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So, the new Doctor was revealed as Jodie Whittaker. =:D I'm absolutely delighted to see the Doctor finally come back as female - not the first time we've seen such a regeneration, of course, especially in the case of Missy/The Master. So, this means Bill won't, as I'd sort of vaguely hoped, be assuming the role (in both senses) - we know we'll see her in the special, though. Would she opt for reincarnation already? (Though, with all of time to play with, I suppose that's a fairly meaningless concept =:) I've had great fun with the past series, where Capaldi really found his stride, and I'm now absolutely stoked for Christmas and 2018. =:D (Of course, the Daily Mail crowd wasn't happy, with some reactions including "Nobody wants a TARDIS full of bras", and "Time travel is for men and men only". The former, thankfully, gave rise to the fantastic response of "I started singing "A Tardis Full Of Bras" to the tune of "Yellow Submarine" and now can't do anythinWE ALL LIVE IN A TARDIS FULL OF BRAS" =:D

The BBC's just released a trailer for the Christmas special, and in notes from SDCC, they mention that the special will feature Bill Potts, but with a caveat. =:P

And in that spirit, "Hey Missy!". =:D (Made in 2014, so doesn't include her later development)

I was delighted to see the constantly inspiring Egypt Urnash amidst the roster for what looks like a fantastically diverse range of artists and stories in the all-trans comic anthology "We're Still Here". Happily, they crashed through their original goal within a couple days, with the extra money mostly going toward raising the page rate for all the contributors. (They'd originally aimed for $17k, and as of July 27, had breezed past $45k =:) And as a very special bonus.. here's a teaser from her contribution, "Dracula Party". ^_^

At long last: the trailer for "Search and Destroy", the Strontium Dog fan film from the same folk as Judge Minty. (Nerd note: whilst he's best remembered from the pages of 2000AD, he actually began in Starlord, along with Ro-Busters, which eventually morphed into ABC Warriors, also picking up Nemesis along the way) Eep! I hadn't realised it'd been out for a while - they hadn't linked to it from their site, curiously; nor, indeed, had I noticed them announce that the full twenty minute short is now out. =:D

How about Space Odyssey, a game of galactic exploration and colonisation, grounded in science, helmed by Neil deGrasse Tyson on the scientific side, and Len Wein heading up the writers, with contributors including the likes of Neil Gaiman and George R R Martin? You can back it here, until 11am Pacific/7pm UK today, July 29. =:D
As you set off to explore, the Space Odyssey science team will guide you by providing the science and information to help you complete your strategic missions.

* All-Star Science Advisers - The expertise of Dr. Tyson and his team coalesce and manifest into the gaming world you will experience. Join Dr. Tyson and the StarTalk All Stars: Amy Mainzer, Astronomer; Charles Liu, Astrophysicist; Janna Levin, Theoretical Cosmologist; and Mike Massino, Former NASA astronaut.
* Accurate Gameplay - Immersed in biology, chemistry, geo-science, and engineering you will build and explore planetary systems, using principles such as magnetism and electricity to drive the game mechanics.
* In-Game Futurism - Concepts of Nanotechnology, Optogenetics, Singularity, Magnetic Transportation, Dark Matter, Compressed Time, Hydrogen Power, Solar Sails, Ramjet Fusion and more will be present throughout game-play.

Bear in mind there's no CG involved in WoodSwimmer, a brief 1m40s short - just stop-motion photography of various pieces of wood, being planed away one layer at a time. It's beautiful.

Here's some phenomenal wildlife photography: beneath the ice of Antarctica, thanks to some extraordinary preparation and fortitude by the writer ad photographer of the article, Laurent Ballesta. When you're having to liaise with drysuit makers to identify weak spots of current suits, and spend two years trying to prepare for the conditions involved - and some seven months afterwards regaining full nerve functions afterwards - you know there's some outstanding dedication involved. Which indeed paid off, with views that simply nobody else alive had ever seen before, especially as they descended, including an ice anemone; how it drills its way into the ice, or indeed, survives, is essentially unknown.

There's a new single out from Scissor Sisters and MNDR! SWERLK. It's been released as a fundraiser for the Contigo Fund, helping the LGBTQ community. You can enjoy the YouTube video for free, but they'll happily accept any donation in exchange for a 320kpbs MP3. And for a much less sensible video, how about AronChupa & Little Sis Nora - Llama In My Living Room?

Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow recently arrived on iOS and Android - and the trailer is a hoot. =:D The game itself - well, you'll probably want to temper your expectations, as it's essentially derived from the American Dad game engine, so there's liable to be plenty of IAP frustration. That said, IAPs can generally be ignored.

There's some gorgeous photography in Vogue's American Women: Pride special. It's not about fashion or design, simply real people, sometimes in love.

Here's the Plan is a new Chilean short about a cat and dog baker couple who drift apart over time. It does look well worth catching, if you have a good film festival nearby.

A nicely done fan music video: Grum "Cybernetic", set to footage from a rather interesting looking Soviet sci-fi animation.

Quite interesting to see: "What’s the Deal with “Furries?”, courtesy of Psychology Today. ^_^

If you know of Dr Bronner, this might be interesting: they're contributing toward MDMA research for PTSD.

Here's the opening titles for Big Hero 6: The Series, coming soon. ^_^ (So, when will we hear of the continuation of tales from Zootopia.. ?)

Here's a rather nifty bit of SU cosplay, Mystery Girl and Pearl - and they're supposedly an RL couple too. ^_^ And a minor piece of trivia I noticed whilst watching Love Like You in Malay: Nicki Minaj provided the voice for Sugilite, Garnet and Amethyst's fusion when a disused communications complex needed destroying. Speaking of which, I'm in the process of gradually rewatching it all, and noticed Renaldo's closing lines, where he speaks of the diamonds wanting to control us all and drill out the Earth from the inside. Who knew? =:) I'm guessing that was a crafty easter egg planted by Rebecca Sugar. (And has it ever been established just who the temple statuary depicts? Seems like a fusion, possibly even a triple fusion, going by the faces and arms)

Frustratingly, Cartoon Network remains mum on the question just when Steven Universe will resume airing - but, cam footage from SDCC's SU panel has indeed emerged, with the season 5 trailer, and a hilarious Lars of the Stars excerpt, riffing on Captain Harlock and Star Trek. =:D (I should note that this deep into the storyline, it probably won't make much sense if you're not at least somewhat familiar with SU =:) And, though they chose to mostly use the studio version of the track, Cartoon Network came up with a live video to accompany one of my favorite numbers from the show, Estelle's "Stronger Than You". It was shot at this year's SDCC, and features a swathe of the show's many fans. It's an absolute delight. ^_^

And if SU's your bag, you might enjoy trying Space Boy as a strip that might appeal. It's a slice of life tale, with sci-fi overtones, such as pervasive AR and relatively routine deep space travel, but the artwork has a distinctly 1950s/1960s flavor, appealingly flat-colored from a constrained palette, plus highlights. It tells the story of Amy, who spent the first six years of her life on a mining colony, before an accident caused the family to be returned to Earth - in cryosleep. When they arrive, she has a new life, and so many new experiences, but also has to come to terms with her best friends now being thirty years older than her. The crux of the story, however, is Oliver, whose origins are only now (at episode 117!) being hinted at, beyond the opening panels of the strip.

Hm! Latest animation to get the live action treatment? Cowboy Bebop! Whilst a lot of animation feels best left thus, perhaps a live action CB would indeed work well. Of course, a lot will depend on the casting. And there could - but it's still in early stages - be new Animaniacs!

Rather amusing. ^_^ The artist moved from NYC to San Francisco a year ago, and illustrated the differences at the time, and now. A few I'd take issue with, notably the level of San Francisco's pizza - she's evidently not been going to the right places. =:)

If you're in the US, you've doubtless been worried by the extraordinary level of competition in the cellular telephony market, and how low everyone's plan prices are. *cough* No longer! It appears T-Mobile and Sprint may be merging.

/u/snake_gobbler sketched me as a cheerleader! ^_^ And for something rather different, /u/Amkho_ very kindly offered quick musical offerings, inspired by people's descriptions of their characters.. and this is what they came up with. =:D

Latest signs of Apple edging into original TV programming: hiring Sony Pictures Television's co-presidents, who "helped produce shows like AMC's Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Netflix's The Crown, Amazon's Sneaky Pete, and more".

As far as UK politics goes, I was absolutely delighted with the election's outcome. ^_^ I can thus at least thank the Walking Dead^W^WPrime Minister for giving the country a solidly united Labour Party, with the constant attempts to undermine Corbyn's leadership now conclusively laid to rest. Quite how long the DUP alliance will hold remains to be seen, not to mention May's tenuous tenure. Perhaps needless to say, I was up all night, checking various sites and feeds, with BBC One's coverage usually in a background window. Much good beer and cider was enjoyed that night. ^_^

Interesting. A bill to end Daylight Saving Time in California passed the Assembly. It still has a substantial path ahead, however: "The bill now heads to the California Senate. If passed, the bill would repeal California's 67-year-old Daylight Saving Time Act. Then, lawmakers would have to decide whether to keep California on standard time or daylight saving time year-round, with the approval of the federal government. If the plan is approved by the federal government, it would then become a statewide ballot initiative in the next general election."

That was a fun WWDC keynote! Easily one of the juiciest in a while. ^_^ I definitely like the tracker blocker coming to Safari (and already present in Safari Technology Preview). The Wingnut Games AR demo was pretty cool. Surprising jut how much is packed into HomePod - much more than just a speaker and WiFi module tacked together. Loving the iOS 11 additions, especially for iPad. Mercifully, Aperture appears to be surviving the migration to High Sierra; I really don't want to move away from it any sooner than I have to, unless someone comes out with something alng those lines, with similar attention to UX (so, no, not Lightroom) - and lo, word came down that Affinity has an Aperture/Lightroom-like DAM under development. =:D iMac Pro, hoo! Not a concept I'd've thought would be viable, but evidently so. APFS finally consumes HFS+! Amazon relents and debuts on Apple TV. Monument Valley 2! (But, not for me just yet - I've too much of a backlog to justify any additional purchases) I want to see what the new standard keyboard looks like - that's been a crazily long time coming, and could be such a boon. (Yes, there are keyboard extensions, but they've usually not been well thought through) And yes, if anyone wants to send me an iPad Pro 2 with Pencil, I'll be a very happy bunny. =:) Of course, it's (not) entirely coincidental that the first macOS release following pot legalisation in California happens to be High Sierra. ^_^

Here's Rav Bunneh with a lil' sketch, "Porsupah Hates Pics!" - which is, I'll admit, pretty accurate: I'm much more one for being behind the camera. That said.. I'm gradually feeling as if that may be changing. We'll see. ^_^

As with iOS, macOS will also be dropping support for 32-bit applications at some point, with the deprecation siren sounded during WWDC 2017. Here's an explanation of the "why", along with how to easily find out which of your applications might be affected, especially if the developer's uninterested or now gone. I doubt 32-bit support will go away with 2018's release, but quite possibly 2019's.

The new iOS 11 keyboard (iPad only) is definitely a marked improvement, even if it doesn't give immediate access to HTML's angle brackets - but just about every other "useful" non-alpha character is there. It does, as expected, kill 32-bit support - the apps remain visible, but attempting to launch them just brings up a "needs to be updated" dialogue. A pity, as that does mean the end of the road for some older titles; that said, I was very pleased to see Secret Exit push an update for Zen Bound 2, bringing it alive on iOS 11. ^_^ iGammon's dead too, but the developer replied promptly a few weeks back, saying he intended to issue an update over the summer. Scrabble I finally permitted to update, after years of remaining with an old version - I'm not fond of the new look, but there are some niceties, like wildcard tiles' character selection being from a complete A-Z list, rather than back/forward through the alphabet.

The previous High Sierra beta, DP3/PB2, seemed significantly improved over DP1 and DP2, being much more stable (previously, I'd been enjoying a kernel panic every other day or so), and also not firing up debug-related daemons constantly, chowing down on processor. I'd still be cautious about installing it on anything important, but I'd say it's now viable as a daily driver. If you feel like signing up for the wild ride, here's the beta portal. I've had to revert to Sierra for now, through a specific VMware Fusion issue, apparently resulting in Fusion not being made aware of USB device connection events - something I'm sure VMware and/or Apple will address in the coming months, but I needed compatibility now. Hey ho. ^_^

On the iPad front, if you're wanting to conduct serious video editing, it appears LumaFusion may be your answer.

Hmm. Checking the premium pricing for WeatherPro shows it's $1.99 for 3 months, or $8.99 for 12 months. Am I.. missing something? Either way, I signed up for the former, as it's about the best weather app I've found (and I've tried several), on the basis of completeness of information available (I'm after forecast data, satellite imagery, and rainfall radar) primarily, alongside a good UI. The forecasts are about as reliable as they come for this neck of the woods, being in the battling ground for multiple major systems - but between the forecast, radar, and high res visible satellite animated sequences, I can usually tell whether or not it'll be worth going rabbiteering or hiking, and whether a coat will be a good idea.

I finally yielded and accepted the iPad's battery was, if not toast, at least badly singed, with its life down to two hours or so, and picked up a cheap USB external battery, which indeed worked very nicely. Thankfully, I was recently able to take advantage of Apple's battery replacement program, wherein they swap out your device for a new device of the same model, if the battery is bad enough, meaning I now not only have a perfectly fresh, full capacity battery once more, but perfect bezel glass as well - gone is the little shatter mark in one corner. (Thankfully, not extending over any of the display itself) The external will probably remain useful for the iPhone, until I (maybe) have that seen to similarly, and possibly for work as well, as it ought to be able to power the dev board, which normally requires a separate 5V power supply. That said, I might well want a high capacity model for any kind of prolonged work out and about.

And speaking of wonky equipment, it looks like the time has come for the Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S to be attended to, having failed on July 12's outing, and remains in manual focus only mode. *sigh* It's an expensive job, I know, looking at forum messages on the topic - around 2/3-3/4 of the cost of another used copy. But, with it repaired, I'd know I've got a completely new motor in place, and Nikon tends to replace other parts that experience wear at the same time, like the mount contacts. So, there's no rabbiteering in my future for a month or so. *sigh*

I'd really like to share a photo kishenehn took recently, which struck him as one of his absolute favorites, and I'd have to concur - there's just something quite special. ^_^

Pony. ^_^
Hard to Say Anything almost slipped into this season's trope of repeating a situation multiple times, but - the situations were amusingly over-the-top, and, that only formed about the central third, rather than the whole episode. True, the ending wasn't a huge surprise, but it was rather adorable nonetheless. ^_^
Honest Apple started off with a somewhat wonky premise, though with good intent. AJ's recovery of the situation was very nicely handled, rather touchingly. Though I'm certainly with her on the subject of apples - easily my favorite fruit, though I can take or leave "mild" varieties like Golden Delicious - I'm a Granny Smith bunny through and through. =:9 And we need more of "mediaeval nobility" Big Mac.
A Royal Problem - ahh, it's good to see S7 perking up again. ^_^ I know the comics aren't considered canon, but nonetheless, there's surely inspiration drawn from one of them, wherein just that reversal takes place. It's the MLP I've loved! Great comic timing, and nudging forward with character development, with Celestia especially having been utterly unflappable for so long. Easily the best episode so far, by a country mile. (Oddly, it's from the same writing duo as the opening two episodes, which I felt got the season off to a very weak start)
Not Asking for Trouble - a contender for the best episode of S7. ^_^ True, the theme didn't take too long to emerge, but overall, it had very good comic timing and low repetition. An auspicious debut for a writer new to the show!
Discordant Harmony - a good one. ^_^ The lead-up, with Discord's shop encounters, proved nicely amusing, and whilst it was heavily telegraphed where the tidying up would lead, it was still fun to see him so.. normal. The gem of the episode, though, lay in Fluttershy's rescue. ^_^
The Perfect Pear - oh, gods. This was absolutely phenomenally good! Top-notch writing, and some exceptional voicework from the actor playing Grand Pear (and at three age ranges, too!). I was crying toward the end - the relationship they portrayed was just beautiful. This is a contender for the best episode of MLP:FiM.

And speaking of which, here's a rather well done PMV: Sia "Chandelier", here starring Rainbow Dash.

At the risk of appearing dreadfully shallow, here's another depiction of me, and one I'm especially fond of, courtesy of /u/SpicyChaiKitten, who showed me off in such a gorgeous gown; I'm absolutely delighted. ^_^

Doctor Who!
Empress of Mars. Hmm.. I'm overall rather neutral, TBH. There's a lot I enjoyed about it, but, ultimately, it seemed such a superficial episode, as if they had to check off the Ice Warriors from a check list. We get Bill asked for her counsel, only to be completely ignored, and thereby, playing no meaningful part whatsoever. There's the backstory to the apparently needlessly Victorian troops' commander, there only to provide the ending. I did still enjoy it, but.. it did feel rather lightweight, especially from someone like Mark Gatiss. And I'm going to have to file the Empress away as a possible future cosplay project. ^_^ BTW, a fun note: the ending appearance of Alpha Centauri - that's no random name, nor actor. I was reminded that Alpha Centauri previously appeared in Three's "Curse of Peladon" and its sequel, "Monster of Peladon", and still played by Ysanne Churchman. =:D
The Eaters of Light - a good one, not for the sci-fi elements, so much as the character interplay, both between Missie and the Doctor, and Bill and the legionnaire, discussing sexuality. I'm impressed the team found it within themselves to address the topic quite so frankly, and amusingly. ^_^
World Enough and Time - oh, wow. O.o;; Okay, I'll give them a ride on time dilation, though they at least tried to work that in, with some degree of reason. But what does this mean for Bill? Dammit. (I'll refrain from saying more, to avoid spoilers)
The Doctor Falls - impressive. Quite horrible, the way we opened with it seeming as if Bill was somehow back to normal, only for reality to seep in, plunging her back into a living nightmare. And then the interplay between Missy, the Doctor, and the Master.. hell of an episode. If I had to pick nits, it'd be that the Cybermen armada seemed remarkably ineffectual; but, from a narrative perspective, they weren't the crux of the story - that role belonged to the central characters alone this time.

BTW, if anyone's been following Reddit's recent announcement that they intended to remove subreddits' CSS and replace the customisation system with a new tool: that's been rescinded. ^_^ The new system will still be rolled out, but CSS will remain an option in addition to that.

Here's a rather eloquent retrospective on Ratatouille.

Yay! I got to see Colossal the other week - and it's well worth seeing. I shan't say more beyond what's revealed in the trailer, but it does live up to its promise. Once the initial reveal is complete, the direction it takes was somewhat surprising. About the only quibble I had, really, was wondering what the need was for a translation at one point, when simply English would've been widely understood - but that was a relatively minor point. I can easily recommend this. ^_^ Also Raising Arizona, which was so very evidently Coen Brothers - and I have a sort of fondness for Nick Cage. Though I'd still say their best so far remains either The Big Lebowski or O Brother Where Art Thou; probably the latter, simply as TBL tickled me more.

Last Saturday's feature turned out to be Moonrise Kingdom, which I'd wanted to see for a while now, but had never quite managed to. It's very much a Wes Anderson production - very calculated camerawork, keeping the dolly operators busy, and all with as dry a sense of humor as is rarely found in American comedy these days, with such a sense of quiet desperation simmering beneath a superficial idyll, yet, with hope. Recommended.

Yay2! The trailer for the new MLP flick is finally here, and it's actually looking very promising, to the point I'd suggest it to people who aren't necessarily MLP fans, but might enjoy some good animation. The quality is quite noticeably improved with a cinematic budget, but it's the writing that'll (hopefully!) carry it.

Oh, and here's a quickie demo @tomasgarcia threw together with Unity and Apple's ARKit, new to iOS 11. AR definitely has the potential to be lots of fun. ^_^ Me, I'd love to be able to have folks visit me in their SL av form, until such time as I can visit them IRL in my SL form. =:D

I had a brainfart, and instead of typing "cd sl*", for some reason, entered "sl sl*" instead. *nix being what it is, it kindly informed me that I didn't have "sl" installed. What was sl anyway? A quick search revealed the answer. Hm. =:)

As a friend says, "Well, that was easy!" I went looking for instructions on how to get TLS set up on my site, and wound up at Let's Encrypt's guide for Apache on FreeBSD, which did look reasonably approachable, but still a bit of a chore. In another of my provider's FAQs, however, they suggested looking in the forum, and lo, a stickied topic thereon. Turns out they've streamlined the process to be one script invocation, and that's it. =:D So, it's now good for https access. ^_^

And finally, Adobe's announced the end of the Flash Player at the end of 2020, and with it, the deprecation of Flash itself, encouraging creators to migrate elsewhere. "But as open standards like HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly have matured over the past several years, most now provide many of the capabilities and functionalities that plugins pioneered and have become a viable alternative for content on the web."
Here's a little technological gem: an excerpt from Micro Live, January 1985, wherein they first take a look at the current state of the art in novelty and feature phones, including one capable of storing hundreds of names and numbers, for easy dialling, before introducing a fascinating new radiotelephony technology based on the concept of small area "cells". They conclude with a live demonstration of an international phone call made from the rooftop of Broadcasting House, using a portable cellular phone. ^_^

For those following along with Steven Universe, here's a selection of characters drawn in a realistic style - quite striking! (By /u/Gilgrion) However, having just checked the episode list's broadcast dates, I can see I'm in for quite some frustration - whereas most series have completely or largely consistent air dates, appearing every week or so, Cartoon Network's SU schedule ranges from four episodes on the same day (known as "bombs" in the fandom), up to two months apart. ^_^;;

Another glimpse at fxscreamer's WIP graphic novel:

A fun bit of editing: Zootopia Remix, in the style of Pogo. Or, how about this fursuiting music video, set to Reckless Love's "Night on Fire". =:D Amusingly, it's actually a furry reworking of the band's original video.

Or, for something rather different, this ad from a Kuwaiti telco, being broadcast over Ramadan, condemning the attacks perpetrated in the name of Islam. Notice the credits appearing as it progresses - they give their names, and in which bombing they'd been injured.

This is curious. ^_^ Apparently, some people were taught to spell dilemma as "dilemna", with the "n" being silent. Yet, no source can be found that's ever listed the errant spelling. I'd never even been aware of such an "alternative spelling" until now.

Hm! Has anyone else experienced trouble downloading from YouTube recently? On Tuesday, I tried fetching the new episodes of Steven Universe, only to find 4K Video Downloader just shrugging its shoulders. It managed to parse the URL fine, offering the usual selection of filesizes and resolutions, but couldn't actually download anything. I'm guessing it's just YouTube playing with the internals, so apps like this are left high and dry until they're updated. (Not to worry: I found much better quality copies on DailyMotion =:)

Doctor Who: oh, my. ^_^; I'm absolutely fine with writers taking liberties with technology for the sake of advancing a storyline, but.. WTF? spoilers!Collapse )

I'm glad to see 500px appears to have dropped their "fingerprint" logo, which supplanted their well-established "infinity sign" logo a couple years back.

California's new - niche, for now - crop: coffee! "The avocado growers face major disruptions in their business, including increased competition from Mexican imports, less access to water and rising real estate prices, all of which are forcing them to rethink that crop. But thanks to Mr. Ruskey, they have realized that their sprawling avocado trees provide perfect shade for high-quality coffee bushes. One variety of Mr. Ruskey’s beans, Pacamara, emits an earthy scent like the smell of California dirt and new plants in spring. His Geisha beans have a light and fruity flavor with low acidity. Bourbon finishes with a chocolate taste."

The 300mm f/4 continues to be unstable, sadly. Thursday's rabbiteering was curtailed by yet another AF failure, which no amount of contact cleaning or manual focus adjustment could remedy. Yet, again, by Friday, it was again focusing normally.. quite odd. Could there be a thermal element to the fault? Or even electrical? But then, if the latter, why would it sometimes return to normal during a rabbiteering evening? Anyway, Friday's looking very good for weather, so I'll see what happens then. If it strikes again then, and won't come back within half an hour or so, maybe I'll head back and see if the roomie's D5500 causes it to respond differently. (Unfortunately, that uses a different battery, the EN-EL14a; the D7100 takes the quite differently shaped EN-EL15, which is shared across the upper end DX and various FX models)

And there we go - Friday, it was back to normal, and continued uneventfully through the evening. ^_^ I'll remain wary, given what a blow permanently losing AF on the lens would be, but for now.. !

The home brewing proceeds apace! Bottled the Belgian on Saturday for its secondary fermentation, and the "vodka" looks like it's ready to do something else with - having ordered the wrong kit, a neighbor may well be able to assist with a secondary yeast pitching to bring it to 20% after all. Still, it's wonderfully smooth stuff - plenty of cocktail potential even as is! The Belgian's modeled after Duvel, so, moderately malty, with a brisk hop finish - tasting rather nice at the moment, and per calculation, looks to be in the 9% range at the moment. The cider I'm leaving a little longer, as it still seems okay with finishing off the last sugar - as of Saturday, it's at about 1.012, so still a little sweet, but with a very pleasantly rich apple nature, and the tannin I've added does seem to've brought out a bit more of an edge. It's not a farmhouse cider by any means, but so far, I'm quite happy with it. ^_^ I imagine that'll be ready to bottle around Tuesday or so - I'll just see how far the yeast wants to go, and how it tastes at that point.

Next up: another kit, this time from the Australian brewers Coopers, with their "IPA Brew A". I'm hoping that'll be pretty good as is, but I'm intending to dry hop it with some of the Northern Brewer I picked up the other week - that could put me somewhere within reminiscence distance of the Magnolia's quite wonderful Proving Ground IPA, which whilst being quite heavy on the hops, is done in such a way as to emphasise the aromas, not bitterness, especially the cask conditioned version. As the instructions suggested adding 1.5kg of light malt powder, rather than just sugar, I compromised on picking up one 500g bag of medium malt - I imagine the kit would be lovely by itself, but the additional malt could be quite a fun addition. ^_^ And there we go! Made that up on Monday, with an OG of 1.067 - if it comes to around 1.011 (as the cider appears to have wound up at), that'd make it around 7.5%.

And, well.. yep, we tried the cider and Belgian properly for the first time on Tuesday. ^_^ The cider's turned out surprisingly more authentic than I'd been expecting - it's actually a brew I'd want to seek out, despite being borne of a concentrate. It's somewhat like a Dabinett and Vilberie combined, with a nice mild edge. Meanwhile, I'm occasionally venting the Belgian bottles to ensure they don't pressurise too greatly - and it's good! Somewhat like Duvel x Rochefort. Better beer and cider than I can buy, for a fraction of the price? It's not such a bad deal. ^_^ And there we go! Bottled the cider at 1.008, so, still a bit sweeter than I'd ideally like, but still a very pleasant creation indeed, superior to most supermarket ciders, though I suppose that's not saying very much. =:) At that FG, it's somewhere around 8.2%.

For that matter, does anyone else here brew (or even distill) at home?

And another from last week, with one youngster gingerly making some unknowable enquiry of perhaps a parent.. ^_^

And maybe a couple from Thursday.. thankfully, the lens hasn't been giving trouble for the last few rabbiteering evenings. Whether that's purely coincidental, or related to me trying not to maintain focus for quite such prolonged periods (if I half-press the shutter, the body continues to maintain focus, which also means the AF motor's kept active, even if it's not doing much beyond tiny adjustments at that point), I can't tell, but I'm hugely relieved, though I'll still be happier when I can get the lens taken care of properly.

I'm horribly behind with everyone's journals, but I'll do what I can to catch up. If there's anything I ought to make a point of reading, do point the entry out, please.
If you use any kind of media player, and especially if you ever use subtitle files, now would be a good time to check for any available updates, as one security outfit's identified a variety of flaws in their subtitle handling that could leave the host systems open to being compromised. Known to be affected are VLC, Kodi, Popcorn Time, and strem.io. (Of minor note is that VLC's internal version checking can't be relied upon to be current - I was running 2.2.4, and asking it to check only resulted in it claiming this was up to date, when in fact, is out now. Apparently the update servers need time) VLC and strem.io have made fixes fully available; Popcorn Time's currently has to be manually downloaded, and Kodi's fix is only in the source, not the executables. Links are in the article.

Rather interesting to see the Washington Post launching a Reddit profile. If they maintain it (rather than launch and run), this could be quite a cool means of interaction with one of the better journalism refuges.

So, at long last, I finally got to see Marjan Satrapi's "Persepolis" - and I'm so very pleased I did.

Doctor Who! Oh, it was good to see Moff really get to play again. Although, reflecting, I'm not really sure: would the revelation contained really be enough to destroy everyone with that knowledge? How would you feel?

Pony: started off very well indeed, but then took a bit of a weird direction, resolving in a manner I'm not really completely comfortable with. They did make it clear Dashie was understandably embarrassed by her parents' hyper-enthusiasm, but ended up not really addressing that, so much as her having to apologise (quite appropriately) for snapping at them. True, support is a very good thing to have indeed, but when it reaches that level, it becomes a double problem: the immediate awkwardness, but also when praise is offered too readily, it becomes devalued, causing issues down the line. Still, mostly a very good episode nonetheless, and perhaps the best of season 7.

Buns! Bunbunbuns! The weather's begun to improve, so I was finally able to get out on Monday for some useful rabbiteering, though it did cloud over earlier than I'd been hoping. At their peak, there were some eighteen around, and as far as I could see, all perfectly healthy. Better yet, quite a few juveniles, though they were mostly on the shy side, with a couple exceptions, especially one who wasn't going to let some human interrupt their lounging. ^_^

Worryingly, though, the lens played up again. =:P I tried cleaning the contacts on both the lens and body, but to no avail. There was no communications error signaled between the two, just no AF action, just a very quiet, rapid ticking if I put my ear to the lens while trying to focus. Ultimately, the cure came as last time - whilst trying to acquire focus, adjusting the focus ring manually somehow "freed" the motor again. It permitted enjoying the rest of the evening, but I'm concerned the AF motor may need replacing, which wouldn't be easily done at present - it's quite an expensive repair, at around half the used cost.

One to come from Tuesday's session was this, where the aggressor had been sitting not too far away, and suddenly felt they had to put the other in their place. =:P Thankfully, given it's nigh impossible to sneak up on another rabbit, they reacted in time, leading to a very brief chase, before peace broke out once more.

BTW, if you're within reach of London, Eurostar's currently holding a one day flash sale, ending at midnight tonight, with fares at £19 each way for St Pancras to/from Paris, Brussels, or Lille.
So Portugal won ESC 2017! Well, okay, I didn't vote for him, but it was certainly a beautiful performance, and I'm very happy Portugal will finally - for the first time! - be hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in 2018. ^_^ My votes? Croatia (what an astonishing vocal range!) and Belgium, both of whom fared hugely better in the popular vote, versus the initial jury results - curious! I sort of wish I'd placed a bet on Portugal, but so it goes. I'm pleased they introduced that separation of the jury and public votes - it's quite interesting to see just how different the two opinions can be, with Croatia languishing around 18 points following the juries, only to receive something like 110 points from the public.

And the Doctor Who that preceded it: hoo! Yes, that was a good one. Not faultless, but as hugely (if you'll excuse the irony) atmospheric as it was, I'll happily forgive any minor flaws. I'm certainly also delighted to see the return of some political relevance to the show, which has been rather absent for much of its post-2005 run. Kudos! Pony: aaargh. Yet again, stamped out of the "take a potentially amusing situation, then repeat it a few times to be sure we get it" mold. Such a pity, as Rarity and Sweetie Belle have such potential, but that wasted both their time. Still, the resolution was adorable. ^_^ I haven't watched either of the two "leaked" episodes yet, as the audio on both was rather wonky - I'd rather enjoy them properly.

Music video for the day is one of the odder I've seen in a while. ^_^ May not be entirely safe for work. Tame Impala: The Less I Know the Better. And, whilst it lacks a video, the Asteroids Galaxy Tour cover of Safety Dance is a delightfully fresh take on a modern classic. ^_^

Quite a handy (and official) site, though sadly, UK only: TVPlayer - effectively, a web-based Freesat relay, so you can watch any of the usual channels online, via their apps, on consoles, and so on. As such, their ads are unaffected, but it's easy enough to mute that tab as necessary. None are in HD, but for things like Mystery Diners, that hardly matters. =:) It's all free, though they also appear to offer subscriptions, starting with one simply removing ads for £2/mo, to £6/mo or £60/yr for adding some premium channels and a catch-up service.

Rav_Bunneh offered up another sketch of me! ^_^

If you feel you need a UV filter on a lens, be sure it's a good quality one.

I don't know anything more about it at present, but it sounds intriguing: Root, a bank account for software developers, "with full API access". Likewise, I don't know the eligibility requirements, but it's a facet of Standard Bank South Africa. The press release gives some useful examples of what you can do with a Root account.

The home brewing is progressing. ^_^ The cider was at 1.038 on Tuesday, reflecting a possible 4.3% ABV - surprisingly, it actually tasted good! Sweet, of course, being only about half done, but it did show off quite a good, well-rounded apple flavor, not merely some Strongbow clone. Whew! Sadly, I remain frustrated in my attempts to obtain malic acid without being ripped off on the postage (paying twice as much as the tub, when it only weighs a couple ounces? Bleah!) - I made my way on Thursday to a brewing supplies shop, only to find them out of stock. ^_^;; Still, I did pick up some Northern Brewer hops, which ought to be able to provide a very nice dry hopping for some IPA kit, and a "Diabolo" Belgian kit, along the lines of Duvel - as you'd expect of a much heftier brew, rather more costly than most beers and ciders: same price per kit, but only making 9l rather than 23l, which means it'll still be a bit more than a quarter of Duvel's cost. =:D And, there's a "vodka" kit on the way, which will make 21l of 14% vodka/white rum, for even less than a beer kit, given it's just yeast, charcoal, and finings. That'll be destined to be turned into a variety of cocktail necessities, like spiced rum, Southern Comfort (which I learned is actually peach based, as far as the flavor goes!), and gin, plus probably some other fun infusions. Supposedly that ersatz vodka's actually beautifully smooth, in addition to being ridiculously cheap - less than Coke. =:D And all entirely legal, as there's no distillation involved, just fermentation.

And there we go! Got the Diabolo kit made up on Friday evening, with an OG of 1.081 - a little higher than their nominal 1.075, but that shouldn't cause any problems beyond perhaps being slightly stronger than the intended 8%. ^_^ And the cider was down to 1.030, with bubbling still progressing - the taste is, unfortunately, thinning out a bit, but it was still a pleasant concoction. As a precaution, I added a tiny bit of tannin and two teaspoons of citric acid, just to help ensure it has something of a "dry" edge. Trouble with tannin powder is it's so strong! Even the barest invisible dusting on a fingertip is mouth puckering, so even with 23l going, I only added a sliver (about 3mm x 2mm) - in both cases, it's obviously better to under-augment than over, given it's easy enough to just add a bit more if necessary.

Irksomely, I'd actually intended to get a 20% kit for the spirit base, not the 14%. For now, I've made it up per instructions, and sent off a query to the vendor, to gain their opinion as to whether that particular strain will go to 20% if given more sugar. If so, that's easily done. I can also scoop some out into a separate bottle and test it there, rather than risk considerably sweetening the whole bin if it fails to progress; and then there's always the option of obtaining just the yeast I intended (the kit also includes liquid charcoal for purification, and finings to get the yeast to clump together at the bottom, for ease of separation).

Why are all mouthwashes and toothpastes mint flavored? Why not banana or apple? Or, for a sushi fan, otoro? Or rum?
It's looking quite possible that Kris Marshall has been chosen as the next Doctor, as he's apparently been seen on set recently. I'm not really familiar with him, so I can't offer any real opinion. If it turns out to be true, I suppose we'll just have to see how it works out; TBH, I'm less concerned about the actor than the new showrunner, Chris Chibnall, whom I'd hoped would never darken the doors of Doctor Who again, following DW and Torchwood episodes on the level of the spectacularly awful Cyberwoman, which was to Cybermen what the standalone Catwoman flick was to all the role's predecessors.

Agh, I really wish I could rid myself of search engines' insistence on them "correcting" my meanings.. I just tried looking for an UNKLE track featuring the keywords "looking rain", and YouTube merrily returned results for another track, "Reign". =:P Thankfully, it was easy enough to remove those with "-reign", but you'd've thought the combination of the two words being perfectly matched would outweigh a homonym.

Doctor Who trivia: Knock Knock was filmed sort of in the same house as Blink. =:D

And, of course - I have to ask: who's going to be watching the annual Eurocheese Extravaganza on Saturday night? ^_^ I admit, I haven't been exploring the entries yet - I prefer coming into the contest mostly unfamiliar with the scene that's been set, other than checking who seems favored by the betting. The UK entry's one of those unfortunately perfectly nice ones that won't offend anyone, nor engage anyone. Oddchecker, in any event, suggests the current favorite is Italy at 6/5, followed by Portugal at 3/1, and Bulgaria at 5/1. (SatW offers up a Eurovision 2017 strip, and if you want an additional diversion whilst watching it, a game =:)

On that note, hastka found the original music video for the track used by the famous SamBakZa "There She Is" animation. =:D (If you've forgotten the love-smitten bunny after the cat of her dreams, the music will remind you immediately - or, click here. If you're actually unfamiliar with the work, I'd have to recommend it =:)

I suppose I ought to cough up my sentiments on recent Who and pony. ^_^ (There may be spoilers ahead)

Doctor Who:
- The Pilot: absolutely loved it, with the major exception of the obligatory Tragic Gay Ending™. I can sort of excuse it, given they wanted to reveal Bill isn't het, and having an assistant fall in love would make for an especially awkward form of LDR, but still - it's such a damnable trope. But, that said, they did establish Bill as one of the most engaging assistants in a long, long time, with some particularly enticing explanations from the Doctor. If the intent was to make a good impression for first timers, they succeeded very well.
- Smile: a sound premise and opening, if marred slightly by the rather ephemeral framing of "emoji" as core to the plot, for no explored reason. I'd say the logic in the motivation wasn't very sound, but as we know, thoughtlessness in programming is nothing new, and probably won't be new then either. The complete reset, though, felt rather an easy way out.
- Thin Ice: the motivation as revealed felt rather disappointing, even if not exactly beyond humanity. And why the grand finale? Still, the setup was all very enjoyable. Maybe there'll be elements from here figuring into a future story?
- Knock Knock: ooh, yes. Almost thoroughly loved this one, though the very ending felt a bit out of place - why would only the most recent be saved, not everyone? So, what could've been a chilling tale was rewound to being more "it was all a dream". =:P Still, plenty to recommend it, and David Suchet was excellent.

- Celestial Advice: I wasn't all that comfortable with this one - it felt quite lazy from a writing perspective, taking a central theme of "what to do with the protege?" and Twi's unpreparedness, and repeating the conceit for much of the episode.
- All Bottled Up: sadly, much as above. A good enough plot point, but not the entire basis for an episode.
- A Flurry of Emotions: *sigh* as before, unfortunately - regard the hilarity of unsupervised baby with uncontrolled magical powers, in multiple similar situations.
- Rock Solid Friendship: pretty solid. ^_^ It gave Pinkie Pie some very good moments, and helped show off a bit more of Maud, beyond the original rather unidimensional basis.
- Fluttershy Leans In: rather clumsily handled, really. Not a bad idea for an episode, but yet again, taking a single theme and repeating it doesn't make it funnier or more enlightening. Still, it did show off Fluttershy gaining in the rather necessary skill of assertiveness, which absolutely doesn't come naturally to a lot of folk, myself included. So, overall, a decent episode, redeemed by its final act.

And just out of random curiosity..

Poll #2067619 What TV do/did you watch?

Which of these TV productions do/did you follow?

Orange is the New Black
Mr Robot
Steven Universe
Doctor Who
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Max Headroom (Crysalis series: music videos)
Max Headroom (Lorimar series: drama)
Animal Kwackers
Babylon 5
Serial Experiments Lain
Paranoia Agent
Haibane Renmei
MasterChef (UK)
As you know, I don't tend to watch very much TV these days - currently, I only make sure I keep up with MasterChef (now in its finals week, and we sadly saw the end of Lindsay's journey in the competition on Monday last week), Doctor Who, and MLP:FiM. But, I do have a substantial pile of TV and film I'd like to catch up with, and I finally got around to all of Steven Universe recently - and I'm delighted I did. ^_^ I think, at its core, it's its emotional richness that appeals, alongside its remarkable use of music, both in incidental work, with some occasional chiptune sensibilities, and even a few (all too infrequent!) musical numbers, such as Stronger Than You, which begins somehow hip-hop before gliding into a more funky style, or the broody, melancholic It's Over, Isn't It? - even the first ending theme, the gently beautiful Love Like You they eked out over the course of a couple seasons, giving subtly different versions each time; someone's kindly edited it all together into a complete piece here. (And it's the show's creator playing the piano and providing vocals!) Its positivity toward love, regardless of gender, is a delightful aspect; it's quite open that Pearl was very much in love with Rose - indeed, It's Over is a poignant tribute to that. If you'd like to give it a try, it's probably all on YouTube, but I found it more convenient to snag it from Yay Steven; the torrents seem to be quite well seeded, thankfully.

On rather a different TV note, the gigantic news has to be that Dredd is coming to TV: Rebellion's announced they're developing a Megacity One TV series. =:D They have writers lined up (what an opportunity!), but casting's yet to be completed. Obviously, I'd love to see Karl Urban return to the role, but he may be too expensive - but who knows? Maybe it's a role he'd take for the fun of it. I wonder how it'll wind up being distributed - Netflix, maybe? Much as I'd love to see the BBC pick it up, they really don't seem positively inclined toward sci-fi, and only slightly more toward fantasy, with Doctor Who being about the only exception that comes immediately to mind.

So, we just saw these folk play: 3 Daft Monkeys. Ye gods, such energy! I'd see them again immediately if that were an option, but they're touring around, departing immediately. As the venue's blurb put it: "With their quirky and original approach to music, and their passion, intensity and sheer joy of life, 3 Daft Monkeys have gained themselves a large and loyal cult following. Their music is hard to pigeon-hole, mixing and crossing many musical genres from Celtic, Klezmer, Gypsy, Balkan, Latin, Ska, Dub Reggae, Indie, Rock and even a hint of Shostakovich."

With finances dwindling, and the roomie taking up the hobby again, I've joined him in home brewing. ^_^ The first is a cider; it's intended to go to 5%, but with the intent of nudging it more toward 7-8%, I bumped the sugar up from 1.5kg to 3kg. The OG's 1.071 - if the yeast offers maybe 70% completion, that ought to land it about where I'm hoping. I've no idea how it'll turn out, but way back when, I managed to obtain entirely decent results from a few beer kits, as well as some wild fruit and flower wines. I may well have to play with the flavor profile a bit, as I tend to enjoy a tart edge in cider - I've got some citric acid ready, and tannin, which might well be joined by malic acid, a key element in cider apples. Anyway, we shall see! It got underway on May 10, so fermentation should be done within a fortnight (and it seems pleasantly frothy on top, yay!), plus at least a week or so to settle, once it's been decanted into 2l bottles. (This is fun!)

If you're a big fan of Okami, how about a life-size bust of Amaterasu?

Sadly, it's only a two minute trailer, for a show pitch that apparently hasn't gone anywhere yet, but it's huge fun regardless: Super Turbo Atomic Ninja Rabbit.

On board Japan's new luxury train, running between Tokyo and Hokkaido, with space for 34 passengers between the ten cars. Food is, of course, prepared by Michelin-starred chefs, and delivered by uniformed butlers. With tickets ranging from $2860 to around $10k, it's fully booked until March 2018.

Reaction Engines has begun construction of their test facility, with the first SABRE core testing scheduled for 2020. I seriously want to be there to witness that first test, one way or another. SpaceX is doing very good work, but the tech is essentially purely evolutionary - SABRE has the potential to open up new frontiers of both hypersonic passenger travel and space launches.

Behold: one of the greatest musical and cultural meldings ever attempted, and attained - Princess Leia's Stolen Death Star Plans. I've used images rather than YouTube embeds, as those seem quite demanding on lower powered devices.

And I notice that Midnites for Maniacs is running a rather cool double bill on Saturday, May 27 2017, leading with a 20th anniversary screening of The Fifth Element, in a newly restored 4K DCP presentation, followed by Lola Rennt. And to mark the occasion, they'll be offering a bespoke poster. Wonderfully stylish, although personally, I think I'd have aimed for a more playful feel. I'd still happily snap up a copy if I were in the area, though. ^_^

Tracks 1 & 2:
Princess Leia's Stolen Death Star Plans/With Illicit Help From Your Friends
Track 3:
Luke is in the Desert
Track 4:
Never Better
Track 5:
Imperial Holes
Track 6:
He's Leaving Home
Track 7:
Being From the Spaceport of Mos Eisley
Track 8:
The Force Within You
Track 9:
AA Twenty-Three
Track 10:
Track 11:
Keep Moving Keep Moving
Track 12 & 13:
Reprise/A Day in the Life of Red Five
Dennis Villeneuve can't top this Minnesotan seven minute version of Dune. =:D

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.
I am absolutely delighted to make note of the release of the third and final season of Star Billions, yours for a measly $2.99. ^_^ You may need to update the app first; I noticed the announcement in the update release notes.

But if that's not your bag, how about a newly announced made-for-TV Invader Zim movie? =:D The same treatment is apparently also being extended to Rocko's Modern Life.

Do you live where you do out of choice? Where do you call "home", and why? For my part, no, not presently; it's a perfectly okay locale, but, a long way from where I'd consider home - San Francisco.

Aaaah, so that's where it went! In iOS 9, Safari used to offer a "request desktop site" in the address bar pulldown. In iOS 10, however, it seems they've dual-tasked the reload icon; press and hold, and you'll be given that option, along with "reload without content blockers". Useful, as a few sites will improperly serve the phone version to an iPad, leading to UI delights like buttons the entire width of the display. =:P

Zootopia may have had Shakira, but My Little Pony's big screen debut will have Sia. =:D

Here's a language resource with a difference: Lexicity. They link to resources for grammar, dictionaries, and suchlike, for old tongues, such as Aramaic, Akkadian, Sumerian, Mayan, and Etruscan.

Or for something a little more on the technical side, how about Disney's Practical Guide to Path Tracing?

/u/Fearful_Leader painted me! =:D

Another example of the dangers of traveling while brown, this time a naturalized US citizen daring to visit her family in Turkey, flying to and from LAX.

Well, now, that's not much fun.. I was out rabbiteering on Thursday, which turned out to be a mostly beautifully bright day, despite both the Met Office and MeteoGroup insisting it'd be overcast, later reluctantly updating to just "cloudy". ^_^; Beautiful day, the buns were out - what could happen? The lens could stop focussing, that's what. =:P Suddenly, it became a manual focus lens - not much use with fast-moving subjects. *sigh* So, I'll have to see what I can do to try to fix the issue, else, establish that it really needs repairing; there's the possibility it's just a matter of the contacts being dirty. It's possible it's the body, but the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is functioning normally. I'll be trying to clean the body and lens contacts with a dustless eraser, and checking if it works on the roomie's D5500. Worst case, it'll be an expensive trip to Nikon or an appointed service center - a quick search suggests something around $300 to replace the focus motor. =:P Hopefully it won't come to having to make such a decision. ETA: whew! Spent a couple minutes polishing the contacts with a putty eraser (great things! Can form them easily to a point for accurate pencil erasing, with no rubber dust or shavings), and everything appears to be working normally again. (I tried in the field with just a clean hankie, but to no effect) Yay! And the weekend's looking sunny - maybe the buns will be gracious enough to be out and about again then. And I must remember to pack some raisins for them as well. ^_^

I'm not generally keen on superheroes, with very occasional exceptions like both versions of TV's The Flash, and the recent Supergirl, but Joss Whedon writing and directing a Batgirl film does sound rather good fun. ^_^

The film industry does seem to have some realisation that things need to change, but as one might expect, cinema owners are putting up stiff resistance to the concept of releasing films to home audiences after a 30-day window, or when the number of screens falls below a certain threshold. You know where I stand on this: multiplexes hold no magic for me - if I'm watching a film by myself, I'd far sooner be able to do it from the comfort of the warren. Groups of friends, that's a different matter - and when you've got places you actually can enjoy going to, like the Castro Theatre, that's again very different, but venues with character aren't in the multiplex business model.

I'm relieved to (finally!) read that Pixar isn't planning any further sequels past Toy Story 4 and The Incredibles II. It's undeniable that Toy Story 3 did superbly at the box office, and even Cars and Planes have proven lucrative, primarily through merchandising, but - I've been growing increasingly concerned at that turn, almost reliance, on sequels, at the inevitable expense of original stories. I'd so much prefer to see another original production like Ratatouille, Inside Out, or Wall-E than another continuation of Toy Story or Finding Nemo. (And we'll forget about The Good Dinosaur. Not a bad film, certainly, but.. not exactly amongst their crowning accomplishments, I think we can agree)

It'll be a while before we see any industrial scale deployments, but nonetheless, this OLED development news is quite exciting, with a potential improvement in energy efficiency from the current 25% or so, up to more or less a perfect 100%. (As is, the rest just becomes heat. The patent holders might stand to benefit from that, as will we all. I wonder if the technique described might be useful for bulbs as well, not just displays..)

There was another SPG live performance last Saturday, and you can find the archive over here. ^_^

Anyone who follows Intel processors: we've seen AMD coming back recently with Ryzen and friends, but does the company have anything at all in store for low power usage, like phones, or even laptops? As a casual observer, it seems like they're completely ceding that ground to ARM and Intel respectively.

It seems there's a very welcome added benefit to legal weed: a distinct drop in opioid overdoses. "Hospitalization rates for opioid painkiller dependence and abuse dropped on average 23 percent in states after marijuana was permitted for medical purposes, the analysis found. Hospitalization rates for opioid overdoses dropped 13 percent on average."

Here's an interesting security issue - taking over a smart TV. 'The proof-of-concept exploit uses a low-cost transmitter to embed malicious commands into a rogue TV signal. That signal is then broadcast to nearby devices. It worked against two fully updated TV models made by Samsung. By exploiting two known security flaws in the Web browsers running in the background, the attack was able to gain highly privileged root access to the TVs. By revising the attack to target similar browser bugs found in other sets, the technique would likely work on a much wider range of TVs. "Once a hacker has control over the TV of an end user, he can harm the user in a variety of ways," Rafael Scheel, the security consultant who publicly demonstrated the attack, told Ars. "Among many others, the TV could be used to attack further devices in the home network or to spy on the user with the TV's camera and microphone."' This exercise only pertains to DVB, so the US isn't affected - that said, I haven't looked into ATSC to see whether it might have an equivalent attack vector.

Huh! So the iTunes Store does offer multiple language tracks after all! They just tend to be very coy about it. I finally got around to watching my rental of Long Way North (which I'll very happily recommend), and thought I'd just check if there was an original language option - and lo, the French soundtrack and English subtitles were available. Yay! (The English voicework is good, though - this isn't a Tenchi Muyo grade dub. ^_^;) As for the film itself: I'd wondered if the animation style might grate, but no, the painted look works very well, and indeed, provides a refreshing change from the Pixar 3D CG look adopted nigh universally amongst the big studios. Overall, I enjoyed it very much, and will consider purchasing it - and I'm only reluctant to do so as I simply don't rewatch films often at all. (Hell, it was in the final hours of its month long rental period that I even got around to it for the first time =:) It's suitable for all audiences, but it's not especially aimed at younger children - perhaps think of it in terms of similar appeal to Doctor Who. Anyway! Have a look at the trailer, and see if it might be something you'd enjoy. (Regrettably, I see it's returned to being a $4.99 rental; I took advantage at 99¢. Would that that were the norm!)

Following a rather unfortunate trademark tussle with a Birmingham pub, BrewDog has apologised honestly, and in a rather fun twist, made all their recipes available, past and present.

Well, poop. I've finished all the iOS Phoenix Wright games. It began innocently enough, with the release of Apollo Justice - which, for some reason, Capcom released after the title following it in the series, Dual Destinies; so, of course, I had to replay DD to gain a better feel for that one, now in better context. And then I though I'd go through the original trilogy.. hey ho. I imagine they'll bring the newest one to iOS at some point, and maybe even Miles Edgeworth Investigations - and of course, there's the ending chapter of Star Billions now. ^_^

Oh, yay. Looks like one tooth is deciding to gradually shuffle off its mortal coil.. a little fragment came away the other day. =:P Time to get registered with some local dentist and see just how bad things are.

If you enjoy good music videos, have a look over here - BUG Videos periodically collects several that have caught their eye, and produce viewer notes for each. Speaking of which, might you have any to recommend of late? You've seen some indication of what musical styles I like - the ideal then is for a video that perhaps tells a story (Black Light Dinner Party "We Are Golden"), or is simply wonderfully odd (Galantis "Peanut Butter Jelly"), not merely concert footage or miming, unless, perhaps, there's a really good light show or particularly appealing costumery.

And on that note, Badmarsh & Shri "Get Up" is a good example of a nondescript video carrying a rather cool track - sort of South Asian drum'n'bass. Meanwhile, this animated one tells a story - but how do you interpret what finally happens? C2C "Delta". A tidily choreographed video with a catchy track: Keren Ann "My Name is Trouble". A downtempo/folk rock track with a story being told: Mala Vita "Top of the World". Quite an odd animated video: Rone "Bye Bye Macadam". And I'm amazed I'd forgotten to post this one until now, given it's a very well produced stop motion video starring a bunny: The Shins "The Rifle's Spiral". The video's playfully designed, reminiscent of Michel Gondry's work, with a breezily funky vocals-led track with some echoes of Bjork: Jain "Come". (Her bio is quite fascinating, too!)

Food recommendation of the day: Sainsbury's Basics pollock fish fingers. At 65p for ten, way cheaper than any of the big brands, and surprisingly good, with even a slightly higher fish content as well.

It's a fairly niche combination of interests, but still, a wonderful piece: Revolutionary Mare Utena, by mr-tiaa. Perfect! ^_^

And in Canada, The Beaverton announces their candidacy for Conservative leader.
I absolutely have to promote this Easter ad from German supermarket chain Netto, being supremely adorable and leporine-themed. ^_^ It's a real joy, honestly. (And a really good Voight-Kampff test, too =:)

I must ask: did you enjoy chemistry or electronics kits as a leveret? (Or your species' equivalent =:) Any fond memories?

Steam Powered Giraffe will be playing live again on YouTube, entirely gratis, on Saturday, April 1, at 1pm PDT/9pm BST.

And coming on April 14 to Netflix: the new season of MST3K. =:D

I'll be trying this service out presently: 33Mail. They give you unlimited email aliases, which can be independently zapped; so, you might enter a competition or sign up for some newsletter, and if it turns out they begin spamming you or selling your address, you can then just kill that alias, leaving everything else unaffected. You don't even need to set anything up - just use whatever alias you want, and if anything's sent to that address, it'll automagically be set up and forwarded to your real address. The basic service is free, with a small 10MB monthly bandwidth limit; "premium" for $1/mo raises that to 50MB, permits anonymous replies, no ads, and use of your own domain (with the basic level, your email addresses will be somerandomname@yourusername.33mail.com). There's also a "pro" level at $5/mo, giving 500MB/mo and use of five custom domains.

Here: some sketches from /u/fxscreamer's graphic novel, a work in progress.

The Royal Mint has a site dedicated to the new £1 coin, brought into circulation on Mar 28 2017, noting the rationale behind its creation, how it differs from the existing coin, and so on. They note that currently, about 1 in 30 £1 coins is counterfeit. The Mint has a guide on telltale signs - often, fakes are fairly easy to spot, if you're looking to begin with, but who really notices much about pound coins in change, beyond their number? One that gives away a lot is simply that the faces on genuine coins are always aligned; beyond that, it gets down to quality, with the lettering around the edge often being rather ropey.

On which note - did you know that we're still uncertain as to where Earth's gold originated? There's a popular theory that it's the result of supernovae, but, that has certain factors against the current understanding, including the amount and distribution of such heavier elements. It may, in fact, be the work of neutron star collisions - or, indeed, a combination of the two.

It's quite fun, checking up on how far I walk during rabbiteering days - Monday especially, which was prefaced by popping into the city as well. Supposedly, I took about 13,300 steps, coming to a little over five miles. ^_^;

Huh! That was an interestingly different bit of spam.. it included my surname and address. Well, an address from about fifteen years ago, in the lovely county of Other. =:) Still, it's easy to imagine the response rate from that being a good bit higher than the usual "invoice for your attention". Interestingly, it registered not one hit on VirusTotal's scan. It's a .dot file, FWIW. I admit, I'm half tempted to open it in a disposable VM, just out of curiosity. If I did so, though, I'd definitely want to have some form of packet sniffer waiting to witness the hilarity, and maybe inject something along the way. =:) If anyone wants a copy, let me know - I'd love to hear what its payload amounts to. (It's not a field I've ever delved into, but I can easily see the fun in security engineering and pentesting!)
Of some possible geeky interest: microtrenching, a technique for laying fiber cables much more cheaply than the traditional "dig a wide trench through the road and close a lane while doing so" method necessary for drains and suchlike. In the example used, the trenches are more like channels, a relatively svelte 1.25" wide, and 12" deep - so traffic can still pass safely over the open channels prior to them being filled in. Apparently, San Francisco is looking to codify such permits into law, which would greatly simplify companies like Sonic and MonkeyBrains making FTTH widely available in the City.

Being from the BFI, it only covers the UK, but still of distinct amateur historian value: they've introduced their Britain on Film map, which allows you to search for a location, and find what archive material they have for that place, with many of the newsreels and suchlike being free to view.

Rather fun: where Daft Punk samples originated, with the originals followed by their usage.

And if you're up for some radio plays, Strangeness in Space, wherein the first four episodes are now available and free: "What would happen if Sophie [Aldred], the manager of a NASA Space Centre gift shop, and Trev and Simon, two idiots claiming to be a 1980s styled synth pop duo called Pink Custard, were thrown together with a computer robot called LEMON on board a damaged space craft, lost in a distant universe, orbiting Planet Mirth?"

Meet Jeff. He's the son of Darius, who was formerly the largest rabbit in the world. ^_^

The first episode of The Real Comedy Controllers is now available on iPlayer (globally; they only geofence TV), with a total of four parts, arriving on Saturdays. I'll let huskyteer describe it. ^_^ "The show itself consists of anecdotes and discussion from four movers and shakers in the world of TV and radio comedy (pitchers, commissioners, producers, writers), and the instalment we enjoyed covered the '60s and '70s. Paul Jackson, Beryl Vertue, Jimmy Mulville and John Lloyd were all excellent value, but I have a particular soft spot for Lloyd. He's a very funny speaker, does wicked impressions, and got visibly emotional talking about his friendship with Douglas Adams.

The broadcast show will be three hours long and feature complete episodes of select comedies, but we had to be content with clips. My favourite of these was Round the Horne's Julian and Sandy presenting their version of Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man, which I will leave you to imagine."

If you're using Safari, and would like a (fairly) simple way to prevent any video from autoplaying, as seems to be the latest delightful web design fetish, try enabling the Debug menu with this at the CLI:

Safari: defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu 1
Safari Technology Preview: defaults write com.apple.SafariTechnologyPreview IncludeInternalDebugMenu 1

- then, in the Media Flags section, enable both "Video needs user action" and "Audio needs user action". If you encounter any odd site incompatibilities, you can always turn those back off, temporarily or permanently. ("User action" counts as any actual user interaction with that element, like clicking on it) Similarly, you can conceal the menu again with the same command line, just replacing the "1" with "0" at the end. BTW, STP release 26 includes a first draft of an interesting WebKit proposal aiming to offer a unified thin layer on top of Vulkan, Metal, and DirectX, in the form of WebGPU. The Khronos Group appears to be thinking along similar lines; with any luck, these early prototypes will bear fruit in one common API. It's rather cool to see such nascent ideas take form. ^_^

The buns, happily, still seem to be doing well; I finally got out to see them again on Thursday, for the first time in about three weeks, thanks largely to the rather dour weather, but also simply being on the busy side this month. The light wasn't the best, but things did clear up toward sunset, and they obliged with a rapid chase or two, including this dramatic moment. ^_^ (As usual, thankfully, nobody came off worse for the incident, though whether the first knew quite why they were being chased is something I'll never know. I do get the impression sometimes there's less strategy being pursued than "it seemed like a good idea at the time" =:)

In celebration of her story, 400 Rabbits, being nominated for the 2016 Ursa Major Awards, huskyteer has made it freely available for all to read over here. ^_^

Want to see what Steam Powered Giraffe is like live? They're streaming an hour long performance live today, Saturday, 1pm PDT/8pm GMT (only a 7h difference at the moment; PDT is now in effect, but BST not until the 26th). They'd like a tip if you can, but it's free and open to everyone. ^_^

Guy comes to remove an artful example of graffiti. Then finds himself in its place. So much to love about this. ^_^

Finally, we get to see an introduction to Sansar, Linden Lab's next-generation platform, aimed at VR usage. It's looking rather good. =:D It seems the SL and Sansar economies will be separate after all, and for a limited period (on the order of 1-3 months or so?) after opening, all SL names will be reserved within Sansar, before they're released for use with new accounts.

What weather apps or sites do you recommend? Ideally, I'm looking for great data visualisation and reasonably accurate forecasts. Paid is okay, though I'm slightly irked that WeatherPro has doubled in price in a couple years, now coming in at $10/year - which is, I accept, still not exactly pricy. I'm after a fairly comprehensive forecast - ideally, showing the kind of cloud coverage (high or low, thin or thick, etc), sunlight, and wind, given my main use is for gauging whether there might be a good rabbiteering day approaching, especially if I'm intending to travel some distance for it, such as the original spot, three hours away. High resolution visible satellite imagery and rainfall radar is very useful, too - I can often guess the afternoon outcome better than the forecast, particularly where it's a set of systems colliding.

So, how geeky is it to notice /r/furry was getting past the 32,000 mark, and that on Tuesday, it was around 32,760? Yes, I made an alt account and snagged the 32,768 spot. ^_^

w00t! I know nobody else cares, but I was delighted just now to see that MasterChef is returning on Wednesday, March 29 2017. ^_^

Huh! Bit of a change of tone.. I just checked out Shane Carruth's IMDb profile (Primer, Upstream Color), and he's apparently been directing some TV: The Girlfriend Experience, for Starz, on the life of a NYC call girl. Has anyone seen anything of it? Thanks to everyone who responded to the poll! I was quite surprised in a few places - I hadn't expected Cats Don't Dance to be so well recognised, and even moreso WoSaT. ^_^ And, whilst I knew it wasn't a hugely well-known release, I was also quite surprised to find myself (so far!) the only one who has seen Upstream Color. Perhaps needless to say, I would recommend it, but - it's an impossible film to describe well, moreso than even Stalker. So, I'm afraid I can't be of much help in providing reasons why you should give it a try; still, if you've seen and enjoyed films like Stalker, Solaris (Tarkovsky's), and The Fountain, you might like this; expect something more like the former - cinematic poetry - than anything linear. Also rather interesting, to me, was how many haven't seen Arrival, or Interstellar - but, I suppose that's probably simply down to one's level of interest in sci-fi.

Here's another Doctor Who trailer, this time from Australia's ABC. Notice one rather old, familiar (kind of) face? And, here's Coco's first trailer, coming from Pixar on Nov 22 2017.

Not that I've (still!) yet seen the show, but I noticed there's Orphan Black: The Game coming on Mar 23. Meanwhile, the renowned Botanicula is temporarily 80% off, at 99¢.

A long time furry, Gene Catlow, has died, at 59.

Elsewhere, I read of the death of Mildred Dresselhaus, "Queen of Carbon", author of 1,700 papers and eight books, and the first woman to become a fully tenured professor at MIT. '"When I came, we only had 4 percent of women at MIT, period, and fewer even in physics," Dresselhaus told NPR in 2007, recalling when she was hired by MIT's Lincoln Laboratory in 1960. "And today we're getting close to the 50 percent mark. That's an amazing achievement in one lifetime. "Of course," she added modestly, "I didn't have that much to do with making it all happen." Many would beg to differ.'

I see Jonathan Blow's The Witness is now out on macOS, at $40 - but! It's also, entirely coincidentally, the main billing on Humble Monthly's current offering, so if you were to subscribe for this month and then cancel, it'd be yours for $12.

Snopes recently offered up an interesting tidbit I hadn't been aware of: female mantises don't usually eat the males' heads. "In a research project whose results were published in the journal Animal Behaviour in 1984, entomologists Eckehard Liske and W. Jackson Davis made videotapes of the sex lives of thirty pairs of praying mantises. They discovered that mantises engage in elaborate posturing rituals before mating, but not one of the thirty males had his head eaten during the mating process. They also noted that other scientists had observed the same thing: Although female mantises sometimes ate their mates, the deadly act by no means occurred in every case. The behavior appeared to be influenced by captivity: Female mantises were either jarred into unusually aggressive behavior by the unusual laboratory conditions, or they were simply not fed enough by their keepers."

How's this for pre-fab housing? =:D Huf Haus.

Only a fan creation (for now =:) - meet the pony version of Jack Harkness. =:D

So, I experimented: iPad into the bottom of the fridge for 30 mins, all radios (WiFi, cellular, BT) enabled as usual. Result: a chilly iPad with 100% charge when it emerged from the fridge, and which shortly thereafter displayed the red "BRB I'M GOING TO SLEEP NOW" battery icon, and back to normal a few minutes later. Interesting! I know battery capacities are influenced by temperature, but I hadn't ever expected the disparity to be so extreme, even with a somewhat elderly battery. I suppose this explains what I've been observing - quite normal life when out but indoors, or on buses and trains, but seemingly magical loss when outdoors. Looking at the Battery Life app's "Raw Data" section suggests that the reported capacity is what's swinging up and down - a little after the fridge, it was reporting 100% of 4400mAh, and an hour later, 100% of 6800mAh. So, it seems to be some kind of oddity with whatever microcontroller's responsible for tracking battery capacity and charge (typically, these are embedded within the battery itself).

I do, of course, absolutely love this reply from Ursula K LeGuin, in the Times Literary Supplement's interview with her (h/t supergee):

"What will your field look like twenty-five years from now?"

"My field? What is my field, I wonder. My favourite field is the one below the barn at the old ranch in California. I hope in twenty-five years it looks just the way it does now, all wild oats and chicory and foxtail and voles and jackrabbits and quail." <3

Over on a forum far, far away, the topic veered into Taco Bell, spurring one Japanese correspondant into a new opening line for an old song, "If you love cheap enchiladas, acute stomach pain.." ^_^

Did you know mosquitoes prefer type O blood?
Well, that was a pleasant surprise! A very anonymous-looking package arrived, obviously containing a hardcover book of some kind. Maybe something from a Kickstarter project a while ago? Nope - it was a complementary copy of the Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year, volume 7, containing two years' winners and finalists, myself included. ^_^ Of course, I'm biased, but it's a book I'll treasure - not only for the obvious, but the sheer quality of the entries throughout the four categories (Travel Icons, People, Wildlife, and.. wait, I'll remember) really is something to behold, and indeed, encourage - everyone featured is an amateur, with perfectly ordinary DSLR kit, sometimes quite old.

A little while back, I mentioned Long Way North, an interestingly stylish-looking animated feature; I've just noticed iTunes US has it currently available as a 99¢ rental (and $7.99 to buy, including extras. Would be pretty cool if iTunes would credit a rental fee against a purchase, if you chose to keep a copy. Still, at $1 to try it out.. ! Sadly, it's still £4.49 for a UK rental, or £9.99 to buy)

I also recently made note of what looked like quite an interesting monster flick, Colossal - and here's its new poster. ^_^

Poll #2064104 It's movie time! ~flails~ Which have you seen?





Upstream Color




Summer Wars


Cats Don't Dance


The Wizard of Speed and Time


Jupiter Ascending


Yay, my first churrascaria! =:D An old (formerly, maybe again?) LJ friend happened to be in the city for a stopover, and he declared that "unlimited is his favorite kind of meat". ^_^ It's a style I'd long vaguely intended to try, and it didn't disappoint - it's the usual format of waiters coming by every few minutes to carve off some topside/sirloin/lamb/pork loin/etc, which you complement with some salad bar pickings. Sadly, as there tended only to be a couple slices at a time, it didn't really lend itself to photography, and I didn't really feel comfortable getting the waiter to pause for a moment for a shot. =:) I am also resolved to obtaining a Frolic shirt, as he was modeling that day, but sadly, a quick check with Neonbunny revealed they're sold out of that fairly limited run, but they may well make another run sometime.

Well, that promises to be rather good fun.. if you recall the Turing/Bletchley themed pop-up cocktail bar I mentioned, I duly received my invitation to place a booking within four hours of receipt - luckily, I woke up with an hour to spare. ^_^; Some quick emailing around, and we sorted out a suitable adjustment to the booking, so huskyteer, myself, and the roomie will be headed down to what's probably a wartime bunker in Chelsea next month for quite a special evening. ^_^

Good news, every.. ah. Well, yes. So, it seems the BBC Store has indeed been improving its offerings, to the extent that all three (three episode!) series of The World's Most Dangerous Roads are indeed now available in HD, not just SD as originally. (And affordably, too - £12 for all nine hour-long episodes) Yet, despite being a BBC Worldwide project - so, nothing to do with the license fee - they apparently will only sell their downloads to UK residents. WTF? The restrictions seem the same as originally, similar to Apple: five devices can be authorised on an account. Arg. Still, maybe I'll do the same as elsewhere - buy under the conditions imposed, and use under the torrented lack of restrictions. (As for the show itself, I should emphasise it's very much not what it might sound like - they're more along the lines of rather precarious travelogues, with an emphasis on what's around them, and why, not shying away from the often tricky regional politics involved)

The iPad's battery has a minor mystery attached to it. =:D As I've noted, its life isn't what it once was, but still perfectly useful, at around 6-7 hours, and almost always, the battery percentage is useful, though these days, it tends to die soon after the 10% warning, or sometimes before - with one odd exception! If I'm out rabbiteering, the displayed percentage positively plummets, to the extent that I can arrive there, have spent maybe half an hour watching the buns, and find it at 45%! On Thursday, it excelled itself in pessimism, and declared it had 16% remaining. ^_^; But that only happens when rabbiteering. O.o It seems to be some kind of misreporting by the battery, as when I arrived at the pub a little while later, it grumpily insisted it only had 6% left - which was also the case when I left, an hour and a half later, and by the time I arrived back home. Hooking it back up to Hazel changed its mind, declaring "46% Charged". Most curious! I wonder what could be triggering this? Maybe the cooler temperature outside? Or some oddity with the cell tower(s) it sees in that specific location? Maybe I'll pop it into the fridge for a spell, and see if that has any similar effect. Likewise, I'll try putting it into airplane mode before heading out rabbiteering sometime, and see if it still occurs then. (And maybe even enabling and disabling it before setting off, just in case it's some kind of baseband weirdness)

I wonder how accurate iOS' step count/distance tends to be - it's claiming that after Thursday's rabbiteering and supermarket run, I covered about 3.5 miles in just over 9,000 steps. Hoo!

Yay! Someone's uploaded the entire run of the recent Phoenix Wright anime. And subtitled, too! ^_^ But, for now, my TV viewing consists of the original Australian version of My Kitchen Rules. (And not long now until MasterChef returns! The BBC only discloses schedules a fortnight in advance, so we might get a heads-up next week, as it's begun in March for the past four years)
It's much too short, at under four minutes, but "Wanderers - a short film by Erik Wernquist" is a true delight, giving a glimpse of what may yet be, once we begin exploring our solar system in person.

A good little summary of the recent rather significant problem with Cloudflare's DNS, resulting in the possibility of many popular sites and mobile apps leaking passwords and other useful information. It's a good time for some precautionary password changing, particularly on sensitive sites, such as ones with access to financial information, including Patreon, Uber, and TransferWise. Discord appears to be amongst other apps affected.

Rather a fun idea - there'll be an Alan Turing-themed pop-up cocktail bar, from an outfit that's done a few other such themes, including Breaking Bad. Only about 7,500 people on the waiting list, though. ^_^;

Quite cool stuff - Creative Electron, commissioned by iFixit, used their tech to capture and stack 900 CT scans of an AirPod, making for a fully 3D view.

As you've probably seen, DeviantArt was just bought up by Wix, the free website bunch, for a fairly measly $36m. Here's DA's statement, which includes clarification that they're not thereby giving Wix free access to sell everyone's artwork. Has anyone been with them for a long while? I've sort of loosely been aware of DA for a long time, but it wasn't until a couple years ago that I finally set up an account, and began putting a few works up there, so I'm very much a latecomer.

Does anyone have any personal experience with smart lighting? I'm tempted to pick up something like the Philips Hue variable color bulbs, as the idea of being able to control the color of my room's lighting definitely appeals, as well as being able to do so from my bed, rather than the so-20th Century method of getting up and turning it off at the wall. Besides, the room's lighting needs a bit of a makeover - right now, I only have one ceiling light, and a shade that's unfortunately open at the bottom, so if I'm lying facing up, I get the bulb glaring at me. I'd like it to be controllable from either Hazel or the iPad, so macOS and/or iOS control is required. Better yet would be Linux and Android as well, so if the idea appeals to the roomie, he could buy into it as well. Products that aren't useless from a security perspective would be rather welcome, though not strictly necessary here - the neighbors don't set their WiFi SSIDs from their defaults, so I'm not expecting sudden network compromises. =:) (Do you have any amusing WiFi network names locally?)

The rather stylish furry adventure Night in the Woods (macOS, Windows) finally debuted! That's definitely one I want to pick up, but I should probably hold back for now, given my game backlog. ^_^;

I finally got around to watching Arrival! And I'm so pleased I did. Absolutely brilliant. ^_^ But then, I long for real cinematic sci-fi, beyond the usual invasion of the week fare. How wonderful to have a mainstream sci-fi film with understanding and comprehension at its core! True, it's not as abstract as (Tarkovsky's) Solaris, or indeed Stalker, but to see linguistic concepts tossed aroud like that, quietly noting how different some ways of thinking and expressing can be quite fundamentally different to each other, in a big name film like that.. well, needless to say, I'm very pleased I placed that pre-order. ^_^ I can only hope, of course, that works like this and Interstellar will give the studios a touch more courage to embark on big budget science fiction productions with similarly greater aspirations than Planet Saved By Plucky Duo. ^_^ (And let's not forget, it's perfectly possible to have space opera and imaginative concepts coexisting happily - Babylon 5, particularly, but also some Star Trek, TNG especially. And what fun A Fire Upon the Deep could be on the big screen.. has anyone else read that, I wonder?)

And I even saw a film on the big screen! No, really. =:) jayblanc suggested seeing the Lego Batman Movie, which indeed proved to be a huge amount of fun, with surprisingly smart writing. We agreed it's the best Batman film in several years - for me, since Batman Returns. ^_^

Rather interesting little article, I felt: On Making Better Porn. "When people eat badly, we don’t try to stop them eating at all. We hope to improve their diet. The aim isn’t to abolish food, just because some food is terrible. We want good food to be more widely and easily available. The same move could apply to online sex sites. We can’t abolish porn. So the goal is to get good pornography. Better porn isn’t stuff that’s even more thrilling or exciting. It is ‘better’ in the sense of being better for us – less at odds with the rest of our lives. The idea that porn could, under the right circumstances, actually be beneficial, strikes many people as very strange. But it shouldn’t. Looking at a lot of porn tends to leave us feeling disconnected and hollow. That’s because it doesn’t seem connected to anything else we value in the rest of our lives. It’s merely about sex, rather than being also about other things we care about: like self-understanding, kindness, intelligence and good relationships."

This, apparently is the first view of Alphonse from the forthcoming live-action Full Metal Alchemist. =:D

Hmm.. not bad prices on some film bundles on the US iTunes Store at the moment - $25 for "kids", including The Neverending Story, Space Jam (which I still enjoy, nyah =:), The Iron Giant, the original Willy Wonka, and Happy Feet; or the same for "classics", with Singin' in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and Gone with the Wind. (Would you believe I've still yet to see CK or GwtW?) Not always, but often including extras as well, and all in HD. I'm tempted, but, I've already picked up Moana, which came out on Tuesday, as well as Black Swan for $5, so I'll likely leave those for another day.

Chris Chibnall, incoming showrunner for Doctor Who, has confirmed he's keeping all options open for the next Doctor, female or male. As for the bookies, Oddschecker's currently reporting Tilda Swinton as the front runner, followed by Kris Marshall, Maxine Peake, and Olivia Colman, apparently David Tennant's pick. I wonder how the odds have compared, on previous such transitions, with the eventual outcome? Did anyone see Matt Smith coming?

Somehow, I'd missed this story at the time: Homer Simpson's car design was brought to life, and put to the test at LeMans. =:D

Rather an interesting graphics app: Vectr, for vector graphics design/artwork. It's cross-platform (macOS, Linux, Windows, Chromebook, and web), and free; currently, it's all free, though they intend to make a "pro" offering to keep the lights on in the future, as well as maintaining a well-featured free offering.

There hasn't been much to report on the rabbiteering front - it's been quite dull weather much of the time lately. I suppose I ought to simply get out there regardless - it's always good to see them, even if there's no chance of outstanding shots. (There! Finally remembered to pick up some raisins for them. Well, adding them to the next delivery, at any rate. Hypercharged tinybuns ahoy! =:) That said, I did manage to get to enjoy some good rabbiteering on Friday afternoon. No tremendously dramatic results, but maybe one or two worth sharing. ^_^ One of the local red kites was nearby, however, showing off their relaxed aerial style.

Once in a blue moon, I'll find a need to hop onto IRC. It's a bit of a strange world.. ^_^; I think the last time I was there for any real period of time was somewhere around 2000 or so, mostly for anime, before BitTorrent became de rigeur. Oh, the joys of having to search through channels for fservs likely to hold what show I was after, waiting maybe hours in the queue to get access, and then find it wasn't there, or it served files at a few K/s.. ^_^; And even with a relatively good one, there was the likelihood of disconnection before the transfer was complete.

It's feeling like it's time to get the iPad's battery replaced.. it's still got good life, but it's down to maybe six hours on a charge, where, when new, it was more like ten. I suppose that's not bad going - FSM knows, it sees plenty of use, on and off charge. Most likely I'll go with Apple's own replacement service - more expensive than a corner phone shop, but this way, not only am I guaranteed a faultless repair, but indeed, a replacement device, so, no cosmetic imperfections, and fresh flash.

Speaking of repairs, maybe I'll have another shot at resurrecting Dandelion, Hazel's predecessor, which died in October 2013, with what seems like a duff SMC (the microcontroller that coordinates applying power to everything else, and keeps an eye on the power button, battery, fans, display case closure, and so on). I rediscovered that I've got a copy of Apple's service manual for the model, which notes various other unlikely, but possible, faults that could be connected. If it does prove to be something like a loose connector, I'd be delighted - Dandelion was still a perfectly capable system when its end came, and I'd definitely enjoy having that lovely 17" display again. (True, Hazel's is better quality and resolution, but that extra little bit of space - 17" vs 15" - makes a surprising difference) The fact that vaguely encourages me that maybe it'll be possible to bring it back is that its demise seemed to come about only after it took a fall; in the coming weeks, it'd sometimes just abruptly turn off, with no warning from the OS. Eventually, it required SMC resetting to come back, and ultimately, not even that helped, so whilst almost everything is fine with it, there's some crucial factor that's basically preventing it from turning on (and staying on). Besides, it's a mystery, and I want to find out what's been ailing it. ^_^
Well, I finally got around to doing something I'd promised myself ages ago: sought out a good arts supply store, and picked up the necessary to see if I can get back into drawing. ^_^ Three pencils: 0.7, 0.5, and 0.35mm, plus B leads for each; a pack of pens, from 0.05 to 0.5mm; a nicely gummy rubbery thing; two solid graphite pencils, 9B and 6B; and a sketchbook. There was an acrylic paints set that was very tempting (with an eye to cel painting), but I felt I could leave that for another day - best to have things potentially worth coloring first. =:)

Also almost re-enacted Night in the Museum, when I was quite peacefully enjoying some exhibits at the Science Museum, only to find they'd apparently closed half an hour earlier. ^_^; I'd been wondering why the main doors were shut (well ahead of time), but went with the group entrance instead quite happily. Eventually, some staff asked if I was a visitor, bringing along a couple other folk who'd found themselves in the same position. Ah, if I'd only given a different answer.. =:)

I recently encountered a webcomic I'd like to recommend: Tamberlane. The artwork is gorgeously toony, in a classical way, and with appealing writing. And, as a bonus, it updates reliably, twice a week. ^_^ And as it's not quite up to sixty pages yet, it won't take too long to catch up.

Might anyone have a recommendation for a good place online to go sniffing for wallets? Amazon's fairly useless, given the rampant keyword gaming, but most other places seem to be exercises in frustration as well. Specifically, what I'm looking for: shiny! Must be shiny; can be black, but hues of red, orange, or blue would be better still. I'd like a bifold without a zip, so everything's easily reached. If there's an outside pocket, even better - I use the one on my current wallet for bus & train tickets, keeping them even more easier available. A good example of what I'm after is One Odd Bird's "Wren", though the price is a bit steep, and delivery would be something of a nuisance. Still, I suppose the cost isn't insurmountable, especially if this lasts as long as my current one has, which I picked up in 2001, whilst visiting austin_dern in Singapore.

rustyfox noted the publication of a study into what's been deemed "misophonia" - that is, the pronounced, innate adverse reaction to perfectly ordinary, routine sounds. The study itself is over here, with a New Scientist article and brief BBC report also available. He writes, unluckily, as one of the participants in the study.

Here, have an infinite chocolate bar. =:)

The new Snagglepuss comic looks like being rather interesting.

As a coda to my gripe the other day about Mail, I received feedback from the two bugs I filed on the matter, noting that the latest macOS beta should have fixed that, and to let them know what the situation is now. After a couple days, all indeed seems well so far. ^_^ That's quite a relief, as I use email a great deal, personally and professionally.

Game of the week: Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet, for which the trailer can be found over here. It's a very nicely written point & click adventure that doesn't take itself tremendously seriously, and with superb voicework, including Tom Baker. Out now for iOS (a bargain at $3/£3), Android, macOS, and Windows.

Hm! There's a dusting of snow on the ground, which has - unusually - actually hung around. Maybe it's worth a shot at some rabbiteering this afternoon.. it has been a week, after all. I might even remember to pick up a bag of raisins for them. ^_^
Have some ski jumping with tires. ^_^ (via jenn_dolari)

I have two new depictions of myself! ^_^ First up, by /u/War_Dyn27, in vectors, and then, a pencils bust by /u/Lunatic_Pangolin. I'm delighted with them, perhaps needless to say. ^_^

Whilst the Kickstarter for the David Bowie statue is concluded, the latest update notes that if anyone's still interested in chipping in for any of the reward levels, that does remain an option. They're on course for a September 2017 unveiling, with the sculptor now working on the maquette; once that's complete and approved, then the full size version can begin. ^_^

Here's some geeky fun: a presentation at one of the CCC shindigs, on hacking the PS4. =:D

If you're looking to rent a DSLR lens and/or body, LensesForHire are again running a February special: this time, all rates are 25% off for any bookings made before the end of the month, and they'll supply a 25% coupon for any future use. Bookings can be as far ahead as they'll accept (at least six months, ISTR), and there's no problem rescheduling a booking, provided there's enough notice (a fortnight, I believe). I'm happy to recommend them - reasonable rates, and they're fine with courier delivery and collection, or in person (though they'll meet you at a nearby cafe, given the location itself holds quite a lot of value in total =:). In the past, I've borrowed a Sigmonster from them, to see how it'd work out as a wildlife lens (answer: it's a very good lens with superb reach, but the weight means a tripod & gimbal mount is mandatory, so you can't just go wandering and quickly take advantage of a spontaneous moment), and Nikkor 200-400mm f/4 for wildlife and an airshow, where it acquitted itself admirably in both contexts, though inevitably, at the cost of double the weight of my usual Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S; my shoulders were not very amused the day after the airshow. ^_^; As an indication of the costs, their normal rates for those two are £214 and £190 respectively for 5 days (minimum of 3 days), for lenses that currently sell new for around £5500 and £5000. I notice they're now offering the D500, amongst other bodies, for £147 for 5 days, before discount.. if I do take advantage of the offer, that's probably what I'd try this time around, as I'm interested to see just how good the new autofocus module really is (the same as in the new flagship, the D5), and the ability to get 10fps in continuous mode could be very useful in those wonderful action moments.

Saturday saw a window of a couple hours of bright winter sun, so of course, I had to scamper off for some rabbiteering - and the buns were happy to oblige. ^_^ Evidently, there's one bun expecting before too long, as she's out gathering straw for the nest for her babies. Unfortunately, that means nothing to some others, including one buck who decided she deserved to be pursued aggressively. Thankfully, despite getting perilously close, she departed untouched. ^_^ Through the rest of the afternoon, I'd see her take the same route, gathering straw consignments. Ah, soon, there'll be a few new tinybuns to observe. =:D

And a fraction of a second later..

It's been confirmed: Peter Capaldi will leave Doctor Who, with the 2017 Christmas special being his swan song. I'll miss his brash style, but, I'm grateful for what he brought to the show, and it does mean we get to play with the delicate sensibilities of fen who reject the concept that a time-travelling nigh immortal alien who can regenerate from almost any mortal peril, into an entirely new body, couldn't possibly alter their skin tone or gender along the way. =:D At least that canard's been put to rest with the advent of the quite superb Missy, mercifully. And, not too long to go now: we'll see the Doctor again on April 15 2017. ^_^

So, who would you invite to the role? Beyond Joanna Lumley, who goes without saying. ^_^ I'd be supremely tempted to ask Lori Petty. Patrick Stewart would be great fun as well, with the bonus spectacle of geek heads exploding everywhere. =:) Thinking a little more inside the box, Eva Green comes to mind - though she's probably too busy to commit to a multi-year production schedule.

I am absolutely loving these boxed wine reviews. =:D

What's your backup regimen? Do you have one? In my case, it's primarily macOS' own Time Machine, which simply performs incremental backups every hour, in the background, keeping those for a couple weeks, then culling older ones to leave daily, and so on, as far back as space permits. Then, for the photography, I'll also occasionally copy the Aperture library over to a soft RAID of two external drives, and complete libraries (I cycle them out when they reach more than around 50GB) onto another external. I'd like to have something off-site as well, given the above won't help if there's a thorough burglary or bad fire, though I'd at least have lower resolution JPEG versions of some of the better ones on Flickr and 500px. Ultimately, I'd like to set up a proper server, with space for several drives - maybe something prepared, eg Synology or QNAP, or home made, using Unraid. With the latter, I'd ideally want the system to be something compact, along the lines of a Mac mini, adding external drives as desired, rather than a hefty server case, but I'll have to research whether Unraid even supports external USB3 or Thunderbolt drives. (I wouldn't be looking for speed, so everything hanging off a USB hub would be fine - it'd be running over 802.11ac anyway, again assuming that's no problem for Unraid)

Heh, not bad - the last Transferwise transaction took a matter of hours to complete, from initiating payment via ACH, to availability. Why on Earth can't/don't the banks offer such a service themselves, rather than leaving it to third parties? Friction, I suppose - enough people will pay the standard international transfer fees, versus seeking such alternatives? (xe.com is another such; it used to be rather more complex to set up a transaction, but I believe that's changed recently, with the back end migrated to a different financial provider)

Glar. Whether it's Apple or Google at fault, I don't yet know, but this is quite annoying - now, it seems after I restart Hazel, or even just change IPs, Google requests re-entering all my Google Apps (in my case, just email) passwords. Which, of course, it refuses to just accept from the Keychain - I've got to perform that manually. Adding in Mail's obstinance with occasionally being "unable" to send email with a bogus authentication failure, and I'm wondering if it isn't time to just be rid of both Mail and GMail. Perhaps I'll set up a VM sometime, and test out any adequate clients, to see how well they can cope with a large archive, multiple accounts, and a good number of filter rules to keep all the mailboxes in order. (Ah, Eudora.. much as I loved NextStep taking over from classic Mac OS as the future OS' foundation, having to eventually leave Eudora behind was one step I regretted - always perfectly reliable, and fast)
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."
Here's a fun little bit of TV archaeology: the first episode of the UK version of Family Fortunes (née Family Feud), dating from Jan 6 1980.

Yay, Arrival is finally coming to downloads! iTunes US will see it on Jan 31 2017, for $15, extras included. ^_^ iTunes UK isn't showing a date yet, unfortunately. Amazon US is saying Feb 14 2017 for the physical releases, including a 4K BD edition, for $30 (or $25 for BD, $20 for DVD). I missed it in cinemas (well, TBH, more a matter of little motivation, with the local place being just your average multiplex, same anywhere in the world), so this is one title I'm especially looking forward to. Without any spoilers, please, how much rewatchability would you say it has? If it's any comparison, I thoroughly enjoyed Contact, which rests within the fairly modest number of DVDs I actually did play several times.

Speaking of DVDs, I actually bought a few on Tuesday, contrary to my strong preference for digital-only media, thanks to their very low price. ^_^; A friend had let me know the night before that a particular place had a cheap copy of Satantango (a film you need to set aside about seven hours for =:). Perhaps needless to say, I was unduly tempted, and also picked up a box of the Leningrad Cowboys, including their magnificent concert with the Red Army Choir; Code Unknown, which sounded quite interesting; A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, which looked much too strange to ignore; and The Night is Young. FWIW, if you haven't heard, or even heard of, the Leningrad Cowboys, YouTube can oblige: here's a playlist of tracks from said production. It is quite gloriously daffy.

Most cool! In an apparent first, the US Mint will be producing - albeit only as a high denomination collectors' gold coin - a coin with a black Lady Liberty. It's in commemoration of the Mint's 225th anniversary, with future designs exploring other ethnicities as well. ^_^ (h/t supergee)

And technology progresses.. Kingston's announced 1TB and 2TB thumb drives. =:D (Cue memory of the Mars University library on two tiny storage devices, per Futurama. Come to that, are we there already? I wonder how much storage you'd need to digitise an entire large library.. well, the British Library lays claim to 150,000,000 items, but that includes not just books and documents, but audio, maps, stamps, and more. Still, if you say roughly 100m books and magazines, stored purely as high resolution images - let's say 1MB per page, and an average of 250 pages (magazines and newspapers would be lower, books likely higher), so that's 250MB per publication. Multiply that by 100m, and you're at 25PB. So, using those 2TB sticks, you'd need around 12,000. They're 72x27x21mm each, so if you treble the volume to allow for cabling and ventilation, so about 120cm3 each. Multiply by 12,000 gives about 1,500,000cm3, or about 1.5 cubic meters. Wow)
It would appear the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu are returning. =:D

We may well get to see two stars colliding in 2022, likely forming one of the brightest night sky objects. For now (as far as we can see), they're two tightly orbiting stars, approaching closer and closer.

Could be interesting: Hasbro's launching Hanazuki on Jan 12. "Starting with nine, 11-minute episodes that are a mix of colorful psychedelia crossed with anime influences, viewers will meet a girl named Hanazuki, who is gifted with powers that are tied to her many moods. In her orbit are bunny-like creatures called Hemkas, a sheriff of the moon named Dazzlessence Jones, and Kiazuki, who may or may not be a friend." I am, of course, entirely uninfluenced by the presence of bunny-like characters. The show's homepage is over yonder.

So, I finally got to see Max Max: Fury Road, as an old Uni friend's stayed for a few days over the New Year. It was.. interestingly feminist, though basically devoid of story. I'm pleased I finally got to see it, but also content I didn't go for it at iTunes' recent bargain basement price.

The full cast for Star Trek: Discovery has been unveiled. Breaking with convention, the lead isn't a captain, but a lt commander, referred to as Number One, apparently in homage to Majel Barrett's original role in the pilot. It'll debut in May 2017 with a 13-episode series. Summarising, there'll be:

Main cast:
Sonequa Martin-Green as Rainsford: lieutenant commander of the USS Discovery.
Doug Jones as Saru: A Science Officer serving as a lieutenant aboard the Discovery.
Anthony Rapp as Stamets: A Science Officer specializing in astromycology.

Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou: Captain of the USS Shenzhou.
Shazad Latif as Kol: Commanding Officer of the Klingons, and protege of T'Kuvma.
Chris Obi as T'Kuvma: A Klingon leader who is looking to unite the Klingon houses.
Mary Chieffo as L'Rell: Battle Deck Commander of the Klingon ship.

Minor PSA for UK peeps: there's a new central number to call if you experience a power cut: 105, which will put you through to your local network operator.

Saturday was magnificent fun, getting to finally meet up with an old Bay friend for the first time since probably 2005. We chatted about his motivation to leave the US for Rotterdam, happening in the coming weeks, my photography win last year, who indeed is Best Pony, and much more. ^_^ We wound up going to a pub that seemed to have quite an interesting menu, and reviewed well on TripAdvisor, and yes, from the moment I walked in, I had a good feeling, with seating including armchairs, benches, stools, and dining chairs, so you could make yourself comfortable as suited you. As for the food: well, yes. =:9 We started with cod cheek scampi with nduja aioli, and artichoke ravioli with truffle, but it was when our six-hour braised beef ribs arrived that we gasped. ^_^; We were defeated, but to good effect - the bones have been simmering for a couple days, for some very good stock, which'll be the basis of something delicious later this week.

A little one-shot furry anime: Buta, 24 mins long.

A few music videos, if you're up for them:

- Renaldo and the Loaf, "A Convivial Ode". Long-running surrealist music project, probably familiar to fans of The Residents, this is their first track and video since the 80s.
- My Russian Pony, "Happy New Year". It's a SFM-produced video, so to me, the faces never really look quite right, but the track's simply so buoyant that it's impossible to care.
- Marjan Farsad, "Khooneye Ma". Beautifully sung track, with an elegantly animated video.
- Elle King, "Ex's and Oh's". If you love the brassy stylings of singers like Shirley Bassey, you'll want to try this.

Blar. I really enjoy the Phoenix Wright (et al) games, but the latest iOS release seems to have skipped a Capcom QA stage or two, plus introducing some less than optimal changes, notably that previously, you could choose (if things went sufficiently wrong with your choices) to resume at one of a few midpoints in a case. No longer! Apollo Justice only offers resuming from the very start of each case. Which, having encountered a bug, looks like my only option in case 3. No huge matter, in the grand scheme of things, but still, it'll be a bit tedious, spending a couple hours winding through the case, only to reach Investigation Day 2, where things went awry. I've filed a bug report with Support, but given we're talking about Capcom, I suspect my only option now is to just start the case afresh, and grind through the first half again. (Or give up on it and request a refund, but I'd prefer to enjoy it all, despite an annoying hitch)
Apparently, some iPlayer users accessing the service on particular TVs are now being offered the option to preview Ultra HD HDR test footage, including a four minute segment from Planet Earth II. Personally, I'd really enjoy seeing some high framerate tests, too - even interpolation of 25 or 30fps material, performed well, can make quite a substantial difference, especially in action sequences.

Robocop's designer is now working on a four meter high robot, which the manufacturer expects to sell for around $8m each. (Of course, it's from Asia - South Korea)

Here's some encouragement for webcam owners to set a password: The Insecam Project, making a large database of unsecured webcams available and searchable by country, manufacturer, and more.

There are bunnies! Around my usual circuit, that is. ^_^ Over October, November, and December, I'd seen very few around - perhaps one rather bored individual in one spot, and that'd be it. On Thursday, though - no bunucopia, but there were one or two at all of the spots, including maybe four at my main spot. =:D No amazing shots to show for it, I'm afraid, but I'm nonetheless delighted to see some actual activity again.

Autostraddle has a particularly good obituary for Carrie Fisher. It's not merely a recitation of her roles, but what she brought to them, and her life outside film, including being a vociferous advocate of mental health and eliminating the stigma still associated with it. It (almost) concludes with the quite perfect line: "Remember the white dress I wore all through that film? George came up to me the first day of filming, took one look at the dress, and said: "You can't wear a bra under that dress." "OK, I'll bite," I said. "Why?" and he said "Because.. there's no underwear in space." He said it with such conviction. Like he had been to space and looked around and he didn't see any bras or panties anywhere. He explained. "You go into space and you become weightless. Then your body expands but your bra doesn't, so you get strangled by your own underwear." I think that this would make for a fantastic obituary. I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra."

Dreams are always rather wonderfully odd things, but I'm wondering quite what led to me dreaming of being on a runaway narrowboat. ^_^; (I was cogent enough to realise there wasn't much of a problem as long as we were on the level, but I wasn't sure what to do when we hit a lock) Coming soon as a major motion picture!
Music video for the week is easily Steam Powered Giraffe "Malfunction". It's a song with meaning, beside being a fabulous track in its own right. (h/t jenn_dolari!)

/u/marshykip very kindly drew me. ^_^

Chris Kluwe outdoes even The Rude Pundit, in this fabulous diatribe, so tragically warranted.

So, I finally became the last person on the planet to buy Kerbal Space Program. ^_^ The latest 66% off sale swung me over. (Of course, at a time when I can't actually take advantage of it, being down at my mother's for Yule, and consequently, reliant on cellular connectivity - specifically, 6GB at full speed, and unlimited thereafter at 256kbps)

And of course, whatever you're celebrating around now, I hope everyone has a wonderful time. ^_^ Here, the duck's coming out of the oven in a bit, with the rather too snug fitting roasting pan now laden down with parsnips (microwaved to prepare them), roast potatoes (where I admittedly cheated and bought pre-prepared ones - a little stupidly, I bought the ones in duck fat, not remembering what they were going to be cooking with =:), brussels, and stuffing (some good sausage meat, a couple extra herbs, and several portabellini chopped up finely). Then there's also some red cabbage that's been microwave simmering away, some carrot batons I'll pop into the micro when it's time to serve, and gravy, which'll be just some granules, boosted with some extra herbs, and - well, I thought a slightly boozy gravy would work well with the duck, and thought Rumbullion might be just the ticket.. oh, well, such a pity that leaves much of the bottle unused. =:) And to go with it, a bottle of 2014 Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve Selection, which sounded just right to work against such a tasty bird.

[ETA] Et voilà! Oh, yes, that worked. ^_^ It's lacking in artfulness, but not in flavor. =:9