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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
 
 
 
 
Ah, another long post where I have to keep re-finding the bits I want to comment on :)

The Horinman museum has a 'plastic pipes and flip-flops' instrument to play with in their hands-on section.

My phone is an HTC Desire from 2010. Its life has been extended greatly by using third party ROMs (one reason I won't do iPhones) and I am only now going 'something bought new for £50 is noticeably better, so...'

The idea of Microsoft making Mojang better is so laughable that I can only imagine they've been made an offer it would be foolish to refuse so that MS can say 'look, our online services have x million more users!'

The last Thunderbirds film was so bad, I didn't even save the downloaded .avi to a CD-R costing a couple of pennies. It completely missed the point.

"Luckily Cards Against Humanity says we can release our shitty version of the game as long as..."

Well, that's nice of them given that CAH is Apples to Apples with swearwords.

Guillermo del Toro does two sorts of films: fabulous ones and 'for the money' blockbusters. I don't think there is any overlap...
Ah, the Horniman! I've still yet to go along there. What are the highlights, in your estimation?

one reason I won't do iPhones

Not a particularly good one, though, considering the iPad 2 from 2011 will still take the forthcoming iOS 8 happily. But let's not go down that path - it gets overtrodden dreadfully. Pretend the brand names aren't there - I'm looking to discuss the technologies much more than the players.

There's the thing! I keep reading about how people supposedly routinely swap out their phones every year, or at worst, every other year, yet I was fine with my five year old device, before eventually admitting the newcomer was indeed pretty nifty. Nothing I couldn't manage without, true, but all together, it made an appealing upgrade. An easier matter with the iPad 1 up to the Air, of course, given the breakneck pace with which mobile CPUs and GPUs have improved in just that relatively modest period - that's the device I'm far more likely to use when on the move, versus the phone.

I sometimes like to ponder what these devices'll be like several generations down the line, and where the next big divergences will happen. I don't see wearables as being quite there - I imagine the better ones will sell acceptably, but they're much more "spurs" on the family tree, than new branches. That said, I suspect we could be a good way off the next big thing, as that, I think, will involve new interfaces - displays on contact lenses, say, or direct neural interfacing that doesn't involve any invasive procedure. We're a fair way off the former, let alone the latter.

You may well be right with Mojang. =:/ At least, for the most part, MS have tended to be fairly good with letting those kinds of purchases (eg Bungie) run fairly autonomously. But other than simply numbers, no, I'm really not seeing what the gain is for MS. Still, as long as they do leave the project unmolested, it'll at least make for a very happy Notch and crew. =:)

Thunderbirds I didn't even bother seeing. Everything I'd heard pointed toward it being a complete turkey. Which is not to say I won't see it, just that there'll be plenty of cider involved when I do. =:) (Do you still archive to optical media? I abandoned such for HDs, given the time involved in even faster burners, and especially the hassle of trying to archive HD files, short of saving them as segmented archives)

I suppose GdT shares that with a fair few other showbiz sorts, Michael Caine especially. *chuckle* Ye gods, but he's taken some tripe on in his time, but has also given us some real gems, now and early on. I suppose I can't fault them - no harm pocketing a few million if the studio's offering it, if it helps you get the smaller projects done more or less for free. I know I'd be fine with it, but haven't had that problem yet. Dammit. Are my ears not tall enough?
Highlights are its specialities: the music and the anthropology. The temporary photo exhibition in the hall balcony is always worth a look. The aquarium used to be nice, but is now no longer free (apart from one short time every month). If you're going to go regularly - which we used to - then an annual pass is fine, but I have not been tempted to pay for one-off visits. The gardens are good when it's not winter.

True, there are other manufacturers who go out of their way to actively prevent you owning your phone and who don't want you - gasp - being able to change a battery.

There is absolutely a 'I must have a new phone this year even if I can't really see the difference' market. It's very profitable.

For that film, even the trailer was crap which should have been a big clue that it wasn't worth the download. The script is, as ever, the main issue and it is simply not a Thunderbirds film.

No, it has been years since I bought any blanks. I will be burning some DVDs this week - part of making a series I bought on DVD more usable - but that will be the first time in months. If the Pi did 5.1 sound, I'd have just ripped them to mp4.

Someone at the Edinburgh Fringe claimed to like every single Michael Caine film they'd seen. The Swarm was a particular favourite because of the conviction in which he delivered the 'why did it have to be the bees?' line.
I am considering the iPhone 6, not the 'phablet'. I've using a 4S for almost 4 years, it's my first smartphone and I love it, no complaints. I'm of the type to use a phone until it disintegrates, but I do a lot of reading on my phone and the slightly larger screen might appeal. I'll wait until they're in the stores in a week or so so I can hold it in my hand and see how it feels. My wife is complaining that her phone is going slightly wonky, so she wants me to upgrade so that she can inherit my 4S. It's entirely possible that I'll go with a 5S, we shall see. I played with a friend's, and it's decent enough.
Mm, the 4S is still going strong! True, it may not be up to the minute in the CPU or GPU, but really, that's only an issue if you enjoy a lot of gaming on it - and even then, TBH, plenty of games don't really exercise the devices to their fullest, given it's that much extra work to scale the graphics, versus just settling for a sensible compromise.

I'd probably be inclined to leave things for a month or two, to see how the used prices settle down - inevitably, the 5S'll get nudged downwards now. With the differences being essentially the display size, CPU/GPU, enhanced camera sensor, barometer (for more accurate height, not just calculated from GPS - that's something I'd quite like on my hikes), and NFC, it's not a compelling package for me to move from the 5S, especially with the added size involved. Definitely, I've been very pleased with the 5S - over the 3G, it's got that gorgeous retina display, not far off sRGB, Touch ID's a nicely secure alternative to a passcode or iTunes password, and everything basically flows very nicely. With it being the first in their 64-bit line, I suspect it'll be protected from being dropped from support for a good while yet, just as the iPad 1 unfortunately wasn't, where even now, its successor, based on a newer ARM family, is.

Reading on the phone, though - yes, that's a good point. I use the iPad there, but the larger 6 displays might be just the ticket for you. I suppose the answer's obvious - just have to see how it handles in person, and weigh up the options. It's a tricky balance. For me, I've simply gone with two entirely different devices, but naturally, that's not going to be the answer for everyone. (But the iPad Air is really nice =:)
I bought an iPad Mini Retina recently and absolutely love it. It's definitely my preferred ebook reading device, but if I'm out and about and have some time to kill, I'll be reading news on my 4S. The 5S wasn't enough of an upgrade to tempt me in to buying.

The most powerful game that I play on my 4S is sudoku, so I can't say that I'm particularly taxing it. ;-)

One warning re: using the touch ID for unlocking a 5, at least in the US: there's a difference, legally, between what you know and what you possess, and what can be compelled in court. If you have a safe that is opened with a key, a court order can be produced for you to provide the key as it is a material object. If the safe is opened with a combination, under most circumstances they cannot force you to reveal the combination.

There have been exceptions when they tried to compel a woman accused of financial fraud to produce the crypto key to her laptop, she was jailed for contempt when she wouldn't reveal it, but later an associate provided it. In another case when it was known that a laptop contained child porn (it was seen by a border agent), it was compelled by court.

Apparently the same thing goes with biometrics vs having a passcode when it comes to the 5, at least that's what I've heard discussed among attorneys. I don't know if it's been challenged and appealed in court yet, but for my money, I won't use a fingerprint scanner to unlock my phone.
Ah, absolutely, the 4S and 5S aren't much apart, with those gaming demands. ^_^ Of course, all of these devices are improvements, but they're inevitably incremental. In retrospect, though, I'm maybe a little surprised I dismissed the "retina display" as of minor import at the time - versus the original iPad's 1024x768, the iPad Air's 2048x1536 is a dramatic improvement, let alone its color fidelity, although admittedly, I only really edit photos on the MBP, given that remains a fairly heavyweight task for an iPad, for now, particularly with large RAWs as from the D7100, at 24MP. (Holy run-on sentences, Batman!)

Indeed, the legal situation with electronic security in general's been uncomfortable, at best, let alone traversing borders, where you're essentially at one border guard's individual and absolute discretion - it's no wonder the UK and US are so vociferous in enforcing borders.

For me, the next really interesting Apple announcement will be the iPads, likely coming next month, given historical precedent. As above, I'd rather like more RAM, so it's easier for heavyweight processing to be carried out, as well as being able to maintain several inevitably memory-hungry browser tabs without swapping them out. Other than that.. Touch ID, yes. I'm not expecting anything major, but I'd be tickled pink if they punked the analysts by revealing it'd have a sapphire coated screen hereon. ^_^ (Apple invested significantly in a sapphire producer in Arizona, but we've not yet seen why. Rumors suggest it was destined for the iPhone 6, but yields didn't reach the required levels in time)

So many people argue against a high-resolution screen when they haven't even spent time looking at one! For some reason they just assume that what they were using was fine.

I've got a 200ppi screen here right now, and I can see every pixel on it. We do need better scaling support, though, because a lot of crappy developers have hard-coded pixels sizes into their applications, which ruins the look on a high-density system.
The 4S came out three years ago, so I suppose you meant that. And I think it's still supported for this latest edition of iOS, right? I think Apple is showing to be one of the only manufacturers that'll support their products for the whole product lifecycle.
"“They said it was OK as long as she did not go behind the bar and of course we are not going to let her there.” "

I'd be more concerned about her going in the bar. How do you housetrain a donkey?
With a copy of the Sunday edition of the LA Times?
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Ah, now that's not a bad use case at all! Not one that'd come to mind for me, as being a coderbunny, I've never had a pager thrust into my paws. Certainly, if the outfit doesn't lend itself to having a phone on you, a watch could be a very acceptable alternative - I don't especially want anything, however attractive, on my wrist, but if I had a need to do so, I'd be quite up for something like the Watch.

What finish(es) appeal to you? I'm not generally one for gold (but my iPhone is. Go figure. *grin* Think it's that it's a fairly subdued tone, not the I AM SOLID GOLD hue beloved of bling), so for me, it'd be between the Al and Fe versions. It's also interesting (well, to me =:) that it's available in two quite mildly different sizes: 42mm and 38mm, rather than being what's often seen in the watch world, of wall clocks for men and dainty dials requiring magnifying glasses for women. That means there'll be plenty of overlap, I think, in the middle ground, where some might prefer the larger look, and others, the slightly smaller.

A scrolling display? That'd be brilliant at a party or rave, but even aside from everyday taste, I'd far sooner just see the message in one go (or most of it), than have to w a i t f o r e a c h.. well, you get the picture.

I really don't know if I'd be able to take being on call! If I'm woken up, that just means I'll be sluggish all day - at best, good for the morning, before it's just a matter of turning the joint over to the autonomous nervous system. =:) But then, you do seem to be a tiny bit more of a morning sort than me. ^_^ (I wonder if this is a family thing at all? Mum's not really a morning sort, though FSM knows, she's had to be for a long while, first with me, then our extended family. Dad, meanwhile, was always one for the early hours. I take more after Mum, my brother after Dad =:)
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Mmm, indeed - yellow gold's a very heavy color, speaking of power, or aspirations thereto, and that's not something that speaks of me, or you. Although I would happily back you as UN Sec. Gen. ^_^

It's an odd world sometimes, ne? If you want to be a pony, or a dinoRAWR, you've got to be twelve or under. Pah! Perhaps that's an element of furrydom's success - we really get to explore ourselves, in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways, whether combining species in unlikely ways, falling in love with folks we've never met in person, exploring who we really are, in species, gender, and more.

I confess to too much black. ^_^; Not out of any special fondness, just a helpfully neutral tone. On the other paw, I don't mind it - black jeans rising to a multi-hued Daft Pon3 shirt is a combo I enjoy. ^_^ Maybe it is shyness - the urban equivalent of the snowshoe hare's white. =:/ I do feel I'm not really where I should be, but I'm still trying to work all that out. I hope I arrive, at some point..

The pager goes off and I am like "MY PEOPLE NEED ME!"

*giggle* Okay, I can see that. ^_^ I think I might even be able to work with that - having an actual, real, very present need to be up and about, I'd find invigorating and exciting, and that's a fantastic spirit in which to work. Even as a programmer, I've known that a few times, particularly before Cleaner 5's release, where I was part of the key to getting the Mac OS multiprocessor operation tidily locked down for perfect reliability. Thenabouts, I was getting dropped off at the hotel (having just got into town, no time to look for anywhere) past midnight, after a normal start - and I loved it. =:D We were slaying some really esoteric problems, of the most awkward kind - but together, we made a force to be reckoned with. Just wish I'd had a magical girl TF sequence to go along with it. ^_^
I read a review by an actual watch reviewer. He gushes about the design, but states that it's not a timeless masterpiece like the analogue watches are. As if that matters to us, ha ha!
Apple's been hiring a lot of great talent from the fashion industry, and it's showing. I'd be tempted, but I'm fairly adamant on getting a slim watch, even if it ends up being an old digital wristwatch.
Ah, that you for another pile of fascinating links! :) It might be predictable, the dashing rat photo is my favorite. Your bunny pic is great too though!
*giggle* It was a tiny bit larger than I'd originally intended. ^_^; I just hope my own reports didn't get lost in it all.

The rat definitely was quite special. I know I'd've been absolutely delighted with a shot so dramatically candid, not to mention perfectly focussed. (And as you probably know, that's no small matter with larger sensors!)

Thanks. ^_^ It's not a unique moment, true, but it's that combination of that specific moment, with them just about to launch off, plus the gentle blur lent by my panning, leaving everything else fuzzy except the bun. Ironic. =:)

It's moments like those that make me so pleased I caught the photography bug. ^_^ (And now to see what else I can get hooked on! I've yet to get deeply into Liine's renowned Lemur controller.. and FSM knows, it's been way, way too long since I last scribbled with a soft 2B graphite pencil and firmed up the image with a nice, crisp 0.6mm pen)
Such a power-packed porsupah post! ... Was gonna comment on one, then two.. then a dozen... heh! ... Maybe this is the kinds stuff we could chat Live about iffen I ever find ya on SL ... (great GIF link btw!) ^v^
The Watership Down news, of course, has had my attention for a while now. In particular, I'll be interested to see what angle they go for: there doesn't seem much point in simply rehashing the CITV series from early last decade, so I'm hoping for a slightly more faithful treatment. On the other hand, if the new series does indeed go out in "a family-friendly timeslot on BBC One" then I doubt it'll be able to be as gritty and violent as the 1978 film. It's going to take some thought and imagination to make this work; I really hope that's what we get.
Mm, it very much depends what audience they go for - if they're willing to take it in the age direction of Doctor Who, they could wind up with something quite brisk, but that kind of broad appeal seems relatively unusual. Still, the fact they're giving it a try would seem to provide some hope, else they could easily have developed some generic series without any preconceptions involved.

I wonder what the animation style will be? Traditional animation's rare these days, and it's difficult to see Flash working well for something like Watership Down, so I'd probably guess CGI.

Now, if they could get a similar calibre of voice actors to either the film or TV outings.. !
Gah, this is a long one!

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Facerig looks pretty interesting. After that video finished, there was another where someone was testing out a few faces. One of them was Doge! Instantly in love.

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I don't know if Second Life has gotten that much better recently (as in, since 2006), or if people are just using proper tools now, but that body looks amazing! I'd almost be tempted to join it again if I actually bothered to load up Blender and do some stuff. Doubly so since I'm pretty sure Lindens are easy to buy with Bitcoin.

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The wire recordings blew me away. They sound pretty good! How do they compare in weight and durability and cost against vinyl records, I wonder? It seems like something that should have been more common.
(Although I suppose they'd have been supplanted entirely by tape cassettes...)

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Canadian phone bills are rather high, like the carriers finance their subsidy across the two or three years. To get service here without signing a contract is to buy a phone without getting one.

I got my first feature phone in 2006, free on a two-year contract. I switched at the beginning of 2009 so I could get cheap pay-as-you-go on a clearance model ($70!) Sony-Ericsson I'd just got. It's a pretty great phone, and I still use it today as my radio.
About that time, I was also getting mobile internet. I ended up buying four dongles between 2009 and 2012.
Later, I got a Samsung Hype for $50 in a Boxing Day sale. It had a big keyboard and a larger screen, but turned out to be a worse phone.
In 2012, I rescued a Galaxy S that had falled in calcium-rich well water. I spent several days with a syringe, bottles of distilled water, cotton swabs, and vinegar, and cleaned out the entire inside of the phone. I was using that as my phone from summer until December.

By this time, I'd probably spent about $320 over seven years, plus the thousands of dollars of uncountable mobile fees.

Once the two-year contract for my last mobile internet stick was over, I did some looking around, and decided I wanted the big screen on the Note II. I like drawing. I've got a three-year plan on that, which I'm two years through.

tl;dr: I only got one smartphone; but since you can get free hardware with the contracts, it's a good idea here to immediately hop to a new contract with new hardware. You could even sell it off and stick with the old.

As an addendum: Reviewers do focus too much on the last generation. I was comparing my friend's iPhone 4S against the iPhone 6, because he's upgrading this year, and I sent him the following:

Yours is 9.3mm thick. The iPhones 5 and 5s are 7.6mm. This one is 7.1mm. 76.3% as thick!

Your CPU was the first dual-core model, built on a 45nm process. This one is built on 20 nm, and will have 3.8x the performance (and 4.2x the GPU performance).

The camera has better low-light optics, image-stabilization, and true-tone flash (warm + cool LEDs).


Some places have dropped from three-year plans to two-year, so that's nice. But they should still be comparing upgrades from 2-3 years.

Comparing my Surface Pro to the upcoming Surface Pro 4 will be amazing, I'm sure, and that'll only be two years!

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Ha, that flowchart comic is horrible. "If you're on the Web and you want to share something, be sure you attribute it correctly!" There, that took three seconds.

I'd like someone to tackle the ethical ramifications of sharing. Like, at what point are we just wading in pools of trash that has become the fundamental (though massive) alphabet of human experience? As if animated GIFs and captioned JPEGs can be placed in specific order next to each-other to represent the next grand ideal.

I've finally got around to making scripts on Facebook that'll load all the submenus, search for "Hide", and click it to hide everything being shared. Someone had shared a picture of an industrial accident where a machine had grabbed a guy's wedding ring or something and tore the entirety of the skin off his finger like a used condom. The skin (with nail) was laying half-folded on the ground, and the guy's finger was thin and pointy.

So, Javascript! I can get through a whole week of Facebook updates in about five minutes. It seems few people are posting actual content anymore.
I pretty much need a separate window for this reply. =:D I was reluctant to be won over by Facerig, but I'll admit, it's at the very least, a really fun toy. I suppose a good part of my hesitancy is that I'm not one for voice in SL - as much as anything, I prefer reading to listening, especially if there's background noise involved, where I'm having to contend consciously trying to pick out what they're saying, amidst everything else. Very wearing, let alone all the scope for misunderstandings. Notwithstanding, I love good chats as well, though much more so in person than anything else, with phone contact ranking at the "rancid meat" level of fun, unless it's with someone I know well.

SL's gone through gentle, gradual improvements. ^_^ Some rather more immediately noticeable than others, of course, like deferred rendering, giving rise to shadows, and mesh, making possible some quite bizarre creations. "Materials" promise some nice enhancements, too. I do still wish for real fluids, though - I'd love to have a garden with a real fountain, and be able to have the water guided down a gentle slope, rather than having to fake it with animated textures. Still, so it goes.

On that note, if you're near an Apple Store sometime, check out Epic's "Zen Garden" tech demo sometime - really rather a nice demonstration of what's now possible with "mobile" GPUs. And then think of what was once, not so long ago, highlighted in showcases like Beyond the Mind's Eye, produced on institutional and multinational systems. And it's only going to get better. ^_^;

Bah, killjoy. =:) That's what the flowchart's saying, but in an entertainingly roundabout manner.

Ultimately, yes - it's down to at least giving credit. Sadly, that's become apparently burdensome for some avenues - but profitable, where the unscrupulous can lift photos (typically scraped from Reddit, though they'll prey on other sites as well), repost with no accreditation, and collect advertising revenue by virtue of their followers, with nary a nod to those who spend years in pursuit of the very work they repost. Disappointing, but, if it's possible, there'll be those willing to exploit others for their own gain.

I admit, I have OmniWeb default to JS off, enabling it only for sites that I'll revisit and that actually require it. Anything else, I hand off to another browser (typically Safari, these days; I keep Firefox even more locked down), if it actually seems worthwhile.

Facebook I've never bothered with. They're the epitome of datamining - hardly a rare activity, but with most outfits, that's much more of a matter of analytics, rather than actually analysing the specific details on an identifiable level.

LJ's hardly as big an operation as FB, but, I really like it here, for that reason: people posting here have things to say, whether it's matters of political import, books they've read or bought, places they've visited, or friends they've met up with. It's sort of wound up (for now?) being a more.. deliberate? thing, rather than something posted out of a perceived need for immediacy. Here, I can take the time to peruse the photos, work on subtly tweaking the exposure, contrast, definition, sharpness, distortion, and so on - just preparing the photos for the latest entry took probably a good hour or two, let alone writing, and rearranging for a good flow of layout. A bit of a silly use of time, perhaps, but - I want to try to convey those photos well, even if my writing usually falls short of any great eloquence.

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There are indeed some quite impressive avs out there - you might want to check out SLARF for some in-depth reviews. They're not a specifically furry site, but most of what they've wound up examining is furry - they'll examine all the little details, which can sometimes be just the perfect finish for a particular av. Myself, I've remained with the now-venerable Kani - it does show its vintage now and then, if the light catches the prim joints poorly, but there's just something I really love about the overall appearance, let alone those beautiful ears. ^_^

The battle in Toys was, essentially, symbolic - all the same, perhaps a dash more of an attempt to lure some of the audience along would have paid dividends? Obviously, there's going to be a broad continuum between the more hawkish members of the audience, and the more pacific (guess where I lie? =:) - but the more a director/writer can try to entice the audience along to enjoy their story, the better, both for communicating the message, as well as merely commercially.

Oof, indeed - websites' demands of scripting have really ballooned. *sigh* National Rail's, in particular, I recall being quite sluggish on the original iPad - a pain, obviously, when you're barreling down toward the station on the bus, and wanting to check what the current status of the intended departure is, but the site performance means you're left waiting seconds for a damned list of stations to be compiled for a pulldown menu. Annoying. =:P I suppose it's not for nothing Mozilla and Apple have been paying so much attention to improved JS performance - and it's paid off, as we can see in things like complete processor emulators in JS, and other delicious perversions of computing. =:)

I'll have to give that map editing a try. I'd thought it should work, but I wound up hitting a brick wall early on, with DeSmuME not even managing to save its state - at that point, I just shelved it for another time. *sigh* I admit, I'm still vaguely tempted by the idea of AC on a 3DS, but.. Nintendo just doesn't seem to want to make much progress, especially (from what I can tell) in the villagers' AI. I'm not expecting to discuss Vonnegut with them (but that would be amazingly cool), but more than the one or two line responses to "Tell me a story!"/"Give me news!" would be very welcome. With an online connection, some of that could conceivably be farmed out to server-side processing. IBM's Watson meets Animal Crossing.. =:D
Speaking of phones, how often do real people - ie youse guys - upgrade theirs anyway?

Very rarely. In fact, pretty much all the mobile phones I've had in my life were given to me for free by people who got newer ones.

It's not like I don't see the appeal of smartphones, always having the newest model etc., but I'd not be getting enough bang for the buck to justify the expense, even if these devices didn't put you into gilded cages. I'm not a gadgethead who has to use the latest everything, either, and my friends aren't the sort who'd look down on me for not having the newest phone (fortunately, though if they did, they'd not be my friends), so all in all, there's really no reason for me to spend money on this sort of thing. :)

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

Aww. :)

I don't, as a rule, buy CDs.

Why?

yay, 2000AD :)