February 8th, 2015

Porsupah grumpy

San Fransokyo

Yay! I finally saw Big Hero 6 a couple weeks ago! So.. well, okay, there were a few points which rather misfired for me (the Bad Guy was much too much of a Two-Face style "bad thing happens and they become Evil™", in particular), but I certainly enjoyed the geeky nature of the protagonists, and the pleasantly level nature of the team, even though I'd've chosen Go Go as the leader (or Honey Lemon, for that matter), over the apparently mandatorily male lead. (See also: Pacific Rim, for a far more egregious example) Still, yes, it was a lot of fun, and pushing the boundaries of CG even further, with exceptional lighting. Of course, it's a bundle of fun for anyone who knows the City at all, with so many familiar locations tweaked into this new reality of San Fransokyo, such as the classically adorned Golden Gate Bridge, or Transamerica Tower. =:) There isn't nearly enough filmmaking in the City, with noteworthy exceptions like The Game, so seeing all those landmarks, even if, say, the Café doesn't actually exist - it's exactly the kind of place which does. ^_^

So, yes. Go see it! Again! (And FWIW, it's out now on the US iTunes Store, with some extras. ^_^ Oddly, only in HD - the SD version's coming on Feb 24, along with the BD release)

Track (no video) of the day has to be what I'd pretty much consider a personal anthem: Alabama 3 - "Woody Guthrie".

I'll apologise for the lack of images and photos - if I spend that time getting the entry ready to perfection, it'll be even longer in arriving, and it's surely quite diverse enough already. ^_^;

Lapinity's been reworked. ^_^ I'm quite pleased with this second version - from the point you arrive at the site, you're given the two main categories, Wildlife and Landscapes. It's not quite open yet, but I've removed the site lock - it's now mostly just a matter of finalising pricing, and then enabling purchasing. Right now, it's effectively only a gallery. Next step: advertising! Not usually something I'm much of an advocate for, but, Reddit's system is nicely innocuous, and often quite amusing. By the same token, Project Wonderful's ads I specifically let through, as they often lead to interesting new discoveries.

And elsewhere in photographic news *cough*, Lenses For Hire are again running a February special: half off all rentals booked in February. (The rental itself can be as long away as they take bookings - something like up to six months, I think) Very useful if you're considering trying out an exotic lens - either half the usual cost, or keep it for a week rather than three days. Very good company to deal with - my Sigmonster rental last year went perfectly, as did the regrettable cancellation of another, after leaving it way too late to book my Grillstock ticket. =:P (This year, 11/12 July in Bristle, and 30/31 May in Manchester, this year joined by a third festival, 5/6 Sep in London)

Music vid du jour: Mystery Skulls "Ghost", an animated fan production. Not just a mellow dance track, but a genuine short story too, with just a tiny bit of influence from a certain mystery-solving Hanna-Barbera team. (By the same animator is a simpler production, also to a Mystery Skulls track, Money - this time, starring Phoenix Wright and company)

A word of caution, should you be interested in trying out the OS X 10.10.3 beta (14D72i) - here, at least, it's kneecapped Mail, which is now not downloading any email. Which I would consider a slight shortcoming in an email client. =:/ I might stick with it for a little, to help resolve the issue, but there's always the option of rolling back to the 10.10.2 release. Meanwhile, it's the iPad to the rescue. (Aha! It may only affect accounts using Google's POP emulation, which would match why it doesn't seem to be on the radar)

Have a dancing cow. ^_^ Good moves to begin with, but to pull that off in an inflatable 'suit - impressive! (And yes, they do look a mite odd to begin with =:)

The DVD and USB drive arrived from Studio Killers! The DVD's signed by all of them, which is very cool - and this time, I don't even need to rip it, as they've already made the live Illosaarirock show available as an HD download. The stick, meanwhile, includes a whole bundle of extras, including a purely instrumental version of the album. Tell me that wouldn't make some killer karaoke. =:D

Yay, new LJ icon! This time, courtesy of /u/skrodladodd. So cute an' grumpy. =:D Really happy with how this turned out - they really did a lovely job on it.

I Am Bread is indeed coming to iOS! It's currently out on Steam Early Access for OS X and Windows; once they feel it's "done", then they'll get stuck into bringing out the iOS version.

How's this polar bear for some extreme fursuiting? Yes, fully life size, and completely artificial, other than the operators inside.

A new (well, to me) comic you might try: Sister Claire. It's actually more of an illustrated story than a comic, really. Very nicely illustrated, and the writing will engage you immediately.. it's simply beautiful, evocative! - I'm only a few pages in, and I'm captivated. ^_^ If you enjoy the spirit of Brave or the gentle pace of Gunnerkrigg Court, this might catch you too.

So, I finally got to see Ex Machina, too - I'd originally been intending to catch that the other week, on one of the local fleapit's "bargain" Tuesdays, but that was The Day of the Boilerman. Then there've been interviews, lousy weather.. but as I'd had to miss my intended screening because of needing to stay in for the repairman (who duly failed to appear that day), the roomie very kindly offered to pay for my ticket when I did see it. ^_^ Anyway! The film! I went in with some hesitation, with its connections to Sunshine, which I began enjoying as some well-intentioned sci-fi (overlooking the lousy "science" involved), before it veered off into a knockoff of Event Horizon, and finally into a random slasher. But, no - this is actually heavily a character-driven film, with only three main characters (and not many more in total): the boss of a massively popular search engine company, a programmer who's won a competition to visit him on his ("I was wondering when we'll reach his estate." "We've been flying over it for the past two hours.") estate, and an AI 'bot - the challenge being something of a follow-on from the Turing test, namely, can he prove to his satisfaction that she indeed is really experiencing these emotions displayed in their conversations? I will admit I wasn't overly taken by the ending, but it did sort of follow on plausibly from where the situation had been. It left me with rather a sense of regret, and I'm not quite sure for whom. This isn't a fast-paced film - do not enter expecting Michael Bay! Myself, I'd easily recommend it, on the quality of the performances, the richness of the character interplay, amidst all their terribly realistic flaws.

I also happened upon The Machine - and thoroughly enjoyed its take on the nature of life, in a tale of an AI that indeed becomes more than the sum of its parts. Very well acted, I felt - I was emotionally engaged from early on. (And even has its Bad Guy denouement somewhat reminiscent of Robocop - such a delightful individual they were, too) The Anchor Bay BD cover rather screams out that they don't actually understand the film, trying to portray it as a "rise of the machines" scenario, with the tagline "They Rise. We Fall." - yet that barely enters into it all. This is not an epic tale of war, but of what makes us human, and more than that.

And, I finally got to see The Golden Compass. ^_^ I haven't read the books (yet), but I'd agree with the sentiment I recall around its release, that there was quite a lot left out. Not that I mind being landed in the middle of a new world, but there did seem to be so much back story I wasn't privy to through the film. Nonetheless, thoroughly entertaining. Needed more of not-Mark-Twain's jackrabbit spirit, though. =:)

The roomie occasionally really surprises me. ^_^ Friday's film choice turned out to be something he'd obtained: Disney's "Princess Protection Program", on the theme of protecting royalty from coups and the like. It's very, very fluffy in tone, and surprisingly engaging, although I couldn't help noticing the ostensible leader of an apparently Hispanic island state spoke with a very American accent. =:/ No matter - it's just something to roll with, and we were entirely comfortable with doing so. ^_^ (We were both a little puzzled to find, on IMDb, that Disney had chosen Puerto Rico to stand in for Louisiana. Surely filming in rural Louisiana isn't that expensive?)

On the TV front, I finally got to see my first episode of Andromeda (s1e9, "A Rose in the Ashes") - only 15 years late. ^_^ It's hardly heavyweight television, but I'll be watching more, I think. Would it surprise anyone if I knew my favorite character was Trance? The episode only served to confirm that. ^_^

More Gorillaz soon!

I suspect I may be the only viewer, at least on LJ, but in case there are others interested, I noticed the new-ish series of Alex Polizzi's "The Fixer" finally resumed a couple Tuesdays ago at 8pm on BBC2, after a curious hiatus following the first two episodes.

I noticed there was a bit of a furry art exhibition recently in SL, on one of the company sponsored arts sims: Lives of the Monster Dogs. Looks like a good selection, although admittedly lacking in tall ears, from what was shown. (And here's a review)

And, for somewhere else more permanent to visit, this selection of Disneyland rides sounds rather cool.

Apparently, ketamine is proving effective against chronic depression.

No idea what it's actually like, but The Robot Giant looks sort of interesting, being a CG animated feature of part of the Ramayana epic. There seems very little out on the web about it - IMDb doesn't appear to know of it, f'rex. I stumbled upon it while nosing around iTunes, where it's available to buy)

Apparently something of a meme, which I hadn't encountered before: Can I Be Drawn Better? A most lovely example of fourth wall breakage.

I stumbled upon it first a year or so back, but only recently rediscovered it - a fun, furry slice-of-life comic: Curtailed. I can so easily see the roomie playing the part of Fox in this week's comic.. =:)

A rare opportunity for lovers of very, very silly music: with support provided by The Rutles, all (but the lamented Vivian) of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Neil Innes included, to mark the band's fiftieth anniversary. One night only, Friday April 17 2015, at Koko, in Camden. This may well be the final opportunity to see the nearly complete lineup!

Tirrelous presents one drawback of being a stag.

If you know anyone who's struck by CryptoLocker, there may be hope for the files, without paying the ransom. Upload a sample affected file to this FireEye/Fox IT site, and it'll offer a decryption tool for that system.

Here's An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments, available online, as an iOS app (free!), and on paper.

An interesting tidbit of pop culture: here's a chart showing the three word phrases in BuzzFeed headlines that generate the most FB shares. At the top, quite some way ahead of the rest of the pack, are "character are you", "n things only", and "before you die".

Here's a beautiful, somewhat abstract, bittersweet comic on the nature of love, by Chiara Bautista.

Here's a detailed meterological analysis of the area where Air Asia 8501 crashed. Obviously, there are no answers - that'll come with the analysis of the flight data recorder's information - but still, it's an additional informed insight into the prevailing conditions.

For a thoroughly deceptive cocktail, try combining a good cider (Sheppey's Dabinett or Wyld Wood, f'rex) and gin. Balance it well, and you can wind up with what seems like merely an interesting cider, with an intriguing edge, but rather more substantial than it might appear.

Nosing around the BBC's site the other day, looking for comedies, I stumbled upon an interesting description: "Dennis feels different - he's an ordinary boy who lives in an ordinary house in an ordinary street, he plays football with his mates and lives with his dad and brother, but he is frustrated by the boring grey world he inhabits - life has never really been the same since his mum left.
However, transformation can happen in the most unexpected places. In Raj's newsagent a fashion magazine seems to be calling Dennis - can it be that Kate Moss is really telling him that it's okay for boys to like Vogue? Aided by Lisa, the coolest girl in the school, Dennis creates a whole new persona and puts it to the ultimate test - but can a boy wear a dress, and what will the headmaster, his dad and his friends on the football team think if they find out?
Based on David Walliams' best-selling children's book, with an all-star cast including Jennifer Saunders, James Buckley, David Walliams and Kate Moss. The Boy in the Dress is a celebration of creativity, difference, football and fashion. A Christmas treat for the whole family."
It appears to be available on iPlayer until about Jan 19 2015.

Are you in need of cheese? Consider, then, the erstwhile Shaktimaan. Subtitles aren't really required. ^_^;

Here's rather an interesting new crop lens, and from a new Chinese manufacturer: Venus Optics 60mm f/2.8 2:1 macro, with a list price of $379. Could be fun for insect enthusiasts, as well as portrait photographers, given its 14-blade diaphragm. And maybe handy for food photography as well, with a minimum working distance (ie from the front of the lens, not the focal plane) at 2:1 of about 7cm. =:D

There is now a Princess Bride game for iOS. =:D And it actually looks like there's some love in it.

Yay! Got my SL billing sorted out recently, by using a USD balance for the first time. I just sold the accumulated L$, and the billing system automatically took the annual fee due. (It works out somewhat profitable, as my account's old enough to receive the L$500 weekly stipend - at roughly $2 a week, that covers the $72 annual rate with room to spare. ^_^ Newer paid accounts only receive L$300)

Good food doesn't have to be complex. Thursday's dinner was primarily halibut, a fish I rarely have, and virtually never cook - but, I've enjoyed it on a few occasions in the past. Seeing such a lovely steak sitting at the fish counter, all by itself.. it was positively calling out to come back home with me, and I already had a small tray of potatoes gratin sitting in the fridge - I'd been thinking some kind of fish would be the best use for it. Cooking it, though, was pretty much guesswork. As it was, I wrapped it in foil, along with a little butter, Ras el Hanout, lemon myrtle, and fish sauce, for a gentle tang in its seasoning, and popped it into the oven, when the potatoes were about midway through cooking. To go with that, a julienned carrot, and a few broccoli florets (cut off a loose head - prepackaging always just adds to vegetable costs, and plenty of them are eye-watering enough already). It was.. very, very good. ^_^ The flavors just added to the halibut's own deliciousness, and cooked quite perfectly (about 25 mins at 200C - the steaks are fairly thick, so I was leaning on keeping it in a bit longer than I might otherwise). And even calorifically fine, too: about 350 cals for 2/3 of the potatoes, something like 300 for the halibut (allowing for the bit of butter), and maybe 50 for the carrot and broccoli. If I can raise my game to create dishes as good as that more often, I should be able to defeat my deeply-seated love of snacking. ^_^

Coo. My Flickr account just rolled past a total of 400,000 views. Onwards to a half-million! And, with any luck, a sparkling future for Lapinity. ^_^ And no, I haven't forgotten that I could do with picking out one or two photos from my voyage on the Underground on steam, and walking through a normally busy Thames tunnel. Soon!

What's your recent favorite music video? Link! Link!

Technical minutiae of the day: I was running a VM of Mountain Lion in Parallels 8, under Yosemite (not a supported configuration to begin with - by default, Parallels 8 won't even launch, but that's easily fixed), from a soft RAID of two 3TB drives. It sort of worked, but the networking was dreadfully flaky, with the VM's connectivity dying after several minutes, and also losing any shared virtual drives. As an experiment, I copied the VM over to the internal SSD - and all was well, with connectivity remaining perfectly reliable.

Today in unfortunate acronyms, I discovered the existence of a militant group in the Southern Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

I was quite saddened to find Excel Pacman appears to no longer work. Still, if you have Excel 97 or something compatible, maybe it'll fare better for you. (Yes, really: Pacman running within Excel =:)

Did you know I'm a complete idiot? ^_^ A couple months back, my El Cheapo (aka Baofeng) brand 2m/70cm handie's battery ran out, so I put it on to recharge, and - no LED. I'd previously had trouble with charging it, first obtaining a replacement power supply and adaptor, only to realise it was the adaptors they supply that are faulty. I ran over the joints in the charger base with an iron, but to no avail - the LED remained stubbornly off. The other day, a few ember motes managed to coalesce in my mind, and sparked the notion that.. maybe it's the LED that's lying. So, I set it up for a few minutes, to see if it'd gain enough charge to turn on. And yes, it did. Leaving it in for a few hours saw it return to full charge. D'oh! I dare say I'll eventually pick up a "proper" Yaesu/Kenwood/etc at some point, once money's coming in again, but this is fine for getting me back onto the repeaters, as well as listening to the occasional bit of air traffic control.

Anyway. Have a bun from one of my sort-of-recent visits to the old bunspot. ^_^ They weren't so far away, but understandably, weren't inclined to stick around. (I know it'll never happen, but I wish one of them might let me touch them)

Cadbury bunny - eyes ahead

A temporary email tweak

I'll sort it out, but for now, if you want to email me, use me at lapinity.com, rather than ringtail.com. As noted below, the current OS X beta's apparently bonked Google POP accounts, of which my usual is one. I'll still get it at the usual, but only on the iPad, for now. =:/

BTW, I'd be particularly interested to hear on reactions to Sister Claire. ^_^