May 14th, 2016


Wishing for a high albedo Eurovision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, everyone knows the appearance of food can affect its taste - present someone with food that tastes of one thing, but is colored wrongly, and most folk will be thrown off, as demonstrated in the surprisingly engaging recent BBC 4 production, "Chef vs Science", where the materials scientist offers up strawberry ice cream - first, colored as you'd expect, then in a variety of unrelated hues. And lo, everyone knew it was strawberry when colored as expected, with guesses ranging across the board when not, mostly based on the color. But, did you know that sound can also affect your sense of taste? (Sadly, it's now fallen off iPlayer, but it's around in the usual channels)
Sweet Valerian trio

Eurovision 2016!

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

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

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

(And the self-referential "how to win Eurovision" act was absolutely hilarious)