It's not the most innovative tune ever, but the UK might be in with a good chance in this year's Eurovision! Here's the entry, SuRie: "Storm". It's definitely a crowdpleaser, and TBH, a track I might even buy.
So, I finally got an opportunity to play with an Oculus Rift. Wow, it's seriously fun. =:D It'll require a bit of work to get it set up properly in the main room, so as to maximise the play space available, and let the sensors stay in a discreet, stable spot by the edges of the front window, but even just rigged up quickly, it's remarkable how easy the gestures were to pick up, and just how immersive it really feels.
Here's an audiophile review of Apple's new HomePod speaker. The take-away is that the response curve is remarkably flat, and the reviewer considers it worthy of serious listening and enjoyment.
I recently began re-reading Endtown, a superb webcomic based around the subterranean, post-apocalyptic community of the same name, wherein the mutated survivors attempt to continue to prevail against the genetic purist Topsiders. It's a comic I'd begun reading a while back, but was derailed by a divergence in storylines at one point. Having begun to catch up on it all recently, but been a touch frustrated by the lack of official digital editions, I wrote a quite note to the creator, wondering if there indeed was such a thing, hoping to cross his palm with silver. A few hours later, he replied with a download of a full archive ZIP. ^_^; Seriously, who does that? That's amazing. =:D Of course, I'm still left with trepidation, being at a point where one character I'm especially fond of - Holly - has put themselves in peril by stowing away on a particularly dangerous (and important - the Topsiders are about to gain surveillance satellite capabilities) mission.
If you're in the Bay Area, you might want to check out this summer's Clusterfest, this time with headliners including Jon Stewart (his first West Coast stand-up in 15 years!), Amy Schumer, Trevor Noah, and plenty more. Tickets are, unfortunately, expensive, starting at three day general admission for $235.
You'd never believe just how fascinating a banana can be - in this case, a new variety, grown at very low temperatures, resulting in a particularly tasty banana with thin edible peel. "Mongee peels have a lettuce-like texture, according to D&T Farm's Tetsuya Tanaka." "The fruit itself had a different flavor, too, Sanjun said. It was more tropical and pineapple-y than a typical banana."
w00t! I see Lenses for Hire are running their traditional Fifty Off February again this year - all bookings are half-off. ^_^ So, if you've had a hankering to try out an exotic lens, you can either do so for half the usual price, or maybe enjoy a full week for the usual base three-day rate. They're also absolutely fine with rescheduling, if some other event pops up you'd prefer to use a lens for, as long as there's some adequate period of notice. I've used their services a couple times, including a Sigmonster (Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6) and the rather lovely Nikon 200-400mm f/4, which acquitted itself magnificently at the Royal International Air Tattoo a couple years back. In my case, I'm not sure what I'll reserve this year - maybe a tilt-shift, as I could see that being fun to play with genuinely, rather than as a post processing hack. Meanwhile, the bunnylens has been repaired! - costing unfortunately as much as I'd feared, not a huge amount less than another used unit. But, this way, I know the crucial parts are now new, and the lens elements ought to be as superb as they've always been. Rabbiteering ahoy!
What's your favorite kind of toast? That is, what bread(s) really make it amazing? For me, my current choice has to be the Italian durum wheat toasting bread found in Waitrose - it's properly created, so the basic structure is nicely firm, rather than the general method used in most large-scale bread, where you wind up with a very soft slice that tears easily. Toast this stuff, and it's so wonderfully crunchy, but not in a dry way, as it remains gently moist within. Rewind several years, and I'd definitely go with Alvarado Street's rosemary & garlic extra sourdough - tasty enough I'd sometimes eat it with nothing else, simply toasted. ^_^
Via schnee, a rather entertaining lens smash. (Don't worry =:)
The science-themed Afternoon Tea at the Drawing Rooms in London does sound positively spiffy. =:D (Appropriately enough, their host, the Ampersand Hotel, is a modest walk from the Science Museum)
Well, that's been a revelation. ^_^ Sally Hansen's "Insta-Dry" actually does what it claims! No longer do I have to let the nails dry carefully, leaving them until the color's completely hardened, which can take hours to withstanding everyday friction. A quick coating with that, and I've got a genuinely set surface in a minute or two. =:D
For some light amusement, consider these 16 ridiculous questions tour guides get asked. Highlights include "Do these Canadian flags come in other colours? (Asked in a souvenir shop)" and "What do you do with the snow when it melts?" ^_^;
A truly grandmaster-level reply to trolls from this teen, who's reached the North and South Poles, and crossed Greenland: "In 2016 Jade gave a TEDx talk in Melbourne aimed at inspiring young women to ignore societal pressures and to think adventurously. "What if young women around the world were encouraged to be more, rather than less?," she said in the talk. "What if the focus shifted from how we appear, to the possibilities of what we can do?" Among the commenters on the talk's YouTube video were several men saying "make me a sandwich", a catchphrase used by male internet trolls to mock women by implying they should stay in the kitchen. "Just as a laugh, we had this kitchen in a tent at the South Pole and I made a ham and cheese sandwich," Jade said. She walked a kilometre from the camp to the South Pole for a photo of her holding the sandwich, which she posted on social media with the comment: "I made you a sandwich (ham & cheese), now ski 37 days and 600 kilometres to the South Pole and you can eat it."'
Yay! Rav Bunneh drew me. ^_^ Quite adorably, and I'm fine with being shown with my ears down, though I'm not a lop by nature.
Certain Michiganders might enjoy this vid: Da Yoopers "Rusty Chevrolet". =:)
Here's a delightfully fun political tale from Portland: RUBBISH! Portland's top brass said it was OK to swipe your garbage--so we grabbed theirs. Funny, isn't it, when the words of politicians are applied directly to them.. =:)
We've probably all experienced that odd sensation where, on looking at a clock, the second hand appears to remain fixed for longer than we know it ought. The term for that is chronostasis, and its neurological cause is rather interesting. Essentially, while your eyes are in motion to the new target, visual cortex processing is suppressed, to avoid taking much notice of the motion blur at the time. Once your eyes settle on the clock, the brain fills in the temporal gap with the new image.
An interesting new Mac utility: LuLu. It's a firewall dedicated to blocking unauthorised outgoing connections, whether apps trying to phone home, or malware, and it's FOSS.
Two London exhibitions that sound well worth attending in 2018, both at the V&A: Videogames,and The Future Starts Here. The first "will explore the design and political discussion around the gaming industry when it opens in September. The exhibition is set to examine the development of video games since the mid-2000s, focusing on how the Internet has influenced the success and culture surrounding gaming communities", whilst the latter, opening in May, looks at "the power of design in shaping the world of tomorrow, The Future Starts Here will showcase 100 designs and technologies that are predicted to profoundly impact the future of humanity, the environment, synthetic biology, space exploration and modern life". Given exhibitions come with an admission fee, this might be a good time to obtain a membership, starting at £64 for an individual, or £89 to cover a guest as well.
Apparently, Alan Alda met his future wife at a mutual friend's dinner party, "when a rum cake accidentally fell onto the kitchen floor, they were the only two guests who did not hesitate to eat it". =:D
A furry animated short you ought to see: Welcome to Doozy. It's a simple tale of lunch gone wrong. ^_^ It's one of Cartoon Hangover's one-shots, produced by Sony Pictures Animation, thereby making for high quality traditional(-ish) animation, but with the spark of independent work.
Well, poop. Seems Apple's finally wanting to get rid of old style Apple IDs - originally, you could choose any username you wanted, migrating a few years later to only accepting email addresses instead; but, they've left the old accounts alone. Attempting to update my old one's info just now, though, wanted me to first update the account to an email address instead. Hardly a big change, but I liked that feeling of having an old school account. =:)
If you're buying comics digitally, especially graphic novels, it can sometimes be worth buying them on Amazon rather than their subsidiary, ComiXology. The price differences aren't much, but if it's just a matter of clicking on a different icon for the same outcome.. one manga I was looking at was £6.28 as a Kindle edition, and £6.99 on CX - and with CX being owned by Amazon, you can link your accounts for the CX app to have access to your Kindle library.
Yay, new boots! ^_^ Sadly, the Doc Martens need some work, and the place I tried in town can't do it - the leather's torn around one side of the heel on one of them, right where it joins the sole, so someone'll have to figure out how to apply a patch inside. Being a knee-high boot, that's apparently not easily done. And the skater boots I'd mostly been wearing before those have a tear on the upper, by the base of the toes, so that won't be getting any better. So, I scouted around all the usual suspects - ASOS, Forever21, Boohoo, and so on - but, eventually, wound up with Amazon offering a style that particularly caught my eye: ECCO Bella, in grey. With free delivery, having ordered them on Sunday, those still managed to take until the following Saturday (! And no useful tracking until Friday, despite apparently entirely executed by Amazon Shipping itself, no third parties involved), but at least I found them, and they indeed (almost..) fit, though to break them in, I'm having to go with thin socks, with the hope they'll eventually accommodate thicker winter socks. And indeed, now, I'm trying stuffing several pairs in, in an attempt to push the back of the heel out just that tiny bit, so they don't wind up hating my heels as much as they did when I returned from sending the bunnylens off.. ow. =:P The Docs, meanwhile, might now be fine! I picked up some glue intended for that kind of heavy stress, flexible repair, and at first blush, it looks like it's worked - but the real test will be the first rabbiteering outing. ^_^ And lo, they seem fine! And the new boots have finally been worn in, for some cute additional style while out and about. Yay!
While checking the tracking info for a different package, I noticed that Heathrow apparently handled 1.54 million tonnes of cargo in 2016. That's a mind-bogglingly huge amount - though I imagine one large container ship carries a little weight. =:) Of course, I then had to look up the largest cargo ship currently around, the French-owned CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, which has a "deadweight tonnage" (its total carrying load, including crew, fuel, and so on) of 185,000 tonnes (it carries up to 18,000 containers) - or a little over an eighth of that Heathrow figure. ^_^;
Due gratitude to rocket_wolf for alerting me to the existence of a non-PlayStation version of Okami! I don't know if it'll be happy running on Hazel (they specify a minimum of a 3.3GHz i5, whilst Hazel sports a 2.3GHz i7), but checking Steam's refund policy suggests it shouldn't be any problem obtaining a refund if it grumbles. That said, I may wait on it a bit longer, given how many unplayed games I still have, including the final chapter of Star Billions, the most recent three of Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise, and The Journey Down 3. ^_^;
Here's a fun track: Just Fern "Ember".
Via supergee, the surprisingly fascinating (and rather unlikely) genesis of the American sex toy industry.
The Yule visit down to the maternal lair worked out very well. ^_^ We only got to revisit my/our favorite local pub once, as unfortunately, it seemed all the local taxi outfits (of which there are a surprising number, for a relatively modest-sized town) were closed on the 26th. Not to worry - there was more than enough in the fridge to satisfy. Perhaps needless to say, I've arrived back with a small list of bits and pieces I need to attend to for her, such as a replacement remote for the TV, as the original's keypad seems to be going flaky (new AAAs didn't help), some compact fluorescents with a three-pin bayonet fitting (which I hadn't even seen before, but it exists, just - it's like the 2-pin, but those two are slightly angled, with another bisecting that chord, like a nearly flat Y-shape. And maybe an indoor aerial, as it seems the building manglement is dragging their heels on fixing the apartments', leaving her with about half the channels she used to be able to receive - I can't leave her without her Judge Judy, can I? ^_^
All the same, I'm a little surprised at quite how much data I managed to shovel - a bit over 6GB in the four days I was away. ^_^; And that's not even with anything overt, like this year's Doctor Who special - just me, being me. Behold: I am the digital bunny. ^_^
The journey down was absolutely fine, which, as per universal karma directive, ensured the return was.. a little less so. =:) Not nearly as bad, mercifully - standing/sitting room only, but with at least enough space to wield an iPad. The surprise began with them deciding to skip one of the lesser stations, and at the next, announced they were going to proceed directly to its final destination (skipping mine) - but only after they'd taken the latter half of the train out of service (guess which half I was in), which would be replaced by three cars at the front. Cue a hurried dash by half a train's worth of passengers engaged in a seasonal game of Musical Chairs.. ^_^; (I won!) Whilst the TOCs' Delay Repay compensation scheme remains rather weedy, it's an improvement to the pre-December 2017 version - and with this long a delay, they may approve a full refund. Yay! I've duly filed my claim. (And supposedly, they're working on making such compensation automatic, though they'd presumably still require notification of which journeys you actually undertook, if they weren't for specific times) Yay2 - the refund was approved. ^_^ (Though, curiously, only for half the r/t fare, contrary to their guidelines - I'll have to enquire and see if a mistake was made. Not that it was an expensive ticket)
Oh, wow. An anonymous artist on Reddit was offering free sketches, and this is what they came up with. =:D (I'd suggested cheerleader, TRON: Legacy, or, if they were really feeling up to it, maybe even a ballgown, as cues)
This does look like being fun. ^_^ Ocean's 8, coming in June 2018, with a cast including the likes of Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter.
Blargh. I am reminded of why I don't collect Japanese anime/animation figurines.. £50 for Judy Hopps is okay, but then there's £20 postage, and then £20 for the courier as their importation fee - VAT (fair enough) and their "we showed it to Customs!" fee, which is actually slightly more than the tax. ^_^; (Annoyingly, they no longer offer COD or similar, so first, they deliver a "give us money!" letter, and then you get your package the next day. Surely it'd be practical to issue their drivers with handheld POS card readers?) By contrast, UPS simply delivered their two packages with everything prepaid, though they won't give you any further information regarding a delivery window without registering, which involves them sending a PIN to you by post. =:/ But then, it seems even the usually best can stumble - I had a package coming via DPD, containing a prescription I was about to run out of. Inexplicably, they claimed to have delivered it to my address, signed for by someone who definitely doesn't live here, or nearby. Even chasing it up with them yielded no further results as to what actually became of that package. =:P Thankfully, the pharmacy was fine with sending out a replacement for free. Thankfully, the chemicals weren't the kind that I'll die if I miss a dose, or cause anyone else to do so if they took them.
Checking out the current pricing of EastWest's rather cool RA instrument library ("a variety of rare and unique instruments from Africa, Europe, India, the Americas and Australia, the Far East, and the Middle East and Turkish Empires"), I noticed they're now offering a subscription alternative to outright purchase, ComposerCloud, offering access to all their libraries (costing $12,500 to buy, in total), for $30/mo, or $25/mo annually. Not a bad idea, particularly the monthly plan, given it can be cancelled without any commitment, so you could have it active for just the length of suitably demanding projects, and then leave it dormant until required again.
A webcomic I'd like to recommend: Sammy. It's somewhat in the spirit of Battle Angel Alita, set a millennium or two hence, when humanity's leveraged interstellar travel to colonise many worlds, but still often retaining its seamy underside. For those who enjoy miltech (not myself), there's quite a level of attention paid, with the writer and artist being Russian.
Just in case you needed a reminder as to Trump's concept of "the very best people", consider the latest resignation, Taylor Weyeneth, deputy chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and one of three people in the agency deemed critical to its function, and thereby exempt from governmental shutdown. He's 24, and other than a stint on Trump's campaign, has no work history, though he did claim "Director of Production" whilst in high school, regarding a "health products" company which was later busted for illegally processing Chinese steroids. And if the pace of staff turnover feels high, that's because it is, at 34% in the first year; following are Reagan at 17%, and Clinton with 11%.
Which Pearl are you today? ^_^
Is anyone else playing Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp? Let me know your friend code, if so. ^_^ I've been enjoying it a lot. True, there are elements missing from its predecessors (for now?), like the town museum and Blathers, but then, there are new elements, like the camp ameneties. I do still have the option of AC:WW under emulation, but it's so much more elegant to have the current experience on the iPad's full screen than emulating a DS. ^_^
And another depiction of me! =:D This time, hoisting a good pint. ^_^ That was kindly offered by /u/Ensistura.
I finally got around to watching Time Lapse (a 99¢ iTunes rental from a couple weeks ago), and was rather pleased with it. It's obviously a low budget production, but very well done nonetheless. The gist is that a neighbor dies, and when the apartment manager finds out, they discover a huge camera pointed at their window. It soon becomes evident that it's taking photos from the next day. Of course, they soon set about "winning" bets. Things don't continue quite so swimmingly, however..
Preceding that was Contact, which I bought on laserdisc, once upon a time. ^_^ It still remains a favorite, though I was never too impressed with the argument presented by the preacher of how she could prove her father loved her. Of course, part of me wishes there could be a sequel, showing our ascendancy to the interstellar neighborhood - I've always enjoyed a good sci-fi tale, and there's not a great deal of positive, intelligent sci-fi on the big screen, though we did recently see both Arrival and Interstellar produced.
And then, on NYE, another few flicks, including the surprisingly still entertaining Caddyshack 2, and the recent live action Ghost in the Shell, which was rather unfortunately unnecessary, shoveling on the schmaltz into a storyline that was originally taut. Unfortunate, as everyone but the writers and director did an excellent job. Still, it's hardly one to avoid.
Food recommendations of the day: Waitrose's own brand Costa Rican ground coffee, and their La Retorta cheese. The former is up to the standard of Three Sixty's Antiguan, but rather cheaper, at £3.25 vs £5 - a rich, warming taste, entirely lacking in harshness, like a great mocha, just without chocolate. =:) The latter's somewhat similar to Berthaud's Époisse or Stinking Bishop, made with raw ewe's milk, with a creamy, rather spicy nature, and somewhat oozy once cut open. ^_^; Expensive, but on the other paw, you really don't need much to enjoy it, so it'll go further than you might think. Whilst not something to run out for, their frozen rustic baguettes are a step above the usual - you might want to experiment with the temperature a bit, though, as we found setting the oven slightly cooler and keeping them in a couple more minutes let the bread inside cook better, though they unfortunately still don't approach an authentic French baguette's inner fluffiness.
I finally got to see Postcards from the Edge, a drama/comedy based on Carrie Fisher's book. Indeed, it's an excellent work, crammed with wry, dry observations on life and its absurdities. It's currently available as a 99¢ iTunes rental, along with Time Lapse, In a World.., Tangerine, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, if you feel like a cinematic evening sometime.
And then Feb 17's film was Coco, which came out on iTunes US on the 13th: absolutely excellent, up there with Pixar's best. And yes, you'll cry. ^_^
Huh! Seems Apple's changed the implementation of their battery replacement programme - previously, with my iPhone 3G and iPad Air, they've simply swapped over the device for an identical new unit. With the iPhone 5s, though, they actually replaced the battery. True, there are cheaper means, but this way, it gets done perfectly, without the delight of furkling around with tiny connectors and glued components. Most likely, I'll eventually hand it on to my mother, and replace it with maybe a used SE; the X is indeed a gorgeous device, but I just don't use phones enough to really warrant such an expense. If March's rumored iPad event includes a new iPad Pro, though..