November 14th, 2015

Fluttershy sparkly eyes

Toffee apple mulled cider with a dash of Angostura 1919 rum

Joel wants to bring MST3K back. =:D It doesn't look like the hefty funding goal is proving much of an obstacle, with over half its $2m goal raised within the first day or two. ^_^

Here's a temporary freebie that may be of some interest: "The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers: Gold Edition", as a Kindle book, from Amazon UK, Amazon US. "This book reveals more secrets about the history of Japanese games than ever before, with 36 interviewees and exclusive archive photos. Konami's secret games console, the origin of Game Arts and Quintet, unusual events at Telenet, stories on Falcom, politics behind Enix's game programming contests, a tour of the Love-de-Lic and WARP offices (with layout sketches). Every interviewee is asked about unreleased titles."

Apparently on Peter Capaldi's wish list for guest stars on Doctor Who: Tom Hanks, Keith Richards, and David Bowie. I know I would squee at the latter. ^_^

Before every screening at the Castro Theatre, the mighty Wurlitzer would ascend from the floor, with the organist du jour offering a performance before the film began. Truly a wonderful experience. ^_^ Sadly, its time eventually came, and on Sep 23 2015, the last performance was held, as it was simply wearing out, and would require a full refurbishment, liable to take years, which the owner simply couldn't commit to. But! The story doesn't end there. ^_^ They're having a new organ purpose built - and it promises to be even more of a grand experience. "We go by sets of pipes, called ranks—one pipe for each note of the keyboard that creates one particular sound—and we had 21 ranks in the Wurlitzer altogether on both sides. Now, we're going to have 16 ranks of theatre organ pipes and 16 ranks of classical pipes, which produce the sound of a classical organ. The rest will be made up of digitally-sampled organ ranks, taken from other organs around the world. The listener will not be able to tell which are the actual pipes and which are the sounds of the pipes coming through speakers. We're going to be incorporating about 120 speakers around the room that will fill the room above the balcony and all around. It will be a surround-sound experience like no one has heard before."

Rather a nice little compo, and open almost worldwide (not Canada, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, or AL/AK/AR/NH/IA/KY/MA/MS/ND/PA/UT) - Ask #WhiskySanta, for those of a Twittery disposition. Just browse their site, and ask for any item they sell. And that covers some seriously wonderful territory.. =:D #WhiskySanta will pick one winner every day, up to Dec 24 2015.

Does anyone else follow MasterChef? I'm always very fond of the competition, in all three of its guises, as wonderfully disparate as they are (regular, professional, celebrity). The pro contest's just begun airing, seemingly on a thrice-weekly basis, an hour each on Tue/Wed/Thu, at 8pm on BBC2. (On which note, am I alone in not being familiar with an "omelette Arnold Bennett"? Does look delicious, though! It's basically a flat omelette with poached haddock running through it, topped with a glazed Hollandaise. I know I couldn't survive as a chef in a commercial kitchen, but one aspect I know I would like, at least, would be the ready availability of all the ingredients I could want. ^_^ I do try to keep the fridge and larder well stocked, but there are definitely limits, especially when it comes to anything like cream, which I use quite rarely, or fun salad leaves, which I may only use relatively occasionally - in that kind of setting, you've got the fresh stuff always at hand, for the best results.

Want to see something quite awe inspiring? How about the Sun, in 4K, courtesy of NASA. And by contrast, I wondered - how dim is the light on Pluto? NASA has the answer - locate yourself on the map, and it'll tell you when (a few minutes before sunrise, or in the case of the UK, just about any point in the day) the light you'll see is equivalent to noon on Pluto. (EarthSky offers some photographic examples)

Many a multinational evades tax perfectly legally, through mechanisms like paying "royalties" to a shell company in a tax haven, thereby shifting most or all of their income out of the source of that revenue. A small Welsh town has decided to do the same. =:D "Crickhowell residents want to share their tax avoidance plan with other towns, in a bid to force the Treasury into legislation to crack down on loopholes which allowed the likes of Amazon to pay just £11.9m of tax last year on £5.3bn of UK internet sales. In the BBC2 documentary, The Town that Went Offshore, the residents express their anger at companies including Caffé Nero, which has not paid corporation tax in the UK since 2008, despite recording sales worth £1.2 billion."

I missed the first half of the latest Doctor Who tale, on its original broadcast, as I misremembered the bus time back - and rather than turn up halfway through, I opted for some good beer instead. =:) So, catching up with it on Saturday, then watching its conclusion almost straight afterward - I'd have to rate that quite highly indeed, with some exceptional writing. And admittedly, a far more creative use of the Zygons than I'd feared - so much more than Alien Invasion of the Week. I'm also quite pleased to note that the writer of the first part, and co-writer on the second, was previously responsible for the.. less than stellar Kill the Moon. I'd say he's acquitted himself well. ^_^

Encouraged by lovelyangel's positive sentiments on the recent "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.", I finally managed to catch it on Wednesday night. And thoroughly enjoyed it. ^_^ It is an UNCLE film, I'm pleased to say, even if the dynamic's been jostled around somewhat, with the plot well up there with the best of 60s spy capers, although exceeding its envelope on a couple occasions, as with the torture chair. Immaculate set design, and the costumery was impeccable, not least the villain's, but then, they always have the best dress sense. =:) Ah, maybe I should've been mature in the 60s, and unspeakably rich. Maybe not so evil, though - I'm not very good at that, although that may be a matter of perception - the trillionaire Waltons might not be in complete accord with my preferences for a fairer society. =:) Very cool soundtrack, too.

Some Ghibli goodness: how about this set of Mucha-inspired Ghibli film covers? Nausicaä works especially well, and I had to laugh at Totoro's so characteristic expression. ^_^ And for quite an obscure gem, how about a short manga by the man himself, "A Trip to Tynemouth". The full comic is offered up there, slightly wonkily translated, as separate page images. "It's easy to see Miyazaki's love of Westall, from his love of military history, his obsession with aircraft, and the traumas of World War II that, to a great degree, defined him. And although the two never met (Westall died in 1993 from respiratory failure), he considered Westall a kindred spirit. The "Tynemouth" comic follows several story threads. In the main story, Miyazaki (as his pig alter-ego) travels to Tynemouth to search for Westall's ghost (depicted here as a Scottish Terrier). On his journey, Miyazaki shares numerous details about British bombers in the war, recalling details in Blackham's Wimpy and other Westall stories. And he reminisces about his own childhood, captivated by those flying machines, and, of course, the war."

The WSJ's iPad Pro review notes of its capacity as a drawing instrument: "We were both surprised just how quickly he picked it up. In fact, Mike says it was “more natural to sketch and shade” on the iPad Pro than on his Mac’s Wacom tablet. He was impressed most by how the glass-and-pen combo could imitate his art-paper experience: the gentlest tilts of his watercolor brush, light shading with his pencil and deep presses with a flat marker all were lag free. His only complaints: The pen slid a little too smoothly on the glass and made faint tapping sounds when in use. The Surface Pro 4’s pen was quieter and had more resistance but Mike said he far preferred Apple’s for speed and sensitivity." And it's fascinating, on a pure specs level, to see how close ARM now is to Intel performance - indeed, it's faster in some benchmarks than i5-based MacBooks and MacBook Pros.

I'd never noticed that before: Muni has a walking/cycling map of San Francisco available to download (albeit curiously watermarked, for no readily apparent reason), including height contours and grades.

FFS. Seems the SuperBowl 50 committee has, quite seriously, requested Muni take down the overhead wires down Market Street, which power the buses. What a superbly reasonable idea! I see no way that could cause problems. ^_^;

We may have spotted dark matter. =:D Not literally - but the consequences of what we might expect of interactions between such particles, in the form of gamma ray streams from the core of the Milky Way.

TekRevue recently offered up quite a comprehensive comparison between Parallels 11, Fusion 8, and VirtualBox, for folks wanting to run other OSs alongside OS X. As one might expect, it's not a clean sweep for either of the commercial contenders, though Fusion seems to prevail; sadly, the free offering does lag - which is unlikely to be noticeable outside of gaming. Having started with Fusion, before switching to Parallels for a bit, I'm quite tempted to hop back to Fusion - back then, I felt their integration a touch more seamless, and if the graphics performance angle has largely been won by them (this time around), why not?

Wow. So, apparently the concept of cauliflower "couscous" has reached far enough for even one of the less reputable supermarket chains to offer such as a pre-prepared vegetable option. ^_^

And so, on the weekend, I came to the end of my prescription for terbinafine. ^_^ There's still a little left to grow out on the big toes, but otherwise.. I'm - well, it's not overly charateristic of me to celebrate normality, but, they're actually all quite ordinary now. ^_^ (Biology fascinates me from so many levels. The mechanisms of genetics, the manners in which vanishingly tiny amounts of compounds can have profound effects upon one, from curbing depression to being terminal - a subject fungi are indeed past masters in)

Hmm.. interesting to see BAE taking a 20% stake in Reaction Engines. And for a paltry £20.6m, too! Boggling to think the makers of apps like Skype and WhatsApp sell for billions, whilst this could be bought for Tim Cook's spare change.

Here, have a sqrl from Friday. ^_^ I'm just rather taken by their happy expression. (And ye gods, but I like the Nikkor 300mm f/4D - see how every little hair, every whisker is perfectly sharp, from 50' away?)

Fireproof Games recently came out with The Room Three, their continuation of a series of puzzle adventures, which is worth every penny. ^_^ I love the attention to detail in the puzzle design, let alone the impeccable graphics; it's rather wonderful, to me, to consider that something as simple as a transition from one room to another was, in The 11th Hour, something we'd have to render ourselves ahead of time, on all the computing resources we had available. Now? Rendered real-time, on an iPad Air. =:D Isn't that pretty amazing? ^_^

If you enjoyed The Golden Compass, you might like to hear that the BBC will be adapting the series for TV. "Pullman has given his blessing to the project, and is helping recruit a writer to produce a faithful adaptation of the novels, which centre on a girl called Lyra living in a parallel version of Oxford. Producers have promised to sound “every note” in the much-loved trilogy and stay true to the source material. Pullman said the many adaptations of the books on screen, radio and stage had been a “constant source of pleasure” but shows such as Game of Thrones and the Wire had shown that TV had the capacity to reach “depths of characterisation and heights of suspense by taking the time for events to make their proper impact and for consequences to unravel”."

Jon Stewart will be back, with "short form digital content" c/o HBO, expected to get underway early in 2016. One imagines the year will not be deficient in source material for satirical comment. =:)

Moore on Martinis. "The worst martini I’ve ever had was in a club in New Zealand, where the barman poured juice from a bottle of olives into the vodka. That’s called a dirty martini and it is a dirty, filthy, rotten martini, and should not be drunk by anybody except condemned prisoners. My dry martinis taste amazing and the day they tell me I’ve got 24 hours to live I am going to have six."

I'm pleased to see there are, inevitably, knockoffs of the Double Tour band for Apple Watch - seemingly quite decent quality, good leather, and a touch more affordable than the Hermès original.

Old school (or what some now try to deem or dismiss as, "casual" =:) gamers might like to peek at the source code for Star Raiders, a classic Atari 400/800 title.

Photo of the week has to be from the renowned Guy Fawkes' Night festivities of Lewes, in Sussex, where special "guests" included David Cameron and pig, Sepp Blatter, and Jeremy Clarkson. =:D