all in 720p. To save the files, I'd recommend either visiting KeepVid (avoid the misleading ads disguised as huge download buttons), or their Javascript bookmarklet, in the upper right - add that as a bookmark in your favorites bar, and it'll automagically pass the current page over to them and parse out the video links for you, for all the resolutions available.

Of all places, I hadn't expected it to be Pawn Stars UK where I'd learn of the existence of a version of Alice in Wonderland, illustrated by Rodney Matthews. The artwork is, as you'd expect, fabulously lush, flowing, organic, spiky, and as mean or as witty as the moment commands.

Want to learn about quantum computing? The University of Bristol is kindly offering their Qcloud project, "which aims to provide resources for anybody interested in quantum technologies. In particular those who want to have some practical experience of using and manipulating information using quantum computers. We believe that people find quantum physics difficult to grasp because it is not intuitive – quantum systems behave in ways that are not seen in our normal day to day lives. We can’t change quantum mechanics but we can at least try to change intuition.

If you use any of the National Cycling Network paths, or just fancy a chance of winning £3,000, you might like to pick up a few tickets for Sustrans' Christmas raffle, a mere pound apiece. Prizes are £3,000, £1,000, and £500, with ten runners-up receiving £100 vouchers for their store.

So, OS X Mavericks (named after a beach apparently originally named after a dog, Maverick - over time, the apostrophe simply ambled away) recently came out. Inevitably, I had to take the plunge, although, admittedly, not until I’d verified Parallels 8 would still play nicely, as I didn’t want to jeopardise my Windows 7 dev environment, and similarly, that Xcode had no show-stopping surprises. For an exhaustive look inside, John Siracusa’s done his usual thing, offering up a 24-page examination. Overall, I’m rather pleased with it - it’s a release that doesn’t trumpet piles of new features, though there are some highly welcome refinements (tabs in the Finder, finally!), so much as concentrating on optimising for performance and battery life, such as coalescing timers together, so the CPU can waken briefly to service several in one go, rather than have to enter and exit sleep repeatedly.

The only significant casualties have been OmniWeb 5, which seems to have trouble with accepting cookies on some sites (but, curiously, not all) - for now, I’m working around that by simply using OmniWeb 6, which is still in beta, and as such, occasionally interestingly broken in its own ways. ^_^; I may well give Safari more usage as well, as the new shared links feature seems like something I might like, and does offer one feature long missing from OW: plugins. And, sadly, Requiem 4.1 doesn’t like the new version of Java, so for DRM stripping of iTunes video purchases, I’ll have to fire up Parallels, until someone fixes the code - unfortunately, the developer behind it retired from the project earlier this year. (And Java is very much not my forte..) Thankfully, running the Windows version works fine.

Minor Mavericks hint: turn off the "smart quotes" option in TextEdit, which appears to've been enabled by default, else you'll find HTML built therein doesn't work so well. =:)

Night in the Woods is a furry game Kickstarter worth mentioning. ^_^ "All Mae wants to do is run around with her friends, break stuff and hang on to a life of aggressive aimlessness. She dropped out of college and returned home to her crumbling old mining town to do just that, but she's finding that nothing is the same anymore. The old town seems different. Her old friends have grown in their own directions. Mae herself is undergoing some sudden and unexplained changes, giving her mysterious abilities that grant her access to a side of town she never knew existed. The world is changing, things are ending, and the future is uncertain. Up behind the park at the edge of town, back in the trees by the old mine- there's something in the woods. And it could mean no future at all."

Of course, one must take this with a few pinches of salt, but still, rather interesting to see what Grand Moff has to say of the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who bearing down upon us: 'We’ve got to set the Doctor off in a brand new direction. It’s chapter two of his life. Now something happens to him that changes the way he thinks and the way he will adventure from now on. You can celebrate an anniversary in many ways – I think the most productive one within the narrative is to say “This is where the story really starts. This is where he finds his mission, he finds his destiny.”' (And, there's going to be a one minute trailer for the 50th Anniversary airing tonight, and online immediately after, featuring all the Doctors. Nothing of the episode itself, though - they're being teases =:) [Edit: And here it is!]

Regarding last week's unexpectedness - whilst the quotes for all the work necessary will still take a while, hopefully with minimal hassle from the insurer, the telephone pole is at least finally out of the yard. ^_^ Work finally commenced on Friday morning, wrapping up today, with our connection live again by the time I woke up this morning. As good a job as the MiFi did, I'm quite happy to have 3.9Mbytes/sec inbound again, with no caps. (And for less money than that 7GB allowance of cellular data, which, frustratingly, the cellco insists on expiring after a month)

A short (ca. 500 words) furry story you might want to read, courtesy of nicodemusrat: "Buddy". Such a time isn't too far off, ne? And with it will come such possibilities, and inevitably, such bittersweet moments. [Edit: ack! I didn't notice it was f-locked. I've enquired if that might be changed]

Do you see films on the big screen much, or mostly at home? For me, the disincentive is that locally, there's a choice of two multiplexes, both of which are bland establishments, offering nothing more than the opportunity to sit in an auditorium for a couple hours. Frankly, I prefer watching a film at home, where there's a vastly better drinks offering, and nobody's heads in the way. That said, I probably would be tempted by something along the lines of Luc Besson's new establishment in Paris. (Ones I'd happily personally recommend are the Chapter in Cardiff, the Little in Bath, and the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The Chapter only has two modest screens, but always with an inspiring selection from around the world, plus an amazingly stocked bar with around five casks on, and dozens of lesser known German and Belgian bottled beers. The Little's a converted Georgian property, being in the heart of the town, oozing atmosphere. And the Castro's a full-on 1920s movie palace, complete with a mighty Wurlitzer that rises from the floor before each screening, for a ten minute musical prelude. Absolutely magnificent! Only the one screen, but it's a genuinely big screen. I haven't yet been to the new Parkway in Oakland, but it sounds like they've brought it back in spirit)

CERN recently put up a series of talks from their latest Open Days: "The lectures cover more than 20 topics from the invention of the World Wide Web and the discovery of the Higgs boson to CERN's antimatter experiments and the Large Hadron Collider." And, StackExchange saw a superb series of answers to what might seem like a relatively simple question: What's inside a proton? Whilst it's sort of true to say they're composed of two up and one down quark, the question then develops rather interestingly. Consider this chart, showing the internal appearance of a proton, based on collision energy on the Y axis, and "resolving power" of the "probe" particle on the X.

A few folks I know might be interested (although, they probably already know) in the recent arrival of a "collector's edition" of MST3K: The Movie, including deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and behind-the-scenes footage. ^_^ (From the same release company as MLP:FiM. Now there's a crossover I'd like to see) And another BD release that's been a long time coming: Tank Girl! And, Wolf Children debuts on (Western) BD on Nov 26.

An app whitetail might want to check out: a version of SheepShaver ready configured with Mac OS 9.0.1 - zero configuration required, just download, launch, and watch the virtual machine boot up. Which, I suppose, means you'd have some 68k being emulated as PPC code, itself being emulated on Intel. Oo, I wonder if it'll run Connectix Virtual GameStation.. =:D (Sadly, some searching around suggests not - apparently, it'll launch, but won't successfully run any games. True, there are easier ways of emulating the PS1 now, but VGS has obvious geek appeal =:)

That also led, while checking my drives to see if I've got a copy of my old PowerBooks' drives online somewhere (seemingly not, so I'll have to excavate the DVD-Rs), to the discovery of some odd miscellanea, including a copy of Copland, Apple's ca.1995 attempt at a next-generation OS, Photoshop 0.63, the source to Mac OS 7.1, and a copy of a film I know I haven't seen yet: SpaceDisco One. "'Spacedisco One' is a sequel to both 'Logan's Run' and '1984' at the same time with Orwell's Winston Smith running into the daughters of Logan 5 and Francis 7 as they're busy running about a park firing off laser beams at one another. It's not until they meet that Winston realizes they're actually all fictional characters in a movie. When not discussing 'Battlestar Galactica' with Stargirl 7 and Francis 8, Winston makes frequent visits to the Ministry of Truth - known to you and I as Universal Citywalk. Oh yeah, did I mention the roller rink in space that people have to skate on to get to Earth? Yeah, there's that, too." Remarkably, it even scores 7.1 on IMDb.

(As for what I was particularly trying to find: well, unsurprisingly, it was much easier to just snag it online. =:D Short Circuit, a particularly good Shisen-so variant. And lo, it runs almost perfectly, with occasional tiny glitches in the sound effects)

Yay, new iPads (almost certainly) being announced on Tuesday! I think I'll go for one, this time around. (Definitely cellular, probably 64GB; approaching 128GB would be an indication I ought to just trim the apps and films back) I'd love to be able to run multiple synths linked via Audiobus, which isn't really an option with an iPad 1's CPU and memory, and the retina display is rather nice, which certainly wouldn't hurt for comics reading. Add in the likely 64-bit architecture, and it's likely to be the baseline requirement in years ahead, when eventually iOS goes 64-bit only. Meanwhile, I'll be able to give mine to my mother, to finally (and *very very reluctantly*) bring her online. (She fully understands there's a lot to be said for being online, but has something of a touch of technophobia, unfortunately, to the point where it's been challenging to get her to accept that she can check email on an iPad, by pressing the little picture of an envelope)

If you've experienced difficulties getting your parents online, how have you worked with that?

So, LJ eventually renewed, after some manual cajoling. =:P Fair enough, I suppose - I've moved since last time, which is, for me, pretty much a given. ^_^;

A look at the state of Juche booze: Getting Drunk in North Korea. It's a light hearted topic, but touches nonetheless on major issues, particularly from the perspective of such an isolationist state, such as receiving help from a Beijing brewery on making better lager, and the rise of the party elite, as in China, increasingly taking to luxuries unattainable by the general populace. It also notes some of the peculiarities of the street bars, such as the Soviet-style naming of Beer Number 1, Beer Number 2, etc, and the origins of one brewery's equipment: from the now defunct Usher's of Trowbridge.

Here's a little experimental abstract nature shot from this week. ^_^ Whilst I tend to use the Nikkor 300mm f/4D much more than the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8, due to the weight, the latter does offer that advantage of a wider aperture, as well as image stabilisation. So, seeing the late evening sun push through some trees in an interesting way, I thought I'd try specifically not focusing on anything, and letting the DoF take care of blurring much of the scene away from the focal plane. I'm rather taken by it. ^_^

.. as is the telephone pole.

No injuries, thankfully, beyond shock and perhaps whiplash.

I'd just been thinking the other day about the MiFi dongle I had, sitting around sorely neglected, thinking about the only time it'd see use again is when I visit my mother, or if there was some kind of prolonged outage.

It actually didn't sound like much, oddly enough. I'd only just woken up, though, so perhaps all I heard was the brick coming through the glass of the front door.
The BBC recently announced they'd obtained nine lost Doctor Who episodes of the Troughton era, thereby completing all six episodes of The Enemy of the World, and giving them five of the six episodes of The Web of Fear. ^_^ (Ep.3 of the latter remains just a sequence of still images. No pedantry, please =:) They've duly put them up for download on iTunes: Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear. The trailer for EotW (12MB) shows off just what a good job they've done of the restoration. (If you have a choice of iTunes accounts, both stories are cheaper in the US: $10 versus £10, for reasons known only unto Auntie)

I happened upon quite a fascinating discourse by Bertrand Russell the other day, titled In Praise of Idleness. It's not a flippant piece, as one might be tempted into thinking.

A music video I thought worth making note of: Kaly Live Dub "Allaxis". It's an animated production, telling a story in a way that might appeal to David Lynch fans, but in quite rapid style. Bonus points for incidental furriness. ^_^

What was originally a fan petition for a Dredd sequel has been officially adopted by 2000AD! (As an aside, here's a selection of before & after shots, showing the compositing involved in creating Mega-City One out of Johannesburg and Cape Town)

furtech pointed out an outstanding, beautiful webcomic, inspired by Finnish mythology: Redtail's Dream. (It recently ran an IndieGoGo fundraiser for $29,000, to fund a hardcover edition. It wound up raising $151,684)

The BBC's launched a beta of a new service in conjunction with YouTube, Spotify, and Deezer: "The aim of Playlister is to give audiences an easy way to find out what music is being played on BBC Radio networks (and, later, on BBC TV shows) and to listen to it again. From Wednesday, every song played on BBC radio will be made listed on the relevant programme website. Anyone with a BBC account can click an 'add this' button to add tracks to a personal playlist, and export them to a outside streaming service, such as YouTube, Deezer and Spotify, where they can be played back in full." I'll be particularly interested in the extension to TV, given there are so many occasions where an interesting track is used during a small part of some show, but, of course, never credited. True, there are services like Shazam, but I'd certainly find it more convenient to just hop online at some point, rather than have to quickly launch some app.

Apparently, Harrison Ford is "chatting" with Ridley Scott about a sequel to Blade Runner.

Sesame Workshop and CBeebies are going to co-produce a new show at the BBC's Salford center, starring Cookie Monster and Elmo as staff at high end hotel The Furchester. ^_^

There's a new Asterix book! But, not without some controversy - Goscinny left us some time ago, and Uderzo retired in 2011, so this has been entirely the work of a new pair of creators, with some supervision by Uderzo. The story also notes that Asterix will be the focus of an exhibition at the National Library of France, the first such for a comic work. I suppose I'll have to give it a try regardless - it'll be a good excuse to brush the dust off my French, too. ^_^ (Tintin and the Blue Lotus, f'rex, took forever to appear in English. Even then, as I recall, they irksomely translated "opium" as "drugs", a dreadful simplification)

relee's been wondering about the usefulness of LinkedIn. So: what's your experience been? Personally, I've had no use for them. It was fun reconnecting with folks, but as far as future employment prospects have gone, it's been a zero. But am I unusual? (Okay, in this regard) The capper came with their proud recommendations of job prospects, which usually had only one common factor - the location of my first job. Not a bad thing, per se, except LinkedIn believes that if you've had a job in a given city, you're thereafter qualified for every other field, providing it's in that location.

I recently traded in the Sigma 2x TC, as I didn't feel it was really a high quality combination with the 120-300mm f/2.8 OS. In its place arrived a shiny new Sigma 30mm f/1.4 (not the new "Art" model, but the previous one), as I didn't have any wide aperture lens for close work. A lens as bright as that makes for some fabulously shallow depth of field, if desired, and the ability to shoot in quite modest light, as demonstrated ably by this delicious example of belly pork from a few weeks ago, at one of my local favorite pubs. =:9

[Edited: the spare ticket has been taken by huskyteer. ^_^ Order placed and four PDFs received. Woohoo!]

So, I've got a code from the second round ballot for tickets to the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Celebration, and as a result, have the ability to buy one more ticket. Is anyone I know interested? They're about £50.

The timeslot is Sunday Nov 24, Weeping Angel group. ^_^

(A code permits purchase of up to four tickets, and the housemate wants one, as does another friend, leaving one spare. All the tickets must be purchased at the same time. As the code doesn't guarantee availability, I'm hoping to get this seen to within a day or so)

Comment if you're interested, and I'll wind up making a decision, if one is to be made.
So, on Monday evening, I went out rabbiteering, as I try to do at least once or twice a week, providing it's not completely overcast. Yesterday was one of those squirrelly evenings, where I couldn't be sure what it was going to be like, and the forecasters were similarly unable to come to any conclusion - the clouds were plentiful, but scattered, making for an evening that wasn't dull, but not sunny either. =:/

With sunsets drawing in, I headed out a bit earlier than I've done recently, as my current prime spot sinks into the shadow of the field's owners' house around 7.10pm at the moment, with the sun vanishing behind the treeline about an hour later.

But, only a couple very quiet buns over by the aerial installation (but, the guard that drives up occasionally seems quite fine with me shoving a lens up against the gate; I could try sidestepping it, as there's a discreet way to walk around it, but I'd like to keep on their good side), barely one by what was 2011's prime spot, and similarly, only a couple quite quiet individuals by the prime spot. So, I continued wandering around a bit more, to increase my chances of spotting activity, and just enjoying the pleasant evening. I gave thought, all the same, to heading off early, given everybun seemed to've taken the day off.

I returned, and found a couple more of that warren had emerged, but as ever, shaded by the tall grass, which obscured their activity from me much of the time. But, between the four of them, there was easily enough activity to enjoy observing, and so I caught a few pleasant, calm moments.

And then - some kind of mad flurry of activity, thankfully while within the viewfinder. As quickly as possible, I took the shot, plus a few more in hope.

(Fortunately, I'd removed the 1.4x TC before returning, as I'd reckoned the lighting wasn't so great - which, as it turned out, also ensured I didn't risk losing any of the shot, in addition to the intended effect of improving the quality of anything I might catch)

I think I can consider the evening a success. ^_^ It's even, at the moment, on the front page of 500px's selection of popular photos; notifications there are constantly lighting up the iPad.

Yes. Rabbits rock. =:D
Want to see what Terry Gilliam's been up to? 'Course you do. Here's a trailer for Zero Theorem. It seems to have been leaked, given the watermark "Not for distribution", and the sound isn't quite in sync - but FSM, it looks stunning. Still a little way off, unfortunately - IMDb only lists two release dates at the moment: Dec 19 2013 for Italy, and Jan 2 2014 for Russia.

Meanwhile, word's escaped that Charlie Kaufman is adapting Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five for Guillermo del Toro. =:D

Now, this raffle might appeal to one or two friends.. first prize is a flight in a Spitfire, parallel to the sole remaining airworthy Vulcan, XH558. Proceeds go towards said Vulcan's maintenance. (And the other prizes aren't exactly unappealing, either - eg 4th prize is a day for two at RAF Scampton with the Red Arrows) Tickets are £2 each, and unfortunately, available to UK residents only, per terms of their lottery license. Flight prizes are subject to medical fitness, and a cap of 6'2" and 16 stone. The drawing itself will take place on Tuesday, Sep 10 2013.

The Open Rights Group notes that - surprise! - the proposed pornwall will actually be rather broader in scope. "After brief conversations with some of the Internet Service Providers that will be implementing the UK's "pornwall" we've established a little bit about what it will be doing. To be fair, the BBC were pretty close. The essential detail is that they will assume you want filters enabled across a wide range of content, and unless you un-tick the option, network filters will be enabled. As we’ve said repeatedly, it’s not just about hardcore pornography." Ah, but who wouldn't want to filte on porn, violent material, alcohol, anoerxia, terrorist content, or web blocking circumvention tools by default? (But hey, it's voluntary =:)

SDCC saw many announcements, but the one that's particularly caught my eye is that 2014 will see a Firefly MMORPG launch, for iOS and Android. Details are thin at the moment, not going much beyond "players take on the role of a captain, who must recruit ship crew and lead missions, while trading with other players. Firefly Online features customizable ships and cross-platform functionality." Here's the teaser trailer.

So, Saints Row IV apparently has some furriness, of the macro variety. =:D

I'm hardly a fan of the UK's current government, to say the least, but, they do appear to have made a forward-looking investment, providing seed capital of £60m toward the development of the Skylon, a fully reusable spacecraft aiming to provide orbital insertions for around 1/50 of current costs. It'll achieve that by being based on a new engine, partially ramjet-based: "Having passed vital tests in November 2012, it is the first time a heat exchanger that is light and efficient enough to go into space has been developed. By managing the hot air entering it at high speeds, SABRE would be able to get some of the oxygen it needs from the air rather than it having to be stored onboard the spaceplane. Reaching Mach 5 at 26,000 feet, a SABRE engine could switch to full rocket mode to reach orbit, using on-board fuel supplies. This advantage enables a spaceplane to fly lighter from the outset and to make a single leap to orbit, rather than using and dumping propellant stages on the ascent - as is the case with current expendable rockets." Excitingly, they also note (ambitiously, perhaps) "A prototype SABRE is expected by 2017, and flight tests for the engine around 2020."

Near the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk sits a 6' statue of an anthropomorphic rat, knitting a double helix, to commemorate lab rats' contributions to scientific understanding.

Are these not some of the absolute coolest leggings you've ever seen? ^_^ Easily the most fun range I've laid eyes on since Sub4's days. (Whatever happened to them? Once upon a time, they were offering a great range of running leggings, and then something seemed to extinguish their creativity, followed by them vanishing. Did they go out of business, or merely into obscurity?)

ColAR is a rather nifty little coloring app, intended for kids, but looks like fun for anyone. ^_^ First, you color in one of the drawings on paper, as you might normally - then, you let your iOS/Android device look at it, whereupon it will rise from the paper, and show itself off (perhaps with a little dance or such) in 3D. ^_^ It's also temporarily free, until July 28 - normally, unlocking the full set of pages is an in-app purchase. (There's a little more information available on the creators' main site, HitLabNZ - Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand - along with a Windows version)

I'm quite keen on this iPad 2-octave keyboard on Kickstarter, being exceptionally well-designed. Closed, it acts as a screen cover for the iPad. Take it off, press a button, and half of it raises up to provide a full-travel two octave keyboard, using opposing magnets rather than springs for its weighting, and optical key tracking for position/velocity sensing. It's Bluetooth and USB-based, so if you're using an iPad 3 or later, you can use Bluetooth Low Energy to connect, and avoid any wiring. There are even two touch-sensitive areas above the keyboard, with LEDs set along the line, offering two analogue sliders, with more possibilities afforded through an expansion slot, for application-specific physical controls. And at $99 for the first batch devices, it's entirely affordable.

Another KS venture: a hard sci-fi game, Lacuna Passage, following Jessica Rainer, "the only survivor of the crashed Heracles mission, investigating the disappearance of the first ever manned mission to Mars. You have several tools at your disposal, but most important are your skills of observation. You will need to uncover mission logs, recorded audio files, and other physical clues left behind at critical mission locations in order to uncover the story. An interplanetary trail of breadcrumbs is waiting for you."

Or.. how about a Unity-based game, based along the lines of Thief, in "a world inspired by, embodying and adapting the alternative avant-garde of the 20th century. Writers such as Burroughs and Ballard, artists within the Dada movement and the music and textures of Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and David Lynch all drive us. They are our motivations - often oblique, sometimes in open reference. You play an outsider to the world, an entity with a singular, enigmatic goal - to find and dispose of five other beings. Your arrival here has fractured the world; the city that these other beings resided in is now broken into shards across a broken, bleak landscape. You must infiltrate these cities, searching to discover your marks - investigating both precisely who, and where. Keeping to the shadows is to be encouraged - reality here is a fragile place. Your interactions with the world cause it to fall apart. In homage to Burrough's cut-up technique, the world collapses and rebuilds itself the more you interact with it - future areas rebuilt with the fragments and personality of places you mistreated. From this every play-through will, subtly or drastically, be unique to you." This is Tangiers, "surrealist stealth", which they'll be developing for OS X, Linux, and Windows - and on a remarkably modest budget.

How's this for a wonderful wedding cake topper? ^_^

As for the last entry, where I was torn between two post-rabbiteering venues for dinner, I went for the particularly good food option. ^_^ The skies clouded over around 7pm, and the buns weren't much in evidence, so I took off for the southeast. Only about a 30 min walk from that bunspot, and similarly back into the nearby town - and despite heading back around 2215, it proved entirely light enough to walk back without the aid of any additional light.

To start, scallops on a red pepper puree, followed by roast free-range chicken on black pudding puree, concluded with an inspired brioche tiramisu. I'm a sucker for scallops, so that was an easy choice, but combining tasty chicken with black pudding - that's not a combination I'd have thought of, but damn if it doesn't work well! But the finale - oh, that was just gorgeous. And all in a friendly atmosphere of a small village pub. I suspect that won't be my final visit. ^_^

A photoset by Iron Ammonite, showing off the awe-inspiring rugged beauty of Svalbard.

An amusing exchange, based around someone who set up a Quake 3 Arena server four years ago, and left 16 bots running, forever learning improved strategy. The outcome is wonderful, when he finally goes in to check up on them.

Undertale will be worth looking forward to - it's an RPG, but one where combat is entirely optional; you can negotiate. With a tiny goal of $5,000, it wound up raising over ten times that. =:D

Tickets for this year's tutored tastings at the Great British Beer Festival (Olympia, Aug 13-17 2013; Tuesday-Saturday. £8 per day, or £22 for all of it) are finally available! Unfortunately, they seem to've gone up in price sharply, at £15 a pop. Still, there are some very tempting ones - this year, there's one dedicated to cider, and one on Italian beers, as well as a quirky one from the sponsor, pairing beers with different varieties of pistachios. This year, I'm tempted to make it along on two or three days, rather than cramming the event into a single day. If you haven't been, I can recommend it: there's an amazing selection, arranged geographically, with each bar offering beers from a region of the UK, plus international offerings, and cider, which I'm delighted to see rise in recognition. You'll find beers there (all served from cask, on gravity) you'll seldom see outside their home locales, from Summer ales to hearty Winter brews, as well as scarce and wondrous Belgians, and noteworthy Americans. There's always a good variety of food on offer, from pasties and pies, through German and Polish sausages, to Thai and Indian curries, and more.

Photo competition of the week: Woodland photography. Seems to be free to enter, and taken in any of the listed (UK) woods.

Here's rather a nifty four-minute peek at before and after scenes from the recent The Great Gatsby production, showing the extent to which compositing can be used on the big screen. Not just scenes one might expect effects to be used, but even constructing entire sets and backgrounds.

I've read comics purely digitally for years. Whilst it's been good to see the rise of digitally available comics, courtesy of players like ComiXology and iVerse Media (aka Comics Plus, one of the more awkward monickers around), they've remained unfortunately tightly bound in DRM - not much of a problem when it's been broken (I wouldn't buy iTunes video if I couldn't strip the DRM), but as far as I'm aware, they're both "safe". However, exceptions exist, such as the long-running 2000AD, available as plain (completely plain, with no watermarking of any kind) PDF or CBZ, and now, Image Comics is joining the party, offering their wares as PDF, ePub, and CBZ. In their words: "My stance on piracy is that piracy is bad for bad entertainment. There’s a pretty strong correlation with things that suck not being greatly pirated, while things that are successful have a higher piracy rate. If you put out a good comic book — even if somebody does download it illegally — if they enjoy it, then the likelihood of them purchasing the book is pretty high. Obviously we don’t want everybody giving a copy to a hundred friends, but this argument has been around since home taping was supposedly killing music back in the ’70s, and that didn’t happen. And I don’t think it’s happening now."

BuckHopper's released the voice acting workshop he hosted at Anthrocon 2012, with an impressive 17 scenes recorded.

It's a browser speed test. Really. Hamster Dance Revolution, courtesy of the IE team.

So, you're a student at the University of Wisconsin. And the NSA comes around, trying to recruit. Imagine, then, if said students asked inconvenient questions.

Some rather fun examples of dogs travelling at light speed. =:) (See, you wouldn't catch a rabbit doing that whole "head out of the window" gig. Far too sensible! And perhaps busy =:)

Interesting points mulling the social utility of a "basic income".

Is anyone familiar with the jailbreak situation with AppleTV? It's a lovely device, but I'd only be interested with a broader portfolio of formats supported. The main player works pretty well, but does sometimes stumble, ranging from refusing to FF on some files, to outright refusing to play others. Not a tremendous surprise, I accept, given how wide-ranging MPEG-4 is, from easily deployed for embedded devices, to somewhat more demanding. (Raspberry Pi isn't an option - solid 1080 performance is essential. We have one such already, with XBMC, but it's not up to the task)

Another competition - but not photography, this time. =:) This is one for the writers, sponsored by the Centre for Quantum Technologies and Scientific American. "What kind of story, you ask? Well, that’s up to you. Your story doesn’t have to be full of techno-babble or quantum-powered gadgets: we’re open to ideas ranging from the goings-on in a quantum physics lab (part of the genre known as lab-lit) to stories that involve quantum spookiness or parallel universes. But please only send us stories that we can share with a wide audience including young people - think no more than PG13 rated." And yes, there are prizes, with the main category first place winner receiving SG$2000 (about US$1600) and a year's digital subscription to SciAm, with a runner-up and "people's choice" each receiving SG$1000 plus the subscription.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of finally meeting jayblanc, as well as enjoying sushi for the first time since April 2011. ^_^; (Bento Cafe - pretty good. Not the best I've had, but as some will know, I've enjoyed some rather good stuff =:) After that, we headed to The World's End, where I enjoyed a pint of World's End, before seeing The World's End. As he later noted, that cinema was apparently the progenitors' local haunt. =:D As for the flick itself, yes, definitely worth seeing - possibly the best of the Cornetto Trilogy, although Hot Fuzz remains quite brilliant nonetheless. (At this point, I'll shamefully confess to not having seen Shaun of the Dead yet) Later on, as the bun was running out of energy, we parted ways, and I headed to one of my favorite establishments, which had Sierra Nevada's Torpedo on cask - truly a rare delight. Indeed, I had no idea until the other week that Sierra Nevada even offered casks - apparently so, but only for their own brewery pub. But, the White Horse knows people. =:)

Finally, let me leave you with this soothing sentiment: 2 measures Thornton's chocolate, 2 measures Grand Marnier, 1 Jack Daniel's Honey, and 1 London Gin. =:9