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The Blender Foundation recently released their latest short, "Tears of Steel", and it's rather good. ^_^ Something of a departure from previous ones, it demonstrates a lot of compositing of real actors and CG. It's also actually entertaining.

For schnee, and anyone else who might be interested: a high-res shot of Iceland, surrounded by clouds.

There's the possibility that a newly discovered (and catchily named) C/2012 S1 comet may be visible to the unaided eye from November 2013 to January 2014, perhaps even brighter than a full moon. =:D

And austin_dern might want to run this page past the Cecil folks. It would seem the reason some birds, such as pigeons, bob their heads while walking is simply to keep their heads in the same position for a prolonged period, making it easier to detect movement of food or predators.

That was rather an interesting afternoon.. I was out by the local buns' main spot, near the duck pond, when someone asked what camera I had, the bunnycam being just by me. I noted it was a D90, and so a conversation began - he was a fresher, indeed, straight off the plane on Monday, his first time outside India. He invited me to view some of his work, and I'm very pleased I accepted - as you can imagine, the kinds of shots he's been able to take thereabouts were at time quite stunning. Partly out of the scenery, but also through real talent - his father had started him on a film SLR, letting him graduate to a D5000 later on, once he'd become familiar with the fundamentals. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd quite go that route, as it's so much easier (and cheaper) to experiment digitally, but there was no questioning his ability to nail some of the landscape shots I was treated to. He'd apparently gained a commission from the local museum to photograph the region's antiquities, a project interrupted by his studies - I expect that'll see completion, and in some style.

I was quite pleased, the other day, to be able to take a shot I'd wanted for a while. Way back when, I saw a photo of a wild rabbit grooming their ear - the caption read something along the lines of the photographer noticing them, and grabbing a shot quickly. Unfortunately, it seems the link's expired, and there's no watermark or other (eg EXIF) tagging, so I regrettably can't identify the photographer - all I remember is it was by a Montana roadside. Here's their quite excellent shot - locally hosted, and regrettably uncredited, as the original URL is dead, and I can't find any other copies of it on the net - and my humble version. I'll concede theirs is better, but I'm nonetheless quite happy with the feel of my own.





So, Tuesday night was a little stressful.. got into (a =:) local haunt, opened Dandelion, and found WiFi off. Turned it on.. nope, it wasn't changing. Restarted, and all was well - for an hour or so, then a hard lockup. Restarted, and fine again. Then another lockup a while later. Rebooting off the SSD in a USB enclosure worked fine, but WiFi then said "No hardware installed". O.o;; As I'd been inside on Monday, trying to swap over the DVD-R for an SSD, I feared I'd somehow managed to screw things up, possibly quite expensively. Without WiFi, I conceded, and used the iPad instead. Then I read of pandaguy's death.. *sigh*

Mercifully, Wednesday was rather better, with cal_foxx providing a little insight into the panda's sudden demise. With a well-lit desk in the office, I opened Dandelion up to see if anything was obviously amiss, and noticed the Bluetooth antenna unplugged. Nothing to do with WiFi, but still, worth reconnecting. Flipped back over, powered up, and.. yay! Full WiFi connectivity again. ^_^ The replacement caddy had also arrived - this time, one for laptops using slimline 9.5mm DVD-Rs, rather than the first one I'd ordered, 12.5mm tall - so a quick resync of the selected directories onto that, then into the optical bay (not a difficult procedure, but a little involved), powered up to check all was still well, and timed the startup at around 2m40s from pressing the button, to the usual applications being up and running. Then.. the fateful switchover to the SSD, and restarted. In about 30s, total. =:D

I'm amazed. It's far beyond mere throughput (around 200MB/s write, 250MB/s read) - web pages render almost immediately, Aperture absolutely flies, and yes, the sheer throughput is sufficient to play 1920x1080 uncompressed YUV video, around 1Gbps bitrate.

FWIW, the drive's a Crucial M4 256GB, replacing Dandelion's DVD-R, as I've only used optical discs about once or twice a year since having the system.

On America's trend against immigration (far from a rare trait, sadly): "Previous research projects I led had documented that, from 1995 to 2005, 25.3 percent of all technology and engineering startups nationwide and 52.4 percent of those in Silicon Valley were founded by immigrants. More than a decade earlier, from 1980 to 1998, Saxenian had documented that the key immigrant-founding groups, Indian and Chinese, had founded 24 percent of the Valley’s startups."

So.. how about a little photographic puzzle? Tell me what this stonework is/was. ^_^



Looper: erf. I'm not quite sure what to make of this flick. Let me begin, at least, by commending that it is a good film, and especially, that it's not lacking for plot. However - could I care about anyone in it? No. Not at all. With only one or two exceptions, pretty much all the characters were total scumbags, inhabiting a world so desperately, unremittingly bleak that Mega-City One would've seemed like some utopia. As such, whilst I enjoyed the complexity of the plot (let's face it, not exactly a routine quality in a mainstream big budget Hollywood production), I was looking forward to the end, to be free of such total misery of existence. Dammit, even Samsara exudes a degree of hope, however grimy the lives portrayed.

On a somewhat more fun front, I'm delighted to discover that the third volume in Bryan Talbot's Grandville series of graphic novels, "Bête Noir", is currently scheduled for release by Dark Horse on Dec 26 2012. Digitally, at least - I'd imagine the paper edition would be identical, or nearby. If you're unfamiliar with it, or him, well.. I should probably let huskyteer enlighten you. ^_^ Superb artwork, a fully furry storyline, and no shortage of high intrigue in a vaguely steampunk world, where England is part of the French empire.

And if you're in need of a hearty cinematic laugh, see if Untouchable is playing locally. It's apparently the second highest grossing French film of all time, and deservedly - brilliant writing, and indeed, based on a real story, with the two leads showing such fantastic chemistry. Fear not: whilst the premise might sound tired and prone to being cloying, it avoids that entirely. Highly recommended.

Have a duck. ^_^ (Which reminds me of xyzzysqrl's "put it with the other ducks" icon..) There'd just been something of a feeding frenzy, and this individual managed to make off with a hefty piece of bread. Time to hightail it outta the scrum!

 
 
 
 
 
 
Of course, if you want truly absurd glass, this offering from Sigma takes some beating. =:D

Nikon's crop factor's about 1.5, so the effective reach of my 300mm is actually around 450mm. But that still leaves one wanting for further reach, with small subjects like buns or most birds, hence my aim of the TC17E-II teleconverter.

Certainly, rentals are possible, although once you're up at that level, even that can be a significant cost, in the low hundreds. 11lb would be pretty awkward for handholding, definitely - that'd be something I would miss, as I love the spontaneity that something relatively light (ha!) like the 300mm f/4 affords, where it's easy to just take it out of a laptop bag, mount it, and just be completely freely held, or use a farm gate to help support the elbows. With something like the 600mm f/4, you're pretty much into tripods. That said, if you get a good gimbal mount, you do have the ability to move it around pretty freely.

we already live in a world where companies and capital can move pretty much wherever they want, so why don't we afford workers the same right?

Very much so. And of course, the profits from all that similarly get shuffled around into tax havens around the world, so poor darlings like Mitt Romney have to deal with a swingeing tax rate of almost 14%! All throughout the corporate world, it seems to be a race to the bottom, locating wherever offers the best deals at the time, moving freely if somewhere else becomes more advantageous. Amazon UK, f'rex: "The latest 2010 accounts for Amazon EU Sarl show the Luxembourg office employed just 134 people, but generated turnover of €7.5bn (£6.5bn). In the same year, the UK operation employed 2,265 people and reported a turnover of just £147m."
Of course, if you want truly absurd glass, this offering from Sigma takes some beating. =:D

Hah, yeah, but that IS pretty absurd. :) The 600mm Nikkor is still within the range of what I would consider "normal"; decidedly at the upper end, but — well, not absurd.

Certainly, rentals are possible, although once you're up at that level, even that can be a significant cost, in the low hundreds.

Oh, absolutely. I mostly meant renting it so you could see how it would perform and whether it'd work for you; you'd not want to invest 7k quid into a single lens without having tried it extensively, I imagine. :) A good store might well credit the rental cost towards the cost of the lens if you do purchase it, too.

As for freehand shooting... heh, time to hit the gym and bulk up? ^_~ But yes, as you say, a good tripod would still allow you quite a bit of flexibility, and given the lens's cost, you could justify spending a lot and getting a very good tripod, too. Alternatively, maybe a monopod would work well, too, and strike a good compromise.

Very much so. And of course, the profits from all that similarly get shuffled around into tax havens around the world, so poor darlings like Mitt Romney have to deal with a swingeing tax rate of almost 14%! All throughout the corporate world, it seems to be a race to the bottom, locating wherever offers the best deals at the time, moving freely if somewhere else becomes more advantageous.

Oh yeah, there is that, too. A classic example of the prisoner's dilemma, I think, with the states as the prisoners — if everyone keeps tax rates up, they all benefit (and by extension, everyone does), but a defector can benefit more at the expense of everyone else (by attracting companies that want to take advantage of a lower tax rate). Unfortunately, if everyone defects and lowers their tax rates, everyone loses out.

The ones benefitting are those that are able to move capital around in the first place: companies and, as you point out, the rich.

I'm not sure what to do about this, though, especially since I talked about wooing the talented and skilled, inventors, entrepreneurs etc. above: creating incentives to attract them and offering them the best deal. When you think about it, that's exactly what's happening here, too.