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It's not exactly new, but still, I only stumbled upon it the other day: Doctor Who series 9's trailer is out. (Even if I can't still quite bring myself to call it series 9, when there've been plenty more before 2005..) Yep, looking forward to Sep 19 2015. =:D

Here are some reasoned arguments for reinstating Pluto as a planet.

If you need a bit of real world happiness, have a look over here, where Melbourne examines the effects of assigning email addresses to trees, originally so people could report problems - it's become rather more than that. ^_^ (Fluttershy is, QED, Best Pony)

Here's a competition that certain folk might find of interest: fly a Spitfire, a Harvard, and a Tiger Moth. =:D (UK residents only, sadly. Doesn't close for a while yet: Sep 30 2015)

Ever seen a giant chicken church?

I don't see myself leaving the Greens for Labour, but I'm delighted nonetheless - especially in light of Labour voting for the abhorrent welfare bill, insistent that they must move further right to win Tory voters, rather than trying to retain and regain their own - to see that Jeremy Corbyn's leadership bid now sees him with a 17% lead, and espousing policies that are strongly in accord with popular views, such as renationalising the railways (60/20 overall, with even Conservative voters split evenly at 42/42), rent controls on landlords, higher top tax rate, and cutting tuition fees.

Oh, FFS.. it looks like the new series of The Clangers will be appearing in the US - but, yes, with a North American narrator replacing Michael Palin. Still, at least their choice might work out sort of amusingly: William Shatner. ^_^;

If you're within reach of Cardiff, and enjoy Judge Dredd, you might want to wander along to Judgement in Cardiff, an exhibition of work by many of the artists who've been involved with Dredd over the years, including the likes of Ezquerra, McMahon, Smith, Fabry, Bisley, and more, coming both from the artists and private collections.

The Leap is a 30 minute sci-fi short. Or, if you only have two minutes to spare, how about Trash Cat, about a cat with a love of knocking over trash cans? Do continue into the credits. ^_^

It would appear that Bloom County is back. =:D

Quote of the month, courtesy of huskyteer: "On Saturday she even shed her skin in the night without waking me up, and I certainly can't say that about anyone else I've ever shared a room with."

Saturday a fortnight ago saw a return to a local beer and cider festival I'd tried last year, and this year, managed to lure the roomie along to as well. Indeed, it's fairly high on my list of preferred venues. ^_^ It doesn't sport the incomparable lists of the GBBF, but they do a very good job, mostly focusing on breweries and cider makers you can't find so easily. Add in the very mellow atmosphere of one of the two pubs enjoying a quiet game of cricket across the road, and at the other, a broad, open meadow, with little fun games of football, frisbee, and pups enthusiastically nosing around everywhere. ^_^ (And as a silly aside, here's what that view looks like when accidentally processed as a spherical panorama =:)


Following their rejigging of Flickr to do away with Flickr Pro for newcomers, and have it all ad-supported, I was interested to see they've reversed their position: Flickr Pro is coming back, with all the ad-free and stats love of before. The catch is that new subscriptions will come in at $50/year ($6/mo), where it'd been $25/year before, though it'll remain at that level for two years for existing subscribers.

The trailer for Red Game Without a Great Name (yes, that's actually its title) is quite gorgeous. It's a platformer, wherein you control a mechanical bird messenger in a steampunk world. I admit, I'm not sure if I'll get it, simply because of the gigantic backlog of games I already have. ^_^; Even so, that trailer is worth a gander. (The song is apparently in Polish)

Photoshop has a new competitor! Affinity recently finally released - after some five years of development - Affinity Photo, with a genuinely pro-level suite of features, surpassing Photoshop in some regards, with live effects and layers throughout. (I'm also delighted to see PSB support in there after all, per my suggestion =:) No subscription, just a one-time payment of £40. OS X only, as it draws heavily on OS-specific technologies.

Looks like conditions are shaping up for a particularly wet Californian winter.

Bah! I feel dirty for linking to HuffPo, and true, it's a fairly inconsequential posting, but still.. Why Are Women In Razor Ads Always Shaving Hairless Legs? does ring weirdly true. ^_^;

If you're playing Disney Infinity at all, you can unlock Merida and Rocket Raccoon for free, using "webcodes" MERIDAUK and ROCKETUK when logged into your account. The codes may be valid worldwide.

So, I waved goodbye to my TC17E-II teleconverter. It works perfectly well, but I've found the 1.4x suits my needs better - I don't usually need to go quite that far out, and even 420mm can be a little close, when allowing for the gap between, say, the participants in a chase. Consequently, I've barely used it in the past year. Indeed, I'm wanting to evaluate precisely what effect the 1.4x has on sharpness - I may even part with that at some point, as whilst I'd miss the extra reach, the extra stop "regained" reverting to f/4 might be a better trade-off. I'll print out a resolution test chart, and see what the outcome is. Could be quite interesting - the Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S is a particularly sharp lens, but still, with 24MP on the D7100, I'm not sure how much extra room there is for added magnification before you're simply getting larger blurred edges. (Wow, good going! They received the TC the next day, and the agreed sum was transferred almost immediately. Could've only been easier if they'd provided a teleporter rather than having to hoof it to the Post Office)

Similarly, it was a delight to see a friend and former coworker again, picking up a wetsuit I'd offered for sale - July's been such a frustratingly expensive month, but that's helped keep things almost sort of level. ^_^;

Has anyone watched both of RTD's recent Channel 4 productions, Cucumber and Banana? Unsurprisingly, I've had the former around for a while, unwatched, and now the latter as well.

Well, that was a bit of a pain. A while back, when the future seemed rather more assured, I bought a ticket for Friday of the Royal International Air Tattoo, as that was the day when the Vulcan would be flying. But that all changed: it flew over the weekend, and only on static display on Friday. And of course, tickets for Saturday and Sunday were all sold out by that point. A real pity, as that was apparently the very final time it'll be flying.

Similarly, with the lens booked way back in February, it proved to come along at not quite the best time, but so it goes. ^_^; The Monday before the show saw me wander along to pick up the Nikkor 200-400mm f/4 I'd reserved for this year's RIAT. I took all three lenses - the 10-20mm f/4-5.6 for close range views, perhaps deliberately taking advantage of that distance distortion ultrawides lend; and the 30mm f/1.4 maybe for cockpit/interior views, or detail shots. They're pretty light, anyway, so no reason not to bring them along. And indeed, the 10-20mm saw plenty of usage, with the A400M rear view a good example of the fun you can have with a really wide angle lens - there's pretty much no aircraft you can't capture in its entirety, with the bonus of some real fun with composition in the process. The 30mm I did use on a couple occasions, in particular for one vendor's rather exquisite wooden model aircraft.

Above is the rental in comparison to my usual workhorse, with the usual TC14E teleconverter attached. (At the front is the hood - in use, you'll reverse it, so it shields the front element by that length, keeping stray sunlight from outside the viewing angle out of the way) As a result, it didn't quite fit as elegantly in the bag, but it'll do. ^_^ (And hey, it's more discreet than the Sigmonster was =:)

And the results?

Two Dassault Mirages from the French Air Force in very tight formation

Two of the Red Arrows displaying typically extraordinary coordination

A Spitfire from the Battle of Britain commemoration coming in to land

The spectacular tail of the Airbus A400M


There's plenty more - indeed, as I noted back on the 17th, I took more photos on that day than any other. ^_^;

So, I finally thought I'd try out the new public betas of iOS 9 and OS X. The former, at first blush, seems fine, but I'll need some time to really get a better feel for stability and compatibility. The latter - well, Aperture is unaffected, and Mail seems to be playing nicely for now. ^_^ A few irksome "features" cropped up, notably iTunes reverting to iCloud backups, rather than local, and Gatekeeper similarly reverting to signed apps only, though they're both easily fixed. And, with HTML5 now seemingly reasonably mature, I'm experimenting with removing Flash. All seems remarkably unaffected, with the exception of BBC video, which can be fixed by identifying as an iPad, eg "Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; CPU OS 6_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A5355d Safari/8536.25".

Other bugs: the App Store can't seem to restart the system if necessary; thankfully, not much of an issue; the second public beta seems to've fixed that. WebKit appears not to handle map tiles correctly, making navigating around Bing Maps very awkward. (Apple Maps works, but has no footpath info. Bing Maps licenses Ordnance Survey's maps, which remain the gold standard of cartography - the new Bing Maps works normally, but currently, lacks Ordnance Survey mapping) Unsurprisingly, Parallels Desktop 8 has lost its networking and USB, but that's been on borrowed time since Yosemite, only made functional by disabling the kernel extension signing, which isn't really a good idea. Still, I'll see if I can inject some zombie juice.

One very welcome point is that El Capitan appears to fix a juddery scrolling issue I'd had with OmniWeb 6 betas since June last year, causing me to remain stuck with an old version of OmniWeb. The current OW6 beta under El Capitan seems to work entirely as expected. Kewl. ^_^ BTW, if you're running the public beta of iOS 9, you can update to the developer betas, which come out more often - just delete the beta profile, restart, and check for an update.

Did you know the British Museum has, on display, a Doctor Who £10 note?

Filmwise, there's not much to report, though I did finally get to see "Home". It's certainly no masterpiece, but I do feel the trailers put me off it rather needlessly. Its trouble is.. it doesn't quite know who its audience is, so its humor sort of bounces all over the place, trying to keep the four year olds amused, before dashing back to the tweens, and occasionally the adults. That said, I did enjoy it, even including the soundtrack, some of which may end up in my Bounce playlist - and the voicework of one of the leads was surprisingly good, given she's better known in other creative fields.
 
 
 
 
 
 
But recently, after I laid out the differences between Pluto and the other eight planets, I heard from several scientists and laypeople who made a different sort of argument: that we should just classify all dwarf planets as planets. Not only Pluto, but Eris, Haumea, and Makemake, too.

That was proposed back in the day, actually; the common objection was that we'd very likely end up with too many planets. The term has always been reserved for celestial bodies that are special, and you're potentially looking at hundreds or thousands there.

In fact, even if it weren't for the number as such, Pluto stands out by not standing out. Both the inner rocky planets and the gas giants are special; Pluto is simply one particularly large example of a kind of object there's a large number of.

When Ceres was discovered it was floated as a planet as well. Abandonding that was the right decision, and abandoning having Pluto as a planet was the right decision, too. I understand that people are romantically attached to it (especially those in the USA, since it's the only (ex-)planet discovered by one of their compatriots), but it makes far more sense to not include it as a planet, and instead leave it as a dwarf planet.

Following their rejigging of Flickr to do away with Flickr Pro for newcomers, and have it all ad-supported, I was interested to see they've reversed their position: Flickr Pro is coming back, with all the ad-free and stats love of before. The catch is that new subscriptions will come in at $50/year ($6/mo), where it'd been $25/year before, though it'll remain at that level for two years for existing subscribers.

I got that email, too. "We're doubling the price and trying to sell it to you as the best thing ever." OTOH this might finally motivate me to cancel my subscription. :P

Nice photos, too, BTW!
For me, Pluto was special because I'm from Phoenix and it was discovered by Tombaugh at the observatory in Flagstaff, 2 hours away. Also, Tombaugh retired to New Mexico and helped start the astronomy program in Las Cruces which now manages the telescope that my wife works at. Clyde's widow, from what I understand, still lives in Las Cruces.

Allegedly my wife's observatory has a copy of Tombaugh's book on Pluto with hand annotations by him, but I've never seen it.
Love letters to the trees! That is so beautiful :o)

The chicken church should have been painted with red and white stripes... That said, I watched the video without sound (the pc I'm on at work may have the speaker disabled inside the case, so forgive any redundancy here) and was curious enough to look the building up online. Apparently it was supposed to be a dove which would make much more sense than a cluck-cluck.

Great pics, too, btw.
I'm so pleased you understand. ^_^ It's really quite a beautiful little thing, seeing such love for the bits of nature around in an urban setting.

Aash! Yes, that does make more sense, although I suppose it's still a relative thing. =:) But why not furry-shaped buildings? Perhaps the 21st Century can yet be known as the birthtime of the Anthro Architecture movement. =:D

Thanks. ^_^ I'm really not accustomed to airshows, but the flexibility of that rather superb lens let me capture so many more moments than I could've managed with my 300mm f/4 - many of the runway shots required pulling back to 200mm, whilst for the most distant fighters, I was full out with the 1.4 TC attached. Perhaps predictably, for anyone experienced with such events, the day was over all too soon! Flying technically wound up around 3.30, but as the roomie and I were wandering around the rest of it all, I saw the Mirages swooping by, and hastily reattached the 200-400. ^_^;

I must go through all of the photos properly soon, and upload another few - the roomie can definitely help, as he's quite a military aviation fan, so I'll be able to tag them all properly. (My recognition is cobfined to about.. Vulcan, Osprey, Apache, and a few others =:)
LOVE the bank note! WANT!!! Though I'm not sure what satsumas convert to over here.

I meant to mention that I got to see the Concorde fly! When I was working for Phoenix Police back in the '90s it did a 'cross the US' flight, and we found out that the flight path when it left Sky Harbor would take it straight along the downtown corridor. We went to the roof of our building, which was only four stories, and had an amazing view. Sadly, I didn't have advance notice and didn't have a camera with me.

It had the characteristic that all huge aircraft have: it seems to move very slowly because of its length.

I'm off to Albuquerque today for a camera repair: the disc that shows what mode my Canon 6D is in came off. Hopefully they can pop it back on and it won't have to be shipped anywhere. I'm also going to look at telephotos in the 200-400 range, I might get lucky and find something used. I have a 28-300 that works with my 6D, but it is quite old and is slow focusing.

Home was fun, but rather slapstick. I thought Steve Martin was fantastic as the captain. On the subject of animation, we saw Shaun the Sheep on our way to Berlin, and we saw Inside Out while we were in Phoenix after we got back. I can definitely recommend both. The latter's Lewis Black was great, and it had a cameo by Paula Poundstone, perhaps my fav female comedian.
And those pix are fantastic! Those lenses definitely served you well. Were you using a monopod or hand-holding?
Thanks. ^_^ Certainly, the Nikkor 200-400mm f/4 deserves its reputation - that zoom flexibility at that degree of sharpness is quite a delight, even if it does come at considerable cost. And weight. ^_^; (Actually not that bad - something like 3.2kg, I believe, plus the body) Sigma's coming out with ever more nifty designs, filling in gaps in Nikon's offerings quite handily - 10-20mm f/4-5.6 offers a crazily wide field of view (only covering DX sensor area, though), around 120 degrees, making it possible to capture all of some large object you can't step far away from, or just playing with that "pulling in the near field object" effect. And then their recent 150-600mm f/5-6.3! I'd love to take that for a spin sometime, but they seem to be having trouble keeping up with demand, so even the rental company I've used can't get hold of one.

All handheld. ^_^; I did have a simple $20 Velbon, but a leg fell off after someone bumped into it one night. (Quality!) Definitely something on the wishlist, though probably more for studio work once that's an option - I really love the freedom going rabbiteering purely handheld offers, with no need to set up anywhere, making it possible for me to discreetly sidle up to their spots and just observe, or indeed, spot a bun in some unusual location and quickly grab the shot. (Got to love how fast DSLR AF is! Of course, there's more that could be done, especially once we're all mirrorless - a sophisticated AF system of a few years from now might be able to be told to ignore grass and branches, and give priority to grey and brown hues. Or better yet, be able to be told to give preference to fur)
You really ought to check out Manfrotto's monopods when you start working again. Get a quick-release head/shoe and it'll give you a VERY steady base without having to muck about with a tripod. Cheap tripods are garbage, expensive tripods last a very long time and are definitely worth the money that you put in to them. I replaced the legs on my tripod a few years ago and kept the head, the original legs and head I bought probably 25 years ago. The clamps on the legs had fatigued and were slipping, and the plastic of the levers had aged and fatigued as well and were breaking off, so new legs were needed. I might replace the head at some point but feel no rush as it's still serving me well and the small Scottish part of me wants to pretend to save some money.

No joy in Albuquerque yesterday. I did get the camera repaired (8 hours of driving for a 10 minute repair that cost $15) but of the three camera stores that I visited, no telephoto zooms in the range that I wanted. (I did other things, like had an excellent Latin fusion lunch/dinner and bought a programming book and did a light plundering of Trader Joe's, so it's not like I went there and did only one thing) I'll be back in Phoenix late this year and will check out my favorite place then (Tempe Camera Repair) and maybe bop about online. I probably should rent one to play with before sinking a few hundred on it, but I'll wait until the next full moon to do it.
Thanks for all the great links as ever!

Here's hoping we get to end the drought, yep!

I wonder why the chicken church is in disrepair..... and who were the congregation.....

Bloom County wow.. who coulda guessed?

'preciate the evaluation of Home also.... and I still haven't forced myself to see any of the Minions flicks....

Go, Go, Pluto!
I just hope California comes to term not just with cosmetic water usage, but its agricultural demands - there's such tremendous strain on supply as a result of almond growers, in particular, as the climate suits the trees, but the water isn't there.

I would like to find out more about that church. ^_^ mondhasen established it was originally meant to be a dove, which makes sense, in context. Well, as much as going to church inside a giant dove does, but there's at least internal logic.

I've got to get Bloom County sorted out in my RSS reader. I'm absolutely hopeless at keeping up with strips otherwise, beyond the few I follow daily (Sinfest, Precocious, Skin Horse, etc). Such a welcome return! And he's not going to be starved for inspiration.. ^_^;

Mm, I'd recommend Home for some light fun. It's certainly deeply flawed, but overall, actually quite good fun. ^_^ The minions.. eh, yep, I've just kept to their own little niche. They're fun, but Dreamworks is milking the concept for all it's worth, and then some. =:/

BTW, do you ever wind up in the Bay? ^_^
Ah! I do comenzie uppenzie to the bay once in a while, at least once, maybe twice a year... once certainly for the FC convention annually, and once in a while to visit friends if possible ^v^ ..
Those are lovely photos!

Last flight at a Royal International Air Tattoo, but it will be trolling around until the end of the season: http://www.vulcantothesky.org/appearances.html
Aaah! That's very good news indeed. And I see Eastbourne is on the list - that'd be fairly easy to get to, and not expensive, with a Network Railcard. I might very well wander along for that! It was such a disappointment to miss it flying at RIAT, though I did, of course, take plenty of photos of the magnificent contraption on the ground.

Why is it being retired? It seems constantly popular, though it seems to've been a similarly constant struggle to raise funds to keep it going.
According to the RIAT commentary, it's the big corporate sponsors withdrawing, rather than problems with parts or the Vulcan itself. I'm glad it's had these last few years in the spotlight, raising public consciousness of great aircraft, though.
I, for one, am enjoying Labour's collective breakdown into senseless jibbering over their leadership contest.
Simon Bisley <3 ....
Mmm, he pretty much defined Slaine. ^_^ Not sure I've seen much of his Dredd, but I wouldn't expect it to be anything less than superbly brooding.
My fav things are the bisley s scrapbook with this cowboy painting , a cool clint eastwood story ;)
and his work on Lobo
Wow, some gorgeous looking photography there! I may actually make the trek out tomorrow to photograph some of the cars around town. There's one little car show I particularly like - that features the worst, nastiest cars ever allowed onto the road. Last year, I noticed a car likely belonging to John Lassetter.
Thanks. ^_^ Really had a great time there, and the lens proved to be an ideal choice for the event, able to pull right back to 200 or 280mm for runway shots, and all the way out to 550mm for further away moments. Stupidly, I completely spaced on using a more appropriate focus mode, though - I was on single point throughout, rather than letting the camera pick one, so I was a bit closer in zoom for quite a few shots than I needed to be. Still, things turned out pretty well nonetheless. ^_^

Ah, down SC-way? Oo, go for it!

How did the car give itself away? Plates, I'd guess, unless there was a nifty paint job, which doesn't seem like his style. =:)