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I was delighted to see this tidbit announced at Farnborough the other week, wherein Reaction Engines is now on a track to produce a demonstration engine by 2020. =:D The sheer potential for SABRE is phenomenal, not to mention Skylon, the fully reusable single stage to orbit spaceplane based thereon. SABRE operates as a precooled jet engine below Mach 5, made possible by an insane cooling mechanism that brings the high pressure incoming air down from 1500C to -150C in one millisecond. Above that speed, the inlet shuts off, and it transitions to being a conventional (well, sort of =:) rocket engine, using LOX carried on board. By using air for as long as possible, the takeoff weight is reduced tremendously, and with the same engines able to bring it from ground to low earth orbit, they're looking at an aircraft that can be turned around in timeframes from perhaps weeks initially, down to a matter of hours later on.

This is a long article c/o the Guardian which I must recommend: The Very Quiet Foreign Girls poetry group. It's an engrossing, fascinating piece, a veritable joy, despite its desperate roots. I'll excerpt the opening here:

It all came from Priya’s poem, and Priya’s poem came from – well, I had no idea. It was an unlikely thing to turn up in a pile of marking. Yet there it was, tucked between two ordinary effusions, typed in a silly, curly, childish font, a sonorous description, framed with exquisite irony, of everything she couldn’t remember about her “mother country”. This was the opening:

I don’t remember her
in the summer,
lagoon water sizzling,
the kingfisher leaping,
or even the sweet honey mangoes
they tell me I used to love.

I typed up a fresh copy of the poem in Times New Roman, removing a stray comma, marvelling at its shape. I printed out a copy and taped it to the staffroom tea urn, then made another, and took it across to the head of English, Miss B. She stuck it on her door, just above the handle, so that everyone entering or leaving her classroom had to read it.

Then I took it into my next class, Miss T’s year sevens. Our school, Oxford Spires Academy, despite its lofty, English name, meets every marker for deprivation and its students spoke more than 50 different languages. Miss T’s class, fairly typically, had students from 15 different mother countries. Some were born in Britain to parents from Bangladesh and Pakistan, some were migrants from eastern Europe or Brazil, a few were refugees from war zones: Iraq, Kurdistan, Afghanistan.

But none of them talked about it much. We are always, in this country, obliging refugees to tell their arrival stories: border officials, social workers, charity workers, housing officers all want to know, and the consequences of telling the wrong tale are dire. In our school, there is a code of silence. Teachers, on principle, accept each new arrival as simply a student equal to all others, and try to meet their needs as they appear. Students follow suit, speaking to each other in English, of English things, in mixed racial groups. This, mostly, is a good thing, but it does leave a layer of stories untold, and some festering, because very few people make it out of war zones by being exceptionally nice at all times. The more terrible the place they have fled, the more likely they are to have seen things that leave an awful, lingering sense of shame.

“I don’t remember,” our students say. “I came from my country when I was six but I don’t remember it. I don’t remember my language. No.”

Priya’s poem, though, was like a magic key. I read it to my class, then asked the students for a list of things they definitely didn’t remember, not at all, from their childhoods. In half an hour, we had 30 poems. Sana had written about her mother tongue: “How shameful, shameful, forgotten.” Ismail, who had never written a poem before, who rarely spoke, covered three pages with sensual remembrance, ending: “I don’t remember the fearless boy I used to be / no, I don’t remember my country, Bangladesh.” So many of them – and so good, so clear. I decided to create a poetry group.

There's apparently more of their work, presented by the article's author, in Radio Three's We Are Writing a Poem About Home, available on iPlayer (probably globally; I believe the BBC only geoblocks TV access, not radio).

Here's rather a fun little aircraft being designed by Electroflight - it's a high performance racer, fully electric, and almost all carbon fiber. Add the crazy torque of electric motors and a light frame, and they're expecting it'll be able to climb vertically at some 9,000 feet per minute. =:D

Don't suppose anyone knows more of the seamy underside of web advertising? I just noticed ABP's concept of "non-intrusive" advertising includes the sheer crap peddled by Outbrain/Taboola. Do they really pay that handsomely? Surely must do, given how widespread their infestation spreads, and to be able to pay ABP for the privilege of (by default) not being blocked.

It's an ad for Bentley, but still, it's a pretty cool one: a very high resolution car photo, apparently 53 gigapixels. Zoom in. =:) (Seriously not sure about that car's color scheme, though!)

Voice-commanded digital assistants present an interesting attack vector, as demonstrated here, where the commands are obfuscated in a YouTube clip so as to make them nigh unintelligible to humans, but perfectly understood by Google.

There's never any shortage of rumors about what Apple might buy next, though usually fairly nonsensical, based on little more than "their cash is greater than this company's market capitalisation". Still, this tidbit suggests that they might be angling to buy a chunk of Formula One racing, on the premise that the broadcast rights would be worthwhile as something to share on Apple TV. And perhaps it could be a venue for some of their own car's tech options to get put through the paces too, invisibly. Who knows? It's at least one of the more entertaining bits of speculation I've seen. ^_^

I happened upon quite a neat variant of the SLR concept the other day, made by only one manufacturer - the quite wonderfully named Corfield Periflex, where rather than having a mirror normally down, guiding the light path to a viewfinder, and flipping that briefly up for the exposure, it used a separate miniature periscope dipping down into the light path for judging the focus through the lens, which was brought up out of the way for the shot.

I was quite surprised, out rabbiteering on Thursday, when I came to casting out the last of the bag of raisins I've been going through (or rather, they have). There was one bun maybe 20' to my left, looking quite relaxed, if a touch cautious; but, I felt I really ought to use the last of the bag up, and thought I'd try tossing said goodies in their direction, quite expecting to have to, regrettably, disturb their peacefulness. But, no, they saw me toss raisins a few times, scattering nearby, and remained where they were. Better yet - a couple minute later, they gingerly ventured closer to me, apparently seeking out what I'd cast their way. ^_^
Here's a Kickstarter you'll want to support: Decrypting Rita vol.3 and Omnibus, a multi-year endeavor by shatterstripes. "The fastest woman ever built has been dragged outside of reality by her ex-boyfriend. She's got to pull herself together across four parallel worlds before a hive-mind can take over the planet."

"Seriously folks, if you haven't looked at Decrypting Rita yet you really ought to. Innovative, fresh, interesting, and it does my head in."

- Charlie Stross

"Decrypting Rita is that rarest and most refreshing of things: a science–fiction story that feels like it comes from the future."

- Phil Foglio

Thursday saw the public betas of macOS Sierra and iOS 10 debut, so, of course, I'm waiting patiently until all potential issues are worked out.

So, what really happened was I brought Hazel and the iPhone along into the bath as well as the usual iPad, and updated everything. ^_^ (I didn't want to forego bathtime, and I know very well that any process, however reliable, will do everything in its power to end all life on Earth if left unattended) Too early to really tell, but so far, there don't seem to be any show-stoppers: Mail updated its database fine, which is always a point of concern, given my archive now spans multiple previous email clients (ah, Eudora, how we knew thee) back to 1994. iOS likewise - the Music app's gently improved, with the control icons being substantially more useful in size, and the ability to reposition within a track now actually works properly again, where iOS 9 seemed to half break it. Similarly, where iOS 9 inexplicably embedded all music videos within a thick white frame, it's back to as it had been, simply playing them full screen as you'd expect - that change prompted me to abandon Videos for VLC. The conversation view in iOS 10's Mail is nicely improved. And so far, nothing seems to have broken, most especially Aperture. ^_^ Similarly, even a couple relatively ancient apps I keep on the iPad seem fine: an old version of Scrabble (don't like the newer board design), and iGammon, which hasn't been updated since about the 6502A's heyday. =:).

Aha! VMware Fusion 8 doesn't seem happy: launches, but won't resume the Ubuntu VM, complaining of an "internal error". (A known issue, it seems, with an easy workaround: disable accelerated graphics on a given VM. Unfortunately, that requires the VM to be resumed and shut down first.. =:) Oh, and my bank's app seems prone to dying soon after loading the account info, but that's to be expected, with the general standard of banking industry software. Poop! iPlayer seems unhappy as well. No biggie, as I only tend to use it for bathtime viewing when I haven't already downloaded the programme with get_iplayer beforehand.

Other than that, about all that needed fixing was a couple preferences, with iOS 10 turning on keyboard clicks (ACK ACK ACK NO), and Sierra turning off tap to click and tap/half tap to drag (which I've apparently had enabled for so long I'd forgotten it isn't in the Trackpad prefs, but actually within the Accessibility options). And, for whatever reason, securityd and a friend were persistently using anything from 40-80% of CPU, for some twelve hours, before I finally killed them, which appears to've solved the problem. Disquietingly, Time Machine seems to be taking a very long time to get the first post-update backup out, seemingly stuck on "Preparing Backup...", though without any errors showing in the logs, so it could just require a day or two to get its house in order. [ETA: yay! It's finally transferring data! So, the answer would seem to be "wait a day or two"]

Here are the 68 companies that have joined against North Carolina's vile HB2 anti-LGBT legislation, including small outfits like Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Nike, Cisco, Intel, Corning, and GEC.

So, with DeviantArt - which I've begun paying more attention to recently, and posting the odd photo - what's the deal with the llama badges people are giving me? ^_^;

At some point, I do want to pick up a good tripod - and this one looks just the ticket. It's a new design from a German manufacturer, FLM, with what seems like the perfect combination of characteristics for a seriously good travel tripod, extending tall, folding short and thin, supporting plenty of weight, and made of sensibly rigid materials. Briefly: 10kg load, 55.9" max height, collapsed 15.3", 3.8" folded diameter, weighs 1.28kg, made of 10x carbon fiber in eight directions and aluminium, 10 year warranty.

ProPublica and the NYT recently published a damning story on just how widespread is the use of drug-testing kits in the field, and just how unreliable they are - yet, are in high demand by police forces across the US. And despite it having been known that they're entirely fallible, reacting to yield the positive color change not just with the intended substance, but many others as well, they remain the basis of arrests and plea bargaining in many jurisdictions. And therein lies the rub - plea bargains are often overwhelmingly how such convictions are secured, and with that comes a felony conviction, and all the joyful social disavowal that people helpfully throw on, like being unemployable in many positions, and unable to even rent a place to live.

Last Saturday night's viewing turned out to be a double bill of quite unrelated items, commencing with an Icelandic drama with very dark humor, Rams (Hrútar). It begins with two brothers - and neighbors - who haven't spoken in forty years. One loses a ram championship to the other, and then.. well, it gets tougher. I can't really say more, and I'd recommend against reading even the IMDb summary, though it won't really spoil the film; which I will recommend. It's beautifully shot, with some outstanding, often quiet, performances from the leads. Then, I mentioned to the roomie that I had never seen Big Trouble in Little China, and suspected there might be a chance he'd have a copy, and so it was. ^_^ There's much to love about this kind of utterly playful filmmaking, with John Carpenter not only directing, but responsible for much of the music as well. And the fact it was (loosely) set in San Francisco didn't hurt my enjoyment, either. ^_^

In which two Moldovan punks consider their mutual crush to be a trophy to fight over. And both lose. (Will they learn?)

A fascinating paper! Rats will free others from cages, and even share food with their newly liberated kin. THere's even a gender twist: "Although fewer in number, all the female rats tested became door openers; whereas 30% of males never became door openers." So, The Rats of NIMH was a documentary?

And elsewhere in the big wide world: How frigatebirds cross entire oceans without ever needing to rest. "Frigatebirds are the only seabirds that lack waterproof feathers — if they dive into the ocean or even land on its surface, the water will soak their plumage and prevent them from taking flight again. This should be a death knell to a species that dines exclusively on fish, but it's not."

The nerdier amongst you may wish to try your paw at a caption for this EE Times cartoon. =:)

Yay! The weather seemed like it might improve for a reasonably bright Friday evening, and lo, a beautifully bright, quite warm (if a mite breezy - the perils of long hair that isn't quite long enough to completely tie back..) couple hours, with the numbers remaining fairly constant, although this time split between the group I normally observe, and another, possibly separate, warren in the other direction. There wasn't too much wild stuff going on, but I did manage to catch quite a nifty leap out of the way, which might work quite well as a triptych. ^_^

Yay, I was right! ^_^
A little tidbit on ESO's Very Large Telescope: "The light beams are combined in the VLTI using a complex system of mirrors in underground tunnels where the light paths must be kept equal to distances less than 1/1000 mm over a hundred metres. With this kind of precision the VLTI can reconstruct images with an angular resolution of milliarcseconds, equivalent to distinguishing the two headlights of a car at the distance of the Moon." And the facility's attached underground residential quarters were used as a backdrop in Quantum of Solace. =:)

One student in Montana took on the Boob Police. (h/t supergee)

How did I miss this? The Tick's reboot is a Go, courtesy of Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television. And the star, this time around, is Peter Serafinowicz! And, it appears Wreck-It Ralph 2 is also proceeding, pencilled in for March 9th 2018. ^_^

Now this is pretty neat: the Blackbird, a fully reconfigurable car rig that can adjust its size and riding characteristics, which they then use to overlay photorealistic CG texturing. It's much better seen than described. ^_^

Some researchers have apparently established some rather uncomfortably widespread shortcomings in fMRI processing - specifically, three packages commonly used: SPM, FSL, and AFNI.

Here's rather an interesting concept for a star drive: use a black hole. It's well beyond current engineering, but, "In 2009, Alexander Bolonkin and Louis Crane, Shawn Westmoreland offered and published a paper and book investigating the feasibility of this idea. Their conclusion was that it was on the edge of possibility, but that quantum gravity effects that are presently unknown will either make it easier, or make it impossible."

For a long form article on the whole sorry Brexit affair, have a look at lupestripe's EU Referendum Statement. (Regrettably, he's disabled comments on that entry, but I can sympathise)

Elsewhere in politics, The Canary's been taking a look at Portland Communications, one of the parties involved in ginning up the current efforts to displace Corbyn from the Labour leadership.

Still, there remains happiness in the world. ^_^ Here we see two police officers at this year's Pride parade in London: and one has just held up the entire parade to make a proposal. =:D (Actually, another officer also seized the moment. Both said yes =:)

I got to go rabbiteering again on Monday! The lighting wasn't amazing, but there was still enough sun for okay results, and no risk of sudden showers, so I leapt at the opportunity - and my, they were feisty. ^_^ Of the real action, only couple came out semi-acceptably, as they were, in fact, too close for me to fit the action in. ^_^; (I use a 300mm f/4 prime, so the angle of view is what it is, nothing else. The upshot is it's a stop or so brighter than zooms of that price, and very sharp indeed, permitting even quite tight cropping) I still don't think the warren's yet done with the scourge, but only one seemed affected this time, with a peak of twelve or so, similar to a month ago, so hopefully they're stable at this point.
Now available for iOS and Android: VR ear cleaning, apparently a very Japanese phenomenon, "a bonding exercise between two people, not unlike a massage".

I may have to get off my tail and get along to the Crystal Heart Festival in SL, getting underway next Thursday, June 30, with a three day concert over July 22-24. "The Crystal Heart Festival is an exclusive event dedicated to all Mahou Shoujo anime and manga such as: Sailor Moon, Tokyo Mew Mew and Card Captor Sakura, portrayed from a heroes vs. villains perspective. Here you’ll find a unique line of fashion, cosplay and creations interpreted by some of the best designers across the grid."

It goes, perhaps, without saying that I'm bitterly disappointed in the UK's vote to leave the EU. The consequences are obvious, and in part, immediate, with some large employers moving out, and markets worldwide slumping, coupled with the Pound falling to - well, currently $1.36754, versus its more usuals level of $1.50-1.60. Scotland's all but certain to hold another independence vote, and likely to separate. Good job, Farage, and all the press who continue to give him half their column inches if he so much as coughs. Fancy moving out of the UK for your retirement? Heh, right. Good grief, I'm still finding it hard to believe what a confoundedly self-destructive step some people have taken - a protest vote? What, so give the cutters even more power, so you're even further in the shit?

But never mind: Obama's assuring the "special relationship" will endure. Which is that, again? The one where GCHQ performs the NSA's politically inconvenient work, and vice versa? It certainly isn't anything pertaining to freedom of personal movement, given US<->UK visas for permanent residency, or simply working, remain as frustratingly complex, expensive, and time consuming as any isolationist politician could wish for, ensuring their subjects are kept just where they are.

I feel fundamentally ashamed to be legally part of a citizenry that is happy to tell a significant part of its population that they're unwelcome, despite having lives in the UK, entirely legally, working and fulfilling more of their civic duties than many Westminster MPs, for whom the act of turning up for work is entirely optional. (Reminder: these are the people Leave have decided to entrust their fate to, and everyone else who either chooses to remain, or can't leave) So, one good friend - Polish - may well be leaving with his BF for Spain, rather than be confined to an isolationist position where travel requires at least a passport, and likely a visa for anything beyond tourism. Another's position is closely entangled with European reporting, putting their position also into doubt, even without any residency issues involved. Yet, did the Leave camp think about this? Let them now, at least, contemplate how many lives they've upended, handing power to a spectrum from the Conservatives, through UKIP, to the BNP. *slow clap*

A comic to try: Rice Boy, being a surrealistic, brightly hued fantasy adventure yarn. It's complete, having run between 2006-2008, and not overly long (unfortunately!).

It could well be that Anton Yelchin, actor playing the "new" Chekhov, was a victim of bad user interface design - specifically, the "monostable" gear shifter in Jeep Grand Cherokees, where you move the stick forward and backward to shift through gear selections, after which it always returns to the same rest position.

Hasselblad, in recent years, took a lot of heat from the peanut gallery over its "luxury branding" concepts, essentially copying Leica's strategy of lightly rebadging other manufacturers' cameras, and adding a hefty multiplier to the cost. They've apparently completely changed course, having now launched the first mirrorless medium format body, the X1D. It's still quite exotically priced, at around $9,000, but that's still a significant drop on previous medium format bodies. It even positions them as a genuine manufacturer of camera bodies again - they're produced locally, in Sweden.

I wonder what g force that amounts to? Swiss mech.eng. students have built an electric race car that can manage 0-62mph in 1.513 seconds. =:D (Hm.. 62 mph = 27.716 m/s, so a = v/t = 27.716/1.513 = 18.319 m/s/s, so a bit under 2g)
Konstantin Binder, who moved to London 15 years ago, writes about the right's EU-exit aspirations. As one whose mother similarly moved west from Germany, I can only wholeheartedly concur with his sentiments.

Thus far, the bookies seem to be unanimous in leaning toward "remain", with odds around 1/4, and "leave" around 3/1. Results of today's referendum, in any event, will apparently start coming around 0030, with around half announcing by 3-4am, 80% by 5am, and likely all done by around 7am.

Are you reading jakebe's writings? If not, go, go! You won't find a more insightful and engaging writer. (Better known ones, yes =:)

A fascinating approach to a realistic vegetarian burger, designed to handle and taste just like the conventional kind, even seemingly "bloody" when raw. "The taste is unreal. When I tried a mini burger slathered in vegan mayo, mashed avocado, caramelized onions and Dijon prepared by San Francisco chef Traci Des Jardin at the company's headquarters in Redwood City, I was floored. The flavor was slightly less potent than meat, but if I didn't already know this burger was made from plants, I wouldn't have guessed it. The texture as I chewed was just like ground beef." It's still at a relatively early stage, so the burgers are more expensive than beef, but they're hoping to bring the cost down as they ramp up production.

So, I did indeed finally get to see The Martian, and I'm very pleased I did. ^_^ It's always great to see real sci-fi, on TV or on the big screen, not merely Alien Invasion of the Week. I did have a few quibbles, like the lack of international involvement until Suddenly, China, or the point where our orbital mechanics whiz, needing some computation, is shown snoozing with his laptop wired to a node of a NASA cluster, with requisite COMPUTATIONS ACCURATE modal dialog appearing, in true Sneakers style. ^_^; But that's small stuff, versus the magnificence of manned space flight - whatever the risks. BTW, if you're given to wondering about the science behind the film, a fan's come up with a detailed pair of eBooks going into the assertions made - really quite good fun! The first volume was recently free, but like its companion, it's back to the mighty figure of 99p/99¢.

Peter Gabriel has a new track out! I'm Amazing, apparently inspired, in part, by the life of Muhammed Ali.

Coming soon from the Canadian Mint: a range of Star Trek coins, all legal tender, and mostly in full color.

Headline on HN the other day: "Twitter Acquires Magic Pony". Go back 20 years, and try parsing those four words. =:) (Me, I'd love to derail the PlayStation's debut, and let 3DO's M2 come to the fore =:)

On an even geekier level, here's some detailed tech info on APFS, Apple's forthcoming filesystem, going beyond the documentation. There's a lot of good stuff in there, including this rather neat tidbit: "APFS addresses [latency] with I/O QoS (quality of service) to prioritize accesses that are immediately visible to the user over background activity that doesn’t have the same time-constraints."

Rather a novel means of recycling plastic, though currently only on polyethylenes: catalysis into gases like butane, a diesel-like fuel, and waxes. The big wins are relatively low energy required, and no concern for purity of the source.

Evidently, Dan Piraro is a Good Egg™, for as he observes on his "Bunny of Exuberance" secret symbol: "We must all stay in touch with the bunny inside us at all costs."

Speaking of whom, I'm afraid there haven't been any new bunpics lately, owing largely to rather mediocre (damp and cloudy) weather much of the time.

Just to avoid duplicating work: has anyone already made a VM of NextStep 3.3 or OpenStep 4.0? I feel I need to, if not. ^_^ Such a brilliant OS family, even if Display PostScript had to be dropped on its way to becoming OS X - that loss of separation of client and server meant the loss of X-Windows style abstraction, so remote control became the blunt instrument that is VNC.
As far as net.radio goes, I seem to've mostly settled down on Radio Paradise and KLFM - both offer quite a good breadth of variety, with KLFM paying a bit more attention to the 80s onwards, and neither having any advertising, which always sends me quickly flicking over to iTunes to choose another station.

Last Saturday's selection was remarkably simple: we started with "Hail, Caesar!", a veritable return to punchy form by the Coens, followed by a latterday classic, The Prophecy, with Christopher Walken superbly cast as an angel - but not of the kind fabled in recent lore. (Inexplicably, the latter only has a 6.6 rating on IMDb, roughly level across age, leaning slightly female) Tonight, I'll either be chilling here on LJ, or perhaps finally getting to see The Martian, as the roomie's off in the big city, enjoying a night of cocktails. Who knows? Maybe I'll even get back onto Reddit, where I've been absent for a year or so. I did get to see half of "The Huntsman: Winter's War", which.. was enjoyable fluff, but could have been much more, had the writing simply been up to the task. Still, it struck both of us that the costume design was quite remarkable, especially Queen Freya and Ravenna's ensembles toward the end - breathtaking! Apparently, the work of Colleen Atwood, whose credits include one or two other productions, such as Mars Attacks!, Sleepy Hollow, Edward Scissorhands, the current Supergirl series, and the forthcoming Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

WWDC took place last week, and with it, no shortage of headline material, as well as more geeky issues, like the unveiling of a new filing system, inexplicably titled Apple Filing System, taking plenty of cues from the likes of ZFS. Right now, it's a developer preview, and can't be used as a boot disk; but, they seem to be aiming to unleash it in 2017. And, it appears the Quicktime framework is now officially muerto, no longer present in macOS Sierra's SDKs. It's not really something most folks will care about, I know, but Quicktime was once quite an astounding framework, with forward-looking technologies like QuickTime VR, and scriptability to the point where one dev demo CD included a complete Breakout game implemented purely as a QuickTime file. ^_^ And then there was the media processing/compression app I worked on - around 1998-2001 or so, pretty much any professionally produced media on the web had almost certainly been prepared with it - which relied on QT for its cross-platform nature. (I should note we didn't go with any cross-platform UI kits, in order to provide a genuinely native UI on both Mac OS and Windows. Not much extra work, really - the vast majority of the code sat beneath that level)

(w00t! Aperture is listed as compatible in MacRumors' Sierra compatibility thread)

The more geeky keynote, as it were, is State of the Platform, session 102. (You can watch it on the site, or flip to the Resources tab, and download the HD or SD version; 3.3GB for HD. All the other sessions can be found over here)

It's also been quite a pleasant surprise to see Apple moving to mandate HTTPS for iOS apps by the end of 2016, given apps are typically opaque about the level of security involved.

And yes, gone is OS X: long live macOS. ^_^ I'm quite happy with that. It's a nice combination of the old name, tweaked to blend in with its kin. And finally gets rid of the "Oh Ess Ecks" monicker smart alecs have persisted with. =:)

There were, of course, little videos they'd prepared, and they're actually rather cool by themselves: New Beginnings, on what motivates people to program - quite wonderful, and seriously, worth a minute or two of your time; and, more of a zappy summary on Messages, Hey Hi Hello. (Love that track: provided by Hollywood Wildlife, apparently, track of the same name) FSM knows, I'm not the audience for anything IM-related, but there's equally no doubting it'll be gobbled up by those who are. The new enhancements are fun, I will admit. ^_^

There's plenty of coverage elsewhere, so I shan't bother touching on everything. Nice to see the supported devices list being largely (completely?) unchanged: iOS 10 will support devices beginning with the iPhone 5, iPad 4, and iPad mini 2. Still, I was quite intrigued to see Serif demoing a work-in-progress version of their Affinity Photo, for iPad. Trouble is, AP's still much more of an app to work on specific photos - as I recall, it doesn't really sport any asset management features, where Aperture works so well. At least it seems like Aperture's running happily under macOS Sierra, which is a big relief - indeed, the list of incompatibilities, with this first preview, is quite petite.

Via hastka, 8 bit wood, celebrating classic games' 8/16 bit artwork, beautifully realised with wooden pixels. ^_^

In politics, The Canary (an independent news site, along the lines of The Intercept and ExaroNews) reports that a recent AQAP routing in Yemen wasn't what it seemed: whilst official reports claim an intense routing of the enemy from their fledgling statelet on the southern Yemen coast, it appears it may have been much more arranged, with Al-Qaeda's safe passage in exchange for the safety of the oil pipeline they'd had control of. "The commandos bravely secured the Dhabah oil terminal from the AQAP barbarians, before rapidly defusing hundreds of landmines. Except they didn’t. Independent on-the-ground sources have denied there was any such attack. Veteran BBC journalist Iona Craig, who has reported extensively from Yemen, said that the coalition statement was “ridiculous”, as AQAP had already deserted the city before the alleged military ‘rout’"

With Thursday not being an especially good day, I took refuge in catching up with the final three episodes of pony (well, this half of the season - they're doing a Doctor Who style split, with a Summer recess). And, delightfully, they were all well on form. ^_^ Applejack's "Day" Off didn't dwell too heavily on the difficulties encountered in trying to secure that precious time off, instead showing AJ as simply doing what she could to help, fixing a problem affecting so many. The coda, however, was quite perfect, with the excellent moral illustrated amusingly: that sometimes, others' perspectives can be very useful in revealing problems in your routine that you've simply grown accustomed to. Then, Flutter Brutter saw a remarkably assertive (in a kind way) Fluttershy, including the best ever use of the word "peeved". I was very pleased with this episode simply because it showed a dimension to her we haven't seen much of - with writers often falling back to her being extremely timid - being quite determined, yet still compassionate. Finally, Spice Up Your Life, with one of the best songs in a while, and ultimately, celebrating creativity and being true to yourself. ^_^ I admit, I felt a bit awkward with Rarity being painted as so strictly conforming - true, there are trends in cuisine, just as in couture, but there's no lack of variety for that; and there's no way anyone with as tightly restricted a concept of good food as Zesty Gourmand would rise to prominence, or even be considered by such as Michelin. Still, that's a minor nitpick. ^_^

It was, as we've all heard, a terrible time for targeted murders, with the Pulse nightclub the focus of a religious homophobe, and on Thursday, an MP, Jo Cox (by all accounts, a very good and genuinely compassionate representative) stabbed and shot, dying later that day, because of a neo-Nazi nationalist. I'd been vaguely hoping his appearance in court might offer up some measure of repentence: but, no. He apparently gave his name in court as "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain". I might hope, similarly, for some measure of regret from the likes of Ken Paxton, Attorney General for Texas, or the sponsors of North Carolina's loathsome HB2, but I very much doubt they'll be experiencing anything negative. They do not get to spread fear and hatred of the LGBT community, doing all they can, wilfully, consciously, deliberately stoking prejudices, villifying LGBT folk, or immigrants, and be surprised when some people act on that hatred, whilst offering platitudes of mock sympathy. As noted by lovelyangel, Only The Onion Can Save Us Now, whose writers have nailed the issues so well in the past, eg “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.” or “At Times Like This, We Need to Pull Ourselves Up, Hold Our Loved Ones Close, Block Any Legislation That Would Prevent Suspected Terrorists From Buying Guns, And Say a Prayer For the Victims.”

And, via supergee, apparently Stanford rapist Brock Turner was like that all along.

Courtesy of Dinosaur Comics, I am enlightened that the Spanish equivalent of "the ball's in your court" is the rather spiffy "the ball is on your roof". ^_^

Finally, I'd like to end this entry with five simple, delightful minutes, via drhoz, of Denis Lock at the Palladium, blowing bubbles. Yes, really. And the finale is just a moment of simple wonderment.
If you're using TeamViewer - software permitting remote operation of your computer - be aware that there's an ongoing threat, and researchers aren't certain how the hacks are occurring. All that's known is there's a large number being reported recently. The hackers involved, once controlling a computer, then send themselves money by PayPal or eBay. If you don't need it installed, I'd recommend simply removing it; else, ensure it isn't set up to launch on startup, only running when you intend to make it available, and enable two-factor authentication. One possibility is that the hackers are simply trying out passwords obtained in other breaches, especially LinkedIn, and seeing if people reused those passwords with TeamViewer, apparently with some success.

So, that was rather cool.. getting to see Russell Brand in the wild. =:D I hadn't quite reckoned on just how intense he is in person, having only seen him on TV appearances like QI and HIGNFY - but an hour and a half in his element, touching on the spiritual and metaphysical, whilst merrily trampling on many social mores.. so damned good. ^_^

A couple more online learning venues - not accredited, but none the worse for that: FutureLearn, and edX.

Ars recently ran quite an insightful little article: you've probably seen some folk claim that scientists were all predicting a coming ice age, and thus, we can't put stock in any warming claims. They took a look at: did 1970s climate science really call for an ice age?

Sunspring is a surreal sci-fi short with a bit of a difference: it was written by an AI. (If you'd like to download it for viewing on TV or suchlike, try this. It's 142MB)

The buns - well, I'm not sure that the scourge has completely run its course just yet, but, only a couple seemed possibly affected, with most looking fine. Numbers appear to be more or less steady, with around 10-12 visible at peak. And some of them have, I hope, enjoyed a few of the raisins I've been scattering. ^_^ There was even a little round of jousting on Thursday! It began routinely enough, with two poised intently toward each other, followed quickly by a succession of launches. No altercation, thankfully. Here's a little sequence..

Siri, Cortana, et al are pretty much everywhere now. But - do people actually use them much? Personally, I've barely used Siri - about the last time was a few weeks ago, when I didn't feel like half getting up and setting an alarm for the morning, and did it that way instead. Do you use such voice-based personal assistants much/at all/routinely?

Did you know it's possible to tattoo your eyeballs?

Alternatively, how about Elite for Emacs?

Music video of the week: Hifi ft. Fred Schneider - "Truck", being a minimalistic disco-electronic track channeling Convoy et al of the 70s. If the name isn't familiar, FS is the distinctive voice of the B-52s.

How's this for some outstanding cosplay? The "junk lady" from Labyrinth.

You may recall, from a couple years ago, word of a writer in New York who was offering people very brief stories, for what they chose to donate, typed on as he sat on one of Central Park's benches. Here's his own story, including when a photo of him hit the front page of Reddit - with his sign explaining things cropped out, showing only someone on a park bench with a typewriter. Instantly, he was branded a "hipster", and out came the hatred..

Headline of the month must surely belong to Seagull turns orange after falling into curry. The accompanying photo is quite priceless. (The bird in question is fine, but continues to smell strongly of tikka masala)

Artwork du jour: Tori: Delicacy, recasting Judy & Nick as TRON: Legacy characters. =:D (The same artist's done a whole slew of other film parodies on Zootopian themes, including Deadpool and Kill Bill, equally professionally executed)

Saturday's viewing turned out to be somewhat truncated, as the roomie got up at Silly O'Clock, so we only had time to watch The Good Dinosaur, and a few shorts, including Hyper-Reality and XXIT. The pizza prelude went very well - starting with a Sainsbury's Iberico chorizo and butter chicken pizza, I added: a bit of crushed tomato (with some garlic, basil, oregano, and rosemary added), a couple chopped up slices of Brunswick ham, further sprinklings of rosemary and basil, a tiny dash of hot smoked paprika (beautiful stuff, but you do need to be careful with the quantities), and a bit of black pepper. And as I felt the cheese could use a little help, I tossed on some crumbled Manchego and smoked Cheddar, simply to add to the flavor profile. Regrettably, it was sliced and consumed far before I had the presence of mind to deploy any camera. ^_^;

As for The Good Dinosaur? Mmm.. I feel my initial discomfort with the trailer was warranted, with the breathtakingly beautiful, realistic scenery simply not meshing comfortably with the very toony characters, supported by a very straightforward tale. Not a bad production in the least, but, for Pixar, surprisingly weak. (And next year brings Cars 3 - what, the first two weren't bad enough? - and a knockoff of The Book of Life? Ah well. It's rather feeling like the A-game's shifted over to Disney Feature Animation, with Big Hero 6, and now Zootopia) It felt, overall, like a bit of a lukewarm rehashing of Disney's arguably superior "Dinosaur" (combining CG for the characters with live action elsewhere), blended with a good dose of The Lion King, including that moment, and their encounter with their late father. That said, it certainly wasn't a bad production at all - hardly something to avoid! - just, not up to the calibre of Ratatouille, Wall-E, or The Incredibles. (Tonight, I'm thinking "Hail, Caesar!" needs to be in there somewhere - it sounds like the Coens were fully back on form for that, even if it'll take a miracle to surpass The Big Lebowski =:)

Wow. I'm actually all caught up, not just from the previous week, which is bad enough, but from a few days before that too.


Now, if I could only lure jessie_pup into posting again.. =:)
Here's a fascinating little introduction to the uniquely Québecois Catholic swearing, along with some background furnished by other examples of Québec's linguistic departure from mainline French.

I had cause to head into town the other day, and managed to find time to enjoy an hour or two in the V&A - so, I'll inflict some of the items that caught my attention, including a rather spectacular pair of boots, an equally captivating box, a picnic set, and a view from a deserted Alhambra, a movie palace in San Francisco where I caught The Lion King, toward the very end of its life (aptly).

Free books! jeriendhal is giving away two of his works for the weekend only, marking LGBT Pride Month. ^_^

I don't normally link to animated GIF loops, but this bunny is unmissable, although I could be biased. After getting water flicked onto them, they return fire perfectly aptly. ^_^

I was wondering why flight recorders are called "black boxes", when they aren't, and don't ever seem (very reasonably) to have been. And lo, Wikipedia offers explanations, although there doesn't seem to be any definite root, so much as a mix of the options that just sort of sidled its way into common parlance.

For a little geekiness, here's rather an illuminating look at the process of injection molding - its origins, and the practicalities involved.

What happens if you enter "parametric equations of bunny curve" into Wolfram Alpha? Just this. =:D

I'll toot the recommendation horn for 4K Video Downloader, the utility I've been using for a couple years for retrieving YouTube clips for offline enjoyment. It's free, with surprisingly mild restrictions on what requires a license, such as downloading a playlist with more than 25 items - fair enough, as I very rarely download more than the odd music video. The thing that swung me away from Firefox's DownloadHelper was, in particular, the clear dialog that pops up after it parses the URL you've just given it, summarising all the resolutions (and framerates, if applicable) available, and their filesizes, rather than DH's rather kludgy list of obfuscated filenames. I'll take off half a point for a recent update making the "Play" option slightly less available: it used to be shown in the list of completed downloads, at the upper right of each entry, but they've recently relegated that into a hamburger menu. I'd also prefer more of a native feel to the toolbar icons, which feel rather out of place on OS X. Still, that's a minor grumble - for a free app, which handles all the main video sites quite happily, and available for OS X, Linux, and Windows, I'm definitely happy with it as an app I use almost daily.

And noms recommendation of the week: Sainsbury's pepperoncini & king prawn ravioli, being one of the very few prepared ravioli that genuinely taste of what they claim. =:9 I served mine (beware, the tub looks small, but cooked, it's a hefty meal - arguably better as a starter for two) with a sauce made from some chopped up cooking bacon, finely chopped broccoli, pepper, basil, tiny bit of each of smoked hot paprika and garlic purée, and Campbell's condensed cream of mushroom soup, diluted with milk and water, and, just to help perfect it, a tiny bit of smoked Cheddar. The bacon's not essential, but it does accompany the prawn flavor most harmoniously, and the cheese is also quite optional - even before that, the sauce was tasting rather good, even if I do say so myself. ^_^

Huh! I hadn't been aware Tomorrow Corporation (World of Goo, Little Inferno) had a new game out, but there it is: Human Resource Machine, available for OS X, Linux, Windows, Wii U, and iOS, with the iOS version apparently being half the price of the others - $5 versus £7 or so.

And, here's an iOS platformer coming in July, absolutely gorgeously animated: Red Story, aka Le Petit Chaperon Rouge, courtesy of From Paris Entertainment.

Last Saturday's viewing was a diverse bag: The Selfish Giant, a Horizon on new discoveries on Paleolithic and Neolithic peoples of Europe, and the to-be island of Britain in particular, and Deadpool. (And beforehand, last week's MLP, The Saddle Row Review, One of the better episodes of this season, which has overall been quite strong) Deadpool was rather more violent than I'd have preferred (whilst still remaining true to the usual Hollywood morals: it's fine to have decapitations, but FFS, don't dream of showing nipples, even male), but it had the degree of reverence I feel should be reserved for übermensch.

So, the town had its modest music festival on Sunday - of course, it was the beer that caught my attention. =:) Last year, they had a few polypins of local beer and a good cider, served in polycarbonate "glasses" that made for a reasonable compromise - shatterproof, so there's no public safety risk, and sturdy enough that they're not inadvertantly squishable either. This year, just plain plastic pint "glasses" - but, the bottles available being from the likes of Brew Dog and To Øl, and cheaper than you'd pay in a pub. =:D And so I enjoyed some prize beers, such as Brew Dog's Abstrakt 20, Fyne Ales' Ragnarok, and Wild Beer Company's Ninkasi. I could hardly let them lug all those bottles back with them, could I?
Last Saturday's films were Zootopia, and The Lobster. I was delighted to see the first again, and actually quite gratified that the roomie immediately got into it! He's often inclined to try second guessing plotlines. But, only a couple minutes in, he declared "this is excellent". Ah, they did so much right there. ^_^ (And apparently, the initial seed for the storyline had Nick Wilde be the star - but along the way, they realised it could be much more interesting to have Judy Hopps leading the way. I raise no objections =:) The Lobster was rather more of a change of pace than I'd anticipated - it's an awkward one to describe well without giving much of it away. Suffice to say, it's darkly hilarious in many places, and occasionally deeply disturbing, whilst always being essentially about togetherness, of some quite starkly differing kinds. It's worth seeing, but don't go in expecting anything light and fluffy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poll #2041842 Comics!

Which of these daily comics do you follow?

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

Which of these at-least-weekly comics?

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

Which of these occasional comics?

Happle Tea, taking unorthordox angles on mythical figures.

And finally, which of these comatose strips?

The Abominable Charles Christopher, one of the most gorgeously drawn and conceived webcomics ever, sadly lain dormant.