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Another great track from Steam Powered Giraffe: I Don’t Have a Name For It. ^_^ And.. ! I enquired of them if there was any chance of any UK performances (they're based in San Diego), and there is! They'll be at the Asylum Steampunk Festival in Lincoln, 25-28 Aug 2017, with tickets going on sale on Feb 1. "The Asylum Steampunk Festival is the largest and longest running steampunk festival in the World, attracting participants from around the globe. It takes place over the August Bank Holiday weekend in the historic City of Lincoln. For four glorious days the historic streets of Lincoln are thronged with thousands of splendidly dressed steampunks enjoying a festival which strives to combine art, literature, music, fashion, comedy and simple good fun." I am indeed most tempted. ^_^ (Of course, where I'll be by then remains to be seen, but that's an easy enough aspect of existence to modify on a temporary basis) If I were to go along, that'd be my first con since ConFurence 10, back at the Town & Country in San Diego. And it'd be an excellent excuse to contemplate some appropriate costumery.. =:D

Don't suppose anyone else might be along at the Destinations Show next weekend? (Actually, Feb 2-5; Thu-Sun) It's mostly a travel expo, with loads of weird and wonderful tour operators and the like, but for me, the attraction lies in the speakers, this year including the likes of Michael Palin, Simon Reeve, and John Simpson. There'll also be this year's photography contest finalist entries on display, alongside masterclasses on aspects of the craft. Tickets may still be available for free, else there's paid entry available (something like £11, I think).

So, here's an interesting development for tech sorts wanting to remain in the EU: a new French startup visa! Its domain seems to be limited to startups, but with that caveat, it appears to be issued to the person, not the company, as with the H-1B - so it would seem to be possible for someone to leave for another company, with no extra bureaucracy. By comparison, an H-1B is approved for an individual to work for a specific company (and indeed, in a specific position, and even location) - if that company goes bang, you're almost back to square one, with the new company having to put in a new application, with the very welcome benefit that at least you're not subject again to that year's visa quota, having already been counted under the year of your original petition's approval.

I don't mark celebrity deaths often, but I'll make an exception to that for John Hurt. Such a fabulous career, spanning Alien, Contact, The Storyteller, Watership Down, 1984, and so many more, not to mention his surprise introduction to Who canon as the War Doctor, a memorable role indeed. Back at the Trilobyte offices in 1995 or thereabouts, I got to meet him - he was working on a future project, Tender Loving Care, where (appropriately enough) he played a doctor, and so, he came around on a tour of the office to meet everyone. I don't really recall what I said - something very ordinary, I think, maybe just greeting him - but that occasion remains a very warm memory.

And a special prize to the bunny who'd fiddled with their camera's controls a few weeks ago, and forgotten to set it back from AF-S to AF-C, as well as leaving it on S rather than Ch.. =:P Still, I only lost a shot or two through that, before eventually realising what was going on. (AF-S acquires focus a Single time, then stays there - good for portraits and static subjects. AF-C keeps acquiring focus Continuously - what you want for moving subjects. S, meanwhile, takes just one shot, however long the shutter button is depressed; Ch keeps on taking them continuously, at the highest rate it can; in the D7100's case, in 12-bit normal crop mode, that's 6fps. The new crop flagship, the D500, not only has an excellent, new autofocus module, but can also manage 10fps, which would be ideal for those wonderful action moments, where everything's concentrated into just a second or two)

Regardless.. ^_^


A minor convenience from BT: a nuisance caller blacklist. It's apparently a combination of their own ISP-style blacklisting, analysing call traffic, and your own additions - receive a junk call, and you can then dial 1572 to add it to your personal blacklist. No charges involved.

Following on from a previous entry: I did indeed wind up resuming case 3 of Apollo Justice from the beginning, and after a couple hours of retracing my steps, successfully progressed to meeting Valant on the coliseum stage, and from there, eventually, to the end of the title. I definitely enjoy the Phoenix Wright/Apollo Justice series - of course, the logic in the cases is always a bit wonky, and it can be quite frustrating at times when you're aware of the point you want to make, but have to puzzle out how to express that in the game (presenting a piece of evidence, say, that has some implication regarding the point you're trying to make, even if quite indirectly), but ultimately, the characters do grow on you (with the exception of Wocky =:), and when the epilogue rolls, I do find myself missing them already. And just because, I'm now playing through the following title, Dual Destinies, again; for whatever reason, Capcom released DD on iOS first, putting quite a few events in the timeline out of order, so I'm now getting to experience things in the intended fashion. I wonder when the new title will come to iOS.. and the new Animal Crossing, for that matter. ^_^

When the friend I mentioned the other week showed me his fitness stats on his phone, I was reminded that I could also do that with mine, though I turned it off soon after getting it. Voilà! Re-enabled, and now it's keeping track of the distance and number of steps walked each day. Not as much as I'd prefer, but still, not too terrible - Wednesday, f'rex, saw - or so it recorded, given I don't have it on me inside the house - 4,752 steps, coming to about 2.9km.

If you've ever wondered about defining function pointers in C, there's now a very handy reference available. =:)

Here, take a look at the best toothpick dispenser ever. =:D

If you like hearty ales, you might want to take advantage of Bath Ales' special on their positively wonderful Festivity, their winter seasonal - BOGOF! So you get two cases for £26.50, not just one, each case being a dozen bottles. Delivery is a flat rate £9, unless you're local to Bath. Ends at the end of the month, if they haven't run out beforehand. And yes, it'll keep very well - I had a couple straggler bottles that lasted about two years before I finished them, and they were even better. ^_^ Note that you need to follow the newsletter's link above, rather than going to the site as you might otherwise do. (The description on the page makes it clear that you're getting one case free with each case, and you should see product code B1G1FFEST beneath the price - if you don't see that, but FES7B, you're paying normal price) Whilst it is indeed better on cask, it's one of those lucky beers that loses very little being bottled, so it's pretty much as good as you'd get in one of their pubs. Me, I went for two cases, ie four. =:)

No dramatic shots of them, but, I was delighted to see tinybuns on Friday! Probably in their first month outside, and every bit as adorable as you'd expect. And fast - if they want to zoom, it's virtually teleportation. =:) Here we see one of them out in their first winter, only a matter of weeks old, with what's likely to be their mother. ^_^


Of some minor geek note: the new iOS 10.3 beta marks one quite interesting transition - the debut of Apple's new APFS filing system, replacing the erstwhile HFS+. It seems safe to imagine that if they're experimenting with APFS on a mass scale with iOS, will macOS be far behind? Will 2017's WWDC hold word of HFS+ finally departing the stage?

Ever wondered just how Bezier curves actually work? Here's a superb explanation, with helpful animations assisting the equations, conveying the points being made visually.

Random nerdery: apparently, there existed adapters so you could use cassettes in 8-track players - about as elegant a solution as you might expect, effectively a small tape player protruding outside the player. The host then demonstrates a similar kludge from the early 2000s - an MP3 player inside a cassette case. It's the finale that's the most wonderful, though - yep, an MP3 player in a cassette adaptor inside an 8-track player. =:D

Going purely by the trailer, Colossal looks like it could be quite a fun giant monster flick. ^_^

Food! Three from M&S, this time. Soft yolk Scotch eggs: good. The yolks are indeed soft, but the meat seasoning remains rather timid. Lamb moussaka: very good! Needed no herbal augmentation. As fiddly as ever to get out of the tray, though. Beef hash: disappointing. Good ingredients, but bland gravy as supplied, requiring much perking up - in my case, pepper, oregano, sage, paprika, oyster sauce, half a field mushroom, and some Quorn mince.

Apparently, the UK's entry for Kiev's Eurovision 2017 in late May is Lucie Jones "Never Give Up On You". She certainly has an excellent voice, but I'm not particularly interested in the song itself. But then, my Eurovision choices don't usually tend to be winners. =:) You can read more about her over on the Contest site.

The sheer scale of the Women's marches against Trump was quite phenomenal - not just in DC, but in so many cities around the US, and indeed, around the world, including Antarctica! And not just cities, even, but in rural Minnesota. ^_^ Estimates are, of course, difficult to ascertain, but US Prof D J Pressman suggests a total of "between 3.3 million to 4.2 million", making them the "largest protests in US history". Much to Hair Führer's disgruntlement, estimates place the march in Washington as having three times as many people as his inauguration the day before. As you'd expect of an NPD individual, this didn't sit well with him at all - he later used his address to the CIA to lambast the biased media for reporting the modest crowds, with reporters even suggesting his crowds could be smaller than Obama's in 2009. You can see plenty of photos from the Bay Area's marches over here. (Originally, they'd only planned one, in the City, but eventually ceded it'd work better if they went for three instead: San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose)

Pizza is big business, of course, but the usual strategy with the huge operators is via food chemistry, with additives to help prevent the pizza tasting much worse than it began, and everyone (mostly) uses thermally insulated sleeves along the way. But this place works rather differently, part-baking them at home base, then loading them into a van with individually controlled ovens, so they finish baking en route. Intriguingly, they don't appear to just take your order, but drive around with the most likely needed pizzas, only falling back to an individual delivery if necessary: "First the ovens are pre-loaded with a selection of pizzas that have been par-baked in the production facility. The pizzas chosen for loading on the truck are based on past orders from certain neighborhoods, allowing engineers to predict the most likely pies that will be ordered and stock the truck with those; if somehow a pie that is ordered isn’t on the truck, a car from the company’s fleet of delivery Fiats will make the trip to deliver the pizza."
 
 
 
 
 
 
OK, absolutely love the Death From Above bunny shot! That is wonderful!

The pizza van is great! When I lived in Phoenix, initially we had a place less than a mile from my condo called Take Me! Bake Me! where you could get a pizza or lasagna or probably other wonderful things: they would build it in front of you, you take it home and bake it, and your dinner is ready. Wonderful stuff. Unfortunately they ultimately closed after surviving quite a number of years.

The post-inauguration marches were quite wonderful, the numbers were staggering!

It was sad to hear about the passing of John Hurt last night, he was fantastic as the War Doctor amongst his other roles. Prior to Who, I think the last thing we saw him in was Merlin. My wife loved that show for the slashy vibe.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Brexit and work visas. I think May is in a very tight spot and a lot of the country is beginning to realize that there may be some very hard times ahead if it happens while LOTS of things have to get renegotiated. "45" just pulled the trigger on banning people from seven Muslim countries from entering the USA, INCLUDING people who already have GREEN CARDS! So people who were already legal aliens are now banned form reentry. Unbelievable. Google is telling all of their people who are out of the country to come home NOW. It will be interesting to see what kind of a hit airlines take as travel is cancelled.

Actually, it's possible that I sold some cassette-to-8-track adapters back in my days in retail! Though I never owned an 8-track player, my dad's first car (that I remember), a '69 Chevy Impala, had one.

I know of Steam Powered Giraffe, I have some friends in Phoenix who are heavily in to steampunk. While I appreciate the esthetic, I don't have the money or desire to really get that much in to it. One couple that I know occasionally go to LA to the Queen Mary to attend a SP convention, and they regularly go to the convention at Old Tucson since it's just a couple of hours away. And they get to wear their finery to the Phoenix conventions.
I just love those bunny toes. ^_^ It's so, so good to know they're still around there after all, following such a terribly quiet autumn, and indeed, with new buns on the way. I can't do much about the weather, though. =:) But if there's a good day, I'll be out there.

Did they part-bake the base? I'd imagine so, if only to make it easier to handle. Ah, if only home ovens could go up to full pizza temperatures (without hacking them =:) - there's just magic in a pizza straight from a really hot oven, with the base beautifully crisp on the bottom, segueing to that lovely softness just above, and some cheese bubbling away merrily.. =:9 That said, I did look on Amazon a while back for dedicated pizza micro-ovens, which do apparently exist, like outsized waffle irons - not cheap, but quite tempting.

The marches were positively invigorating - very much what I needed, in the face of a never-ending stream of abominable cabinet candidates of the likes of Betsy DeVos, Jeff Sessions, and Rex Tillerson, let alone his "policy" being written by the likes of Bannon, with results like the State Department senior leadership resigning in unison, with no replacements even being considered, the muting of agencies, the new requirement for agency research to be vetted by political staff before potentially being released to the public, and the incredible visa ban.

I can only wonder how quickly this will accelerate Apple and the like into boosting their hiring outside the US. Vancouver's already something of a tech hub, after all, and then there's London, assuming Team May can ever work out some coherent plan for the next few years that doesn't fall foul of existing legislation, treaties, and the House of Lords.

I sort of wish I'd known 8-track. ^_^ I think I recall seeing ads for the cartridges, as part of the old "music club" spiels. I'm still wondering how that infinite loop actually even worked without the tape crimping up immediately.

I'd probably have said much the same thing until SPG. =:D I think they've really helped me realise how much fun it could be, and the timing might work out very well, if I can manage to put together some kind of outfit on a budget. A convention on the Queen Mary? Ooooo.. that sounds quite magnificent. I'm definitely going to have to research costumery options, not least the bedrock of such an ensemble: a proper corset. ^_^ And where to find magnificent hats these days, oh yes. It's very tempting to try something a bit in the spirit of SPG, come to that - I'm not sure I'd really want to appear too human, but we'll see. ^_^
The H1B's are much abused over here, no offense. The jobs that you are after are definitely in the scarcity category, not in the cut expense category. There's a recent proposal to put a minimum salary of $100K on H1Bs to make sure employers have truly searched the American talent pool before going overseas. It would prevent the like of Disney from gutting their IT staff for offshoring, that's for sure.

The QM is quite a site. It's in Long Beach in a permanent slip, I've seen it twice, most recently about 30 years ago after a ComicCon run when I had some friends living in the area. The Spruce Goose used to be hangered with it, but it's now up in Oregon. The QM is now a hotel/event destination and is quite spiffy. It would be an excellent place to hold a Steam Punk event, which is why they hold one there.

I would really enjoy an ocean cruise in something like that. While I loved our river cruise on the Elbe on the Theodor Fontaine, I can't imagine a Carribean cruise on some of these behemoths that are routinely runing around it.

A friend of mine created this site for a class. I helped her with a lot of the technical work of getting it up and running initially as she'd never worked HTML or the server side before, she got an A+ for it. But it's largely devoted to Steam Punk and specifically mentions SPG along with Professor Elemental and others.
Visas do get abused, absolutely - the roomie was involved in making himself slowly redundant, as the company would cycle staff in from their Indian division on a yearly basis, before returning them, occasionally bringing back more promising staff. It's an ill-fated project, but the "payoff" is still probably a year or two down the line - and the conglomerate's large enough that it won't affect the top brass, just that relatively tiny unit. (There was never any more for raises, at the same time as, a couple years ago, the CEO gave himself a quarter million raise)

But a $100K minimum? You're doing well even in the Bay Area to pull that much in, let alone anywhere else in the US. I haven't hit that yet, nor anyone I know, including a layout guy who's as senior as they come, and another overseeing devops. Even as is, the multiple thousands in lawyer and governmental fees, plus months of processing, are a substantial disincentive to hiring people not associated with such agencies; you're looking at interviewing in January/February, collecting the paperwork in March for an April 1 filing, and then processing that can take 4-8 months, to begin no earlier than Oct 1, even if approval's granted before then, plus the time to then obtain the visa itself.

Even the outsourcing agencies won't be stopped by that - those underpaid staff will simply be even more underpaid in India, where the outsourcing will continue to drain, as companies can be wherever they like, whilst individuals are locked into their designated territories, outside limited tourist durations.

Part of the US visa issue is a lack of distinction between the agencies (Wipro, Accenture, et al) and individuals. As is, those companies take up around half the H-1B quota by themselves. How to actually codify such a distinction, though - that might get tricky.

Oh, the Spruce Goose has left? Aw! Still, that could be a good excuse to revisit Oregon for the first time since.. foo, 1996 or so, I think. Maybe I can try luring rabitguy into something like a jaunt up to Portland and down the coast sometime. ^_^ Or even up to Seattleland, to see if I can pounce jenn_dolari or lovelyangel. =:)

Oop! Some of the images there seem to be forced out of their correct aspect ratio and orientation. ^_^; But there's definitely inspiration to be gleaned.. I think I'm going to be having fun researching the feasibility of attending. Even if I were to go for just a day, it could be worthwhile - I suppose it all depends how much I'd have to commit to in membership up front, and if there turns out to be anyone I could share a room with to cut that cost down. I don't really know anyone particularly likely to attend, but I suppose that could change.