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A while back, I was wondering if anyone had a copy of The Rabbits of Skomer, a 9-minute short from the BBC. Recently, it was aired again, and DH WinterWolf & Darac were kind enough to capture it for me. ^_^ Unfortunately, it's missing the final minute, as it started a little later than advertised - but it's mostly there, and quite a fascinating look into this unusual ecosystem. (I should perhaps note that there is one glimpse at a deceased bun, in the context of the island's predatory seabirds - quickly countered by an example of a mother rabbit rushing out to defend one youngster, sending the attacker flapping off quite disgruntled =:) Here it is, 119MB. As usual, if you'd like to link to it, it'd be greatly appreciated if you mirrored it somewhere else, so as to minimise server demand.

If you've been pondering an update on the wildlife front lately, I'm rather happy to note that the preview image size in animaloptica has been raised from 400px to 800px along the longest side of an image, to reflect improved resolutions in general use. ^_^

It would seem the new owners of Jessops (and the site is open for business again) intend to reopen a few of the stores; right now, the newly reopened stores are Oxford Street, Birmingham, and Manchester. If they can truly follow through with the claims, it might actually be the kind of place you'd want to visit - eg "Reconfigured stores to give an interactive experience where you can touch and feel the products, and try before you buy" and "Expert assistance: The most highly-trained sales assistants in Europe, many specially trained with the camera manufacturers". Of course, inevitably, they'll still be battling against online-only vendors without the overheads of premises, and sometimes skirting UK taxation - but if they really do commit to having knowledgable staff, and try to encourage people to come in and try out their kit, perhaps they can do more than merely compete within the existing market, but instead, actually try to grow it, by showing people the world of difference a DSLR makes, versus a compact. Or, by the same token, introducing people to mirrorless formats like micro 4/3rds and Nikon 1. Certainly, I'm inclined to feel this strategy gives them at least a fighting chance.

If you're in the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland, you now have the option of enabling two-factor authentication on Apple IDs, which will send a four digit code to your SMS-capable phone. If you proceed with setting it up, bear in mind one recommendation they make in the process: offer a second SMS-capable number, in case the primary's lost or stolen. That can, of course, be your own, or someone you trust. To set it up (as outlined here) go to the My Apple ID site, and then the Security tab, which will first ask two of the three security questions you were required to enter last year. (In my case, not even remotely related to the questions, both out of security, and the fact that none of them really applied very well to me.. =:/)

I see rigelkitty's released a new "ghettofunk, electro-swing, funky breaks, electro, house" mix, which you can download from SoundCloud, or listen to on Mixcloud.

Rather an interesting "alternative culture" magazine, now available as free PDFs: Coilhouse.

If you're wandering around London, you might consider visiting one or two of the locations the Telegraph recently noted in a slideshow feature: London's best secret gardens.

Whilst I do like exploring new pubs with great food and worthy beer & cider selections, I'll admit, I tend to gravitate to a few favorites. A couple Saturdays ago, I felt very much in such a mood, and enjoyed a couple noteworthy beers along the way, including Goose Island's Bourbon County imperial stout, the highlight came at the end of the evening (thankfully, I still managed to get out just in time for the last train home). I'd been unlucky enough to try ordering a couple beers that all turned out to be out of stock at the moment. The manager overheard my nudging, and approached me to offer a few options not on the menu. ^_^; And so, I was lucky enough to get to enjoy an outstanding creation from the Brooklyn Brewery, their Crochet Rouge Sauvignon Blanc. As the same suggests, it's one of their Belgian tripels, but here, fermented atop wine lees, lending it an unusual character. It's difficult to describe, but it is indeed in the wine direction, yet nonetheless a Belgian ale at heart. (The cloudy hue's due to it not having had chance to settle yet) I'd love to see it produced on scale, but it seems they just can't obtain the volume of lees - so, it remains just a pet project by the brewery's owner. If you get the opportunity, and if it sounds like something that might appeal to you, I'd strongly recommend you seize the chance to enjoy this. ^_^


I was wondering what Babylon 5's creator was up to these days, and it seems one of his forthcoming projects, later this year, is "a web series for MTV.com called The Adventures of Apocalypse Al. That series was previously being developed as an audio drama for the Canadian Broadcasting Company, and was described by JMS as 'Monty Python Meets The Maltese Falcon En Route To the End of the World.'" And, it was recently announced that Netflix is producing a new sci-fi series, with an initial run of ten episodes, "Sense8" - with creators JMS and the Wachowskis. =:D

Want to win a new DSLR? WEX Photographic's got an Easter Egg hunt, open until Apr 1. Winner gets a Canon 650D, 18-135mm, and tripod, with other cameras as prizes as well. (UK residents only) And no, they weren't able to resist a punnish solution.. =:) It's pretty straightforward, so shouldn't take you long - the key is to not be shy to use the site's search function. ^_^

I hadn't been aware of its existence, but Squirrel and Hedgehog actually looks quite good! It's an animated series produced in North Korea, with a feel of old Tezuka to it. WikiFur has a little more information.

An episode of "Absolute Genius with Dick & Dom" spent half an hour looking at the work of Delia Derbyshire: iPlayer. (Likely to be UK-only geolocked; it doesn't seem to be on YouTube yet, but I may be able to tuck it away somewhere)

So, at long last, I finally got along to the Natural History Museum last weekend. ^_^ Ye gods and little fishes, what an utter joy of an establishment! Everything from a diplodocus skeleton and prehistoric crocs, to fascinating examples of mineral beauty, including exceptional examples of gemstone work. Absolutely wonderful. And all free! (Of course, you're encouraged to donate, and it's certainly worth a few £/$/€, or several, needless to say)


If you're looking for a charitable recipient sometime, consider the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund, which performs educational outreach, rescues, and rehoming, with its associated wing functioning as a rabbit owners' club. (Endorsed by Toyah Wilcox, too =:)

The Switch is "a magical-realist transgender comedy, one that delights in pushing the envelope and in holding a queer & quirky mirror up to our own lives. And at the heart of it all is Sü, the weird experiences she has, and the people she shares them with." They're aiming for make it over Summer 2013, for six half-hour episodes, if the Kickstarter succeeds. Backing starts at a mere $8, offering HD downloads of all six episodes as they're released. (And if you're in Vancouver, they're happy to accept folks wanting to help out with it, whether on the set, or as donors of locations suitable for use therein) It looks like it needs a ramping up of the pace of funding, though, so if you're able to pass word along to sites or people who could add to the publicity, I'm sure they'd be happy bunnies.

Ooo! Actually, it seems that won't be necessary. ^_^ The latest update begins, "Great news! We have found an alternate source of funding and are cancelling our Kickstarter. In Kickstarter, we have found a huge push of publicity which you made possible. It has kept us busy in interviews with online and print media here in Vancouver as well as overseas. It also helped land us a consultant, who pointed us at some extra funding. This should cover the bulk of what we were asking for on Kickstarter. We don’t want to ask people for money when we don’t need all of it - and since you can’t change the funding goal of a Kickstarter once it has launched, we’re going to cancel the Kickstarter campaign."

So, how about one that is still running? =:D Anything that Loves, "A bold new comics anthology that explores and celebrates the complex world beyond the categories of 'gay' and 'straight'". And tania's been invited to contribute, too. ^_^

Here's a look at Computer Science in Vietnam; specifically, at one school, and what the curriculum is like as children progress through their years there. You may be surprised.

Have you ever wondered about what having a National Security Letter served against you actually looks like? Here's a personal account. Hint: if you log into your Google account, and find a random need to agree to their TOS again, that may be a quiet non-signal that you're being given special attention.

Maybe you'd like to furkle around with H.265? Here's the repository for the reference code, courtesy of the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute and the BBC. Just check out the trunk with SVN, and the Xcode project's targets will compile painlessly.

Well, that was an interesting little seminar.. quite worthwhile. Last Friday, a few senior Intel folk gave a presentation on the recently launched Xeon Phi coprocessor, whose architecture apparently drew on Knights Ferry - "many cores" (50+), each somewhat slimmed down (eg no OOO execution), but still basically x86, and running more slowly than a "main" Xeon CPU. On the other paw, there are lots of them, and with 512-bit SIMD, mostly with Altivec-style non-destructiveness of the source registers. If your code's highly threaded and can take good advantage of SIMD parallelisation, it's quite a promising architecture. Currently, it's available as a PCI Express card, requiring a host PC. The card itself, meanwhile, runs a trimmed down Linux, presenting itself as a TCP device, Infiniband host, or other relevant interconnect options. (Rather a depressing gender ratio, I'd have to say - around 60:3)



Well, that was rather fun.. I wound up winning a micro-contest held by Phil Plait, writer of the Bad Astronomy column, now over at Slate. Apparently, I'll be receiving "a prize I'll like". ^_^;

And I've re-enabled commenting by everyone. ^_^ Hopefully the spambots won't latch onto that too rapidly - I really don't like restricting commenting, as it feels so un-neighborly.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Well, that was an interesting little seminar.. quite worthwhile. Last Friday, a few senior Intel folk gave a presentation on the recently launched Xeon Phi coprocessor, whose architecture apparently drew on Knights Ferry - "many cores" (50+), each somewhat slimmed down (eg no OOO execution), but still basically x86, and running more slowly than a "main" Xeon CPU. On the other paw, there are lots of them, and with 512-bit SIMD, mostly with Altivec-style non-destructiveness of the source registers. If your code's highly threaded and can take good advantage of SIMD parallelisation, it's quite a promising architecture. Currently, it's available as a PCI Express card, requiring a host PC. The card itself, meanwhile, runs a trimmed down Linux, presenting itself as a TCP device, Infiniband host, or other relevant interconnect options.

That sounds pretty neat. I hope it's not going to be the i860 all over again, though (I vaguely recall add-on boards featuring that one).

Congrats on winning the contest, too. What did it entail? What got you that win? :)
Well, this time around, they've got a clear idea of just who'll benefit from it - not general desktop or mobile usage, but applications requiring particularly strong performance. In particular, those which can execute on many threads, and which are parallelisable. If your application matches both criteria, it's a good architectural option. The catch, though, is the price - the cards are a couple thousand each, so quite a few applications will find it more economical to use more mainstream architectures. But, if you're in the HPC game, this'll make for a significantly higher compute density per cubic foot/meter, and with lower power consumption - not a small matter in those areas!

They do seem to have their eye on mobile applications, however - but x86 is a difficult one to slim down, versus ARM, which was lean from the outset. But that's more from the perspective of an evolving market, rather than any specific plans, at least that they'll let loose in public.

It was a little guessing game. =:) He announced he was in an "undisclosed location", and gave up various scientific hints, which prompted some good narrowing down by various readers. Then came a hint about wild horses, which, with the aid of a little deft searching, led to the right answer: Vieques, in Puerto Rico. ^_^
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Hm! So it is. ^_^; Maybe I used a plugin to download it from Mixcloud? It was in the Downloads folder, which suggests I used WebKit rather than my usual, OmniWeb, and probably not Firefox..

I've tweaked the journal entry accordingly, to relieve further confuzzlement. ^_^
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Wow. That's just a gorgeous mezzanine. I really would like to get to that museum, someday.
It's very much worth it. I could geek out in the minerals room for hours alone, with so many beautiful examples of natural wonder - such an array of varied crystalline structures, hues, and reflectivity, even aside from the significance and composition of them all. The place absolutely exudes wonderment in a way you might expect only somewhere like Hogwarts to manage - but this can be found a modest walk from the South Kensington stop. =:D
Wow.... so much! :D ... Have a great Easter too!!
*grin* It was a bit heftier an entry than I'd intended, but with last weekend being full with meeting up with my mother, then this week leaving me just not really feeling up to much LJ.. it sort of grew. ^_^;

I doubt we'll do much for Easter specifically, but we may take advantage of the long weekend to chill out - I'm pondering a second Yule, given the way Winter still seems reluctant to let go, with temperatures still barely above freezing, and most of the deciduous trees either completely bare, or nervously budding. We do have adequate supplies for such a celebration, after all. =:9
Downloaded H.265 a while ago. Encoding is *slow* on CPU so it'll be years before it's viable but it's always fun to peer into the future.

Xeon Phi looks very interesting architecture. I still think it's a shame that the Cell architecture is mostly considered dead as it was a truly scalable architecture. Sony could've produced a PS4 with 40+ cores while retaining backward compatibility. I still have my Linux-booting Cell coprocessor boards.

Is the Xeon Phi really x86? Seems like they could go with something less messy, more orthogonal and involves less decode complexity. Maybe they believe everyone's spent so much time optimizing the hell out of x86 designs and compilers that there's no reason to change.
I dare say H.265 will become quite viable as soon as GPU/CPU support arrives for it. After all, it's that which helped propel video decoding in the first place. Encoding as well, though that's perhaps a secondary target, but not much behind.

Whilst Phi's quite different in some regards, it does feature some similarities, perhaps inevitably - the memory controllers, f'rex, are arranged throughout the chip, with the cores able to communicate with each other in a pair of rings operating in opposite directions, so as to spread out the memory bandwidth. And the SIMD is now 512 bits wide, surpassing even Altivec. (It also sounded like a lot of instructions are individually conditional, too, ARM-style - which would certainly make sense given the lack of OOO, which is an aspect of modern CPU architecture that occupies quite a surprising proportion of die space)

Essentially, yes, it's all x64 - the intent is that you can use the same toolchain for Xeon Phi and "plain" Xeon (et al) deployment. Of course, it's also easy enough to argue the architecture doesn't have to be anywhere near the same - Xcode manages with Intel and ARM happily. As you say, I suspect a good part of it lies in simply not wanting to cast off the hefty experience Intel has with their main architecture - far easier to trim off OOO and beef up the SIMD, than to adopt a different architecture.

One stated goal was to be a top performer for HPC power efficiency - which, I'll admit, struck me as a little odd, given that's never really been one of Intel's strong points, versus something like ARM, or even PowerPC. But, given the fairly dominant position they occupy in desktop computing, they unquestionably have the resources for a good shot at such, even if ARM's inherently leaner, if not so well aimed at high throughput.
I dare say H.265 will become quite viable as soon as GPU/CPU support arrives for it. After all, it's that which helped propel video decoding in the first place. Encoding as well, though that's perhaps a secondary target, but not much behind.


Indeed. I'm not sure if H.265 1080p playback is even yet achievable on current CPUs and things like variable sized compressed tiles would likely make GPU implementation hard, as data-parallel models of GPUs sort need evenly-divided data to process. Broadcom did announce a chip that can apparently handle H.265 up to 4096x2160.

One stated goal was to be a top performer for HPC power efficiency - which, I'll admit, struck me as a little odd, given that's never really been one of Intel's strong points, versus something like ARM, or even PowerPC. But, given the fairly dominant position they occupy in desktop computing, they unquestionably have the resources for a good shot at such, even if ARM's inherently leaner, if not so well aimed at high throughput.


Intel's Atom seems to be a pretty good performer according to benchmarks but I'm pretty impressed with the speed of the dual-core Cortex A15 architecture in my Nexus 10 and recently picked up a Samsung Chromebook that I rooted and have Ubuntu running. Just experimenting with command-line tools, it feels pretty snappy like a Core Duo. Unlike Intel, A15's real focus on performance is in media-handling through DSP and NEON, and 1080p video is really nothing at all for the A15 while a 2GHz Core Duo might have a struggle.

It's interesting that Google includes OpenCL support for Mali T604 with the latest Android running on the Nexus 10. Only a small trickle of apps that use it, but mostly do nothing but just show you if it's present.

Edited at 2013-04-03 01:49 pm (UTC)