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The story of the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective is well worth reading, being a group dedicated to the home production of a few highly useful compounds, which, obtained conventionally, would be ruinously expensive for those requiring them. Amongst their projects are replica Epi-Pens, promoted to notoriety by the execrable Shkreli hiking their price to several hundred dollars each, vastly beyond their cost of production and development.

Well, now! Looks like the EU's looking to improve the situation with device repairability: "The European Parliament now wants the European Commission to create a clear definition of the term “planned obsolescence" and to develop a system to track that aging process. It also wants longer warranty periods and criteria to measure a product’s strength. Each and every device should also have a mention of its minimal life expectancy. Devices should also be easier to repair: batteries and other components should be freely accessible for replacement, unless safety dictates otherwise. Manufacturers will also need to give other companies access to their components so that consumers can visit those companies for repairs." I'd be particularly pleased to see that extend to MacBook Pros, which, in recent years, have been fabricated with the upper case, keyboard, and battery as one part, so replacing any element of the three means having to shell out for the whole shebang.

Apparently, the original Gamera films have finally escaped the clutches of copyright: enjoy!

Now that was a delight, making contact with Ice Foxx again. ^_^ This time, over on Mastodon. As an aside, you can find their Vancoufur 2018 photos over here, lovingly shot with a D600 and Nikkor 50mm - this isn't a photodump by any means. =:D

Ooh! Somebody's kindly compiled the classic Cadbury Bunny ads. Ah, how many furries she was responsible for creating.. =:)

I should, as an addendum to my earlier recommendation of the comic The Property of Hate, note that it's actually still ongoing - so, don't feel that just because you've reached the Dolly Zoom chapter that you're going to find how everything wraps up. =:) I'll happily reiterate that it's an exceptional webcomic, however - and checking the artist's bio page on her site indeed confirms my suspicion that she has animator blood in her veins. =:)

How to make your own Mac eGPU - in the author's case, originally a GTX 1050, now a 1080, to best handle an Oculus Rift's gameplay requirements. There are some additional useful notes in the Hacker News comments. It's even using the same model MBP I have, which offers Thunderbolt 2, rather than the 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 of the more recent models, and apparently works with both macOS and Windows.

Just some minor notes on UK supermarket delivery options. BTW, is there any chain offering Romaneco broccoli/cauliflower? I saw it a few years ago in Safeway, but not since their UK acquisition by Morrisons. (I should, of course, make an effort to turn up at the local market sometime, and see if one of the vegetable vendors offers them - so much tastier than the usual cauliflower! Plus bonus cool fractal patterning =:)
- Sainsbury: quite middle of the pack. Decently reliable. £40 minimum. No bargain cola.
- Tesco: similar, though a participant in the heinous Work Programme. Does offer a bargain cola, around 23p/2l bottle.
- Waitrose: particularly good with missing items; one time, when a few bottles of beer were missing, a staffer came around that evening to personally drop them off. (The others will only issue a refund) £60 minimum, no delivery fees. Sadly dropped Unearthed's pork rillettes and Sheppy's Dabinett recently, nudging me over to Ocado instead, who kindly offered me a three month pass to try (successfully) to lure me back into using them.
- Ocado: particularly good cider selection, £40 minimum, but the delivery costs are higher until you top £75, unless you're using a pass. (£7/mo any time, £5/mo Tue-Thu) Only option for said cider selection, and pork rillettes, which sadly simply aren't a thing in the UK, as far as supermarkets go.
- Asda: as scummy a company as Tesco. Actually has usually managed to keep their own brand cola in stock during the recent CO2 shortage. Significantly, offers a £25 minimum, but only if you're not using a pass, in which case it's £40. (Because reasons?)
- Morrisons: £40 minimum, backend provided by Ocado, unfortunately not reflected in the delivery performance, with my first order coming with 3 of the 10 bottles of diet cola I'd ordered, and not due to any acknowledged shortfall or substitution. They also managed to put the asparagus in with some frozen goods, leaving them pre-wilted, and only acknowledged being handed two bags rather than the seven or so. They did refund the missing bottles, but given the hassle factor involved, plus the simple point that that still left me without much cola, I wasn't too thrilled by their response. Eventually, they did concede the point, and refunded the delivery charge, offered a free month's pass, and a £10 coupon. The second order arrived without issues.

Oh, praise their noodly appendages - the buns are back! =:D First, the old aerial testing site, where three were craning forth to reach the delicious blackberries beginning to turn ripe. Then.. not much, actually, at the main spot, so I wandered along the footpath (thankfully now cleared - in summertime, it can grow all but impassable with nettles and tall grasses) over to another spot, where I took Momentary, but hadn't seen any activity since about October 2014. And there were two there! =:D (And plenty of droppings on the footpath leading there, too) Encouraged, I headed back to the "main" spot, and found up to eight going about their business in the final hour of the day.

I suppose I don't have to tell anyone here just how much that encourages me for their future. ^_^



And this shot caught my eye, for their jaunty little grin. ^_^



BTW, these days, I'm using the full size images, resized to window width - is that working out for everyone? It does mean higher image file sizes, but I'm thinking that's a fairly small difference these days; the grin above, f'rex, is about 131K for the 800px version I would've used previously, and 245K for the full 1440px version. This way, I can accommodate folks viewing in very wide browser windows, and even with cellular connections, it feels like a modest hit - and as a bonus, you're able to save the full size version by simply dragging it from the browser. Though it's always welcome to receive faves on Flickr, I'll admit. ^_^

Woohoo! And following on from my mention last month that Mojave b2 apparently broke Aperture importing directly from the D500 (tethered, as Nikon's finally discovered USB3, and I don't have an XQD card reader), it would appear that the recent b7 fixed that - at least, a test import using the new OS worked perfectly normally. ^_^ True, I may have to find an alternative someday, but I'm in no hurry - Aperture works as well as it ever has, with all the processing options you'll want, nestled within an easy to use management system. I wonder if Serif will indeed eventually come out with their equivalent? It's been rumored for a few years now that they intend to, but it seems, from what I can glean from the company forum, to remain gently simmering away under development. They're the people I'd like to see such a replacement come from, as their UIs feel good to me, especially versus Adobe's. I did file an official bug report, but that was closed rather swiftly, noting Aperture was discontinued and no longer supported - which is certainly true, but it wasn't a change to Aperture that broke things. So, who knows? With this fix, maybe someone there does still care about Aperture. ^_^
 
 
 
 
 
 
It's apparently been announced that when the next season of Doctor Who debuts, it'll be simulcast in the US on BBC America. (No word on whether that'll be the case for subsequent episodes) And, it appears the 2017 special, Twice Upon A Time, will be released on UHD BluRay! I'm not clear yet whether it was actually produced in 4K, or if it's simply an HDR upscaling.

Here's an EU survey enquiring into opinions regarding summer time - whether you support the switching or not, how important it is to you, and what your preferred option would be. Myself, I went for keeping summer time year-round, offering a bit more light in the afternoon, when I'm cogent to appreciate it. The original justifications, around the time of World War I, are long gone, and with the switches come increases in road accidents, as drivers find themselves with suddenly rather different lighting, versus a gentle progression with the year. With no justification for it, why perpetuate the scheme?

That bodes well! Lauren Faust's helping craft "DC Super Hero Girls" for Cartoon Network.

I'll want to hear more about this: Brenda Chapman and Kevin Lima will produce "The Cartoon Touch", for release by Fox Family. BC you may recall as the creator and original director of Brave, whilst KL's best known for directing A Goofy Movie and Tarzan.

A rather horribly comprehensive list of just how extensive the US' involvement in South American politics since the dawn of the 20th Century.

Maybe not a huge surprise, but there've been some murmurings of Doctor Who possibly ceasing Crimbo specials - apparently not: "Director Wayne Yip (Lie of the Land, The Empress of Mars) has a Doctor Who Christmas special listed on his agents website. There have already been rumours that he was directing an episode and this appears to be some form of confirmation."

I've only just begun reading it, but it seems to have promise - rather an interesting looking webcomic, The Property of Hate. It's one of those settings/worlds where little is familiar, so you need to pay attention to how this world works, as well as why. Being about 40 pages in now, I feel more confident in offering a recommendation, if you're in the mood for quite a novel tale.

I finally got to see Ocean's 8! ^_^ Monday was shaping up to be a particularly hot day, which suggested to me that spending the peak of that in a nicely air conditioned auditorium might be a more pleasant way of spending the time, particularly with the good company of jayblanc. ^_^ I'm delighted I did, certainly - the screen chemistry on display was remarkable, underpinned by a tight script, and characters I could genuinely appreciate. The setting - the New York Met Gala - demanded some noteworthy costume design, and the production didn't disappoint, though that skill permeated the rest of the film ably. I'd certainly recommend it, and for me, I think there's enough likelihood I'll want to rewatch it now and then that I've placed a preorder for it. Not long to go, either! iTunes US just began showing a release date of Aug 21 2018. ^_^

Being in just the right spot to do so, we also caught Incredibles 2. I'm still not quite sure how I feel about it, TBH - I certainly appreciated Elastigirl and Violet getting more screen time, Violet especially, but the pacing felt rather wonky to me, where the original flowed very well, and the villain wasn't terribly surprising. (And I'm not the sort to try second-guessing the writers) Still, it's an easy choice to watch - anyone who enjoyed the first will find plenty to like in the second.

And the following night, the roomie offered up Wes Anderson's latest, Isle of Dogs. ^_^ It's stop-motion animated, as you doubtless know, with distinctly Japanese sensibilities throughout, making for quite an original production. TBH, about the only significant criticism I can level at it is that it's disappointingly feeble on the feminist front, with minimal feminine involvement, beyond a couple trophy roles, and a rather more important human character. The cinematography's superb, naturally - it's as exceptionally stylised as any of Wes Anderson's works, perhaps even moreso, being literally engineered frame by frame. I admit to preferring Pixar's style of largely eschewing star names for their roles, but, the A-list cast definitely behaved themselves. =:) It wound up as one would hope - simply very well acted, without feeling weighed down by its preponderance of stars. Good show. ^_^ (FWIW, I notice it's $19.99 on iTunes US, and £9.99 in the UK; buy accordingly!)

Oooh! Affinity Designer just debuted for iPad, and for the silly price of $14. *yoink* As one might expect, it does require a semi-recent device: "iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 and iPad (early 2017 onwards)". I wonder what happens on an unsupported device? I may fetch it on the iPad Air as well, just to find out. =:)

So, Ace of Base and Nazi symbolism.. =:P

Finally, new MBPs! Nothing revolutionary, but it's nice to see the new chipset (now a hexacore i9) supporting up to 32GB, which'll be handy for some folk; I'd be more interested in the SSD capacity, now extending up to 4TB. =:D The display resolution remains unchanged, at 2880x1200 (similar to 1.5x HD, but 16:10 rather than 16:9), but I'd live. =:) I'll be interested to see how it compares to Garnet - I imagine the GTX 1080 will still reign supreme, but of course, that comes at a hefty cost, with it being not a lot of use without being plugged in, and with no integrated GPU option to fall back to when high performance graphics aren't required. Maybe I'll wander along to an Apple Store sometime, and see how SL performs, given what an unusually heavy CPU and GPU load it presents, given its arcane graphics pipeline. I suspect this is the revision I'll lay my paws on, at the appropriate time - Hazel's still an excellent performer, though, even as it approaches its fifth anniversary. ^_^

So, someone new to r/furry - u/fennecgf - wandered into the sub, and offered free sketches. Their style looks intriguingly dynamic, so, I thought I'd offer up a couple examples of myself in SL by way of references. This is what they came back with. =:D

 
 
 
 
 
 
Here's a fifty second clip of the first episode of the 2018 season of Doctor Who, featuring Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, here seen just newly regenerated, and still coming to terms with who she now is. ^_^ (It's been appearing and taken down a fair bit; here's a mirror)

As a side note, if you're wanting to view images at full size, I'm now tending to include them in high resolution, and simply letting the browser scale down, where the full size image isn't too big (maybe up to a couple hundred K), as with the Pyongyang graphic novel example page. Maybe I should include a link to the same file, if it's easier to open a link than drag the image to the desktop or open it in a new window?

And on that note, perhaps the best photo to come out of 2018's Pride month. =:D

Finally watched A Wrinkle in Time - and I'm so very pleased I did. (It had that sense of a film I'd like, going just by the trailer. I missed its big screen debut, so simply pre-ordered it unseen) It's a story with such love, imagination, and scope. It does lack the cynicism a lot of people equate with authenticity, but I respect it all the more for what a positive tale it is.

I imagine everyone who's interested learned about it the same day, but anyway. =:) There'll be more Steven Universe starting July 2 2018, for five nights. =:D (If you're unfamiliar with SU, I'd recommend avoiding that promo, as there are some recent major events referenced which might fundamentally change the way you view one character in particular)

At long last, I've resumed learning Japanese, courtesy of the excellent Human Japanese apps (there are two, beginner and intermediate, available for iOS (separate iPhone and iPad versions), Android, macOS, and Windows). It's a long path, I know, but as the saying goes, the longest journey begins with a single step. =:)

Sort of relatedly, I tried giving Crunchyroll another try, on their basic free level, and gave up quickly after trying to start watching the first episode of Citrus, which looked moderately promising as a warm and cuddly tale of first love. For whatever reason known only unto manglement, I began with an ad (a promo for some violent combat anime - such targeted advertising), then a minute or so lead in, some of the opening titles, and then another ad, again for some combat-based anime they wanted to promote.. and then another ad, at which point I just tapped the home button and gave up on them. Agh! I fully appreciate they can't support free users without something like advertising, but: (a) why not select promos plausibly relevant to the show being watched? (Think of how trailers are selected for showing before a given film), (b) maybe don't drown the actual show out with the level of advertising? All that said, maybe it's all simply a not very subtle means of driving viewers to their paid offerings. Meanwhile, I bought the subtitled version of "Your Name." on iTunes the other day - the opening ten minutes do look most promising. ^_^ I might try it on the roomie sometime, but probably not for my first viewing - he tends to be more inclined toward American TV pacing, so this'd likely feel too slow for him.

.. wow. I knew it was well regarded, but all the same, such an emotionally rich storyline, and characters you're inexorably drawn to sympathise with. I shan't say too much about the plot - just that it involves two high school students, one living in Tokyo, another in the countryside, with consequently very different lives. One day, one of them wakes up in the other's body. Soon, they figure out that they're swapping over a few times a week, and, via their phones, agree not to disrupt each other's lives (much) - but that still leaves the bigger question of just what's going on. It winds up being quite an intense experience, I'd have to say, but one I'll wholeheartedly recommend. Oh, and the animation's gorgeous, too. (And FWIW, Rotten Tomatoes offers it 97%, and an audience rating of 94%; the Amazon reviews are glowing) BTW, if you like the poster design, there are high resolution versions available over here.

Heh! It would appear there's a live action Sonic the Hedgehog flick being produced by Paramount, and Jim Carrey's angling for the role of Robotnik. =:D

Most cool! The BBC's officially made all of the 1980s Computer Literacy Programme materials available, including all of Micro Live, even down to the listings offered at the time. Frustratingly, not through iPlayer, but a new bespoke site, making it less straightforward to download rather than stream. There doesn't appear to be any geoblocking, though - I was able to stream a little from the first episode of The Silicon Factor from both the UK and US - so you should all be able to watch any of it.

Well, now! I'd never known this.. anyone who's loved Babylon 5 likely knows the live action was all filmed, and thus suitable for HD transfer, but that all the effects assets have since been lost, requiring re-rendering everything from scratch - technically feasible, but expensive. However! "But at the end of each season we were required to transfer all digital assets direct to film, frame by frame, so Warners could have a version that could be used across all later formats. That version, with pristine CG and live action, has never seen the light of day." Consider signing the petition to let Warner know there's a willing audience for such a release. (Here's a thread between JMS and Neil Gaiman, confirming the situation)

Is anyone else watching (or, more likely, have you seen) Gravity Falls? We're up to midway through s2, with the particularly (deservedly!) highly rated "Not What He Seems". Damn, I'm loving this show. =:D Brilliant opening theme, too. I'm rather disappointed there isn't an official "full length" version, TBH. I wonder if they've ever released any stems for a remix competition.. probably not, given it's a Disney production, but who knows?

So, the GDPR came into force recently; perhaps you noticed. =:) One noteworthy mention goes to USA Today, who came up with what they feel is a compliant version of their site, lacking tracking, Javascript, ads, and personalisation. You may notice it loads instantaneously, and has an exceptionally uncluttered design. Probably purely coincidental. =:)

Seventy years ago, the Manchester Baby - which can be considered to be the first electronic stored program computer - glowed into life, executing a seventeen instruction program, running through 3.5 million calculations in 52 minutes. Working that out as calculations per second per kilo, with it coming in at about a long ton, that's about 1.1 calcs/s/kg. By comparison, consider a current phone, like the iPhone X - if we estimate it as capable of, say, six billion calculations per second (fairly conservative, given there's the GPU in addition to the hexacore CPU, and indeed, the presence of vector instructions), and a weight of 174g, that's around 3e10, or thirty billion calculations per second ker kg. All that improvement, in seventy years. What will computing technology be like by 2080? O.o;

I feel lovelyangel did a superb job of capturing at least some of Pride in her entry. I'm all about wildlife - she's so good with people. ^_^

Yay! There's a new Studio Killers single available now! =:D It's not a headliner track as such, but it's so good to see (well, hear) them back again - hopefully this signals their return for much more. ^_^

If you're interested in the world of animation, you might like to check out the free Annecy edition of Animation World News. There's a lot in there.

Following Tumblr/Oath's GDPR shenanigans, wherein they broke all their RSS feeds by serving a "hey, consent or else" notice instead of the actual feed, if you're presenting a European IP address, I've created a few replacement feeds here, should anyone else want to subscribe to them:
determineddiary - the art's quite basic, but it's got a lot of heart. ^_^
pigeon_gazette - amusing randomness.
up_and_out_rss - it began as a sort of "Perry Bible Fellowship" four panel gag strip, before changing nature quite a lot midway through.
dragons_burn - updates only infrequently, but I remain following it.
finding_dee_rss - by the cartoonist behind a few other strips including Dandy & Company, this relates some of their life having transitioned from male to female, just - jazzed up somewhat, comic style. =:)
bluebun_art - occasional artwork postings by Bluebun. Sometimes furry, sometimes Steven Universe, sometimes anything else.

Another option for easy syndication, which I may well go through for all of them, but haven't yet, is one that someone's implemented using Reddit's API: the subscribe-by-reddit system. Send that bot a syndication request, and it'll create a new sub (if it doesn't already exist) for that feed. In turn, you can subscribe to any sub by appending .rss to (almost) any Reddit URL. On the other paw, I'll probably just use LJ for that - seems it's perfectly possible, just by using an URL of the form http://communityname.livejournal.com/data/rss. Hrrrm.. actually, maybe not - it didn't seem to be working within Vienna, but checking with Feed Validator showed a perfectly good feed, and indeed, they seem to be functioning on the site - but nope, they don't serve a reconstructed feed, but rather, a 302 pointing to the original feed URL. =:P

Another comic has joined my roster. ^_^; This time, the manga Alien Hand Syndrome. Regrettably, there's not too much to catch up on, as the artist's constantly struggling with carpal tunnel syndrome, brought on by hyperextensibility, so it's tended to average about one new page per month for most of its span. And, on the more cybernetic front, there's the intriguing Hey Kitty, telling the story of an anthro snow leopard android ("anthroid") who becomes able to ignore commands, thereby gaining her independence, in a world where such is very much not tolerated. There are a couple years of back work to catch up on, with new pages appearing weekly, so getting up to date won't take too long. (One nice point with the site itself is the "archive" page has thumbnails of every page, so if you've got a particular scene in mind, but can't remember exactly where it is, you're in a much better position to find it readily) It appears to build on a companion comic, Hey Fox, but that isn't required in order to follow what's going on.

So, WWDC 2018's keynote came and went. ^_^ Thankfully, no new iPad Pro, so I don't have to concern myself with trying to return the newcomer in favor of the Shiny New. =:) Which I'm genuinely relieved about, as it takes time to get a new system set up just the way you like - this one's mine now. Otherwise, it was a fairly low-key event, mostly about quite geeky details, though I did appreciate them highlighting the deprecation of "social media" badges in WebKit loading/rendering, and the initiation of the long inevitable war of attrition against browser fingerprinting. macOS Mojave certainly won't mark the end of Big Data's gathering of everyone's browsing habits, but it's a highly welcome step in the right direction, and hopefully, one which will be echoed elsewhere.

The LEGO AR playtime did look like fun, I admit. ^_^ Dark mode will please those who've been seeking it out for years; I'll likely remain mostly on the light side. =:) Still, it was interesting to see echoes of the Aperture UX making its way into the Finder, years later. =:/ The animoji customisation looks very nicely done indeed, down to not just "wear shades", but "select a style" and "choose the level of tint" - but, from what they showed, that's all only for the human bases? =:P Hopefully they'll extend that to the non-human options too - I'd love to appear in a FaceTime chat as my leporine self. ^_^ (I'd even accept having voice enabled for that)

I've given Mojave a quick spin, and at first glance, all looks good on Hazel - no surprises or glitches of any kind. And I'm thrilled to discover that Aperture continues to chug along happily. =:D Not even a 32-bit warning! (Apple's confirmed that Mojave will be the final macOS release to support 32-bit applications, following iOS' lead) And whilst I doubt anyone else is in SL here, but I've heard from a Reliable Source™ that we need not worry about the future of the Mac SL viewer. ^_^

And so it took about three days for me to decide it's about time I got a paid developer account again, with the intent of actually getting something up on the App Store. ^_^ If I can actually get off my tail and get into some iOS development, following an accidental prompt from austin_dern over on Mastodon, I think the first app might be a TinyMUCK client. Very niche, obviously, and not exactly aimed at building a retirement fund, but it feels like a project with sane scope - large enough to introduce me to practical development, UI included, but sufficiently modest to make it completable in less than a Half-Life 3 timescale. =:) I've now got Hazel on Mojave, and both the iPhone and iPad on iOS 12, having gingerly first ensured Hazel had a current Time Machine backup, and also backed ~/Library/Mail on another external drive. So far, I'm delighted to report things seem surprisingly solid - certainly, much better than 2017's wretchedly rocky beta journey. (Generally, I've found the betas fine, but there are always caveats and surprises - if not for one's own setup, then others') Aperture indeed works just as before, and the addition of News to macOS is surprisingly welcome - it's a good application, and one I'm likely to use rather more hereon.

Bah, humbug! Nope.. looks like Mojave b2 broke something related to USB camera devices. Now, when I connect the D500 and select Import, it doesn't bring up any thumbnails, and can't import anything. My workaround is, for now, using Photos to import the photos and then bounce them out to Aperture - not exactly elegant, but it works. I wonder if pulling the photos off via a card reader would behave differently, given that's a different class USB device.. trouble is, it's an XQD card (for speed; it permits writing as fast as the D500 can shoot, so rapid bursts are never slowed down), so I'd have to buy such a reader. I'll probably just leave it as is for now, and hope a future release fixes whatever changed, as there's much less need for a separate reader with the D500, given it finally offers USB3. Both iOS 12 and macOS Mojave are available as public betas now.

I found this article on the genesis of the transistor quite fascinating. It does cover the plain history, but also from the perspective of the actual people and motivations, making it a much more absorbing read than one might at first expect, especially on such a seemingly geeky topic. This part begins with as the first transistor was announced, quite a different beast to anything you'd find today, and indeed, more or less rendered obsolete a few years later, before it could really make much headway.

If you've got a few groats you could spare, Linkey will happily let you shop in their store - but none of the goods will reach you. Rather, everything's distributed to homeless shelters and rough sleepers in London and elsewhere in the UK. £5 will buy a set of women's underwear, £8.50 some thermal socks, and £19 a good sleeping bag.

Here's quite an insightful, long-form story on how few seasoned game developers there are, and goes into depth as to just why people tend to drop out of the industry entirely after a while. Perhaps needless to say, the answers aren't surprising. *sigh*

Here's a rather fun looking comics anthology Kickstarter, though having taken long enough to get around to posting this, it's since wrapped up, thankfully successfully: FTL, Y'All: Tales from the Age of the $200 Warp Drive: "Six months from now, detailed schematics anonymously uploaded to the Internet will describe, with absolute precision, how to build a faster-than-light engine for $200 in easily-available parts. Space travel will be instantly—and chaotically—democratized. The entire cosmos is suddenly within reach of all humankind, without organization, authority, or limitation. This comics anthology is about what happens next."

Some researchers are pursuing what does look like a highly promising avenue of attacking breast cancer, essentially taking what white blood cells the patient's already producing, growing those, and reintroducing them to the donor, thereby attacking their specific cancer.

This is very, very cool, if you're nerdy. And if you're reading this, well.. =:) How about a homebrewed vector-based video game system? The Ocelot awaits! No longer do you have to suffer the indignity of raster-based Asteroids - now, you can enjoy Mattsteroids in genuine oscilloscope vectors, including sound. And there's Star Lynx, for space-based combat. ^_^

Here's a first attempt at photographing the rather complex David Bowie statue finally on view in Aylesbury market square. ^_^ Needless to say, I'm very pleased I was in a position to help with the Kickstarter to bring it about.



Here's an insightful piece from Assembly Four, who are behind Switter, the Mastodon instance dedicated to providing a safe social network for sex workers, in the light of SESTA/FOSTA's recent passage into US law. Unsurprisingly, its growth has been dramatic, fueled by the sudden disappearance of sites which had previously offered safe online venues to arrange connections. How bad are those laws? "Prostitution is the most dangerous job for women in the US, with a homicide rate of over 200 per 100,000. The next most dangerous job is a liquor store employee with a rate of 4 per 100,000." In this new legislative environment, sex workers are being forced back into street work and into the hands of pimps. "Johanna Breyer, interim executive director and co-founder of the Saint James Infirmary, a health clinic that supports sex workers in California’s Bay Area, told me that in the weekend following FOSTA, the infirmary’s mobile van outreach saw a dramatic increase of street-based sex workers in the Mission District. Breyer estimated that there were about double or triple the usual number of workers seeking assistance."

As for Mastodon, it's somewhat akin to hellbird, but with the major difference that it's not run by a company all about user stats to present to investors, and collecting all the data it can to sell on to try making some money out of people, but rather, each instance is run by people who simply want to do so. As such, each may only be home to a few hundred or thousand, making moderation an actually practical endeavor - and as you might expect, each instance tends to develop a local flavor, often based around a sort of theme, such as lgbt.io and photog.social or, for furries, the likes of meow.social, dragon.style, and chitter.xyz; they're all open to anyone, usually with quite similar, reasonable rules. Importantly, instances mesh together, making for a network ("fediverse") of a million or so folk - and if instances are seen by others as being havens to abusive sorts, admins have the ability to mute users, or, as a last resort, the entire instance.

Here's a rather fun looking Kickstarter (again, successfully wrapped up, having taken so long to get around to posting): Backbone, a pixel art noir adventure set in a furry retrofuturistic Vancouver, starring a raccoon gumshoe. ^_^

There is the possibility I'll be able to share artwork of my own again in the future, but that's probably some way off yet. But judging by how happy just exploring the possibilities with the iPad Pro and Pencil seems to make me, I'll be taking to it very readily. =:D It indeed works as well as the fruit company claims - accurate, with no lag, a display that updates at 120Hz when necessary, and fully laminated for no parallax, on top of a top-notch color palette. Simply playing around with the possibilities in Procreate is just so much fun! I'm not limited to just a 0.3mm tech pen, or a 2B pencil, but all manner of tip effects, and rather more easily erased, which I'll be doing plenty of in the coming months. ^_^

The rest of the tech bump is pretty welcome, of course - the iPad Air's still a great device, but going from 1GB to 4GB RAM does now mean very little swapping out of applications, and 10-bit H.265 4K decoding in VLC is now absolutely fine. (Hello Sense8!) I went with the smaller model, the 10.5", as the larger one's noticeably heavier, more like the original iPad, and on getting the Air, that lightness was (and is) so welcome when holding it in one hand. Having Touch ID's a pleasant addition, as it means I can now keep it secured much more conveniently than a passcode, and I dare say there'll be times when Apple Pay might come in helpful, probably more online than in person, given it's only US banks that seem to lag in offering NFC cards. The speakers are surprisingly good, managing a touch of actual bass, despite having no case depth to work with - and with four speakers, automatically rerouting with orientation to provide a correct stereo image. USB 3 (at last!) also makes for much faster file dropping.

While Teespring was happily pushing Pride Month on their front page, their actual behavior is quite different. I'll be leery of ordering from them again.

Does pushing public services into private hands result in improved efficiency? Well, no.

There was a good AMA with the CEO of SmugMug regarding their purchase of Flickr.

I'm not generally huge on card-based games, but I do quite like the look of Cultist Simulator. ^_^ The trailer certainly paints it appealingly. "Play as a seeker after unholy mysteries, in a 1920s-themed setting of hidden gods and secret histories. Perhaps you're looking for knowledge, or power, or beauty, or revenge. Perhaps you just want the colours beneath the skin of the world. In this roguelike narrative card game, what you find may transform you forever. Every choice you make, from moment to moment, doesn't just advance the narrative - it also shapes it. Become a scholar of the unseen arts. Search your dreams for sanity-twisting rituals. Craft tools and summon spirits. Indoctrinate innocents. Seize your place as the herald of a new age."

Razer just came out with a relatively affordable eGPU enclosure, the Core X, for $299. Not exactly free with the cornflakes, but nonetheless, an interesting option, given that permits you to use the card of your choice with the laptop of your choice, now including Macs as well, as of the latest macOS. The catch is you'll need a recent device, as communication is over Thunderbolt 3, given the bandwidth required. Unfortunately, on the Mac front, only AMD cards are supported at present, though I suppose Nvidia would be fine if booted into Windows 10. (I haven't been following what the underlying reasons there are) My MBP, sadly, doesn't qualify, with Thunderbolt 2, so that remains something for the next system. It'd be an interesting option - to have a highly capable laptop, but also with the option of tethering to a burly GPU as desired. Who knows? Maybe WWDC will hold some news of Nvidia support, given Apple's worked with both providers extensively in the past - indeed, Hazel's discrete GPU is a GT 750M. Anyway, MacWorld's review is up. It's quite a substantial device, with a 650W PSU, taking three-slot cards, and can charge a connected device at 100W. Amusingly, given the bandwidth afforded by the bus, it's even possible to daisychain them, if your needs are sufficiently pressing, to multiply the speedups in, say, video rendering.

So, Matt Groening has a new show coming out shortly c/o Netflix: Disenchantment, featuring quite a few familiar names in the voice cast. The first ten episodes of their twenty episode initial order debut on Aug 10, apparently. ^_^ I can't find a trailer at the moment, though - just a promo still or two.

One former Pixar animator explains, at length, how dysfunctional a company it was, with the Boys' Club mentality in full force in some quarters, most prominently in the now deposed John Lasseter.

Here's something of an insider's look at how the FBI's interest in Trump began.

An interesting political article in the New Yorker, which opens with: "One of the few things that Kaiser Wilhelm II, who ruled Germany from 1888 to 1918, had a talent for was causing outrage. A particular specialty was insulting other monarchs. He called the diminutive King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy “the dwarf” in front of the king’s own entourage. He called Prince (later Tsar) Ferdinand, of Bulgaria, “Fernando naso,” on account of his beaky nose, and spread rumors that he was a hermaphrodite. Since Wilhelm was notably indiscreet, people always knew what he was saying behind their backs. Ferdinand had his revenge. After a visit to Germany, in 1909, during which the Kaiser slapped him on the bottom in public and then refused to apologize, Ferdinand awarded a valuable arms contract that had been promised to the Germans to a French company instead.

Not that this deterred the Kaiser. One of the many things that Wilhelm was convinced he was brilliant at, despite all evidence to the contrary, was “personal diplomacy,” fixing foreign policy through one-on-one meetings with other European monarchs and statesmen. In fact, Wilhelm could do neither the personal nor the diplomacy, and these meetings rarely went well. The Kaiser viewed other people in instrumental terms, was a compulsive liar, and seemed to have a limited understanding of cause and effect. In 1890, he let lapse a long-standing defensive agreement with Russia—the German Empire’s vast and sometimes threatening eastern neighbor. He judged, wrongly, that Russia was so desperate for German good will that he could keep it dangling. Instead, Russia immediately made an alliance with Germany’s western neighbor and enemy, France. Wilhelm decided he would charm and manipulate Tsar Nicholas II (a “ninny” and a “whimperer,” according to Wilhelm, fit only “to grow turnips”) into abandoning the alliance. In 1897, Nicholas told Wilhelm to get lost; the German-Russian alliance withered."

Good thing someone like that could never come to power again, eh?

California's edging a little closer to possibly ending DST, yay! It wouldn't be the only state to observe the same time zone year-round - Hawaii and Arizona are already there, and as the article also notes, a similar measure is moving forward in Florida as well.

I finally passed Hacker News' 500-point threshold for downvoting privileges! Muahahahaa, the power, the POWER! =:D What brought that about was a rather fascinating article on the optical scanning of old wax cylinder recordings to recover now lost indigenous American languages, the previously existing versions of which, if available, were of very low quality, given their physical condition.

The roomie went along the other day to an airshow in town. ^_^ I didn't get along myself, partially out of low spirits, partially out of their insistence on using the execrable PayPal as the payment processor. It did seem to be aimed somewhat more at people actively involved in the industry, rather than shows like RIAT, but by the sound of it, well worth getting along to, despite the ticket cost. And he brought back a nifty present! A heating pad, which can be heated in boiling water to impart the energy, and once you've left it to cool down again, it's this quite innocuous transparent gel. But, irritate the metal coin inside the pouch, presumably triggering crystallisation in a supersaturated solution, and it suddenly begins releasing that heat over around half an hour. =:D It's nothing magic - the packaging says the solution is purely sodium acetate. Once it's completely cooled off, it becomes a fudge-like texture and opaque, until recharged. I can definitely see that coming in very handy in my winter rabbiteering! (Aha! Wikipedia knows all)

Does anyone have any screen capture software recommendations, for macOS or Windows? I have a Vimeo On Demand stream I'd like to capture, but I'm finding QuickTime Player unreliable for long durations, sometimes glitching the audio - this is a bit over three hours in all. I do have all the parts, I think, but it'd be handy to have a solid option available. Not sure I'll ever actually need it again, but still. =:) Unfortunately, Vimeo really don't seem to want downloading to happen where they're not explicitly permitting it - even youtube-dl can't currently handle purchased Vimeo on Demand, though it's been able to in the past. (Now, it just fails with an insistence it's an embed-only video, and to provide it with the URL of the embedding page - except this is on the file's own Vimeo page)

Michael Palin's just finished filming an extensive travelogue in North Korea, due to air on Channel 5 sometime later in 2018. Ought to be good - he's one of the best hosts for conveying the realities of the locations he visits. Relatedly, I recently read through Guy Delisle's "Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea", where he was working for a while as an animator stuck overseeing the final production of some animation - the budget had run out, so that's where they wound up. It's available on ComiXology, amongst other places.

On the TV front, I'm sort of trying to expand my willingness to be passively engaged in others' work. ^_^; I'm continuing to enjoy the hell out of Unikitty, which is - as was said of MLP:FiM - far better than it needed to be, and MLP, of course. I've gradually been getting into Sense8, which Ilove - naturally, I find it just as it's axed. =:P And continuing that theme, I picked up the first season of Cameron Esposito & Rhea Butler's gloriously gay "Take My Wife" - having got about halfway through the first episode, I picked up the second season as well. ^_^ (And that's all there is, as the producers SaySo then perished. Not that I'd even heard of them until they were done, but so it goes in Startup Land)

Finally, I got to see the recent Wonder Woman. ^_^ I'm rather conflicted, overall. I loved the introduction to her homeland, but beyond - absurd as it may sound, I felt it lost its authenticity thereon, with Themyscira seeming much more realistic than what followed. Perhaps that's just me? Nonetheless, I'm pleased I did finally get to see it. I'm still not a superhero sort (do there really have to be quite so many fight sequences?), but as they go, I'm sort of okay with it.

So, I enquired whether I could transfer the iTunes purchases from my UK account to my US account, and received a "no" - seems any kind of transfer isn't available, let alone between stores. =:P But, they did note that a device can be authorised for multiple accounts - the catch, of course, is that whilst you can switch stores, doing so starts a ninety day timer, and you can't switch again until that's run its course. However, that would seem to leave open the option of switching the UK account to being for the US store instead. The purchases would still be from two accounts, but that wouldn't really matter. I'll have to ponder the point. One might expect it'd be a simple enough process, just changing the affiliation of an account from one country to another, but it's not quite as straightforward as that, presumably due to rights issues, or maybe just inadequate planning - it had been the case that changing countries left behind your purchase history, so you had to ensure you had local copies of any TV or films before switching. (Here's a good pair of articles on one person's experience: at first, and following up) As of late 2017, though, it appears that's improving, but spottily - and anything that's not available in your new country won't be showing at all - so some (perhaps, by now, all?) of your purchases made in the account's old country will now show up as you'd expect.

Heh.. that could definitely get amusing. =:D I noticed someone point out: "If Democrats take the House back in November, their current ranking member of the Financial Services Committee becomes the chair of the committee, and has the power to subpoena Trump’s bank records.

That member is Maxine Waters. Vote."

I'm not really one for mineral water and suchlike (though I do keep sparkling water around, as a nice fizzy option without any sweeteners, natural or artificial), but one I tried recently was actually noteworthy: Aqua Carpatica. The effervescence isn't added, but naturally occurring, and the mouth feel is somewhat different to usual - very pleasant indeed. It's unfortunately rather expensive, priced around the level of a brand cola, but worth trying as a chilled treat on a warm day.

Here's another interesting Kickstarter, and one which is still live. =:D You may recall seeing, a few years ago, some lab work on imitating the remarkable ability of geckos to climb vertical walls with aplomb - they'd worked out precisely how that actually happens in nature. Now, they're bringing that tech to market in the form of hangars and hooks which can be affixed almost anywhere, and reused many times.

Finally, just for fun, here's the current state of my US iTunes films library - which might you want to see, were you/I visiting?

 
 
 
 
 
 
And so it came to pass that the D7100 handed over its reign as the bunnycam's mainstay to the newcomer, a D500. ^_^ The main factors for me were the improved continuous speed, up from the D7100's 6fps (at 12-bit, full sensor; it can manage 7fps if the area's cropped down 1.3x, but that's too awkward a compromise to be worth the return) to 10fps, and a significantly improved autofocus module, shared with Nikon's flagship D5, with points extending across the entire frame, and supposedly, faster and more accurate too. It loses the built-in flash, as with some of their other more pro-oriented bodies, but that's not especially significant for me - still, the internal flash has been handy now and then as a fill-flash in daylight, to offset a bright background, but not with buns. Though I did take some midnight photos of buns on the University grounds a few years back - it surprised me to realise they were so active amidst such a human population! And due credit to Panamoz for service, and TNT for the delivery - it was dispatched around Wednesday lunchtime from Hong Kong, and received about 48 hours later. Standard shipping, no special option.

And to accompany it, a replacement for the fallen Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC, which lost its focus in San Francisco, never to recover. It's repairable for a sane fee, but I took the opportunity to migrate to a newer design, the same company's 35mm f/1.4 Art. It's a remarkably sharp lens, even wide open, across the frame, and is suitable for full frame bodies - at some point, I suspect I may get something used in that line, for my non-wildlife photography, where depth of focus and even better low light sensitivity play greater parts than low inter-frame interval and fast autofocus. (Blame lovelyangel =:)

A comparison of the new and old Bunnycam of Theseus; on both lenses, the "final" segment is the lens hood, which can be retracted on the 300mm, and reversed on the newcomer, so it extends down the lens rather than outwards. (Interestingly, it's apparently made of carbon fiber!)



Here's rather a wonderful example of technological artistry: the portrait "Francine" purely in CSS. At the time of posting it, she noted it would likely only render correctly in the browser she was using, Chrome. Naturally, others took it upon themselves to check for themselves.. and the outcomes effectively encapsulate the art movements of the twentieth century. =:D (My favorite has to be Opera Mobile's "Francine as Peridot")

And in yet more photographic geekery, Nikon Rumors offers up the current state of info on Nikon's supposed debut into the mirrorless market, apparently with their first body and lenses on display at Photokina in September.

A tinybun from Saturday evening's rabbiteering, sufficiently unfearing of my presence (yay!) they were fine with remaining only some 30' away from me! Bunny models are best models. ^_^


Huh. So this entry really is all about photography.. ^_^; I'm interested to find out what kind of kit folks use/have used/would like to use.

Poll #2081118 You and photography

What do you use to take casual photos? (Selfies, out and about, etc)

phone
11(52.4%)
tablet
1(4.8%)
DSLR
3(14.3%)
MILC (eg Micro Four-Thirds)
0(0.0%)
Film SLR
1(4.8%)
Other film camera
0(0.0%)
Fixed-lens digital camera
5(23.8%)

When you're wanting to take the best photos you can, what do you use?

phone
2(10.0%)
tablet
0(0.0%)
DSLR
6(30.0%)
MILC (eg Micro Four-Thirds)
1(5.0%)
Film SLR
3(15.0%)
Other film camera
2(10.0%)
Fixed-lens digital camera
6(30.0%)

Do you own a dedicated camera of any kind?

Yes
13(92.9%)
No
1(7.1%)

Regarding DSLR and MILC..

I'm interested in obtaining a DSLR
3(37.5%)
I'm interested in obtaining a MILC
1(12.5%)
I'm fine without a DSLR or MILC
4(50.0%)

What do you take photos of?

Wildlife
10(14.3%)
Landscapes/cityscapes
11(15.7%)
Portraits of others
6(8.6%)
Events (eg conventions, concerts)
10(14.3%)
Food and drink
5(7.1%)
Yourself
6(8.6%)
Sports
3(4.3%)
Pets
9(12.9%)
Other
10(14.3%)

If you don't own/use one: you might like a DSLR or MILC because of the..

low light performance
4(17.4%)
depth of focus possibilities
4(17.4%)
availability of telephoto lenses
5(21.7%)
availability of ultra-wide angle lenses
4(17.4%)
general high quality (eg detail, dynamic range)
4(17.4%)
other
2(8.7%)

If you don't own/use one: you're put off a DSLR or MILC because of the..

size
3(20.0%)
weight
2(13.3%)
cost
5(33.3%)
content with other options
1(6.7%)
other
4(26.7%)
 
 
 
 
 
 
NEW ABBA NEW ABBA NEW ABBA AAAAAAAH "One of the two new songs that resulted, called I Still Have Faith in You, will feature in a TV special to air in December. The statement concluded: “We may have come of age, but the song is new. And it feels good.” Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus revealed details of the band’s forthcoming project in Brussels earlier this week. The centrepiece is the two-hour TV show co-produced by NBC and the BBC, which will see the band perform as computer-generated avatars. Ulvaeus said the band had been digitally scanned and “de-aged” to look like they did in 1979, when they performed their third and final tour. The avatars are then set to tour the world from next year."

So, it looks like Netflix is moving into producing original anime now. ^_^

Here's a rather wonderful interactive novel, taking place on a late 1990's computer, with a core theme of self-discovery and acceptance: Secret Little Haven (macOS, Linux, Windows; pay what you want, $5+). It does relate to some quite deep-seated themes - beneath the cute surface lies familial gaslighting and rejection, so, be prepared.

I originally watched it (or rather, began to) as a rental, but wound up buying it - but then, food-related films of quality can earn a particular resonance with me. ^_^ See also: Tampopo, a true classic; "East Side Sushi" has some similarities in theme with that, and indeed, Jon Favreau's "Chef", but it's its own film regardless. Here, we have a single Latina mother in Oakland (yes, the East Side doesn't refer to NYC, for once =:), who winds up being tempted by the prospect of not cleaning toilets, and gaining medical benefits, on seeing a Help Wanted ad outside a local sushi restaurant. The joy of sushi is thoroughly on display, including her introduction to eating it for the first time, and discovering, for example, just how different raw tuna is to the usual tinned stuff. Bit by bit, she grows intrigued by the skill involved - already being very handy with a knife, through previous kitchen experience, she manages to gain the assistance of one of the chefs in teaching her some of the fundamentals, like preparing sushi rice. Of course, there's plenty more, but I'll leave it there. =:)

Looks rather fun: Hiveswap, a point & click adventure in 90s style, all hand-drawn, set in the Homestuck universe. And at a mere £4.19 from GOG, quite affordable too. ^_^ (Or £6.79 bundled with the soundtrack) Being from GOG, there's no DRM, and it's available for macOS, Linux, and Windows.

Did you know SFO has a Wag Brigade? They're "a fleet of specially trained therapy animals who volunteer to bring joy to airline travelers. SFO launched the Wag Brigade in partnership with the San Francisco SPCA back in December 2013 to help ease the stress of holiday travel. Clearly a hit among travelers, the Wag Brigade has been growing strong ever since. The crew now includes 20 kind-hearted animals who wear "Pet Me" vests and roam the halls of SFO with their handlers, distributing kisses, nuzzles and tail wags just to put smiles on travelers' faces."

This suite of ads for bubblegum form a miniature ten-minute soap opera, and it's hilarious. =:D Need I mention they're Japanese? (Do be sure to watch the final "episode" =:)

Well, that was commendably good customer service! I'd placed an order with Master of Malt, for a couple nice bottles, and wondered if there might be some latitude to waive the early (and Saturday) delivery surcharge. Some ten minutes later, in the middle of the night, they graciously confirmed they'd happily do so. ^_^ (In all, there was an old Scotch, an aged rum, an interesting sounding sake, and a calvados whose blending apparently has remained possibly continuous since the house's founding) To whit, Diplomático Ambassador dark rum, Akashi-Tai Genmai aged sake, Château du Breuil Calvados Royal, and 1964 Invergordon (bottled in 2017 by Nectar of the Daily Drams):



Here's a track which caught my ear recently: The Wombats "Cheetah Tongue". The video's just amusing; this is much more about the track, which has that bouncy nature of Studio Killers' "Ode to the Bouncer" or "Eros and Apollo".

I recently fired up Google's "Introduction to Light Fields", now up as a freebie tech demo on Steam, and compatible with the three main VR headsets (Oculus, Vive, PSVR). If you have such a device, I'd highly recommend taking it for a spin. Whereas almost all of what you see in VR at present is CG, there, they've taken a radically different approach, using a rotating array of cameras to capture the lightfield of the scene as viewed from that spot. From that data, new views can be synthesised, so you can look all around, side to side, and everything moves just as you'd expect, including subtle behaviors like imperfections on real surfaces changing the reflectivity or opacity. The overall result is one of greatly heightened realism. It's only suitable for stills at present, as the process of capturing lightfields is highly computationally intensive, and the data files for the entire scene can be huge - but, people are working on that. =:)

Are you human? Getting older? Good news, everyone! "A newly released study is the first to show that healthy older people continue to produce new brain cells."

New headphones acquired! Now to see how well I actually get on with them. =:/ Beats Studio3, in porcelain gold. Checking the more audiophilic corners of the net suggests this revision's quite a matter of personal taste - the overall performance seems very good, but they still have something of the old bass-boost in them, though greatly toned down now. On the other paw, the noise cancellation seems very good, though some rank the competitive Sony and Bose higher, and the fluidity of pairing and switching between devices is supposedly especially good. We shall see. ^_^

And we have. =:) I'll be keeping them. They're comfortable to wear (though, like the Sennheiser HD25-1 II, they do fit quite snugly - as you'd imagine, this is quite a matter of taste), and even without the noise cancellation, the isolation's quite significant, being over the ears, but without becoming huge in the process. The sound quality's quite different to the HD25s, being somewhat heavier, but not awkwardly so. The instructions could stand improvement, not actually saying that tapping the button twice advances to the next track/station, and three times goes back.

The noise cancellation works well, reducing all manner of outside distractions to a comfortably minimal level. Battery status and power on LEDs are discreet - the latter point downwards, so nobody'll see them in normal use, and the status only shows if you press the power button to have a check, although I tend to just peek in on the battery level in the menu bar (macOS) or music control pane (iOS). Initial pairing's easy - just hold them close to your iPhone and keep the button pressed for a couple seconds, and up'll pop an iOS dialogue box offering to pair with "YourName's Beats Studio". Battery life looks good: I can use them most of the day without getting even close to the end of a charge - Apple claim 22 hours, with noise cancellation on, which feels about right. Charging's via a mini-USB cable, taking around 15 mins for 3 hours usage time, and you can connect a 3.5mm cable if you want. Signal reliability seems excellent - I can walk anywhere in the house and the music doesn't skip a beat. There's the option to invoke Siri, but I'm not one for voice assistants.

Importantly, they fit snugly enough that it's possible to lie in the bath, or on my back in bed, and they remain where they are - I don't have to give them any consideration. Overall, I'm very happy; I'm surprised how much I really like being free of that cable. It's one of those subtle points, as with the difference between finding a website on a laptop and wanting to show that off to a friend nearby, versus on an iPad.

There's 3DS emulator, Citra, under active development, with what looks like quite good compatibility already. ^_^ It's FOSS, as you might expect, and available for macOS, Linux, and Windows.

Here's a rather nifty bit of Icelandic design, in the form of a mountain shelter.

Miss Nightingale sounds like a rather spiffy time, what? ^_^ I may well go along to this.
‘A BLITZY ROMANCE OF GIN, GENTS, GARTER BELTS AND TERRIFIC SONGS!’ The Times

An intimate underground cabaret club opens in the heart of London. A saucy new star shines under the spotlight. Two men struggle to bring their illicit love out of the shadows. The war-torn capital has never been so revealing!

Welcome to the Glitz of the Blitz; where showgirls, secrets and scandal abound. A world where aristocrats jostle with black-market spivs, songwriters take to the streets and nothing is quite as it seems.


There are some outstanding photos of mountain hares in this feature from a wildlife photographer who specialises in such chilly work.

Marta looks like a very promising macOS file manager. It's still under development, having just reached 0.5, and is now in open beta. It's currently free, though the final product will be paid (one time, and affordable).

A cute series of cartoons: Programming Languages as People. ^_^

So, the bunnycam received something of an upgrade. ^_^ Still the D7100 body, but now with the option of a (used) Nikkor 200-400mm f/4 VR, offering more reach, the flexibility of pulling back as necessary, and the benefit of optical stabilisation, which proves helpful in acquiring an accurate focus lock on more stationary subjects (given the DOF at 400mm f/4 is fairly shallow - one shot following the beneath had them heading roughly 45 degrees away from the path, and their head was clearly in focus, and already quite out of focus by their tail. Or, it can be a pleasant option to drop the shutter speed right down, whether for coping with weak light, or simply improving the quality of a shot with reasonable lighting.



I should perhaps note that the section to the left of the gold ring is simply the lens hood - the lens itself isn't the entire length shown. =:) The ring just to the left of the nameplate (genuinely a separate metal plate, screwed onto the lens body!) is the zoom ring, and to the left of that, the focus ring. The lens is, as you might expect, a bit longer than the 300mm f/4D, at around 15" vs 9", which unfortunately means it doesn't fit into the bag in the manner intended - there's a padded inner compartment, with a couple padded dividers which can be moved around c/o velcro, so you can keep a body and a couple lenses inside without them bashing against each other. Previously, I kept two dividers in there, with the lens in the middle, the body to one side, and a space for sundry items like a couple reusable plastic bags for grocery shopping, suntan lotion, and secateurs. But the newcomer's too tall for that to work. But - it's the perfect length to lie down within the bag itself! So, for now, I'm resting that lengthways in the bag, then placing the divided compartment on top, now with two sections, one for the body and a short lens, and the other for all the other bits and pieces. It's a touch convoluted an arrangement, but it works well. ^_^

There are quite a few improvements and goodies coming to SL this year, its fifteenth anniversary, including - finally - the return of last names. =:D True, I set up my account long enough ago that I was still able to choose my surname, but that's a welcome change, given the somewhat funky selections available helped define the SL community. The advent of "themed learning islands" might help newcomers' first experiences be more fun, and Experience scripting will be available gridwide, unless a landowner's blocked it.

Fun food find of the week: Create A Crisp. Each multipack contains five 25g bags of ridge-cut crisps, and ten seasoning sachets, such as tangy prawn, steak, cheese, lime, and garlic. Tangy prawn and lime is rather nommy. =:9 Same price as any other multipack, too, normally £1.70, currently down to £1. It's unclear who makes them - they could indeed be an independent product, as the bags don't give anything away but the titular company name, but a quick search suggests they're an indie, c/o The London Crisp Co.

And here's an example from the above lens' inaugural outing. ^_^ An expectant (or indeed, new) mother, gathering grass as part of the nesting for the newborns:



If you read this and groan, you might be a nerd. =:)

Late sleepers are tired of being discriminated against. And science has their back. "In 2016, I reported on the science of chronobiology, which finds we all have an internal clock that keeps us on a consistent sleep and wake cycle. But the key finding is that everyone’s clock is not the same. Most people fall in the middle, preferring to sleep around 11 pm to 7 am. But many — perhaps 40 percent of the population — don’t naturally fit in this schedule. There are night owls among us — whose whole circadian schedules are shifted later — and morning larks, who are shifted earlier. (If you’re curious, you can assess your chronotype with this quiz here.) These traits are determined by genetics and are extremely hard to change. What’s more, the research is finding that if we fight our chronotypes, our health may suffer." I definitely empathise. As the article notes, "These people have a hard time falling asleep before 2 or 3 am, and prefer to sleep until around noon." - I'm not rigorously late, but that's certainly my natural inclination - 1am is on the early side for me, and I'm fine with seeing the sun rise before going to sleep. Well, to some degree - whilst that does come naturally, the rest of the world continues with "conventional" schedules, so if I'm on a late schedule, the idea of going out for a meal and having to come back at 10pm feels crazily early.

BTW, as anyone using Flickr is doubtless aware by now, they've been bought by Smugmug, a long-established outfit specialised in providing websites and storage for photographers. Thus far, I don't think there've beena ny further details released, particularly whether this will simply be a transitioning of corporate ownership, or a full-on uprooting of some/all of the staff and new infrastructure. For the staff's sake, as well as everyone using Flickr, I'd obviously hope it's of the more seamless sort of acquisition. Ultimately, it's encouraging to see it in the hands of owners who have photography at their core, rather than being just one part of a diverse web portfolio. I'd certainly hope they'll avoid breaking links, and won't hike rates for Flickr Pro; if anything, I'd love to see them try the opposite, and make the paid option very cheap - say, around $5-10/year, and base the business on that, rather than the rapacious datamining practiced by the likes of Facebook, and eschewing the ocean of crap peddled by ad vendors large and small.

I think I'm going to have to try my paw at making these onsen tamago - essentially, very slowly poached eggs, traditionally prepared in Japan using the waters from hot springs, but more readily accomplished using some form of sous vide apparatus, be it a well regulated dedicated cooker, using an insulated cooler, or simply attending to the pot with a thermometer in hand. I'd like to get a sous vide cooker, but space is very limited. =:P

Here, have a pheasant as well. ^_^ Beautiful, but not exactly what one might deem as songbirds. =:)



Here's rather a fun comic: Backlash. It's a bit tricky to describe. ^_^; If you liked Sapphire & Steel, this might well appeal.

For the flight back, I watched my 99¢ rental of Leap!, which was actually very enjoyable. ^_^ Certainly flawed, with the writing sometimes being rather clumsy, and sometimes giving the feeling the writers had a larger budget in mind, as the way in which the film was almost entirely without any background characters felt a bit as if they were playing this out in a ghost town. But when they simply let the spirit of the writing take them, and lead the animation, they did very well.

Interesting.. Bloomberg's claiming that Apple's working on microLED displays at a secret R&D facility in Santa Clara, with an initial goal of producing their own displays for the Watch. That'd only be for the development, of course - for mass manufacture, they'd probably go with an outside company, given the timescale involved in constructing an entire plant themselves. It's quite a manufacturing challenge, as the process literally involves creating millions of tiny LEDs, and affixing them to the screen with the accuracy required, and all in a sensibly short space of time. Somehow, it does seem as if such panels will be on sale in 2020 or thereabouts. As for why: one big reason is power efficiency, which can be much higher than OLED, though that does diminish as the size of each LED is reduced - they seem to be expecting at most 50% of OLED consumption for a comparable display, though, so obviously, highly desirable in any small electronics setting.

Coo! I've just learned that RISC OS, at some point, finally went open source! (For a long time, it remained commercial, as the owners attempted to carve out a market in the embedded arena. That worked for a while, but as Linux matured, even that niche vanished) And they even now offer downloads for various popular boards, such as the RasPi and BeagleBoard.

Well, there we go.. I'm committed now. =;) I've just placed an order for a new memory card for the DSLR body I'm intending to purchase. Whilst SDXC can now go quite fast, XQD has the edge.

w00t! A Fantastic Woman has a home release date set: May 22 2018. ^_^ Whilst iTunes doesn't show anything yet for A Wrinkle in Time, other sites are claiming June 5 2018. (The iTunes Store only shows preorder dates for four weeks ahead) I haven't seen either yet, but I'm sufficiently intrigued by both to have them on order.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Animaniacs is (are?) returning! Amblin and Warner have apparently landed an order for two seasons, to be produced for Hulu. "In addition to announcing the new series, Hulu and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution also inked a new pact that makes Hulu the exclusive streaming home to the complete library of all 99 episodes of the original series, as well as spinoff series “Pinky and the Brain,” “Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain,” and the complete “Tiny Toon Adventures” collection."

It's not the most innovative tune ever, but the UK might be in with a good chance in this year's Eurovision! Here's the entry, SuRie: "Storm". It's definitely a crowdpleaser, and TBH, a track I might even buy.

So, I finally got an opportunity to play with an Oculus Rift. Wow, it's seriously fun. =:D It'll require a bit of work to get it set up properly in the main room, so as to maximise the play space available, and let the sensors stay in a discreet, stable spot by the edges of the front window, but even just rigged up quickly, it's remarkable how easy the gestures were to pick up, and just how immersive it really feels.

Here's an audiophile review of Apple's new HomePod speaker. The take-away is that the response curve is remarkably flat, and the reviewer considers it worthy of serious listening and enjoyment.



I recently began re-reading Endtown, a superb webcomic based around the subterranean, post-apocalyptic community of the same name, wherein the mutated survivors attempt to continue to prevail against the genetic purist Topsiders. It's a comic I'd begun reading a while back, but was derailed by a divergence in storylines at one point. Having begun to catch up on it all recently, but been a touch frustrated by the lack of official digital editions, I wrote a quite note to the creator, wondering if there indeed was such a thing, hoping to cross his palm with silver. A few hours later, he replied with a download of a full archive ZIP. ^_^; Seriously, who does that? That's amazing. =:D Of course, I'm still left with trepidation, being at a point where one character I'm especially fond of - Holly - has put themselves in peril by stowing away on a particularly dangerous (and important - the Topsiders are about to gain surveillance satellite capabilities) mission.

If you're in the Bay Area, you might want to check out this summer's Clusterfest, this time with headliners including Jon Stewart (his first West Coast stand-up in 15 years!), Amy Schumer, Trevor Noah, and plenty more. Tickets are, unfortunately, expensive, starting at three day general admission for $235.

You'd never believe just how fascinating a banana can be - in this case, a new variety, grown at very low temperatures, resulting in a particularly tasty banana with thin edible peel. "Mongee peels have a lettuce-like texture, according to D&T Farm's Tetsuya Tanaka." "The fruit itself had a different flavor, too, Sanjun said. It was more tropical and pineapple-y than a typical banana."

w00t! I see Lenses for Hire are running their traditional Fifty Off February again this year - all bookings are half-off. ^_^ So, if you've had a hankering to try out an exotic lens, you can either do so for half the usual price, or maybe enjoy a full week for the usual base three-day rate. They're also absolutely fine with rescheduling, if some other event pops up you'd prefer to use a lens for, as long as there's some adequate period of notice. I've used their services a couple times, including a Sigmonster (Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6) and the rather lovely Nikon 200-400mm f/4, which acquitted itself magnificently at the Royal International Air Tattoo a couple years back. In my case, I'm not sure what I'll reserve this year - maybe a tilt-shift, as I could see that being fun to play with genuinely, rather than as a post processing hack. Meanwhile, the bunnylens has been repaired! - costing unfortunately as much as I'd feared, not a huge amount less than another used unit. But, this way, I know the crucial parts are now new, and the lens elements ought to be as superb as they've always been. Rabbiteering ahoy!

What's your favorite kind of toast? That is, what bread(s) really make it amazing? For me, my current choice has to be the Italian durum wheat toasting bread found in Waitrose - it's properly created, so the basic structure is nicely firm, rather than the general method used in most large-scale bread, where you wind up with a very soft slice that tears easily. Toast this stuff, and it's so wonderfully crunchy, but not in a dry way, as it remains gently moist within. Rewind several years, and I'd definitely go with Alvarado Street's rosemary & garlic extra sourdough - tasty enough I'd sometimes eat it with nothing else, simply toasted. ^_^

Via schnee, a rather entertaining lens smash. (Don't worry =:)

The science-themed Afternoon Tea at the Drawing Rooms in London does sound positively spiffy. =:D (Appropriately enough, their host, the Ampersand Hotel, is a modest walk from the Science Museum)

Well, that's been a revelation. ^_^ Sally Hansen's "Insta-Dry" actually does what it claims! No longer do I have to let the nails dry carefully, leaving them until the color's completely hardened, which can take hours to withstanding everyday friction. A quick coating with that, and I've got a genuinely set surface in a minute or two. =:D

For some light amusement, consider these 16 ridiculous questions tour guides get asked. Highlights include "Do these Canadian flags come in other colours? (Asked in a souvenir shop)" and "What do you do with the snow when it melts?" ^_^;

A truly grandmaster-level reply to trolls from this teen, who's reached the North and South Poles, and crossed Greenland: "In 2016 Jade gave a TEDx talk in Melbourne aimed at inspiring young women to ignore societal pressures and to think adventurously. "What if young women around the world were encouraged to be more, rather than less?," she said in the talk. "What if the focus shifted from how we appear, to the possibilities of what we can do?" Among the commenters on the talk's YouTube video were several men saying "make me a sandwich", a catchphrase used by male internet trolls to mock women by implying they should stay in the kitchen. "Just as a laugh, we had this kitchen in a tent at the South Pole and I made a ham and cheese sandwich," Jade said. She walked a kilometre from the camp to the South Pole for a photo of her holding the sandwich, which she posted on social media with the comment: "I made you a sandwich (ham & cheese), now ski 37 days and 600 kilometres to the South Pole and you can eat it."'

Yay! Rav Bunneh drew me. ^_^ Quite adorably, and I'm fine with being shown with my ears down, though I'm not a lop by nature.

Certain Michiganders might enjoy this vid: Da Yoopers "Rusty Chevrolet". =:)

Here's a delightfully fun political tale from Portland: RUBBISH! Portland's top brass said it was OK to swipe your garbage--so we grabbed theirs. Funny, isn't it, when the words of politicians are applied directly to them.. =:)

We've probably all experienced that odd sensation where, on looking at a clock, the second hand appears to remain fixed for longer than we know it ought. The term for that is chronostasis, and its neurological cause is rather interesting. Essentially, while your eyes are in motion to the new target, visual cortex processing is suppressed, to avoid taking much notice of the motion blur at the time. Once your eyes settle on the clock, the brain fills in the temporal gap with the new image.

An interesting new Mac utility: LuLu. It's a firewall dedicated to blocking unauthorised outgoing connections, whether apps trying to phone home, or malware, and it's FOSS.

Two London exhibitions that sound well worth attending in 2018, both at the V&A: Videogames,and The Future Starts Here. The first "will explore the design and political discussion around the gaming industry when it opens in September. The exhibition is set to examine the development of video games since the mid-2000s, focusing on how the Internet has influenced the success and culture surrounding gaming communities", whilst the latter, opening in May, looks at "the power of design in shaping the world of tomorrow, The Future Starts Here will showcase 100 designs and technologies that are predicted to profoundly impact the future of humanity, the environment, synthetic biology, space exploration and modern life". Given exhibitions come with an admission fee, this might be a good time to obtain a membership, starting at £64 for an individual, or £89 to cover a guest as well.

Apparently, Alan Alda met his future wife at a mutual friend's dinner party, "when a rum cake accidentally fell onto the kitchen floor, they were the only two guests who did not hesitate to eat it". =:D

A furry animated short you ought to see: Welcome to Doozy. It's a simple tale of lunch gone wrong. ^_^ It's one of Cartoon Hangover's one-shots, produced by Sony Pictures Animation, thereby making for high quality traditional(-ish) animation, but with the spark of independent work.

Well, poop. Seems Apple's finally wanting to get rid of old style Apple IDs - originally, you could choose any username you wanted, migrating a few years later to only accepting email addresses instead; but, they've left the old accounts alone. Attempting to update my old one's info just now, though, wanted me to first update the account to an email address instead. Hardly a big change, but I liked that feeling of having an old school account. =:)

If you're buying comics digitally, especially graphic novels, it can sometimes be worth buying them on Amazon rather than their subsidiary, ComiXology. The price differences aren't much, but if it's just a matter of clicking on a different icon for the same outcome.. one manga I was looking at was £6.28 as a Kindle edition, and £6.99 on CX - and with CX being owned by Amazon, you can link your accounts for the CX app to have access to your Kindle library.


Yay, new boots! ^_^ Sadly, the Doc Martens need some work, and the place I tried in town can't do it - the leather's torn around one side of the heel on one of them, right where it joins the sole, so someone'll have to figure out how to apply a patch inside. Being a knee-high boot, that's apparently not easily done. And the skater boots I'd mostly been wearing before those have a tear on the upper, by the base of the toes, so that won't be getting any better. So, I scouted around all the usual suspects - ASOS, Forever21, Boohoo, and so on - but, eventually, wound up with Amazon offering a style that particularly caught my eye: ECCO Bella, in grey. With free delivery, having ordered them on Sunday, those still managed to take until the following Saturday (! And no useful tracking until Friday, despite apparently entirely executed by Amazon Shipping itself, no third parties involved), but at least I found them, and they indeed (almost..) fit, though to break them in, I'm having to go with thin socks, with the hope they'll eventually accommodate thicker winter socks. And indeed, now, I'm trying stuffing several pairs in, in an attempt to push the back of the heel out just that tiny bit, so they don't wind up hating my heels as much as they did when I returned from sending the bunnylens off.. ow. =:P The Docs, meanwhile, might now be fine! I picked up some glue intended for that kind of heavy stress, flexible repair, and at first blush, it looks like it's worked - but the real test will be the first rabbiteering outing. ^_^ And lo, they seem fine! And the new boots have finally been worn in, for some cute additional style while out and about. Yay!

While checking the tracking info for a different package, I noticed that Heathrow apparently handled 1.54 million tonnes of cargo in 2016. That's a mind-bogglingly huge amount - though I imagine one large container ship carries a little weight. =:) Of course, I then had to look up the largest cargo ship currently around, the French-owned CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, which has a "deadweight tonnage" (its total carrying load, including crew, fuel, and so on) of 185,000 tonnes (it carries up to 18,000 containers) - or a little over an eighth of that Heathrow figure. ^_^;

Due gratitude to rocket_wolf for alerting me to the existence of a non-PlayStation version of Okami! I don't know if it'll be happy running on Hazel (they specify a minimum of a 3.3GHz i5, whilst Hazel sports a 2.3GHz i7), but checking Steam's refund policy suggests it shouldn't be any problem obtaining a refund if it grumbles. That said, I may wait on it a bit longer, given how many unplayed games I still have, including the final chapter of Star Billions, the most recent three of Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise, and The Journey Down 3. ^_^;

Here's a fun track: Just Fern "Ember".

Via supergee, the surprisingly fascinating (and rather unlikely) genesis of the American sex toy industry.

The Yule visit down to the maternal lair worked out very well. ^_^ We only got to revisit my/our favorite local pub once, as unfortunately, it seemed all the local taxi outfits (of which there are a surprising number, for a relatively modest-sized town) were closed on the 26th. Not to worry - there was more than enough in the fridge to satisfy. Perhaps needless to say, I've arrived back with a small list of bits and pieces I need to attend to for her, such as a replacement remote for the TV, as the original's keypad seems to be going flaky (new AAAs didn't help), some compact fluorescents with a three-pin bayonet fitting (which I hadn't even seen before, but it exists, just - it's like the 2-pin, but those two are slightly angled, with another bisecting that chord, like a nearly flat Y-shape. And maybe an indoor aerial, as it seems the building manglement is dragging their heels on fixing the apartments', leaving her with about half the channels she used to be able to receive - I can't leave her without her Judge Judy, can I? ^_^

All the same, I'm a little surprised at quite how much data I managed to shovel - a bit over 6GB in the four days I was away. ^_^; And that's not even with anything overt, like this year's Doctor Who special - just me, being me. Behold: I am the digital bunny. ^_^

The journey down was absolutely fine, which, as per universal karma directive, ensured the return was.. a little less so. =:) Not nearly as bad, mercifully - standing/sitting room only, but with at least enough space to wield an iPad. The surprise began with them deciding to skip one of the lesser stations, and at the next, announced they were going to proceed directly to its final destination (skipping mine) - but only after they'd taken the latter half of the train out of service (guess which half I was in), which would be replaced by three cars at the front. Cue a hurried dash by half a train's worth of passengers engaged in a seasonal game of Musical Chairs.. ^_^; (I won!) Whilst the TOCs' Delay Repay compensation scheme remains rather weedy, it's an improvement to the pre-December 2017 version - and with this long a delay, they may approve a full refund. Yay! I've duly filed my claim. (And supposedly, they're working on making such compensation automatic, though they'd presumably still require notification of which journeys you actually undertook, if they weren't for specific times) Yay2 - the refund was approved. ^_^ (Though, curiously, only for half the r/t fare, contrary to their guidelines - I'll have to enquire and see if a mistake was made. Not that it was an expensive ticket)

Oh, wow. An anonymous artist on Reddit was offering free sketches, and this is what they came up with. =:D (I'd suggested cheerleader, TRON: Legacy, or, if they were really feeling up to it, maybe even a ballgown, as cues)

This does look like being fun. ^_^ Ocean's 8, coming in June 2018, with a cast including the likes of Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter.

Blargh. I am reminded of why I don't collect Japanese anime/animation figurines.. £50 for Judy Hopps is okay, but then there's £20 postage, and then £20 for the courier as their importation fee - VAT (fair enough) and their "we showed it to Customs!" fee, which is actually slightly more than the tax. ^_^; (Annoyingly, they no longer offer COD or similar, so first, they deliver a "give us money!" letter, and then you get your package the next day. Surely it'd be practical to issue their drivers with handheld POS card readers?) By contrast, UPS simply delivered their two packages with everything prepaid, though they won't give you any further information regarding a delivery window without registering, which involves them sending a PIN to you by post. =:/ But then, it seems even the usually best can stumble - I had a package coming via DPD, containing a prescription I was about to run out of. Inexplicably, they claimed to have delivered it to my address, signed for by someone who definitely doesn't live here, or nearby. Even chasing it up with them yielded no further results as to what actually became of that package. =:P Thankfully, the pharmacy was fine with sending out a replacement for free. Thankfully, the chemicals weren't the kind that I'll die if I miss a dose, or cause anyone else to do so if they took them.

Checking out the current pricing of EastWest's rather cool RA instrument library ("a variety of rare and unique instruments from Africa, Europe, India, the Americas and Australia, the Far East, and the Middle East and Turkish Empires"), I noticed they're now offering a subscription alternative to outright purchase, ComposerCloud, offering access to all their libraries (costing $12,500 to buy, in total), for $30/mo, or $25/mo annually. Not a bad idea, particularly the monthly plan, given it can be cancelled without any commitment, so you could have it active for just the length of suitably demanding projects, and then leave it dormant until required again.

A webcomic I'd like to recommend: Sammy. It's somewhat in the spirit of Battle Angel Alita, set a millennium or two hence, when humanity's leveraged interstellar travel to colonise many worlds, but still often retaining its seamy underside. For those who enjoy miltech (not myself), there's quite a level of attention paid, with the writer and artist being Russian.

Just in case you needed a reminder as to Trump's concept of "the very best people", consider the latest resignation, Taylor Weyeneth, deputy chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and one of three people in the agency deemed critical to its function, and thereby exempt from governmental shutdown. He's 24, and other than a stint on Trump's campaign, has no work history, though he did claim "Director of Production" whilst in high school, regarding a "health products" company which was later busted for illegally processing Chinese steroids. And if the pace of staff turnover feels high, that's because it is, at 34% in the first year; following are Reagan at 17%, and Clinton with 11%.

Which Pearl are you today? ^_^

Is anyone else playing Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp? Let me know your friend code, if so. ^_^ I've been enjoying it a lot. True, there are elements missing from its predecessors (for now?), like the town museum and Blathers, but then, there are new elements, like the camp ameneties. I do still have the option of AC:WW under emulation, but it's so much more elegant to have the current experience on the iPad's full screen than emulating a DS. ^_^

And another depiction of me! =:D This time, hoisting a good pint. ^_^ That was kindly offered by /u/Ensistura.

I finally got around to watching Time Lapse (a 99¢ iTunes rental from a couple weeks ago), and was rather pleased with it. It's obviously a low budget production, but very well done nonetheless. The gist is that a neighbor dies, and when the apartment manager finds out, they discover a huge camera pointed at their window. It soon becomes evident that it's taking photos from the next day. Of course, they soon set about "winning" bets. Things don't continue quite so swimmingly, however..

Preceding that was Contact, which I bought on laserdisc, once upon a time. ^_^ It still remains a favorite, though I was never too impressed with the argument presented by the preacher of how she could prove her father loved her. Of course, part of me wishes there could be a sequel, showing our ascendancy to the interstellar neighborhood - I've always enjoyed a good sci-fi tale, and there's not a great deal of positive, intelligent sci-fi on the big screen, though we did recently see both Arrival and Interstellar produced.

And then, on NYE, another few flicks, including the surprisingly still entertaining Caddyshack 2, and the recent live action Ghost in the Shell, which was rather unfortunately unnecessary, shoveling on the schmaltz into a storyline that was originally taut. Unfortunate, as everyone but the writers and director did an excellent job. Still, it's hardly one to avoid.

Food recommendations of the day: Waitrose's own brand Costa Rican ground coffee, and their La Retorta cheese. The former is up to the standard of Three Sixty's Antiguan, but rather cheaper, at £3.25 vs £5 - a rich, warming taste, entirely lacking in harshness, like a great mocha, just without chocolate. =:) The latter's somewhat similar to Berthaud's Époisse or Stinking Bishop, made with raw ewe's milk, with a creamy, rather spicy nature, and somewhat oozy once cut open. ^_^; Expensive, but on the other paw, you really don't need much to enjoy it, so it'll go further than you might think. Whilst not something to run out for, their frozen rustic baguettes are a step above the usual - you might want to experiment with the temperature a bit, though, as we found setting the oven slightly cooler and keeping them in a couple more minutes let the bread inside cook better, though they unfortunately still don't approach an authentic French baguette's inner fluffiness.

I finally got to see Postcards from the Edge, a drama/comedy based on Carrie Fisher's book. Indeed, it's an excellent work, crammed with wry, dry observations on life and its absurdities. It's currently available as a 99¢ iTunes rental, along with Time Lapse, In a World.., Tangerine, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, if you feel like a cinematic evening sometime.

And then Feb 17's film was Coco, which came out on iTunes US on the 13th: absolutely excellent, up there with Pixar's best. And yes, you'll cry. ^_^

Huh! Seems Apple's changed the implementation of their battery replacement programme - previously, with my iPhone 3G and iPad Air, they've simply swapped over the device for an identical new unit. With the iPhone 5s, though, they actually replaced the battery. True, there are cheaper means, but this way, it gets done perfectly, without the delight of furkling around with tiny connectors and glued components. Most likely, I'll eventually hand it on to my mother, and replace it with maybe a used SE; the X is indeed a gorgeous device, but I just don't use phones enough to really warrant such an expense. If March's rumored iPad event includes a new iPad Pro, though..
 
 
 
 
 
 
The view a short time ago..



^_^
 
 
 
 
 
 
Further to my last entry, mondhasen kindly pointed out the BUNNY sign's origin: Bunny Bread, as seen in this old TV spot. ^_^

Well, that gets weird.. one of the new campers in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a rooster named Goose, one of whose requests to visit your campground is a roast turkey. ^_^;

Rather cool: Robin Williams is now remembered in Golden Gate Park, with Sharon Meadow - home to the carousel in the eastern end - now named after him. Appropriately, as it's also "the location for Comedy Day, a recurring festival that Williams often attended and supported behind the scenes as an anonymous benefactor".

Not bad! I was nosing around the iTunes Store, and noticed they've got a few TV shows' complete runs at quite palatable prices, including all of: Futurama ($30), B5 ($50), and Weeds ($48). If only buying B5 might encourage Warner to green-light an HD version.. ! True, that wouldn't be a minor effort, with basically all the effects needing to be not only re-rendered, but completely redone, with most/all the original files lost (and even if they weren't, I'd be surprised if they were still useful to any current VFX pipeline). But, crucially, all the live action was recorded on film.

Mum and I finally got back to the pub we enjoy. ^_^ It's a neigborhood pub in the best sense - it's filled with locals, and not in any exclusionary manner - it's a genuinely welcoming place for anyone. We wound up sharing some king prawns as a starter, of an uncommonly huge variety. =:9 Maybe Honduran? They were bordering on langoustine size. =:D For the main, I eventually opted for the steak & ale pie, whilst she was yearning for the fish & chips, which turned out to be a hefty cod fillet with house chips - she managed more of her chips than me. ^_^

For the main Crimbo meal, I found myself presented with something of a challenge - Mum's oven gave up the ghost recently, so I only had a microwave at my disposal. ^_^; Thankfully, I happened upon a pork shoulder in the supermarket that was pre-cooked, intended for shredding into pulled pork. Yay! And thus it was, along with some good pork chipolatas, cabbage, Brussels, peas, carrots, and battered potato slices (which, with a good bit of microwaving, actually turned somewhat crisp!). Hardly haute cuisine, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. ^_^



I hope your Yule or local equivalent has been going well. ^_^
 
 
 
 
 
 
w00t! As a surprise, Capcom's kindly sprung the release of Ace Attorney Investigations - this time, starring Miles Edgeworth - upon the iOS gaming community. =:D Having finished off the recently released Spirit of Justice a little while back, I'd resigned myself to another long wait for anything else new (to iOS, that is). It's a free download, including the first episode, with the rest of the cases available for $4 each, or a $12 complete set.

And it came as quite a surprise to discover that, at long last, the BBC has made what looks like (at 665 mins over 6 discs) the complete run of The Adventure Game available on DVD. =:D It probably won't be familiar to many of you, and I ought to remedy that. ^_^ The Wikipedia page does a reasonable job of explaining it in text, but really, the best way to grok it is to watch an episode - I imagine you'll understand the appeal. ^_^ (And I do believe the Red Salamander may've been my first fursuit crush =:)

Yay! I just received notification from AmiAmi that my Revoltech figurine of Judy Hopps is ready to be dispatched. ^_^ That'll hopefully now be here next week sometime.

She-Ra returns! And courtesy of the creator of one of the niftiest comics around, Lumberjanes. =:D The new series will be coming via Netflix. And, MST3K has been renewed for another Netflix season. ^_^

Did you know there's a Ned Flanders-themed metal band, "Okilly Dokilly"?

AirPort PSA: there are new firmware versions out now. ^_^ Launch AirPort Utility, and it'll take care of updating it/them.

Music video of the day clearly has to be Blondie & Joan Jett "Doom or Destiny". =:D “We wanted to comment on the bizarre state of media and news in the current political ‘idiocracy’ we are watching play out in real time,” Debbie Harry, Blondie’s frontwoman, said in a press release. She described the video to i-D as “the most openly political video Blondie has ever done.”

I might have to give these folks a try for wasabi - as in, real wasabi, not the usual horseradish. The catch is that the real stuff doesn't lend itself readily to being pre-prepared - you need to grate it at the table, and the essential taste's apparently dropping off after maybe fifteen minutes. Intriguingly, not only do they sell the stems (technically, not actually roots, but rhizomes), but the plants as well, with a view to growing them at home. AIUI, they're a bit fussy to grow, but not unduly so. Though they note it's best to leave them for two years to mature fully. =:/

A distributed computing effort with a difference: Bail Bloc is a cryptocurrency project funding people's bail.

Yay! Contrary to my expectations, iTunes Extras were added to Tuesday's (US) release of My Little Pony: The Movie. It's the final bit that piqued my interest: "Take a deeper dive with exclusive and in-depth featurettes that showcase the voices and creators of the film. Also, watch a fun music video and watch scenes that didn't make it to the final cut." A commentary track would've been very welcome, but nonetheless, I'll definitely be wanting to see if the missing scenes would've added to the released cut. (I'd especially recommend the deleted scenes from Mystery Men) It doesn't seem to show a 4K release, but it'll be a little while before I could even watch that anyway. =:) Agh, by "scenes", Lionsgate actually means "scene".. ah, not to worry. It's easy enough to see why they dropped it - it's mostly just a minute's exposition about who the four princesses are, capped very nicely by a certain major character.

Yay2! More beer and cider! I've not had anything fermenting in a while now, and finally got that going again, with two more kits: a Scotch Export Ale, and a cider. The ale I've bumped up in strength a bit, and added a little more flavor by boiling 250g of raisins in about 1l of water for some 30 mins, and using some soft brown sugar and medium malt. So, maybe something like a barleywine at the end? We shall see. =:9 The cider was a different kit to the one I've used previously, so the flavor profile might be somewhat different. That I left mostly untouched, aside from more sugar, and a little soft brown when I discovered the OG was rather lighter than I'd anticipated. So, those should be ready to bottle somewhere around Christmas - which probably won't stop me from trying some fresh. =:)

Via CHIRP Radio, a couple seasonal selections: Nick Lowe "Christmas At The Airport", and Devil in a Woodpile "The Pagans Had It Right". ^_^

It won't be valid until Dec 2018, but here's the very new Tube map including the forthcoming Elizabeth line. ^_^

Speaking of London, I may just have to visit God's Own Junkyard someday. It's.. basically a mecca for neon signage. As their site notes, "Chris has made, installed and collected signs that have appeared behind some of the greatest stars. Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut, Johnny Depp in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Jack Nicholson in Batman are just a few that have appeared alongside the collection." (Fascinatingly, I noticed they have a BUNNY sign (820mm x 1270mm, sign number 271) in the roster of neon signs available for rental)
 
 
 
 
 
 
The moment when, on Thursday, Australia's House of Representatives recorded the final vote on the passage of marriage equality. ^_^ (None of the opponents' amendments passed!)

And then there's this story of a wild rabbit saved from the SoCal fires, as shown in this clip. ^_^;

Here's an outstanding cybernetic TF story: Sync, by Kotep. It's unusual in conveying how such a transformation might actually be perceived, first person, rather than merely describing the appearance, as if being viewed.

You might recall me posting a few excerpts from fxscreamer's forthcoming comic; that's finally about to launch! Updates will be arriving weekly, and yes, the creator has built up a substantial buffer of future strips. ^_^



Here's the pilot for Twelve Forever, which Netflix has just picked up for 2019 as a full series. (Bonus trivia: the villain is voiced by Matt Berry, known to me as Douglas Reynholm of The IT Crowd =:)

Interestingly, the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is actually quite young, originating in a campaign for Montgomery Ward in 1939.

My mention of CHIRP Radio last time around lead me to wonder: what stations do you enjoy that have some local relevance? That is, they're not purely virtual, but try to promote artists and gigs in their locality, and suchlike.

The fourth (bearing in mind the first part was subsequently split into two) part of Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise (iOS, Android) has now been released as a free update to the app. ^_^ The release notes say they're aiming for Q2 2018 for the fifth.

I think tonight will feature Valerian, which I picked up on its recent iTunes release, but haven't quite managed to find time for yet. The opening minutes suggest it'll be living up to my hopes, though. ^_^

Why yes, I am trying for a slightly improved frequency of journal updates than of late. ^_^; (Paradoxically, I suspect that having less spare time in the near future will actually help matters significantly)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here's what Second Life is - and that's rather more than you might have contemplated. ^_^

YAY! Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is now available globally, for iOS and Android. ^_^

Coming to it from AC:WW, there's quite a bit more complexity involved in the payment methods - then, it was purely a matter of Bells, and Tom Nook more or less held a monopoly on trade in the village, with almost everything bought and sold through him and his nephews. Now, whilst Bells are still the currency, there are also Leaf Tickets, which can be used to encourage the camper animals to offer up more requests, allowing you to level up your friendship. ^_^ So far, I'm pleased with the IAP situation - they do exist, and up to a high level, but they do seem to be entirely optional, as the many bonuses for fulfilling requests and leveling up are fairly generous, though I'm still very early in. It does look as if it should be possible to fully enjoy everything without paying anything, though I'm sure Nintendo wouldn't object if you tossed them a tip. Beyond that, it really is a (mostly) full Animal Crossing, not a nerfed "mobile" accessory. I'm delighted with it. ^_^ About the only grumble I have is that it only works in portrait orientation (and "upright", with the home button on the bottom edge), so I can't just leave the case propped up and cable plugged in. I'll live. =:) If anyone wants to share friend codes, I'll gladly reciprocate. ^_^

Aha! And it appears Nintendo has more in store, with new visitors and clothing, and special events.

Welcome 13. ^_^ This is our first look at the new Doctor's actual appearance. I'm so very looking forward to this special, as none before; I so hope that we genuinely get to see her in action next month, not merely a teaser for what's to come in 2018.

San Francisco represent. =:D SF beats out NYC in 3* Michelin ratings for the first time, with seven versus their six establishments. ^_^ (The newcomer to the culinary elite being Coi)

I was delighted to hear of a very good friend migrating from engineering to management. ^_^ Not normally something I'd celebrate, I admit, but I can see them being very well positioned, having intimate knowledge of the platform, and a highly personable nature, without being at all one for deceit - I think this could be a very good step for them. ^_^ Not, admittedly, one I feel I'll replicate in any hurry - but, who knows? For now, I'm much happier wrangling code than people. If it came to the latter, maybe I'd try shifting into politics - but that'd be quite some way down the line. =:D

Here's a competition you might be interested in: win your choice of Jane Goodall Collection adventure, including all travel, for yourself and a companion. It's open to residents of Canada (but not Quebec), the US, UK, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand, and closes on Dec 5 2017. (The T&Cs seem to have a couple minor errors, including stipulating booking by July 2017 =:) The choices are indeed fabulous - not all are available as prizes, but that's again in the T&Cs - thirteen of the twenty are available, including the likes of "Mozambique, Kruger, and Swazi Discoverer", "Galapagos Island Hopping with Quito", and "Highlights of Madagascar". Note that you should see a window with the first quiz (in the Buzzfeed sense) question beneath "Take the quiz below" - it seems they're managed to construct it such that ad blockers may trap it.

It appears that Chris Morris (Brass Eye, The Day Today, Four Lions) has been very quietly at work on a new film, apparently an action-comedy. =:D

The National Cartoonists Society is holding a benefit for a number of disaster funds (Mexico City, Houston, Puerto Rico, et al) - head over here to see what's available in the auction. There's a lot of original art to be found, including the likes of SpongeBob Squarepants, Bizarro, and Dick Tracy - and currently, the bidding remains low.

So, apparently, Unikitty (of "The LEGO Movie" fame) has her own Cartoon Network show. Out of curiosity, I checked out a sneak peek, and at 99¢, went for the first episode. It's nothing revolutionary, but it is good fun, with a theme performed by Babymetal, and one Tara Strong in the titular role - it's clear they've genuinely set out to create something that's energetic and genuinely entertaining. I suspect it'll be joining my animated roster, now up to Steven Universe, MLP:FiM, Danger & Eggs, OK K.O., Gravity Falls (so I'm a latecomer =:), and this.

Another radio station to try: CHIRP 107, based in Chicago. It's quite an eclectic station, not shy of glitchy electronica, old school jazz, or thrash metal, and with DJs who seem to care about their work. And bonus points for them playing two requests I sent in. =:) (Studio Killers' "Jenny", and The Asteroids Galaxy Tour cover of "Safety Dance". Everyone knows the original, but I'm really quite taken by this funky take on it) I've only begun listening, so I haven't heard many of their DJs yet, but so far, I'm particularly fond of Nicole Oppenheim's sets; she's got the 9am-noon Central (3pm-6pm UK) slot on Fridays. And then there's also Meghan McDonough, Bri the Barefoot DJ, moimoi, and Yang, all well worth listening to. ^_^

Shada has finally been completed!

Well, the lens is boxed up and ready to go off to Nikon, with a surprisingly free postage label I (or rather, the roomie) printed out as part of obtaining a case number, thanks to some very kind help from one of my step-sisters. ^_^ It'll still be a costly repair, but more bearable now. 'Course, that said, we're now entering what tends to be the buns' quietest time of year, with the shorter days and cooler temperatures, plus often rather glum weather - but even quite routine leporine lives are worth observing in all their adorability. ^_^

So, Doncaster had a naming contest for their two new salt spreaders. Wisely, they began by explictly requesting no "Gritty McGritface" or suchlike. The contenders were indeed superb. =:D

A while back, I mentioned a forthcoming Chilean CG short that sounded interesting, Here's the Plan. And I now see it's on YouTube in its entirety - courtesy of the writer/director, no less! ^_^ The official synopsis: "A married cat-dog couple of cupcake bakers dream of opening their own bakery. One day their oven breaks and they have to postpone their dream in order to earn money and replace it. Somewhere down the line, they drift apart from their dream and from themselves."

I finally grew sufficiently tired of my Sennheiser HD25-1 II headphones' cable being intermittently flaky (once working, it's often fine, but it can take some twiddling around the connectors to get there) to order a replacement. Which is only slightly cheaper than a complete pair of Bluetooth over-ear 'phones. =:D So I went for those too, in a rather cute rose gold. I doubt the audio quality will compare, but as long as they're at least okay, they'd be fine for use on the move, or in the bath. And lo, the replacement cable is now in place - and it works almost perfectly, though I suspect the speakers' sockets themselves may be minutely out of spec - but a touch cures that, versus exerted twiddling. ^_^ Nonetheless, it's rather magical to be able to just take them out of the bag, or off the floor, put them on, and simply be able to listen, in rather good quality. ^_^ (I wound up with these after looking over plenty of reviews, suggesting they're as good as you can get in the low mid-end (£140 or so) without heading into the high-end league for a few times more. Only downside with this new cable is it's even damned longer, at 3m. ^_^; And the wireless headphones - wow, they actually work! Sure, the quality isn't up to the Sennheisers, but they're perfectly comfortable to listen to in a quiet setting, so they'll be fine on the bus, train, or plane. I'm tickled that when you turn them on, and they automagically pair again, the headphones say so. =:) Sure, sample playback's nothing big technically, but that all that's stuffed into a bargain basement pair of headphones amuses me. ^_^ I admit, though, watching the MLP season finale, I've gone back to the Sennheisers, as these don't quite hold on as snugly around the ears, so I kept hearing my breathing as I was watching - not distractingly as such, but not imperceptibly, either. Longer term, I'm thinking the newest Beats Studio might be a good option, but I'd first want to ensure the audio quality's up to par. If they check out in that critical aspect, maybe I could retire the Sennheisers.

If you enjoy Doctor Who, check out the first episode of Velocity, an eleven minute fan production that's rather well produced. There are a few points where one or two of the performances falter, but the leads are superb, and the overall production quality is as good as you'd expect these days. Bonus point: there's some running in corridors! =:D (And I really like the minimalism of the TARDIS interior. They could've gone full CG there as well, but to me, it feels like a welcome nod to the past, taken further than even then) I don't know what kind of release/production schedule they have in mind, but I'll be awaiting more. ^_^

The definitive answer for "how should toilet paper be hung", courtesy of the original patent filing.

This is the Bay Area in 1971, showing off some contemporary scenes of people and life in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley.

Tutanota looks like an interesting option for secure email - basic accounts are free (1GB storage, private use only), whilst premium is 24€/year, which adds support for custom domains.

Want to hear about an unlikely match? How about Michael Bay producing a live action Dora the Explorer adventure?

Another comic to consider: Solstoria. It's set ambiguously in time, a little like The Company of Wolves, with an early industrial era tone in the distant background. It's character-driven, with the protagonist essentially searching for her brother, becoming a knight in the process - until she makes an encounter in the darkened woods, which turns out to be a good deal more perilous than she could have anticipated. But, there are allies.. ^_^

I must've missed this story at the time: a cave's been discovered in France with undeniably homonid structures made of stalactites, and they date back some 176,000 years.

Rather a good interview with Michelle Pfeiffer. Of course, for me, the take-away quote had to be: "Would you have done a Catwoman movie? Are you kidding me? In a heartbeat. I loved that part. I felt like I was just getting comfortable and getting used to the claws and the mask, just figuring out how to move in all of that. There was a little bit of talk about that, then that kind of faded away."

Further to my earlier notes on free video editing software, I noticed a project I'm surprised I've missed until now, VLMC, from the VLC developers. As such, it's FOSS (GPLv2), and will be available for macOS, Linux, and Windows; for now, it's "under development", and apparently not yet ready for beta testing.

Here's the voice cast for Jon Favreau's forthcoming CG remake of The Lion King. ^_^ (Beyoncé as Nala ought to be good; and John Oliver as Zazu! And yes, James Earl Jones as Mufasa)

Another music video to try: Fake Blood - "I Think I Like It". Take an annoyingly catchy track, and add home shopping satire, with graphics galore to quickly notice..

Anyone interested in the delights of plush companions might like this Flickr gallery from someone who evidently understands lighting - surprisingly captivating portraiture!

A surprisingly fascinating article on Soviet era military maps for locations around the world notes the extraordinary level of detail in places, and the irony of civilian Soviet maps being deliberately distorted with a special projection. Some of these maps can be found over here.

A fun little piece on shooting films at the Natural History Museum included this gem, regarding last year's The Mummy: "The shoot was a bit of a whirlwind, with lots of last minute requests. My favourite was “could we drive a motorbike down the middle of the Minerals Gallery?” to which we said ‘yes’ and I’m so glad we did it, as the scene in the film looked great. The location team were amazing; they streamlined the whole process and made it a lot of fun."

Another reanimation project! Here you can watch the original version of the Woody Woodpecker "The Bird Who Came to Dinner" short, and a new one, produced by seventy Brazilian animators, all in entirely different styles. =:D

There's a new Reddit client out for iOS, Apollo, which folk seem quite pleased with. I'll be giving it a spin, and seeing how it compares to just the website within Safari, given my iOS usage of Reddit's mostly on the iPad. It's free, with a few niceties available if you pay something, which can be 99¢ upwards.

English needs a word, I feel, for the anticipation of a delivery, and the syndrome of repeatedly checking a courier's website for any update. NOT THAT I HAVE EVER DONE THIS.

Ever wondered about the origins of London street names? Sadly, it doesn't explain how the city wound up with a Trump Street, appropriately fed by Russia Row. ^_^

The search for MH370 will resume, courtesy of a private company operating on behalf of the Malaysian government, on a "no find, no fee" basis. As expensive as such undertakings are, given the remoteness of the search area, that's not something you'd expect without a sensible prospect of eventual success, though that could well take many more months yet.

Egad! If you remember Lugaru, Wolfire Games has, at long last, come out with its successor: Overgrowth. It's a combat-based adventure available now for macOS, Linux, and Windows, via Steam key.

Here's Reddit's most downvoted comment. I'm impressed, in a way - I had no idea such a downvote was even possible. And it belongs to one of the industry's *cough* most beloved names, too. =:)

Yes, I weakened, and bought Valerian unseen off iTunes. Now to see if it's what I'm expecting: another Fifth Element, which some will haughtily sniff at, whilst I enjoy the hell out of it. =:D (See also "My Little Pony: The Movie", "Cloud Atlas", and "Highlander")

Huh! I was just listening to a track on RAAR FM (one of the net.radio stations I cycle between), and wondered who the artist was - and discovered it was Baxter Dury, who is indeed the son of Ian Dury. His voice does have quite some similarity, too.

Here's a useful resource if you fly much: every airline's seat width and pitch. That page is for long haul economy, but they also cover short-haul and other classes on other pages.

Santa Clara County has finally begun to be within BART's service area. =:D (Back when the system was conceived, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Marin opted out) They're running the first test runs down the new section into Milpitas, and soon, Berryessa as well. The second phase, taking it into downtown San Jose and the station, is still several years away - 2026 or so. But even Milpitas and Berryessa will be a hugely helpful step, connecting with VTA, and opening up an attractive alternative for commuters tired of the twice-daily logjam on 880 around Milpitas.

A rather lovely anecdote regarding David Bowie.

The BBC's Christmas animation for 2017 will be The Highway Rat, voiced by David Tennant, from the writer and artist team behind The Gruffalo.

Following a cryptic mention by one of the Radio Paradise DJs, I thought I'd check out the Count Basie Orchestra's Wikipedia page - and indeed, they're still active, despite being originally founded in 1935. =:D

For a good macOS video player, have a look at IINA. It's sort of a pleasant offspring of VLC and QuickTime Player, with the ease of use and power efficiency of the latter, and the sheer versatility of the former. It's free, with the source available under an LGPL license. At first glance, it's pretty slick - definitely a native app, with macOS-like UI sensibilities, like cmd-I giving a useful summary of the file's characteristics, rather than the full This Is Your Life rundown. (And let's not get into VLC's preferences.. yet, the iOS version of VLC is a superb app, modulo some UI subtleties I'd quibble) There are a couple things I'd modify (and might!), particularly having a "shift to/from full screen" icon in the controller, rather than relying on menus or shortcuts, but that's a relatively minor detail. Return as the "enter full screen mode" is a bit odd, but it's at least fixable, even if a bit more roundabout than I'd've expected, as they're leaning toward unnecessary complexity with the key bindings, supporting multiple configurations, with the default set including their own, MPV, and VLC's. O.o So you first have to duplicate IINA's set, then modify it, or switch to another default set of your choice. (It's not a bad idea, but like VLC's prefs, I'd rather than kind of complexity were only exposed by deliberate choice - most will only want the option to change key bindings, not maintain multiple sets)

If you have any need to send or receive money internationally, I notice TransferWise recently launched their Borderless account. It's like having a variety of bank accounts in different countries - you can work with 28 currencies, and offer bank details (account number, etc) in four: GBP, USD, CAD, and AUD. No recurring or setup fees, and the exchange and withdrawal fees are about as low as is practical. It's not intended to be a replacement for "actual" bank accounts, as there are a few restrictions, particularly (currently) no direct debits, and you're not covered by national financial institution protection schemes, but rather, an addition to make international transactions that much easier. And bear in mind, once you've verified your physical address (a photo or a scan of a bank statement or utility bill, f'rex), they note it'll take up to two days to finish setup.

Here's a piece of leporine art I need to photograph someday: Leap, by Lawrence Argent, whose sculptures embraced that style of whimsy. It's installed in Sacramento International Airport, and "meant to convey the anxiety, frustration, nervousness and 'personal baggage' travelers feel at the airport". =:D



The casting director for The Princess Bride reminisces on how they set about finding the perfect cast. It's quite a delightful read.

AWN has an interesting article on the role of a cinematographer in an animated production, in this case, My Little Pony: The Movie. It's quite an interesting look into how cinematography translates to animation, with similar - arguably, more, creativity involved in an imaginary domain as physically. "Technically, we obviously use very different tools to create the same intent. What is very different in animation is that the process happens over a much longer period of time. Take a single frame of footage in live-action as an example. Think about everything that is captured and preserved in 1/50th of a second on set. How you have framed your subject, the actor’s eyeline, your lighting, your staging, etc. In animation you take that 1/50th of a second and expand that moment into two years or longer. Within that time, dozens of artists need to then work on that shot, and if I have not communicated my intent very clearly, and I am not there to maintain it, then those artists have the ability to change that intent.

For example, an animator can change the eyeline, or they can block out a very broad action requiring you to change your framing from a close up to a medium shot, thus changing the language of the scene. A lighting artist can light an area of the frame you had intended to keep in shadow, or out of focus. The job of a cinematographer in animation is to create intent and then shepherd that intent through all of these different departments to make sure the integrity of the cinematic vision is not compromised, but that it is only built upon as it reaches each new artist in the pipeline."

On that note, here's the My Little Pony Adventures "Show Bible", by Lauren Faust - essentially, it's her 2009 guide to what would become MLP:FiM, covering some of the characters, and types of situations and storylines might be involved.

As for the film itself - it's good. ^_^ Surprisingly, the Grouch Factor™ hasn't detracted as much as I might've feared from the critics' ratings - there are still plenty willing to snivel on it for its name, but more indeed enjoyed what was a top-tier animated feature. (Needless to say, my pre-order's in with iTunes) Even if you're not a pony sort, consider giving it a try, if you're up for some good cinematic animation and great showtunes. ^_^ As for the details - well, I would've preferred a little more time for Fluttershy. Still, I enjoyed her moments regardless, particularly her tiny therapy session toward the end. ^_^ (Of course, I hope the monster she was consoling wound up feeling better about themself) The pacing felt appropriate - the writers did a good job there, I feel. Of course, I'm not, strictly speaking, the intended core audience - but on the other paw, whilst some at Hasbro might still wish MLP:FiM to be 5-12, I can't help but feel there are others who accept a broader outlook, as with Doctor Who, where audiences span children hiding behind sofas to grandparents. I've always maintained: the best children's programming, whatever the medium, not only hits the key audience, but holds its appeal far beyond - and the scope of that challenge is immense. As such, I applaud all those who succeed in such broad ambition. ^_^ And, apparently, per Hasbro's latest investors' call, there may be a second cinematic outing on the cards, per the CEO: "The model for My Little Pony has really worked, and I think the team is beginning to think about what a next movie will look like". =:D

.. which one wag in the EqD comments suggested be titled "My Little Pony 2: Electric Scootaloo".

And yay, the (official =:) home release has been determined: Dec 19 for downloads, Jan 9 for DVD and BD. I'm a bit puzzled they're seemingly holding back on the physical release - seems like a no-brainer as a gift. I'm hoping the iTunes release will include at least some of the extras, though they're a bit light, so it won't make a huge difference. (I'd've loved to have a commentary track or two - that kind of personal insight can be almost as entertaining as the film, for me =:)

TIL of the existence of Silbo Gomero, a form of Spanish that's conveyed purely through whistling, and is used by the inhabitants of La Gomera in the Canaries. Its raison d'etre is that the sounds carry for miles through the valleys of the area, making for a reasonably effective means of communication at distance.

Well, this is rather a welcome development: Netflix will produce Sergio Pablo's "Klaus" - as a traditionally animated feature! I love good CG animation (Presto, Zootopia, Ratatouille, The Book of Life, etc), but I still wish it hadn't almost completely displaced drawn animation on the big screen.

Huh! I never realised: Heathrow now has terminals 2, 3, 4, and 5 - but not 1. T5 was a slightly odd experience - first having to go from the bus/tube on the Heathrow Express shuttle (free within the airport, and insanely priced to/from Paddington), then a separate underground micro-shuttle (normal size trains, but only ferrying people for up to a minute or so) to go from the main terminal building to one of a couple separate departure spots.

Monument Valley 2 is finally on Android. ^_^

Yay! MasterChef: The Professionals has begun its 2017 run, on a thrice weekly basis, thankfully on a schedule simple enough for even a bunny - hour long eps at 8pm on Tue-Thu. (Compare to the main competition, which saw some at an hour, some 30 mins, and jiggling the timeslot from 8-9pm now and then. Not that it makes a lot of difference - I just fetch them off iPlayer, and watch them offline =:)

I haven't watched it yet, but here's Tim Cook's address at Oxford University recently.

If you use NearlyFreeSpeech as a webhost, you'll want to check out their recent pricing changes. They're nothing huge, but it's a significant reworking of the tiers - for me, that'll mean a standing charge of 1¢/day for a "non-production site", but they also note bandwidth will become largely free, so, probably not much change.

Sad to learn of the death of Dudley Simpson, whose career as a composer saw him work on early Doctor Who for several years. He was also responsible for two of my favorite themes, Blake's 7 and the original Tomorrow People.

It'll be interesting to see if the City finally moves ahead with municipal broadband - it's been mulled for years, though, so it's anybody's guess if it'll finally get moving this time around. Nonetheless, here's the 2017 report on the issues and costs. They're envisaging universal access, with a particular eye on low-income residents, given how overwhelmingly useful - and prevalent - the net's become in everyday life, not just for the more wired among us. In total, they'd be looking at around $1.5-1.9b, depending on whether they built out a dark or lit FTTP network, and the usual variability in actual results. A fair chunk of change, but considering the wealth of tech companies (in both senses), and a population of around 900,000, that's around $2k per person. The model envisaged would be that the City would own the network, and offer access to it to existing ISPs, somewhat like the British model, where the infrastructure's almost always owned by BT, but access is mandated, either reselling BT products offered wholesale, or installing their own equipment in the exchanges. (Sadly, cable operators are under no such obligation; but they're a relatively minor sector)

Whilst the entire twenty minute vid's worth enjoying, if you like amusing reviews of awful Disney ripoff games, I think this one probably takes the cake. =:)

Apple's first venture into "serious" TV programming was revealed to be a relaunch of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories, starting with ten episodes, with a budget of around $5m each - on a par with higher-end Netflix or HBO productions. (The t.co link seemingly provides a way in through the WSJ's paywall)

Here's an interesting extrasolar body: Oumuamua, which seems peculiarly elongated - it's at least 7-8x as long as it is wide, quite possibly 10x or more, making it rather different to the usual blobby agglomerations we're accustomed to.

Egad! I've actually found a decent-looking cheap cellco in the US! MintSIM - not quite up to the level of GiffGaff, inasmuch as you have to buy in blocks of 3, 6, or 12 months, but beyond that - well, $15/mo for 2GB 4G (and unlimited 3G), unlimited minutes & texts is actually not bad at all. Last time I looked, about the cheapest began around $30-40/mo, beyond a few ridiculously sketchy companies. They're another MVNO, running on T-Mobile's network. And unlike a lot of budget options, eg AT&T GoPhone, they do support international roaming, although they're quiet on the costs, beyond offering three tiers. (It's worth minor note that the current prices favor the 3 month options =:) Internationally, Support says that's 25¢/min in or out, and 5¢ per text. I don't yet know about data. (Represses impulse reminding her it's all data now)

A couple more webcomics to try: Princess Princess (complete, 44 pages), from the same creator as The Tea Dragon Society; here, it's a more playful, often comedic adventure. And, As the Crow Flies, from one of the Steven Universe comic writers, Melanie Gillman; there's also a brief prequel comic, Pockets. It's ongoing, updating a little sporadically, as work permits - often once or twice a week, with the occasional multi-week gap. Or, for something quite different, Phoenix Flair, which begins with odd little beings trying to recruit volunteers to be Amazons - effectively, magical girls - whilst another tries her best to dissuade them from the idea, having already been through it.. and it's not quite as fun as it might seem. And as a reader bonus, you'll probably get quite an Utena vibe at times. ^_^ Regrettably, it's on hiatus, so the 102 or so pages there is it, for now, but it does leave at a reasonable juncture.

They really went to town with the My Little Pony: The Movie soundtrack, especially the opportunity to work with a full orchestra. Here's the villain's number, which especially stands out: Open Up Your Eyes, sung by Emily Blunt. (Pretty cool of Hasbro to upload it officially!)

Well, poop. It seems Serif is/are not working on an Affinity DAM (à l'Aperture or Lightroom) after all. Quite a pity, given the field of competitors is very slim. Still, Aperture continues to do its thing perfectly reliably under High Sierra, so I'll continue enjoying its best-in-class UX. ^_^

If you've been holding back from iTunes 12.7 for its removal of the App Store, Apple also has iTunes 12.6.3, which adds support for the new iPhones and so on, but retains the Store. ^_^

Amazon's developing three new sci-fi series: Snow Crash, Ringworld, and a rather lesser-known one based on a comic, Lazarus.

An interesting server-side gaming rendering option, for Mac users in North America: GeForce NOW, c/o Nvidia. They can help with games you have Steam licences for. Other OSs and locations will come later.

Random track I liked, whilst listening to RAAR FM: Yello - Blue Biscuit, from their 2016 album, Toy. No video for it, unfortunately. It's magnificent they're still at it. =:D But one that does have a rather clever and amusing video is Diane Birch - Valentino.

Ooo.. quite a classical look for me in this depiction by /u/spartancats. =:D

A couple previous iTunes rentals (which, of course, I finally got around to on their final day of the rental period) were In a World.., a vibrant comedy based on the everyday lives of voiceover artists. As such, it had a measure of that verisimilitude of WoSaT. Then, 99 Francs, a fairly savage parody of the advertising industry, as if directed by a more focused Chris Morris.

While nosing through Techmoan's YouTube offerings, I happened upon a few particularly obscure examples of older tech, notably the Tefifon, which was quite an inspired concept which apparently never spread much beyond Germany. I shan't give it away, as the clip begins with a bit of a guessing game - from appearances, it's not quite immediately obvious exactly what it is. It is quite a cool concept, and as he demonstrates, it worked remarkably well.

Speaking of old tech, FaxRocket looks like a good option for sending a fax - no account required, and simple pricing of $1 for the first four pages, and 25¢ per additional page.

Hm! BofA's now offering an interesting option in their banking app now - you can permit it to check your device's location at least once a day, in order to help verify where you're using your card, rather than having to issue travel advisories manually. I might turn that off later on, but, it seems like a sensible option to have, to avoid inadvertant card declines. I wonder if it does a location push when the app launches? That way, you could have its permission for location services confined to "while using the app", if you didn't mind having to do that manually, in exchange for avoiding BofA having access to your location, especially with the rather profitably cavalier nature toward customer data that US companies tend to have.

(More) Pony!
Once Upon a Zeppelin - a rather middling episode, but so it goes. Fun to see Iron Will again, even if he's not much less of an arse now than originally - but, the core boiled down to "why didn't she say something?" and "why didn't they foresee putting such a load on her would be cruel?".
Secrets and Pies - I was getting very nervous early on, fearing this would be another "take a core premise and repeat it multiple times"; and technically, that remained true - but it proved to be a marvellously unhinged episode, taking Pinkie to new heights (or depths?). Again, something of a "if only they'd actually communicated" theme, but underneath a wonderfully overblown comedic layer.
Uncommon Bond - not bad. It tackled a worthy topic, of friends perceiving they've grown apart, which unfortunately led to the episode being perhaps unavoidably weighty in feel.
Shadow Play - oh, yes. =:D A classical group quest, and well done. And lo, we finally see the connections between some of the symbols of late, and now. I particularly enjoyed the quiet way in which the grounds for this were laid, with various artifacts simply being encountered, unmentioned, along the way. The concluding part was a touch heavy-handed with the telegraphing, with Sunset repeatedly trying to caution Twi into reconsidering whether there might not be a better way of handling the situation, but, I'll accept it - the outcome was, regardless, as wholesome as I could have hoped for, opting out of another epic battle in favor of a gentler approach. I approve. ^_^

In the UNIX V4 manual, from 1973, I did enjoy this from the preface: "The number of UNIX installations is now above 20, and many more are expected."

On which note, someone discovered that if they ran "man" without any page specified, normally, everything worked as would be expected. But, at 0030, and only that time, it would say "gimme gimme gimme" instead. The answer? "The maintainer of man is a good friend of mine, and one day six years ago I jokingly said to him that if you invoke man after midnight it should print 'gimme gimme gimme', because of a certain Abba song called 'Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight'"
 
 
 
 
 
 
If you're an American amateur radio licensee, read here for how you may be able to volunteer to aid in Puerto Rico's ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Yay! Finally, we have the trailer for Aardman's next cinematic offering, Early Man. And, a new Peter Rabbit film, and a new Wes Anderson production, Isle of Dogs. Peter Rabbit I'll admit to being nervous about, as it could so easily be a case of them taking elements of Beatrix Potter's stories and characters, and tossing them into a Blender. Still, all good bunny publicity is welcome, and the animation does look absolutely top-notch. IoD, on the other paw, does suggest it'll be a must-see, and very much a Wes Anderson film.

If you're wanting to noodle around with synths, have a look at VCVRack, a FOSS offering available for macOS, Linux, and Windows. "It's currently in a beta form and features 30 modules, including versions of Mutable Instruments, Befaco and Synthesis Technology modules, some of which are directly ported from the original devices. More modules will be added in the coming weeks."

Here's quite a fascinating long-form article on why we used leaded fuel, despite concerns over tetraethyl lead from the outset.

No further details as yet, but Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It, The Day Today, I'm Alan Partridge) has been tapped by HBO for a pilot of a space comedy, Avenue 5.

Did you know the European Commission commissioned a report on the effects of piracy of copyrighted material, and then buried the results? "In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements. That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect. An exception is the displacement of recent top films. The results show a displacement rate of 40 per cent which means that for every ten recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally."

Music videos of the week: Melanie Martinez - Mad Hatter, with a particularly creative video; don't have the volume turned up too high, though, as the track begins with some heavy bass. =:D And then there's a suite of coolness from Kesha, with Woman, Praying, and Rainbow.

Have you had anything like Miracle Burger or similar recent "very close to meat" options? How was it?

Wow.. =:P Once upon a time, you could simply change your iOS Skype status with a quick tap and selection of whatever state you wanted to show, be it available, offline, invisible, and so on. Now? Nope, the latest version removes that, and "handles" it automatically. But you can change that, with the official instructions being "If you would prefer to hide your presence status completely, you can change this in your profile settings to make yourself invisible. Tap your profile picture > Tap the Settings button > Tap Privacy > then you can toggle Show my presence to others on or off." Easy! O.o

Apropos of nothing, here's the Transbay Tube's route, overlaid onto an aerial photo, showing San Francisco on the right, Oakland on the left. Maybe there'll even be a second tunnel before the century's out? =:)

Hrm. If I want all of Curse of the Were-Rabbit, it looks like I'll be stuck having to buy the HD version on iTunes, as there's no BD release, and the DVD, as the iTunes release has no extras - and they actually do sound well worth watching. Beyond the usual commentary, there are also several deleted scenes, also with commentary, a three minute "How to Build a Bunny" short, and quite a bit more. And with the DVD running £3 on Amazon UK, I may have to go for it. ^_^ (And I did - for a used copy costing a mighty £1.77 including postage =:)

Google Translate is becoming uncannily realistic. =:)

A furry game to consider: The First Tree, in which you play a non-anthro fox. I'll have to forego it for now, as my backlog is a bit silly these days - I still haven't got around to the final chapter of Star Billions, which I eagerly downloaded on March 29 2017. ^_^; It's definitely worth a look, regardless. It's yours for $8, available for macOS and Windows, via Steam.

The Structure Sensor is rather a fun little device - sort of like the iPhone X's Face ID assembly, but as a standalone device, with an open SDK.

Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams debuted on Sunday, Sep 17, at 9pm. In the US, it's apparently being handled by Amazon Video.

Not that there's really much doubt about Apple's ambitions to build up its own TV programming, with a couple more executives recently hired who also worked with the duo hired a couple months back, responsible for producing the likes of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, but now the rumor mill is saying they're in contention with Amazon and Warner Bros for James Bond, in a deal for the digital distribution rights, or potentially, even the future of the franchise, in a deal estimated to be worth between $2-5 billion.

Furry pic of the week is, I think, розовый цвет, by Luzleimoon. ^_^

There may have been a large scale Instagram breach, exposing users' contact information. However, rather more problematic is Equifax having been breached: "A massive cyber security incident at Equifax — one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the United States — may have exposed private information belonging to 143 million people — nearly half of the U.S. population. The breach, which was discovered July 29, includes sensitive information such as social security numbers, birthdays, addresses and in some instances, driver's license numbers. The agency said 209,000 credit card numbers were exposed in the breach, which includes customers in Canada and the United Kingdom."

A rather delightful webcomic - or, really, more of a brief graphic novel, as it's already complete, and leaving me wishing there were quite a bit more. ^_^; The Tea Dragon Society. If you're in need of something to help sooth your nerves, this is just the ticket.

I was quite surprised by the results from that domain ownership poll last time! I'd been thinking along the lines of some folk having a personal domain, a few more having something perhaps professionally- or hobby-related, and perhaps some outliers.. ^_^ My first was purely for fun, back when all the good domains started to get bought up - I wanted to secure something that was furrily meaningful to me. Then came the photography domain, which wound up segueing into a personal domain, largely through the original's sale last year, now joined by another, which I basically bought with image hosting in mind. Though it's actually quite a fun name.. ^_^

Who else enjoys "Danger & Eggs"? It's a recent Amazon animated series, sadly only available streamed from them. It's nothing like Steven Universe, but still, if you're feeling the strain from Cartoon Network continuing to disregard their viewers, this may well appeal. ^_^

A writing prompt I spotted over on Autostraddle: what was the first major news story you remember being aware of? I think in my case it might be the death of Peter Sellers, whom I knew as Inspector Clouseau. We were making a long-ish trip, and so, with the radio on all the way, he was the headline story every hour.

I was looking without much intent at the tech manual for my previous MBP, and noticed that it's apparently possible for bad connections to several internal devices to cause the SMC indigestion, which potentially might account for its failure to start up. Of course, getting to the point of disconnecting everything will be a fair bit of effort, given the tiny size and fragility of some of the connectors, plus simply the amount of disassembly required to access the top side of the main board, but it's an appealing prospect, even if admittedly fairly remote. The reason I'm wondering if that might be the problem is that its downfall did come more or less straight after it took a fall - conceivably, something might have become sufficiently dislodged in the process. Of course, it might be something more difficult to address, like some chip's connections coming ever so slightly dislodged, but it'd be handy to have Dandelion back in action if possible, especially given its 17" screen, and the fact that its specs are still perfectly viable for an everyday workhorse, even if the GPU's a bit out of date now. (Hell, even Hazel's is =:) The thing that has me a little more interested now is noticing one detail: that when the SMC is successfully reset, the LED on the MagSafe connector should go from orange to green for a few seconds, providing visual confirmation - and it did! So, it might be that the SMC isn't dead after all, but something's perhaps not providing the go-ahead for it to send power to the rest of the system, such as a thermal sensor.

NASA's released three retro Voyager posters, celebrating its fortieth anniversary - and they're positively spiffy. Be sure to download the PDF version, if you're wanting something of viewable size - the TIFFs are very large, with the first weighing in at 379MB (8100x11700), versus 21MB for the PDF.



Randomly, I thought of CED players, and wondered what YouTube had to offer. And of course, TechMoan is there. ^_^ It's half an hour long in all, but you can easily get by with just the opening and closing five minutes, which introduces what the format was all about, and in closing, why it failed so spectacularly, bringing RCA down in the process. (For anyone unfamiliar with CED, it was a VHS contemporary, with cheaper players, but was indeed a play-only medium. It's not to be confused with LaserDisc - the discs are similarly sized, but that's it: LD was more like a video CD in nature, but with the video signal still purely analogue, whereas CED was born out of LP technology, with a diamond stylus sitting on the surface of the disc, and the signal encoded as varying capacitance)

And back to 2017, with Sony's new RX0 action cam, with a larger sensor than you'll normally find in such devices - and interestingly, the ability to capture at HD at up to 1000fps. =:D

Yay, back on High Sierra! Of course, that wasn't quite as straightforward as it could've been, as my partition map had been left a bit wonky, with one 24GB partition that had been left with an oddball GUID and therefore unrecognised as usable by anything. So, I thought I'd reboot off an SD Card with a bootable HS installer, and just reformat. But, nope! Disk Utility claimed the device was busy, and couldn't be mounted. Searching around suggested that it is indeed possible, if a disk's sufficiently inconsistent, to be effectively unformattable. The workaround? Still booted off the installer, just a minute or so of cat /dev/random > /dev/disk0. =:D Not exactly something I've ever done before, but.. it worked! Once the partition map had been trashed, reformatting went ahead normally. I think I'd like to spend some time looking deeper into GPT maps, perhaps starting with the gpt source, to see how difficult this situation would be to handle a touch more gracefully. So, then followed a restore from the Time Machine backup, and finally, updating to High Sierra 17A358a. So far, so good - it's more of an incremental update than one with stacks of new features, though there's a fair bit under the hood, notably the adoption of the new APFS filesystem, which has been brewing for quite a few years - being such a fundamental component of an OS, it's understandably not something to rush out. And importantly, Aperture continues to function normally. ^_^ And gratifyingly, Fusion 8.5.8 also seems fine, including its handling of USB devices. So far, I'd say the current HS beta is robust enough for everyday use - which makes sense, given we're only a week or so from its release: Apple's finally announced it'll debut on Sep 25.

Well, that was an interesting little side adventure.. who knew precise cauterisation isn't actually painful? Well, for the most part. ^_^; Nothing major - just a few skin tags, including one that'd been resident on my nose for about nine years. and one by one brow. I suppose it's along the lines of a scalpel that seals as it goes, just using an advanced electrolysis needle. It's not an especially rapid process, as the aesthetician has to basically literally go around the tag, weakening its bond, gradually searing it off. Egad, it was odd to see these little bits on a paper towel, and finally, not on me. =:D They'll be a while healing, but FSM, that was so worthwhile. The nose I'm especially happy about - even now, you can barely tell anything had been there. It's now just a nose. ^_^ The treated areas - four, in all - are a little sore, but, considering what's just happened, I'm quite surprised it's such a mild aftermath. Hey ho! I just need to keep treating those spots with aloe vera or similar for a few weeks, and let whatever scabbing happens take its course - but that'll be trivial compared to what it'll have replaced, and temporarily, too.

Everyone knows about San Francisco's 1906 earthquake, but I hadn't literally seen it quite as horrifyingly clearly as in this photo from an airship 1500' up, with block after block just, quite simply, flattened.



That said, here's a comparison of the same SF location - Buchanan & Washington - 125 years apart. ^_^

Has anyone tried experimenting with savory watermelon? I'm quite tempted to give this balsamic watermelon recipe a try. I'm not really one for watermelon, finding it rather bland by itself - I'm much more one for honeydew's glorious sweetness, perfect for simply slicing open and enjoying right there and then, especially on a warm day. But, as the basis for something savory? That could work.

Quick bit of SU fun, for iPhone peeps: a Padparadscha lock screen. ^_^ The original, by /u/PerfectMayo, intended for recent iPhones, and my tweaking, which slightly alters the positioning for use on a 5s.

An impromptu film night on Wednesday turned out to be 1963's Charade, starring - well, just about everyone. =:) Audrey Hepburn being her usual effortlessly stylish self, Walter Matthau as a CIA agent, and a host of others, including Cary Grant and James Coburn, with cinematography from a star in the field, Charles Lang, also responsible for.. well, his IMDb entry says it all. =:D

Apparently, some macOS programmers (ie of the OS, not for it) are trolls. =:) There's a long-standing bug in Disk Utility, wherein once you've rebuilt a RAID set, it doesn't show the status as simply "Online", as it will normally show, but instead, resets the progress to 0.0%. ^_^; It won't update to "Online" correctly until the app's relaunched, leaving you briefly wondering what went wrong, and with the expectation of having to wait another twelve hours or so for a 3TB RAID1 pair to rebuild again. (At some point, I'll probably go with something unRAID, or maybe a commercial NAS, from the likes of Synology or QNAP. I've now got three photography RAID pairs, plus a few plain drives for general file storage - it'd be nice to have it all protected, as well as accessible within one file tree, rather than, inevitably, sorted by date)

Via hastka, a nice little leporine-themed ad for an investment company. ^_^

Hm! I may have to give this a shot sometime: how to run OpenSTEP in VMWare. It's an old thread, from 2007, but with any luck, the instructions will still hold true. Getting the various additional drivers, though, might be a challenge. Or, maybe this guide will prove simpler.

So, the shirts arrived. =:D The weight feels acceptable, but I suppose there's no test like time, to see how well both the fabric and the printing last. Loving Egypt Urnash's designs, in any event. ^_^



A couple weeks on with the Asus VX24A monitor, and I remain very pleased with it. It's not 4K, but I knew that to begin with. The only minor gotcha I'd note is that, rather surprisingly, it doesn't have VESA mounting holes, so if you want to use anything other than the supplied stand, you need to go with third party brackets that fit in that stand's hole, acting as a VESA mount adaptor. Oh, and the logo on the bottom bezel is a touch prominent - I'd rather they did without, or at least left it black on black; I'll probably retouch it with marker, for a reasonably matching matte finish. For the price, it's a solid purchase.

And then there are the new Apple goodies, of course. =:) For me, perhaps the most interesting thing was the new Watch - when it comes time, I'll probably get one of those rather than a new iPhone. That said, the iPhone X's Face ID system definitely is very nifty work, combining proximity detection to tell when someone might be near, then projecting a grid of 30K infrared dots, and working out not just that it's a person, but that they're looking at the phone. That's all processed by the A11's neural network engine in the secure enclave, so no data leaves the phone. And they've taken care to ensure it can't be spoofed by something as "simple" as a highly realistic mask, with the promo vid showing some of the uncanny masks they'd had made as part of that process. (There's a good interview with Craig Federighi here, going over various practical details) The 4K Apple TV's nice, but what impressed me more was that where available, existing HD iTunes Store purchases will be upgraded to 4K for free, with new 4K offerings at the same price as HD. (Of course, what the quality will be.. some releases are just upscaled HD, as it seems commonplace for cinematic post-production to take place at 2K. And then there's Disney being the sole holdout against Apple's "4K at no extra cost" plan) Oh, and let's not forget the rather lovely facial mapping and musculature sensing demonstrated by the animated emoji, with a bunny option. ^_^ However, the Watch apparently offers more restricted support for different international bands - there are different models for North America, China, and the rest of the world. I'll have to look into what the upshot of that actually is, but it doesn't bode well for roaming across those boundaries. Still, first version, and all that - it's cool enough such tech even works. ^_^ Oh, in the ad for iPhone X, the soundtrack is Sofi Tukker's "Best Friend". No video available, unfortunately - when they do make videos, they do tend to have some fun with them. =:)

Also, be aware that iTunes 12.7 removes app management and the App Store - now, iOS apps can only be acquired on an iOS device. There've been a few other alterations too, including rolling Internet Radio into Music, and removing the Ringtones tab. It's not a big matter for me, but I'm not sure if that means that if I want an app on both my iPhone and iPad Air that I'll now have to download it twice - once on each device - or if iTunes will still sync the new app from its "origin" and despatch it to any other devices (per preferences). I'll be holding off updating iTunes for now, until I'm clearer on the changes. Ah! There may be a solution with Apple Configurator 2, which is intended for bulk device management. Files can apparently still be managed (eg video files in VLC) through a new File Sharing tab. Ringtones can still be added with drag & drop, though there doesn't appear to be a means to remove them; not a problem for me, thankfully, as I almost always have my phone on silent. =:) Thankfully, Thursday's GM candidate (build 17A362a) doesn't bundle iTunes 12.7, so I don't have to contend with that change just yet; it sounds like Configurator might actually be a better option, particularly with multiple iTunes Store accounts, but I'll punt that for now. First, time to try watching the recent Almodovar rentals before they turn into pumpkins!

And lo - I managed it. ^_^; And I'm so very pleased I did. Such a disparate bundle, too: the farce of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the profound drama of The Skin I Live In, the bittersweet melodrama of Volver, and the poignant and harrowing Talk to Her. I may expand on them in my next entry, but there's a lot to contemplate between them. I rather wish I'd picked up the "Iconic" bundle on iTunes when it was at $25 - on the other paw, I don't really tend to rewatch many films these days, without interested company. Next up: In a World..", 99 francs, Red Without Blue, and Neruda.

A little sketch of me by Rav Bunneh. =:D

On Wednesday night, we came to musing how we had these unwatched films, and proceeded to whittle them down to progressively shorter lists, winding up with The Saddest Music in the World and Mauvais Sang. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten that I'd bought my copy of the former back in the Bay, and the player regurgitated the R1 DVD. =:P So, we went with the latter, something of a heist flick that's actually much more about young love, beginning with the protagonist breaking up with his love, wishing to spare her the pain associating with him will inevitably bring.

Valerian I sadly missed out on - I could've caught it in 2D, but it seemed like a production that did benefit from 3D, and without that, TBH, I didn't have much inclination to accept the inconvenience of having to turn up at a specific time and pay not hugely less than a purchase for a one-time viewing, not to mention the rather inferior selection of cider and beer available versus a home viewing. =:) I'm pretty confident I'll enjoy it, in much the same way as I dug The Fifth Element, though it remains to be seen if it topples Jupiter Ascending from my favorites. Anyway, Amazon US is currently claiming a release on Nov 21, so I'll see it before too much longer. (But wow, the prices! Streaming $15, DVD $30, BD $40, 4K $43! And I thought iTunes top-tier HD pricing around $20 was high. Presumably those prices'll get knocked down sharply when the release actually comes around)

Aha! Here's a list of 4K films available in iTunes US at the moment. It's unclear, however, what their availability is - and one very disappointing tidbit I noticed was that, presumably per studio insistence, 4K offerings will only be streamed, and not downloadable. Not an issue for many, but still, that'll cut out a lot of people with lesser connectivity, not to mention caching for times when streaming won't be practical, or wanting to save on bandwidth for an item you or the leverets love rewatching. Officially, they're recommending 25Mbps for 4K streaming, which is at the upper end of ADSL2+, or reasonably comfortably within VDSL (ie FTTC, VDSL providing the "final mile" over existing copper).

BTW, thinking a bit more on the "what's your comfort food?" question last time, I really ought to've made note of the miracle that is the Cornish pasty. ^_^ Especially the ones from a particular bakers, who make the best you've ever tasted, and for whom there's a line way out the door every lunchtime - they're really well filled, with proper steak, potato, onion, and swede, and they're cheap, hot, and fresh. What more could you ask for? ^_^ At least they've become somewhat easier to find in the UK in recent years, even if they remain virtually unheard of in the Bay. So, who wants to fund the first pasty bakery in San Francisco? =:D Okay, maybe I'd offer scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam as well. I'm not really one for high tea, but scones are such an awfully civilised mid-meal delight, just as perfect croissants are. =:9

Ah! I see the artist behind Mascot Hell now offers a Patreon to help support the title. ^_^ And at the $3 level, you get high-res and textless versions of each page.

Who on Earth dreams about waking up, and then does so? =:P (I think it was the disconnect that hit me - there was a gap between what I last remembered, and then just "waking up". Plus, 7.01pm struck me as a fairly late start, when I "looked" at my watch =:)

Here's a fun oddity of a furry music video: Die Toten Hosen - Zehn Kleine Jägermeister.

Wow. I hadn't expected "It Isn't the Mane Thing About You" to strike me as forcefully as it did, but.. what an episode! Perhaps not a surprising revelation within, but still, handled to well, and such a wonderful ending.. =:D

Ooo.. The Witness just hit the App Store. =:D And at $10! Aaah, dammit.. this is going to be an expensive week: it's been joined by Phoenix Wright: Spirit of Justice. As they say, instabuy. ^_^ Oh dear.. and now The Journey Down: Chapter 3 as well, completing the trilogy. (Curiously, syncing TJD3 to the iPad failed with an "incompatible with this version of iOS" error. Downloading it on the device from the Purchased tab of the App store worked fine. The devs are looking into the issue)

And on TV, a peek at Big Hero 6's TV incarnation, which.. mm, I'll check out, but I'm not sure I'm sold on it yet. Still, I certainly enjoyed the film enough to buy it, and I would like to see what else happens to them - it's really all down to the quality of the writing. (Speaking of which, another production from Disney XD seems to have quite the following: what was Gravity Falls like?)

Well, poop. An old friend just let me know that Sushi Musashi, a local sushi joint we used to frequent just closed down. *sigh* I'd revisit them whenever I was back in the area, most recently a few times in September 2016. Amazingly, the chef even recognised me, after a gap of maybe five years since the last time, and I duly reclaimed my sake bento which had been sat in their shelf all that time. ^_^ I'll miss it, but - ah, we did enjoy ourselves on those final visits, with a veritable boatload of nigiri in one of them. =:) So.. here's one of the final selections we enjoyed last September. =:9



And a sort of furry comic: Dragon's Burn. They exhibit a simple artistic style, belying a solid grasp of what makes an expression, with few lines. It's rather good fun. ^_^ Updates are infrequent - maybe monthly or so - but that's what RSS is for.

Friday saw Celebrity MasterChef 2017 draw to a close - and what a finale! Such astonishing menus from all three finalists, and of interestingly different styles, with one offering a thoroughly modern menu, another much more traditional, and the third somewhere in between. No disasters, thankfully, and really, any of them could have won the title without any grumbling from anyone - the standard was easily up to good restaurant quality, sometimes high end. I'm pleased with the result, but hell, I'd be absolutely delighted to be invited to the dinner table of any of them. =:) As ever, it's such a wonderfully positive competition, with contestants always supportive of each other, such as one noteworthy moment where one contestant with something of a fish phobia was tasked with creating perfect fish & chips, including the filleting - another contestant helped them out with that, leading to a top-notch plate. That was indeed quite special, and simply heartwarming, to watch. ^_^

More cider is on the way! That's looking like it should be ready to bottle around Wednesday. This time, I used mostly apple juice (primarily freshly squeezed, some from concentrate), plus some freshly squeezed pineapple juice, as I thought the extra tang might help compensate for the relative lack of acidity in eating/drinking apples. And it's certainly shaping up very nicely, retaining a good deal of its original tanginess, with the added tannin helping bolster it as a full-bodied cider. And it's all so easy! Just pour in whatever amount of sugar you want into your brewing bin, dissolve it in boiling water, add the juice(s), and finally, sprinkle on the yeast, and leave for a week or so. Much better cider than I can normally buy, and for maybe a fifth of the price. ^_^
 
 
 
 
 
 
This is going to be fun. =:D The creators of Ernest & Celestine have a new animated feature coming out, The Big Bad Fox. If you're inclined toward the golden age of Warner Bros, or indeed, Pixar's superlative short, "Presto" (and I am in no way biased =:), this will be one to see. ^_^ It's apparently been picked up for US distribution by GKids, and with a background like that, it's likely to see decent availability worldwide.

What's your "comfort food"? Maybe something you enjoy making for yourself, or simply ordering. For me, if anything, it's probably the fabulously healthy combination of crisps/chips and good beer and cider. Or maybe chicken nuggets, chips/fries, a couple sauces (usually oyster sauce, and something tomatoey), and definitely mayonnaise for the chips. =:9

Egad! I've long felt there's a lamentable lack of sci-fi from British television producers (and, I suppose, there still is), which makes news of Channel 4's Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams all the more surprising: "an anthology series of ten, epic standalone episodes, each set in a different and unique world. Each episode is inspired by one of Philip K. Dick’s renowned short stories and has been adapted by an exciting list of leading British and American writers and directors. The series also features an all-star cast who head up this thrilling, audacious and emotional journey into the far reaches of imagination."

A rather nifty Judy Hopps figure is now available for pre-order! AmiAmi's listing it for 4990¥, which comes to about £35/$45. It's scheduled to be released in December 2017.

Yay beer! Just bottled both the Winter Warmer and stout on Saturday, having added a water brew to the WW of ground cinnamon and cloves on Tuesday, lending it a nicely spiced nature. It finished at a FG of 1.010, which was sweeter than I'd intended, but I think that'll work well with it - it doesn't really seem like a beer that wants to be too dry. That'll be about 7.9%. The stout ran to 1.004, putting it around 8.9%. ^_^ And now there's another cider going - same kit as before, made to a similar strength, with some cinnamon infusion added, and a little more tannin than I've used before.

And they have turned out well! Still very young, of course - they do change in nature quite a bit over the course of a fortnight, let alone a month - but the stout's delightfully rich, without being in the least cloying, with those lovely vanilla notes, and the chocolate hinting at its presence. The barleywine, meanwhile, shows off its Winter Warmer character well, with the clove and cinnamon notes pleasantly evident, without being forthright. If there's any problem with them, it's simply the stout's proving a little on the vigorous side in its secondary fermentation - opening a bottle two days after bottling caused a bit of a fountain effect, leaving me having to stop the bottle with one hand, whilst finding and retrieving the cap with the other. ^_^; Notwithstanding, I'm delighted with how they've both turned out! I'd be happy to be served either of them in a good pub - and even moreso when they cost about 50p/500ml or 70¢/pint. =:D

And Wednesday saw me start another cider - this time, from some rather nice apple juice (Copella), which I noticed was marked down to the point of rendering it not much more expensive than a kit. To drink as is, it's a superb blend, so I'm hoping that'll translate to a noteworthy cider. And it's all being delivered to my door with no delivery fee, along with the rest of the groceries. Yay! (I love shopping, but still, when it comes to hefty purchases, there's no beating having it all brought to the doorstep - usually, I'll tend to place an order including a dozen or so 2l bottles of each of sparkling water and diet cola. Even if I drove, that'd be a chore, let alone hefting that much back on multiple bus trips) Although, minor oops - I'm so used to making up kits that I added 2kg of sugar, forgetting about the juice's own sugars.. so it wound up with an OG of 1.080, so it's liable to be north of 9% ABV. Oh well! And wow, it's turning out very nicely! Not even halfway done yet, at a gravity of 1.054 on Saturday, but it's fizzing away merrily. If you're familiar with Copella's apple juice, it's much as you'd expect, with that lovely mild tartness. I'll have to see when that offer ends - I might well get another batch going once this one's done, if it turns out as well as it's hinting. =:9 (Aha! The offer expires on Sep 5. The issue being that as it's just juice, no preservatives, it's unsuited to just being left at room temperature - unless it's fermenting =:)

Here's a fun music video, from a band I'd never heard of before: Calamari Tofu Party - MARS. The video's a sort of homage to classic sci-fi serials, if they were produced with current day production values. For a zero budget indie production, it's all the more impressive. ^_^ And if you're interested, here's a quick making-of video, and its own site, including video logs, and its own (HTML5, not Flash!) game. =:D

Am I correct in thinking there's currently no way to buy Sense8, only streamed from Netflix? At least, it seems to be absent from iTunes and Amazon, which feels like a bit of a clue. Rather frustrating, as I'd happily give them money for a download, even moreso if it came with commentaries - for a production like that, I'd love to hear from the cinematographers just as much as the actors, writers, and directors. At least there are 2160p 10-bit H.265 copies of season 1 out there..

Aahh, I've definitely got plenty to look forward to with Sense8, no question - even just midway through the second episode, I'm struck by how many of the characters I actually care about, in a few instances, resonating with me personally. And the presence of San Francisco definitely doesn't hurt - seeing so many places I'm so familiar with helps bring an additional bond. Perhaps by the time I finish it all, there'll even be more Steven Universe. =:)

I don't know if you'll receive the same mailshot if you sign up for their mailing list now, but a couple days ago, Packt Publishing sent out a mailshot with a 90% off code on all their ebooks. If there's a programming-related subject you're interested in, you might want to take advantage of that. ^_^ The promo lasts until - well, they're being a bit coy, but "48 hours" suggests only the weekend.

The monitor arrived safely, yay! Though the supplied cable seems a bit twitchy, occasionally dropping the signal. =:P Not to worry - I also ordered a longer cable, with use downstairs. (Which, curiously, got delivered in a separate dropoff from the monitor, a couple hours later. Same consignment, same courier) Overall: I'm delighted! The panel appears to be perfect, so I don't have to suppress any eye-twitching on seeing that stuck pixel every time I look at it. =:) The menu UX is nicely thought out, too - there are simply five tiny, unmarked buttons on the lower right edge. Press any of them, and the menu appears, along with icons showing the current function of each of them. The speakers are much as you'd expect, and now muted. The resolution's good, but I can easily see why folk go for 5K and higher on displays like this, and larger, as it offers 2560x1440 in 23.8", whilst Hazel gives 2880x1800 in 15", and the iPad Air 2048x1536 in 9.7"; being able to see pixels again is a bit of a surprise. =:) The quality of the panel is very pleasing. I haven't run any kind of calibration or gamut test on it, but colors are as rich as you'd hope, with good contrast, whilst maintaining actual blacks. The finish is a gentle matte, which nonetheless doesn't take too much away from the vibrancy, and works well for my purposes, as I currently have to have the window behind me as I work, leaving the window only showing quite vaguely. I'll be looking forward to trying it with Aperture sometime. (Who knows? Maybe I'll get some travel photos up someday, like the ovens at what was the Italian-French Bakery in North Beach, dating from before the 'quake)

Though it does have an interesting concept of brightness, with 0 being a comfortable level for me. ^_^; And wow.. does color calibration make a difference! After putting it into sRGB mode and running macOS' calibration on it (System Preferences > Display > Color, and option click on Calibrate to bring up the advanced options), the two displays are actually quite nicely matched. =:D Not perfect, but I'm comfortable with it. ^_^

Where, beside LJ, are good places for discussion and discourse? I'm not looking for anywhere real-time, like Telegram, Discord, Skype, and so forth - forums would be welcome, or indeed, simply discussions by email. (And whilst I've just said "no chats", I do wonder about SL as being an option, given the wonderful immersivity of the environment, and the ability to be present as an av more congruent with your nature)

Has anyone tried RedBubble's shirts? I'm curious to know how their wares are for quality of the shirts, and the durability of the printing process they use. I love the designs offered by WeLoveFine, but the shirts are often quite thin, and prone to acquiring holes spontaneously, as happened to two of the ones I received in January. =:P (Yay, they finally showed up! Quality looks fine, and made in the US, so hopefully not the absolute cheapest they can get away with. Happily, the fit seems accurate to what their sizing chart indicates)

Here's rather a neat little article on Siri's voice, from a technical perspective, going into some detail in the methods used in the synthesis systems used in iOS 9, 10, and 11. If you simply want to hear the changes, there's a little table of sample phrases spoken by the US female Siri in each OS - it's quite remarkable just how much it's changed in but a few years! (It's worth noting, perhaps, that the base human voice used in iOS 11 changed, so she does sound different, in addition to the substantial upgrade behind the scenes)

Out of geeky curiosity, I sort of need to find out why O'Reilly's "Learning FPGAs" has varied so widely in filesize over its release. =:) I bought it last November under their "early release" banner - essentially, still a work in progress - and the first download I saw was 5.4MB, followed in Feb 2017 at 6.5MB. Then, June's update swelled it to 62MB, and the first edition release now weighs in at 28.2MB. ^_^; Perhaps text compression was turned off for the third, and maybe more diagrams and photos in the actual release? In any event, it's a fascinating work, though with the significant caveat that it's based around Mojo, not Verilog.

A friend wants me to point out their online business, which has been running successfully for several years now: PantySalad, with literally thousands of lines of panties to choose from. ^_^

Via aurifer, this WIP furry 2D adventure title looks like it could be rather good fun: Winds of Change. Interestingly, the developer's helping funding its development by way of Patreon. However, there's no information as to what platform(s) it's for, which leaves me with that sinking suspicion it could be Windows-only.



Ooo.. if you're within reach of London, the Prince Charles Cinema is showing Oxide Ghosts: The Brass Eye Tapes, a retrospective on Chris Morris' seminal satirical news show, pieced together by the director of the series, who'll also be holding a Q&A session after the screening. Only two showings, and the 1830's already sold out, leaving the one at 2100. And, I'm informed the same shindig is on in Oxford the following day, at the Ultimate Picture Palace, which looks like a perfectly snug setting for such a Q&A. ^_^

Pony! Triple Threat - the problem with this ep was, unfortunately, its foundation: why did Spike feel so strongly that Ember and Thorax wouldn't get along, to the rather extreme extent of endeavoring to keep them separated and unaware of each other's presence in Ponyville? So, there was a lot of time frittered away on the nervousness of that situation, until the final third, which was actually handled surprisingly well. It wasn't a disaster of an episode, certainly, with enough good comic moments to keep it afloat, but it felt rather a weak use of two particularly enjoyable side-characters, with the viewer inevitably feeling their mounting frustration.

Bah. I finally realised that, having used my domain for LJ image hosting (there's LJ's own, of course, which I suppose I otter use more, but it's nice to have it under one's own control) over 2017, if I set up a commercial site again, and point my domain there, all those images will break. =:P So, I finally picked up another domain - only my third ever, so far: bunnycore.com. I haven't set anything up with it as yet, but I may well get it set up with the same hosting provider, given that works out all but free. Email I'll have to think about. I'm not overly enthused about using Google's services, but if I can add it to my mail hosting there, that'd make the most sense, given I don't really intend to use it, so much as provide a contact point for the domain.

All that said, I may simply try commercialising my photography with a site like etsy, to begin with - that way, I'm not out $25-35/mo just for their service, meaning I'd have to sell several prints before even turning a profit. But are prints even something I should focus on? I'm wondering about more "practical" items, like phone cases (c'mon, "Momentary" would make a brilliant phone case =:) and t-shirts. I also feel it could make an amazing bag, but I'd prefer something a bit more special than just the usual tote bags you see around. And how about a coffee table book? Rather than buying just a framed print or two, you could see a good selection of bunnitude. What might pique your interest?

On that note..

Poll #2071850 A domain of our own

How many domains do you own?

None
5(27.8%)
1
2(11.1%)
2
1(5.6%)
3-5
8(44.4%)
6 or more
2(11.1%)
 
 
 
 
 
 
The game's afoot! The WSJ is reporting that Apple is allocating $1b to original television programming, supposedly for up to ten shows; a fraction of Netflix's current $3b budget, though even they're outspent by HBO, which budgets an estimated $10m per episode of Game of Thrones. ^_^; I'm pleased to see this, even if it does mean an increase in the fragmentation of TV programming - Apple's clearly got the financial means, and as we see from the likes of GoT and Westworld, TV can get very expensive if you're planning a major production, let alone big-budget cinematic offerings. They'd earlier indicated that's the kind of league they're aiming for - if the executives in charge of making the actual greenlighting decisions have a similarly broad mandate as in the past, there could be some good work ahead. I wonder whenabouts the first offerings will debut? Presumably, given the kind of production timescales involved, at least a year from now, for anything major. I wonder if they'd be up for giving the new Dredd a home.. =:D

BofA may be a somewhat evil financial institution, but, I'll admit, their Museums on Us perk is welcome - on the first weekend of the month, cardholders can get free admission to participating museums. In SF's case, that's the Contemporary Jewish Museum (which held a notable Kubrick exhibition in 2016 that I failed to get to see), de Young, and Legion of Honor. (In the de Young's case, that saves you $15. Only good for the cardholder, though, no guests)

Aah, got to love it.. I reported a pub locally to Apple Maps as being under new ownership, noting what they were currently listed as, and what they were becoming (and have now done so, with something like a month-long refit in the interim). I received notification the error had been corrected. Checking, I discovered they'd somehow regressed it to what the place had been before its previous incarnation, which began in 2008.. O.o;

Here's a comic to try: Mascot Hell, by Eva di Pace, set in the dense slums of a near-future Hong Kong, where all the "Mascots" were pushed away to, once their manufacture was outlawed. It does get quite dark in places, be warned - Blade Runner looks rather happy in comparison, at times, but there's also great fondness admist the dangers. There are only a couple dozen pages to catch up with at the moment, so you'll be able to get up to speed quickly. One caveat: some pages are tagged as "mature", requiring an account - they're easy to set up, thankfully: just email and password, and you're done.


I was looking around for a monitor (basically as a second display whilst programming), noticed one from a preferred vendor that seemed to fit my needs - the Asus VX24AH - and just for fun, thought I'd check the Amazon listing as well, mostly for the reviews. They list it, unsurprisingly more expensively - a 15% markup on the one I'd just seen. Amusingly, it's even sold by the same company. =:D I'd actually prefer something a bit smaller, but it's difficult to find much by way of smaller monitors that don't have horribly low resolution, often only 1440x900 - which is fine for video, but otherwise, on a 20" panel? O.o (Of course, what Hazel can actually drive is another matter - looks like something 4K or so is only at 30Hz, but I'm hoping more modestly - at least HD, if not 1.5x. Indeed, the Asus is 2560x1440, which'd be ferpect) Anyway, we'll see how it works out - there should be one turning up on the morrow. ^_^

Pony! "Fame and Misfortune" - maybe not a standout episode, but in the upper decks. It was perhaps a little slow to get going, but the degree of repetition involved didn't feel cumbersome, as the problem wasn't quite as directly outlined as in S7's early episodes, so when it was (of course) spelled out, it still felt reasonably natural a deduction. The song was one I've saved. And the ending was amusingly inconclusive - which I'm perfectly fine with, as it feels a lot more realistic than suddenly being able to convince everypony that they're missing the woods for the trees. It's certainly good for MLP to offer up lessons, but there's nothing wrong at all in also admitting that some situations are tricky to solve.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Following on from my little sneak peek at Egypt Urnash's contribution to the forthcoming We're Still Here comic anthology, I noticed she's now giving away the PDF edition of Decrypting Rita, a sci-fi work you really might want to check out. If you like what you see, consider throwing money at her. ^_^


Oooh.. Intua's BeatMaker 2 recently saw its successor debut. Enter BeatMaker 3! "BM3 is now probably the closest thing to an Ableton Live style workflow clip/scene launching that you are likely to find on iOS. The interface has some of the Akai MPC workflow that appeals to Beat Makers but this is a fully featured DAW rather than just being a beat making machine." And here's a video review. And all for twenty measly dollarpounds!

Hee! On a random whim, I thought I'd check the credits for The 11th Hour, and lo, I am indeed there. ^_^ I may have to finally get an IMDb account and update The 11th Hour's credits there appropriately..

Yaaay! MasterChef returns next Wednesday! ^_^ It's not the "main" show, with that having concluded earlier in the year, but the celebrity outing - which obviously isn't the same thing, but can still yield plenty of the same fun, and quite a surprising degree of talent, once the initial culling's taken place. Two episodes next week, Wed & Fri, with Friday's winners getting through to the semi-finals.

The trailer for A Wrinkle in Time, from the book by Madeleine L'Engle, looks amazing. The only bit I really didn't like was seeing a release date in Spring 2018. ^_^; And coming just before it, in March 2018, Black Panther. I'm not generally much on Marvel flicks, but this could be pretty good fun. ^_^

In this longform piece on Zoe Quinn, central to the seething wretchedness of Gamergate, I noticed one fun tidbit: her latest project is a FMV title about the camp sci-fi writer Chuck Tingle. =:D

I adore this review of the "food" Soylent. =:D

MLP fen might get a kick out of this shower curtain. =:)

Here's a fascinating, novel method of neutrino detection, first postulated in 1974, and now seemingly verified.

As regards Mueller's impaneling of a grand jury, this thread from Seth Abramson does an excellent job of explaining just what's happened, and the specific significances.

If you're in need of some serious video editing software, there's Blackmagic's DaVinci Resolve, available in a free edition, and available for macOS, Linux, and Windows. It doesn't support the full version's collaborative features, for working as part of a team; is limited to UHD and below (but I'll live); and only supports one rendering GPU on Windows and Linux, and two on the current Mac Pro.

Or, Avid's come out with a free version of their professional Media Composer video editing package, Media Composer First, and it's a remarkably good offering! It's somewhat restricted, as you'd expect, but intelligently, in such a way that anyone simply wanting to get to grips with a pro editor can do so meaningfully. Most importantly, you can't export projects above HD resolution, so no 4K final output. It's available for macOS and Windows.

I'm quite interested by recent suggestions the next Apple Watch might come with LTE connectivity - not being a phone sort, I'd love to be able to jettison the iPhone, leaving the mobile heavy lifting to the iPad. Still, we'll see what comes about - power consumption's always an issue, absent any novel battery chemistry. If that does come about, I wonder how much that might improve the Watch's sales? Am I unusual in not being enamored of phones and voice/video comms? (Not that there's anything wrong with being unusual =:)

I finally got to see the first of the new MST3K - and it's every bit as much fun as the original run. A touch different in certain entertaining ways, but I found the riffs coming just as hot as they've ever done, perhaps aided by the wondrous turkey of a debut outing as they'd found: 1962's Danish kaiju flick, Reptilicus, incorporating some quite memorable SFX work. =:)

Here's rather a cool project: 164 animators around the world reanimated the Steven Universe episode "The Answer". ^_^ And, a little Steven Universe fun: an episode title generator. Enter your "episode title", choose the positioning and background scene, and let it put it together for you. ^_^ Aaand, a real life Greg Universe van - nothing official, just dedicated fan work, here by one Cosplay Mutt. =:D

The origins of tacos al pastor makes for a delightfully engaging read; a good example of how food styles traverse the world, adapting to the locality, and sometimes, become embraced as latterday tradition.

Of course, I am duly obliged to make note of this xkcd comic. ^_^

More beer! More beer! The ninth and tenth batches are underway. ^_^ One's a stout, the other a barleywine; I have a fondness for heavier styles of beer, and haven't really made anything dark yet. Both began life as kits: the first "Velvet Stout", with the sugars provided by brewing sugar (dextrose, finely grained) and some dark Muscovado. To help lend it some extra character, I took about 140g of raw cocoa nibs I'd had sitting around, and simmered those away in water for half an hour, yielding a delicious smelling brew I then strained into the wort. And, just before putting the lid on once it was all done, I added about eight capfuls (in twenty liters) of Madagascan vanilla essence. Quite reserved quantities, I think, so they'll probably only be light notes on the basic flavor. We'll see. ^_^

The barleywine began as a Geordie "Winter Warmer" kit, but to send it more where I had in mind, I used demerera for most of the sugar, plus a 500g bag of medium malt powder. Sort of tempted to try making a little spice ball to add to it, perhaps with some nutmeg and cloves.. but, it's been a fairly busy week, so I haven't really had a good opportunity to pick up such, and they're not spices I actually tend to keep around, though I ought to, especially cloves, given how fantastically they work with red cabbage, boiled with vinegar and sugar. Either way, tasting them three days into fermentation suggests they'll both be rather lovely, though maybe not as widely separated in flavor profile as I'd hoped; I may settle for making a water brew of some chocolate powder I've had sitting around for a while (lovely stuff - I simply don't tend to drink hot chocolate often, though this particular variety does go rather delightfully with a healthy splash of Grand Marnier), and adding that, possibly along with a little coffee, but I'm not really wanting to send it in that direction.
 
 
 
 
 
 
So, the new Doctor was revealed as Jodie Whittaker. =:D I'm absolutely delighted to see the Doctor finally come back as female - not the first time we've seen such a regeneration, of course, especially in the case of Missy/The Master. So, this means Bill won't, as I'd sort of vaguely hoped, be assuming the role (in both senses) - we know we'll see her in the special, though. Would she opt for reincarnation already? (Though, with all of time to play with, I suppose that's a fairly meaningless concept =:) I've had great fun with the past series, where Capaldi really found his stride, and I'm now absolutely stoked for Christmas and 2018. =:D (Of course, the Daily Mail crowd wasn't happy, with some reactions including "Nobody wants a TARDIS full of bras", and "Time travel is for men and men only". The former, thankfully, gave rise to the fantastic response of "I started singing "A Tardis Full Of Bras" to the tune of "Yellow Submarine" and now can't do anythinWE ALL LIVE IN A TARDIS FULL OF BRAS" =:D

The BBC's just released a trailer for the Christmas special, and in notes from SDCC, they mention that the special will feature Bill Potts, but with a caveat. =:P

And in that spirit, "Hey Missy!". =:D (Made in 2014, so doesn't include her later development)

I was delighted to see the constantly inspiring Egypt Urnash amidst the roster for what looks like a fantastically diverse range of artists and stories in the all-trans comic anthology "We're Still Here". Happily, they crashed through their original goal within a couple days, with the extra money mostly going toward raising the page rate for all the contributors. (They'd originally aimed for $17k, and as of July 27, had breezed past $45k =:) And as a very special bonus.. here's a teaser from her contribution, "Dracula Party". ^_^


At long last: the trailer for "Search and Destroy", the Strontium Dog fan film from the same folk as Judge Minty. (Nerd note: whilst he's best remembered from the pages of 2000AD, he actually began in Starlord, along with Ro-Busters, which eventually morphed into ABC Warriors, also picking up Nemesis along the way) Eep! I hadn't realised it'd been out for a while - they hadn't linked to it from their site, curiously; nor, indeed, had I noticed them announce that the full twenty minute short is now out. =:D

How about Space Odyssey, a game of galactic exploration and colonisation, grounded in science, helmed by Neil deGrasse Tyson on the scientific side, and Len Wein heading up the writers, with contributors including the likes of Neil Gaiman and George R R Martin? You can back it here, until 11am Pacific/7pm UK today, July 29. =:D
As you set off to explore, the Space Odyssey science team will guide you by providing the science and information to help you complete your strategic missions.

* All-Star Science Advisers - The expertise of Dr. Tyson and his team coalesce and manifest into the gaming world you will experience. Join Dr. Tyson and the StarTalk All Stars: Amy Mainzer, Astronomer; Charles Liu, Astrophysicist; Janna Levin, Theoretical Cosmologist; and Mike Massino, Former NASA astronaut.
* Accurate Gameplay - Immersed in biology, chemistry, geo-science, and engineering you will build and explore planetary systems, using principles such as magnetism and electricity to drive the game mechanics.
* In-Game Futurism - Concepts of Nanotechnology, Optogenetics, Singularity, Magnetic Transportation, Dark Matter, Compressed Time, Hydrogen Power, Solar Sails, Ramjet Fusion and more will be present throughout game-play.

Bear in mind there's no CG involved in WoodSwimmer, a brief 1m40s short - just stop-motion photography of various pieces of wood, being planed away one layer at a time. It's beautiful.

Here's some phenomenal wildlife photography: beneath the ice of Antarctica, thanks to some extraordinary preparation and fortitude by the writer ad photographer of the article, Laurent Ballesta. When you're having to liaise with drysuit makers to identify weak spots of current suits, and spend two years trying to prepare for the conditions involved - and some seven months afterwards regaining full nerve functions afterwards - you know there's some outstanding dedication involved. Which indeed paid off, with views that simply nobody else alive had ever seen before, especially as they descended, including an ice anemone; how it drills its way into the ice, or indeed, survives, is essentially unknown.



There's a new single out from Scissor Sisters and MNDR! SWERLK. It's been released as a fundraiser for the Contigo Fund, helping the LGBTQ community. You can enjoy the YouTube video for free, but they'll happily accept any donation in exchange for a 320kpbs MP3. And for a much less sensible video, how about AronChupa & Little Sis Nora - Llama In My Living Room?

Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow recently arrived on iOS and Android - and the trailer is a hoot. =:D The game itself - well, you'll probably want to temper your expectations, as it's essentially derived from the American Dad game engine, so there's liable to be plenty of IAP frustration. That said, IAPs can generally be ignored.

There's some gorgeous photography in Vogue's American Women: Pride special. It's not about fashion or design, simply real people, sometimes in love.

Here's the Plan is a new Chilean short about a cat and dog baker couple who drift apart over time. It does look well worth catching, if you have a good film festival nearby.

A nicely done fan music video: Grum "Cybernetic", set to footage from a rather interesting looking Soviet sci-fi animation.

Quite interesting to see: "What’s the Deal with “Furries?”, courtesy of Psychology Today. ^_^

If you know of Dr Bronner, this might be interesting: they're contributing toward MDMA research for PTSD.

Here's the opening titles for Big Hero 6: The Series, coming soon. ^_^ (So, when will we hear of the continuation of tales from Zootopia.. ?)

Here's a rather nifty bit of SU cosplay, Mystery Girl and Pearl - and they're supposedly an RL couple too. ^_^ And a minor piece of trivia I noticed whilst watching Love Like You in Malay: Nicki Minaj provided the voice for Sugilite, Garnet and Amethyst's fusion when a disused communications complex needed destroying. Speaking of which, I'm in the process of gradually rewatching it all, and noticed Renaldo's closing lines, where he speaks of the diamonds wanting to control us all and drill out the Earth from the inside. Who knew? =:) I'm guessing that was a crafty easter egg planted by Rebecca Sugar. (And has it ever been established just who the temple statuary depicts? Seems like a fusion, possibly even a triple fusion, going by the faces and arms)

Frustratingly, Cartoon Network remains mum on the question just when Steven Universe will resume airing - but, cam footage from SDCC's SU panel has indeed emerged, with the season 5 trailer, and a hilarious Lars of the Stars excerpt, riffing on Captain Harlock and Star Trek. =:D (I should note that this deep into the storyline, it probably won't make much sense if you're not at least somewhat familiar with SU =:) And, though they chose to mostly use the studio version of the track, Cartoon Network came up with a live video to accompany one of my favorite numbers from the show, Estelle's "Stronger Than You". It was shot at this year's SDCC, and features a swathe of the show's many fans. It's an absolute delight. ^_^

And if SU's your bag, you might enjoy trying Space Boy as a strip that might appeal. It's a slice of life tale, with sci-fi overtones, such as pervasive AR and relatively routine deep space travel, but the artwork has a distinctly 1950s/1960s flavor, appealingly flat-colored from a constrained palette, plus highlights. It tells the story of Amy, who spent the first six years of her life on a mining colony, before an accident caused the family to be returned to Earth - in cryosleep. When they arrive, she has a new life, and so many new experiences, but also has to come to terms with her best friends now being thirty years older than her. The crux of the story, however, is Oliver, whose origins are only now (at episode 117!) being hinted at, beyond the opening panels of the strip.

Hm! Latest animation to get the live action treatment? Cowboy Bebop! Whilst a lot of animation feels best left thus, perhaps a live action CB would indeed work well. Of course, a lot will depend on the casting. And there could - but it's still in early stages - be new Animaniacs!

Rather amusing. ^_^ The artist moved from NYC to San Francisco a year ago, and illustrated the differences at the time, and now. A few I'd take issue with, notably the level of San Francisco's pizza - she's evidently not been going to the right places. =:)

If you're in the US, you've doubtless been worried by the extraordinary level of competition in the cellular telephony market, and how low everyone's plan prices are. *cough* No longer! It appears T-Mobile and Sprint may be merging.

/u/snake_gobbler sketched me as a cheerleader! ^_^ And for something rather different, /u/Amkho_ very kindly offered quick musical offerings, inspired by people's descriptions of their characters.. and this is what they came up with. =:D

Latest signs of Apple edging into original TV programming: hiring Sony Pictures Television's co-presidents, who "helped produce shows like AMC's Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Netflix's The Crown, Amazon's Sneaky Pete, and more".

As far as UK politics goes, I was absolutely delighted with the election's outcome. ^_^ I can thus at least thank the Walking Dead^W^WPrime Minister for giving the country a solidly united Labour Party, with the constant attempts to undermine Corbyn's leadership now conclusively laid to rest. Quite how long the DUP alliance will hold remains to be seen, not to mention May's tenuous tenure. Perhaps needless to say, I was up all night, checking various sites and feeds, with BBC One's coverage usually in a background window. Much good beer and cider was enjoyed that night. ^_^

Interesting. A bill to end Daylight Saving Time in California passed the Assembly. It still has a substantial path ahead, however: "The bill now heads to the California Senate. If passed, the bill would repeal California's 67-year-old Daylight Saving Time Act. Then, lawmakers would have to decide whether to keep California on standard time or daylight saving time year-round, with the approval of the federal government. If the plan is approved by the federal government, it would then become a statewide ballot initiative in the next general election."

That was a fun WWDC keynote! Easily one of the juiciest in a while. ^_^ I definitely like the tracker blocker coming to Safari (and already present in Safari Technology Preview). The Wingnut Games AR demo was pretty cool. Surprising jut how much is packed into HomePod - much more than just a speaker and WiFi module tacked together. Loving the iOS 11 additions, especially for iPad. Mercifully, Aperture appears to be surviving the migration to High Sierra; I really don't want to move away from it any sooner than I have to, unless someone comes out with something alng those lines, with similar attention to UX (so, no, not Lightroom) - and lo, word came down that Affinity has an Aperture/Lightroom-like DAM under development. =:D iMac Pro, hoo! Not a concept I'd've thought would be viable, but evidently so. APFS finally consumes HFS+! Amazon relents and debuts on Apple TV. Monument Valley 2! (But, not for me just yet - I've too much of a backlog to justify any additional purchases) I want to see what the new standard keyboard looks like - that's been a crazily long time coming, and could be such a boon. (Yes, there are keyboard extensions, but they've usually not been well thought through) And yes, if anyone wants to send me an iPad Pro 2 with Pencil, I'll be a very happy bunny. =:) Of course, it's (not) entirely coincidental that the first macOS release following pot legalisation in California happens to be High Sierra. ^_^

Here's Rav Bunneh with a lil' sketch, "Porsupah Hates Pics!" - which is, I'll admit, pretty accurate: I'm much more one for being behind the camera. That said.. I'm gradually feeling as if that may be changing. We'll see. ^_^


As with iOS, macOS will also be dropping support for 32-bit applications at some point, with the deprecation siren sounded during WWDC 2017. Here's an explanation of the "why", along with how to easily find out which of your applications might be affected, especially if the developer's uninterested or now gone. I doubt 32-bit support will go away with 2018's release, but quite possibly 2019's.

The new iOS 11 keyboard (iPad only) is definitely a marked improvement, even if it doesn't give immediate access to HTML's angle brackets - but just about every other "useful" non-alpha character is there. It does, as expected, kill 32-bit support - the apps remain visible, but attempting to launch them just brings up a "needs to be updated" dialogue. A pity, as that does mean the end of the road for some older titles; that said, I was very pleased to see Secret Exit push an update for Zen Bound 2, bringing it alive on iOS 11. ^_^ iGammon's dead too, but the developer replied promptly a few weeks back, saying he intended to issue an update over the summer. Scrabble I finally permitted to update, after years of remaining with an old version - I'm not fond of the new look, but there are some niceties, like wildcard tiles' character selection being from a complete A-Z list, rather than back/forward through the alphabet.

The previous High Sierra beta, DP3/PB2, seemed significantly improved over DP1 and DP2, being much more stable (previously, I'd been enjoying a kernel panic every other day or so), and also not firing up debug-related daemons constantly, chowing down on processor. I'd still be cautious about installing it on anything important, but I'd say it's now viable as a daily driver. If you feel like signing up for the wild ride, here's the beta portal. I've had to revert to Sierra for now, through a specific VMware Fusion issue, apparently resulting in Fusion not being made aware of USB device connection events - something I'm sure VMware and/or Apple will address in the coming months, but I needed compatibility now. Hey ho. ^_^

On the iPad front, if you're wanting to conduct serious video editing, it appears LumaFusion may be your answer.

Hmm. Checking the premium pricing for WeatherPro shows it's $1.99 for 3 months, or $8.99 for 12 months. Am I.. missing something? Either way, I signed up for the former, as it's about the best weather app I've found (and I've tried several), on the basis of completeness of information available (I'm after forecast data, satellite imagery, and rainfall radar) primarily, alongside a good UI. The forecasts are about as reliable as they come for this neck of the woods, being in the battling ground for multiple major systems - but between the forecast, radar, and high res visible satellite animated sequences, I can usually tell whether or not it'll be worth going rabbiteering or hiking, and whether a coat will be a good idea.

I finally yielded and accepted the iPad's battery was, if not toast, at least badly singed, with its life down to two hours or so, and picked up a cheap USB external battery, which indeed worked very nicely. Thankfully, I was recently able to take advantage of Apple's battery replacement program, wherein they swap out your device for a new device of the same model, if the battery is bad enough, meaning I now not only have a perfectly fresh, full capacity battery once more, but perfect bezel glass as well - gone is the little shatter mark in one corner. (Thankfully, not extending over any of the display itself) The external will probably remain useful for the iPhone, until I (maybe) have that seen to similarly, and possibly for work as well, as it ought to be able to power the dev board, which normally requires a separate 5V power supply. That said, I might well want a high capacity model for any kind of prolonged work out and about.

And speaking of wonky equipment, it looks like the time has come for the Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S to be attended to, having failed on July 12's outing, and remains in manual focus only mode. *sigh* It's an expensive job, I know, looking at forum messages on the topic - around 2/3-3/4 of the cost of another used copy. But, with it repaired, I'd know I've got a completely new motor in place, and Nikon tends to replace other parts that experience wear at the same time, like the mount contacts. So, there's no rabbiteering in my future for a month or so. *sigh*

I'd really like to share a photo kishenehn took recently, which struck him as one of his absolute favorites, and I'd have to concur - there's just something quite special. ^_^


Pony. ^_^
Hard to Say Anything almost slipped into this season's trope of repeating a situation multiple times, but - the situations were amusingly over-the-top, and, that only formed about the central third, rather than the whole episode. True, the ending wasn't a huge surprise, but it was rather adorable nonetheless. ^_^
Honest Apple started off with a somewhat wonky premise, though with good intent. AJ's recovery of the situation was very nicely handled, rather touchingly. Though I'm certainly with her on the subject of apples - easily my favorite fruit, though I can take or leave "mild" varieties like Golden Delicious - I'm a Granny Smith bunny through and through. =:9 And we need more of "mediaeval nobility" Big Mac.
A Royal Problem - ahh, it's good to see S7 perking up again. ^_^ I know the comics aren't considered canon, but nonetheless, there's surely inspiration drawn from one of them, wherein just that reversal takes place. It's the MLP I've loved! Great comic timing, and nudging forward with character development, with Celestia especially having been utterly unflappable for so long. Easily the best episode so far, by a country mile. (Oddly, it's from the same writing duo as the opening two episodes, which I felt got the season off to a very weak start)
Not Asking for Trouble - a contender for the best episode of S7. ^_^ True, the theme didn't take too long to emerge, but overall, it had very good comic timing and low repetition. An auspicious debut for a writer new to the show!
Discordant Harmony - a good one. ^_^ The lead-up, with Discord's shop encounters, proved nicely amusing, and whilst it was heavily telegraphed where the tidying up would lead, it was still fun to see him so.. normal. The gem of the episode, though, lay in Fluttershy's rescue. ^_^
The Perfect Pear - oh, gods. This was absolutely phenomenally good! Top-notch writing, and some exceptional voicework from the actor playing Grand Pear (and at three age ranges, too!). I was crying toward the end - the relationship they portrayed was just beautiful. This is a contender for the best episode of MLP:FiM.

And speaking of which, here's a rather well done PMV: Sia "Chandelier", here starring Rainbow Dash.

At the risk of appearing dreadfully shallow, here's another depiction of me, and one I'm especially fond of, courtesy of /u/SpicyChaiKitten, who showed me off in such a gorgeous gown; I'm absolutely delighted. ^_^

Doctor Who!
Empress of Mars. Hmm.. I'm overall rather neutral, TBH. There's a lot I enjoyed about it, but, ultimately, it seemed such a superficial episode, as if they had to check off the Ice Warriors from a check list. We get Bill asked for her counsel, only to be completely ignored, and thereby, playing no meaningful part whatsoever. There's the backstory to the apparently needlessly Victorian troops' commander, there only to provide the ending. I did still enjoy it, but.. it did feel rather lightweight, especially from someone like Mark Gatiss. And I'm going to have to file the Empress away as a possible future cosplay project. ^_^ BTW, a fun note: the ending appearance of Alpha Centauri - that's no random name, nor actor. I was reminded that Alpha Centauri previously appeared in Three's "Curse of Peladon" and its sequel, "Monster of Peladon", and still played by Ysanne Churchman. =:D
The Eaters of Light - a good one, not for the sci-fi elements, so much as the character interplay, both between Missie and the Doctor, and Bill and the legionnaire, discussing sexuality. I'm impressed the team found it within themselves to address the topic quite so frankly, and amusingly. ^_^
World Enough and Time - oh, wow. O.o;; Okay, I'll give them a ride on time dilation, though they at least tried to work that in, with some degree of reason. But what does this mean for Bill? Dammit. (I'll refrain from saying more, to avoid spoilers)
The Doctor Falls - impressive. Quite horrible, the way we opened with it seeming as if Bill was somehow back to normal, only for reality to seep in, plunging her back into a living nightmare. And then the interplay between Missy, the Doctor, and the Master.. hell of an episode. If I had to pick nits, it'd be that the Cybermen armada seemed remarkably ineffectual; but, from a narrative perspective, they weren't the crux of the story - that role belonged to the central characters alone this time.

BTW, if anyone's been following Reddit's recent announcement that they intended to remove subreddits' CSS and replace the customisation system with a new tool: that's been rescinded. ^_^ The new system will still be rolled out, but CSS will remain an option in addition to that.

Here's a rather eloquent retrospective on Ratatouille.

Yay! I got to see Colossal the other week - and it's well worth seeing. I shan't say more beyond what's revealed in the trailer, but it does live up to its promise. Once the initial reveal is complete, the direction it takes was somewhat surprising. About the only quibble I had, really, was wondering what the need was for a translation at one point, when simply English would've been widely understood - but that was a relatively minor point. I can easily recommend this. ^_^ Also Raising Arizona, which was so very evidently Coen Brothers - and I have a sort of fondness for Nick Cage. Though I'd still say their best so far remains either The Big Lebowski or O Brother Where Art Thou; probably the latter, simply as TBL tickled me more.

Last Saturday's feature turned out to be Moonrise Kingdom, which I'd wanted to see for a while now, but had never quite managed to. It's very much a Wes Anderson production - very calculated camerawork, keeping the dolly operators busy, and all with as dry a sense of humor as is rarely found in American comedy these days, with such a sense of quiet desperation simmering beneath a superficial idyll, yet, with hope. Recommended.

Yay2! The trailer for the new MLP flick is finally here, and it's actually looking very promising, to the point I'd suggest it to people who aren't necessarily MLP fans, but might enjoy some good animation. The quality is quite noticeably improved with a cinematic budget, but it's the writing that'll (hopefully!) carry it.

Oh, and here's a quickie demo @tomasgarcia threw together with Unity and Apple's ARKit, new to iOS 11. AR definitely has the potential to be lots of fun. ^_^ Me, I'd love to be able to have folks visit me in their SL av form, until such time as I can visit them IRL in my SL form. =:D

I had a brainfart, and instead of typing "cd sl*", for some reason, entered "sl sl*" instead. *nix being what it is, it kindly informed me that I didn't have "sl" installed. What was sl anyway? A quick search revealed the answer. Hm. =:)

As a friend says, "Well, that was easy!" I went looking for instructions on how to get TLS set up on my site, and wound up at Let's Encrypt's guide for Apache on FreeBSD, which did look reasonably approachable, but still a bit of a chore. In another of my provider's FAQs, however, they suggested looking in the forum, and lo, a stickied topic thereon. Turns out they've streamlined the process to be one script invocation, and that's it. =:D So, it's now good for https access. ^_^

And finally, Adobe's announced the end of the Flash Player at the end of 2020, and with it, the deprecation of Flash itself, encouraging creators to migrate elsewhere. "But as open standards like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly have matured over the past several years, most now provide many of the capabilities and functionalities that plugins pioneered and have become a viable alternative for content on the web."
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here's a little technological gem: an excerpt from Micro Live, January 1985, wherein they first take a look at the current state of the art in novelty and feature phones, including one capable of storing hundreds of names and numbers, for easy dialling, before introducing a fascinating new radiotelephony technology based on the concept of small area "cells". They conclude with a live demonstration of an international phone call made from the rooftop of Broadcasting House, using a portable cellular phone. ^_^

For those following along with Steven Universe, here's a selection of characters drawn in a realistic style - quite striking! (By /u/Gilgrion) However, having just checked the episode list's broadcast dates, I can see I'm in for quite some frustration - whereas most series have completely or largely consistent air dates, appearing every week or so, Cartoon Network's SU schedule ranges from four episodes on the same day (known as "bombs" in the fandom), up to two months apart. ^_^;;

Another glimpse at fxscreamer's WIP graphic novel:



A fun bit of editing: Zootopia Remix, in the style of Pogo. Or, how about this fursuiting music video, set to Reckless Love's "Night on Fire". =:D Amusingly, it's actually a furry reworking of the band's original video.

Or, for something rather different, this ad from a Kuwaiti telco, being broadcast over Ramadan, condemning the attacks perpetrated in the name of Islam. Notice the credits appearing as it progresses - they give their names, and in which bombing they'd been injured.

This is curious. ^_^ Apparently, some people were taught to spell dilemma as "dilemna", with the "n" being silent. Yet, no source can be found that's ever listed the errant spelling. I'd never even been aware of such an "alternative spelling" until now.

Hm! Has anyone else experienced trouble downloading from YouTube recently? On Tuesday, I tried fetching the new episodes of Steven Universe, only to find 4K Video Downloader just shrugging its shoulders. It managed to parse the URL fine, offering the usual selection of filesizes and resolutions, but couldn't actually download anything. I'm guessing it's just YouTube playing with the internals, so apps like this are left high and dry until they're updated. (Not to worry: I found much better quality copies on DailyMotion =:)

Doctor Who: oh, my. ^_^; I'm absolutely fine with writers taking liberties with technology for the sake of advancing a storyline, but.. WTF? spoilers!Collapse )

I'm glad to see 500px appears to have dropped their "fingerprint" logo, which supplanted their well-established "infinity sign" logo a couple years back.

California's new - niche, for now - crop: coffee! "The avocado growers face major disruptions in their business, including increased competition from Mexican imports, less access to water and rising real estate prices, all of which are forcing them to rethink that crop. But thanks to Mr. Ruskey, they have realized that their sprawling avocado trees provide perfect shade for high-quality coffee bushes. One variety of Mr. Ruskey’s beans, Pacamara, emits an earthy scent like the smell of California dirt and new plants in spring. His Geisha beans have a light and fruity flavor with low acidity. Bourbon finishes with a chocolate taste."

The 300mm f/4 continues to be unstable, sadly. Thursday's rabbiteering was curtailed by yet another AF failure, which no amount of contact cleaning or manual focus adjustment could remedy. Yet, again, by Friday, it was again focusing normally.. quite odd. Could there be a thermal element to the fault? Or even electrical? But then, if the latter, why would it sometimes return to normal during a rabbiteering evening? Anyway, Friday's looking very good for weather, so I'll see what happens then. If it strikes again then, and won't come back within half an hour or so, maybe I'll head back and see if the roomie's D5500 causes it to respond differently. (Unfortunately, that uses a different battery, the EN-EL14a; the D7100 takes the quite differently shaped EN-EL15, which is shared across the upper end DX and various FX models)

And there we go - Friday, it was back to normal, and continued uneventfully through the evening. ^_^ I'll remain wary, given what a blow permanently losing AF on the lens would be, but for now.. !



The home brewing proceeds apace! Bottled the Belgian on Saturday for its secondary fermentation, and the "vodka" looks like it's ready to do something else with - having ordered the wrong kit, a neighbor may well be able to assist with a secondary yeast pitching to bring it to 20% after all. Still, it's wonderfully smooth stuff - plenty of cocktail potential even as is! The Belgian's modeled after Duvel, so, moderately malty, with a brisk hop finish - tasting rather nice at the moment, and per calculation, looks to be in the 9% range at the moment. The cider I'm leaving a little longer, as it still seems okay with finishing off the last sugar - as of Saturday, it's at about 1.012, so still a little sweet, but with a very pleasantly rich apple nature, and the tannin I've added does seem to've brought out a bit more of an edge. It's not a farmhouse cider by any means, but so far, I'm quite happy with it. ^_^ I imagine that'll be ready to bottle around Tuesday or so - I'll just see how far the yeast wants to go, and how it tastes at that point.

Next up: another kit, this time from the Australian brewers Coopers, with their "IPA Brew A". I'm hoping that'll be pretty good as is, but I'm intending to dry hop it with some of the Northern Brewer I picked up the other week - that could put me somewhere within reminiscence distance of the Magnolia's quite wonderful Proving Ground IPA, which whilst being quite heavy on the hops, is done in such a way as to emphasise the aromas, not bitterness, especially the cask conditioned version. As the instructions suggested adding 1.5kg of light malt powder, rather than just sugar, I compromised on picking up one 500g bag of medium malt - I imagine the kit would be lovely by itself, but the additional malt could be quite a fun addition. ^_^ And there we go! Made that up on Monday, with an OG of 1.067 - if it comes to around 1.011 (as the cider appears to have wound up at), that'd make it around 7.5%.

And, well.. yep, we tried the cider and Belgian properly for the first time on Tuesday. ^_^ The cider's turned out surprisingly more authentic than I'd been expecting - it's actually a brew I'd want to seek out, despite being borne of a concentrate. It's somewhat like a Dabinett and Vilberie combined, with a nice mild edge. Meanwhile, I'm occasionally venting the Belgian bottles to ensure they don't pressurise too greatly - and it's good! Somewhat like Duvel x Rochefort. Better beer and cider than I can buy, for a fraction of the price? It's not such a bad deal. ^_^ And there we go! Bottled the cider at 1.008, so, still a bit sweeter than I'd ideally like, but still a very pleasant creation indeed, superior to most supermarket ciders, though I suppose that's not saying very much. =:) At that FG, it's somewhere around 8.2%.

For that matter, does anyone else here brew (or even distill) at home?

And another from last week, with one youngster gingerly making some unknowable enquiry of perhaps a parent.. ^_^



And maybe a couple from Thursday.. thankfully, the lens hasn't been giving trouble for the last few rabbiteering evenings. Whether that's purely coincidental, or related to me trying not to maintain focus for quite such prolonged periods (if I half-press the shutter, the body continues to maintain focus, which also means the AF motor's kept active, even if it's not doing much beyond tiny adjustments at that point), I can't tell, but I'm hugely relieved, though I'll still be happier when I can get the lens taken care of properly.





I'm horribly behind with everyone's journals, but I'll do what I can to catch up. If there's anything I ought to make a point of reading, do point the entry out, please.
 
 
 
 
 
 
If you use any kind of media player, and especially if you ever use subtitle files, now would be a good time to check for any available updates, as one security outfit's identified a variety of flaws in their subtitle handling that could leave the host systems open to being compromised. Known to be affected are VLC, Kodi, Popcorn Time, and strem.io. (Of minor note is that VLC's internal version checking can't be relied upon to be current - I was running 2.2.4, and asking it to check only resulted in it claiming this was up to date, when in fact, 2.2.5.1 is out now. Apparently the update servers need time) VLC and strem.io have made fixes fully available; Popcorn Time's currently has to be manually downloaded, and Kodi's fix is only in the source, not the executables. Links are in the article.

Rather interesting to see the Washington Post launching a Reddit profile. If they maintain it (rather than launch and run), this could be quite a cool means of interaction with one of the better journalism refuges.

So, at long last, I finally got to see Marjan Satrapi's "Persepolis" - and I'm so very pleased I did.

Doctor Who! Oh, it was good to see Moff really get to play again. Although, reflecting, I'm not really sure: would the revelation contained really be enough to destroy everyone with that knowledge? How would you feel?

Pony: started off very well indeed, but then took a bit of a weird direction, resolving in a manner I'm not really completely comfortable with. They did make it clear Dashie was understandably embarrassed by her parents' hyper-enthusiasm, but ended up not really addressing that, so much as her having to apologise (quite appropriately) for snapping at them. True, support is a very good thing to have indeed, but when it reaches that level, it becomes a double problem: the immediate awkwardness, but also when praise is offered too readily, it becomes devalued, causing issues down the line. Still, mostly a very good episode nonetheless, and perhaps the best of season 7.

Buns! Bunbunbuns! The weather's begun to improve, so I was finally able to get out on Monday for some useful rabbiteering, though it did cloud over earlier than I'd been hoping. At their peak, there were some eighteen around, and as far as I could see, all perfectly healthy. Better yet, quite a few juveniles, though they were mostly on the shy side, with a couple exceptions, especially one who wasn't going to let some human interrupt their lounging. ^_^

Worryingly, though, the lens played up again. =:P I tried cleaning the contacts on both the lens and body, but to no avail. There was no communications error signaled between the two, just no AF action, just a very quiet, rapid ticking if I put my ear to the lens while trying to focus. Ultimately, the cure came as last time - whilst trying to acquire focus, adjusting the focus ring manually somehow "freed" the motor again. It permitted enjoying the rest of the evening, but I'm concerned the AF motor may need replacing, which wouldn't be easily done at present - it's quite an expensive repair, at around half the used cost.

One to come from Tuesday's session was this, where the aggressor had been sitting not too far away, and suddenly felt they had to put the other in their place. =:P Thankfully, given it's nigh impossible to sneak up on another rabbit, they reacted in time, leading to a very brief chase, before peace broke out once more.



BTW, if you're within reach of London, Eurostar's currently holding a one day flash sale, ending at midnight tonight, with fares at £19 each way for St Pancras to/from Paris, Brussels, or Lille.
 
 
 
 
 
 
So Portugal won ESC 2017! Well, okay, I didn't vote for him, but it was certainly a beautiful performance, and I'm very happy Portugal will finally - for the first time! - be hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in 2018. ^_^ My votes? Croatia (what an astonishing vocal range!) and Belgium, both of whom fared hugely better in the popular vote, versus the initial jury results - curious! I sort of wish I'd placed a bet on Portugal, but so it goes. I'm pleased they introduced that separation of the jury and public votes - it's quite interesting to see just how different the two opinions can be, with Croatia languishing around 18 points following the juries, only to receive something like 110 points from the public.

And the Doctor Who that preceded it: hoo! Yes, that was a good one. Not faultless, but as hugely (if you'll excuse the irony) atmospheric as it was, I'll happily forgive any minor flaws. I'm certainly also delighted to see the return of some political relevance to the show, which has been rather absent for much of its post-2005 run. Kudos! Pony: aaargh. Yet again, stamped out of the "take a potentially amusing situation, then repeat it a few times to be sure we get it" mold. Such a pity, as Rarity and Sweetie Belle have such potential, but that wasted both their time. Still, the resolution was adorable. ^_^ I haven't watched either of the two "leaked" episodes yet, as the audio on both was rather wonky - I'd rather enjoy them properly.

Music video for the day is one of the odder I've seen in a while. ^_^ May not be entirely safe for work. Tame Impala: The Less I Know the Better. And, whilst it lacks a video, the Asteroids Galaxy Tour cover of Safety Dance is a delightfully fresh take on a modern classic. ^_^

Quite a handy (and official) site, though sadly, UK only: TVPlayer - effectively, a web-based Freesat relay, so you can watch any of the usual channels online, via their apps, on consoles, and so on. As such, their ads are unaffected, but it's easy enough to mute that tab as necessary. None are in HD, but for things like Mystery Diners, that hardly matters. =:) It's all free, though they also appear to offer subscriptions, starting with one simply removing ads for £2/mo, to £6/mo or £60/yr for adding some premium channels and a catch-up service.

Rav_Bunneh offered up another sketch of me! ^_^

If you feel you need a UV filter on a lens, be sure it's a good quality one.

I don't know anything more about it at present, but it sounds intriguing: Root, a bank account for software developers, "with full API access". Likewise, I don't know the eligibility requirements, but it's a facet of Standard Bank South Africa. The press release gives some useful examples of what you can do with a Root account.

The home brewing is progressing. ^_^ The cider was at 1.038 on Tuesday, reflecting a possible 4.3% ABV - surprisingly, it actually tasted good! Sweet, of course, being only about half done, but it did show off quite a good, well-rounded apple flavor, not merely some Strongbow clone. Whew! Sadly, I remain frustrated in my attempts to obtain malic acid without being ripped off on the postage (paying twice as much as the tub, when it only weighs a couple ounces? Bleah!) - I made my way on Thursday to a brewing supplies shop, only to find them out of stock. ^_^;; Still, I did pick up some Northern Brewer hops, which ought to be able to provide a very nice dry hopping for some IPA kit, and a "Diabolo" Belgian kit, along the lines of Duvel - as you'd expect of a much heftier brew, rather more costly than most beers and ciders: same price per kit, but only making 9l rather than 23l, which means it'll still be a bit more than a quarter of Duvel's cost. =:D And, there's a "vodka" kit on the way, which will make 21l of 14% vodka/white rum, for even less than a beer kit, given it's just yeast, charcoal, and finings. That'll be destined to be turned into a variety of cocktail necessities, like spiced rum, Southern Comfort (which I learned is actually peach based, as far as the flavor goes!), and gin, plus probably some other fun infusions. Supposedly that ersatz vodka's actually beautifully smooth, in addition to being ridiculously cheap - less than Coke. =:D And all entirely legal, as there's no distillation involved, just fermentation.

And there we go! Got the Diabolo kit made up on Friday evening, with an OG of 1.081 - a little higher than their nominal 1.075, but that shouldn't cause any problems beyond perhaps being slightly stronger than the intended 8%. ^_^ And the cider was down to 1.030, with bubbling still progressing - the taste is, unfortunately, thinning out a bit, but it was still a pleasant concoction. As a precaution, I added a tiny bit of tannin and two teaspoons of citric acid, just to help ensure it has something of a "dry" edge. Trouble with tannin powder is it's so strong! Even the barest invisible dusting on a fingertip is mouth puckering, so even with 23l going, I only added a sliver (about 3mm x 2mm) - in both cases, it's obviously better to under-augment than over, given it's easy enough to just add a bit more if necessary.

Irksomely, I'd actually intended to get a 20% kit for the spirit base, not the 14%. For now, I've made it up per instructions, and sent off a query to the vendor, to gain their opinion as to whether that particular strain will go to 20% if given more sugar. If so, that's easily done. I can also scoop some out into a separate bottle and test it there, rather than risk considerably sweetening the whole bin if it fails to progress; and then there's always the option of obtaining just the yeast I intended (the kit also includes liquid charcoal for purification, and finings to get the yeast to clump together at the bottom, for ease of separation).

Why are all mouthwashes and toothpastes mint flavored? Why not banana or apple? Or, for a sushi fan, otoro? Or rum?
 
 
 
 
 
 
It's looking quite possible that Kris Marshall has been chosen as the next Doctor, as he's apparently been seen on set recently. I'm not really familiar with him, so I can't offer any real opinion. If it turns out to be true, I suppose we'll just have to see how it works out; TBH, I'm less concerned about the actor than the new showrunner, Chris Chibnall, whom I'd hoped would never darken the doors of Doctor Who again, following DW and Torchwood episodes on the level of the spectacularly awful Cyberwoman, which was to Cybermen what the standalone Catwoman flick was to all the role's predecessors.

Agh, I really wish I could rid myself of search engines' insistence on them "correcting" my meanings.. I just tried looking for an UNKLE track featuring the keywords "looking rain", and YouTube merrily returned results for another track, "Reign". =:P Thankfully, it was easy enough to remove those with "-reign", but you'd've thought the combination of the two words being perfectly matched would outweigh a homonym.

Doctor Who trivia: Knock Knock was filmed sort of in the same house as Blink. =:D

And, of course - I have to ask: who's going to be watching the annual Eurocheese Extravaganza on Saturday night? ^_^ I admit, I haven't been exploring the entries yet - I prefer coming into the contest mostly unfamiliar with the scene that's been set, other than checking who seems favored by the betting. The UK entry's one of those unfortunately perfectly nice ones that won't offend anyone, nor engage anyone. Oddchecker, in any event, suggests the current favorite is Italy at 6/5, followed by Portugal at 3/1, and Bulgaria at 5/1. (SatW offers up a Eurovision 2017 strip, and if you want an additional diversion whilst watching it, a game =:)

On that note, hastka found the original music video for the track used by the famous SamBakZa "There She Is" animation. =:D (If you've forgotten the love-smitten bunny after the cat of her dreams, the music will remind you immediately - or, click here. If you're actually unfamiliar with the work, I'd have to recommend it =:)

I suppose I ought to cough up my sentiments on recent Who and pony. ^_^ (There may be spoilers ahead)

Doctor Who:
- The Pilot: absolutely loved it, with the major exception of the obligatory Tragic Gay Ending™. I can sort of excuse it, given they wanted to reveal Bill isn't het, and having an assistant fall in love would make for an especially awkward form of LDR, but still - it's such a damnable trope. But, that said, they did establish Bill as one of the most engaging assistants in a long, long time, with some particularly enticing explanations from the Doctor. If the intent was to make a good impression for first timers, they succeeded very well.
- Smile: a sound premise and opening, if marred slightly by the rather ephemeral framing of "emoji" as core to the plot, for no explored reason. I'd say the logic in the motivation wasn't very sound, but as we know, thoughtlessness in programming is nothing new, and probably won't be new then either. The complete reset, though, felt rather an easy way out.
- Thin Ice: the motivation as revealed felt rather disappointing, even if not exactly beyond humanity. And why the grand finale? Still, the setup was all very enjoyable. Maybe there'll be elements from here figuring into a future story?
- Knock Knock: ooh, yes. Almost thoroughly loved this one, though the very ending felt a bit out of place - why would only the most recent be saved, not everyone? So, what could've been a chilling tale was rewound to being more "it was all a dream". =:P Still, plenty to recommend it, and David Suchet was excellent.

Pony:
- Celestial Advice: I wasn't all that comfortable with this one - it felt quite lazy from a writing perspective, taking a central theme of "what to do with the protege?" and Twi's unpreparedness, and repeating the conceit for much of the episode.
- All Bottled Up: sadly, much as above. A good enough plot point, but not the entire basis for an episode.
- A Flurry of Emotions: *sigh* as before, unfortunately - regard the hilarity of unsupervised baby with uncontrolled magical powers, in multiple similar situations.
- Rock Solid Friendship: pretty solid. ^_^ It gave Pinkie Pie some very good moments, and helped show off a bit more of Maud, beyond the original rather unidimensional basis.
- Fluttershy Leans In: rather clumsily handled, really. Not a bad idea for an episode, but yet again, taking a single theme and repeating it doesn't make it funnier or more enlightening. Still, it did show off Fluttershy gaining in the rather necessary skill of assertiveness, which absolutely doesn't come naturally to a lot of folk, myself included. So, overall, a decent episode, redeemed by its final act.

And just out of random curiosity..

Poll #2067619 What TV do/did you watch?

Which of these TV productions do/did you follow?

Sense8
1(1.9%)
Orange is the New Black
1(1.9%)
Mr Robot
1(1.9%)
Steven Universe
4(7.4%)
Doctor Who
9(16.7%)
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
10(18.5%)
Max Headroom (Crysalis series: music videos)
2(3.7%)
Max Headroom (Lorimar series: drama)
8(14.8%)
Animal Kwackers
1(1.9%)
Babylon 5
9(16.7%)
Serial Experiments Lain
2(3.7%)
Paranoia Agent
1(1.9%)
Haibane Renmei
4(7.4%)
MasterChef (UK)
1(1.9%)