September 27th, 2017


Pineapple cider

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. ^_^