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Yes, Arthur Christmas is worth seeing. ^_^ It's certainly suitable for all audiences, in the best sense - entertaining for children, whilst still offering plenty of wit and mannerisms adults can catch as well - indeed, there are some delicious smatterings of quite dark humor in places. It refrains from being treacly, but then, this is essentially an Aardman production, even if fully CGI rather than stop-motion. On a technical level, it's at least on par with Pixar, if not perhaps even a hair ahead. (Though will we see Western animation not aimed with a very young audience in mind, outside the indie circuit? Who knows? We've seen there's a tremendous amount of money to be made in continuing to meet expectations - witness Toy Story 3 - and as difficult as it is for films to see funding in the general scheme of things, it's undoubtedly more so for an animated project, where, despite the golden age of Loonie Tunes being written for adults, as supplements to films at large, perceptions have shifted (and been shifted) to animation as being something only suitable for children, despite the best efforts of independent animators worldwide, or anime houses such as Studio Ghibli or Madhouse (say, Summer Wars, or Paprika).

I've got to pimp Ice Foxx's This Electric Music again. ^_^ You can find the XML feed over here. To subscribe to TEM in iTunes, go to Advanced>Subscribe to Podcast, and paste the URL in. Episode 2 is proving to be pretty killer for getting stuck into some intense OpenCL learning and refactoring. =:D

Draw a Stickman is a great way to waste a minute or two. ^_^ (Flash required) It's not quite as passive as it might seem at first..

Watch out for a new online channel from The Royal Institution, "beta" launching before Christmas. It will, apparently, be available without geographic restrictions, and will be iPad-friendly. ("The Ri is an independent charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. We're about discovery, innovation, inspiration and imagination. You can explore over 200 years of history making science in our Faraday Museum as well as engage with the latest research, ideas and debates in our public science events.")

Russell T Davies has put future writing projects on hold, for now, as his partner was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, which cut short their life in LA, though Showtime and the BBC remain supportive. The interview also touches on his earlier work, including Queer as Folk, and his time with Doctor Who, and the creation of Captain Jack. '"John, God bless him. What have I done? I've created a monster," he laughs. "I always say though, if I ever accidentally murder someone and need to get out of the country fast, he's the man I'd phone. He'd do it. He'd wrap me up in a carpet and smuggle me out of the country in the back of a van. He's a lovely man. People don't realise how kind he is."'

Honest Publishing recently ran an interview with Alan Moore (Watchmen, Halo Jones, et al), which is well worth a read. In the second part, he responds to Frank Miller's diatribe against Occupy, and offers his own thoughts on the problems they call attention to.

avon_deer noticed yet another example of why I'll never have anything to do with PayPal - this time, a Secret Santa operation to buy children presents for Christmas. But, after a long slog through PayPal's bureaucracy, because they used the "donate" rather than "buy" button, as they're not a registered charity/non-profit, they'll have to return each $2 donation. And best of all? PayPal gets to keep the processing fee anyway. Please, consider alternatives, whether you're accepting payments for commissions, or offering a comic tipjar - Flattr is ideal for the latter, and depending on your needs, something like NoChex, Amazon Payments, Square, Moneybookers, LiqPay, WePay, or others may be suitable. (Might be worth some further investigation in coming weeks - any experiences you've had with PayPal alternatives, especially spanning more than one country, would be good to hear)

Mind, I'll at least give them that they're consistent. Here's a follow-up, with some actual conversation excerpts, in which Regretsy is told they can help cats (a worthy cause), but not children (charity), and more mind-contorting corporate logic Catbert would be proud of.


The recent Russian website attacks made the news, in this AFP newswire article, noting several popular sites were targeted in the run-up to the election.

City of London Police have determined that Occupy is an extremist/terrorist threat. Meanwhile, under a 1997 law, the "1033 Program" hands out military equipment to US police - over $500m worth in 2011 alone. The punchline? "1033 was passed by Congress in 1997 to help law-enforcement fight terrorism and drugs, but despite a 40-year low in violent crime, police are snapping up hardware like never before. While this year's staggering take topped the charts, next year's orders are up 400 percent over the same period."

"Only 17 per cent of [HM Revenue & Customs] staff have confidence in the decisions made by senior managers", notes one site reporting that a group, fittingly titled Dissent, has been formed internally, aimed at assisting whistleblowers. It appears to've come about "after it emerged the country's top tax official signed off a deal which let investment bank Goldman Sachs off a £10 million tax bill." (Meanwhile, small businesses are being pursued harder than ever, to the extent of assets being seized, preventing normal operations) Though even that pales against the UK branches of UBS and Deutsche Bank uniting to fight a £200m unpaid tax bill in a tribunal next February, stemming from channeling millions in "bonuses" through a Cayman Islands entity, winding that up, and distributing the proceeds via Jersey.
"All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side. The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."

-- George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism
 
 
 
 
 
 
Yeah, not the biggest fan of PayPal here.

I've never tried it but I've heard good things about something called "WebMoney" (http://www.wmtransfer.com/), I think LJ even takes them as a payment option.

Although lately I /have/ been trying out BitCoin (http://bitcoin.org/) a little bit...


On a different subject, have you ever read this book? He writes some good stuff, I even have a couple of his books in hardcover.
Someone really needs to make a Netscape-style animated 16-color Firefox banner. Indeed, I'd be sort of surprised if there isn't already. =:)

Hoo, WebMoney could do with sorting out that FAQ.. it's a bit of a mess, if all you want to do is find out the basics, like what currencies they handle, what countries' cards they accept, and where sellers can reside. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, quite a few payment processors stick to just their native country, sometimes branching into a couple others - which wouldn't be so bad, but that often means only accepting payments with cards issued in the same country, especially where the US is concerned)

I did nose around BitCoin a little, but mining at this point seems to involve fairly substantial hardware. It's an interesting concept, though, and I hope it continues. We need more options, especially international (and ideally, anonymous, as with cash).

Ah, yes - got a couple of his on the iThings, nicely adapted into comic works. He's no Vernor Vinge or Kurt Vonnegut, but good to have around nonetheless. ^_^ (Now, why can't we see some cinematic works from the likes of those guys? Sure, PKD wrote some good stories, but Hollywood almost seems to believe Sci-Fi starts and ends with him and James Cameron. Reminds me, I should check if there are HD releases of Solaris and Stalker yet..)



Something like this you mean?

FIREFOX NOW!

(I converted the logo to the EGA color palette before I added it.) :-P
Ha! Beautiful. =:D

And even Firefox itself has come along nicely - it's much more native-feeling on OS X now than around v.3. OmniWeb still remains my day-to-day browser, though - those tabs haven't been replicated anywhere else, and the workspace concept was beautifully realised, making it easy to have predefined groups of tabs/windows, or simply separate ones that are or aren't updated automatically by changes made to them. Sadly, it's moribund - people didn't want to pay for a browser, so it only sees the occasional maintenance update now.

Safari's done well, too - it's still not really an OmniWeb replacement (but then, what is?), but the addition of extensions makes a lot more possible, and WebKit's amongst the front of the pack for speed and standards compliance, notably WebGL and HTML5, even if it seems all of them have a way to go until full compatibility with all the useful details of the specs, as noted by that SoundCloud project I mentioned the other week.
Firefox has definitely come along since I started using it - then again, when I first started using it, it wasn't called "Firefox" (or even "Firebird"), it was still called "Phoenix".

Seems that the internet has come a ways too - now more sites actually render properly in it instead of needing to start up IE every so often because another site only works at all in it - now some sites don't even bother coding around IE's weirdness, and tell people to get Firefox/Chrome/Opera/whatever instead.
Yeah, I've been debating ditching paypal for a long time, and I guess dicking over kids at Christmas was the final straw. I'd removed my credit cards from the account long ago, as I didn't trust them, and the bank account I left connected never had more than $200 in it.

I know there's one person, tugrik, who needs to keep paypal for their online business, so they did some voodoo magic at their bank.

They opened an additional account, that can only RECEIVE funds from outside the bank. Money cannot be withdrawn by anyone other than the account holder. He also applied a rule to the paypal account, that immediately upon funds clearing and entering into the paypal account, the amount gets transferred to his special bank account. And as soon as that money hits the bank, it gets transferred to his regular checking account.

That way, if paypal decides to play silly fucks, they can't even pull back the money!
It's quite a pity, in a way, as the concept behind PayPal was quite innovative at the time, but they seemed to go sour fairly early on - you can see no end of people just in the Regretsy comments confirming they've had similar problems with PayPal arbitrarily freezing their funds for weeks or months, departments only reachable by fax, wanting copies of vital documents like marriage certificates, and more. Then toss in the fact they retain your transaction records for years - if you're a member, otherwise it's indefinitely. (Or, it was - haven't checked their TOS lately)

And yet, it wouldn't be difficult for them to be a good company to do business with! But, with that years-long track record, I certainly don't see them changing, short of the entire executive staff being replaced. It's a good thing that they've relented on the matter with Regretsy, and even admit that the original assertion wasn't actually as clear-cut as they'd insisted, but my full expectation is that their ways will remain otherwise precisely as they've always been.

I do like the sound of that kind of transaction protection! Now there's something banks could offer as a perk for better-than-standard accounts, as well as the ability to transfer funds anywhere for a genuinely nominal fee. I was surprised to see just how thoroughly the US banks love reaming their customers - not that that's an industry sector renowned for its innovation and customer service, but to see that it's substantially cheaper to overnight a check rather than just transfer funds from one US account to another.. crazy! By comparison, in most Western countries, transfers within the same country tend to be completely free. Though they all agree international transfers should make even Western Union look cheap. =:)
In that case, this should give you no end of giggles and warm fuzzies.
Ahh, them! I've seen mentions of them here and there, but I hadn't realised quite how much behind the scenes work they're doing on ACH itself; and I'd sorta forgotten that they're linking directly to bank accounts, rather than via credit cards, which still leaves both those high processing fees, and easy points of failure (witness Wikileaks, embargoed by both Visa and Mastercard on no legal basis, merely an internal decision, at the behest of the US government).

Trouble is, it may be quite a while before they really hit usefulness, as they're US-only. I'd certainly hope they have plans for going global, presumably starting with the main EU members (given, AFAIK, most of the banking legislation within the EU remains country-specific, as with other areas of law), and key Australasian nations. I suppose the more of "them" that's involved with their infrastructure, the better, as they're not then purely reliant on existing organisations like ACH, but rather, becoming a small part of them.
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Hee! >>hug<< It's great to see you back again. ^_^ Hope you'll be able to keep TEM coming! (Modulo those fickle muses, of course)

Are there any nifty musical discoveries you've made of late? (But maybe you'll want to keep that for a posting of your own) I've not really been seeking new music out, lately, so mine are mostly just the occasional download from aurgasm, who covers a lot of musical territory; definitely a good feed.
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