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I'm in an awkward position. I'm concerned for a friend's well-being, but am eight time zones away from them. Courtesy of the wonders of epilepsy, they're occasionally prone to nasty falls. They've been unresponsive to email and phone for a few weeks. If they're in hospital somewhere (or worse), how can I find out? Can I?

huskyteer pointed out the world premiere launch party for Grandville: Bête Noire, Nov 9, in London. If you're not yet familiar with Grandville, I'd recommend viewing the trailer at that link - it's quite superb stuff.

Want an unpublished Neil Gaiman short story audiobook? For free? With a donation made automatically to charity per download? Here you go. ^_^ It is through Audible, so you'll need to be able to install their software. Donations are made in the order of 50p per download (for UK & Commonwealth peeps) to BookTrust, whilst US folk see $1 going to DonorsChoose.org, which funds educational projects supplied by teachers. Note that this is only until Halloween.

It's a short story, only about ten minutes long.

I'm the voice telling the story.

And in case you're concerned, I've been assured that you don't have to become an Audible.com member if you don't want to. You will have to give them an email address so they know you aren't some kind of downloading 'bot.

And all I ask of you is that you wait to listen to it until after dark

If I mention "felt furry hats", you'd probably think along the lines of fleece style mascot-ish apparel, even gaining some mainstream exposure - indeed, a girl in front of me in the line for the bus last week had a cute fox hat on. ^_^ But, no - these are rather different creations. Like so. =:D

A rather beautiful weblog to try, if you'd like to see some fine wildlife and nature photography from London - and humans too: The New Nature. "the new nature is dedicated to showcasing urban nature writing by a variety of authors. It's home to creative and journalistic writing, fiction and non-fiction, prose and poetry – all inspired by London’s wild places and wild people."

Here's a furry book to try, free for the weekend, from Friday through to Sunday: Warren Peace. "Influenced more by Seven Samurai, Zulu and Joss Whedon than by Watership Down, Warren Peace is a novel about talking animals, but definitely not for smaller children. It will grab both your heart and your funny bone and shake them silly." he says. Sample reviews include "These are rabbits that kick and bite.. and, when occasion permits, wriggle their bottoms suggestively." and "Relatable characters (yes, even though they are rabbits!) and laugh out loud quips will keep this charming story with you after you have read the last page."

Lea Hernandez, whose work I first encountered in the rather good Rumble Girls, has an Indiegogo fundraiser running for another day or two, toward producing a collection of her latest work, The Garlicks - and the spiel includes a six page prologue! Have a peek. 'Sgood!

Say hi to vreahlifruitbat. ^_^

How to Become a Gay Prostitute in Denmark, via jessie_pup. It's a wonderfully amusing - and real - account of just how one man went about earning several thousand dollars in a few months, to pay off his cards before the new baby arrived. "'The first time I started talking price with guys online, I was amazed at how much haggling goes on,' he says. 'Everyone wants to fucking haggle, it's infuriating. Some dudes were asking if they could get, like, a 10-blowjob clipcard.'"

How it got there, nobody seems to know, but a family in Lancashire recently found an Atlas moth - normally residents of forests in SE Asia - in their home. Its wingspan is indeed impressive. =:D

How to remove e-book DRM, including Kindle, iBooks, and Adobe Digital Editions.

Here's quite a cool prize for those of an adventurous (and especially photographic) nature: a luxury Zambian safari, comprising a week for two, including all internal flights and transfers. You do, however, have to get yourselves to Lusaka, the capital - the fares around seem much like any other long-haul destination.

I don't usually get teary-eyed at train stations, but when I came across a statue sitting on one of the station's benches, I was naturally curious what its meaning was. Its story was revealed on the paper "he" held: it was Nicholas Winton, who, between March and September 1939, organised eight trains out of Prague, bound for London, saving 669 children from the horrors that were to follow. Here's a four minute interview with one of those refugees, Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines; it's very informal, and more of a personal reflection - she was only nine when she was put onto the train, and thus not really aware of the gravity of the situation. Nothing I ever do will be as meaningful, and for that I am deeply grateful.

On arriving back in town for the weekly meeting on Thursday, my first stop was at the old apartment, now cleared of most of my Stuff™, but still rather wanting a little tidying up, to get rid of a few remaining boxes, plastic bags, recyclables (not coincidentally, collection day there is Friday), as well as giving the carpet a vacuuming. And thus ended my residency there, with the keys left on the mantlepiece, along with a little note for the landlord, next to the one they'd written for me on my arrival; the symmetry appealed to me.

I hadn't heard of Toynbee tiles until a few days ago, when BojoPigeon pointed out a story on some people apparently trying to steal them. A tricky proposition, given said tiles are lino, and glued quite firmly to their homes on the streets, literally. Whilst many are destroyed in routine road maintenance, it would seem, once in a while, a city planner takes mercy.

Here's rather a nifty bit of device hacking, on the NeoTV 300, a Roku-lookalike. It's locked down, as you'd expect. But, after some digging around, this enterprising individual realised that its SSID is used as part of calls to system() - ie, for shell execution. And you get to supply the SSID.. so, yes indeed, if you tell it its SSID is "reboot", that's precisely what it does. The rest follows on from there.. and thus, you can root the device using nothing more than its own remote control. =:D

I will soon have, assuming it arrives as described, an ultrawide lens. ^_^ I placed a bid on a forum's classifieds for a Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6, which works out quite competitively against eBay, with the confidence of a known community. (The classifieds aren't shown until you've been a member for at least 60 days, and have tallied at least 30 non-trivial posts, to help ward off spammers) I loved the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8, but as that's a teensy bit expensive, this'll do pretty well - not quite as bright, and only suitable for crop sensors, but that's hardly an issue for me, as I don't see migrating to full-frame as beneficial for my leanings toward small wildlife. (Yay buns!) That said, I'll admit, the D800 is a fairly remarkable camera, with a top-notch sensor, tied for third place in DxO's scores, coming very close to the best medium-format offerings. Still, not something I'll have to worry about any time soon. =:)
I certainly wouldn't be surprised, although it would seem very unlikely they'd be able to detect it - once you've got your plain PDF or whatever, they're out of the loop.

I haven't yet had a need to remove book DRM, though I've wished it weren't in place with video from the iTunes Store. Unfortunately, as far as I know, that remains uncracked. (One time, I was wanting to watch a particular ep of Doctor Who on the projector - but as that was a VGA device, iTunes said no. =:P So I watched another version of the same episode, which I'd downloaded earlier)

Bad as the RIAA has been, particularly in their vicious pursuit of torrenters, at least they did finally come to their senses and start supplying their catalogues to download services. When it comes to films, the gaps in what's available to download remain cavernous, not to mention often uncompetitively priced against physical discs.
Although they did apparently reverse that cancellation. Quite why it ever happened does still seem to remain unknown.
Their arrogance is what *I* think needs explaining. On their knees in front of me preferably.
And all THAT is one big reason I'm not a fan of ebooks.

It's not just that I like the way that printed books feel, smell etc.; it's not just about secondary markets, buying and selling used books, etc.; it's not just about sticking to low-tech solutions that don't create single points of failure in the form of expensive and damage-prone electronic gadgets. It's not even the often-outrageous prices charged, prices that are unjustifiable considering you're not actually getting a tangible product that has to be produced and delivered to you at a cost.

It's also about maintaining control of your own reading, not being subject to terms imposed by others, to arbitrary actions (which may or may not be covered by those terms), and generally about not having to answer to anyone. Privacy is part of it, obviously – what I read and when and so on is noone's business but my own –, but it goes beyond that. It's really about control, and it is about freedom in the sense of not being subject to someone else's control.

And I never cease to be amazed by how many people are willing, often outright eager, and indeed proud to submit to that sort of control in exchange for the newest bit of shininess. If somebody controls what you read, what kinds of software you may or may not purchase/install/use, and so on, then something's wrong, and I don't understand why people don't have an issue with it. (I can see why it's not on their radar until they're actually bitten by it themselves, but that's a remarkably naive and narrow approach itself.)