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What are your favorite, most scenic train journeys? For me, I'd have to say Chippenham to Bath is an especially beautiful section, as well as snippets of the South Coast line. Amtrak's Coast Starlight route is an excellent means of heading from Oakland to LA, too, once you're past Monterey - some genuinely awe-inspiring vistas along the way, not to mention passing very close to the Pacific in places, and the possibility of seeing wild dolphins frolicking, as I did, shortly before pulling into Oxnard. (More than once, I've wished for special photography trains that would stop at all these wonderful points along the way, giving people a chance to take well-composed shots from vantage points often not readily achieved any other way)

People who live in glass houses have some stunning views. =:D

If you fancy some photography-related travel, Fstoppers are running a contest to win flight & hotel to Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai, March 1-8 2013. Entries are, gratifyingly, open to anyone over 18 worldwide. It's the usual form, to enter: you can leave a comment on the posting, make a specific tweet (thankfully, they simply provide the text, rather than requiring you to give them access to your account), or the F*c*b**k route, or indeed, any combination thereof.

A simple competition, open to UK and US (but not NY, RI, FL, or Puerto Rico) residents, to win an Olympus PEN EL-P5 camera.

From 2010, but still worth repeating: 'A German student "mooned" a group of Hell's Angels and hurled a puppy at them before escaping on a stolen bulldozer, police have said.'

Ordnance Survey have released their own iOS app (Universal), OS MapFinder, with quite a complete feature set, and with the tile data retina display-ready, with high-scale maps included for all of the United Kingdom. However, you'll want to keep other apps around for local coverage, as they're charging for the low-scale maps, with each tile covering 10x10km: 69p per 10x10km Landranger (1:50,000), or £2.49 per Explorer (1:25,000) tile. Alternatives include OutSide Maps, which supports down to 1:50,000 "Landranger" level; ViewRanger or ViewRanger Premium (which includes £15 of map credit, for £10) with IAP options for Explorer and Landranger, "up to" a rather lower 62.4p & 10.6p per tile, or as packs or regions, though the purchasing map seemed to be b0rked for me, insisting no maps were available; and, if you have a net connection in the wild, Bing's mapping also supports Ordnance Survey - where the top-left option defaults to "Road", you'll find the pulldown also offers "Ordnance Survey Map", which appears to go all the way to 1:25,000 "Explorer" map level, but of course, without features like recording your route, or offline caching.

I hadn't even heard of the Fairey Rotodyne until the other day - but isn't it quite a wondrous aircraft? The speed of a turboprop, with the landing requirements of a helicopter. Seemingly it performed very well, though the first versions were rather loud at landing, due to the use of small jet outlets on the tips of the rotor blades.

Jessops are completely gone. =:P "With effect from 11 January 2013, Jessops online and retail stores have ceased trading." The administrators outline the situation for people caught up in the debacle. Meanwhile, you can read about a Jessops employee's perspective.. "Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things that make me lose my shit whilst working; most unfortunate is the fact that they have hands and heartbeats, but I still insanely enjoy my job. I’m a photographer; I have an incredible knowledge of the products, and I can make an absolutely brilliant recommendation for customers, up until the point that we get to the till and the entire order ramps up to a cost that I look at and scream inwardly “BUY IT ONLINE!” I mean come on, 40 fucking quid for an 8GB Extreme SD card. Are you serious? They cost £16 on amazon. £16." Zomboy's comment is also worth reading, going into the company's evolution - a sadly all too typical story of abandoning their original core market to pursue the bottom end, only to find that in turn swiped away by supermarkets and online retailers, leaving them in a poor position to satisfy either end of the market. (And it sounds like HMV will be joining them shortly - apparently, the word has gone out to refuse gift cards, with the expectation of administration. Edit:Confirmed: HMV will be appointing administrators)

An iOS title worth a look: Pangolin: a curious game of bouncing. Free for the first ten levels, then a 99¢ IAP for another forty.

Yay, snow! It won't last, of course, but there might be some more on Wednesday. Meanwhile, I had to head out into the nearby woods, and see what I could capture of the moment, toward the end of the afternoon. Here's one of my favorites, looking straight up into the treetops, out through a little gap in the canopy, into the winter sky.


Dredd is now out on iTunes, BD, and DVD. Buy it! Buy lots of copies! (And if you happen to have a 3D TV, this would be one to get. Cinematically, the 3D worked particularly well, to say nothing of the dreamland slow-mo scenes, filmed using a camera made for the production) As it was the housemate's birthday recently, I went ahead and picked that up, plus one that rigelkitty reviewed the other day, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, somewhat in the vein of Hot Fuzz' black humor, setting the usual horror cliché of "innocent college kids meet homocidal hillbillies" on its head. It proved to be a worthwhile purchase. =:D (And as usual, Requiem took care of the needless DRM, permitting its playback with no loss of quality on the main room's AV setup. Yay Brahms!)

And, hey, I haven't posted any of these "quizzes" in a good while.. ^_^

Your results:
You are Spock
Spock
67%
Geordi LaForge
55%
Will Riker
55%
Jean-Luc Picard
45%
Data
42%
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
40%
Mr. Scott
35%
James T. Kirk (Captain)
30%
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
30%
Chekov
30%
Uhura
30%
Deanna Troi
30%
Mr. Sulu
20%
Beverly Crusher
20%
Worf
15%
You are skilled in knowledge and logic.
You believe that the needs of the many
outweigh the needs of the few.


Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Quiz



Can't imagine where it got that idea. ^_^

Finally, a little special something, courtesy of an old friend - an excerpt of ConFurence 5's Fur Le Dance, featuring Hilda the Bambioid and Red the Panda. ^_^
 
 
 
 
 
 
I loved the mention of the "chase" in the bulldozer leading to a massive traffic jam on the autobahn. ^_^;

I'm afraid you'd have to consult someone like moth_wingthane on matters aeronautic. It's rather sad to see what was, apparently, a perfectly viable and safe option, canned and forgotten. With development costs as they are, I'd be surprised to see anybody take up such an unorthodox approach, absent some secure funding up front. (Though, in a rather different field, there might yet be the Skylon) The Fairey design kept the helicopter rotors active at all times, it seems, which would presumably have some distinct difference in performance, but I'm poorly placed to tell how.

You came perilously close to being a redshirt? Now there's a curious outcome. ^_^; Maybe I'll try my paw at coding something like that sometime, though I suppose with a good few questions involved, you'll inevitably wind up with some peculiar outcomes.

And will we ever see M'Ress officially reinstated as canon? Sci-fi needs more furries!
It was probably the last 4 questions that got me so many Redshirt points.

But in the end I scored slightly higher for my favorite Captain.

Picard is Best Pony.
By reading the article on that roto-whatever-you-call-it I answered my own question. It's 20-30 years older than the Osprey.

According to Memory Alpha the entire Caitian race is canon.

Edited at 2013-01-15 07:20 am (UTC)