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Last Saturday's films were Zootopia, and The Lobster. I was delighted to see the first again, and actually quite gratified that the roomie immediately got into it! He's often inclined to try second guessing plotlines. But, only a couple minutes in, he declared "this is excellent". Ah, they did so much right there. ^_^ (And apparently, the initial seed for the storyline had Nick Wilde be the star - but along the way, they realised it could be much more interesting to have Judy Hopps leading the way. I raise no objections =:) The Lobster was rather more of a change of pace than I'd anticipated - it's an awkward one to describe well without giving much of it away. Suffice to say, it's darkly hilarious in many places, and occasionally deeply disturbing, whilst always being essentially about togetherness, of some quite starkly differing kinds. It's worth seeing, but don't go in expecting anything light and fluffy.

A spectacularly horrible look at an all too realistic media/advert-saturated augmented reality future, in the six minute short HYPER-REALITY. Anyone want to reassure me this isn't where we'll wind up?

Don't suppose anyone's dabbling in robotics or animatronics? I'm angling to get into the field, just for fun, starting with how to control my ears, nose, and tail, when I finally can bring my SL self into RL. I figure that as the 'suit itself is going to take a while, both out of complexity and cost, I may as well spend some time now thinking about how to animate it realistically. One key part will be the motors - ideally, the combination of characteristics may be impossible: silent and cool running, and not requiring a large battery pack to run. The ears will be the main emphasis on those requirements, of course - I'm not aiming for a cybernetic effect, so I can't have them give any kind of whining or whirring as they move around. I'm thinking much of the time, they'd be in "autonomous" mode, simply replicating natural movements - largely facing outwards, always pointing upright regardless of head angle, but always in very slight movement, perhaps automatically focusing on a sound source (which would be pretty cool to pull off =:). I'd need at least two axes of motion, too: vertically, so they could go from outward facing to front facing, and horizontally, to be able to go full perk, or downward. I'd then be able to override this, if I wanted to, say, focus on someone specifically, or send my ears down or up as a reaction.

There's a pilot study underway attempting to cure brain death in twenty subjects. "The trial participants will have been certified dead and only kept alive through life support. They will be monitored for several months using brain imaging equipment to look for signs of regeneration, particularly in the upper spinal cord - the lowest region of the brain stem which controls independent breathing and heartbeat. The team believes that the brain stem cells may be able to erase their history and re-start life again, based on their surrounding tissue – a process seen in the animal kingdom in creatures like salamanders who can regrow entire limbs."

On that note, Midnites for Maniacs is running a double bill tonight (Sat, May 28) at the Roxie in SF, starting with The Thing, followed by a new Western, Bone Tomahawk. And as a bonus, they're including a numbered lobby card for everyone, of an awfully spiffy design. ^_^

Well, a minor correction to my last entry: Warp Shift wasn't the next game I bought - they gave me a copy. ^_^ So far, I'm liking it, but I feel they may want to tweak it, as the difficulty isn't significantly ramping up, nor are extra features being introduced (yet, anyway), so it's feeling a bit repetitive.

A good C|Net article on the next format war now brewing over in 4K/UHD land, between HDR10 and Dolby Vision. It's quite detailed, going into what makers, studios, and services are supporting what, and some insight into why.

Some tech porn: some photos from an Imgix datacenter, being the folk who power Imgur, amongst others. Interesting to see not just the usual Linux blades, but Mac minis and Pros as well.

jenndolari offered up her take on a Mortal Kombat sequel - if you're a fan of the games/film, have a look. ^_^

Or, if astronomy's more your bag - or simply very good photography - do check out thewayne's superb shots of the Sloan 2.5m Digital Sky Survey telescope!

Latest in the Big Book of Schadenfreude: reports that "Kenneth Starr, the former independent counsel charged with investigating Bill Clinton during his presidency who is now the president of the world's largest Baptist college [Baylor University], has been fired over sexual abuse scandals at the school."

Running computers off DC supplies isn't anything very new - some datacenters already offer DC buses - but this trial at the University of Bath, where 50 computers and some support equipment were modified. It's the scale of energy saving that surprised me: "The project found that the DC network and associated computers used about half as much electrical power as the AC-powered computers they replaced - which could lower the University's energy costs by £25,000 a year."

E-Ink's announced a full color display. Sounds like it's quite early days, with 'Multiple 20” displays with a resolution of 1600 X 2500 at 150 ppi' built, but the fact they've achieved it, using what sounds like relatively simple manufacturing, should at least make for color eBook readers with similar battery lives as present. Hopefully the pixel density will improve, with 150dpi rather on the low side these days, especially for any hand-held device.

Could be handy for some folk: the Kanex keyboard matches a Mac setup nicely, and is wireless, but the neat wrinkle is the four keys above the numeric keypad. It can pair with four Bluetooth devices simultaneously, and you choose which you want to be typing on with those, be it your MacBook Pro, iPad, or iPhone.

Not too long now until WWDC! I'll be interested to see what goodies they disclose, not to mention what the priorities have been for OS X 10.12 and iOS 10. 'Course, I'll also have to keep an ear out for Aperture compatibility with 10.12 - I'd really prefer not to migrate to Lightroom, as I'm not much of a fan of Adobe's UIs, LR included. For image manipulation and detailed enhancement, there are plenty of contenders, like Affinity Photo, Pixelmator, and Potatoshop, but the list's a bit more lean on the asset management front, where Aperture does particularly well.

How's this for geeky spiffiness? A pop-up Himeji castle made out of Lego. =:D

I'm really happy to note that whilst the leporine plague has impacted my main warren's numbers - those I can see above ground, of course - it doesn't seem, yet, to be a rerun of the apocalypse a couple years back, where at one point, I could see upwards of 25-30 at any one time, all around me (surrounded by bunnies), and a couple weeks later, maybe two or three. Needless to say, I dearly hope their numbers remain reasonably steady hereon. I also scattered a second couple handfuls of raisins for them on Friday, which I'd like to hope will make a pleasant surprise for some of them. ^_^

Speaking of whom, this individual had quite the spring in their step, occasionally doing - not quite full-on binkying, but those wonderful little flourishes buns are occasionally wont to do, when the mood takes them.

And then, there are those moments, when you're chasing another bun, and maybe they mis-step, or you thrust forward a little too enthusiastically..

I'm pondering setting up a Patreon for my wildlife photography. What sort of incentives do you think might appeal? What might even encourage you to join in?

From the Big Book of Schadenfreude: Conservative congressional candidate shares screenshot, forgets to close porn windows. (As a bonus, he followed up with an "explanation", quickly deleted, that read more like a sort of stream of consciousness poem, of a rambling and paranoid nature)

For some reason, the UK video release of Zootopia will be somewhat delayed - Amazon's showing it as arriving on July 25, some seven weeks after the US release. Time to work out how to get some of the L$ accumulating in my account converted to US iTunes credit.. meanwhile, the first rips are now hitting the net. ^_^ (And I'm absolutely loving that opening scene again.. *giggle*)

A couple new webcomics you might like to try, both from the same creator: The Muse Mentor, set in a realm of Notions and Muses, where Notions lead essentially quite routine lives, whilst the Muses tend to be inspiring and creative; and Harlowe Vanished, about a girl with a difficult home situation, tired of it all - but her intended method leads to a rather unexpected change in her circumstances. (I imagine lovelyangel might quite like the first) Neither will take very long to catch up with, as they're both (more or less) weekly, with TMM starting a couple years ago, and HV under a year ago.

Quite odd. I have a TC14E teleconverter, which I've used with the 300mm f/4 to yield 420mm f/5.6, but several months back, the combination started going very flaky, to the point where AF would simply refuse to function - somewhat useful in wildlife photography, unless you're camped out aiming at a specific target point. So, I dropped it, using just the lens by itself. Just out of curiosity, I gave it another try on Monday, and - it functioned perfectly. Eh? I'm not sure where the problem even lies, as even when it was being flaky last year, it seemed fine with the rented 200-400mm f/4. Still, I'm not sure if I'll continue using it - especially at the current main bunspot, even 300mm can be a little close sometimes, and taking the TC off isn't exactly a quick, discreet operation, though the buns do seem slightly used to me now. Add in the loss of light, and I'm left feeling I may be better off with simply cropping, given the D7100's sensor and lack of AA filter - with just the 300mm f/4, it can be a crazily sharp combination. (That said, I do think I need to redo that Bath cityscape sometime, using both the D7100 and the TC, given the original was taken with a D90 and no TC. So then, I'd be looking at twice the pixel count on each axis =:)

I'm pleased to see the Conservative masturbatory exercise that is the EU referendum is unlikely to see any change in the UK's membership. Paddy Power, f'rex, currently lists odds of 1/5 staying, 7/2 leaving. Quite tempting to put a small bet on, despite the odds, so I can enjoy a good pint or two at the Daily Flail's expense. =:)

Rather fun: as a little special, the producers of the Simpsons thought they'd try having Homer answer viewers' questions live. Yes, actually live, real calls, with Homer animated live. Here's how they did it, using Adobe's Character Animator, and two Mac Pros operating in parallel, so if anything went wrong with one system, they could switch immediately to the other. And here are the East Coast, and West Coast takes. TBH, the improvised answers play second fiddle to the procession of walk-on gags, but it's fun either way.

Commissioned by UK broadcaster Channel 4, Private Parts is rather a fun little animated short, vaguely like Aardman's seminal "Creature Comforts", except based around female sexuality, and everyone's represented as genitalia. ^_^

Is "Strange Magic" worth pursuing? I started watching it the other day, but after a rather trying twelve minutes, I felt that if it hadn't hooked me that far in, it might not be likely to. A pity, as visually, it was absolutely top notch. Should I persist? (LucasFilms' earlier "Work in Progress" remains one of the best things they've done, not hurt by the voicework =:)

So, I finished off the recent Star Wars, finally, and loved it all. Admittedly, I was surprised by the demise of a major character, but.. I'm okay with that. We/they all have to go eventually, after all - and on such a quest seems as soundly compassionate a footing as any. All the surface level dogfighting by spaceships felt a bit weird, but, WTH. ^_^; So, yes, count me as a big time Rey fan. Couldn't we have had her the first time around? =:) (Ah, Luke's fine, I kid)

CBS unveiled the tiniest of teasers for the forthcoming Star Trek TV series. More of a confirmation it's coming, really, and a glimpse at the graphic design, which feels like they're Doctor Who fans. =:)

Interesting option for anyone wanting to gain a real degree, but isn't flush with cash: University of the People, accredited by the DEAC agency, authorised by the US DOE. Tuition is free, whilst end of course examinations - conducted online - carry a $100 fee each, with scholarships available.

Ye gods and little fishes.. it'd be fun to try running the vector video codec on the new AWS X1 instance, offering 4 Xeons for 64 cores, 3840GB SSD, 1952GB RAM (yes, almost 2TB of RAM), and a 10Gbps connection. =:D (Pricing is actually not insane, either, ranging from $13.38 per hour on demand, down to an effective $3.37 if you want to just buy it outright for a three year period, yours for $98,072 =:)

Next iOS (Android on its way later) game I'll be picking up: Warp Shift. Looks quite beautifully designed, visually and aurally, with - as the writer notes - touches of Portal in its gameplay, and a soupçon of Alice in Wonderland.

Apparently, I need to start distribution sex education pamphlets for the buns, or one of them in particular.. first, he tried mounting a doe, except the wrong way around. Later, he got the orientation sort of right, but was trying to hump her back, as if riding her. Going by her ears, she seemed a touch perplexed by it all.
Another for the list of net.radio stations worth listening to: Radio Paradise, nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills, with the playlist just now including Philip Glass "Anthem Part 1", Afro Celt Sound System "Big Cat", and David Bowie "Heroes" (live). And no advertising at all! It's apparently entirely listener-supported, which seems like quite a remarkable achievement.

If you used to follow The Abominable Charles Christopher, but gave up on anything new being posted: it's alive!

If you're into electronics, how about this rather cool 555 replication using discrete components? You can construct circuits using it just as you would a normal 555, but with the advantage of being able to inspect the signals inside the 555. Too simple? How about a full 6502?

In an intriguing experiment along Humble Bundle lines, the dev of Mekorama's set the app to free, and included purely voluntary IAPs ranging from 99¢ to $31.99, so you can pay whatever you want/can afford.

paka came up with a most wonderful Zootopia/Dredd crossover panel - anybody who's read the story in question will recognise it immediately. =:D (And here's the original)

Another US option for PAYG: Ting. They don't offer bundles, but tiered pricing for minutes, SMSs, and data, with the bill at the end of the month being based on what you've actually used of each. It's not down to European level pricing, but it's appealing for lighter usage. And they do operate with both GSM and CDMA support, so any phone will work. Meanwhile, in the UK - you've likely heard of GiffGaff, but it looks like iD Mobile may pose some competition, with their lowest tier at £4 offering 250 mins, 5000 texts, and 250MB. Much more expensive for out-of-bundle calls, with UK calls at 40 vs 10p, and the US at 6 vs 2p, but that's a minor point unless you're going pure PAYG. iD apparently runs on 3's network.

Well, the Fursonas movie is now available on iTunes, and on the front page, even, under "New discoveries", as well as several other services. I haven't seen it yet, but I think I'd like to - this seems like one that's been well conceived. Here's the trailer.

I wanted to convert a short video file into an animated GIF, but wasn't sure how best to go about it, given I very rarely produce animated GIFs, let alone from video. Lo, there are plenty of online converters, eg online-convert.

I returned, with some degree of trepidation, to my buns on Monday, as the weather was looking good (with a week ahead of relative dullness, looks like) - what would I find? Would there be any survivors of the scourge coursing through that warren? I'm.. maybe not quite optimistic as such, as it doesn't look like it's all done yet, and numbers were indeed sharply down, but there were several seemingly (for now?) in good health, and as active as ever, demonstrated here by one quick sunset pursuit. ^_^

So, here are my notes taken during broadcast. ^_^ Nothing overly insightful, so much as intended to remind me which was which, hence the visual cues.

1. Belgium - nicely bouncy, funky pop number. 19 yo in silver jacket, white jacketed troupe.
2. Czech Republic - quite a large sounding ballad. Solo performer, white dress with peplum skirt. Good, but doesn't stand out.
3. Netherlands - sort of Country. Erk.
4. Azerbaijan - rather forgettable Euroballad. Nice enough. Lovely braided bodysuit!
5. Hungary - Interesting! Difficult to describe. Hell of a stage show! (Monk with drum)
6. Italy - nicely medium paced poppy number, mostly acoustic. Garden themed set - amazing show. Very nice.
7. Israel - slow paced solo ballad by Israel's only Goth.
8. Bulgaria - really fun, high energy pop. Amazing costumery!
9. Sweden - nice enough, but rather dull. Sort of mid-tempo, solo male, quite minimal.
10. Germany - Tim Burton meets Harajuku! Nifty stage. Decent song!
11. France - nicely bouncy, catchy poppy number. Solo guy. Worthwhile, but somehow not a favorite with me.
12. Poland - downtempo dramatic number. Solo guy, nifty scarlet longcoat.
13. Australia - into power ballad territory! Cool stuff. Solo girl, amazing silvery glitterdress. Very good!
14. Cyprus - rock act, members in cages. pretty good!
15. Serbia - downtempo, solo singer. Powerful number! Killer black dress. Deserves to do well. Bit Bond theme-ish.
16. Lithuania - upbeat solo male. Dull song. White jacket.
17. Croatia - incredible Japanese dress! Solo. Decent song, but isn't grabbing me.
18. Russia - decent song, *very* good stage show indeed.
19. Spain - nicely upbeat, energetic number. Pretty good. Female lead, golden long dress.
20. Latvia - solo guy in biker jacket. Interestingly minimal synth number, strong vocals. Good stuff.
21. Ukraine - *stunning* solo number.
22. Malta - decent dance number. Golden sequin dress.
23. Georgia - bit lukewarm rock act, four band members.
24. Austria - cute, peppy number. Very pleasant, though shouldn't her dress have been darker for that stage?
25. UK - not a bad arrangement, but nothing special.
26. Armenia - fun one! big number, reminiscent of a pomp/glam rock number.

Me? If I had credit on the phone, I'd go with.. Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Australia. ^_^

(And the self-referential "how to win Eurovision" act was absolutely hilarious)
Thankfully, the data breach I mentioned last time turned out to be largely a hoax, with Google saying "More than 98% of the Google account credentials in this research turned out to be bogus". Still, it doesn't hurt to change passwords once in a while, especially if you're using a mechanism that syncs passwords across your devices automagically.

SatW has offered up a Eurovision game for tonight's final. Probably best not to try turning it into a drinking game. =:) (It looks like the UK's trying to regain the lost glory of nul points, given the entry is about as milquetoast as it gets)

Friday saw us watch Amy, a biog of Amy Winehouse - about as raw and frank as it gets, with plenty of footage from friends and family. It's a wrenching watch indeed, and highly recommended.

One man's account of working for the phone company, as it lurched from NYNEX to the current day, as Verizon.

Here's rather a cool bit of tech ephemera: Voder, demonstrated in this video clip in San Francisco in 1939. The catch is that the actual selection of what sounds to produce is actually the result of an expert operator - so, no use as part of a purely automatic system, but nonetheless highly useful in demonstrating the feasibility of producing recognisable speech with purely artificial sounds. And the results are actually surprisingly good, along the lines of 1980s tech.

Oh dear.. it's been confirmed - though much as everyone was expecting, with DeNA's paws all over it - that Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem will be IAP-based. *sigh* We'll just have to see how they go about that, but I'll admit, my enthusiasm has been tempered.

On the other paw, it's been announced that Lumines is finally making its way to iOS, in two different titles, one paid, "Lumines: Puzzle & Music", and one free to download, "Lumines VS", coming in Q3 and Q4 2016.

And so, 2016's MasterChef finale played out last week - absolutely beautifully. ^_^ Everyone deserved to be there, and I'll agree, the right contestant prevailed. What a magnificent competition that was!

Interesting little bit of materials science: making wood transparent. =:D Basically, they remove the wood's lignin, then fill those microscopic gaps with epoxy, resulting in a strong, light, transparent material.

Now, everyone knows the appearance of food can affect its taste - present someone with food that tastes of one thing, but is colored wrongly, and most folk will be thrown off, as demonstrated in the surprisingly engaging recent BBC 4 production, "Chef vs Science", where the materials scientist offers up strawberry ice cream - first, colored as you'd expect, then in a variety of unrelated hues. And lo, everyone knew it was strawberry when colored as expected, with guesses ranging across the board when not, mostly based on the color. But, did you know that sound can also affect your sense of taste? (Sadly, it's now fallen off iPlayer, but it's around in the usual channels)
A few more screenshots have been released of Project Sansar, Linden Lab's next-generation virtual world platform, and they do indeed look very good. ^_^

[ETA: the breach is largely fake] Whilst it's still statistically unlikely you're affected, you should be aware of a large email account breach affecting 273 million Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and Mail.ru accounts. As ever, it can't hurt to refresh those passwords regardless.

When I'm next in Bay orbit, I must visit the Hall winemakers in Napa, both for their wine, and especially for their rather splendiferous steel hare, crafted by Lawrence Argent. ^_^

Wow.. finally caught up with all of TwoKinds, which started in 2003. =:D Although, I can easily see the pace being perhaps even more frustrating than Sinfest's. No matter - it's not as if I don't have plenty of other comics to keep up with as well. ^_^ If anyone else wants to do the same, you can also find the complete run over here as a single PDF/CBZ/ZIP, or as separate chapters, for easy offline reading.

Per The Digital Bits, it seems the Zootopia extras are: "6 behind-the-scenes featurettes (Zoology: The Roundtables, The Origin of an Animal Tale, Research: A True-Life Adventure, Z.P.D. Forensic Files, Scoretopia, and Deleted Characters), plus 7 deleted scenes (Alternate Opening, Wild Times! Pitch, Alternate Homesick Hopps, Detective Work, Alternate Jumbo Pop, Hopps’ Apartment, and The Taming Party), and Shakira’s Try Everything music video." Hopefully there'll be a good commentary track as well. (The ones for The Animated Clerks are superb)

For the first time, the Eurovision Song Contest (the final's on Saturday, May 14 2016) will be broadcast in the US, on the Logo network, and via the company's app. It should also be carried on the EBU's own site, on their WebTV page.

If you're willing to read a serious entry rather than my witterings, read rav_bunneh's recounting of abuse, a pernicious seed that all too easily festers within, constantly the victim's worst enemy for life.

Via supergee, news of NASA honoring the mathematician Katherine Johnson, whose manual calculations helped send Alan Shepard into space.

A utility I'll have to keep an eye on: hogwatch, for per-process monitoring of network bandwidth consumption.

Rather an interesting little article on ATM skimmers, wherein the writer finds one and removes it, and then sets about finding out how it works. As you might expect, the state of the art is very convincing - his tip is to try pulling at bits of an ATM that should be completely solidly attached, as skimmers tend to be snapped into place, or use light adhesive, to permit easily swapping them out.

Like raptors (the dino kind)? You might want to check out this Kickstarter to produce fabulously detailed, scientifically accurate action figures that look pretty kick-ass. =:D

Moog just launched their iOS replica of the Moog Model 15 Synthesizer. Looks very tasty, if you're lusting after those classic, rich, bubbly, wholesound sounds. Or, for something much more lightweight, Yo-kai Watch Wibble Wobble is a fun little game that'll appeal to the Match 3 crowd, without being one itself, plus adorable Japanese demons. It's free-to-play, but the monetisation is surprisingly light, essentially optional. (Thus far, it appears not to be a worldwide release - it's in the US iTunes Store, but not the UK's)

Like PJ Harvey and Tom Waits? Give Harri Marstio "Serenade" a try; note that the video is set in a commercial butcher's, so may not be appealing. Or, for something rather more upbeat, Malea - "Give" (Baggi Begovic Remix).

Random fact du jour, on tellurium: "In the gold rush of 1893, diggers in Kalgoorlie discarded a pyritic material which got in their way as they searched for pure gold. The Kalgoorlie waste was thus used to fill in potholes or as part of sidewalks. Three years passed before it was realized that this waste was calaverite, a telluride of gold that had not been recognized. This led to a second gold rush in 1896 which included mining the streets."

A week ago on Friday, the weather actually turned out quite nice, especially as the evening grew on, so I headed out for some rabbiteering. Sooner after I arrived, I noticed a red kite flying nearby - nothing unusual, as they're quite common locally, usually just drifting around in long arcs. This one, though, seemed to be getting quite close - and before I knew it, the buns were zooming back to safety, followed by said interloper making a low pass, hoping to pick one of them up. Thankfully, they departed empty-taloned, but not before I caught the moment. =:D

The BBC and Netflix are collaborating on a new CGI version of Watership Down, to debut on Netflix, and air on BBC1 in 2017. =:D Production hasn't apparently begun yet, but we can hope they'll release some stills along the way.

So, with last Saturday not holding new pony, I subconsciously gravitated toward finally catching up with EqG: Friendship Games. ^_^ It did prove a touch disorienting, with Twi being unfamiliar with her friends and Canterlot High, and a mute Spike - I wound up needing to peek at the closing moments of Rainbow Rocks to be sure I hadn't simply forgotten some crucial plot point. ^_^; Some particularly good musical numbers - I'll have to extract those as music videos for later enjoyment on the iPad. (I have a good little collection thereof. Maybe I'll list them under a cut, just for fun) I do find myself distracted by inconsequential points, though, like the way Vinyl was seemingly happily bopping away to the pre-Pinkie party, clearly not fuelling anybody, or Photo Finish's camera making a very film-advance sound on taking the shot of Sunset Shimmer's spelling bee defeat. (Not implausible, I'll admit - she could be a film fiend, but in that kind of light?) And Sunset's boots are gorgeous. Interesting to see the girls now have "alternate" versions of their footwear as well, ranging from ankle boots to trainers. (And no, you don't use flash at an outdoor sporting event. Not unless you're using some dedicated rig, like quad SB-900s synced together and aimed at the subject from afar, to help with exotic surfing shots. Yet they got the look of a long telephoto lens right, so I can only assume they're trolling =:)

Ah, so many wonderful moments.. AJ giving assistance to "enemy" Twi on the archery challenge was especially touching. (And not just because I was quite good at archery back at school =:)

Zootopia will see its video release rather earlier than I'd anticipated: June 7 2016. ^_^ And a forum posting suggests what might be in store by way of extras. Meanwhile, there's always Imagining Zootopia, a 45 min insight, and a 30 min Meet the Filmmakers session hosted recently at the Covent Garden Apple Store. (Worth checking up on events, if you have a large Apple Store nearby - great opportunity to enjoy some big names talking way more casually than you'll normally find, and in a fairly snug setting rather than some huge audience. The downside, of course, is you may need to get your reservation in early)

Ye gods! Everyone was speculating what kind of titles Nintendo would release, when the news first broke, and it wasn't a huge surprise that their first foray into iOS was Miitomo. Next, though, it's official: Animal Crossing! =:D I just really, really hope they aren't seduced by never-ending IAPs - it's really not the kind of game you want to have sullied by being turned into a money sink. Still a little way off, though - they're expected around October.

Of the radio stations I mentioned previously, I should perhaps highlight KLFM, out of Zagreb, with a particularly diverse portfolio including Medicine, Dan Stuart, and The Nightingales. You won't be regaled with the same old tunes here. =:D (And then there's following John Denver's "Annie's Song" with Ride's "Mouse Trap"..) Come to that, Athens' En Lefko is fairly diverse as well, though perhaps with a slant toward 20th Century music.

Yay! Back in the days when computers were made out of wood, I backed the Art Story film on Kickstarter - and on Friday, I received the poster. Which is gorgeous. ^_^ (Slightly damaged, unfortunately, down in the lower right - someone en route managed to rip out one of the anchored endcaps of the poster tube, catching that end of the poster in the process - but they're sending out a replacement next week, which is very kind of them)

A Spike episode? I was approaching "Gauntlet of Fire" with some degree of trepidation, but it turned out superbly. ^_^ Needless to say, I'm very much hoping this isn't the last we'll see of Ember. No new episode today, sadly.

A couple musical offerings I've enjoyed recently: General Mumble "M/L/P/R/M/X/E/P", being a highly processed bit of electronica based on various MLP songs. I'm normally not one for autotune, but here, it's been quite openly deployed, retuning the harmonies entirely, turning the tracks into quite novel reworkings, far beyond the usual additions of bass/rhythm. And, tallulahgoodtimes "SwangYoThang2", a refreshingly punchy bit of electroswing.

So, we'll apparently learn of the Doctor's new companion this evening. [ETA: it's Pearl Mackie - and the teaser is well worth watching!]

I mentioned Star Billions the other week - and having completed Season Two, I've got to recommend it. ^_^ Here's a good interview with the developers, going into the design choices, and even how people wound up reacting to the AIs on offer, from the gung-ho SARGE, to the conciliatory LACIE.

Actually completely SFW is the Wikipedia entry for tendril perversion. ^_^

In the "battery technology that may actually see deployment in the next decade" department, a novel system using encapsulated nanowires. It's not about energy density, so much as lifespan - where current batteries keel over after a couple thousand cycles, this holds the promise of extending that into the hundreds of thousands, making for a battery that might never need replacing.

Interesting.. it looks like Apple is finally going the Netflix route, and preparing for developing original TV programming: "The [Sundance] iTunes Lounge was in fact part of a stealth effort by Apple to establish a new, more active role in delivering entertainment. In the weeks that followed, Apple execs were in Los Angeles hearing pitches for original TV series that it plans to launch on an "exclusives" app on Apple TV and within iTunes. Apple wants to work with "triple A-list" talent, according to a source, and build up a roster of must-see shows available only on its platform. Naturally, the talks have been veiled in the utmost secrecy. Producers who have met with Apple will refer to it only as the United Fruit Company." If those involved are indeed eyeing Netflix as their model, I'd love to see a similar degree of adventurousness, considering they've brought us the likes of Orange is the New Black, Transparent, and Jessica Jones.

While catching up (well, sort of - I started with the archive from a random point in 2011, rather than the very start, in 2004) with Questionable Content, as mentioned by lovelyangel, I noticed one of the artist's shirts available for sale: All My Vices Are Devices, which seemed like it might appeal to a few folk. =:) (And, don't tease robots)

Nice to see: (most of) IDW's comics are DRM-free. So, that's MLP taken care of - I wonder if Boom have similar plans, so I can maintain a fully portable Lumberjanes library. ^_^

Some background into Aretha Franklin's legendary "Respect".

Looks like an interesting little FOSS OS X utility: Background Music: "Automatically pauses your music player when other audio starts playing and unpauses it afterwards; Per-application volume, boost quiet apps; Record system audio"

It's an ugly webpage, but there's a lot of lesser known Bill Watterson art to be found, some from before his rise to fame, and even some afterward.

I do hope Beats 1 expands into multiple channels at some point. *sigh* They do offer some excellent shows, like The Candy Store with Charli XCX, but for much of the time, I can't listen to literally more than a track or two without hip-hop coming into the mix, sending me scampering off to En Lefko, The Flip, KLFM, Amy's FM, or Power Ponies. (I love how international net.radio is. ^_^ They're Greek, French, Croatian, French, and Czech respectively) The downside with all of them, inevitably, is the advertising - cue rapid switch to any of the others. Beats 1's is, thankfully, the least intrusive, amounting to an occasional "made possible by", taking a couple seconds. Consequently, I still wind up revisiting my own music collection a lot of the time - it may be familiar, but I can just settle into a groove, without having something disrupting that after a few minutes. =:/
Having been reminded by huskyteer that there was indeed an earlier adaptation of "My Family and Other Animals", I set about comparing them - at least, as far as I can, given the ITV version is ongoing, and only up to its second episode at the moment. It's proving to be quite a contrast! They're clearly from the same work, but the tone is quite different: ITV's is pronouncedly about the people involved, whilst the BBC's was a lot more accommodating about the wildlife observations he made, with some excellent photography along the way. Of course, now, I have to read the books - which, from what I recall of the readings by my biology tutor back in the Jurassic, will not be any burden. =:)

If you want to watch a film, where will you be most likely to do so, and why? Are you an avid cinemagoer, or are you more inclined to wait for the home releases? Is that because of cost, or the comfort and choice of munchables/drinks at home? For me, if I'm to be lured to a cinema, it helps a lot if there's something special about the place - cookie-cutter multiplexes.. well, aren't exactly brimming with personality, let alone the food and drink. On the other paw, there are places like The Little, over in Bath, crammed into a central Georgian nook, or the fabulous Castro Theatre, with just one screen, and genuinely a big screen, with ornate 1920s movie palace decor all around. The cost is certainly an issue, too - it's easy to spend not much less on a single ticket than for a copy you can watch as many times as you like, and home cinema setups now can be quite impressive, with an excellent choice of cider, beer, and wine to accompany. =:)

Gently wonderful: what does a bicycle look like? An easy question, you might think - and so, a designer collected people's sketches of bikes, and produced realistic renderings of them. "Some did get close, some actually nailed it perfectly, but most ended up drawing something that was pretty far off from a regular men’s bicycle. Little I knew this is actually a test that psychologists use to demonstrate how our brain sometimes tricks us into thinking we know something even though we don’t."

From the dev behind "Papers, Please" comes a playable demo ("It's not meant to be a proper demo of the final product but it's probably safe to extrapolate from here. Barely tested and possibly full of bugs. Progress is not saved.") of their latest project, Return of the Obra Dinn, with graphics this time in glorious 1-bit. "Obra Dinn's demo starts with players pulling a rowboat up to an abandoned ship, which they board and walk around in search of treasure. The only thing on the ship, it turns out, is a crummy old pocket watch, but before getting off the ship, players come to realize that the watch can be used to discover ghost skeletons—and replay the moment in which each person died over a century earlier."

The £1 coin will be changing in 2017, commencing in March, with a six month switchover. The newcomer is a dodecagon - twelve sided - and bimetallic, similar to the £2. Apparently, counterfeiters are a touch too adept with the current design, with around 3% (!) of current £1 coins being fakes.

I'm pleased to note that Zootopia is 2016's biggest grossing film worldwide, at $854m, followed by Batman v Superman with $787m, and Deadpool at $757m. And deservedly so. ^_^ And speaking of which, this interview with Ginnifer Goodwin is worth a (sadly brief) read, confirming the story evolved quite a bit - hopefully, the home release's extras will explore that, as Wreck-It Ralph's did. The same site also talked with the directors about the selection of species for the stars, and the challenges involved in maintaining scale.

How good can Second Life look? This good. ^_^ A scene from the long-running Insilico sims, by Stark Osterham, "Ghost Whisper":

For pony folk: an interesting post on translation of one of the show's songs, "Hearts Strong as Horses". Of course, when you're translating a song, the difficulty elevates - the tune can't change, so the number of syllables you've got to play with is (more or less) fixed beforehand.

As for the new season: the opener I overall enjoyed, but felt the pacing to be quite uneven, and I'm unsure as to why Sunburst exhibited such retiscence at being deemed a wizard, when he clearly was just that, and very much so. The baby scenes were surprisingly well handled, leading into some good, old fashioned chases, not to mention the pivotal plot point. ^_^; "The Gift of Maud Pie" was a relatively simple episode, and ultimately, wonderfully charming. "On Your Marks" felt somewhat uneven, and relied upon an awkward misinterpretation, but had some definite highlights, with the ending resolving surprisingly well.

An interesting tale, and one with - we hope - a happy ending, of some people in the middle of nowhere in Kansas, who started getting angry calls, letters, and visitors, for no reason they knew of. It turns out to be the result of one company's widely used geolocation database - for the most part, quite useful, within limits. But where they don't have any accurate location data, they use defaults - and a very popular one happened to be where they lived, pointed to by some 600 million IP addresses.

Tuesday saw some.. well, unscheduled rabbiteering, turning out to be something of a blessing in disguise, as the forecasts had been suggesting it'd be Wednesday with the better sun during the afternoon and evening, when it turned out to be largely rather cloudy. And because I happened upon this group of tinybuns, gathered by one of the warren's entrances, sufficiently cool with my presence as to allow me to pass by (eventually =:) without feeling the need to seek refuge. Indeed, I was close enough at this point that I've only cropped the photo slightly vertically. To be that close, and tolerated by my subjects (so to speak, not that I would have any objections to being Queen of Leporines =:), is indeed a touching and humbling moment. ^_^

And in a "what a world we live in!" moment, we now have Flappy Bird ported to an e-cig.
So, ITV's adaptation of Gerald Durrell's "My Family and Other Animals" is underway. With such source material, the outcome could hardly fail to be engaging, and indeed, those 45 minutes passed in an instant, with superb performances from all, not to mention the incomparably gorgeous scenery of Corfu. Well worth tracking down on your favorite sites, or indeed, watching "live" at 8pm on Sundays.

Well, now. Is this not pretty much the ultimate t-shirt? ^_^ (It appears to be their daily special, though, possibly only available for another few hours) Many, many thanks to huskyteer. ^_^

Until April 25, SF's Civic Center is host to five giant luminescent bunnies. =:D

Music video of the week: Miike Snow "Genghis Khan", a wonderfully whimsical yarn, in the style of 60s spy thrillers. (Their The Rabbit is a brilliantly catchy track, even if only fleetingly featuring a bun. At least of the furry kind =:)

And iOS game of the week: Star Billions. Take a planetwide apocalypse and a lost spaceship, and you have the perfectly logical basis for a spaceborne version of Animal Crossing, with adorable alien AIs as your villagers. ^_^

How and why would you make extremely strong coffee? "At some point, all of us start wondering how much coffee we can drink before our hearts explode. This typically happens when we are up, very late, in college with either the panic of a final the next day or have nothing particularly better to do than try to achieve acute caffiene poisoning. What do you mean you haven’t done this? Liar. You’re letting yourself down and making Baby Jesus (ten time running All American Most Valuable Jesus) cry."

And thus began the author's experimentation into Ludicrous Caffeination.

"Figuring that this was going to be long night of cramming before the test, I collected everyone’s No-Doze and broke out the espresso maker. At 8pm I prepared a bowl of macaroni, popped two No-Doze, and washed it all down with the first quadruple mocha of the evening. Around 1am, I figured I’d better repeat the 8pm dosage. At 4am, I had two more No-Doze. At 6am, worried that I wasn’t feeling any caffeine kicking in, I popped four more and had another pot of espresso. The fact that I was still awake at 6am should have been a hint to me but I’d sailed far beyond the horizons of sanity by that time. The final began at 8am.

I sat in the front row of Thimann Lecture Hall 3, right leg bouncing. I was politely asked to take a quick lap around the building as I was vibrating the entire row of firmly bolted chairs. I then sat down for my test and completed the three hour exam in a mere twenty five minutes, scoring a 93%. I then had lunch with same friend mentioned in the “Origins of Funranium” car ride, introduced her to Sempervirens Falls in Big Basin State Park, drove back to my apartment and then promptly collapsed into bed, sleeping for 23 hours. I woke up with a more fiendish hangover than I’d ever experienced before or since. The body does not appreciate overexposure to caffeine any more than it does to alcohol. I didn’t touch a cup of coffee again for over a decade."

But that merely sowed the seed for what was to follow..

"Fast forward 14 years. An acquaintance working and living in Japan went on holiday and discovered a bar with this exceptionally beautiful rig for the preparation of Viennese Triple Cold Extraction Coffee. Upon sampling this, he felt that, and I quote, “I could see colors that weren’t in the visible spectrum, and could vibrate through walls.” I looked at this I said to myself, “Hey, you’ve got enough virgin laboratory glassware lying around the house that you could probably build something like that.” Probably several somethings, actually, but that’s beside the point."

The whole tale is fabulously entertaining, working on the right grind (and what happens with too fine a grind, as with Turkish style), and the first human trials.. and yes, you can buy the results. If you really enjoy coffee, I'd love to hear your experiences with it. ^_^ (Me, I doubt it'd make it through Customs)

Good news on the renewable energy front: wind and solar are seeing double the investment in capacity over fossil fuels. As you'd expect, as solar prices fall, installations soar.

Some great political musical fun, courtesy of German broadcaster ZDF: Be Deutsch! [Achtung! Germans on the rise!].

Okay, I'm curious.. how many of the comics I follow do you too? (Oog. I apologise to my English tutor. Though I suppose she got her revenge when I attempted, as a homework assignment on summarising a book, to distill The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

Poll #2041842 Comics!

Which of these daily comics do you follow?

Sinfest, which many of you already know. ^_^
Skin Horse, about a Black Ops team in charge of social services to sapient non-humans.
Scary Go Round, an evolving slice-of-life series brimming with dry humor.

Which of these at-least-weekly comics?

Inhuman Relations, the world of some New Jersey locals, with more than a nod to Walt Kelly.
Scandinavia and the World, Humon's personifications of Nordic and other nations.
OGLAF (sometimes very NSFW!)
Collar 6 (sometimes NSFW)
Robot Hugs, being deeply considered musings on life, society, sexuality, and more.
Never Satisfied, regarding a group of aspiring young magicians and their familiars, in a gorgeously realised Mediterranean-like town.
Snarlbear, a beautifully vividly colored fantasy tale.
Peritale, about a fairy alone in being flightless, but with implacable ambition regardless.
Swords and Sausages, comedic fantasy.
Kappa, in a world of undersea civilisations.

Which of these occasional comics?

Happle Tea, taking unorthordox angles on mythical figures.

And finally, which of these comatose strips?

The Abominable Charles Christopher, one of the most gorgeously drawn and conceived webcomics ever, sadly lain dormant.
Yay, finally, Summer Time again! And with it, much more sensible evenings, and buses with seats available on the way back from rabbiteering. ^_^

The peanut gallery is suggesting Flickr may be for sale, as part of Yahoo's efforts to trim down to a few core businesses. I'm hoping its future is bright - there isn't really anything else like Flickr. There are certainly plenty of places to simply host images, but Flickr's communities aren't easily replicated; as good a venue as 500px is, it's much more Tumblr-like, in being a place to present one's work, without discussion or community. Also, if you use(d) some of the older features of Flickr, there's an interesting little hack available: Stig's Flickr Fixr, bringing back notes, the album sidebar, and more. It's installed using Greasemonkey (for Firefox) or Tampermonkey (Chrome et al).

How's this for a fairly amazing Judy Hopps cake? =:D (By Zoe's Fancy Cakes. Warning: Facebook) Or, maybe something a little more classical, like this gorgeous Peter Rabbit cake, by Cake Central member peterrabbit?

joe_haldeman offers up an inspiring example of the salaries open to aspiring scholars. *cough*

Scientists Slowly Reintroducing Small Group Of Normal, Well-Adjusted Humans Into Society. We can only hope.

FLCL is getting a sequel, of two six-episode seasons, somewhere in 2017 or 2018.

Saw the recent Peanuts flick, and rather enjoyed it! Blue Sky indeed kept to the spirit of the strip with the writing, and crafted an interesting visual middle ground between the 2D original and a 3D CG world. If you enjoyed the strip, this is worth seeing.

iOS game of the week: Dream Machine. At first glance, it recalls the excellent Monument Valley, but it's its own thing entirely, being more of a platformer puzzler. And hey, for 99¢/79p, you really can't go wrong.

If you're wanting to play with the bleeding edge of Safari, the WebKit team's just announced Safari Technology Preview, with updates served up every fortnight. Currently, new goodness includes ECMAScript 6, a new JS JIT compiler, and more. (OS X El Capitan only) They do make note of the existing nightlies: "You may already be familiar with the WebKit Nightly, which serves a purpose similar to that of Safari Technology Preview. For most people, we think Safari Technology Preview is a more convenient and stable way to live on recent WebKit changes. Unlike the nightlies, Safari Technology Preview supports the full set of iCloud-based Safari features, including iCloud History and iCloud Tabs. And we’ll use the time between Safari Technology Preview releases to curate and test updates to a point where we think developers will find it practical to use as their primary browser."

The buns, I'm delighted to report, remain thriving, and as feisty as ever, especially with the wannabe suitors of the does all but begging for consent, persistently following, sometimes trailing them, sometimes oh so subtly edging up to them. The more forthright bucks, however, take to the delights of spraying, which, judging by their immediate and vigorous efforts to perform emergency grooming, they enjoy about as much as one might expect. So, take one such buck, and add sufficient derp to land on their aim of desire..

dronon shared quite a little gem with me: this advert for a power company, produced by Studio Ghibli, in the style of the legendary Chōjū Giga scrolls. Anime News Network goes into the background and meaning of the spot.

Or for something a little further from home, something rather nifty: the birth of a supernova. Kepler managed to catch the a red supergiant at the very moment of its explosion into its new, massive state. You can watch it for yourself, sped up from its original two hour duration, in a brief animated reconstruction.

iOS game of the week has, of course, to be King Rabbit - Find Gold, Rescue Bunnies. It's essentially a continuation of Furdemption - adorably animated, and very nicely crafted, with levels that gently ramp up in difficulty.

If you indulge in photography to any degree, you might be interested (or perhaps disappointed) to learn of the latest twist in the Nik Collection - once a suite of plugins from the original developer, then picked up by Google and sold much more cheaply, they're now completely free. Which, given the software's recent update history, may suggest it's now on legacy support only. Still, they're decent plugins, available for OS X and Windows. And hey, I can't complain about legacy software, given I'm still rocking Aperture. =:)

If you have any old USB sticks kicking around, consider donating them to Flash Drives for Freedom. They'll erase them, put films and books of use on them, and smuggle them into North Korea - some by balloon, some by individuals sympathetic to bringing some of the outside world into the country. The Guardian explains more.

If you're interested in producing animation, the new owner of Toonz - used in productions including The Wind Rises, Ponyo, and Howl's Moving Castle - has announced that it's going free and open source as of today, March 26 2016. Details over here. "OpenToonz will include features developed by Studio Ghibli (*Toonz Ghibli Edition) which has been a long time Toonz user. Through OpenToonz, Dwango will create a platform that will aim to have research labs and the animated film industry actively cooperating with each other. With this agreement in place, Digital Video will move to the open source business model, offering to the industry commissioning, installation & configuration, training, support and customization services while allowing the animators’ community to use a state of the art technology at no cost." [ETA: GitHub repository ahoy!]

And speaking of animation, April and the Extraordinary World ("Avril et le monde truqué") looks like being quite something. And, 2017 will hold a Big Hero 6 TV series. ^_^

Signs that we are living in the future #8468: seeing a headline in the Telegraph (a conservative-leaning UK broadsheet), "Microsoft deletes 'teen girl' AI after it became a Hitler-loving sex robot within 24 hours".

So, I got to fiddle with the roomie's new D5500. =:) It quite surprised me to find how much of a weight difference there is, with the newcomer feeling substantially lighter - true, quite a different lens (the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, whereas I usually leave the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 on), but still.. and lo, Wikipedia confirms the D5500 comes in at 470g, vs 675g for the D7100. I do like the touchscreen, and the fully articulated display is very nice, with not even the D500 matching that. I do miss the dual control wheels, though - I'm almost always in manual, auto ISO, with shutter speed on the rear and aperture on the front wheel.

Tim Burton's got a new flick coming in September: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Definitely looks rather good fun. ^_^

In a welcome move, the folk behind San Diego Comic Con, that little neighborhood affair that some people turn up to, have realised that, huge as it is, there are still way more people who'd love to see what's going on, but can't afford to do so. So, they're soft-launching Comic Con HQ on May 7 2016, in preparation for the full ad-free subscription-based service in June, which will:

“provide a year-round destination to enjoy all facets of the community and access the vast diversity of content the world has come to expect from the largest and longest-running pop cultural celebration of the year.”

This content will include daily and weekly unscripted shows with news and views on pop culture from former G4 hosts Adam Sessler and Kevin Pereira; a scripted comedy series called Kings of Con starring Supernatural’s Richard Speight and Rob Benedict; a reality competition hosted by Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein which will follow contestants designing geek couture concepts for a live fashion show at San Diego Comic-Con in July; as well as “a highly-curated selection of film and TV genre titles, and behind-the-scenes access and bonus features from genre titles that defy and define pop culture.”

In terms of content surrounding Comic-Con International itself there is a promise of “airings of select Comic-Con panels” as well as live-streams of cosplay contest the Masquerade and the Eisner Awards.

It'll initially be usable via the web, and native iOS and Android apps, with the likes of Apple TV and Roku planned for June. They're not saying anything yet about pricing. =:/

Friday saw some very nice weather, and with the outlook for the coming week or so looking quite dull and damp, I natually seized the opportunity to go rabbiteering. And they were not only out and about in good numbers (I counted 22 at one point!), but even occasionally obliging with some leporine acrobatics. ^_^

Someone was given exceptionally (or maybe not) poor service by Vodafone, so, in order to try getting some actual resolution, she wrote a very short play, and sent it to the CEO.

I finally picked up a new coat. ^_^ I'd wanted to for a while - more choice is always a happier state - but the old one sort of wound up insisting, for which I'm grateful. =:) And lo, I found the perfect successor. Or at least, a start. ^_^ I was quite bored of the old black look, so this shining white's a distinct refreshment, and the furry hood trim does come in very handy in rabbiteering, when there's a stiff, chilly wind. (Which the buns appear not to mind. As I maintain, they're remarkably hardy sorts, worthy of respect)

Zootopia exceed my expectations. ^_^ The animation was, seriously, as good as you've ever seen, with such detail to attention in subtle facial expressions, let alone the comedic timing - and the two stars do indeed show off real screen chemistry, despite it being all CG. The writing backs it all up - sharp, witty, and deftly managing to speak to adults and children at the same time, heading into a somewhat more serious phase as the film progresses. And I commend Disney for that - Doctor Who is no stranger to the darker side of life, and has been a companion to viewers of all ages for fifty odd years now - but it's still refreshing to see such them actually gradually shift their focus away from being primarily toward children. It's understandable that they wouldn't leap into such a move, given how deeply ingrained the concept is that "cartoons are for kids". (One favorite line, from the Chief to our newly minted star, "Life's not just some musical where you break out into song and all your insipid fantasies come true. Let.. it.. go." =:) And yes, okay, I'll accept the lapine star doesn't hurt the film in my estimation. *grin* Genuinely, I can recommend this highly. (And as a side note, check out co-director Rich Moore's credits, particularly the older ones: Futurama, including the pilot, and the Simpsons, including Marge vs the Monorail!)

Food recommendations of the week, this time from M&S. ^_^ They do seem to try to offer crisps that aren't just the same usual thing, and their Scottish langoustine variety is genuinely a delight, paralleled by the pork, cider, and sage variety. The chicken & mustard is less impressive, though still entirely enjoyable. They're about the only major retailer I'm aware of offering soft-boiled Scotch eggs - and they're very good, genuinely runny, with nicely peppery sausage meat wrapping them. But the star of Saturday's haul has to be the six-pack of sausage rolls, with Davidstow Cheddar, and air dried smoked bacon - they are, tragically, as poor as diet aids as you'd imagine; happily, they're also every bit as delicious as that sounds. ^_^;

There are many, many films I haven't seen yet, with no shortage of modern and older classics; so, I was very pleased to finally get to enjoy Hellboy last Saturday night. =:D It's what I'd have expected from Guillermo del Toro on his best (well, okay, Pan's Labyrinth was his best. The mecha outing.. ah, why can't we get Evangelion on the big screen?), with Ron Perlman being the perfect choice, even if I'll always first associate him with The City of Lost Children.

Well, now to see where the problem with my current photography RAID lies. =:P I was trying to copy the most recent Aperture library over to it (at some 90GB, I felt it was becoming a tad heavy =:), when the copy simply stalled. It wouldn't cancel, and digging a little showed it had basically hung - it wouldn't eject, nor even force eject. So, of course, when I restarted, the RAID began an automatic rebuild - which failed at 15%, with one of the drives going offline. Tried again, and failed at 6%. It could be an actual drive fault (and yes, both drives are the same maker, ordered at the same time, yay), but, in the hope it's actually just a cable issue, as both cables have been *cough* nudged - okay, kicked - a little, I ordered two replacements, which just arrived. So, here goes.. [ETA: cautious optimism. ^_^ The rebuild went without a hitch, and I copied that library over also without any trouble. Comforting. ^_^ Next step, I think, needs to be a remote backup]
I imagine many of you, if not all, will have at least tried the classic leeks preparation in a mildly sweet white, somewhat peppery white sauce. My advice, at this juncture, is to add a dash of cheap Armagnac and Bailey's late in the cooking, for a sumptuous result you'll love. ^_^

If you're in the UK, and have been waiting for Zootopia (or indeed, Zootropolis), check your local listings - whilst it's not officially opening until Mar 25, the local place appears to be running advance screenings over the weekend, on at least three screens. =:D Anyone who's seen it: is its use of 3D worthwhile? I'm inclined to see it in 3D, given it's CG, rather than the 3D added in post-production, as is the case with many live-action productions.

As jriendhal says, "Why can't they bring back the woolly mammoths? They're probably as trainable as elephants and they're all cute and fuzzy. But nooooo. Gotta bring back t. rexes and velociraptors every fricking time."

ObLucre: if anyone's interested in the D5500 kit, the current best offer is £380, courtesy of the roomie.

Now, this could be a potentially cool development in the music copyright wars between rights holders and DJs: Dubset analyses mixes, and will "identify existing recordings within the file, pay the necessary rights holders, and distribute the mix through Apple Music and other streaming services", paying the DJ some percentage as well. Seems like a potentially sane solution. ^_^ It'll be interesting to see if SoundCloud adopts this approach, rather than the "all guns blazing" crackdown rigelkitty noted a while back.

Yay, MasterChef is back! Next Wednesday - Mar 23 2016 - at 8pm, BBC 1. Looks like they're following a three episodes a week schedule, Wed/Thu/Fri, of 1h/1h/30m.
If you're willing, I'd like to invite you to read this entry by momentrabbit, on life after their pup, Dotty.

So, VancouFur recently took place. Unknown to anyone beforehand, the con hotel turned out to also be one of the Canadian government's venues for temporary housing of Syrian refugees. There were concerns that there might be something of a culture clash. What happened?

"One of many highlites [sic] to me was when the new group of Syrian Refugees children came in and got to interact with us. To them we were cartoons come to life, to us was a means to display our acting performance to a very appreciative audiance [sic]. Win win all around. The parents interacted too and took photos with us as well, so kewl."

"The interactions between our attendees and the Syrians were amazing," Trapa Civet, Vice Chairman of VancouFur told Mashable in an email. "I feel like the moment was just as magical for the performers as it was for the refugees."

Civet said they said advised attendees to be respectful of the refugees and even went to the trouble sending letters to the refugees translated into Arabic inviting them to join. The two groups crossed paths on Sunday morning.

In the end, they said, there was no shock at all but, rather, fun: "It is always a amazing feeling to see the expression of glee in a child's eyes in response to your costume and actions. Even the adults chose to jump in and get some hugs from our animal friends."

xyzzysqrl would like to share his wolf armor with you. =:D

A prog from BBC3 that might be of interest to some: Daft Punk Unchained: "This documentary explores this unprecedented cultural revolution, revealing two artists on a permanent quest for creativity, independence and freedom. Between fiction and reality, magic and secret, future and reinvention, theatricality and humility, The Robots have built a unique world. The film combines rare archive footage as well as exclusive interviews with their closest collaborators who talk about their work with Daft Punk, including Pharrell Williams, Giorgio Moroder, Nile Rodgers and Michel Gondry."

The new Ghostbusters trailer is out! I am so looking forward to this. =:D

The New York Review of Books' feature, The Fierce Courage of Nina Simone is well worth a few minutes of your time. And on a rather different note - not that I've seen it myself yet - Mad Max: Fury Road, reviewed by the writer's 70 y.o. mother-in-law.

Serenity Caldwell reviewed the iPad Pro & Apple Pencil in appropriate style: drawn entirely thereon. ^_^ (I must remember to ask shatterstripes if she's tried them out yet) It does indeed sound like a very attractive option versus a Cintiq. Still not seeing what she means by her handwriting being "not great", though. ^_^

We stumbled upon quite the hidden cinematic gem on Friday night, Moonwalkers. ^_^ The roomie's discovery, but we both thoroughly enjoyed it. How does this tickle you? Ron Perlman is a CIA agent, tasked with getting Stanley Kubrick to shoot some "moon landing" footage, just in case the real landing doesn't work out. He winds up securing the services of a hack actor playing Kurick and a hopeless agent (Rupert Grint), with the latter owing much money to a not very nice man, The Ironmnonger, who's now taken the payment meant for said director. It's a brilliantly funny caper, even if not a little violent. Seek it out! From what I can see on IMDb, it's sort of crept out in a few countries, so you'll probably have to torrent it for now to actually see it.

Via schnee, a helpful flowchart on how to name animals in German.

So, here's a forthcoming comic of some interest: Angel Catbird, a superhero who's wound up getting spliced up with owl and cat genes. And it's written by Margaret Atwood, perhaps best known for The Handmaid's Tale.

Yay! One of my favorite TF flicks, Sssssss!, getting the HD treatment! It's a thoroughly daffy 70s horror film, based around a herpetologist's new assistant being unwittingly turned into a cobra.

Intriguingly, North Korea will be holding a Party Congress in May - the first since 1980. Of course, it's anybody's guess what will transpire - it's entirely possible it'll just be business as usual, but there's also the remote possibility of something more substantial. Might a Korean version of perestroika be in the offing?

A free sci-fi collection from an unlikely source: Future Visions. "Nine award-winning sci-fi authors – Elizabeth Bear, Greg Bear, David Brin, Nancy Kress, Ann Leckie, Jack McDevitt, Seanan McGuire and Robert J. Sawyer – and graphic novelist Blue Delliquanti were given access to people and resources at Microsoft Research, which has more than 55 areas of research within it. They chose the areas of research they wanted to explore. Among the many topics they absorbed were quantum computing, prediction analytics, virtual teleportation and computing that relates to emotion. The writers talked to researchers in person, asked questions and had candid conversations during packed, curated visits in the spring, aligned to their interests. The stories inspired by those visits are included in a 239-page collection of original short stories, illustrations based on each story by Joey Camacho, and a graphic novel."

Captions invited. ^_^ The two here were communicating by means of nosebump, when the adult suddenly leapt around in that 180 degree style rabbits can manage so dramatically - I happened to catch them at the very start of that. ^_^

Fancy a little fiendish guitarwork? How about this Japanese bank card advert, featuring the guitarist known as Li-sa-X. Yes, that is indeed her playing, and she's now the ripe old age of eleven. ^_^;

Rather curiously, the Eurovision Song Contest voting rules have been changed: "In previous years each country's jury and public votes were combined and announced in one go. Now the votes will be split with each country's jury vote cast first, and votes from viewers in all countries combined and announced at the end. Organisers say this will create a "dramatic finish" as the winner will only be revealed at the very end." I'm not sure about this at all, though it might be interesting to see the differences between the public and jury votes. The explanation does offer some good points, such as where the public and jury votes differ greatly, under the scheme as has been, the act might not place at all, and receive no points at all - now, that likely wouldn't be the case.

Here's a neat little bit of technological archaia: How the Teleprinter works, produced in 1940 by the GPO. (And for added nerd value, it's one of a fairly small number of films produced using Dufaycolor, an early process working along somewhat similar lines to digital camera sensors, with different, microscopic areas of the film sensitive to different ranges of color, rather than the more familiar film method of multiple layers)

I only just noticed! People's journals have RSS feeds. That might be something I could take advantage of, if I were to write a new OS X/iOS client. As is, I just use the plain web route on both Hazel and the iPad, but a dedicated client could offer some niceties, like showing how many postings friends have made since the last time you went about replying, offering a split view for someone's entry and your reply (particularly useful for replying to long entries), ensuring the style buttons *aren't* placed directly above the entry field, thereby getting obscured by iOS's "cut/paste/style" on selecting text on the first line or two of a reply, tagging an entry as "to reply to later", for easy returning to, and so on. What other things might appeal to you in such a client?

Saturday's viewing a couple weekends ago offered up a serendipitous choice: Burke & Hare, set in the very locale we'd just had the great pleasure of visiting. ^_^

I was rather upset, on Thursday's rabbiteering a few weeks ago, to witness a bun with some form of injury - they seemed to have either no control over, or no strength in, their hind legs, getting around purely by their front legs. Unfortunately, one of the others of the warren chose them to attack. It may be a bit much to hope, in the wild, but I must at least hope they remain safe. I don't know if I should publish any of these photos.. I suppose I should, as it did happen, but, I also lay no claim to being a documentary photographer. It probably only hurts anyone who's seen the peacefulness beforehand, albeit with them maintaining an odd poise, then that vigorous scuffle, and their subsequent isolation. However! A few days later, I noticed a bun with a slightly odd gait, but otherwise moving reasonably well - I could be thinking wishfully, but perhaps they are indeed recovering. ^_^ The population of the warren seems to be doing very well - I've observed peaks of up to eighteen on a few days, and once, twenty four, always including quite a few tinybuns. (I did finally remember to buy some raisins, too, and to scatter some of them out my the current prime spot; three times, actually. I do hope they find and enjoy them - they'll surely be a welcome change from the current slim pickings, especially with the current cold snap, with temperatures bouncing around freezing. And there I was, a few weeks ago, dismissing the need to pick up some gloves, thinking "ah, winter's gone now!" - ohhh, no, not just yet. It's not that it's been that cold, but when you're maintaining a still position, even a chilly breeze can freeze tender paws. For now, I just make do with taking a little break every half hour or so)

Speaking of tinybuns, here's a trio, probably no more than a couple weeks out of the warren, practising their synchronised eating:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More MLP:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here, have a small leap. ^_^