Well, following a rather.. sub-par week preceding it, last weekend was pretty much the perfect antidote. ^_^ First, an evening with the roomie, an old Uni friend, and huskyteer at The Bletchley, a pop-up cocktail bar with the theme as you'd expect, which was way too much fun. I'll see if I can get a couple photos prepared for my next entry. ^_^; (And prefaced by some serious pizza) Then, a weekend of simply enjoying some chilled company - and possibly drinks too - over music videos, films, shorts, and some energetic rounds of Pandemic. ^_^ (We began with just four epidemic cards, but later shifted to five. Either we're just getting luckier, or we're becoming a better team.. perhaps it'll be necessary to go with all six in the future =:)
Following /u/Lazy_Coyote's posting of her Starcrash otter (and I see its sequel, Escape from Galaxy 3, is on YouTube!), I was set to wondering: do you have any pet favorite hilariously bad films? EfG3's probably on the top of my list, as it's genuinely funny in its awfulness. Another favorite is, unfortunately, more of an extended WTF, "Armageddon: The Final Challenge". It opens well enough, with a spoof ad for a car security system involving a morphing CGI fox robot, before settling into a low rent version of the original run of Max Headroom, with everything controlled by the world bank(s). When our *cough* hero's credit seems entirely exhausted, it melts into a very low budget Blade Runner, with plenty of "Fear-Permutator Clones" attempting to assassinate him, before pivoting one final time into.. well, I shan't spoil the surprise, but you might want to record your reaction to the ending monologue. =:D If you want to watch it, I'd recommend Corn Pone Reviews take on it, as it includes enough footage to give you a very good feel for what went on, without having to subject yourself to the whole thing. Oh, it's also memorable for its SFX work, including majestic spaceships that move at a grandiose pace through the movie magic of slowing the film down - except, they only shot it at a usual framerate, so it's played back at something like 6fps. And the rocket thrusters are powered by tiny incandescent light bulbs. (The supporting, entirely visible, strings pretty much go without saying)
Little Flocker was a malware protection utility for macOS, until the author was hired by Apple. Thankfully, it's being continued by Fsecure, who've renamed it Xfence, which is now available as a beta (somehow), free for the forseeable future. "Little Flocker observes every time an app tries to open, write, execute, or otherwise modify any file or folder, and lets you set one-time, short-term, or permanent exceptions. It also has rulesets that it offers to add when it recognizes an app. Because Apple has its registered developers sign released apps with cryptographic signatures, the monitoring system isn’t fooled by malicious programs with the same name trying to inherit file privileges. Later updates added monitoring and blocking of audio or video input activation." As such, currently, it's more aimed at a geek/sysadmin audience - their intent is to make it more usable by a less technical userbase.
Here's a finished panel from /u/fxscreamer's forthcoming graphic novel - you might recall I shared some sketches from them in an entry a little while back.
Heads-up if you use get_iplayer: as was announced by the BBC some time ago, the XML feeds used by get_iplayer 2.94 are muerto. The fix is to update to the current version, 2.99, and use the programme's PID rather than the show index. The devs hope to provide an update today, Sunday, Apr 30 2017.
Here's a fun tech demo: face capture and expression mapping. The algorithms take in two actors: one for the original face, body, and so on, whilst another, using an ordinary webcam (and no special markers required), provides the new expressions. So you have your YouTube personality, such as a famous politician, performing all the expressions they've supplied. Now, take that, and add in this vocal tech, Lyrebird.. =:D Lyrebird does appear to be very early on, compared to the above, with the result that the voicework produced does sound distinctly robotic - but as with the expression mapping, just give researchers more time, and it's hardly unreasonable to think you'll be able to wind up with natural-sounding results indistinguishable from the original. And of course, text to speech is hardly standing still - here's WaveNet with some comparative examples; note the fluency of intonation and overall feel.
I finally got to see Moana! ^_^ As you might recall, I picked it up when it debuted on the iTunes Store sometime last century, but hadn't quite got around to it, with an attempt at watching it on the main setup downstairs failing, with the TV seemingly not getting the audio over to the BD player, which also acts as the amp for the 5.1 speaker setup. We tried again on Thursday, and a random music video playing on Hazel gave the same problem. Then the satellite receiver, and.. no audio? That was even stranger, as that normally works fine. Disconnected the TOSLINK cable at both ends, reconnected, reselected everything, and.. it was fine. Over to Hazel, and yay! I wouldn't rate it at the very top - Ratatouille, Zootopia, and Brave sit there - but I'm certainly pleased I bought it, and I'm looking forward to going through all the extras. ^_^ It got off to a much slower start than I'd've expected from Disney, and plotwise, it's rather on the slender side, but the vivacity of the later musical numbers was very appealing, alongside the genuine attempt to bring something of old South Pacific culture to the screen.
It's hardly the first app of its kind, but I was quite intrigued to see a new flight tracker debut from the UK's main air traffic control provider: NATS - Airspace Explorer. It's free, currently iPad only, with an iPhone version on its way. It's available in the UK App Store, but not the US, as clearly, it's impossible for people outside the UK to travel there or otherwise be interested. =:) (Do helicopters use ADS-B? I don't think I've seen any on Plane Finder)
Not that I count myself as much of a herd animal, but hey.. here's my #LJ18 stats. ^_^ I held out against joining for a good while, but eventually signed up (just before the invitation system was dropped, I think), and took to the place very easily.
Huh! Seems I got caught in TripAdvisor's lint trap.. there was a review I wrote in February which only now got approved, two months later. ^_^; I can only presume it was because I originally submitted it in connection with the wrong establishment, which had a very similar name. They do provide a fairly non-intuitive method for moving a review, which I performed, but until now, only I've been able to actually see it. Hey ho. I'm pleased it's finally there, as it was quite a delicious find.
Food rec of the day: Waitrose's chicken jalfrezi. A bit pricy at £3.90 (but easier when marked down to 49p =:), but surprisingly good - I didn't feel any need to augment it, with the sauce being very nicely spiced, and plenty of genuinely tandoori cooked chicken. It wouldn't have been out of place in a good Indian restaurant.
lovelyangel recently had to explain to her boss what a punch card was (the variety once used for mainframe program storage). =:/
The roomie's gotten into home winemaking - to good effect! The first batch has indeed turned out very nicely - a simple white Burgundy, unoaked. He's now got a black cherry and an elderberry fermenting in the auxiliary server room (ie where the Time Capsule and multiple attached drives is located =:), which I thoroughly expect will be joined before long with some cider and beer of my own devising. ^_^ Probably just from kits to begin with, especially with the cider, as I don't currently live in a particularly apple-y locale, but we'll see how it develops. I did engage in a bit of home brewing way back, but not in a while; I recall plum port working out very well, and an attempt at apple and blackberry working out much better than we'd expected, when we found the yeast had apparently died on us, leaving a black ash on the bottom. We bottled it anyway, just in case, and lo - the yeast came back to life, for a secondary fermentation that left it beautifully dry. ^_^
Bah. Ordnance Survey's just announced they're retiring OS MapFinder, in favor of a new app. The key difference? Yep, subscriptions. =:P With the old app, you'd simply buy map tiles at the desired scale, and they're there permanently, updated as the maps themselves are updated; the new one appears to only offer monthly and annual subscriptions. The old app will apparently remain functional, but I'll want to check if new purchases can be made - I'd quite like to pick up another few while that's an option.
Hrmm.. perhaps I was a little over-eager with my positive assessment of the lens - during Saturday's rabbiteering, it again decided to go manual-only, not responding to the usual simple resets. Indeed, I was wandering back, when I noticed some attractively sunset-lit blossom, and decided to try for a few shots - manual focusing with a DSLR isn't ideal, but it can be done, even without observing the focus indicator. Some seven photos in.. it began focusing again. =:D Which is still rather concerning - something isn't quite right, and I don't really yet know if it's the contacts not having been cleaned well, or if the ring SWM is indeed ailing. (Essentially, a ring silent wave motor permits very fast lens focusing, nearly silently, but the principle is a bit difficult to explain - the Wikipedia entry has a good go, though. It's a very different beast to what we'd usually think of as a battery powered motor, being a ring, but works beautifully well in concert with the phase-detection focus universal in DSLRs, making it possible to accurately follow even fast-moving subjects) But then, the next outing went fine. Well, here's hoping. ^_^
So, recently, we've had the Icelandic president come out - very sensibly - against the idea of putting pineapple with ham on a pizza; but now, New Zealand has gone beyond the pale, with their PM offering canned spaghetti on a pizza.
I imagine many or all of these are apocryphal, but they're funny regardless: flight mechanic logs highlights. eg "P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement. S: Almost replaced left inside main tire."
Quite a remarkably eloquent ruling from the Fourth Circuit, in the case Gavin Grimm brought against his school board, which forbade him, as a transgender boy, from using the boys' toilets, finishes with a poem by Naomi Shehab Nye, "Famous":
The river is famous to the fish.
The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.
The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.
The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.
The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.
The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.
The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.
I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.
I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.