Pony vid for the day: OmegaOzone's "Want it, Need it (Hold me)", based on Lesson Zero - as such, the theme is a little on the dark size, but an excellent example of fan creativity. (h/t ducktapeddonkey!)
Here's rather a fun indie trailer: The Brick House, a modern American retelling of the classic three little pigs tale. (Prosthetics by superjay and cohorts) Looks quite professionally lit and edited - could be good!
I present to you - the cutest bunny in the world:
Psst, huskyteer! Have you heard about Costa Coffee's short story competition? Opened July 16, closes Sep 7. From a longlist of sixty, a shortlist of six will be selected, and put to a public vote, with the winner announced in January 2013 at the Costa Book Awards ceremony, receiving £3,500, and two runners-up £750 each. (UK residents only. Apparently you're ineligible if you're in prison, too) The story length limit is 4,000 words.
One thing that caught my eye with the latest LJ release is that apparently polls can now be created by anyone, regardless of account type. (Previously, it was what, only paid? Maybe "Plus" as well)
The project continues apace, with me somehow having turned out a DLL version of the code, which I develop as a command-line utility for OS X, though intentionally written to take as little advantage as possible of any language or OS-specific capabilites. Not being a Windows developer by any stretch of the imagination, less still having tried turn out a DLL before, I'm pleased it involved very little blood loss.
Three long comic pages on the "social media" battle between the forces of Digg, Reddit, and other players. Amusing stuff, with way too many background jokes for me to catch, having mostly skipped such aggregator sites. Page 1, page 2, and page 3.
The guy behind iFixit explains, in an article for the Harvard Business Review, why he won't hire anyone who uses poor grammar.
California's high-speed rail link finally gets underway, with twin ceremonies in San Francisco and Los Angeles. (Interestingly, I see the line comes south from San Jose, into Gilroy! That's a busy route that's long been lousily served for anybody not driving. Technically, Caltrain runs there, but only a couple times a day. From Gilroy, the line then heads inland to meet the main section of the line running through the Central Valley, joining a little south of Merced. When complete, you'll be able to go from SF to LA in 2h40. The only unfortunate note, I suppose, is that the sheer scale of the project means it'll be some 15 years in the making - which is still less time than has been spent bickering over it. =:) Now, about BART to San Jose.. egad! It's actually, finally happening! BART's pages talk of service to Warm Springs/South Fremont in 2015, and VTA speak of their portion in two phases: first, stations in Milpitas and on Berryessa, and later, downtown SJ. Ground has finally been broken on the first phase!
Want a Rainbow Dash hoodie?
In the comments for "Whistleblower Binney says the NSA has dossiers on nearly every US citizen" are some notable reflections: "Switzerland had a huge surveillance scandal during the 80's. It was named "Fichenskandal" or in English, "Secret files scandal". More than 700,000 people or organizations were targeted, usually people on the left: unions, feminists, environmentalists etc. A friend of my father runs an independent book store and he requested his files after the scandal was made public. He received a stack of paper over 10 inches high. The government pretty much had every part of his life on file. From mundane stuff to him participating in demonstrations (protesting for women's suffrage, environmental issues). This is a guy who was never arrested in his life. Yet they had a record of pretty much everything. This was in a time with limited technological capabilities. In the 70's, the police probably took photographs of public gatherings and sent them to a special group which in turn had to identify the participants with the help of a magnifying glass and reference files."
"I wanted to work for Cyc Corp. several years ago. They have an interesting software and before Watson, maybe the closest thing to AI that there is out there. IT took me some time to understand why it was so hard to be a candidate as a non-US citizen: it was later disclosed that they were participants in the Total Information Awareness project. Its purported goal was to have a ten-pages file on every human on the planet. It is not clear that it has been discontinued."
Meanwhile, the EFF's launched a challenge to the remarkably popular (with those issuing them) National Security Letter statutes, which come with a handy built-in gag order. "National security letter statutes -- five in all -- are controversial laws that allow the FBI to easily bypass courts and issue administrative letters on their own authority to telecommunications companies and financial institutions demanding information about their customers. The NSL statutes permit the FBI to permanently gag service providers from revealing the fact that the demand was made, preventing them from notifying either their customers or the public."
Relatedly, the increasingly aggressive DoJ has just sued a telco, Credo, for challenging a NSL and the process itself.
So, last Sunday's ambling around the countryside proved a little less successful than previously. *sigh* Trouble is, there's simply been so much rain, so even when the weather does brighten up, the mud remains, especially in dairy meadows, where the region by the gates is usually pummelled into liquid. Add in some uselessly overgrown vegetation by other exits, and I wound up spending much of the time walk by the roadside instead, which isn't exactly as relaxing. Still, I did finally hit the cycle path I'd been aiming for, rather later than anticipated, and that will merit a return - properly surfaced, completely away from any motorised traffic, and with a decent unsurfaced footpath roughly parallel not far away, though the grasses looked too tall for any wildlife photography, short of perhaps deer. ^_^ Still, it did give rise to some wonderful open views, as below - the link takes you to a quarter-size version of the original, shrunk to a mere 6000 pixels across.
Channel 4's 1m30 promo spot for the 2012 Paralympics is fairly damned powerful. (It appears to be geolocked; if you're denied, try over here, temporarily)
atomicat and others of a photographic inclination might want to check out 1x.com's contest. It's a heavyweight competition, though - but, if you win, you'll get $5k, with runners up receiving $1k and $500, plus memberships as consolation awards, and a $1k "people's choice" award. 1x is a little like 500px, but of an even higher standard, with submissions individually approved (or not).
Or, perhaps more feasibly, but only for UK residents - hey, jessie_pup! - is the National Trust's Your Space photography competition, "aimed at celebrating your favourite green spaces, and people enjoying them". "The competition includes all green space in the UK, not just National Trust places, and hopes to capture images of everyday green places. These could include pictures from the local park, where people play with their kids or walk their dogs, or favourite strolls in the countryside. What is important is that the images capture what these places mean to you, the photographers, and why they matter."
It's being run to mark the centenary of the death of one of the Trust's founders, Octavia Hill, who spoke in 1883, "We all need space; unless we have it we cannot reach that sense of quiet in which whispers of better things come to us gently... [and we need] places to sit in, places to play in, places to stroll in, and places to spend a day in."
GeekNation has a good summary of the SDCC 2012 Doctor Who panel - no real spoilers, unless you've not heard there'll be some departures from the main (supporting) cast. Plus, good news: one of the first episodes in the first half of the coming season will be Dinosaurs on a Spaceship; bad news: it's written by fanfic-grade hack Chris Chibnall. (Which, TBH, denigrates fanfic, judging by the quality of MLP:FiM works!)
If you wouldn't mind looking at a very sleek, blue latex catsuit being most attractively modeled, perhaps over here would be worth a click. ^_^
rigelkitty might enjoy Cracked's look at the six most terrifying rides ever built, including a repurposed mining track whose journey lasted half an hour, reaching over 100mph - not so much a ride, as a deliberately runaway train. And you'll learn why the Spanish for "rollercoaster" translates as "Russian mountain".. =:D
The saga of Pluto's status grows more complicated, with the discovery of a fifth moon. This, in addition to the fact that Charon's large enough that Pluto and Charon technically form a binary system of their own, with the other moons orbiting them further out, as demonstrated here.
Poland is about to become the 20th member state of ESA.
It's technical reading, but quite fascinating. Have you ever wondered just how it is that humans have 23 pairs of chomosomes, yet gorillas and chimpanzees have 24? The answer's really quite simple: occasionally, they fuse. As this article in Discover points out, such rearrangements aren't especially rare, with some 1% of humans having chromosomal translocations and inversions. The author illustrates, quite clearly, how the common ancestor of all three jiggled its way into gorillas, and through a different path, into the ancestor of humans and chimps.
Proof that you can be rich and have a conscience? Lenovo's CEO was given a $3m bonus, following strong financial results. He's given that away: "Some 10,000 receptionists, production-line workers, and assistants received an average bonus of around $314 each" - on the order of a month's pay.