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I hope everyone who's enjoying Yule, Christmas, or local winter festival is having a good time of it, with family, friends, or even a significant other. ^_^

Here, I mounted a rare adventure - as I only ever cook for myself, usually, I'm unfamiliar with putting on a roast. Still, it worked out very nicely - a (too =:) huge turkey crown went in first, followed later on by Maris Piper potatoes in goose fat, then parsnips with a touch of salted caramel, accompanied by some carrots, brussels, and as the small oven was at capacity, the chipolatas in smoked bacon went into sis' oven upstairs. ^_^ (She joined us for it all, needless to say)

Having just enjoyed some sticky toffee pudding, it is clearly now time to do very little beyond ensuring I remember to switch over to BBC1 at 1815, for the good Doctor, and present a few more goodies from the laptop, happily feeding the TV, currently with Studio Killers' live performance earlier this year.
There's apparently a London Paramount Entertainment Resort on its way, anticipated for 2020, and they appear to have many IP agreements in place, including with BBC Worldwide. The site's on the Swanscombe peninsula, between Dartford and Gravesend, so rail access would seem fairly straightforward.

I'm finally getting around to Orange is the New Black - it's been just long enough since it debuted that the roomie's fine with rewatching it, this time, with company. I'm enjoying it a lot, needless to say - the creator's style is all over it, even if it's difficult to pin down quite how (beyond the incidental pot connection =:). And it sounds like I ought to see what I make of Orphan Black and Utopia, too..

Favorite track of the moment: Adachigahara's Theme, from ShockOne's EP. It featured on one of DragonBoy's mixes (was it rigelkitty who brought that to my attention? Someone evidently did =:), and whilst it's all a fiercely solid mix, that track really caught my attention. Ah, imagine a world without the likes of Shazam.. =:)

I was, of course, very pleased to see the White House commencing steps to finally restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. I dare say it'll still be a battle to get that pathetic embargo banished into history's bin, but nonetheless, a highly welcome new beginning.

"Knox, former frontman of the Vibrators, is opening up a Rock ‘n’ Roll Shop in the heart of Camden, 96 Parkway, right next to the Dublin Castle. Donate CDs, DVDs and Instruments or buy CDs, DVDs and Instruments. Proceeds go to local food banks and other charities."

Compo of the week (open worldwide, with some random exclusions) - a veritable pile of photographic wonder, including your choice of a Nikon D750 or Canon 7D Mk.II, camera-equipped quadcopter, microphones, tripod, bags, and more.

I can't be certain, but the reply to my enquiry with them hints that I'm not amongst the winners of the photography competition I've mentioned. *sigh* I would, of course, love to be proven wrong, but, if so, I'll just continue regardless. I don't document these wonderful buns' lives for fame or money (though I wouldn't refuse either, providing I don't need to go in front of a camera =:), but will do so simply both out of the innate joy therein, and in sharing these moments. Rabbits are so often overlooked, yet lead quite complex social lives, let alone their extraordinary agility and precision timing. One contest I have my eye on is conducted by the Mammal Society - though, with last year's winning subject being a hare, I'm not sure if that mightn't work against me. ^_^; But.. I stand by Momentary. I feel it's worth attention. ^_^

Interesting to see the D90 reach such a good price point - MPB have a few in stock at the moment, from £169. Even now, for a body released in August 2008, it remains in quite strong demand, with just cause - the sensor remains competitively sensitive (the D7100 does yield better results, with double the pixel count, but if you're not needing to crop much, 12MP is plenty for quite decent print sizes), and unlike the more recent low-end models, it includes some worthwhile additions, such as two control wheels rather than one, making for nimble independent adjustment of (say) aperture and shutter speed, an internal flash commander, and an internal focus motor, suitable for driving older AF lenses without their own focus motors. Definitely a camera you can grow into, and at that kind of price, well worth considering! Of course, then there's the tiny matter of lenses.. not necessarily eye-watering, unless you're hankering after wildlife photography, in which case they start at Ouch, and wind up at Faint. That said, even if I had carte blanche, I'm actually quite comfortable with the Nikkor 300mm f/4D + TC14E. It doesn't have the sheer reach of the insane Sigmonster or Nikon's superlative 800mm f/5.6 (which comes with its own dedicated 1.25 TC, if you so choose, for 1000mm f/8), but it is very sharp, even on the D7100's high resolution sensor, and importantly, is light enough to be comfortably handheld for a couple hours of bunspotting.

And this is what it's all about. Insane costs in equipment, let alone travel.. but it's worth every bit of it, at least to me. ^_^

(Isn't it fascinating how universal the need for a good yawn is? Is this just a mammal thing - do reptiles and birds yawn? Wow.. Wikipedia suggests they do! I wonder if any culture has a god responsible for yawning..)

Bah. I should've taken a photo of it.. but, tonight's pizza worked out rather well. =:9 I began with a bought ham, spinach, and ricotta pizza on a thin base, then added.. let's see. Some chopped up onion, some halved small cherry tomatoes, a little ras el hanout, some fresh basil, some rosemary, a little lemon myrtle, and some cheap ham. Then, midway through cooking, some defrosted cheap (small, but ideal for this kind of cooking) prawns, with the water mostly smooshed out of them. All worked out really nicely balanced, with enough herbiness to be satisfying, and just enough meat, similarly, without going into overload, and entirely lacking in greasiness.

Every time I manage to get down to the old bunspot, I'm reminded of just how much fun it is to photograph down there, with a population that's almost always out and about, and about four different good vantage points along the length of the field. Here's one of them wondering just what am I doing..

Flicks seen lately:

- The Boxtrolls. I admit, it took me a while to warm to it, with some seriously dislikable characters introduced early on. But, the characterisation finally won me over, helped by some excellent voice casting, including Ben Kingsly and Richard Ayoade. The animation's as good as you'd expect from Laika, with some outstanding lighting. Very geekily cute ending, too.

- Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks. Pretty much as expected - plenty of fun (nice to see Vinyl Scratch being given an actual role!), even if I can't quite suppress the feeling of wishing it were an actual pony film.

- Ocean's Eleven (2001). Pretty slick. Very good cast, decently tight script (even allowing for plenty of artistic license, such as the EMP device that only affects devices for thirty seconds), and an appropriately jazzy soundtrack. I'd still prefer to see a big-screen adventure for the Hustle crew, but I'm pleased I've finally seen at least one version of the yarn. (How does it differ from the original?)

The superbly atmospheric point & click iOS adventure The Journey Down currently has its first chapter free. If you haven't got it yet, grab it now. =:D The second chapter is also available, with the concluding part hopefully arriving in 2015 sometime. The trailer does a good job of showing what's in store. ^_^

Food recommendation of the day: Waitrose's pork, ale mustard, and buttered onion sausages. Distinctly yummy! (And at two packs for £5, about the same price as any other supermarkets, discounting the likes of Richmond and Wall's) And one of the local branches now carries Hitachino Nest's White Beer. =:D I'd love to hope they'll carry more from them, especially the Red Rice Ale. Sadly, they also dropped Dunkertons' superbly tangy Black Fox cider, in favor of the newly omnipresent Orchard Pig. Still, the Pig does decent stuff as well, though of all of their ciders, it's Hogfather I'm most fond of, and I've only seen that in pubs.

I check the HotUKDeals competitions listings routinely, especially for travel-related ones, but there's quite a variety to be found - like this one. "The winner of the best suggestion for the [name of the] new purple strain of Brussels Sprout will find themselves popular amongst friends and family in December 2015, when they will receive their body weight in purple Sprouts delivered to their home or place of work, to distribute and use as they choose."

Or, how about £5,000 of Jimmy Choo? (Open worldwide) And for UK peeps, rather an unusual prize: dinner for two at the BT Tower, which has been closed to the public since 1980.

At least there's been some fun to come out of the wretched incident at MFF, where unknown culprits dumped some chlorinated powder of some kind in one of the emergency stairwells, causing an evacuation of the hotel, and 19 people sent to hospital for nausea. Here, a news anchor learns about "furries" as she's reading out the story.

For geeky delectation: the International Journal of Proof-of-Concept or Get The Fuck Out. As an example, issue 0 opens with "An epistle from the desk of Rt. Revd. Pastor Manul Laphroaig": "Neighbors, please join me in reading this first issue of the International Journal of Proof of Concept or Get the Fuck Out, a friendly little journal for ladies and gentlemen of distinguished ability and taste in the field of computer security and the architecture of weird machines.
In Section 2, Travis Goodspeed will show you how to build your own antiforensics hard disk out of an iPod by simple patching of the open source Rockbox firmware. The result is a USB disk, which still plays music, but which will also self destruct if forensically imaged.
In Section 3, Julian Bangert and Sergey Bratus provide some nifty tricks for abusing the differences in ELF dialect between exec() and As an example, they produce a file that is both a library and an executable, to the great confusion of reverse engineers and their totally legitimate IDA Pro licenses.
Section 4 is a sermon on the subjects of Bitcoin, Phrack, and the den on iniquity known as the RSA Conference, inviting all of you to kill some trees in order to save some source. It brings the joyful news that we should all shut the fuck up about hat colors and get back to hacking!"

And on a more retro note, how about this GPO short, End of an Era, marking the final London exchange to migrate from manual switching (of all calls) to a fully automatic crossbar system. Quite remarkable to think that was only 40-odd years ago!

IMDb *yay* ^_^
Please tell me about memorable food you've enjoyed. ^_^ Doesn't matter why - maybe it was an excellent chef, or the company you enjoyed, or maybe someone special to you made it. (If there's any need for a Friends Only entry on the theme, I'd be fine with that - just let me know here, or by email) For my part - well, there's got to be that evening in 2001, at Jameson's in Brisbane. The place, I believe, is gone, and the chef's moved on into Asia - and deservedly. We (myself and a friend of the host) had their tasting menu - the chef's inspiration was jointly the extraordinarily fresh seafood so easily found in Australia, and the Japanese sensibility toward simplicity in cooking. As they say in MasterChef - there's nowhere to hide when the dishes are that "simple".

And then there are family favorites - Dad's Coquilles Saint Jacques, and Mum's German apple cake. I shan't be able to enjoy his work again, but I'm going to have to plead with Mum to make that up for the Christmas feast. ^_^ (And maybe I'll try my paw at the scallops! Not a complicated dish, even if I don't have the shells we used to serve it in, back at our second place. Which is apparently still open, under a new guise, of course. Wish I had the money to reopen the first - gorgeous property, but it'd need management really driven to make a success of it, as it's not in any particularly special location - you'd need to be able to draw people in. As Dad did, so ably, during what was probably the happiest time of his life)

Just a reminder: if you're in the Bay, you might enjoy turning up at the Castro Theatre at 7.20pm on Friday, Dec 12, for a Midnites for Maniacs double bill presentation of Roger Rabbit (including the Tummy Trouble and Roller Coaster Rabbit shorts!) followed by Ed Wood. ^_^ (And on Friday, Jan 2 2015, it's a pairing of Snowpiercer and Runaway Train)

If you haven't been following it, I must recommend the recent BBC Two series, following Sue Perkins up the Mekong. You'll learn, even in measly hour long segments. Well, okay.. it feels short, when there's so much to see and understand.

Early hominid history may be about to undergo another evolution, with the intriguing discovery of a zig-zag etched shell in Indonesia, dating from around 430,000 years ago.

I see Qualcomm's working on a project that's positively calling out for a thoroughly furry logo: MARE: Multicore Asynchronous Runtime Environment. Or maybe that's part of Sweetie Bot's architecture..

Fun bit of tech snark, courtesy of the Macalope: Dead again: Unshipped products kill Apple every time, this time, the Amazon Echo.

Flickr recently introduced their "Wall Art" program, permitting folks to order their own work as prints of various styles and sizes, as well as any CC-licensed ones that don't forbid commercial use. (eg BY-NC-SA would not be available as Wall Art to anybody but you, whilst BY-SA would be available to everyone) Additionally, there's the Flickr Marketplace. If your request for inclusion is approved by the curation team, then your work would be available, with you receiving 51% of net sales.

Wow, so the Yosemite beta 14C68m wasn't much fun. =:P I wound up reverting to the latest public release, as it played havoc with the rendering of several apps I use routinely, notably Aperture, Vienna (for RSS), GraphicConverter (for viewing just about any image format, and sports a good slideshow function), and Preview (for PDFs and routine images). The upside was getting to finally see Saturday's shots properly. ^_^ I'd looked at them on the iPad, but that's some way from being under full control of their RAW processing within Aperture. Even after the fact, it still brings me such pleasure to look upon their daily lives. Is it odd that even a couple years later, I can point out precisely where in a given field each of my selected shots was taken? ^_^;

And it's looking another beautifully sunny day today! So, I'm heading back down again - the combination of so much bunnitude is difficult enough to resist, but last time, I finally tried the pizza van (a classic Citroen!) outside the station - and ye gods, but that was good stuff! Not far off the Real Italian Pizza Company. And to see the cheese still bubbling away as it's lifted away out of the wood-fired oven and deposited in the box.. so by the time I ate it in the Evening Star, all of about fifty seconds' walk away, it was still quite fresh. =:9 Lively buns, great pizza, and a nigh endless selection of beer - really not a bad way to spend a Saturday. ^_^

This article collects what's been reported, outlining exactly how the NSA and GCHQ go about tapping internet cables. "Recently disclosed documents show that the NSA's fourth-largest cable tapping program, codenamed INCENSER, pulls its data from just one single source: a submarine fiber optic cable linking Asia with Europe. Until now, it was only known that INCENSER was a sub-program of WINDSTOP and that it collected some 14 billion pieces of internet data a month. The latest revelations now say that these data are collected with the help of the British company Cable & Wireless (codenamed GERONTIC, now part of Vodafone) at a location in Cornwall in the UK, codenamed NIGELLA. For the first time, this gives us a view on the whole interception chain, from the parent program all the way down to the physical interception facility. Here we will piece together what is known about these different stages and programs from recent and earlier publications."

If you're up for a particularly well produced graphical adventure on the go, how about Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath? It came out the other day quite by surprise. You'll probably want a more recent iThing for best results, though the prefs do claim to be able to adjust resolution, shadows, and suchlike.

Here's an interesting chart, showing the usage of different common emoticons, split across male and female users. Often, the rates are similar, but sometimes, wildly different!

Here's one of the spiffiest Tube maps you'll have ever seen, laid out geographically (rather than the standard stylised look), including dates of opening and closing for the various lines and stations. (PDF and PNG versions can be downloaded here)

I hadn't even realised this was available, let alone free - bunnie's Hacking the Xbox, a trove of deeply geeky exploration of hardware hacking.

Do you know of anywhere (online or otherwise) with a very broad range of films available to buy? I'd love to pick up a copy of one of my favorite terrible films, "Armageddon: the Final Challenge", but not only does it barely register on any search engine (the Corn Pone Flicks review does it justice, though =:), but I can't seem to find anywhere it's available. And it's old enough that it's very unlikely to've seen a DVD release, so even if it can be found, it's likely to be NTSC VHS - so then the problem would be how to digitise it. ^_^;

A fun animated music video, demonstrating the difficulties of being Cupid: Raji Rabbit - Take Me Away. ^_^ And, Несчастный Случай — Робот Виталий - on the benefits of drinking antifreeze, if you're a robot.

Random engineering news: a new (Chinese owned, of course) container ship's set a record for largest engine ever constructed, at 17.2m tall, with a power output of around 56.8MW (ca. 76,170 hp).

Here's one particularly striking tale from /u/TalesFromTechSupport: part 1, part 2, wherein the techie figure helps out in an acrimonious divorce. Egad.

Finally saw Interstellar the other day, which lived up to expectations entirely. It's so rare to see genuine science fiction on the big screen, not merely Evil Alien Invaders™. I admit, I twigged the twist as soon as one line referring to time was spoken, but that didn't spoil the wonder when matters became clear. (Must be something about Nolan's films.. wound up leaving by an emergency exit after Inception, and after this) Please, Hollywood, more like this! Ah, to see A Fire Upon the Deep on the big screen.. or for fantasy, how about Spellsinger? With contemporary CGI, most or all of the furs could be digital, though I admit, I'd love to see at least some use of painstakingly designed prostheses, so you'd know they actually really did exist. ^_^
And so Philae fell into hibernation, having completed a broad range of experiments for ing its primary science suite, managing to transmit the results back to Rosetta before its slumber. Rosetta will remain in orbit as the comet loops around the Sun in August 2015 - it's possible that at some point, Philae will receive sufficient illumination to wake up again. As for the landing - as you've doubtless read, the initial puzzlement over the first data was due to the fact Philae actually landed three times. ^_^ The problem was that the thruster meant to fire to help keep it on the surface after initial landing didn't fire, and neither did the harpoons, hence the bounce - but, at a velocity of about 30cm/s, Philae remained well under the comet's escape velocity of 1m/s. Despite the hitches, truly, a remarkable mission - the scientists involved will have plenty to work on. (And rather happily, the enthusiasm was reflected elsewhere: "There were 479,434 tweets in 24 hours about the comet landing, while Kardashian['s nude photos] had 307,782 mentions in the same time period." We win! =:)

Here's rather a nifty anthology of hares - their historical roles, perceptions, and portrayals.

You've all encountered "Things I Will Not Work With", ne? Here's an entry on a variant of the theme, wherein he asked, "What's the most valuable item you've seen someone ruin in a lab?" My, but his readers delivered. ^_^; (And then there's this brief anecdote, from When Reagents Attack: "Not an accident. But once we made a large batch of nitrogen triiodide (safe when wet, contact explosive when dry) for a high school demonstration. Before we could set it off on our own with a long meter stick with a feather on the end, a fly landed on the the dry powder - KABOOM. Caught everyone (especially the fly) by surprise." And indeed, Wikipedia confirms: "it can even be detonated by alpha radiation" =:)

Here's rather a nifty short - a fan-made, fully hand-animated music video set to one of Kesha's tracks, Die Young.

Other flicks watched recently:

Lucy, Luc Besson's latest. I'm very mixed here - there's a lot of fun to be had, but, you do have to ignore a good deal of BS offered as perfectly rational explanation, revolving around the "we only use 10% of our cerebral capcity" trope, and remains about as scientific. If it'd been presented as a superhero yarn, it might've worked quite a bit better.

If I Stay. Usually, if there's any division, I wind up sympathising with the critics, but here - I felt the lead actor played her part exceptionally well, helping coalsesce a tale of potential regret.

Guardians of the Galaxy. I'm still not quite sure what to make of it, actually. There's much I enjoyed, but as a whole, it sort of skimmed over me - none of the characters had any depth, and I'm not keen on hyperkinetic camerawork, which I'm happy to leave within the domain of Michael Bay. For me, I think it'd be a great party flick - you're not so much concentrating on the film, so much as enjoying it alongside the conversation and riffing.

Here, have a selection of illustrations, by Rebecca Hawkes (warning: Facebook), on Why Cats Purr.

If you're a felid with a love of electronica, how about these rather fun cat ear headphones? =:D

Of potential interest to rabitguy and momentrabbit - not sure how long it's been thus, but Black Magic's Fusion compositing suite is available as an advanced version for $995, or a highly functional free edition. Windows only, sadly.

TIL that the iPad Air (and maybe other earlier models) can handle 60fps video - which does offer rather a slick effect, even when interpolated, as demonstrated in this battle between Twilight Sparkle and Tirek and this AMV, Into the Labyrinth. To view them at 60fps, click on the cog icon in the lower right - depending on your browser (it seems fine with Safari, Chrome, and IE, but not always Firefox; 4K Video Downloader currently shows 60fps as "3D"), you should be able to simply select it as an option. (Any recommendations for native 60fps video? These are both upconversions from conventional 30fps files. Come to that, are any studios yet offering high framerate files? I'd imagine it's possible to offer such on Blu-Ray, though I've no idea if it's mandatory for anything but the usual PAL/NTSC framerates to be supported)

And just to note, the competition whose results I'm very eagerly awaiting is still ongoing. It's not easy, waiting for news that could mean so much. ^_^; Wait I must, however, with a balanced sense of hope. (What will I do if I am listed as a winner or runner-up? Probably, first, spend several minutes with anime-wide eyes =:)

Now to partake of as many of the superb offerings at the White Horse's Barleywine & Old Ale Festival, commencing with a pint of Thornbridge's deeply warming Barrel Aged Yule, at a comforting 7.4%. And so many other wonderful potent brews on offer, including two from the Wild Beer Company, Modus Operandi and Yankee Sandwich, and Harvey's Christmas Ale. Happy bunny. ^_^

[Edit: oh dear. They have three variants of Eala Dubh 1997 available - oak cask, raspberry, and cacao nib & coffee bean - apparently released specifically for this festival. I'm done for]
Of course, the big news today is Rosetta's successful dispatch of its lander, Philae, to the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, with - hopefully - confirmation of its landing expected somewhere around 1602 GMT. Rather touchingly, two of ESA's guests are Mr Churyumov and Ms Gerasimenko. ^_^

And here's one of Rosetta's solar panels, with the comet in the background. Is this not wondrous? =:D

But perhaps even more beautiful.. here's Philae, on its way down to the comet, seen by Rosetta. =:D

[Edited to add]
They've done it! Landing has been confirmed!

The ESA and LiveStream streams have been overloaded, but seem to be back to normal now. NASA TV is sometimes mirroring the stream.

And elsewhere.. ^_^; I will say, Death in Heaven's propelled itself to amongst my favorite Cyberman episodes. I've long enjoyed them regardless, but rarely do we see any complexity in them - usually, just mindlessly loyal soldier-robots. Here, though.. so very, very much more. I shan't say more, to guard against spoilers, but I suspect this Christmas' DW special will be particularly eagerly awaited. ^_^

I finally saw the film adaptation of a book I read long ago, back at school - Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons". A different world, indeed, but no less engagingly fun for all that - and a reminder I ought to get up to the Lake District again someday. =:D

Apparently, Lucasfilm's set to release "Strange Magic", inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's refreshing to see more original character designs than the smooth people we've become accustomed to courtesy of Pixar and Dreamworks.

If you have a good printer handy, and like Doctor Who, you could do rather worse than examine this collection of Doctor Who poster designs, in the spirit of decades past. Though, a touch frustratingly, that page only links to small versions of the others. For the full size ones, you apparently need to visit each page: 1 - Deep Breath, 2 - Into the Dalek, 3 - Robot of Sherwood, 4 - Listen, 5 - Time Heist, 6 - The Caretaker, 7 - Kill the Moon, 1 - Deep Breath, 8 - Mummy on the Orient Express, 9 - Flatline, 10 - In the Forest of the Night, 11 - Dark Water, and 12 - Death in Heaven.

A few music videos I found notable recently:

Oliver Heldens - Last All Night (Koala) feat. KStewart - a professor tries out a serum, recorded by his assistant. It works.. quite well.
Tiga - Bugatti - I admit, I can take or leave the track, but the video's the key here, set to a tightly-timed near-repetition (but not!) of 1970/80s styled clips.
Roy Kafri - Mayokero - again, not one for the track, but the video, performed by artists on the covers of many a famous album. Very nicely done.
The Bots - All I Really Want - decent rock track set to a cleverly produced simple video, scrolling down the page of a curiously familiar site, BotsFeed.
Stealpot - Forgotten People ft. Anna Ruttar - it's simply an enjoyable video that flows pleasingly, to an engaging track that's reminiscent of Goldfrapp and Studio Killers on mellower days.

Don't suppose anyone I know's had experience with using any form of advertising on the net? I'm pondering trying out Reddit, specifically /r/aww, as the rates are both quite low, and flexible - 75¢ per 1000 impressions, with only a $5 minimum. Of course, it's impossible to tell how many folk might actually click, but one thread there suggested anything between 0.2% to 1.0% is possible. And then, well, the challenge is to actually entice visitors to buy prints, whether unmounted or mounted. It seems like it'd be worth giving a try - if I gave the waters a test, with, say, $15, that'd be 20,000 impressions, for maybe 40-200 visitors. (And if anyone feels like linking to the site, I'd be delighted. ^_^ Best, for now, if you went with just the front page, as I may well be reworking the site in November)

Out of random curiosity, I dusted off the old contour video project today, only needing to apply a couple minor project setting tweaks to get it to build again. Next step, I think, is to run some fresh profiling, to see where improvements could be most fruitfully implemented, whether simply optimising the scalar code, or perhaps, even seeing if there are some promising targets for vectorisation of the code, either on just the CPU, or perhaps getting the GPU to participate - the latter would be ideal during reconstruction, but I'll have to ponder how much parallelism there is during encoding.

There's a Reddit thread that has me intrigued - do you know what book they're talking about? "There were two main characters, a boy and a girl. They found some kind of disk that would transport them to a parallel dimension when it hit the light. They kept the disk in a velvet pouch, to keep it from transporting them accidentally between worlds. The alternate dimension was some sort of desert, and the cover had a bunch of pink sandstone on it. The baddies were cow skeletons that flew over the desert on giant hang gliders. This was also pictured on the cover. The plot involved the two kids trying to get to... a crystal palace...? to stop something sinister from happening. The cow skeleton bad guys were sentries, and the kids avoided them by using the disk to slip in and out of the alternate dimension."

Got to love Scrabble sometimes.. just got 114 points for "QUIZ", as the Z fell on a double letter, with the Q on a triple word. =:D Of course, to make up for that, a few moves later, my slate is RLRLLRR.

2015 appears to be the year of synthetic parts for synthetic actors, with Ex Machina, Automata and Chappie all appearing. Ex Machina's trailer looks quite intriguing, even curious, which is a rare trait in a big production, but given the director was also responsible for Sunshine, I wouldn't be surprised to find it segue into a slasher flick halfway through. Chappie's pedigree, meanwhile, stems from District 9, with more than a little Short Circuit to it.. !

You won't want to miss this interview with Ursula K LeGuin (h/t thewayne). As an example, speaking of Mount St Helens, "There was lots of warning. The mountain had been rumbling and shaking and dumping black matter on her snow all spring. It was really bad luck. They thought she’d gone into a sort of a quiet phase and so they told people they could go that weekend to their cabins, run in and get their belongings out. Well, that was the weekend she blew. So that’s why there were 60 to 70 people killed. You can’t predict a volcano. I got really fascinated with the volcano. About a year and few months after the eruption, the whole mountain was called “The Red Zone.” You could go part way up and then above that, you had to have a permit to go in and the only people that were going in were loggers dragging dead trees out. The roads were destroyed, there were just logging roads. Me, a photographer and an artist, got a permit to go in (to the Red Zone) as a poet, a photographer and an artist." How can you not love that style?

If you're any kind of photographer, I'd definitely recommend taking advantage of this free license for DxO Optics Pro 8. It's a superb program for correcting for lens distortion, chromatic aberration, perspective, and more. Meanwhile, they've just released DxO Optics Pro 10, adding atmospheric haze removal, and improving upon their noise reduction. A minor point: I noticed they've changed the feature set somewhat between the two variants they offer of each version. Previously, the same features were shared by both, with the "Elite" edition covering all cameras, whilst the "Standard" excluded the "pro" bodies (D810, D4, etc). Now, it's a more conventional approach, with the Standard dropping some features instead, notably their PRIME noise reduction. I'm pleased to see the upgrade pricing is attractive, and they've opted to grandfather in users of both Standard and Elite of previous versions for the full "Elite" edition of 10.

Yay! The first Sigma 150-600mm S reviews are emerging. Here's LensTip's. Whilst it does exhibit significant vignetting (easily corrected), the sharpness is indeed quite impressive, even at the long end.

Don't suppose anyone's tried this iPhone teleconverter? It's difficult to imagine it being much good, but for $35, it's tempting to pick up sometime, given the 120fps 720p option in the stock camera app on the iPhone 5s, and ProCam 2's latest update added an IAP for 4K video at 25fps.

Via drhoz, word of a new RPG being designed by long-time furry Paul Kidd, "GeneStorm":
It is a place of terrible dangers. Of sand storms and radioactive dust, of jungles and broken lands swarming with terrible, carnivorous life. A place where gateways lead to a sinister alternative universe where the senses twist and fail, and terrible entities wait to prey upon the weak - A place of ruined, shattered civilisation. Of fallen grandeur and prowling, broken death machines.

- It is a wilderness that has given birth to astonishing new life.

Characters in GeneStorm are the descendants of survivors of the great disaster. They are strange beings made from the inter-tangled genes of all manner of plants and animals. The inheritors of the new earth are bizarre, colourful and chaotic.

It is an age of a weirdly beautiful, resurgent nature.

It is the age of the mutants.

Looking at the anticipated schedule for when the competition's results will be announced makes me wonder: when do you consider the northern hemisphere's autumn to start on the calendar? Some answers claim the autumnal equinox, but that'd leave Christmas at the very start of winter. I think I'd go more for the start of September, myself - which appears to match the meteorological interpretation. (Curiously, on Thursday, I saw the page updated to note that the final judging results would be announced "soon" - only to find the page apparently revert shortly thereafter?)

Have we been considering quantum mechanics inappropriately for most of its time? Some ingenious experiments with vibrating oil baths suggest that one of the early camps in the field may have had the more fundamental concept after all. Whilst we know QM as strictly probabilistic, as championed by Bohr, it could yet be that the determinists, primarily de Broglie, may ultimately be vindicated.

Out of random photographic interest: here's a rather good strip of images demonstrating the effect of different focal lengths upon the appearance of the same model's face, ranging from 350mm down to 19mm. Very smartly, the photographer then placed the longest, 350mm, next to the shortest, to help emphasise the effect.

How do you read? Are your books made of paper, or are they on an iPad or suchlike? I'd love to hear. I'm a digital bunny through and through, but I appreciate there are plenty of folk who prefer the tactile nature of a paper book or comic. Do you know why you have that preference, whatever it may be?

I noticed Autostraddle featured a reasonably interesting rumination of the nature of gender fluidity and transition in sci-fi. It's well worth a look, as a good example of how dreadfully pedestrian cinematic and TV sci-fi is in this regard - and probably many others - versus where the exploration takes place in written works. Can we expand this? FSM knows, I'd love to see "visual" sci-fi be more than invading aliens who, for some unspecified reason, find the Earth to be - out of the uncountable worlds available - the specific one of interest. =:/

If you're in the Bay, you might want to note Dec 5's the Midnights for Maniacs "Los Angeles: Out of the Past" double bill at the Castro Theatre, with 35mm prints of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Ed Wood. =:D

From 20 Nov 2014 - 20 Sep 2015, the Wellcome Collection will be hosting an exhibition, The Institute of Sexology. "Undress your mind and join us to investigate human sexuality at 'The Institute', the first of our longer exhibitions. Featuring over 200 objects spanning art, rare archival material, erotica, film and photography, this is the first UK exhibition to bring together the pioneers of the study of sex." You can also view quite a tastefully prepared trailer over here.

They're not new, but here's a fairly large collection of truly wonderfully silly Underground signs - until now, I'd only seen a few of them.

If you're in need of a quiet moment of visual delight, have a look at this WebGL demo, "Autumn". Simply leaves tumbling down drenched in columns of golden sun. Or, maybe this viscous fluid? Just drag your pointer, and watch.

Wow, some magazines will publish any old photo. =:)

I noticed, the other day, that someone took it upon themselves to design a deliberately lethal rollercoaster, which would kill its passengers by means of oxygen starvation to the brain, induced by a sustained 10g force on the way down from a tall initial peak.

While peering around at options in the Bay, I noticed one embedded position describing the company as a manufacturer of medical devices and high power laser systems. =:D

Witness the power of the net! Be sure to check out the linked photo first, so you appreciate the challenge involved in trying to identify the location - just a few letters on a door sign. Then, either read through the comments to see the deductions as they progress, or search for "CBSA" a couple times. (Here's a direct link to the crucial thread)

I admit, my comic tastes are a bit stranger than his style, but still, very cool to see therealstanlee joining LJ. ^_^

Here's a good interview with Hideaki Anno, perhaps still best known for Evangelion.

Hopefully a good thing for the BBC: seems AMC's just bought a 49.9% stake in BBC America.

I found this essay on the Simpsons' popularity and decline quite interesting. Would you agree with the idea of that shark jump being around 1999/2000?

If you're in the mood for early TV sci-fi, you could do much worse than Pathfinders in Space. The first series is from 1960, with two further following. If I had to encapsulate the feeling, it'd be definitely akin to Tintin's "Explorers on the Moon". (Oh, my, those sculpted hairstyles!) cientifically, it's a blend of realism (radio only being line of sight, with no ionosphere) and oddity (a claimed surface temperature of over 200F?), but mostly trying to do an earnest job of plausibility, before even the Gemini program began, let alone Apollo.

If Monument Valley called out to you, you'll want to take a look at the newly released Miika, which also pivots around the principle of playing around with perspective in order to perform joins. I would feel, though, it's not as polished. It's beautifully designed, but where the rotations available in Monument Valley were limited to (sort of) ninety degrees, Miika permits completely free movement - and so, you're often in the position where what looks like a viable solution isn't actually accepted as the solution permitting Miika to move forward, leading to something of a sense of frustration.

Toby: the Secret Mine, meanwhile, is a silhouetted puzzle platformer with rather a well-crafted feel to it. Stills don't really convey the feel of the game - I'd recommend having a peek at the trailer.

Game of the month, though, is The Sailor's Dream, the latest from Simogo, of Device 6 and Year Walk. If you want atmosphere and curiosity, this is where you want to be looking. (Which, oddly, reminds me of Lume's second chapter, Lumino City, which is coming out on Steam sometime this month - how can you not love a painstakingly produced point and click adventure series all based around stop motion animation of genuine physically constructed sets?)

And if you need Elite on your iThing, Space Merchants: Days of Glory looks like it'll be just the ticket. ^_^

Where did I stumble upon this? Oh well. Also by Ursula K LeGuin, a rivetingly insightful, amusing, and wry look at the nature of gender, and how she is quite definitely a man.

2014's Rare Hare is maturing very well. ^_^ It's only a few months old at this point, but right now, it's.. well, you can tell where it started from, but it's developing a rather nicely spicy nature, heading perhaps into "old ale" territory. I'm not sure I'll be able to keep the rest safe from consumption for many more months, but I would like to see what it'd be like when next year's release comes around. Maybe I'll bring a bottle or two back to my old watering hole and share them. ^_^ (And I see 2014's Festivity is now out.. if you're at all fond of weightier ales, seek it out, especially if you're within reach of one of Bath Ales' pubs, to try it on cask)

No new buns this time around, I'm sorry to say - the weather's been anything from dull to drizzly or outright rainy, for almost all of October. =:P Monday, however, might well be positively sunny, in which case I'll be heading down to the old bunspot for a fuzzy afternoon. ^_^ (And with the sun setting around 1644, too.. *sigh* Why do the clocks have to go back? There's so little to be gained, and it'd be such a damnably simple piece of legislation to enact - far moreso than "emergency" legislation attempting to permit GCHQ's lovable antics, or the abhorrence of workfare)

Saturday's film is one I can recommend: the 2013 live-action Gatchaman. ^_^ It's certainly not perfect, but overall, they did capture the essence of the show well. The outfits were tweaked quite a bit, becoming rather more combat-oriented, but still quite easily recognisable. (Though, for some reason, they changed Jun's from white to deep purple) And I suppose it must've been good enough - we both completely forgot about the Doctor Who finale. ^_^;

I found this story on the recent rise of the Greens quite encouraging: "Top of the target list will be Norwich South, currently held by the Lib Dems with a wafer-thin majority over Labour, but where the Greens took 14.9% in 2010. A recent poll by Lord Ashcroft put the Greens on 20% in the constituency. Another possibility is Bristol West, where the Lib Dem incumbent, Stephen Williams, is likely to struggle because of the fall-off in the student vote. Then there is St Ives. “Cornwall is very interesting because there is basically no Labour party there, only Tory and Lib Dem, yet it is a place with incredibly low wages and seasonal casual employment so, in the county elections, we got an average of 18% of the vote,” says Bennett."

Can't say I like the track (Skrillex & Boyz Noise, making fairly stark EDM), but the video for Dog Blood's "Chella Ride" might interest the canid-minded furs, showing the rise of canid astronauts. ^_^

eep. Nothing like seeing a competition for winning a stay where you once lived, to serve as a reminder of how things change.. =:/ At least, I think it's the same location - some fairly dramatic views off the coast, beautiful golden beaches.. and where I nearly drowned, but thankfully, Dad was close enough to save me. Not much to say, really - I saw some driftwood floating by the rocks, and, I thought, momentarily, that I could just fetch it. Except, I couldn't swim yet. It didn't work out so well.

On the topic of income inequality, how about an animated short, The Unbelievably Sweet Alpacas?

The incident below is no longer current, as Microsoft pulled the update soon after its release. The chance remains, however, that people have been affected by it while it was available.

If you run Windows, be aware that FTDI, a prominent manufacturer of chips that handle the USB protocol side of things, letting the rest of the circuit deal in plain serial data, has pushed out a driver update via Windows Update with the explicit intent of bricking fakes of their chips. The use of fakes (ie chips which identify themselves as FTDI devices, but aren't) isn't easily avoided - counterfeit devices pollute the supply chain routinely, and as a user, you've no way of knowing if the device manufacturer knowingly used a fake, or if a supplier made the switch, or the fake was good enough to seem entirely genuine. FTDI's approach means your device would then not just cease to work with their driver, but any other. It is possible to fix the damage, relatively easily in Linux, or with some hoop-jumping in Windows, but still - a remarkably short-sighted attitude by FTDI, given this is likely to lead to designers simply avoiding FTDI's chips.

Cake Wrecks' Sunday Sweets continues to amaze. jharish, might you be able to offer some illumination as to just how that kind of draped fabric effect is achieved? Let alone those roses, or that intricate lacework. I'm perpetually in awe of such craft. ^_^; (Someday, I must treat myself to a birthday cake of that calibre. Even if I'll then have to deal with the conundrum facing anyone in that position: how on Earth do you begin to destroy such a work of art? I should maybe note, mine wouldn't be Gothic in nature - probably a lot brighter, and likely bunny themed in some way - which would make my hesitancy even more pronounced =:)

A little strip for whitetail, from Weesh, who's a sort of rabbity guy with the ability to grant wishes. It's a fun strip, all quite mellow and good-natured.

Here's a list of "rabbit" around the world - translations into many languages, though sadly, lacking audio examples. If you can supply an audio clip in any language other than English, could you send it my way? I'd like to set up a similar page, and/or work with them to include such. ^_^ Bonus points for a native accent, but I'd be fine with any student, though it might be as well to note.

I so like Yosemite's "Continuity" features. =:D It's nothing that couldn't've been done ages ago - but nobody did! Whether making a phone call on Hazel that actually routes via the iPhone, or receiving SMSs on the iPad - that's surely the kind of fluid comms we want, all the devices playing nicely together, letting each be the sum of them all. Jolly good show, Apple. ^_^

When I'm next in Bay orbit again, I must remember to try out Upcider - a gastropub in the City that, as the name suggests, is all about cider! Plenty from around the US, plus some choice English selections, and a few more from elsewhere in the world. More power to them! Whilst good beer's made a positive upsurge in the US in the last couple decades, cider remains a much more scarce beast.

Saw "Into the Storm", which was exactly what you'd expect - visual effects galore, no characterisation, and generally good fun in that kind of rollercoaster way. Also, "The Signal", which rather caught me - really quite an intriguing flick, even if the reasoning behind everything isn't particularly cogent. Here, we have two MIT geeks seeking out a black hat in the southwestern US, and.. well, probably find them. Next, geek 2 wakes up in a mysterious facility, wheeled around by staff in full biohazard suits, being questioned day in, day out, until he discovers something that happened in that encounter. I'll leave it there - if that piques your interest, give it a shot. ^_^

Looking up some information on just what Crossrail and Crossrail 2 will entail, I noticed one interesting little tidbit: in May 2018, the Crossrail franchise will take over from the current, and eye-wateringly expensive, Heathrow Connect service. Hopefully they won't be quite so eager to gouge, compared to the perfectly normal fares to Gatwick on Southern.

Courtesy of Scrabble, I've found a new darling word: "isohyet", a contour line on a map linking points of equal rainfall. Use it today! (I'm also quite fond of "ecbole", "A digression in which a person is introduced speaking his or her own words." Greek root, as you'd imagine)

And I think the link to finish up with has to be this sex toy disguised as a lens. O.o;
Music vid for the day: Black Light Dinner Party "We Are Golden", the touching tale of one girl and a tea-loving polar bear, being chased by Tetris-riding pirates. It has, I'm afraid, proven to be something of an earworm for me; be duly warned.

Or, for simple "WTF?" value, Hitchhiker "Eleven" takes some beating. (I see there are quite a few "reaction" videos.. =:)

Brunettes Shoot Blondes "Knock Knock" is a niftily choreographed affair, telling the tale of one bunnyboy pursuing his girl, across a plethora of iThings. Beautifully creative, and flawlessly executed.

There are new Peter Rabbit stories! eg The Spectacular Tale of Peter Rabbit.

I had this thought the other day, and I must have it sated. Can you photocopy an LCD? I imagine it should work, given it'd be somewhat equivalent to looking at the display in sunlight, but has anyone actually tried it? Ideally, on a recent device, like an iPad Air. (Note that not all mobile devices are LCD - Samsung, for instance, often opts for OLED, where the pixels themselves emit light, rather than blocking a backlight)

eliki's come up with a fun little track in support of the fundraiser for ccMixter, a site hosting Creative Commons-licensed samples and full tracks for musicians, game developers, and YouTubers.

Yay, new Apple shinies! I suspect I'm likely to get my paws on an iPad Air 2 when finances permit, given it's a system I use routinely. I was quite surprised to see Pixelmator announce an iPad version - if its performance in the demo is any gauge, this might be where RAW editing really becomes practical, although that remains to be seen, given the hefty requirements in manipulating 24MP D7100 (or 36MP, if you're using a D800) images. I even fleetingly contemplated an iMac Retina, but no, as far as photography goes, I'd be much better served by spending that kind of money on travel, not any form of equipment. Still, for 4K video editing, it's rather amazing to think you'll be able to have the video window open at 1:1, and still have space for the application's furniture, with a 5120x2880 display. They've accomplished some very fine engineering there. (And I must get around to trying out Metal. The kind of performance the Unreal 4 engine's getting in the beautiful Zen Garden demo is quite impressive - needless to say, it needs to be viewed at 1080p for full effect)

Lockheed's Skunkworks have unveiled details of a promising new approach to fusion reactor design. The key being that much greater efficiency would mean a small reactor could be relatively compact - they're envisaging a pilot unit in roughly shipping container size, delivering some 100MW, transportable to where it's needed, or on board a large ship. Lockheed's own page on the project even suggests further revisions down the line would be viable for aviation, with profound implications for flight range and CO2 emissions. The thought occurs that shipping would be a good candidate as well.

Here's a unique competition: design the £1 coin. Yes, really. The winner gets £10,000, and the design becomes the £1 coin from 2017 onwards. It's open globally, and there's no entry fee. It's only open until the end of the month, though, and there's a good deal to consider in the design.

Now, this is a project I'll be paying attention to in the future: fps1000. It's a family of three relatively low cost, very high framerate video cameras - even the top model won't exactly rival the Phantom Flex 4K, but still, 1500fps at 640x480 opens up some possibilities, when you consider it takes C-mount lenses, so there's a world more options than afforded by phones and their very small sensors. One big drawback for me, though, is that it has no autofocus system, so if I wanted to try capturing a leporine chase, I'd have to try keeping focus manually as well as tracking them, which wouldn't be likely to yield great results. For more static subjects, or slow-moving, that wouldn't be an issue. I wonder how long it'll be before it sees action in a porn production.. =:)

The first trailer for Brad Bird's "Tomorrowland" just appeared. If, somehow, the name is unfamiliar, then just think of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille. Unfortunately, there's a little wait yet - it comes out globally in late May 2015. (Which is itself a very welcome change from Disney's policies in the past, where international releases would lag the US by up to six months or so. Perhaps they've realised The Pirate Bay exists, and would like to see give people the choice of seeing it in perfect quality on a huge screen at around the same time as some of their friends?) And, Pixar's next release, Inside Out, also has its first trailer in the wild. That's another I'll be particularly looking forward to, as it's a return to Pixar making original productions. (Did we really need Cars 2? Or even Cars? Monsters University wasn't a bad flick, certainly, but I'd happily take another Incredibles, Ratatouille, or Wall-E than another sequel)

Meanwhile, I've no idea whether the film itself is any good, but I loved the trailer for "Comedian", a Jerry Seinfeld flick from a few years back, playing beautifully on trailer cliches, courtesy of the man who indeed provided the voice of many a big name trailer.

A documentary I should try seeing sometime: Watermark. "The film brings together diverse stories from around the globe about our relationship with water: how we are drawn to it, what we learn from it, how we use it and the consequences of that use." The trailer indeed looks phenomenally well shot, reminiscent of Baraka. (Shot in 5K, though I can only seem to find HD versions available, eg iTunes)

Could there be more Twin Peaks? David Lynch has said no in the past, but, there does seem to be quite a bit of teasing going on.. ! (Interestingly - though perhaps not surprising, given its director - it was apparently filmed rather than taped, so there's now a BD release with 7.1 audio of the whole shebang. Definitely one for the wishlist!)

Egad - it's official! "TWIN PEAKS will return as a new limited series on SHOWTIME in 2016. Series creators and executive producers David Lynch and Mark Frost will write and produce all nine episodes of the limited series, and Lynch will direct every episode."

Everyone knows about Surgeon Simulator, yes? Well, looks like they've announced their next project: I Am Bread. "The beautiful story of one slice of bread's epic and emotional journey as it embarks upon a quest to become toasted."

Some photos from next year's new series of Thunderbirds, which will apparently be produced with a combination of CG and models. Looking good, though obviously, it ultimately comes down to the writing - will they indeed capture the spirit of the original? It can be done, as the new Captain Scarlet demonstrated, using CG, but still remaining faithful to the look and nature of the original, simply letting CG afford them the creative freedom to perform shots they couldn't have managed with marionettes.

Did you know Galaxy Quest was originally filmed and edited for an R rating? (The comments include some notes from someone who saw that cut at the Metreon, so presumably it still exists in the studio's vaults somewhere)

You'll remember the Diva's dance from The Fifth Element, ne? Autotuned to some extreme vocal ranges, impossible otherwise. Well, here it is, sung entirely naturally, other than a touch of echo. =:D

If you're running a good browser capable of WebGL (including iOS 8 Safari), try this interactive music video. =:D It's successful in that it's both visually entertaining, plus a good track. An arguably simpler one can be found over here, again with some degree of influence from the mouse.

Everyone knows Mel Blanc's voices - but, here he is, himself, with a bushily haired David Letterman.

jessie_pup might enjoy this look at a plush collie defending her bone against real dogs. Very cute. ^_^ (h/t schnee, who also highlighted a brief video with the quite irresistible description of "Linsey Pollak plays a bagpipe made from a rubber glove in the Macedonian gaida style." It's good playing, and a wonderfully silly looking instrument =:)

Here's a look at the CGI from David Fincher's remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Mostly, it's quite subtle stuff - things you wouldn't expect to be faked. On the other paw, here's the creation of a raptor suit, for Jurassic Park. It's an insight into just how much is involved in making such a design move well, especially the tail and head motion, as well as how the performer carries themselves in a plausible, predatory manner.

I've long enjoyed Kitchen Nightmares, so it was quite a happy accident to stumble upon a different show he produced a couple years ago, "Ramsay Behind Bars", wherein, following months of convincing the Ministry of Justice, he enters Brixton prison, and goes about trying to set up an ongoing business, with a dozen prisoners "cooking on the inside, to sell on the outside". It's as mammoth a task as he's ever set himself, given there's not a lot of talent to begin with, added to some fairly volatile personalities, on top of strict security requirements, like all knives having to be kept in locked cabinets and accounted for at all times - perfectly understandable, but a hell of a bind in a kitchen. In all, he's got six months to try getting the scheme started. It's spread across four episodes, with the first being his introduction to life inside, and selecting his "Bad Boy Brigade".

Ghostbusters 3 gets Katie Dippold as co-writer. And yes, it'll be a female team, "and the project would no longer be connected to the earlier movies but now launch a new series." I'm so looking forward to this now. =:D KD's credits are as a writer on 22 eps of Parks and Recreation, 7 of MADtv, and the film "The Heat".

If you've been looking for a pukkah Illustrator replacement, it looks like, going by the reviews, it's finally arrived, in the form of Affinity Designer. The promo video does an excellent job of showing off its feature set and performance.

Doctor Who "Kill the Moon" was.. oh, such a frustrating episode! I began easily getting into it, but then came such a slew of implausible not-science. *sigh* Yes, you can easily argue DW's hardly the epitome of hard sci-fi, but still - what, ultimately, was the point of the initial villains? Why this "variable mass" nonsense? And a new replacement, straight after? Which all rather got in the way of the actual plot, which was indeed a tremendous dilemma, and gamble.

If anyone else started watching the new series of "Alex Polizzi: The Fixer", only to find it vanishing after two episodes, it seems it has indeed been paused, but not cancelled. I've heard back from the BBC, who said "while a date hasn't yet been set, the rest of the series will be shown early next year".

UK peeps might want to wander over here occasionally - it's HotUKDeals' travel competitions page. Fun stuff on offer by various companies at the moment include a pair of business class tickets to Tokyo, a luxury weekend in Paris, a week in the Maldives, and a trip to the Melbourne Grand Prix (including pit access).

An unusually specific domain for a search engine: FatFingers searches the eBay country of your choice for misspellings of your search terms, on the rationale those won't be picked up by eBay's own search engine, and may therefore go cheaply.

If you don't have Cake Wrecks in your LJ or RSS feed, I must point out this suite of quite awe-inspiring cakes, including Groot, Fraggles, and half the HTTYD cast. Absolutely wonderful. =:D I can never look at cakes like those and not wondering: how would I ever bring myself to cut into such a work of art? ^_^;

From a 1971 article in the Chicago Sun-Times, Felicia, the Pipe-Cleaning Ferret at Fermilab. And yes, they do mean a real ferret. ^_^ Not the first, or indeed last, time - this article notes others who've performed similar duties, including Beckham, Posh, and Baby, who laid TV, lighting, and sound cables in Greenwich Park for the Millennium Pop Concert.

True, 1912 was a different age for racism than now, even if we still have a long way to go - but still, I doubt I'll ever be able to think of H.P.Lovecraft in the same way again, having read a short poem by him, the title of which doesn't deserve repeating here. Still, the settings he created are distinct from their wretched creator - so, as a unicorn chaser, have a repeat of a Faraday the Blob strip I pointed out a while back, starring an HP Lovecraft printer, and, Love Crafts sex toys.

Because she was filming another production shooting nearby, Katy Manning wound up in the Tardis, with Peter Capaldi. Ah, would be so good to see her on the show again!

Maybe they'll figure out a way of bumbling its rollout, perhaps with high fees, but still, I was interested to see that HBO will offer web-only subscriptions in 2015. Perhaps they've cottoned onto the notion that some people downloading Game of Thrones from torrents would be willing to pay for authorised streams? (Not a show that appeals to me, as I'm only rarely one for historical dramas or fantasy, but the excellence of its production values is unquestionable)

Brian Blessed offers the meaning of life, beautifully.

Here's all sorts of data analysis of some 550,000 OkCupid profile photos and sexual activity and attractiveness, including sorted by camera model and type (interchangeable lens, cameraphone, compact), age, and more.

There's another iPhone thermal camera add-on, the Seek Thermal. This one's a more usual Lightning plug-on, rather than a phone case, and a friendlier $200 rather than FLIR One's $350. The former's maker also claims a 32K pixel sensor, versus the 80x60 of the latter, though it'll need a site like Ars to verify just how well it actually works.

So, I've finally made a Reddit account. ^_^; Of course, I sought out the Rabbits quickly, and realised that just after I unsubscribed from one of the default groups, Fitness, I then added FoodPorn - which quickly reminded me I really ought to indulge my food photography enjoyment a bit more. ^_^ Trouble is, my own cooking's often fairly simple, and rarely that visually interesting (jumbalaya/risotto-like creations, f'rex, can taste superb, but visually.. not so exciting =:), and when out and about, it's quite a challenge to get a good, interesting shot, in whatever light's available, without spending lots of time fussing about the result. Still, I suppose that adds to the fun of it - trying to visualise the framing possible from different angles, what the lights around actually are, what on the plate most spells out how delicious it is, and what kind of depth of field would help draw that out.

Mostly as a memo to myself: qDSLRdashboard looks like the ideal app for WiFi remote control of DSLRs, being quite cheap, and Universal. (As for why WiFi isn't a standard feature on DSLRs, you'll have to ask the manufacturers. Like GPS, it's starting to creep into the standard feature set - Nikon's new pro D750 and low-end D3300 offer it - but mostly, it remains a matter of having to buy another dongle or two)

Here's a 2013 April Fool's story from InfoWorld from 2013. "If you've been looking forward to Windows 9, the OS that will fix what Windows 8 got wrong, you're in for a surprise: There will be no Windows 9. Instead, Microsoft announced it will proceed directly to Windows 10."

Finally, a wonderful story that really isn't from the Onion: "Zoo realises it has been trying to mate two male hyenas for four years".
If you're looking to buy a new hard drive or two, check out Backblaze's Sep 2014 report. As they use a large number of various brand and size drives, they're able to put together meaningful data on failure rates. The big loser this time around? Seagate. (Also interesting: "enterprise" drives fare no better, with "consumer" drives actually marginally better)

Whilst nosing around iTunes the other night, I happened upon one film I might have to watch sometime: Spinning Plates, "an award winning documentary about three extraordinary restaurants and the incredible people who bring them to life. A world-renowned chef competes for the ultimate restaurant prize in Chicago, while privately battling a life-threatening condition. A 150-year-old restaurant in Iowa is still standing only because of an unbreakable bond with the community. And a fledgling Mexican restaurant in Tucson struggles as its owners risk everything to survive and provide for their young daughter. Their unforgettable stories of family, legacy, passion and survival come together to reveal how meaningful food can be, and the power it has to connect us to one another." A trailer can be found over here.

I must apologise to Zack Weinersmith for posting tomorrow's SMBC, but if I don't include it in today's entry, it may lie restive as a vengeful presence.

Just received the HD video file of Studio Killers' superb performance at Ilosaarirock - and indeed, there's my name, at about 55m40s. ^_^ I'm very pleased to've helped make that concert happen - looks like it was an amazing time indeed. I hope they have many further albums to come yet. ^_^ (Any suggestions for other bands to consider, in that kind of.. electropop? Doesn't really describe them very well)

Most curious Yosemite (build 14A361c) beta bug so far? Xcode appears, in an alphabetically sorted Finder window, between HandBrakeCLI and Image Capture. I'd love to find out how the programmer responsible managed that. =:D I'd guess it could be something to do with the way sorting isn't quite as simple as it might seem, once you start taking accents into account, which affect the UTF values, but not those characters' meaning for the purpose of sorting. Still, you can imagine my confusion on trying to find the new version of Xcode by scrolling down to the bottom, finding it instead by clicking on its Dock icon and selecting "Show in Finder". I was wondering if the culprit might be an Icelandic revolutionary wanting to rename it Þcode, but apparently, that would place it after Z.

If I were more of an OS X developer, I'd be all over CocoaConf's recently announced Yosemite developer conference - about OS X Yosemite, held in Yosemite. =:D "We won’t be sitting in a conference room all day — not with the beauty of Yosemite right outside the door! Each day will include extended breaks to get out and enjoy the park. We will offer some organized activities, such as guided hikes or a photo walk with James Duncan Davidson. Or you can just get together with friends and explore!" (That said, I think I find iOS 8 more interesting a platform, cool as OS X Yosemite is. Maybe an alternative LJ client? I know I'd enjoy being able to strip out those eyesore Twitter regurgitations. It could feature a split window for replying, so if you're composing a reply for some stupidly long LJ entry, you'd be able to go through that entry and still have your reply right there. Oh, and support for the newer LJ styles, which fail poorly if a DDoS hits - the older styles leave the text field copyable, whilst the default newer one doesn't. Any theoretical app would have to ensure it never, ever lost any reply you've entered - and in reply to private messages, too. If you run into a Varnish failure there, you don't even get to be able to return to the text entry field at all)

As for the iPhone 6, here's DisplayMate's report on the display, in as much detail as you could ever wish for - color gamut coverage, color accuracy, brightness, and much more.

Phone cameras have progressed fairly tremendously in the past few years. Here's a comparison of a variety of styles of scenery, taken with all models of iPhone from the original to the latest. Full size originals of every shot are available, but the comparisons are usually fairly obvious. And video, of course, has made great strides - indeed, the first models couldn't take video at all, whilst the 6 can manage 240fps at 720p.

(♫ Never smile at a crocodile.. ♪)

Kitchen Nightmares US is coming to an end - but, the good news is that he's wrapping it up with another, final, UK season! Only four episodes, as with the originals, but it'll be a positive delight to have him back in full force, rather than the dreadfully muted, thoroughly sanitised US version. Lo, "Ramsay's Costa del Nightmares" began airing on Tuesday night on Channel 4, in the curious slot of 11.30pm. And ye gods and little fishes, but Gordon earned his fee on that one.. as ever, I'm impressed by his passion for not only setting the business straight, but trying to fix the problems that led them there, often of a blindingly obvious, and inevitably personal nature. Anyone could've told them their problems - they were all aware of them - but it required that kind of intervention to actually bring about the changes required. Hopefully, the level of debt they're in won't sink them, and they'll be left to raise themselves back up, and ultimately, enjoy the rewards of success.

A Kickstarter with a bit of a difference: Numb, a theatrical play about "the ecstasy and limits of pain relief told through the history of anesthesiology", to be performed in New Orleans.

A comic to try: Gamercat. Think VG Cats, but with rather less shock value, more fun. ^_^ (And a cute nod to MLP..)

I get the feeling paka will enjoy this Happle Tea comic involving Thoth and Sobek.

For anyone wondering, my photography workflow is simple - just Aperture. ^_^ I'll occasionally resort to DxO Optics Pro 8, but that's relatively unusual; and AutoPano Giga only kicks in with panoramas, of which I admit I've offered rather few lately. I'll see if I can fix that, as there's one nearby spot in particular I'd very much like to capture well. (Actually, I might even be able to work with what I already have, on that front, with APG, if I can convince it that the soft foreground images do indeed belong with the rest of it)

Here's a series of portraits easily worth a minute or two of your time. Portrait photographer Sandro Miller apparently wanted to have some fun, and pay homage to the photographers who inspired him. So, with the assistance of John Malkovich, they set about recreating some of the most iconic photographs of the 20th Century. They're all top notch, whilst some are positively uncanny. =:D (Ernest Hemingway comes off perhaps the best of all) The whole series is a positive testament to the talent of all involved.

If you were tempted by the prospect of the collected Mullein Fields, as I mentioned previously, but weren't quite sure about the necessity of paper, I'm delighted to note that there is a digital option available, over here, courtesy of Gumroad, where all the PDFs are plain and the payments have nothing to do with PayPal. ^_^ The entire run, yours for a mere $6, as a plain PDF!

I'm not usually hot on Cyanide & Happiness, given its nature is inherently cynical, yet this strip on "The Creator's Curse" easily deserves to be seen by anyone who's ever engaged in any form of creativity. So very, very true.. =:/

Of (very) geeky interest only, an insight into why the Z-80's data bus pins were laid out so oddly. It's much more complex than you might expect, and very cunning! And from the comments, one tidbit caught my eye: "Instead of incrementing the program counter on each instruction (like every normal processor), they saved a few gates by using a linear feedback shift register. The result is the program counter goes through a pseudo-random but predictable sequence. So they just program the code into the ROM in the same sequence and everything works just fine. (Some day I'll write a blog post about this, since it's interesting to look at the silicon that does this.)" (And what's this about a TV show about an 80s computer startup, "Halt and Catch Fire"? How was it?)

I admit, I wasn't impressed by the speech recently given by David Miliband, leader of the Conservative Party, who merely restated his solidarity with austerity, whatever the costs to workers. He also came precariously close to exhausting the UK's political platitudes reserves. Thankfully, there's a ready supply available from Washington. Let's take goal 5 as stated: "The challenge: The number of workers on low pay now stands at over five million - a fifth of all employees - with half of all people in poverty now living in working households. The proportion of UK workers who are low paid is one of the worst in the developed world – 25th out of a league table of 30 OECD countries." - a noble goal. But.. Labour were the ones who came up with the wonderful wheeze of a runaround against minimum wage legislation, in the form of workfare, whereby Jobseeker's Allowance claimants may face a non-choice of being sanctioned for four weeks, or taking up a career in shelf-stacking or suchlike, in exchange for.. their benefits, not even half minimum wage. Better yet, those wretched companies - and there are many of them, with the flagships being Tesco and Asda - even get paid for this. Similarly, Labour brought about the wonders of zero-hours contracts, wherein you're technically employed, and thereby unable to claim, but you also may get paid nothing some weeks, per the whims of the "employer".

One game that caught my eye recently - though I'd actually downloaded it a while back - was The Journey Down: Chapter One, a particularly stylish point & click adventure, with exceptionally good voice work, background music, design, and writing. Give the trailer a try, and see what you think. ^_^ I was reminded by the recent (and eventual, if I'd been waiting for it..) release of the second instalment. It's apparently also out for OS X, Linux, and Windows.

Is anyone here interested in plush rats?

Yay! Briefly, I'd thought OS X Yosemite had inadvertently killed DxO Optics Pro 8, a useful photographic processing application - launching it just caused it to immediately keel over rather wistfully. But, with the latest beta, that's all resolved. ^_^ I may well go with their new version at some point, as I might find some use for their new noise reduction, but I'm in no great hurry - 8 does a superb job on chromatic aberration removal, let alone compensating for lens flaws, not least distortion, as well as offering the ability to correct perspective easily. I do wish they'd drop their odd marketing practice of selling two versions, split in just one regard - "pro" camera owners get to pay double as much. If you want to process D7100 RAWs, no problem for the Standard edition; if you want to do the same on a D800's output, you get to pay twice as much for the Elite edition. It's not something that affects me, but it seems difficult to justify, other than "it's not illegal".

Doctor Who "Listen" was exceptional. Really, thoroughly enjoyed that one - and the grab at the end was quite perfect. Who else? O.o; Every producer of children's TV needs to see at least this episode - there's nothing wrong with being scary. Roald Dahl certainly knew that. =:D

Previously, I'd wondered why "chip & pin" cards weren't a thing in the US, when the UK's had them for several years. Apparently, much as you'd expect, it's all down to money - in particular, the subtle differences in telecoms costs, leading to UK retailers tending to batch transactions at the end of the day, giving fraudsters more time to abuse a stolen card. The converse isn't covered as strongly, but does note that in 2012, "the US accounted for less than a quarter of the world’s payment card volume, but it incurred almost half of the fraud losses" - so, it's a change that could've taken place a while ago, but didn't.

A while back, I followed a particularly good webcomic, Mullein Fields, which I was reminded of when perusing through my archive of saved strips (if a particular day's strip really catches me, I'll save that one). Wondering what became of it, a quick search showed the artist segued to Inhuman Relations, along vaguely similar lines - if the look and style of humor of Pogo appeals to you, it'd definitely be worth checking out. Here's an example of Mullein Fields, to give you some idea. ^_^

Have you ever made your own ice cream? (This is, I suppose, calling out for a particular bun to weigh in..) It seems simple enough, at least outside food competition time constraints, with the tremendous benefit of knowing precisely what's going in, not just marketing platitudes. Which would probably be good, if terribly imbalanced. =:)

I recently rediscovered the video from an exceptional PS2 game, The Lion and the King - or rather, its sequel. The video quality's unfortunately rather poor, but there's not much being lost. I'll have to make that available somehow - it's quite supremely awful, from the poorly copied Disney style, through the *ahem* minimalist animation, and the voice acting seemingly performed by basically one person.

With the recent gig now concluded, I might poke my muzzle back into the previous code again. H.265's very nifty, but the allure of encoding to contours instead has such tremendous potential. Plenty of challenges lie ahead for the project, but they're of so novel a nature - it's understandable it'd have such shiny appeal for me. =:)

BTW, if you're visiting the Natural History Museum's "Vault", try to bear in mind that, in the quest for a great photo, one should endeavor not to lean down on the glass above the remarkable jewel-encrusted tobacco box from the Tsar, as you may find a remarkably well-mannered guard reminding you of the alarm systems in operation. ^_^; Notwithstanding, here are a couple examples. First, from the Vault, a most peculiar - yet entirely natural - mineral formation. The NHM's caption card reads: "Sometimes nature can produce specimens so seemingly contrived that it is hard to believe they were not made by a human. This intriguing box formed when crystals of brown siderite were deposited around a cube-shaped fluorite crystal. The crystal dissolved away and crystals of white quartz and golden chalcopyrite grew in the cavity. Scientists do not know what could have caused the fluorite to dissolve without affecting the siderite box around it. The mine in Devon is famous for its hollow casts, or epimorphs, and this is the best example known."

And, from the Treasures room, "Barbary lion skull.

The oldest lion found in the UK after the extinction of native wild lions, brought to England as a royal mascot around 700 years ago."

Not-really-cocktail du jour: home-made vanilla vodka/essence, white rum, diet cola. The key is the former, but it's not as arcane as it might seem - just a vanilla pod, snipped into a few bits, in a little (100ml or so) vodka, and left for a few weeks. It turns into a wonderful thing. ^_^ Forget any vanilla essence or anything like that - real, actual vanilla, infused for that time, brings out such a richness of flavor! And white rum just happens to complement it perfectly, acting like a non-dairy milk, in terms of playing nicely with the flavors present. Forget this - just try it. =:)

Tuesday's outing also saw me dare to dive into this whole meeting people thing, after eventually finding The Hole in the Wall, where huskyteer was holding a birthday bash. ^_^ That turned out to be even more fun than I could've hoped, augmented by the random association on the table with a thrash metal musician who's apparently toured fairly extensively, which led to some unpredictably enjoyable conversational diversions. =:D (And I knew of Einstürzende Neubauten, too, which might have surprised him a little =:) A distinct bonus was winding up meeting gerald_duck for the first time since 1998. Naturally, I didn't actually recognise him until he admitted his identity - my memory of faces can be atrocious, I'm afraid. I do hope that's not the last time I encounter the others present, too, who also made for very good conversation indeed, despite the inevitable ambient pub hubbub. Yay for more birthdays!

Okay, another gem from the NHM. ^_^ How about John Audubon's snowy owls? "Audubon published The Birds of America in batches of 5 pages. He sold them for 2 guineas (equivalent to about £100 today) to wealthy individuals and institutions. Subscribers could collect full or partial sets, or buy all 4 volumes of the book for £182 (equivalent to £9,000 today). It is thought that fewer than 200 complete sets were produced and only 120 are known to survive."

The newly announced Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lenses do indeed look interesting. Going by their MTF charts, the Sports version may even exceed the Nikkor 300mm f/4D's, when used on an APS-C body. (The Sigma's aren't marked, but I'm guessing the charts on the left are the Contemporary, Sport on the right) Pricing appears to be £1599, $1999 or 2099€. (If you're unfamiliar with MTF charts, here's a handy guide to what's actually being conveyed)

A short of note: Robo-Trumble, reminiscent of the seminal Pixar short Luxo Jr - except, here, there's no CGI, with the camera on the end of a robotic arm. It's good fun. (Cute credits, too) And there's also a "making of".

If you're missing a free Bluray player on your system, peek over here for instructions on how to get VLC to handle encrypted Bluray discs. It's quite straightforward, just involving downloading the appropriate AACS library for your OS (OS X, Linux, Windows) and the keys file, and dropping them into the correct locations.

Finally, have a couple buns. ^_^ These are from a couple recent trips back to the original bunspot - and yes, they're still thriving, though one strip along the path has now been seemingly temporarily filled with gravel, perhaps debris from a neighboring construction project. Greenery's poking through already, though, suggesting it doesn't presage covering that over. The field really is quite ideal for my purposes, and theirs. =:) It's somewhat long and thin, with the long edge running alongside a well-used cycle path, so the buns are relatively okay with seeing people around on a routine basis. Better yet, the field has a few patches of briar on the path edge, giving them comfortable places to hide out, so there are opportunities within relatively short photographic reach - I'm reminded of why I never bothered picking up any teleconverter there: I simply didn't need one, much of the time. And the assortment of vegetation makes for some interestingly varied backdrops, too. With a good, healthy population there, usually quite active, it truly is a setting I can return to and enjoy a sense of both peacefulness and excitement, as I attempt to track all the individuals involved - who seems particularly feisty or springy that day.

Even buns have their disagreements. Rabbits may not be as toothily endowed as predators, but those teeth can chomp through some tough brambles, and those claws are very much not for decoration.

For their 75th anniversary, NASA Ames is holding their first open day in 17 years, on October 18 2014. ^_^ Tickets will be required. "We're inviting all of the Bay Area and Silicon Valley to come inside the gates and get to know NASA's center in Silicon Valley. Take a two-mile walking tour through the center and visit with Ames engineers and scientists in booths set up in front of their facilities. After the walking tour, join us on our plaza to learn about our missions. In addition food, drinks and mementos will be on sale."

I was very pleased to read that AMSAT-NA is planning a new amateur radio satellite with an FM transponder onboard: Fox-1C. It's been a while since OSCAR 9/10/11 went silent, so since then, there hasn't really been much of an opportunity to relay voice over any amateur radio satellite (if I'm wrong, do let me know!), especially using FM rather than SSB. The use of a heliocentric orbit ought, as I understand, make for its appearance along the same path each time, simplifying tracking - which in my case, would probably be manual. =:)

So, rabitguy got Facerig, and proceeded to set it on a scene from The Shining, with Jack musing matters over with Lloyd, the bartender. It's.. surprisingly effective - just, this time, with a red panda and a cat playing the roles.

Hey, have a peek at a new SL av that tsudog made as a collaboration with Arito. Is that not really keen work? =:D

I still just compose in plain ol' HTML, but I notice LiveJournal recently updated their iPhone application, with the promise of Great Things for iPad, Android, and Windows Phone too. ^_^

So, Studio Ghibli is retreating. It's become too expensive for them to remain as a full-blown studio with permanent staff on their employ, so, they're effectively reverting to how they began, with just a small core staff, ramping up on a purely freelance basis.

I'm very pleased that the latest builds of OS X Yosemite seem to play nicely once more with OmniWeb. I'd actually temporarily given up on it as my default browser, but it does seem stable again. It'll sound quite daft to anyone, I'm sure, but.. OW's been my browser since - pretty much when I arrived on the web, around 1994, when I enjoyed it under NextStep 3.3. It's changed a load, of course, not least ditching their own rendering engine a while back, when it became obvious that was just a tremendous amount of work. It's still rather a beta, but.. it's a good beta. ^_^ Here you go, if you're running OS X. In particular, I remain inordinately fond of its tabs implementation, which appear in a drawer to the left or right (as per preference) of the window, as thumbnails of their pages. Loads of tabs? No problem - you just scroll up and down to see them all. If you want a larger thumbnail, just drag the drawer out further, or push it back in. Not that I usually keep more than a couple dozen tabs open in any given window, usually far fewer, but it seems to me a much more elegant method than the text-only tabs found almost everywhere else.

I recently watched Toys again, for the first time in.. foo, probably since around my introduction to the work, back in Mipple City. I remain amazed at its severe 5.0 rating on IMDb, and can frankly only largely ascribe that to its inherently pacifist nature. (FWIW, I wouldn't bother with the current DVD release - it's quite low contrast and vibrance. Very much a "dump to disc". I wonder if it's any better on Netflix et al, if it's available)

I don't make a habit of highlighting comics - but, this one from SatW is worth seeing. I maybe should apologise for linking such a tall image, but.. I hope you'll agree it deserves to be seen. ^_^

One of the photography competitions I entered a couple months ago recently requested the original file for one of my entries. =:D No cash prizes in question (I'm not the most mercenary sort around, but, wildlife photography is far from a cheap hobby or profession, and a Nikkor 200-400mm f/4 would be entirely welcome. And then there's that insanely good Nikkor 800mm f/5.6, with MTF charts not far off perfect. And lo, LensesForHire have one!), but, it might result in exhibition in a quite well respected venue. I'll be nervously anticipating further word. ^_^; Even if nothing else comes of it, it's tremendously gratifying to realise some judges saw the photo, and it caught their attention as being possibly worth highlighting. I'm not quite clear on when I'll hear, but it'll definitely be by November. I've no idea how many folks are shortlisted, but their instructions recommended using either a third party like Dropbox, or their own FTP; and the latter held some twenty other contestants' entries. With a popular contest attracting somewhere around 15,000 to 50,000 entries, I'd take a rough jab at possibly a couple hundred being shortlisted? I have no real insight, but that kind of level of narrowing down would seem about right. That's an exciting level of competition. =:D I can only hope!

Relatedly, I noticed Sigma's announced a pair of 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lenses - one in their "Sport" category, the other in "Contemporary", the latter being a slightly simpler optical formula. The Sport version uses two fluorite front elements, suggesting it'll be aiming at quite high quality results. Downside is that its weight is shown as being about 2.9kg - still quite hand-holdable, but heftier than, say, their 150-500mm. It'll be very interesting to see if they're genuinely pursuing the pro market with the Sport variant - how will it compare to the Nikkor 200-400mm f/4? Not as fast, of course, but if you add a 1.4 TC, that's bringing the two not so far apart, at 280-560mm f/5.6. Will the Sigma's ambitious (and perhaps unnecessarily broad) 4x zoom be its downfall?

Here's the story of one person who's set about recovering the audio from steel wire recordings of his family. "My Grandfather was a remarkable man who was fascinated by technology and built all kinds of electronic and mechanical gadgetery during his lifetime. He started working on electronic home projects in an era when components were only just becoming available to hobbyists. Among other things, he built electronic musical instruments, radios, and even a TV around which all the neighbours used to gather to watch some of the first BBC broadcasts from Crystal Palace in London where he lived.

In the late forties he built an electronic wire recorder. Tape recording had not yet been introduced commercially and steel wire, thinner than a human hair, was the only medium available for making audio recordings. Although by this time wire recorders were being introduced on the domestic market in America, in Britain they were still a rarity and confined mainly to the military and to offices where they were used as dictaphones.

My Grandfather was able use his wire recorder, along with a homemade microphone, to make recordings of my family including my Great Grandparents and my Mother as a little girl. He also recorded alll his favourite music from the radio and even copied a couple of old 78rpm discs. His recorder is long gone, but about 20 spools of wire have survived and have remained tantalisingly silent...until now!"

"Pipe Guy" plays techno with plastic plumbing pipes and flip-flops. And it sounds pretty damned good, too!

This short article is a short voyage into the use and nature of dictionaries. It begins by pondering why you'd even use one, and then, what you'll find in them - mostly, as it puts it, "They’re all a chore to read. There’s no play, no delight in the language. The definitions are these desiccated little husks of technocratic meaningese, as if a word were no more than its coordinates in semantic space." But there is an exception - and indeed, it is a thing of beauty. (Definite bonus points for the tech info at the end!)

Yesterday, I revisited the buns at the old place - it's a very pleasant locale, but most importantly, they always seemed quite open to photography, aided perhaps by the pathway running alongside, so they're somewhat used to people being around. Whilst I didn't get any ZOMG moments of extraordinary acrobatics, it was a delight nonetheless - a warm, bright, sunny day, and several buns around, in all the spots of the main field that I used to frequent. There's something I enjoy tremendously about having to keep track of all of them - who's where, what their mood appears to be, so I can pay extra attention to ones that seem like they might be feeling particularly springy or feisty. Here's one of them, caught with something of a panning, which has left everything else with a gentle blur, despite a 1/1000th second shutter speed. What must it be like, to be able to leap with such speed and power, thrusting forward at more than your own body length in one "step"?

Signal just came out for iOS, from the same folk - Open Whisper - as Android's RedPhone & TextSecure. As such, it's compatible; indeed, they'll later be combining the two into a single application there as well. It's open source, and free. With these apps, you can place securely encrypted phone calls, and exchange text messages similarly.

Saw HTTYD2 (in 3D: works well!) - I'm not quite convinced the storyline's as cohesive as the first, but there's a lot to enjoy in it, and one moment in particular I'll respect the author for. If you liked the first, you'll definitely want to catch this. Needless to say, Toothless is as wonderful as ever. =:9 (I've mentioned it before, but if you're in SL, you might want to check out Kinzart's Midnight & Dawn dragons. If I couldn't be a bunny, this'd be a pretty damned cool alternative. ^_^

So, the new iPhones debuted - and, unfortunately, they're as damned huge as rumors had had them. *sigh* Am I really so strange in wanting a smaller phone? Dammit, Tim, Steve had it right! The iPhone began at 3.5" because it was a comfortable size for one hand, with the thumb able to access icons across the entire area of the screen. Even with the iPhone 5s, I'm left having to shuffle the device in my hand to reach the screen's upper and lower bounds, unless I go two-handed, which seems a fairly cumbersome style - at that point, I'd sooner just use the iPad. I was interested to see phase detection on the camera sensor - it'll be interesting to see how accurate and fast that works out in practice, versus the contrast detection system more conventionally used outside of DSLRs. (I can't comment on MILCs, not being more than passingly familiar with Micro Four-Thirds and Nikon 1 mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, aka MILCs) Still, bit of a moot point for me - I doubt I'll be swapping out the iPhone 5s for quite a while yet, as it's the iPad Air that sees most of my usage outside the warren. (Touch ID would be pretty nice on its successor - it's proven to be a remarkably easy means of securing the iPhone, and easily preferable to entering one's iTunes Store password, however familiar it may be)

One thing that caught my attention with Apple Pay was that as the information stored on the device is only a token, not the card numbers, so if the phone does get stolen, the card account is completely unaffected - it's just a matter of cancelling that token. (Not that that brings the phone back - but it's one less bit of hassle) Also, as it's coupled to Touch ID, Apple's apparently negotiated "card present" rates for such transactions. Just wish my debit card would finally sport NFC, not just the credit card, though the lack of security is rather worrisome, mitigated by, I believe, a fairly low cap on the size of transactions supported with just a tap of the card. I wouldn't be overly surprised to find there's a fair bit of security through obscurity going on, though NFC crypto has, as I understand it, progressed somewhat since the dark days of NXP clamping down on details of just how insecure their early implementations were. One interesting, possibly not so coincidental matter in Apple's adoption of NFC, is that apparently, as of October 2015, card merchants in the US must support "EMV", aka "Chip & Pin", unless they want to assume responsibility for card fraud/misuse, which will lead to the US finally seeing the technology broadly adopted.

The Apple Watch also arrived, but I'm not in that market, so I shan't comment much on it - I wasn't taken by the iPod, thinking it a fairly expensive means of carrying a lot of music around, but it proved to define its segment. It certainly looks very nice, but I don't really want something on my wrist, and I'm not interested in FitBit/Fuel Band health functionality. (Speaking of the iPod, the day also apparently saw the iPod Classic's demise, vanishing from the company's site. And so the (click) wheel of technology turns..)

Speaking of phones, how often do real people - ie youse guys - upgrade theirs anyway? The way pundits speak, they'd have me believe it's perfectly commonplace for folks to swap out for a new model every year. Am I actually unusual in buying an iPhone 3G in Sep (almost wrote 1998, which would have been impressive) Sep 2008, then an iPhone 5s in Dec 2013? Admittedly, I'm not one for phones as phones (ie voice and SMS) anyway, and the iPad's been my device of choice since getting my original iPad Mk.1 - but a good smartphone's not exactly a trivial expense, after all.

There's a new TV series based on Watership Down coming to the BBC! Details seem scarce at the moment, but I'm all for more buns on the screen.

For the aviation geeks: a series of photos of Seattle's Museum of Flight's ongoing restoration of RA001, the first prototype 747, whose first flights date back to - surprisingly, to me - 1969.

I'll leave this here, in case others encounter the same problem: under recent builds of OS X Yosemite, Parallels Desktop 8 ceased working, refusing to launch any VMs. This can (for now?) be fixed by turning off the kernel extension signing check, using sudo nvram boot-args="kext-dev-mode=1" in the shell of your choice. Yay, no mandatory upgrade required! (I may, at some point, but TBH, Parallels 8's done a fine job. It's a great way to run Windows, with the benefit of being able to run multiple OSs in parallel, restore sessions very quickly, and preserve entire system states trivially simply)

Back in Hartnell's day, it appears Brian Blessed was almost Doctor Who. =:D I was also tickled to see him note that "It’s about time they had an Asian actor as the Doctor. And a female one."

Apparently Microsoft's buying Mojang. =:/ Not quite sure why, but then, Facebook bought Oculus Rift, so - eh, the dollar trees need harvesting now and then?

I doubt it'll be another Damekko Doubutsu, but Wake Up, Girl Zoo! could at least be good fun.

eliki pointed out a rather good four minute sketch, "The Box". If you've enjoyed the work of, say, Chris Morris, you're in with a good chance of grinning at the dark humor here, on a deterrent to Scotland leaving the UK.

patch_bunny notes that they've recently finished up on the latest episode of MFT3000. ^_^ The film? Eliminators, whose description sounds like prime riffing territory: "A former pilot rebels against his creator, teaming up with the scientist responsible for android technology, her pet robot Spot, a rough-and-tumble riverboat guide, and a martial arts warrior." =:D It'll be available soon, once they've completed the final audio mix.

So, there's this friend, who sent out an image. How much of a tease is he? (Perhaps worth noting: he was at SDCC)

A potentially handy web app for landscape photography: The Photographer's Ephemeris. There are also paid versions available for iOS and Android. Drop the pin somewhere of interest in the world, and you can then see the times and angles of sun & moon rise & set, and their locations in the sky at any point during the day or night. That way, you can plan when to take a specific shot, if you're looking for illumination behind a certain landmark, or with light approaching one at just the right angle.

Yay! iOS 8's "Continuity" function for phone calls works at of beta 4. ^_^ If enabled, when the iPhone receives a call, I'll see notification of it on the iPad - the caller ID (if supplied), and the name associated with that number. I can then choose to take the call on the iPad, if that's more convenient - as it sometimes is, as I only keep the phone on me outside the warren, but the iPad comes down to the kitchen or main room with me. Hardly a world-changing feature, but welcome. Similarly for SMSs as well - they appear on the iPad within the Messages app, and can be replied to from there.

One of the best TF sequences I've seen in a while: A Horse Named Charity.

imgur recently offered a one-off imguraffe t-shirt via Teespring. Given the adorable design, I pretty much had to go for one. ^_^

For dark humor in a geeky style: Cards Against Mars.

One wildlife shot (well, a pair, really) that caught my eye recently: a rat chasing off a stoat, with a bonus levitating rat. Quite a moment! And if an otter's more your bag, how about this one from the Isle of Mull proudly sporting his crab catch?

I started playing AC:WW again, but, I think I've had my fill for this time around. It's actually good fun, even now, with all the little subtleties involved, like "native" fruit only being worth 100 Bells each, but "foreign" are 500 - so I set about wantonly chopping down the peach trees, in favor of pears. Of course, the axe kept breaking, and Tom Nook doesn't sell replacements every day, only some days. There is the Golden Axe, too, but that involves a chain of trades.. I still keep an eye out for Wendell to show up, just out of principle. =:) In any event, it's very good to see OpenEmu runs it almost flawlessly, with just a minor audio glitch on leaving a room. I'll admit, I'd be half tempted to pick up a 3DS for AC:NL, if I could find one going cheaply. Frustratingly, though, I realised Nintendo recently dropped its server-side support for WiFi, for DS and Wii - and one of the conditions for getting Nookington's is to have someone visit your village and buy something from Tom Nook. =:P But, it does seem there are some replacement server projects, such as AltWFC, coupled with WFC Patcher, which patches the ROM file to bypass WFC authentication. Haven't tried it out yet, but I'd be happy if it worked. On the simple cheat side, I realised that leaving Bells in your saving account and gaining interest by setting the date way in the future works on the DS system time, not AC:WW's as set using the Service Center phone. In the case of OpenEmu, that means your computer's system time - and futzing with that can cause some indigestion with other applications, which suddenly find their SSL certificates invalid, or Time Machine feeling unhappy about not having backed up in several thousand days. ^_^; So, best to quit Mail and Calendar first, and turn Time Machine off temporarily. But yes, it does work - I just withdrew 40,000 Bells that had accumulated between 2001 and 2037. =:D Hardly a world shattering hack, given even the maximum you can gain this way is, apparently, 99,999 Bells at a time, but still, easier than repeatedly selling loads of fruit at a few thousand each time. ie: set OS time to 2001, launch OpenEmu and AC:WW, start playing, save, quit, set time to 2037, relaunch and resume, and visit the Town Hall to see your balance having increased. ^_^

That said, WiFi support in DeSmuME, whose core OpenEmu bundles up for its DS support, appears to be barely available, so I might have to result to poking around in the game file to see if there's some way of triggering Nookington's. (There does indeed seem to be quite an active game hacker community, including AC:WW, offering means of using Action Replay dongles to slot in tweaks like additional copies of Tom Nook's stores, or manually laying out the contents of your home's rooms at the (more or less) command line - but that's only relevant, AFAICT, to folks using that device and the original hardware. But, maybe there are clues to be gleaned in how the files are laid out)

Remember the superb Presto short from Pixar a couple years back? The director, Doug Sweetland, appears to have a new project on the boil, "Storks". Details seem completely unavailable at the moment, but if it has even a fraction of the energy and classic timing of Presto, it could be well worth waiting for.

For ducktapeddonkey: "Landlady’s pet donkey becomes a pub regular".

I'd long suspected as much, so I was quite tickled to see my suspicions confirmed by research by Aunshul Rege of Rutgers University. Those scam emails are deliberately poorly written, for the purpose you'd imagine: only the most gullible will reply to them, thereby minimising the number of potential marks you need to pay attention to. (Slide 36 of a presentation of O'Reilly's "Lean Analytics")

Good to see someone bringing animated feature production to the UK! Other than Aardman, who've seemingly given up on the feature length market, nobody really comes to mind, despite the wealth of talent to be found around. In this case, it's Sarah Smith's new company, Locksmith Animation; previously, she's worked with the likes of Armando Ianucci and Chris Morris, and more recently, wrote and directed Arthur Christmas. (Which I can happily recommend, FWIW)

Meanwhile, Stan Sakai's long-running Usagi Yojimbo is being developed for the big screen. =:D A long way to go yet, but the folks involved have substantial experience. As part of the pitch, they've produced a seven minute stop motion animated short, "The Last Request".

The BBC released episode details for the 2014 season, with episode titles, writers, and directors. One name that piqued my interest is for the finale - directed by Rachel Talalay, who, once upon a time, directed Tank Girl. =:D

A game with some furry interest which finally saw release the other day: Ace Ferrara and the Dino Menace, "a space combat sim in the tradition of X-Wing/Wing Commander, set in an 80s cartoon style universe. Spacefaring dinosaurs have declared war on mankind and only the Proton Riders - an oddball group of superpilots - can save Earth from certain defeat! Ace Ferrara is a military cadet who just scored the most prestigious internship in the galaxy: aboard the Proton Riders' flagship Discordia. However, between escorting coffee freighters and manning the fax machine, Ace soon discovers that being an intern among his heroes isn't quite what he dreamed it would be. Step into Ace Ferrara's shoes, meet cybernetically augmented cats, daredevil adventurers and the enigmatic Double-Doctor Proton, and work yourself up from lowly intern to galactic hero!"

Stone Brewing, whom some of you (well, hopefully everyone =:) will know from Arrogant Bastard Ale, are apparently poised to open in Berlin shortly, with a brewhouse, distribution center, and a bistro/restaurant. =:D And, another brewery in Mississippi. The world needs more good beer. ^_^

Oh dear. I finally saw a film by a director with a fairly impressive record, Guillermo del Toro - Pacific Rim. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear. Still, I will credit the production design work, which looked extraorinarily impressive, in part, I feel, because the suits actually existed, rather than being purely CG. (I feel the Thumper Principle kicking in)

A minor photographic note: Nikon recently issued firmware updates for a few models: D4S, D7000, D7100, D600, D610, and D90. Doesn't look like it's anything more than support for lens distortion data v.2, but it can't hurt to update regardless. (Simple process: extract the .bin file, drop that onto the root of an SD Card, and enter the Setup: Firmware Version menu, which will now have an "Update" option. You'll need to update the firmware first, then the lens data)

If you know the classic "Cans" CGI ad from the 1980s (and it's included at the end, if you're not), this three minute short provides some interesting background into how they went about creating the 30 second spot. And if you're particularly geeky, this tribute to Robert Abel, head of the company that produced the spot, is a superbly informative, personal insight into how companies like that came about. Did you realise they used an early form of mo-cap for the character's animation?

So, if Dr Bronner had been Thai, and obsessed with reincarnation and sex, perhaps this would have been the result. ^_^;

I did download that workprint screener of the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who. (It's available where you'd expect) Rather an interesting bit of insight into the production process, actually, as there are plenty of filler sfx, such as a fairly crudely rendered dino, and a fairly rough audio mix - it's aired properly now, but it's worth a look regardless. (So, theories as to who the puppetmaster at work is? Is this the work of the same folk as Madame Kovarian? Or, as I read elsewhere, might "Missy" be short for "Mistress" - ie, a female incarnation of the Master.. ?)

lupestripe and others up Leeds way might be interested in the Fireworks Champions event at Broughton Hall, on Saturday, Sep 20 2014, which sees three teams, plus the organisers, show off their best displays set to accompanying soundtracks, plus all the usual food & drink, though you're also free to bring your own.

I recently learned that there's a film adaptation of Beasts of Burden in the works, directed by Shane Acker, who wrote and directed 9. No release date as yet, though, so it still seems to be a little way off. And, Alex Cox has a film adaptation of "Bill, the Galactic Hero" debuting in Dec 2014.

If you have an iPad (probably other devices too), check out Sequential. It's another comics storefront, but, it doesn't peddle the same stuff as everyone else - rather, there, you'll find gems like Hunt Emerson's work, Brian Bolland's personal projects, and all manner of indie arcana, and almost always much cheaper than the paper equivalents. (I was also quite impressed when I enquired about one work being rather more than the paper version, and received a detailed, genuinely explanatory reply from the owner)

Utah decided to appeal a decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which declared 2-1 that their anti-marriage equality amendment was unconstitutional. The interesting twist is they've chosen to petition the Supreme Court. If they accept, that could set the stage for a definitive ruling covering all such bans across the US. Per ScotusBlog: "SCOTUS will act on the Utah #ssm petition by late-2014, likely grant it, hear argument in March 2015, and rule (5-4) in June 2015"

The trailer for The Last Fiction is worth two minutes of your time, if the idea of a traditionally animated action flick appeals. It's in Farsi, without subtitles, but that doesn't really matter.

It'll be interesting to see how this pans out: BRICS nations found World Bank rival, to be known as the New Development Bank, based in Shanghai.

Barbecue in the Bay Area's rather an under-represented cuisine - about the only places that come to mind are Memphis Minnie's, in the Lower Haight, and then some joint down in Newark. But! Seems there's a new player in town: Perdition BBQ. They offer all the usual meats and combos, but also rather an impressive beer list, and a beer garden around the back. The location's pretty damned convenient, too, just around the corner from the downtown Berkeley BART, on University Avenue.

A Monday some weeks ago held an event of some particular significance for me, even if of a pop culture nature: hearing Pat Mills and Dave Gibbons, as well as Frazer Irving, talk about the genesis of 2000AD, and its impact on the British and international comics scene, at the British Library, in A British Revolution: 2000AD and Beyond. Pat Mills being, after all, one of the fathers of 2000AD itself, and Dave Gibbons is known to a few people as well. =:)

Afterward, the roomie and I were loosely heading toward The Artichoke, a pub which apparently serves a decent line in tapas, but stumbled upon Shaker & Company instead. It was an unknown entity to me, but, they did seem to have a pretty good spread of bottles at the bar, and the menu promised good pizzas, which was confirmed by two passing us by on entering. =:9 The first two cocktails were fine indeed, but the belle of the ball was definitely the Old Fashioned, tweaked, as they were out of one of the usual ryes. The roomie fortuitously said "barman's discretion", when the waitress came to offer the news and enquire as to our preferred replacement - which, jharish may be pleased to learn, turned out to be Bulleit 45%.

After all that, the roomie had to head back home, as his commute dictates getting up at Dark O'Clock; meanwhile, realising I was but a hop from the Euston Cider Tap, had to call in there. If you're ever in London, and want some seriously good cider - the stuff you'll find down in Somerset and thereabouts - call in there. It's right outside Euston, adjacent to their Euston Tap, offering many beery delights. No food, unfortunately, given there really isn't any space for a kitchen (barely even a toaster =:), but a couple pints of sheer apple delight of 7% or so will ameliorate the wistfulness. ^_^

And on the way back, we're offered cupcakes on the Tube, for no reason than random friendliness. ^_^ (Sadly, I couldn't accept, being completely stuffed with the aforementioned pizza. Really didn't want to see how scientifically accurate the Mr Creosote scene was)

If I used TVs, I'd almost be tempted by the current offer on Apple TVs - £79 as usual, but currently with a £25 iTunes card. £54 for one isn't a bad deal, but I've not looked into what the jailbreaking scene is like thereabouts. (What little TV I watch is largely on Hazel, or more likely, the iPad while in the bath, so file formats and codecs aren't an issue) The offer makes me wonder, of course, if September might not hold an interesting update, possibly bringing an outright iOS variant with App Store support.

Here's a handy comic offering flowchart guidance for "what should you do when you see something on the net that you want to share?"

I don't, as a rule, buy CDs. I did, however, buy one after Hazel O'Connor and her skillful partners managed a fantastic gig. No drums or percussion, no guitars! Just keyboards and some damned good sax, and Hazel herself, covering some of their own compositions, some jazzy classics (she covers Nina Simone well!), and a couple favorites, inevitably including The Eighth Day. And so I wound up sheepishly requesting a signature. ^_^ So, I have a dedication from a musician I've admired for years. Sort of amazing, I think. ^_^; Photographically, it was a nightmare - typically an extreme combination of very low light, coupled with strong lighting, of any hue, but especially yellow. Some keepers, nonetheless, helped by the stabilisation in the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8.

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!