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I was delighted to find ITV's adapting some of Gerald Durrell's writing, including the timeless, wonderful "My Family and Other Animals", as a six part series, "The Durrells". (One of my biology tutors would set aside part of one period each week to simply read from MFaOA. Perhaps a little of his love of the natural world rubbed off on me?)

I'd forgotten Pixar's The Good Dinosaur's coming out this year - and finally, a few weeks ago, the first trailer was released. TBH, I'm not entirely sure what to make of it, at this stage - certainly, the scenery and lighting is eerily good, but the lead character designs feel a bit too toony on top of that. Yet, that wasn't a problem I felt with Big Hero 6. On the other paw, I'd missed seeing the first teaser for Zootopia until now, and that I'll certainly be making a point of seeing as soon as it appears (though, regrettably, that won't be until March 2016). And no, I'm not in the least biased. ^_^ (Though I might take issue with them claiming rabbits don't have good night vision - they're quite fine out in the night, as demonstrated here, on the Uni campus around midnight)

As I don't tend to watch much TV, thereby somewhat hindering my progress with Orange is the New Black, Extant, and MLP:FiM, I've only just seen the opening episode of Mr Robot, about an ethically minded hacker. And.. remarkably, it's actually relatively computer literate! Not entirely, but it did seem to have quite realistic grounding. There were a couple jarring points, though - the female sidekick (not star, as usual) is given a particularly ridiculous line ("What's a rootkit?", says the senior researcher at a computer security company) though at least it wasn't perceived as daft, and in a meeting, is repeatedly sidelined, before being booted out.

I don't know how long its new incarnation's been around, but regardless, there is now a digital Bodleian Library. =:D

Inside the Iran Deal is a look at the current state of Iran, and what life and the economy is like, including its nascent digital economy - under sanctions, local equivalents of the likes of Amazon, Groupon, and YouTube are thriving. It also, of course, examines the state of politics, noting that the revolutionaries are being steadily challenged by reformists, even if the theocracy does indeed still maintain a firm grip.

w00t! The potentially revolutionary SABRE engine received the promise of a new infusion of moolah back in January, to the tune of £50m, courtesy of the UK government; that's just been approved by the European Commission.

LitMotors' vehicle looks rather fun - it's sort of an enclosed, self-balancing electric motorcycle. Whilst they're not yet in production, they're estimating the cost of running at around 0.6¢/mile, and a 200 mile range per charge. Not cheap, though - they're looking at $24k list price.

I'm not entirely clear how searching for a programme on Mullard valve production led me here, but here's a completely inconsequential moment of Jon Pertwee at the Schloss Keller on Fleet Street, in 1969. ^_^

A couple iOS sales of note: Furdemption is down to 99¢ (usually $2.99), and Heroki is $1.99 (usually $7.99).

Here's a fun bug, which almost sounds impossible: the 500 mile email limit. It was discovered that they could send email, but only to host systems up to around 500 miles away - beyond that, it'd always fail. And no, it's not related to route failures. See if you can guess before reading it. =:)

If you'd like to witness a ride through the stranger side of London, you really ought to check out rigelkitty's trip report, part 1. If you've been before, it'll serve as a superb reminder of just what's so fantastic about the city - and if not, well, hopefully you'll still want to visit. ^_^

And as if to prove J-Pop isn't the only genre that can leave you in a "what did I just watch?" state of mind, please enjoy Wang Rong Rollin - Chick Chick.

Actually, not all that far off is this election campaign video for a Canadian independent. Although I must question his severely anti-dragon stance. (h/t patch_bunny)

Furry artwork pic of the week: two pastel buns, by Pipi-san.

Sounds like a fun flick, coming to the UK on October 16 2015, no US release listed yet: The Lobster. "A love story set in a dystopian near future where single people are arrested and transferred to a creepy hotel. There they are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days. If they fail, they are transformed into an animal and released into the woods." And this is meant to be a bad thing? =:) So far, with its release being just on the festival circuit, it's gained 8.2 on IMDb from 648 people, and a Metascore of 83.

An app that may be useful to some folk: Shotcut, a FOSS video editor, for OS X, Linux, and Windows (the latter in both 32 & 64 bit varieties). Rather more arcane, but again, potentially very useful to some: ImagePlay, similarly cross-platform and open source, is "a rapid prototyping tool for building and testing image processing algorithms".

Like pretty much everyone, I suspect, I have way more games around than I actually play. One that I finally got around to trying was the graphic adventure "Silent Age", release in 2013 as a free first part, with the second half released in 2014, as a paid extra. The story begins with the protagonist, a janitor in a covert defense contractor, being suddenly "promoted", when his colleague leaves the company - curiously, an event announced to him by the CEO of the company. Soon after, back in the basement, he finds a man dying of a gunshot wound, who claims to be from the future, imploring him to prevent the end of the world, handing him a pocket time machine. Discovered with the body, he's taken away for questioning, which opens with him being asked what that strange bauble is - whereupon he finds out. There's a good degree of mild humor involved, despite the apocalyptic nature of the storyline, which constantly requires bouncing between the present (1972) and the future (2012), and the storyline is maintained through to the end - maybe not as convoluted as Primer, but engaging regardless. Well worth trying.

I've been going through the Sinfest archive from the beginning, and I'm fascinated by the site's offerings of ads, alternating between an MBA course and a laser hair removal device. Admittedly, the latter's quite interesting, as it's actually a laser device, not IPL - the catches, of course, are that it's only good for about 20 mins per two hour charge cycle (why no swappable battery, or ability to run off a supply?), and only lasts around 9,000 pulses, so the lifetime is distinctly finite. Still, it's interesting to see there is such a device out there. As for the strip, it's been quite fascinating to see its evolution from a small core set of characters, expanding in 2008 to add the devil girls (informally Fuchsia - aka Fyoosh - and Blue), who at one point are zapped by Jesus, but then restored by Big D.. except, Fyoosh isn't quite who she was. That's been built upon quite substantially in the years since, and indeed, even Blue seems to've retained some sense of morality, missing Fuchsia since her departure from the Mansion.

A game some folks might like to know about: HSD Core: Extended. It's currently the subject of a Kickstarter, already at $17k, with a $6k target, ending on Aug 26. (Having heard back from the designer, I can confirm it's an expansion - you do need the original core game as well)

Whether it'll amount to anything remains to be seen, given the often speculative nature of patent filings, let alone aerospace development cycles, but nonetheless, it's interesting to see Airbus proposing a Mach 4 passenger craft. It'd be rather a mashup, though, a long way removed from Skylon: "According to the patent, power would come from three different types of engines: “at least one” conventional jet that could be retracted into the fuselage; one or more ramjets, which use the forward speed of the aircraft to compress the air entering them before it is mixed with fuel and ignited; a rocket motor powered by hydrogen and oxygen. Flights in the new aircraft look set to be a wild ride, with the rocket motor used in combination with conventional jets to power a “near vertical ascendant flight” until its breaks the sound barrier when the engines are retracted in the fuselage and the ramjets take over."

Delivery in the US only, but perhaps some may find this offer for free condoms themed around endangered species to be of some use. "Due to the high volume of requests, we're not able to send condoms to everyone who signs up. So the more you tell us about your ideas for cool events and opportunities to engage people in conversation about human population and endangered species, the easier it is for us to make sure the condoms are sent where they can have the greatest impact."

TIL that Reunion, where the first MH370 wreckage was found, is a full-blown French "department", as as such, is indeed part of the EU, and belongs to the Eurozone. =:D

One of the things I so enjoy about iOS gaming is the diversity of concepts. Take, for example, Prune. You prune trees. *grin* Of course, there's a little more to it than that, but that's the core - you might have a good tree, but you need (or want?) to extend its reach, so you'll prune off some branches idling in the shade.

While maveling at shatterstripes' Dr Ivana Robotnik, the thought crossed my mind: has there ever been a female Bond villain? Not a crony, but the big cheese.

Via patch_bunny, consider this edifying recipe for Heritage Loaf. ^_^

Yay! I made it along to the Eastbourne Airshow this year, as it was one of the remaining venues to see the magnificent Vulcan fly, before it concludes its days at the end of the 2015 season. It's a free, public event, with quite a good variety of aircraft visiting. Thankfully, the lower back had improved since Tuesday, returning to near normality again, after more than a week of being very grumbly indeed, wrecking plans for the previous weekend. Bah, bipedalism. Humbug! As was, I wound up taking the TC on and off throughout the afternoon, leaning toward off for group displays like the Red Arrows, and on for individual craft like the Vulcan, but sometimes switching midway. No question, the flexibility (if not the weight..) of the Nikkor 200-400mm f/4's range is well suited to airshows.

One of the Breitling Wingwalkers:



Afterward, I thought we might beat the peak crush, but it was not to be - a long, long line had formed at the station, so we took solace in the pub across the road, myself with an American IPA created by some Hong Kong brewers. ^_^ The queue had only grown worse in the interim, so we agreed it'd probably be as well to seek dinner in town, eventually finding The Eagle, with quite a good assortment of pies on offer, which suited my appetite at the time (not having eaten yet that day), and budget. ^_^; Surprisingly, the food was delivered without any hitch, despite the lack of table numbers or any other given clue as to where we were. But then, I suppose there weren't many people eating inside, and the upstairs beer garden takes only a modest scan - still, nicely done. ^_^ It's not somewhere I've been before, but I'd be quite happy to return.

We dined well, and rejoined a much smaller queue, at perhaps just the right time, as it seemed to grow considerably once we'd expressed our interest in it. A quick check of the schedules confirmed my suspicion - it'd be better to take the next service west and change at Lewes for Brighton, than wait for the next through service there. Yay! I got to introduce the roomie to the Evening Star, one of my global favorites. ^_^

Here's another favorite from RIAT 2015 - a rear shot of a Mirage, with that fearsomely powerful jet trailing behind it, invisible, yet so clear, from that inferno within.



That was a weird little dream detail - a 1.0x teleconverter with a Winslow filter, and somehow, the light passed 17 miles inside. Dammit, even my dreams are getting geeky.

Eep. Just about anyone who's spent time in SL will know of The Ivory Tower of Primitives.. it appears Lumiere Noir, its architect, died recently.

Something of a note to myself: bypassing El Capitan's kext signing by tweaking the bootloader, and a list of Parallels' kexts. Eventually, I'll migrate to the current version of Parallels Desktop, but with Windows being only a very occasional thing for me, there's no urgency. All the same, I'd like to update a copy of that 7 Pro VM to Windows 10 - never hurts to remain as current, whether in features or security.

I should thank rigelkitty, who reminded me of an album I'd bought on release, ripped, and enjoyed for a good while, but which got lost somewhere in the chain of migrations from one system to another. It happened while enjoying his recent (recommended!) mix for Fur The More 2015, when I recognised a particular sound, but not where I knew it from. Eventually, the long-term memory came back with the answer: it was a sample from one version of the BBC Newsround theme, sampled by Orbital for "Spare Parts Express" on their "The Middle of Nowhere" album. A quick delve into the net later, and I'm once more enjoying one of their best sets of work. ^_^ (The sounds in question? They're around 4m52s in that version - the electronic springy sound and harp-y arpeggio)

"Gravity's Strangest Puzzles" is a highly readable little article, looking at some of the oddities that have cropped up over the years in our understanding of gravity's effects in astronomy, from a subtle deviation in Uranus' orbit leading to the discovery of Neptune, to a discrepancy in the moon's orbit, to the tune of 3.5mm per year, which remains a mystery.

And the reason for going to Eastbourne? XH558 first flew on May 25 1960, and has apparently flown 10% longer than any other of its kind. Apparently, that's the reason for its withdrawal now: "XH558 flew long enough for fundamental engineering life-expectancy issues to become the main threat to continued operation. After being overcome once to gain an extra two years flight, on 15 May 2015 it was confirmed that 2015 would be XH558's last flying season."

 
 
 
 
 
 
Thanks! As soon as I saw that ethereal shimmering, I knew I had to give it some attention. The cost of the lens rental couldn't have come at much worse a time, but still, it absolutely was the perfect lens for the occasion - at least, if you forget about the weight. ^_^;

It's really been quite a journey in the past week or two, from the relatively simple gag concepts of its origins, through to introducing Fyoosh and Blue, the revelation of Li'l E's parentage, the fembot awakening, and of course, 'Nique's realisation that she really does have innate talent, and doesn't need to pander to the low-brow audiences. Oh, to see her and Abby sharing these quiet moments recently has been so warming! Of course, there's the matter of pacing, meaning we'll probably find out what Vainglorious' master plan is somewhere in 2018.. =:)