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The Blender Foundation recently released their latest short, "Tears of Steel", and it's rather good. ^_^ Something of a departure from previous ones, it demonstrates a lot of compositing of real actors and CG. It's also actually entertaining.

For schnee, and anyone else who might be interested: a high-res shot of Iceland, surrounded by clouds.

There's the possibility that a newly discovered (and catchily named) C/2012 S1 comet may be visible to the unaided eye from November 2013 to January 2014, perhaps even brighter than a full moon. =:D

And austin_dern might want to run this page past the Cecil folks. It would seem the reason some birds, such as pigeons, bob their heads while walking is simply to keep their heads in the same position for a prolonged period, making it easier to detect movement of food or predators.

That was rather an interesting afternoon.. I was out by the local buns' main spot, near the duck pond, when someone asked what camera I had, the bunnycam being just by me. I noted it was a D90, and so a conversation began - he was a fresher, indeed, straight off the plane on Monday, his first time outside India. He invited me to view some of his work, and I'm very pleased I accepted - as you can imagine, the kinds of shots he's been able to take thereabouts were at time quite stunning. Partly out of the scenery, but also through real talent - his father had started him on a film SLR, letting him graduate to a D5000 later on, once he'd become familiar with the fundamentals. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd quite go that route, as it's so much easier (and cheaper) to experiment digitally, but there was no questioning his ability to nail some of the landscape shots I was treated to. He'd apparently gained a commission from the local museum to photograph the region's antiquities, a project interrupted by his studies - I expect that'll see completion, and in some style.

I was quite pleased, the other day, to be able to take a shot I'd wanted for a while. Way back when, I saw a photo of a wild rabbit grooming their ear - the caption read something along the lines of the photographer noticing them, and grabbing a shot quickly. Unfortunately, it seems the link's expired, and there's no watermark or other (eg EXIF) tagging, so I regrettably can't identify the photographer - all I remember is it was by a Montana roadside. Here's their quite excellent shot - locally hosted, and regrettably uncredited, as the original URL is dead, and I can't find any other copies of it on the net - and my humble version. I'll concede theirs is better, but I'm nonetheless quite happy with the feel of my own.





So, Tuesday night was a little stressful.. got into (a =:) local haunt, opened Dandelion, and found WiFi off. Turned it on.. nope, it wasn't changing. Restarted, and all was well - for an hour or so, then a hard lockup. Restarted, and fine again. Then another lockup a while later. Rebooting off the SSD in a USB enclosure worked fine, but WiFi then said "No hardware installed". O.o;; As I'd been inside on Monday, trying to swap over the DVD-R for an SSD, I feared I'd somehow managed to screw things up, possibly quite expensively. Without WiFi, I conceded, and used the iPad instead. Then I read of pandaguy's death.. *sigh*

Mercifully, Wednesday was rather better, with cal_foxx providing a little insight into the panda's sudden demise. With a well-lit desk in the office, I opened Dandelion up to see if anything was obviously amiss, and noticed the Bluetooth antenna unplugged. Nothing to do with WiFi, but still, worth reconnecting. Flipped back over, powered up, and.. yay! Full WiFi connectivity again. ^_^ The replacement caddy had also arrived - this time, one for laptops using slimline 9.5mm DVD-Rs, rather than the first one I'd ordered, 12.5mm tall - so a quick resync of the selected directories onto that, then into the optical bay (not a difficult procedure, but a little involved), powered up to check all was still well, and timed the startup at around 2m40s from pressing the button, to the usual applications being up and running. Then.. the fateful switchover to the SSD, and restarted. In about 30s, total. =:D

I'm amazed. It's far beyond mere throughput (around 200MB/s write, 250MB/s read) - web pages render almost immediately, Aperture absolutely flies, and yes, the sheer throughput is sufficient to play 1920x1080 uncompressed YUV video, around 1Gbps bitrate.

FWIW, the drive's a Crucial M4 256GB, replacing Dandelion's DVD-R, as I've only used optical discs about once or twice a year since having the system.

On America's trend against immigration (far from a rare trait, sadly): "Previous research projects I led had documented that, from 1995 to 2005, 25.3 percent of all technology and engineering startups nationwide and 52.4 percent of those in Silicon Valley were founded by immigrants. More than a decade earlier, from 1980 to 1998, Saxenian had documented that the key immigrant-founding groups, Indian and Chinese, had founded 24 percent of the Valley’s startups."

So.. how about a little photographic puzzle? Tell me what this stonework is/was. ^_^



Looper: erf. I'm not quite sure what to make of this flick. Let me begin, at least, by commending that it is a good film, and especially, that it's not lacking for plot. However - could I care about anyone in it? No. Not at all. With only one or two exceptions, pretty much all the characters were total scumbags, inhabiting a world so desperately, unremittingly bleak that Mega-City One would've seemed like some utopia. As such, whilst I enjoyed the complexity of the plot (let's face it, not exactly a routine quality in a mainstream big budget Hollywood production), I was looking forward to the end, to be free of such total misery of existence. Dammit, even Samsara exudes a degree of hope, however grimy the lives portrayed.

On a somewhat more fun front, I'm delighted to discover that the third volume in Bryan Talbot's Grandville series of graphic novels, "Bête Noir", is currently scheduled for release by Dark Horse on Dec 26 2012. Digitally, at least - I'd imagine the paper edition would be identical, or nearby. If you're unfamiliar with it, or him, well.. I should probably let huskyteer enlighten you. ^_^ Superb artwork, a fully furry storyline, and no shortage of high intrigue in a vaguely steampunk world, where England is part of the French empire.

And if you're in need of a hearty cinematic laugh, see if Untouchable is playing locally. It's apparently the second highest grossing French film of all time, and deservedly - brilliant writing, and indeed, based on a real story, with the two leads showing such fantastic chemistry. Fear not: whilst the premise might sound tired and prone to being cloying, it avoids that entirely. Highly recommended.

Have a duck. ^_^ (Which reminds me of xyzzysqrl's "put it with the other ducks" icon..) There'd just been something of a feeding frenzy, and this individual managed to make off with a hefty piece of bread. Time to hightail it outta the scrum!

 
 
 
 
 
 
Superb choice on the M4! I have the same drive (which I paid more than $300 for barely a month before all the price drops, sigh) and it's probably the single best technology purchase I've made in a long time. SO FAST.
It might even have been you, possibly, who highlighted that as a good choice, when I was nosing around the market a few months back.

And thoroughly agreed. I knew it'd be good, but how much faster it's made even things like web browsing is just amazing. I did get it (as a project expense) for practical reasons, including being able to review uncompressed HD video files without any stuttering, and for fast VM, as Dandelion's sometimes having to cope with Xcode, VS2010, Aperture, MATLAB, and a couple very hungry encoding processes at the same time - and unfortunately, the mid-2009 MBP's chipset can only address (only! Hee) 8GB.

BTW, is that icon new? Was it a commission?
Hmm, that stonework reminds me a bit of certain bits of ex-canal infrastructure. A narrow channel leading into a wide basin would fit, but -- though it's hard to be sure from this angle -- it looks too narrow for that.
Bingo. =:D Do you want to try guessing the cargo involved?

(Indeed, the gauge is surprisingly narrow. I was originally thinking along the lines of drainage, as a result, until I saw the noticeboard further along, with information posted about a group involved in its preservation)
At a guess -- and that's all it is -- I'd say coal. If it was something more obscure/specialised, I have no idea!
Oh, jolly good show, sir. ^_^

Here's the full scoop. It's a fascinating tale, with the canal being superceded by the railways, themselves being felled by Beeching and others later on. (In the S&D case, particularly unfortunately, as it leaves Somerset without a southerly route to this day)
Ha, I was actually thinking of the Somerset(shire) Coal Canal, so that's good to know!
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Heh, definitely. ^_^;

And wholeheartedly agreed. I've no problem with gritty realism, showing life with warts and all, but even in the slums of Calcutta or Bogota, there's hope.

*sigh* I suppose it's for that reason the newer Batman flicks just haven't held me. I started in on Batman Begins, but couldn't find myself engaged by it. (For me, the earlier ones were much more fun - and I shall forever wish I could be Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman =:)

Perhaps that's part of why I enjoyed Prometheus so much - whilst being quite dark, it exuded such a sense of curiosity, wanting to find out if they'd truly made humanity, or at least, its beginnings.

I'd love to see more such sci-fi. Space opera, too! Who wouldn't want to see the Chanur saga on the big screen, or A Fire Upon the Deep? We don't need another alien invasion with epic battles led by a fearless hero!
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Mmm, that was always part of the appeal of Star Wars, for me - places looked genuinely lived in, even if quite normally clean, and equipment showed it had been used. Similarly in B5, of course. Much as I enjoy most of Star Trek, it always seemed to be in a parallel universe where unseen fleets of cleaners follow you around.

(Now I want to see Picard trying to give a dramatic speech while on the comms, as a Roomba bumps gently against his feet..)

I suppose if Looper proves a hit financially, as it seems, maybe there'll be that bit less reluctance on the part of the studios to let directors tell more complex tales. (Reminds me, I need to track down Safety Not Guaranteed.. regrettably, it doesn't seem to've seen any form of release hereabouts)
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I pondered the possibility of a canal, but it looked so narrow! I need to dig through the Coal Canal society's site, and see if they've got any drawings or photos of what carried the cargo - but, I suppose coal wouldn't really require any particular shape barge, so comparatively narrow ones would work just as well, and presumably keep the construction costs down.

Thanks. ^_^

Hey, you seem to get going pretty early in the mornings - do you have any vistas that might be well enhanced by morning mist? Could be a perfect excuse to go monochromatic again.


Edited at 2012-10-08 11:50 am (UTC)
For schnee, and anyone else who might be interested: a high-res shot of Iceland, surrounded by clouds.

Oh, cool! ^^ Pretty rare to see Iceland without any (major) clouds covering it; definitely of those nifty shots you only see every few years, like this one.

That photo of yours of the grooming bunny is quite amazing. :) And wow, your SSD sounds rather sweet!

On America's trend against immigration (far from a rare trait, sadly): "Previous research projects I led had documented that, from 1995 to 2005, 25.3 percent of all technology and engineering startups nationwide and 52.4 percent of those in Silicon Valley were founded by immigrants. More than a decade earlier, from 1980 to 1998, Saxenian had documented that the key immigrant-founding groups, Indian and Chinese, had founded 24 percent of the Valley’s startups."

The same thing's happening in Germany, only there never was any real immigration (even temporarily, for study) to speak of. Some politicians, on rare occasions and in lucid moments, dare suggest that it might be a good idea to actually attract skilled workers; but then hurdles are invariably put up, bureaucratic procedures created, and there's hardly any incentives. The idea that persists in politicians' and bureaucrats' heads is that these people are applicants who'd have to kowtow and grovel to be permitted to enter the Promised Land, whereas in reality, they should be trying to woo these folks and offer them the best deal they can get — better than anyone else's.

Sort of surprising to see the USA making similar mistakes, though. You'd think a nation that's pretty much exclusively built by immigrants and on immigration would know better.

Lovely panorama, BTW. I'm not sure what answer you're looking for, though; it seems obvious that the stonework's there to keep the brook flowing a certain direction. ('course, "it's obvious" probably means "this is wrong".)

And the duck shot's very nice, too. It's not easy to catch birds in flight with the camera like that!
Oooh, all that snow.. <3 I definitely wouldn't mind living (again) somewhere there's reliable snowfall. It quite changes the landscape, urban or rural. Usually, though, I find myself at best seeing the odd couple days of snow, before it melts away, or is tragically rained out of existence.

Thanks. ^_^ I was so pleased to be able to capture that moment, even while I was not all that far away, in open view. Someday, I'll be able to do even better, but then we get into the scary priced lenses. ^_^; (Still, plenty of people have cars that cost more. How do they manage it?)

I can easily recommend getting an SSD - even just a more modest sized unit for the OS and key applications would help speed up routine operations. I'd been pondering one for a while, but while unemployed, it was pretty much out of the question, and even lately, finances have continued to be somewhat on the constrained side. But with work often requiring multiple heavyweight applications at the same time, I put the idea forward as a project expense, and was given the go-ahead. ^_^ I'd happily go fully SSD, but for now, I'm not sure 1TB SSDs are even available, let alone as cheaply as a HD. Still, it's working out well, and I'll be able to refine what belongs where - almost all the video remains on the HD only, other than uncompressed HD, which is rather too high bitrate for the HD to handle, at 800-1000Mbits/s. (Looks good, though!) Similarly, most of the photos are on the HD, other than the current Aperture library.

I suppose part of the issue with politicians an immigration is that it's an easy issue to make hay over - and if you're of a conservative mindset, you're more liable to want to foment such "concerns", pitting the lower and middle classes against "outsiders", thereby diverting attention from themselves. (George Osborne's showing the same strategy now, with quips like asking people to wonder what it's like to go out to work and see your neighbor's blinds drawn, as they're on benefits and don't need to go out to work. Risible logic, but it'll work - indeed, some of the comments on this Grauniad story attest thereto. As if being on benefits is some long party..)

Ah, for a world where anyone can move anywhere.. I'd reluctantly accept limitations for some probationary period on being able to claim benefits, but if you've got a job offer, savings, or a plausible business plan and some funding, I'd happily welcome them wherever I called home. (And as an immediate start, passports ought to be much cheaper than at present - £72! And the Wikipedia page notes that's a steep increase since 1992, when it cost a much more reasonable £18. Worse still if you're American. Mind, those fees pale in comparison to those levied in connection to an H-1B application, where you're into the low four digits, especially once a lawyer's involved)

I barely notice the bread originally, either! I just saw this rapid not-quite-takeoff, and thought that might make a good action shot. Thankfully, the D90's AF didn't fail me, and my tracking must've been adequate. I suppose rabbits are good practice. ^_^
Yeah, I know what you mean about snow. I wish we got reliably got it here, but we don't — I'd have to move further north for that.

Thanks. ^_^ I was so pleased to be able to capture that moment, even while I was not all that far away, in open view. Someday, I'll be able to do even better, but then we get into the scary priced lenses. ^_^; (Still, plenty of people have cars that cost more. How do they manage it?)

Wow, now THAT's some serious glass. :) You should be able to get some very nice shots with that, I'd imagine — and you could add a teleconverter on top of it. (BTW, I'm curious, what's the D90's crop factor?)

Of course it's scarily expensive, but as you note, others spend (much) more on things like cars, although one presumes they may be getting loans for those, too. Any chance you might be able to rent the lens for a while? I'd definitely want to try a beast like before I buy it — more so since it apparently weighs in at a very hefty 11 pounds.

As for SSDs... I'd definitely love one, yes; it's in the specs for the new computer, along with a larger HD for less throughput-critical data. But that particular project seems to be on the backburner at the moment.

Ah, for a world where anyone can move anywhere.. I'd reluctantly accept limitations for some probationary period on being able to claim benefits, but if you've got a job offer, savings, or a plausible business plan and some funding, I'd happily welcome them wherever I called home.

That would be nice. And I heard a very good argument in favor that some time in the past: we already live in a world where companies and capital can move pretty much wherever they want, so why don't we afford workers the same right? It seems unfair that a company can e.g. move production to a different country to take advantage of lower wages, laxer regulation etc., but employees are pretty much unable in practice to leave whatever nation considers them its citizens.

Hee, little Iceland's adorable when it's not shielded by clouds. Same for the buns...speaking of which, you must be in possession of a one bigass lens for such close shots!

Photographic puzzle. I say there must have been a water mill nearby!
I think I need to see Iceland for myself someday. Not sure I'd enjoy the cost of beer, but I suppose the sheer spectacle of the landscapes would at least partially make up for that. =:)

It's not too big, actually, though not quite something for a pocket either. =:) It's a Nikkor 300mm f/4D - pretty decent reach, with a wide enough aperture to remain useful even in quite low light, and of high enough quality that it's perfectly feasible to add a teleconverter for extra reach. I'm hoping to lay my paws on a TC17E-II when I can - that'd push me to 510mm, but as there's no free lunch, I'd then be at f/6.8 or higher. Better detail FTW!

(And here it is, mounted on my D90)

Nope - not for energy or grinding! Although I suppose there is a tenuous connection to energy. ^_^

I wonder if I can find a shot of the UK without clouds? =:) So much to enjoy about the UK, but I'm not sure I'd rank the climate high in that list.. =:/
I think I need to see Iceland for myself someday. Not sure I'd enjoy the cost of beer, but I suppose the sheer spectacle of the landscapes would at least partially make up for that. =:)

You definitely should. :)

Beer etc. is indeed expensive, but it probably won't matter a lot since EVERYTHING in Iceland is expensive. If that's gonna be an issue, one'd be well-advised to vacation somewhere else; and if not... well, then it's not an issue. ;)

It IS a stunningly beautiful country, too. The landscape is amazing, obviously, but the culture is fascinating as well, and you could spend a lot of time exploring Reykjavík alone, not to mention the rest of the country, from the larger towns (Akureyri, Ísafjörður etc). to the small hamlets and farms that dot the coastal areas.

If you go, and if you're interested in the landscape, I'd definitely recommend a private superjeep tour with your own guide, BTW — quite a few tour operators offer that sort of thing, and while it's not cheap, it'll be spectacular. Having a local guide is obviously invaluable, and not having any other participants, no schedule to stick to etc. and being in complete control of where you want to go and what you want to see, with your guide advising you and providing tips and info is great.

Alternatively, if you're the adventurous sort, you can also rent a car yourself and go on your own tours. :) But you'll have to do more research that way, and car rentals in Iceland are expensive, especially if you want one that's capable of crossing the highlands (again, like everything).
Everything, perhaps aside of fish, costs loads over there. Especially alcohol, which is the case in every other Scandinavian country. But in return there's so much natural beauty to admire, or, as I call it, picture opportunities ;)

And speaking of pictures, that's once nice lens there! I'm pondering a new lens for my camera. Something around 150-200mm would be entirely satisfying. Should you have any recommendations then fire away, I'll happily listen.

Well, clouds seem to be part of the UK's identity. It wouldn't be the same place without them. Though it's easy for me to say that as I get to travel abroad very often and receive much more sunlight hours per year than you guys ^^
Of course, if you want truly absurd glass, this offering from Sigma takes some beating. =:D

Nikon's crop factor's about 1.5, so the effective reach of my 300mm is actually around 450mm. But that still leaves one wanting for further reach, with small subjects like buns or most birds, hence my aim of the TC17E-II teleconverter.

Certainly, rentals are possible, although once you're up at that level, even that can be a significant cost, in the low hundreds. 11lb would be pretty awkward for handholding, definitely - that'd be something I would miss, as I love the spontaneity that something relatively light (ha!) like the 300mm f/4 affords, where it's easy to just take it out of a laptop bag, mount it, and just be completely freely held, or use a farm gate to help support the elbows. With something like the 600mm f/4, you're pretty much into tripods. That said, if you get a good gimbal mount, you do have the ability to move it around pretty freely.

we already live in a world where companies and capital can move pretty much wherever they want, so why don't we afford workers the same right?

Very much so. And of course, the profits from all that similarly get shuffled around into tax havens around the world, so poor darlings like Mitt Romney have to deal with a swingeing tax rate of almost 14%! All throughout the corporate world, it seems to be a race to the bottom, locating wherever offers the best deals at the time, moving freely if somewhere else becomes more advantageous. Amazon UK, f'rex: "The latest 2010 accounts for Amazon EU Sarl show the Luxembourg office employed just 134 people, but generated turnover of €7.5bn (£6.5bn). In the same year, the UK operation employed 2,265 people and reported a turnover of just £147m."
Of course, if you want truly absurd glass, this offering from Sigma takes some beating. =:D

Hah, yeah, but that IS pretty absurd. :) The 600mm Nikkor is still within the range of what I would consider "normal"; decidedly at the upper end, but — well, not absurd.

Certainly, rentals are possible, although once you're up at that level, even that can be a significant cost, in the low hundreds.

Oh, absolutely. I mostly meant renting it so you could see how it would perform and whether it'd work for you; you'd not want to invest 7k quid into a single lens without having tried it extensively, I imagine. :) A good store might well credit the rental cost towards the cost of the lens if you do purchase it, too.

As for freehand shooting... heh, time to hit the gym and bulk up? ^_~ But yes, as you say, a good tripod would still allow you quite a bit of flexibility, and given the lens's cost, you could justify spending a lot and getting a very good tripod, too. Alternatively, maybe a monopod would work well, too, and strike a good compromise.

Very much so. And of course, the profits from all that similarly get shuffled around into tax havens around the world, so poor darlings like Mitt Romney have to deal with a swingeing tax rate of almost 14%! All throughout the corporate world, it seems to be a race to the bottom, locating wherever offers the best deals at the time, moving freely if somewhere else becomes more advantageous.

Oh yeah, there is that, too. A classic example of the prisoner's dilemma, I think, with the states as the prisoners — if everyone keeps tax rates up, they all benefit (and by extension, everyone does), but a defector can benefit more at the expense of everyone else (by attracting companies that want to take advantage of a lower tax rate). Unfortunately, if everyone defects and lowers their tax rates, everyone loses out.

The ones benefitting are those that are able to move capital around in the first place: companies and, as you point out, the rich.

I'm not sure what to do about this, though, especially since I talked about wooing the talented and skilled, inventors, entrepreneurs etc. above: creating incentives to attract them and offering them the best deal. When you think about it, that's exactly what's happening here, too.