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It is conceivable some may not yet have seen this Dinosaur Comic on furries. =:D

Agent A continues! The story's next installment (a little confusingly called the third chapter, as the first part's since been split into two chapters) is now available! Apparently, they're aiming for a total of five chapters. Remarkably, it's a free update - hopefully with some means of offering some kind of payment, given this reflects months more work by the team, but I haven't yet had a good chance to try it out.

The Bunnykick: a double (50ml) of Sipsmith VJOP, topped up with plenty of ice, and then Fever Tree ginger ale to a half pint. You'll remember it. ^_^ (VJOP is their "navy strength" version, at 57.7%, fortified with further botanicals)

Was it nou who showed off their spice selection a while back? Here's my current selection. Not shown: several more within the core. =:) Those are the less frequently used ones, like ras el hanout, and long pepper, plus a couple bags of ginger and cumin at the end, just peeking through. The little unmarked tub is black cardamom, which needs to be restocked before long. (I tend to use it mostly in Bolognese sauce - adds just that bit of robustness to the tomato)

Show me yours? ^_^

Radio Garden loads up a globe, and overlays all the radio stations it knows about. Zoom in and explore, and listen to any of them. It's really quite magical.

Here's a series of tweets noting the rather extensive ties the Trump team has with Putin.

Last Saturday, I set about creating a random beef dish. ^_^ I was nosing around one of my preferred supermarkets, and noticed the butcher counter had ox cheek, and for very little money too. Of course, I had to pick up a hefty chunk, aware it's both beautifully flavorsome, and in need of plenty of cooking. I was a little worried that maybe I could've done with a slightly larger cut, so I picked up some thickly sliced chorizo as well, both for the texture and its own flavor. What I actually wound up doing was slicing several portabellini mushrooms thickly into the crockpot, along with a can of good French onion soup. I then sautéed a red onion in a little olive oil, to help reinforce the base of the sauce, and added that as well, then sat the cheek on top. Then, some initial herbings: some rosemary, basil, sweet smoked paprika, Tellicherry pepper, and some ginger & garlic paste, plus a bit of olive oil, to ensure the meat didn't wind up going dry through what would, after all, be a long braising, this being 3am, with the intent of serving in the evening. ^_^

I turned out not to really need tweaking the seasoning - it was quite nomworthy around lunchtime as was, but I did add a bit of the red wine the roomie had picked up, to help add further body to the sauce, and turned the (same) cheek over again. I perhaps should've remembered to thicken the sauce toward the end, but, no matter. ^_^ I served it with boiled brussels and roasted carrots that had been soaking for a couple hours in very sweet water, along with gnocchi. Suffice to say - I'm happy with how it turned out. It doesn't really look all that amazing (TBH, not much of my cooking does =:), but the cheek was as tender as anyone could have wished for, needing but a nudge with a knife to cut it, and a hearty, zingy gravy, backed up by some balanced vegetables and their textures & flavors, and that nicely potatoey base.

Behold: perhaps the most perfect canid eyeroll ever. ^_^

Here's rather an interesting DSLR macro lens (available in just about every mount): Zhongyi Mitakon 20mm f/2.0, offering 4-4.5x magnification. Manual focus only, unsurprisingly, but the sample photos indeed look promising, and it's very reasonably priced at a recommended $199.

Of some nerdy interest, maybe? We've all seen YouTube videos where, once you've posted them, you get to realise the uploader's chosen to block them in some arbitrary set of countries. But lo! There is a site that can advise. ^_^ eg The Daily Show's Year in Review is apparently blocked in Australia and Canada; now you can see just where YouTube's geoblocking is being applied. And likewise, if you're affected, there appears to be an easy alternative.

We were watching Mystery Diners last night - it's somewhat trashy TV, but I confess, it holds a certain appeal - and they visited an apparently prominent club in LA, and wound up with something of a train wreck where there's not much sympathy to be had for anybody involved. We start with the owners, who charge a mere $5000 per bed (they mostly have just beds and tables) per night; then the manager, who's found to be buying vodka from a local discount warehouse and sending his own "staff" around selling it for a mere $200/bottle (a mid-range rum was said to be $550, by comparison), the proceeds of course going straight into the manager's pocket, in cash; and the wait staff leader, seeing her sales swiped away, proceeds to tell customers that the kitchen's closed, but they can offer "gourmet sausages" from the bar menu, for only $15 each, which she promptly buys from the street vendor just outside. =:D
The David Bowie statue Kickstarter I mentioned a month or so ago succeeded in its target, putting on a truly impressive sprint - the project was around £63K on Saturday, £73K on Sunday, and Monday saw them breach £103K. =:D I'm really looking forward to seeing the final work once it's installed. Ha, just look at that final sprint!

Everyone knows about the original Humble Bundle. This one, however, is special. =:D Imagine you're Neil Gaiman. You've got some really nifty books, comics, and scripts long, long out of print, sometimes only ever appearing in an obscure small press title, or never even intended to be published. So that's what this is all about:

I'd put into the Humble Bundle all the rare things we could find.

Books that were long out of print, stories and such that collectors would pay hundreds of dollars for, obscure and uncollected comics and pamphlets and magazine articles. Even the things I am still vaguely embarrassed by (like the Duran Duran biography, a hardcover copy of which, as I said, can set you back thousands of dollars these days, if you can find one).

Books which have been out of print for 30 years, like GHASTLY BEYOND BELIEF, a collection of quotations from the strangest SF and Fantasy books and movies that Kim Newman and I made when we were 23 and 24 respectively. Things that were absolutely private and never before sold, like LOVE FISHIE, a book of poems and letters from my daughter Maddy (aged 8) to me, and from me back to Maddy, that was made into a book (with help from my assistant the Fabulous Lorraine) as a gift for my 42nd birthday.

Two long out-of-print books from Knockabout Comics: OUTRAGEOUS TALES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT and SEVEN DEADLY SINS, with stories written and or drawn by me, Alan Moore, Hunt Emerson, Dave Gibbons, Dave McKean and a host of others.

Rare out-of-print comics stories by me and Bryan Talbot, by me and Mark Buckingham, even by me and Bryan Talbot and Mark Buckingham.

There would be small-press short story and suchlike collections like ANGELS AND VISITATIONS and the LITTLE GOLD BOOK OF GHASTLY STUFF containing stories that went on to win awards and be collected in the more big, official collections (Smoke and Mirrors, etc), and stories no-one has seen since, not to mention non-fiction articles, like the one about the effects of alcohol on a writer, or the one where I stayed out for 24 hours on the streets of Soho, that are now only whispered in rumours.

There would even be a short story of mine, “Manuscript Found in a Milk Bottle”, published in 1985, that is so bad I've never let it be reprinted. Not even to give young writers hope that if I was that awful once, there is hope for all of them.

I really need to get some of the recent Bay photos up.. ^_^; In the meantime, here's one that just tickles me - it's that fabulously brisk stride both the dog and their human are showing. Is it not a minor delight? ^_^

Saturday saw me attempting to make sushi. ^_^; I started with the correct rice (defeated by a GPRS-only signal inside the supermarket, I was saved by a display helpfully next to their in-store sushi preparers with various relevant supplies, including a box marked SUSHI RICE), then polished it four times, and left it to sit for half an hour in just enough water to cover it, plus a bit. Surprisingly, to me at least, it continued to absorb quite a bit of water in that time, so I topped it up, and carefully oversaw it for about 15 mins cooking, turned it out onto a big plate, sprinkled rice seasoning on, turned that around gently, and left it to cool, covered by some film. It proved quite difficult to resist snacking away on sticky rice balls. =:9 And then it came time for the sushi itself. ^_^; In the end, I made five rolls, with the first two being unfortunately rather scruffy, as my usual large knife simply wasn't cutting it, literally. Mercifully, the roomie came to the rescue with a sharpening stone he'd had tucked away, which made for actually quite tidy cuts. ^_^ I think the one starring tempura king prawns perhaps worked the best, with that lovely bit of crunch adding that extra texture.

It appears that the Horizon following up on Fleischmann & Pons' "cold fusion" experiments, or rather, a few groups who'd set about similar experimentation themselves, was indeed on the right track: there is indeed a legitimate phenomenon at work, even if inadequately understood.

Interesting.. a little while back, Napster's founder was floating the idea of "Screening Room", a service offering film rentals for home viewing while they're still playing in cinemas. Of course, the studios have been reluctant, with rampant paranoia over piracy. It now appears Apple's in similar discussions, though again, encountering the same reluctance. Personally, I'd love to see a new film at home - multiplexes lack any magic for me, whilst at home, there's no risk of others talking or taking phone calls, and the food and drink is much, much better. =:) The kind of cinema that does pull me in is - well, there's the fabulous 1920s movie palace of the Castro Theatre, which until a couple years ago, had its mighty Wurlitzer organ emerging from the floor, for a ten minute performance before the screenings. Or even the Little, in Bath, crammed into a Georgian city center terrace, brimming with atmosphere.

I so regret not recording the doorbell a couple weeks ago. The battery in the bell box was evidently giving its last gasps, with absolutely wonderful musical results. Normally, it's just an electronic chime of the eight notes of (yes, I know it's not the actual name of the clock) Big Ben. Then, however, it took on a new dimension, with the notes randomly warbly wavering up and down.

Has anyone seen Long Way North? It's a French/Danish animated feature, about a young Russian aristocrat who embarks on a long journey to find her grandfather. It's available on DVD, or in HD/SD from iTunes UK (English voicework only) for £10, or iTunes US ($13, coming Jan 3 2017).

Health insurance company Vitality has an interesting angle on getting an Apple Watch series 2 for £69 - the caveat is you must keep earning "activity points". It's structured as an interest free loan over 24 months - if you're a complete couch potato, you pay £12.50 that month, with a discount of £2.50, £5, £7.50, £10, or £12.50 applied depending on how many points you earn that month. The number of points earned for different activity levels are listed over here.

The BBC's confirmed the Doctor Who special's time: 5.45pm on Christmas Day, and airing the same day on BBC America, and on the 26th in Australia, on ABC. Thinking of festive feasting, do you have any thoughts yet on what the centerpiece of the meal will be? I think we're leaning toward duck - it's a more traditional bird than turkey anyway, and vastly tastier without having to resort to brining. That said, if you do go with turkey, I can highly recommend brining to help bring it extra flavor very easily - just sit the bird in a bath of water, salt, and whatever herbs you care to add (rosemary, garlic, and pepper, f'rex) for a couple days in the fridge.

Zootopia was just given a prestigious gong: best animated film of 2016, by the New York Film Critics Circle.

There may be an Invader Zim TV movie on the way. =:D

Courtesy of a friend over on SLU, a rather fun track from an Iqaluit based band, The Jerry Cans: Northern Lights - and this time, the same track to a different video, in Inuktitut. It's sort of folk music-ish, but don't let that put you off. =:) It's a brilliantly vibrant track, in whichever tongue you choose. ^_^
So, I bought the new Ghostbusters unseen. Now to find out if I'll regret my purchase, or snuggle up to it and all the extras included. ^_^ FSM knows I watched the original many times - maybe this will turn out the same way, and help reignite my love of filmwatching. (The sequel I recall not being a patch on the original, but to be fair, that was after a long leg of a roadtrip to ConFurence, so I probably wasn't in the best mindset for a film) Well.. I like it. Quite a bit. ^_^ They're very much their own films, thankfully, just with a similar storyline and characters. I wanna be Holtzmann when I grow up. =:) And her grand moment toward the end.. just wonderful. =:D I wonder if IDW will be producing comics with the new Ghostbusters? I also took the opportunity to pick up a copy of Kubo and the Two Strings, which I've begun watching, and.. ye gods, even by Laika's standards, they're working some magic. ^_^ (There's also a four-film set on iTunes US, with Kubo, Coraline, ParaNorman, and Boxtrolls for $35, though sadly, no extras on PN or Coraline. In the UK, it looks like it'll be coming out in early January) And yes.. I think it's all actually helping reignite my love of enjoying good film. ^_^

I sent a little message the other day to Dan Piraro, of Bizarro fame, wondering if they might have considered a Patreon (answer: they're interested, but right now, the move down to an idyllic spot down in Mexico's occupying their attention), and noted "Momentary" along the way. Reply: "I shared your email with Dan and he said the photo behind that link is truly, unbelievably, in the original sense of the word, awesome!" Now that's an endorsement I'm very proud of. ^_^

I must see if I can find out the story behind this costume/sculpture.. ^_^

I'd love to hear about your favorite gig. ^_^ There must be some great tales to be told. For me, it's nothing wildly exciting, just huge fun: 1996, LA, on our way to see Orbital at the Hollywood American Legion. We feared we were too late, having set off late from San Diego, but with some light drizzle, everyone else was even later, so we actually wound up being early, sort of. And thus I spent the entire night between the speaker stacks. Oh, that was some good, good sub-bass. Spleen approved!

Nintendo's partnering with Universal to bring Nintendo themed areas to Universal parks in Universal Studios Japan, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood. =:D "These will be expansive, immersive and interactive. They will be highly themed and authentic environments filled with multiple attractions, shops and restaurants. Guests will feel as if they are playing inside their favorite games – this time in real life."

This new luxury train in Japan looks like it'd make for a rather delightful journey, ne? The ten cars will be host to thirty passengers, with "six sleeping cars, a lounge car, a dining car and an observation car at either end of the train", and the "dining car has a formal, yet comfortable, atmosphere. The cuisine will be overseen and made on-board by world-class chefs in an open kitchen."

Is anybody else following the current "MasterChef: The Professionals"? I'd love to be able to revel in the goings-on with someone else. ^_^ I'm especially keen to see how Roseanna fares - despite her age, she really seems to get it, let alone her aptitude for presentation, outpacing chefs who've been in the industry for a decade or two longer. Maybe she'll stumble at some point in the competition, but so far, I'm seriously impressed - I'd love to see what she's doing in another ten years!

Apropos Saturday's dinner, here's a not-so-random photo of one small sample of the bounteous sushi we enjoyed back at one of our old sushi haunts, back in the East Bay. ^_^ I certainly won't promise Saturday's efforts will resemble this in much more than containing fish. =:)

Following on from a discussion with kishenehn, I'm wondering: are you using an S1 or S2 journal style? Me, I'm still happily on S1 - I haven't felt any need to change it, as I'm simply content with the style as is. (And no, "like" buttons aren't going to lure me over =:)

If you're minded to have your email hosted independently, Migadu appear to offer an appealing proposition: all their paid accounts cover unlimited domains, addresses, and storage, rather than - as is almost universally the case - per account. There are three paid tiers, differing only in how many messages you can send per day, starting at $5/mo or $48/yr, permitting 100 outbound messages a day. There's even a free level, covering just a single domain, and they're explicit on the point that if you want to remain on that plan forever, you're welcome to do so. They're a Swiss company, so, as far as is reasonably practicable, they're liable to take your privacy seriously, though it appears some of their hosting is with the French vendor OVH, which may complicate jurisdiction.

Okay, this is shaping up to be quite the nerd entry. ^_^ I stumbled upon this fascinating TV history tidbit: "The 1943-44 television committee appointed to coordinate British television after the war (known as the Hankey Committee) recommended that a high-definition (1000-line) colour television system based on Baird’s Telechrome should be implemented after the end of the war. Due to the difficult post-war conditions and Baird’s premature death in 1946 these ambitious plans never materialised. The existing 405-line black-and-white television system developed by EMI in the pre-war period was expanded across Britain. British colour television broadcasts did not officially begin until 1967, over 20 years later." Could the UK really have had HD color TV by the 1950s, had things simply worked out a little differently? That seems like a huge challenge for the electronics and CRTs of the time.

thewayne pointed out rather a spiffy offer: the tech publisher PacktPub offers a free ebook every day. (Nov 29 2016's, f'rex, was Android Programming for Beginners, whilst today's is Blender 3D by Example)

Do you have an Apple TV (the current version, with fully fledged tvOS)? How's it worked out for you? I'm quite tempted, at some point - the BD player the roomie has, which we usually use, mostly works well for network playback, but it does throw up occasional issues. With an ATV, we'd have a zero-hassle option with constantly updated software, versus the current one, whose firmware hasn't been updated since purchase.

It's probably old hat to the avgeeks, but I found this clip rather amusing: pouring tea while performing a barrel roll. Yes, for real. ^_^

This will be the star of Saturday's dinner: sake. ^_^

Left to right, they're: Seitoku Junmai ginjo sake "Trapeza", Sohomare Tokubetsu Kimoto junmai sake "Heart and Soul", and Dewazakura Omachi ginjo sake "Jewel Brocade". As for food - well, I bought a salmon fillet, so about 1/3 of that is now sitting in a marinade of water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lots of dill, and a little sugar, for some nommy sashimi. The rest will probably go into a few maki - I picked up a ripe avocado, spring onions, cucumber, and cream cheese, as well as some sea bass, and I've got some crab defrosting as well, plus panko crumb and tempura mix. Then there's some roast salmon pate, chargrilled artichokes, Iberico ham, a raw milk French cheese that looked irresistible, and lemon arancini, so between all that and the sushi, we should have flavors aplenty to complement the three quite different sake. ^_^

Hm! This might be worth checking out, for anyone with an iThing: Attenborough Story of Life, free.
"• Explore the most comprehensive collection of Sir David’s work ever released online.
• Includes six decades of highlights from more than 40 landmark BBC programmes, including Planet Earth, Blue Planet, The Life of Mammals, Africa and others.
• Watch unique collections of films curated by Sir David and others.
• Create and save your own collections and share them with friends and family.
• Hunt for hidden films featuring Sir David, recorded exclusively for the app.
• Explore extraordinary sequences of animals and plants, from iconic large species to rarely seen enigmatic creatures. See them hunt, mate, eat, travel and communicate in their natural habitats; ranging from the high mountains to the deepest oceans, across deserts, forests and the polar ice caps."

NIH announced that they've "identified an antibody from an HIV-infected person that potently neutralized 98 percent of HIV isolates tested, including 16 of 20 strains resistant to other antibodies of the same class. The remarkable breadth and potency of this antibody, named N6, make it an attractive candidate for further development to potentially treat or prevent HIV infection, say the researchers."

A friend recently finished working on Sainsbury's Christmas ad, which is indeed quite superb - all stop-motion animated. They've been working on it since April. =:D And here's a look behind the scenes.

And here's a peek at the Doctor Who Christmas special, c/o Children in Need.

Star Trek: Discovery has cast Michelle Yeoh, potentially as the show's lead. And amongst the endless remakes: Lost in Space, coming as a ten episode season to Netflix in 2018.

I recently revisited one of my favorite watering holes, and enjoyed a quite superb fish dish: monkfish in herbed crumb, with a lemon Hollandaise, atop tenderstem broccoli and roasted heritage potatoes. A veritable delight, with that succulent fish, almost better than lobster, married to the gentle acidity of the sauce, plus just enough crunch from the broccoli, and all with the comfy potatoes backing it up. ^_^

Here's an article that anyone who considers themselves a PC gamer should read: Video Games are Boring, from a veteran game designer. (h/t supergee) "I love video games and I work with people who love video games. But when I listen to Kristina describe the video games she says she wishes she could play, the video games she says she wishes existed-games that would sound extremely boring to most gamers but interesting to most of my friends-I realize that I too would love those games so much more. Listening to Kristina made me realize that I hadn't been having good ideas. I realized that I had been working with people who think too similarly to myself, who draw on the same cultural references (geek culture), who use the same game design theory that was developed mainly by (white, male) gamers for (white, male) gamers. I realized that I was stuck. This is what happens when everyone is the same as each other. We make boring things."

On a minor and fun note: iOS users can now pick up free Star Billions stickers. ^_^ As for season 3, its conclusion, they're apparently aiming for a January 2017 release. Not long now!

"Oh Hey! It's Alyssa" is a fortnightly comic running on Autostraddle, which is well worth looking at, if you're into slice-of-life introspection. Here's episode 9, the most recent, by way of an example. It's not madcap or surreal, but rather, realistic, even if cartoonishly presented.

Rather lovely. ^_^ Here's Claridge's Christmas tree, this year designed by Jony Ive and Marc Newson. Breaking with convention, it's not so much the tree, but the space. I'd wander along, but I doubt I'd be able to capture anything better than the publicity photo.

Thursday evening saw the roomie and I wander along into town for the Christmas lights turning on. ^_^ No huge ceremony, or world-famous guests - simply a good, family-friendly time when the center of town is thronged by crowds enjoying nommy munchables (in my case, a chickenn tikka marinated skewer, the meat cut off and sliced into a naan. So very tasty!), the kids on all manner of miniature rides, and the secondary stage host to local schools showing off their vocal talents, finishing off with a Salvation Army brass band. ^_^ We're both atheist, but there's no denying the wonder of some of these classic numbers, rendered with such love.

Nintendo's announced the release date and price for Super Mario Run: it'll be a free download, with a single $9.99 IAP to unlock the full game, and it'll be coming to the App Store on Dec 15 2016. As the embedded video demonstrates, it's only technically an autorunner - really more of a Super Mario platformer where he happens to always be on the move. Myself? I'd be willing, but I've already got so many great platformers to get through, like Leo's Fortune and Paper Monsters Recut. Animal Crossing, though, I'll be there for on launch day, assuming they take a similar approach to IAPs there as well. (The news of which apparently bumped their share price by some 5%)

And, Capcom's just released Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney on iOS, and on Android come Dec 8. Needless to say, I bought it the second it hit the App Store. ^_^ (I wonder if Franziska von Karma will be back.. doesn't look like it so far) It's 99¢/79p to download, including the first half of the first case, with the rest and the other cases available separately, or as a bundle for $14.99/£10.99.

A good review of the new MacBook Pros, over on Ars Technica, with a particular eye for details, down to the low end model's 802.11ac WiFi topping out at 867Mbps, but 1.3Gbps for the touchbar models.

Many of you may already know of the Hydraulic Press Channel on YouTube. Now, there's the Waterjet Channel too, starring a 60000psi jet - eg cutting an old Canon SLR in half. ^_^; (I'll admit to being amused by their surprise discovery of the pentaprism, aka "block of glass" =:)

Once in a while, the spirit of the BBC shines through, as in this clip from the end of Newsnight earlier this month. "You might have seen the demand by Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell that BBC One should play God Save the Queen at the end of the day's programming to mark our departure from the EU. Well, we're not BBC One and it's not quite the end of the day, but we're happy to oblige."

Amongst the words censored by EA's Scrabble app (at least, the crusty 2013 version I keep around; they later redesigned the board layout in a way I really didn't care for, and so, deliberately haven't updated it since): "damn". ^_^; "shag" is also absent, even if you meant the bird or carpet, likewise "fag". Yet, "wog" is valid (!), as is "spic".

Via nou, word of the fascinating concept of cured egg yolks, which are exactly what they sound like - yolks, separated from the rest of the egg, left to cure in a mix of salt and sugar, winding up quite firm after a month or so. "They tear apart with some effort, and grate easily into golden curls that are delicious sprinkled on salad or used in larger quantities on pasta (think of it as a drier way of approaching carbonara – or up the cream)." Don't suppose anyone's already made such, or is familiar with their use? They sound very useful - I sort of have to give them a try, just out of curiosity. ^_^

PlayDOSgamesOnline does just what it says: you can run any of a huge variety of games within DOSBox, in your browser. ^_^ eg Outpost and Bioforge.

Watching the BBC's recent "Scotch! The Story of Whisky" has been quite fascinating so far, with one tidbit I'd never been aware of: the pronunciation of Islay! I'd just been winging it with a fairly literal (to me) pronunciation as either izlay or eelay, when apparently, it's more like eye-lah. On which note, I am informed that Morrisons apparently now carry some of Professor Cornelius Ampleforth's fine wares, including his delicious Rumbullion, and delightfully mellow Bathtub Gin. If you like spiced rum, I can happily recommend Rumbullion, or indeed, its heftier kin, the Navy Strength version, with even more aromatics, and weighing in at an appropriate 57%. ^_^ Similarly the gin - if that's a drink you enjoy, the Navy Strength version is quite a special creature indeed. If you consider Martin Miller to be the word "Gin" inscribed lovingly in Copperplate, Navy Strength Bathtub Gin is chiseled in marble in Times Roman.

As you may have noticed by now, I find it oddly fascinating how films' availability and presentation varies across regions. ^_^; I've just noticed that whilst Ernest & Celestine is now available in HD in both the US and UK iTunes Stores, the US gets an English dub, whilst the UK receives a subtitled version of the French original. That said, going by the English trailer, it's a good version. Still, I so wish the iTunes Store management would push multiple language tracks - there's no technical basis for them not to be available, and indeed, now and then, they're around, but for whatever reasons, the studios seem disinclined to providing such. Even extras are subject to similarly arbitrary boundaries: Equestria Girls: Legend of Everfree has iTunes Extras in the US, but it's the feature alone in the UK; same story with Dredd.

What do you get when Porsche decides to go hybrid? The 918 Spyder, developing a peak of 887hp, for 0-60mph in 2.6s. ^_^; It's not that I have any personal interest in that kind of travel, so much as an appreciation for the sheer level of engineering and design involved.
mondhasen set me thinking over my last entry - how do folk add images to their entries? That is, how do you go about it, specifically? Do you upload to somewhere like imgur and add the URLs manually, or do you use LJ's rich text editor and let it take care of that? Or maybe a client app? Myself, I compose entries in a text editor, and add the URLs by hand. As for hosts, that's been imgur for a while, for general "images", and Flickr for my own photography. (Agh, I do hope Flickr's future remains assured, with Yahoo busily disintegrating. There are simply so many communities on Flickr! Hosting is comparatively trivial - getting people to establish communities is quite another matter, and seldom even touched upon in all the discussions I've read)

A Kickstarter to support: a David Bowie statue in Aylesbury Market Square, being the location he debuted Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust. They've secured the necessary permissions from the three councils involved, and even have a mask cast from his face, used in the filming of The Man Who Fell to Earth, so the likeness will be spot-on. The goal is £100,000, and they're at £17,505 after nine days, with 31 days to go. As far as they're aware, this will be the first David Bowie statue anywhere.

It doesn't matter if you're familiar with My Little Pony - this animation loop (as a GIF) is really quite nifty. ^_^ It's made of photos of fifteen carvings on eight pumpkins, each taking some seven hours to complete, with a total of 1000 photos taken before they narrowed the selection down. (h/t ungulata!) It's 3MB, so maybe best to wait if you're on a cellular piece of wet string.

I would be failing everyone were I to not highlight the trailer for Festival of the Spoken Nerd: Full Frontal Nerdity. ^_^ And you can buy the entire show, plus extras, DRM free, for a mere £τ.

I finally got to see Beyond Beyond, a Swedish animated feature, which I first encountered a couple years ago, but couldn't actually locate until recently. This was, unfortunately, with an autotranslated subtitles track, but nonetheless - I'd happily recommend it, if you might like a sort of modern fairy tale, animated, on a theme we'll all encounter sooner or later. The animation reminds me a little of Hoodwinked - they're perfectly aware they're not Pixar, and they're playing to that! It's quite a stylised look, but no less lovingly animated for that. It's available on iTunes, albeit with an English dub - but, with a cast including Cary Elwes and Patrick Warburton, that might actually be pretty good. ^_^

If you're sufficiently geekily inclined, here's a superb IEEE Spectrum article on the long path toward EUV lithography, which chip foundries expect to be crucial in going down to 7nm and smaller feature sizes in the next few years. It explains just how difficult progress has been - with the wavelengths involved being so much shorter than visible light, everything changes, with air being opaque, glass similarly, so lenses aren't an option, and even mirrors pose daunting challenges.

Just on the off-chance this'll show up in anybody else's searches on the topic: if you're having trouble with your Sennheiser headphones (the snappily named HD25-1 II, in my case, but it seems common across their range) exhibiting erratic loss of audio in one or both channels, fixed by nudging the cables around their entry point to the speakers, you may well not need to buy a replacement cable. Instead, try using some pliers to pull the connectors out, then plug them back in again. It seems the trouble is sometimes (often?) the pins making imperfect contact, not trouble with the cable. That's all but cured the problem here, though I have had to (literally) touch the right cable a couple times to restore perfect balance - otherwise, it's survived a normal cycle or two of being stuffed in the camera bag and taken out, and between rooms.

Might anyone have a monitor recommendation? ^_^ I'm pondering getting a small monitor to accompany Hazel, doubling as extension desktop space and TV. The catch appears to be that I don't really have space for anything big, and seemingly all the manufacturers dump fairly horrid resolution panels into monitors smaller than 24" or so - at 19", it seems to be a surprising challenge to find much at HD, let alone higher, with many at 1600x900, others not even that. Thin and light would be very good, and a wide color gamut would also be welcome. 17" would be ideal, 19" might be workable.. 15" might even be better. Internal speakers would be welcome, and I'd sort of prefer 16:9 (16:10 even better), but 4:3 would be okay.

Furry artwork of the week: The Quiet Forest, by Noben. (SFW) Such a delightfully serene, warmhearted scene. ^_^ (I haven't included an excerpt, as I couldn't really find a good crop - it needs to be viewed in its entirety)

Game of the week for me has to be PinOut, from Mediocre Games, of Does Not Commute. ^_^ It's sort of a pinball game, distilled into the game's essence, applied to a game that couldn't exist in the physical world. It's a little like an endless runner, in that the table is infinitely tall - your job, of course, is to accurately hit the ball such that you manage to ascend. It's all conducted in a gorgeously vivid environment strongly reminiscent of TRON, with a soundtrack to match. It's free, with a single IAP adding the ability to resume from checkpoints. I'll pay for that happily - this is much too good to simply enjoy for free!

Interesting to see the same flight I took a few weeks ago (the same plane, I believe) recently diverted to Vancouver when several staff took ill with some suspected ventilation fault. The investigation's ongoing, so few details have emerged, but it seems there was no lasting harm caused to any crew or passengers.

When life gives you a ginormous wildfire, make unique whisky. =:D (Originally typed as "wildlife"..)

These salt lamps are rather lovely. ^_^ Basically, a big chunk of Himalayan pink salt with a bulb inside, on a wooden base, so they give off quite an unusual, warm glow. Only downside is they ship with 15W pygmy incandescent bulbs, so I'd want to see if there are LED equivalents available, as they don't seem to last that long.

Doubtless inspired by the Mean Tweets series, here's Developers Read 1 Star Reviews.

Egh, I'll never understand publishers/labels/studios. How on Earth is it reasonable that The Art of Zootropolis is £20 as a physical hardcover, and £19 as a Kindle edition? Does the book really only cost £1 to produce, distribute, and deliver (free)? Bah.

The self-hosting seems to be working out - transfers, so far resulting purely from my previous entry, have cost 0.82¢. ^_^ Next, I think I want to get a simple gallery up, probably drawn directly from the previous site. If it turns out I need shopping cart functionality, I can always hop back onto SmugMug.
If you're looking for any fun fandom shirts or leggings, WeLoveFine's currently running a sale on many lines, until the end of Sunday, Pacific time - not many shirts, but quite a few dresses and leggings, often 70% off. ^_^ Be warned: if you're ordering internationally, don't bother trying to pay by card - their "security" is such that it simply won't work, failing with a spurious address mismatch error; they're aware of the problem, and it appears to be intentional. (Similarly, they don't support even separate billing and delivery addresses, which seems quite nonsensical to me) I should also note that the individual pages for each item don't necessarily reflect the sale price until you've added it to the cart.

With any luck, you may notice a change in my LJ entry's image URLs - I'm finally setting up (or trying to =:) my own hosting, both in anticipation of setting up some simple static hosting for my photography, and simply as a convenient LJ image host, given imgur seems to be growing increasingly discontent with its role as an image host. It's a little odd - for a long while, everything simply worked, but as of a few weeks ago, it began apparently insisting on Flash when presenting the list of URLs for a given image (direct link, image page, etc). That was easily worked around by identifying as an iPad, again, until recently, where even reaching the image's page became unreliable. =:/ I'm not quite sure what the strategy at work is, but it doesn't result in me being able to get images served more easily, so, here I am. =:/ It'll also mean being able to use my own image names (likewise, you'll get to see them too), rather than some letter soup issued by the host. The hosting's with NearlyFreeSpeech.net, with a nicely simple plan with no baseline cost for static sites, only a modest fee for traffic, of 25¢/GB. Hopefully that'll work out okay. ^_^; It's safe if it doesn't, though - you simply top up your account with whatever amount you want, and if something causes you to burn through it, it just stops when the funding's empty; there's no risk of being dinged hundreds or thousands through some traffic surge.

Some wonderful superhero TV teamups get illustrated, including a positively inspired TV Batman and The Tick. =:D

This looks like a fun Kickstarter: Minority Monsters ("They didn't know who they were - until they found themselves").

I'm watching Chappie, for the first time, and - agh, I'm feeling so mixed. Overall, I'm very much enjoying it - essentially, it's a combination of tales of how we're inherently influenced by our families, and those we associate with, and how divergent our potential paths in life can be, as well as a commentary on the validity of replacing a human police force with robots, and the hooks that gives such companies into the fabric of society, and much more. There's so much to think about - and that's something I love in a good film - yet, there are also frustrating plot holes that seem born of either laziness (they won't notice, or won't mind) or a curious deference to classic Hollywood style computer UIs. It's hardly as if realistic UIs affect the plot itself, but still, ought the director and writer(s) place such stumbling blocks along the way?

Food recommendation of the day: Waitrose's "Scottish langoustine terrine". It fulfills the promise - it's delicious, with the flavor of that wonderful crustacean throughout, multiplied by the rest of the terrine. Not cheap, at £4 for a modest pot, but then, langoustines aren't cheap. If you might like this kind of thing, you'll like this. ^_^ Value recommendation: Sainsbury's basics cooking bacon. About £1.20 for a 667g pack, and it's considerably less watery than Tesco's equivalent, and tending to be thicker slices, easier to use. Works brilliantly with some mushrooms, onions, and Campbell's mushroom soup as a spaghetti sauce. =:9 (Okay, there's more to it than that, but that gets into personal preference, like the particular herbs to use - I'm a sucker for rosemary in this setting)

Artists! Fancy a little logo commission? McMansion Hell wants one, and they're fine with paying for the work.

What's a good word for "checking a courier's site repeatedly until the package finally arrives"? Mercifully, in my case, a package dispatched last Thursday, with a cautionary "five working days" delivery time turned up on Saturday. ^_^ The coat is wonderful, I love the scarf, and I just wish the leggings were the right size - they'll have to go back, sadly, but returns are free. Oh, that coat, though! Such a lovely feel to the fabric, even inside the pockets. A great fit, too! And little details, too, like stitching the lining down the arms, so even if you're sweaty, it'll still go on easily - versus what it replaced, by Everlast (ha!), where you'd just wind up with the lining dragged to the cuff, maybe with a bonus stitch rip or two. This is a coat to find excuses to go out to wear. ^_^

And the whole "obsessive checking" thing was neatly circumvented in another delivery's case by the package arriving three hours before the email notification of its dispatch. =:D (Very good going, in any event: order placed on Sunday, arrived on Tuesday morning!)

Then, I wondered about some simple court shoes, and found the perfect pair - cheap, and real leather. But, then I noticed the "free shipping over £50" lure, and wondered if there might be another pair worth adding to the order. And found them. Oh, indeed. ^_^ The design called out to me the second I laid eyes on them. Not cheap, but I knew if I didn't pick them up, I'd forever be regretting it. They're from Iro, a French design house, made in Italy, normal price apparently £465, down to £104 - and the very last pair in my size. ^_^ <3

So, this might be one of the stranger music videos you've seen: tUnE-yArDs "Water Fountain". ^_^;

Here's a good interview with the creator of Inhuman Relations, a strip you ought to follow if you enjoy slice-of-life strips with more than a little Walt Kelly influence. (I admit, I was quite surprised to realise he uses a Cintiq these days - the inking looks quite realistically brushed!)

Here's a webcomic to try, if you're in the mood for some slice-of-life sci-fi, with confident linework mostly absent color, and simple shading - it's a delight simply to look at, even aside from the storyline: On a Sunbeam. (Note that the index is per chapter - each chapter loads all its pages as a single, very tall page)

FWIW, if you find yourself wanting to send money internationally, beware the banks' usual offerings - you'll find considerably better rates through outfits like xe.com and TransferWise. The latter in particular tends to offer basically mid-market rates, and charges an explicit fee of about 1%, rather than rolling it into the conversion. Even the speed surprised me somewhat, given the industry - started Sunday, funds available on Monday. If you find yourself wanting to set up a TransferWise account, let me know, and I'll send you my referral link, which makes your first transfer free.

Last Saturday saw the release of the first two episodes of Class, the new Doctor Who spinoff, which is indeed sounding very good. ^_^ "As Doctor Who and genre fans, despite being well past our teenage years, we can see there is plenty to love at the new Coal Hill Academy. It is early days, but Class comes across as fast, funny and at times a touch frightening – we hope that proves to be a winning combination." And indeed, I think the roomie and I will both be continuing with it. Be prepared, though - it is considerably bloodier than Doctor Who, with the trauma of witnessing death an explored topic. It appears last week's debut of two episodes was a special release, as today's seen just one more made available: Nightvisiting.


Where the Apple Lies - I was fearing I wouldn't go for this one at all, as I tend not to be big on farce, but they handled that very well. Bonus points for the contrastingly chatty Big Mac. =:)
Top Bolt - thoroughly enjoyed. Perhaps the obnoxiousness was a bit overplayed. Interesting to see the rationale for how their almost symbiotic flight relationship began, and where it led. Of course, I'm pleased to see he eventually saw the light, and made the best of what he really could achieve.
To Where and Back Again - amongst my favorites. It was refreshing to see the stars this time being almost anybody but those you'd expect, with a theme of redemption and trust running throughout. And the start of a new species! =:D

A real pity this marks the end of new Pony until maybe next April or so, but, there's plenty to watch again.

A few weeks ago, I encountered a nasty bug with Aperture, wherein it wouldn't show any previews of newly imported RAWs. Fearing this was the result of some new change with Sierra, I filed a bug report, on the off-chance Apple might offer help for a remaining user of an application that's been officially discontinued as of a year or so ago. Remarkably, I received a response, enquiring if the issue was still ongoing. I confirmed, happily, that it appeared to have been a one time problem. I still wish they hadn't killed it off, as - for me - it remains the best photo processing and management application around, with a UI highly preferable to Lightroom's. I'm just surprised, and quite tickled, to find there's some measure of sympathy within the mothership. =:)

On the new MacBook Pros (yum!), I was interested to note that the Touch Bar apparently runs off a tweaked version of watchOS. Makes sense - being fully autonomous would ensure it remains perfectly responsive, and it's hardly like an extra ARM core adds meaningfully to the cost. I do like the depth of support it has, immediately, from apps folk will be using routinely, to Xcode and Instruments - evidently, this isn't a feature they've quickly slapped on. Touch ID makes perfect sense - it's so convenient with iPhone banking apps, and so it'll be on the desktop as well. I was a little disappointed to see no option for going above 16GB of RAM - not something I'd plump for, but I can imagine some folk wanting to. The ability to spec 2TB of flash, itself bumped up even further in speed to about 3GB/s, would be very tempting. (And ye gods, the size of that trackpad!) And it was wonderfully cute to see them line up the original PowerBook against the newcomer, literally side by side - and that's only 25 years apart. =:D What will we be using in another 25 years?

For anyone wanting a very stylist point & click adventure, Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise, with a beautiful 60s animation aesthetic and professional voicework, is now available on Android, having debuted on iOS. ^_^ The developers have also noted that they're aiming to release the second half of the storyline by the end of the year, free to current owners.
Doctor Who is getting the Mr Men treatment - and it's all official. =:D

The kind of processing power we have, perfectly routinely, in our lives is really quite awesome, ne? Consider just panorama stitching - you can take dozens of photos, and have some program accurately spot matching points between them, with no instruction necessary, and warp them as necessary to make for a perfect match, even blending out differences between them, such as objects in motion. That's some fairly intensive processing - and yet, it's easily performed by any system in the home, and even on phones, to a more modest extent. Imagine trying to pull that off in the age of film!

For photographers: what apps do you use for HDR? I'm not thinking of overt HDR, so much as the more classical style, simply enhancing the extremes of range. AutoPano will perform such, but its design emphasis is really panoramas, where it does a particularly good job. I'd particularly like the ability to control the degree of contribution of the different exposures, to gain a look I'm comfortable with, given automatic HDR creations can often be dreadfully surreal. (And for me, that's not normally a bad thing =:)

Not really a story of import, as far as substance goes, beyond the fact that it's something that happened: Tim Cook met up with Shigeru Miyamoto, who can be described as influential in Nintendoland. =:)

An interesting little game idea: Really Bad Chess. "Chess is one of those games I always wished I enjoyed, but its commitment to beauty, elegance, and perfect balance always turned me away. Really Bad Chess removes these boring restrictions and flips chess on its head. As much as random pieces change the game in some ways, I was really surprised to notice how much the game remains the same, and how powerful some pieces are you've never truly struggled against a pawn until you've struggled against a pawn in the back row. For chess pros, Really Bad Chess will give you a new type of challenge the pieces & the moves are the same, but you'll have to throw out your openings and your understanding of normal patterns of play."

Sadly, I missed out on the recent New Scientist convention at the ExCeL - did anyone else I know go along? The roomie attended on Saturday, and it sounded like it lived up to every ounce of its promise, like a sci-fi con stuffed with much more of the "sci". =:) I'd hoped to get along, but the trip got in the way. Oh well. ^_^

Via huskyteer, a music video that's simply fun: TMBG, Walking My Cat Named Dog.

Here's a look around the Bay Area, in a 360 degree panorama from Inspiration Point. You reach it by half-killing yourself clambering up the peak from Nimitz Way, which is a gorgeous walk (across one of many different routes through Tilden Nature Area) from the ridgeline above Berkeley, which you can easily reach courtesy of the 65 or 67 AC Transit buses departing from the stops by the downtown Berkeley BART. (Note that during weekends, the 67 dips down into the park, but also ends earlier - about 7pm) I'd very much recommend viewing the full size version fullscreen, for a better feel for just how large the view is. ^_^ (And even that version isn't the full size - the stitched output from AutoPano Giga 3 is 50926 x 7808. Very temping to try printing that out.. hm. At 300dpi, that'd make.. just over 14' x 2' =:)

And if you'd prefer something more subdued, but no less grand, head on over here for a gorgeous pre-sunrise in Colorado, courtesy of kishenehn. ^_^

Yay! Just managed to renew my LJ account for another year. (Am I right in thinking LJ hasn't offered permanent accounts in a while now? I know they've only ever been available for limited periods now and then, but I haven't seen that in a few years now) Always a nice sort of feeling to have that squared away.
So, we finally got to see April and the Extraordinary World a couple weekends ago, and were not disappointed one bit. ^_^ If you could enjoy a steampunk-ish yarn with quite grad scope, wherein civilisation, bereft of its preeminent scientists - vanished, one by one, in mysterious circumstances - has continued with only steam power beyond the 19th Century, this is one you should try to see. Happily, the English dub is actually quite decent, though admittedly, I flipped back to the original French version when the roomie left midway through, due to the hour. (We are not talking Evangelion or Tenchi Muyo grade English dubbing =:) The English language distributor's trailer is reasonably good - interestingly, in French, with subtitles. A little surprisingly, it seems the distributor, at least in the UK, has made it available on the iTunes Store in French, with English subtitles; anime there, sadly, rarely seems to see such treatment, virtually always made available with the English dub only.

Clearly, this paper wins this year's - hell, decade's - prize for Best Abstract, on "Quantum Tokens for Digital Signatures". =:D

PMV for the day is set to Awolnation's "Kill Your Heroes". Nicely synced, and quite a cool track, making for a whole that's easily worth saving to your iPad.

Et voila! Just renewed lapinity.com for another year. ^_^ Always a nice feeling to get that kind of thing taken care of. Maybe I'll finally set up some kind of gallery page again - probably just some simple static pages, for now, unless I can crack the problem of luring buyers in.

And for simple, outright cuteness, have what was meant to be a photoshoot of a koala, but which was expertly commandeered by a butterfly. ^_^

Is imgur.com messed up for anyone else? It's fine if I identify as iOS, but everything else - Safari, Chrome, Firefox - gives me a badly ordered row of links against each image that's effectively useless. True, I ought to get my own site finally back in order, but I'd quite like my interim solution to not go blithely farting into the sunset. =:/


28 Pranks Later: one of the sillier and most entertaining episodes. ^_^ Yes, as the title suggests, this is indeed a zombie-pony episode. Whilst I find zombies generally deathly dull, so to speak, this was tremendous fun.
The Times They Are a-Changeling: now this was much more like it! Definite potential for changing the dynamic between the Changelings and Equestria, with a message of understanding central to it, which I can thoroughly get behind.
Dungeons and Discords: got off rather slowly, with the initial point being heavily overdone, but with the final act, developed into something surprisingly fun.
Buckball Season: I was quite pleased to find that again, the writer(s) forewent the easy route of having Fluttershy being desperately afraid - rather, turning out to be surprisingly good at the game. That kind of gradual character development is something that keeps MLP:FiM fresh. But then, to find Snails evolving beyond beyond a second rate not-quite-bully/henchpony.. ! Cool turn. However, the way the core of "it's fun when it's just for fun" ran close to being handled a touch heavily - but rescued just in time. A good message, as I'm firmly with Fluttershy and Pinkie: I absolutely don't thrive under seriousness, but left to having fun with the task at hand, I can work wonders. ^_^
The Fault in Our Cutie Marks: another rather interestingly different character, this time, a gryphon who's actually friendly rather than the usual surly sort - and quite adorable. ^_^ I'm hoping we see more of Gabby.
Viva Las Pegasus: another favorite, being much more of an adventure yarn, with quite a nod to Hustle, and the not quite rehabilitation/redemption of a pair of ne'er-do-wells. Definitely a cute plot twist.
Every Little Thing She Does - perhaps a slightly slow start to this one, but leading into a deliciously fun second act, with Glimmer beginning to realise that perhaps her strategy wasn't quite as inspired as she'd thought.
Pony Point of View - true, the differences in perspective were stretched a tad far, but all the same, recounting the same situation from such different points of view did prove amusing. We definitely need to see more of Swashbuckling Applejack. =:D

Fun music video of the day - a simple thing from Courtney Barnett, "Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go to the Party". Just honest acoustic indie rock, performed on the streets of Camden, with the refrain of "I wanna go out but I wanna stay home", which may ring true to a few here.

Ron Garret's Quantum Mysteries Disentangled looks like being an enjoyable, enlightening read. ^_^

If you're jaded with the usual economy class of flying, how about this account of flying in one of Singapore Airlines' suites - yours for a mere $23k, or in the writer's case, a ton of frequent flyer miles. It's.. good. =:)

It's a bit weird how the studios seem to price their wares so differently across the US and UK iTunes Stores. We're all used to the silliness of different release dates, a practice that's persisted well into the age of digital distribution, but quite why prices should sometimes be so different, between two industrial territories.. ? And not always in the directions you might expect: Interstellar, f'rex, can be yours for $15, or £5, or The Devil Wears Prada, at $15 or £7. In both cases, they include the extra features as well. (All the odder when one considers the UK prices also include VAT at 20%)

Game of the week is one to avoid. =:) I've been reading TouchArcade's reviews since pretty much they debuted, back in the early days of the iPhone, and I could scarcely recall another one star review - and indeed, checking down the page, with all the filters and categories, reveals there have now been ten of them, versus 1110 4-star ratings. It's a manga-style romantic adventure, which sadly seems to fall apart due to poor writing and matching voicework. But, at least that gives the reviewer something to play with. =:) "There are also sex scenes along every route, but since this is the teen-rated release, that ends up amounting to some mildly lewd poses accompanied by the least sexy narration this side of an Ian Fleming James Bond novel. Heck, at least in those you get a good description of breakfast."

I apologise for this linking to Twitter, but, it's a good set of tweets on the subject of those who say the obnoxious and repellent, and then try to wriggle out on the basis of them "only joking".

Now to set about working on some of the 1035 photos (which still only brought the battery down to about 40% charge! But then, I wasn't engaged in lots of anticipatory AF tracking) I took while back in Bay orbit recently. ^_^; DxO Optics Pro 8 sadly died with the upgrade to Sierra, but I'm okay with giving them a bit more money after three years - there have been, after all, quite a few nice little extras since then, including a lot of work on their "PRIME" noise reduction, and the intriguing sounding microcontrast control, which might be just the ticket for certain photos. Not to mention support for new bodies, like the D500, which I certainly hope to migrate to someday - the AF performance seems to be the best around from any manufacturer, and being able to grab 10fps in a burst can make all the difference in a moment of frenetic action. AutoPano Giga 3 I'll likely stick with for a while - I don't really indulge in panoramas enough to justify any update there, and 3 does a very nice job as is, coping well with even marginal overlaps between frames, and very large projects. (Reminds me, I must try reshooting that one of Bath someday. Maybe for sheer ridiculousness, I'll rent a Sigmonster for the task =:)

I'm starting on that now, but it's likely to be another day or two before I have the first few ready, along with, hopefully, a first pass at one or two of the panoramas from Inspiration Point above Nimitz Way, and the ferry back from SF to Alameda. (Oh, even thinking of those moments gets me beaming =:) I'll see if I can have some up on Sunday or Monday.
When just a local train ride brings a beam to one's face, you know you're home.

And so it was on Saturday, heading from San Leandro to Balboa Park. ^_^

I have also been discussing the merits of North Coast's exceptional brewmaster (Brother Thelonious, Rasputin's Imperial Stout, and many more), the wonders of swashbuckling woofs in space, and revisiting my sake bento and its custodian and chef.

As I said: home. =:D
I made paella Saturday a few weeks ago! Or something sort of like it. ^_^ It began a week previously, with the half Peking duck I picked up for quarter the usual price - I boiled the rest down for stock, which turned out remarkably tasty. Too nice for just soup, I felt, and the notion of risotto wasn't exciting me. And then the idea happened upon me: paella. =:D I already had chicken in the freezer, and some tiger prawns in need of using up, plus most of the herbs and such - but that still left a few bits I needed to buy, like chorizo (not pre-sliced), and ideally, some authentic bomba rice, the traditional Spanish varietal that manages to absorb around 3x its volume in liquid, rather than the more usual 2x.

So, I started with sauteeing the chorizo, chopped into small nuggets, leaving the oil nicely aromatic. Out with the chorizo, in with a sliced onion. Then, that's off to the side as well, ready for the main act. ^_^ Some saffron, tomatoes, garlic paste, thyme, oregano, and rosemary, plus plenty of lemon juice, until it became a thick paste, ready for the chicken and vegetables (some asparagus and broccoli), then the rice, the all important stock, and a little boiling water to ensure it's covered, back in with the chorizo, and then, on with the lid. Well, not that it's actually the right size.. it's from my old wok, which was a bit smaller, so it sat in/on the sauce most of the time =:/

Toward the end, I added a bag of tiger prawns, which I'd previously defrosted and marinated in lemon juice and oyster sauce, to be sure they wouldn't overcook, and then turned up the heat, to deliberately scald the bottom, as is the tradition. ^_^ Then, a few minutes' resting, and serving. Ahhh, yes. Okay, I won't be putting any Spanish chefs out of business, but it was very tasty indeed. ^_^ I'll certainly try some more variants in the future, emboldened by the way that bomba rice indeed doesn't ever go starchy - I'm not that comfortable with getting rice spot on, so having an essentially foolproof rice by my side definitely helps. That, coupled with a very pleasant Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot from Australia, made for quite a pleasant Saturday night, followed on with Now You See Me.

Rather an insightful consideration into what makes a good teacher: The Lesson of Grace in Teaching. (Psst, jakebe!)

A fascinating site, via lovelyangel: "Introvert, Dear", which bills itself as being "for introverts and highly sensitive people".

Easily worth a look: I Illustrate Scientists' Failures, including moments like "staring through my binoculars to count invasive parakeets roost @ NATO headquarters. Getting arrested by security team" and "baboons stole our last roll of toilet paper and used it to decorate a very very high tree".

Charlie Stross weighs in with the obvious (if you're not a manager) on how disruptive meetings or other interruptions are within a working day. And the comments are worth reading, too. (h/t supergee)

Does anyone have experience with ceramic kitchen knives? I'm giving consideration to picking up one or two, but first-hand experience would count for a lot, versus randomness on the web. Are there any brands to avoid, or things to look out for, good or bad?

Need something beautiful in your life? How about the Northern Lights in Iceland, shot by a camera on a drone.

A few weeks ago saw a rather fun little evening of science, courtesy of Dr Kat Arney, explaining (insofar as one can in but an hour or so!) just how genes work - not nearly as simple a topic as most headline writers would have you believe: the magic isn't really in the genes, so much as the specific timing of their expression. The questions afterwards added, too - I'm pleased I reminded the roomie to stay put for that. =:) If you get the opportunity to hear her give a talk, go for it - and be prepared to buy her book - Herding Hemingway's Cats - which, looking at the roomie's copy, is indeed well worth picking up.

Think you've got web design chops? Have a go at the 10K challenge - as long as your page(s) come in under 10K, with additional resources permissible later, you're fine. The winner gets a $4k Visa and other goodies, with three runners up (design, technical, people's choice) getting a $2k Visa and the goodies. Entries must be in by Sep 30 2016, and everyone can submit up to three projects. The rules don't appear to mention any geographical restrictions.

This boulder is also a WiFi access point, powered by fire.

Well, that was a minor relief - the iPhone had begun to exhibit difficulties charging, with both the cable I've always used, and the iPad's. I was beginning to wonder if there might be some weird fault, which wouldn't be a lot of fun, but thought the cable might be duff - but, no, the iPad's fine with either. I recalled having similar trouble a year or so back, which turned out to be just accumulated lint, so I tried folding a corner of a sheet of paper into a thin tool to try getting anything out, but couldn't seem to retrieve anything, leaving me without much of a solution. Finally, my meagre bunny brain wondered it a slender wiretie might do the trick, being thin enough, but also offering a definite point at the end - and lo, many tiny fluff nuggets were excavated, and it's merrily slurping down on electrons once more. So, whilst I still don't like the idea of wireless charging much, given the losses involved (though, there do seem to be ways of improving - the Wiki page indicates one system's capable of 86%), I'll admit there's at least something of a use case.

Game of the week has to be The Inner World, a release from 2013 which I'd completely missed. It's as well written as you'd hope from a good point & click adventure, with appropriately professional voice acting, and all in a nicely surreal (though not entirely unfamiliar) world. I only found out about it as its sequel is apparently on its way for early in 2017. ^_^ Anyway, here's the original's trailer - it gives a reasonable impression of what's in store, if perhaps a bit light on the (dry) humor that courses through it.

And then, by way of a new release, we have KOMRAD, wherein "you're communicating with an abandoned Soviet-era computer AI, the eponymous KOMRAD. It's not talked to anyone in thirty years, working in isolation without knowing that the Soviet Union kinda doesn't exist any more, and you're out to stop it." The twist? It's from the former Chief Design Officer of IBM's Watson. =:)

Not much to report on the rabbiteering front lately, I'm afraid - the weather and availability have conspired to make for only a couple opportunities in the past week or so, and frustratingly, on both, they've been more comfortable with staying indoors, to the point of only taking two shots on all three days. ^_^; I did take the time to check out the other spots along the circuit that I've sometimes had good fortune with, though - down in the dip by the footpath, there does seem to be some activity, with two buns wanting to get out of sight as I approached. Further on, the lower priority spot (for want of better access - there's long been an active warren by the footpath, but no useful visibility for photography) is currently out of reach, with shrub and nettle growth now obscuring the view entirely. I'd hoped the old spot where I took Momentary might perhaps have come back to life, but there wasn't any immediate sign of bunnitude there.

Aaaah! I am (somewhat cautiously) delighted to note that whilst one Thursday's rabbiteering began sparse, I caught some fun moments along the footpath, on one of my other spots, and toward sunset, returning to my current-main spot, there were five to be seen. ^_^ No action shots from them, I'm afraid, but still - after these weeks of wondering if they'd completely decamped, I was so happy to see some significant presence remaining after all, plus some awakening of some other locations, including the aforementioned "Momentary" spot, which has been completely vacant of bunnitude for well over a year, if not two. (Just the one, there, but still - where there's one, there may well be others! Aha.. indeed, a subsequent visit showed three around! No particularly remarkable shots as yet)

Similarly old school (relatively), we have Biker Mice: Mars Attack!, apparently a prequel to the TV show. "The stinkin' fish-faced Plutarkians have launched a devastating attack on Mars. They have won the war and begun extracting all of the planet's resources to send back to Plutark, but the resistance continues. Take control of the Martian Freedom Fighters in a turn-based strategy battle against the Plutarkian armies and their mercenaries. With your favorite characters from the classic 90s TV series 'Biker Mice from Mars' and gameplay inspired by another 90s classic 'Advance Wars', this game was built by fans for fans. Play as commanders Modo, Throttle and Vinnie."

On the TV front, I noticed The Beatrix Potter Collection has been relaunched for the author's 150th birthday - and you can download all the episodes from the iTunes Store for a princely £5.99! Only SD, unfortunately, as that's how it was originally produced. If you've not seen this version of these classic tales before, I'd encourage taking a look - the animation's fully hand-drawn, inspired by her style - they're a true joy to look at. ^_^ (If you're feeling impecunious, you can also find them on YouTube)

What it's like to be detained at Heathrow, having been invited to the UK by the organisers of a conference.

How would you like to try out the UK's only 360 degree swing? ^_^; It's not at any theme park - just someone's back garden. By someone who hates heights. ^_^

Everyone's heard of the "we only use 10% of our brains" myth - but, on trying to find out where that yarn's origins lay, I was rather surprised to find there isn't a definitely known source, though it's been circulating for around a century now.

This is technically an ad, but, it's from Spike Jonze. It's quite brilliant. ^_^ KENZO World, to an original score by Sam Spiegel. If you can dig superb choreography, this is one to watch.

Last Saturday's viewing was more single-minded, but far-reaching: all three episodes of A Cabbie Abroad, which pitches a London taxi driver into the reality of driving in some very different locales - Phnom Penh, Iqaluit (capital of Nunavut), and Fiji. There are no punches pulled in showing just how threadbare life can be in Phnom Penh and Suva, or the extent of the cultural upheaval the Inuit have had to try to come to terms with.

On the virtual world front, I was intrigued to see an old time SLUer resurface on the site, this time to help promote pre-launch design and testing of a new virtual world he's been involved with for a while: Space. Compared to SL, there are a couple qualities that particularly stand out: first, the graphics are scalable from gaming rigs down to the likes of Kindle Fire. (The graphics engine is Unity 5) Second, whilst SL still only offers full sims and homesteads (effectively about a quarter of the resources of a full sim, so, ideal for just somewhere for you and some friends, rather than a full-blown club), costing $300/mo or $125/mo, Space offers multiple options, from free for a 10 user sim with a 128MB upload size limit, $5/mo (launch price) for a 20 user sim with a 256MB cap and ticketed support, all the way up to $75/mo for 1000 users over 10 sims, 2GB cap, and 24/7 support with a 3 hour SLA. Whilst the mobile clients aren't out yet, they will be made available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. On the desktop front, it's the usual trio: macOS, Linux, and Windows. Consoles will also be supported, and via WebGL. Here's a rough'n'ready demo clip - as you can see, there are some rough edges, but equally, clearly, some tremendous potential! (Or, here's a newly minted teaser trailer, with more polished editing)

And I was quite pleased to see rabitguy had a new commission made of himself. How could you say no to those eyes? ^_^ (You know, I never realised he had pawpads)

Some more tidbits regarding Star Trek: Discovery have emerged, notably that it'll be set some ten years before the original Enterprise's five year mission, it's in the original (not Abrams' reboot) universe, and that the central character will not be the captain. And, "Fuller also wants to have more aliens on the show and to have those alien races look more like aliens and less like humans in heavy makeup." And more.

Via shatterstripes, the 1980s Rozz-Tox Manifesto. "Back in the early Eighties, underground cartoonist Gary Panter wrote an artistic manifesto. Originally published as a series of free personal ads in the LA Reader, then later spread through places like the catalog of the Residents’ album label, the Rozz-Tox Manifesto was a DIY middle finger to the worlds of fine art and corporate content. Among the people it supposedly influenced is Matt Groening, creator of a couple TV shows you might have heard of.

Copies of it online are few and far between, and slowly vanishing – at the moment, the only site with a text version is down; I had to transcribe this from a scan of a tattered, yellowed page that some guy tore from the Ralph Records catalog and kept folded up in his wallet for a few years. So I’m taking the time to present it nicely here on my website. I do not agree with every item, but I keep on returning to some of them to meditate upon as my Internet-boosted art career slowly advances."

Here's rather a quietly fascinating essay on the meanings of names, but more, the relationships between generations of a family, and the nature of love: What's in a Last Name?

I still haven't seen the new Ghostbusters, but this review helps fuel my desire to do so. ^_^ (Not sure where, though - in town, it's down to one screening a day, at a time that lets out after the last bus has run. It's a perfectly manageable walk, but I think I'd be more inclined to find a more fun cinema anyway than just another multiplex) It's worth reading, whatever you think about the film.

lovingboth offers up a less mainstream, and more accurate, summary of the origin of the new Duke of Westminster's ludicrous wealth.

I found this little excerpt from austin_dern rather insightful, in his typically dry style: "bunny_hugger needed to make trophies for the Rocket Robin tournament. Her reputation's grown to the point she can't just give out plaques anymore. We went to a thrift store looking for suitable trophy bases that could be put to her purposes. And there is something really poignant about finding the trophy that someone got for whatever in 1998 turning up nearly twenty years later to be picked up and pried apart by strangers to be given to someone else entirely. The things have to have meant something to someone, and now they don't, and if that isn't the tragedy of material possessions then what is?"

Commercial food du jour: Waitrose's spicy sausage and tenderstem broccoli pizza. I think I'll have to remain neutral on this, as despite adding quite a bit - five slices of chorizo, and a few bits of chicken, plus a healthy addition of basil, rosemary, pepper, and garlic purée, the final result was merely good. As bought, I fear it may well have been rather bland. Not something to seek out.

On the other paw, one item I noticed on an Argentinian steakhouse's menu sounds highly appealing: rice pudding with dulce de leche and caramelised pecans. That could be a positively heavenly combination - I can see DlL working beautifully with rice pudding, and the pecans could be these little crunchy, sweet gems upon the palate. I'm not sure I've ever made rice pudding, and certainly not dulce de leche (simple enough, though the traditional method of simmering an unopened can of condensed milk is as hazardous as it sounds), but I may have to give it a try.

For beer geeks: Bath Ales has been acquired by St Austell. Which actually sounds like a remarkably good thing for everyone - the intent is, apparently, to leave everything running basically as is, just with greater funds available for expansion. I'm very fond of the work of both breweries - having both able to grow further can only be a good thing. ^_^ (Speaking of Bath Ales, I finally opened the last bottle of Rare Hare from the delivery in 2014. It was quite sublime. ^_^ It's one of my favorite beers anywhere, and that aging lent it just a pleasant extra depth)

How's this for a sublime turn of phrase? "John Randolph, the eccentric Virginia aristocrat, invented this phrase in the 1820's and used it against at least two of his Congressional colleagues. Henry Clay, he complained, was so brilliant, so capable and yet so corrupt that, 'like a rotten mackerel in the moonlight, he both shines and stinks.'"

The second Rogue One trailer came out, but.. I'm left rather apprehensive: it's feeling like so many other cold-blooded action films, here with a Star Wars skin. Meanwhile, there's also the new Pete's Dragon trailer, which.. does seem to be doing its own thing. ^_^

You all know I love food. ^_^ Sometimes I cheat, yes, and just go with something pre-prepared - Saturday night was a good example, as I'd found a half Peking duck down to quarter normal price, which we appreciated wholeheartedly. =:9 Now, the remnants are simmering away with a few herbs, releasing an annoyingly delicious aroma through the house. =:) (I need to make up a herbs and spices poll..)
I blinked a bit when I saw the word "fursuits" in the title of the latest comic from the good folk behind Oh Joy Sex Toy, which usually reviews sex toys and sexual practices. But, no, it's a genuine examination of just what it is that appeals about 'suiting, and correctly notes that sex in the fur is quite rare, and far from the primary motivation to spending anything upwards of a few thousand dollars. (The comic is completely SFW, but some of the page furniture might raise eyebrows =:)

Sort of relatedly, Christopher Guest (This is Spinal Tap, Best In Show) is cooking up Mascots, a comedy film project for Netflix, coming on Oct 13 2016, set in "the ultra-competitive world of sports mascots where they compete for the most prestigious award in their field, the Gold Fluffy". ^_^;

Music video of the day: Yelle - "Ba$$in". The track itself is a fun bit of electropop, but it's the video that makes it - delightfully odd. =:) And then there's Morcheeba - "Enjoy the Ride", a mellow, funky track, with the video showing an unexpected outcome of attempting to raise the dead. (Only a 240p file, though - if anyone knows of a better quality version, give a shout)

Rather a fun International Space Station patch: starring Rocket Raccoon and Groot. =:D

I hope everyone already knows of Derek Lowe's legendary "Things I Won't Work With" series. =:) If not, well, imagine the wonderful world of chemistry, where you might, at times, be faced with trying to produce or use extraordinarily feisty molecules. Here's one entry on peroxide peroxides. Not only do you get to read about just how very difficult these kinds of compounds can be to - well, not even work with, so much as have nearby. "There are a lot of things, unfortunately, that can lead to peroxide decomposition – all sorts of metal contaminants, light, spitting at them (most likely), and it doesn’t take much. There are apparently hobbyists, though, who have taken the most concentrated peroxide available to them and distilled it to higher strengths. Given the impurities that might be present, and the friskiness of the stuff even when it’s clean, this sounds like an extremely poor way to spend an afternoon, but there’s no stopping some folks." "But I have to admit, I’d never thought much about the next analog of hydrogen peroxide. Instead of having two oxygens in there, why not three: HOOOH? Indeed, why not? This is a general principle that can be extended to many other similar situations. Instead of being locked in a self-storage unit with two rabid wolverines, why not three? Instead of having two liters of pyridine poured down your trousers, why not three? And so on – it’s a liberating thought. It’s true that adding more oxygen-oxygen bonds to a compound will eventually liberate the tiles from your floor and your windows from their frames, but that comes with the territory."

From the BBC: Is my brain male or female? (There is some trickery =:)

A sort of game recommendation: Abyssrium. It's not really a game as such - actually more of a clicker. But.. it's actually really pleasant. And there is no need to pay money. There are means, but that's entirely optional. You can simply enjoy letting things happen. ^_^ The setting is centered around a lonely coralite, which you can help to grow, along with various corals, seaweed, and suchlike, as well as zapping into existence new fish, cetaceans, and jellyfish. It's quite beautifully presented, and makes a superb screensaver - though, being quite graphically intensive does mean your iPad or suchlike will become quite hot around its GPU; I wouldn't recommend it for prolonged periods when running off battery.

TIL that the oldest church in England still in regular use has a single pew for four people, and standing room for another six. ^_^

Thursday night was an unexpected film night: Into the Forest, being a drama set in a time where something's happened to basically end electricity and much of civilisation, leaving a family stuck in their woodland home, trying to make the best of things. Their situation changes again before too long (avoiding spoilers here), however, with things never easing up. It's not survivalist porn, though - more of a "slice of life" in tone. Overall, I wouldn't say anybody needs to go out of their way for it, but it's a decent production, with very good performances from the leads.

I rather like this. Someone put out a "free mattress", sufficiently worn looking that it attracted no interest as a mattress, but some as a canvas. =:)

Here's an interesting little cinematic tidbit: a visit, in 1944, to the Nippon Kogaku Totsuka (now known as Nikon) factory, Yokohama. Being wartime, it's intended to convey the diligence and craft exercised in the creation of the optics required. What elevates this six minute short above mere propaganda, however, is its director: Akira Kurosawa. =:D
*squee* I've only just realised Studio Killers came up with a video for Jenny, one of my favorite tracks on their album. ^_^

Watch out for a 50th anniversary Bonzo Dog gig in November, with guests including the likes of Bill Bailey, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Stephen Fry, and Brian Blessed. =:D

Also for those within reach of London: New Scientist is holding their first convention at the ExCeL, Sep 22-25 2016 (Thu-Sun), with guests including such folks as Tim Peake, Festival of the Spoken Nerd with Helen Keen, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, and the Exomars Rover, and panels including How to Hijack a Satellite, Control Room: AI Apocalypse, and How to Test Your Own DNA. Tickets are bookable now, from £25 for single day tickets in advance (it's a four day thing, so you'll want to plan which day(s) feature what you're most interested in) for standard admission, £45-50 for VIP, through £45 for any two days, to £90 for all four days.

I finally tried a bit of the cinnamon vodka that's been steeping for.. probably over a year by now. Wow. =:D It's pretty much exactly as you might imagine: absolutely untamed, pure CINNAMON. Rather delightful, actually.

I sort of miss the old Apple watching days of yore, where observers like As The Apple Turns (still perhaps the best Apple related site there was, with incisive wit and insight, wrapped into plenty of parody as well) would speculate on the goings on, with as much to go on as in the Soviet days. =:) Still, there are occasional glimpses into more interesting speculation beyond what the next phone will offer, as in this tidbit that their car project has apparently landed the founder and former CEO of QNX. That, to me, is interesting, as QNX is legendarily stable - the epitome of the hard realtime OS. (Hard as in, you get to specify rigid timeslots, and things don't get to overrun. Useful in situations where something not being processed in time could have Bad Consequences)

There are innumerable "Best" lists out there, mostly rather pedestrian in scope - but this one, I feel, is worth highlighting: the Best 50 Animated Films of the 21st Century so far. It does include some universally known titles, particularly toward the end, but plenty that are more in the realm of animation geeks and cinephiles, like Ernest & Celestine, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - and they do give well-deserved nods to several other excellent productions in the footnotes. (Thanks to lovelyangel)

huskyteer can sometimes be very, very silly. *giggle*

Monday was actually quite reasonable, weather-wise, and I had a bus ticket all paid for - it would have been churlish not to leap at the rabbiteering opportunity. ^_^ Whilst there wasn't any great drama, I did love this momentary expression on one bun (quite unusually, as buns almost only ever partake of grass from the top downwards, for a part of the way, before proceeding elsewhere; the main reason they'll do otherwise is to help furnish a nest, which wasn't the case here) yanking on a grassy stalk, apparently putting up greater resistance than they'd anticipated. ^_^

Transformation sequence of the week is by AmberAria, relating to a roommate's secret, and how he can ensure his friend keeps it.. ^_^ one, two, three, four, and the final page, five. And it would appear there is a sequel in the offing.

Ye gods and little fishes, but I'm out of shape.. the roomie had a load of wood delivered the other day, for some decking around the back of the house (yay, barbecue time!) - a few dozen long, treated and grooved planks for the surface, plus a load of thicker supports, and some baby (yet still 20kg each!) bags of concrete. It took the delivery guy a matter of minutes to unload from the van into the driveway. It took us about half an hour, together, to shift it all - around 650kg, per invoice - around to the back yard. ^_^; Still, I can't deny - it was fun. ^_^ (And he paid for pizza afterward, yay!)
Now, generally, I'm not huge on film remakes, especially when the original (or sometimes, the better remembered remake =:) was already a genuine classic - but, there are exceptions, as the current Ghostbusters is demonstrating. ^_^ (Sadly, I've still yet to see it; I may well have to wait until its home release) And here, we have a remake which drew an enthusiastic response when the first 25 minutes were shown at SDCC recently. We now have our first look at the new Rocky Horror Picture Show - and it's cracking. The star this time around is perhaps set to eclipse even Tim Curry: Laverne Cox. =:D

Perhaps the apex of geek prose, github style.

Bruges is now home to a remarkable beer pipeline, linking the city's sole remaining continuously working brewery, first recorded in 1564, to a bottling plant on the outskirts, with 12,000 bottles' worth of beer going through every hour. It's a novel project, especially for such a beautiful, old town, with the city not exactly keen for anyone to go digging up the streets - the case, though, wasn't difficult to make, as it means many fewer beer tankers plying their ways through the streets, whilst maintaining the brewery's continuity and the beer's provenance. Funding the €4m project was partially accomplished through crowdfunding, with the top €7,500 tier offering them a bottle of Bruges Zot every day for life, plus 18 personalised glasses. =:D And from the comments: "The brewery tour was great. The guide was brilliant - she had a completely dry humour. 'Before you start drinking in our bar, you will write down the name of your hotel on a piece of paper. This is so we can put you into a taxi when we decide that it is time for you to go. Do not say 'the hotel next to the big church.' We have sixteen of them.'"

Lumines Puzzles & Music has soft-launched on iOS in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. ^_^ (It was amongst the first games I bought for my PSP)

If you're in need of more kawaii in your life, have a look at the range of MrMaria offerings, including some entirely spiffy Miffy lamps, or a nearly as adorable polar bear lamp. ^_^ (h/t roohbear; I should caution that if you check their LJ, the latest entry touches graphically on the topic of suicide)

In this video from the Slow Mo Guys, we get to not only see a Pyrex jug shattering, filmed at 28,000fps, but also learn that Pyrex is not the same everywhere - within the US, it's cheaper and inferior tempered soda-lime glass, whilst the rest of the world still gets what it originally was: borosilicate glass. Its Wikipedia entry notes soda-lime glass is more resistant to breakage, but is more prone to damage from heat stress.

Minor iOS 10 update: looks like the bank sorted that bug out, surprisingly enough - it's working fine now. Overall, I'm quite impressed by both betas. There are still some issues to be worked out, but overall, it's a genuinely positive update in many small ways, down to thickening up the fonts somewhat on iOS, such as the time on the lock screen. And yay! The second public beta of Sierra plays nicely with VMware Fusion. ^_^ Better still, it looks like they've finally squashed a bug that cropped up a year or so ago, leaving SMTP through a POP-based (yes, I know that's only relevant to receiving email, but then, Gmail's a bit of a world of its own) Gmail account quite unreliable, often giving an error.

Fun (sort of) fact: whilst there is internet access in North Korea, most of that already small number access sites by means of IP addresses, rather than domains, as shown in this photo taken of a wall in a school's computer lab.

Via ducktapeddonkey, the Dr Seuss Secret Art & Archive.

Of photographic interest: I see v.8 of Neat Image, a standalone/plugin for noise reduction, has just debuted. Looks like upgrade pricing is half the new cost, which seems reasonably, given I bought my copy of 7.3.0 in early 2013. TBH, though, I don't know if it'd even then be worth upgrading, as I've scarcely had need for noise reduction in the last couple years. True, I might be able to do better with old shots with the new software, but that'd be mostly just a matter of curiosity than necessity. (Not unreasonably, they've dropped support for the Aperture plugin, so upgrades from that are now offered for the Potatoshop plugin instead)

The Canary recently reported on a Times poll on the Labour leadership, conducted by YouGov, which places Corbyn with a 22 point lead over Owen Smith, and improved support amongst those who voted for Corbyn previously. Oddschecker's page on the contest bears out similar sentiments, with Corbyn's odds around 1/3 to 4/11, and Owen Smith at around 7/4 to 9/4. The issue remains, of course, whether the anti-Corbyn faction of MPs will indeed unite with rather than against him.

Well, poop. I've only now found out that the Red Vic, a cool little cinema in the Upper Haight, closed back in July 2011. =:P Quite a pity - it had a supremely diverse selection of offerings, and of course, nestled amongst one of the most interesting, mellow neighborhoods of the City. Still, it seems like it's just evolving yet again. ^_^ And I've still got coupons for two free screenings, too. Maybe I'll wait until they open a cinema again. =:) Still, such is the City's ever-changing nature; indeed, just down the road, there's now Second Act.

We're getting toward the end of 2016's Celebrity MasterChef - true, not the same thing as the regular version, but uniformly, the contestants get positively hooked on the competition once they've been in it for a round or two. ^_^ What I was wondering - well, the final portion of the second semi-final has the surviving five contestants cook something that's special to them somehow. If you were given that challenge, what do you think you might come up with? For me, I'd probably have to go with my mother's German apple cake, which I've never had anywhere else, but I'm sure it must be out there. The base is a sort of.. fluffy shortbread, if that makes sense. It's not as firm as shortcrust pastry (and sweeter, too), and nowhere near a sponge, but somehow in between. =:9 Then, there's a good layer of tart apple purée, finished off with apple slices arranged concentrically, and an even sprinkling of brown sugar and allspice. It's magnificent fresh out of the oven, but it also works well cold. (I admit, I'd usually pick off the apple slices. ^_^; I always leant toward warm, usually with vanilla ice cream) I've yet to make it myself, as I don't really know my way around biscuits and pastries that well, and I've had a troublesome time trying to get her to relate the recipe, which has pretty much become instinctive to her at this point. =:) But, yes, that's what I'd go for. But then again, I also owe part of my love of cooking to my father, and one of his favorites - and mine! - back at the second restaurant we owned was the old classic, Coquilles St Jacques, served on the half shell. Not something you'll find on current menus, which I feel is a little unfortunate, as it's such a glorious combination, with the mellow sauce against the scallops, plus the creamy mashed potato - indeed, it brings me right back to those days. (I was too young to really be a part of it, though I helped out with the washing up and a little cooking; I did write the menus, however, in Old English script, using an italic fountain pen =:)
I was delighted to see this tidbit announced at Farnborough the other week, wherein Reaction Engines is now on a track to produce a demonstration engine by 2020. =:D The sheer potential for SABRE is phenomenal, not to mention Skylon, the fully reusable single stage to orbit spaceplane based thereon. SABRE operates as a precooled jet engine below Mach 5, made possible by an insane cooling mechanism that brings the high pressure incoming air down from 1500C to -150C in one millisecond. Above that speed, the inlet shuts off, and it transitions to being a conventional (well, sort of =:) rocket engine, using LOX carried on board. By using air for as long as possible, the takeoff weight is reduced tremendously, and with the same engines able to bring it from ground to low earth orbit, they're looking at an aircraft that can be turned around in timeframes from perhaps weeks initially, down to a matter of hours later on.

This is a long article c/o the Guardian which I must recommend: The Very Quiet Foreign Girls poetry group. It's an engrossing, fascinating piece, a veritable joy, despite its desperate roots. I'll excerpt the opening here:

It all came from Priya’s poem, and Priya’s poem came from – well, I had no idea. It was an unlikely thing to turn up in a pile of marking. Yet there it was, tucked between two ordinary effusions, typed in a silly, curly, childish font, a sonorous description, framed with exquisite irony, of everything she couldn’t remember about her “mother country”. This was the opening:

I don’t remember her
in the summer,
lagoon water sizzling,
the kingfisher leaping,
or even the sweet honey mangoes
they tell me I used to love.

I typed up a fresh copy of the poem in Times New Roman, removing a stray comma, marvelling at its shape. I printed out a copy and taped it to the staffroom tea urn, then made another, and took it across to the head of English, Miss B. She stuck it on her door, just above the handle, so that everyone entering or leaving her classroom had to read it.

Then I took it into my next class, Miss T’s year sevens. Our school, Oxford Spires Academy, despite its lofty, English name, meets every marker for deprivation and its students spoke more than 50 different languages. Miss T’s class, fairly typically, had students from 15 different mother countries. Some were born in Britain to parents from Bangladesh and Pakistan, some were migrants from eastern Europe or Brazil, a few were refugees from war zones: Iraq, Kurdistan, Afghanistan.

But none of them talked about it much. We are always, in this country, obliging refugees to tell their arrival stories: border officials, social workers, charity workers, housing officers all want to know, and the consequences of telling the wrong tale are dire. In our school, there is a code of silence. Teachers, on principle, accept each new arrival as simply a student equal to all others, and try to meet their needs as they appear. Students follow suit, speaking to each other in English, of English things, in mixed racial groups. This, mostly, is a good thing, but it does leave a layer of stories untold, and some festering, because very few people make it out of war zones by being exceptionally nice at all times. The more terrible the place they have fled, the more likely they are to have seen things that leave an awful, lingering sense of shame.

“I don’t remember,” our students say. “I came from my country when I was six but I don’t remember it. I don’t remember my language. No.”

Priya’s poem, though, was like a magic key. I read it to my class, then asked the students for a list of things they definitely didn’t remember, not at all, from their childhoods. In half an hour, we had 30 poems. Sana had written about her mother tongue: “How shameful, shameful, forgotten.” Ismail, who had never written a poem before, who rarely spoke, covered three pages with sensual remembrance, ending: “I don’t remember the fearless boy I used to be / no, I don’t remember my country, Bangladesh.” So many of them – and so good, so clear. I decided to create a poetry group.

There's apparently more of their work, presented by the article's author, in Radio Three's We Are Writing a Poem About Home, available on iPlayer (probably globally; I believe the BBC only geoblocks TV access, not radio).

Here's rather a fun little aircraft being designed by Electroflight - it's a high performance racer, fully electric, and almost all carbon fiber. Add the crazy torque of electric motors and a light frame, and they're expecting it'll be able to climb vertically at some 9,000 feet per minute. =:D

Don't suppose anyone knows more of the seamy underside of web advertising? I just noticed ABP's concept of "non-intrusive" advertising includes the sheer crap peddled by Outbrain/Taboola. Do they really pay that handsomely? Surely must do, given how widespread their infestation spreads, and to be able to pay ABP for the privilege of (by default) not being blocked.

It's an ad for Bentley, but still, it's a pretty cool one: a very high resolution car photo, apparently 53 gigapixels. Zoom in. =:) (Seriously not sure about that car's color scheme, though!)

Voice-commanded digital assistants present an interesting attack vector, as demonstrated here, where the commands are obfuscated in a YouTube clip so as to make them nigh unintelligible to humans, but perfectly understood by Google.

There's never any shortage of rumors about what Apple might buy next, though usually fairly nonsensical, based on little more than "their cash is greater than this company's market capitalisation". Still, this tidbit suggests that they might be angling to buy a chunk of Formula One racing, on the premise that the broadcast rights would be worthwhile as something to share on Apple TV. And perhaps it could be a venue for some of their own car's tech options to get put through the paces too, invisibly. Who knows? It's at least one of the more entertaining bits of speculation I've seen. ^_^

I happened upon quite a neat variant of the SLR concept the other day, made by only one manufacturer - the quite wonderfully named Corfield Periflex, where rather than having a mirror normally down, guiding the light path to a viewfinder, and flipping that briefly up for the exposure, it used a separate miniature periscope dipping down into the light path for judging the focus through the lens, which was brought up out of the way for the shot.

I was quite surprised, out rabbiteering on Thursday, when I came to casting out the last of the bag of raisins I've been going through (or rather, they have). There was one bun maybe 20' to my left, looking quite relaxed, if a touch cautious; but, I felt I really ought to use the last of the bag up, and thought I'd try tossing said goodies in their direction, quite expecting to have to, regrettably, disturb their peacefulness. But, no, they saw me toss raisins a few times, scattering nearby, and remained where they were. Better yet - a couple minute later, they gingerly ventured closer to me, apparently seeking out what I'd cast their way. ^_^
Here's a Kickstarter you'll want to support: Decrypting Rita vol.3 and Omnibus, a multi-year endeavor by shatterstripes. "The fastest woman ever built has been dragged outside of reality by her ex-boyfriend. She's got to pull herself together across four parallel worlds before a hive-mind can take over the planet."

"Seriously folks, if you haven't looked at Decrypting Rita yet you really ought to. Innovative, fresh, interesting, and it does my head in."

- Charlie Stross

"Decrypting Rita is that rarest and most refreshing of things: a science–fiction story that feels like it comes from the future."

- Phil Foglio

Thursday saw the public betas of macOS Sierra and iOS 10 debut, so, of course, I'm waiting patiently until all potential issues are worked out.

So, what really happened was I brought Hazel and the iPhone along into the bath as well as the usual iPad, and updated everything. ^_^ (I didn't want to forego bathtime, and I know very well that any process, however reliable, will do everything in its power to end all life on Earth if left unattended) Too early to really tell, but so far, there don't seem to be any show-stoppers: Mail updated its database fine, which is always a point of concern, given my archive now spans multiple previous email clients (ah, Eudora, how we knew thee) back to 1994. iOS likewise - the Music app's gently improved, with the control icons being substantially more useful in size, and the ability to reposition within a track now actually works properly again, where iOS 9 seemed to half break it. Similarly, where iOS 9 inexplicably embedded all music videos within a thick white frame, it's back to as it had been, simply playing them full screen as you'd expect - that change prompted me to abandon Videos for VLC. The conversation view in iOS 10's Mail is nicely improved. And so far, nothing seems to have broken, most especially Aperture. ^_^ Similarly, even a couple relatively ancient apps I keep on the iPad seem fine: an old version of Scrabble (don't like the newer board design), and iGammon, which hasn't been updated since about the 6502A's heyday. =:).

Aha! VMware Fusion 8 doesn't seem happy: launches, but won't resume the Ubuntu VM, complaining of an "internal error". (A known issue, it seems, with an easy workaround: disable accelerated graphics on a given VM. Unfortunately, that requires the VM to be resumed and shut down first.. =:) Oh, and my bank's app seems prone to dying soon after loading the account info, but that's to be expected, with the general standard of banking industry software. Poop! iPlayer seems unhappy as well. No biggie, as I only tend to use it for bathtime viewing when I haven't already downloaded the programme with get_iplayer beforehand.

Other than that, about all that needed fixing was a couple preferences, with iOS 10 turning on keyboard clicks (ACK ACK ACK NO), and Sierra turning off tap to click and tap/half tap to drag (which I've apparently had enabled for so long I'd forgotten it isn't in the Trackpad prefs, but actually within the Accessibility options). And, for whatever reason, securityd and a friend were persistently using anything from 40-80% of CPU, for some twelve hours, before I finally killed them, which appears to've solved the problem. Disquietingly, Time Machine seems to be taking a very long time to get the first post-update backup out, seemingly stuck on "Preparing Backup...", though without any errors showing in the logs, so it could just require a day or two to get its house in order. [ETA: yay! It's finally transferring data! So, the answer would seem to be "wait a day or two"]

Here are the 68 companies that have joined against North Carolina's vile HB2 anti-LGBT legislation, including small outfits like Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Nike, Cisco, Intel, Corning, and GEC.

So, with DeviantArt - which I've begun paying more attention to recently, and posting the odd photo - what's the deal with the llama badges people are giving me? ^_^;

At some point, I do want to pick up a good tripod - and this one looks just the ticket. It's a new design from a German manufacturer, FLM, with what seems like the perfect combination of characteristics for a seriously good travel tripod, extending tall, folding short and thin, supporting plenty of weight, and made of sensibly rigid materials. Briefly: 10kg load, 55.9" max height, collapsed 15.3", 3.8" folded diameter, weighs 1.28kg, made of 10x carbon fiber in eight directions and aluminium, 10 year warranty.

ProPublica and the NYT recently published a damning story on just how widespread is the use of drug-testing kits in the field, and just how unreliable they are - yet, are in high demand by police forces across the US. And despite it having been known that they're entirely fallible, reacting to yield the positive color change not just with the intended substance, but many others as well, they remain the basis of arrests and plea bargaining in many jurisdictions. And therein lies the rub - plea bargains are often overwhelmingly how such convictions are secured, and with that comes a felony conviction, and all the joyful social disavowal that people helpfully throw on, like being unemployable in many positions, and unable to even rent a place to live.

Last Saturday night's viewing turned out to be a double bill of quite unrelated items, commencing with an Icelandic drama with very dark humor, Rams (Hrútar). It begins with two brothers - and neighbors - who haven't spoken in forty years. One loses a ram championship to the other, and then.. well, it gets tougher. I can't really say more, and I'd recommend against reading even the IMDb summary, though it won't really spoil the film; which I will recommend. It's beautifully shot, with some outstanding, often quiet, performances from the leads. Then, I mentioned to the roomie that I had never seen Big Trouble in Little China, and suspected there might be a chance he'd have a copy, and so it was. ^_^ There's much to love about this kind of utterly playful filmmaking, with John Carpenter not only directing, but responsible for much of the music as well. And the fact it was (loosely) set in San Francisco didn't hurt my enjoyment, either. ^_^

In which two Moldovan punks consider their mutual crush to be a trophy to fight over. And both lose. (Will they learn?)

A fascinating paper! Rats will free others from cages, and even share food with their newly liberated kin. THere's even a gender twist: "Although fewer in number, all the female rats tested became door openers; whereas 30% of males never became door openers." So, The Rats of NIMH was a documentary?

And elsewhere in the big wide world: How frigatebirds cross entire oceans without ever needing to rest. "Frigatebirds are the only seabirds that lack waterproof feathers — if they dive into the ocean or even land on its surface, the water will soak their plumage and prevent them from taking flight again. This should be a death knell to a species that dines exclusively on fish, but it's not."

The nerdier amongst you may wish to try your paw at a caption for this EE Times cartoon. =:)

Yay! The weather seemed like it might improve for a reasonably bright Friday evening, and lo, a beautifully bright, quite warm (if a mite breezy - the perils of long hair that isn't quite long enough to completely tie back..) couple hours, with the numbers remaining fairly constant, although this time split between the group I normally observe, and another, possibly separate, warren in the other direction. There wasn't too much wild stuff going on, but I did manage to catch quite a nifty leap out of the way, which might work quite well as a triptych. ^_^

Yay, I was right! ^_^
A little tidbit on ESO's Very Large Telescope: "The light beams are combined in the VLTI using a complex system of mirrors in underground tunnels where the light paths must be kept equal to distances less than 1/1000 mm over a hundred metres. With this kind of precision the VLTI can reconstruct images with an angular resolution of milliarcseconds, equivalent to distinguishing the two headlights of a car at the distance of the Moon." And the facility's attached underground residential quarters were used as a backdrop in Quantum of Solace. =:)

One student in Montana took on the Boob Police. (h/t supergee)

How did I miss this? The Tick's reboot is a Go, courtesy of Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television. And the star, this time around, is Peter Serafinowicz! And, it appears Wreck-It Ralph 2 is also proceeding, pencilled in for March 9th 2018. ^_^

Now this is pretty neat: the Blackbird, a fully reconfigurable car rig that can adjust its size and riding characteristics, which they then use to overlay photorealistic CG texturing. It's much better seen than described. ^_^

Some researchers have apparently established some rather uncomfortably widespread shortcomings in fMRI processing - specifically, three packages commonly used: SPM, FSL, and AFNI.

Here's rather an interesting concept for a star drive: use a black hole. It's well beyond current engineering, but, "In 2009, Alexander Bolonkin and Louis Crane, Shawn Westmoreland offered and published a paper and book investigating the feasibility of this idea. Their conclusion was that it was on the edge of possibility, but that quantum gravity effects that are presently unknown will either make it easier, or make it impossible."

For a long form article on the whole sorry Brexit affair, have a look at lupestripe's EU Referendum Statement. (Regrettably, he's disabled comments on that entry, but I can sympathise)

Elsewhere in politics, The Canary's been taking a look at Portland Communications, one of the parties involved in ginning up the current efforts to displace Corbyn from the Labour leadership.

Still, there remains happiness in the world. ^_^ Here we see two police officers at this year's Pride parade in London: and one has just held up the entire parade to make a proposal. =:D (Actually, another officer also seized the moment. Both said yes =:)

I got to go rabbiteering again on Monday! The lighting wasn't amazing, but there was still enough sun for okay results, and no risk of sudden showers, so I leapt at the opportunity - and my, they were feisty. ^_^ Of the real action, only couple came out semi-acceptably, as they were, in fact, too close for me to fit the action in. ^_^; (I use a 300mm f/4 prime, so the angle of view is what it is, nothing else. The upshot is it's a stop or so brighter than zooms of that price, and very sharp indeed, permitting even quite tight cropping) I still don't think the warren's yet done with the scourge, but only one seemed affected this time, with a peak of twelve or so, similar to a month ago, so hopefully they're stable at this point.
Now available for iOS and Android: VR ear cleaning, apparently a very Japanese phenomenon, "a bonding exercise between two people, not unlike a massage".

I may have to get off my tail and get along to the Crystal Heart Festival in SL, getting underway next Thursday, June 30, with a three day concert over July 22-24. "The Crystal Heart Festival is an exclusive event dedicated to all Mahou Shoujo anime and manga such as: Sailor Moon, Tokyo Mew Mew and Card Captor Sakura, portrayed from a heroes vs. villains perspective. Here you’ll find a unique line of fashion, cosplay and creations interpreted by some of the best designers across the grid."

It goes, perhaps, without saying that I'm bitterly disappointed in the UK's vote to leave the EU. The consequences are obvious, and in part, immediate, with some large employers moving out, and markets worldwide slumping, coupled with the Pound falling to - well, currently $1.36754, versus its more usuals level of $1.50-1.60. Scotland's all but certain to hold another independence vote, and likely to separate. Good job, Farage, and all the press who continue to give him half their column inches if he so much as coughs. Fancy moving out of the UK for your retirement? Heh, right. Good grief, I'm still finding it hard to believe what a confoundedly self-destructive step some people have taken - a protest vote? What, so give the cutters even more power, so you're even further in the shit?

But never mind: Obama's assuring the "special relationship" will endure. Which is that, again? The one where GCHQ performs the NSA's politically inconvenient work, and vice versa? It certainly isn't anything pertaining to freedom of personal movement, given US<->UK visas for permanent residency, or simply working, remain as frustratingly complex, expensive, and time consuming as any isolationist politician could wish for, ensuring their subjects are kept just where they are.

I feel fundamentally ashamed to be legally part of a citizenry that is happy to tell a significant part of its population that they're unwelcome, despite having lives in the UK, entirely legally, working and fulfilling more of their civic duties than many Westminster MPs, for whom the act of turning up for work is entirely optional. (Reminder: these are the people Leave have decided to entrust their fate to, and everyone else who either chooses to remain, or can't leave) So, one good friend - Polish - may well be leaving with his BF for Spain, rather than be confined to an isolationist position where travel requires at least a passport, and likely a visa for anything beyond tourism. Another's position is closely entangled with European reporting, putting their position also into doubt, even without any residency issues involved. Yet, did the Leave camp think about this? Let them now, at least, contemplate how many lives they've upended, handing power to a spectrum from the Conservatives, through UKIP, to the BNP. *slow clap*

A comic to try: Rice Boy, being a surrealistic, brightly hued fantasy adventure yarn. It's complete, having run between 2006-2008, and not overly long (unfortunately!).

It could well be that Anton Yelchin, actor playing the "new" Chekhov, was a victim of bad user interface design - specifically, the "monostable" gear shifter in Jeep Grand Cherokees, where you move the stick forward and backward to shift through gear selections, after which it always returns to the same rest position.

Hasselblad, in recent years, took a lot of heat from the peanut gallery over its "luxury branding" concepts, essentially copying Leica's strategy of lightly rebadging other manufacturers' cameras, and adding a hefty multiplier to the cost. They've apparently completely changed course, having now launched the first mirrorless medium format body, the X1D. It's still quite exotically priced, at around $9,000, but that's still a significant drop on previous medium format bodies. It even positions them as a genuine manufacturer of camera bodies again - they're produced locally, in Sweden.

I wonder what g force that amounts to? Swiss mech.eng. students have built an electric race car that can manage 0-62mph in 1.513 seconds. =:D (Hm.. 62 mph = 27.716 m/s, so a = v/t = 27.716/1.513 = 18.319 m/s/s, so a bit under 2g)
Konstantin Binder, who moved to London 15 years ago, writes about the right's EU-exit aspirations. As one whose mother similarly moved west from Germany, I can only wholeheartedly concur with his sentiments.

Thus far, the bookies seem to be unanimous in leaning toward "remain", with odds around 1/4, and "leave" around 3/1. Results of today's referendum, in any event, will apparently start coming around 0030, with around half announcing by 3-4am, 80% by 5am, and likely all done by around 7am.

Are you reading jakebe's writings? If not, go, go! You won't find a more insightful and engaging writer. (Better known ones, yes =:)

A fascinating approach to a realistic vegetarian burger, designed to handle and taste just like the conventional kind, even seemingly "bloody" when raw. "The taste is unreal. When I tried a mini burger slathered in vegan mayo, mashed avocado, caramelized onions and Dijon prepared by San Francisco chef Traci Des Jardin at the company's headquarters in Redwood City, I was floored. The flavor was slightly less potent than meat, but if I didn't already know this burger was made from plants, I wouldn't have guessed it. The texture as I chewed was just like ground beef." It's still at a relatively early stage, so the burgers are more expensive than beef, but they're hoping to bring the cost down as they ramp up production.

So, I did indeed finally get to see The Martian, and I'm very pleased I did. ^_^ It's always great to see real sci-fi, on TV or on the big screen, not merely Alien Invasion of the Week. I did have a few quibbles, like the lack of international involvement until Suddenly, China, or the point where our orbital mechanics whiz, needing some computation, is shown snoozing with his laptop wired to a node of a NASA cluster, with requisite COMPUTATIONS ACCURATE modal dialog appearing, in true Sneakers style. ^_^; But that's small stuff, versus the magnificence of manned space flight - whatever the risks. BTW, if you're given to wondering about the science behind the film, a fan's come up with a detailed pair of eBooks going into the assertions made - really quite good fun! The first volume was recently free, but like its companion, it's back to the mighty figure of 99p/99¢.

Peter Gabriel has a new track out! I'm Amazing, apparently inspired, in part, by the life of Muhammed Ali.

Coming soon from the Canadian Mint: a range of Star Trek coins, all legal tender, and mostly in full color.

Headline on HN the other day: "Twitter Acquires Magic Pony". Go back 20 years, and try parsing those four words. =:) (Me, I'd love to derail the PlayStation's debut, and let 3DO's M2 come to the fore =:)

On an even geekier level, here's some detailed tech info on APFS, Apple's forthcoming filesystem, going beyond the documentation. There's a lot of good stuff in there, including this rather neat tidbit: "APFS addresses [latency] with I/O QoS (quality of service) to prioritize accesses that are immediately visible to the user over background activity that doesn’t have the same time-constraints."

Rather a novel means of recycling plastic, though currently only on polyethylenes: catalysis into gases like butane, a diesel-like fuel, and waxes. The big wins are relatively low energy required, and no concern for purity of the source.

Evidently, Dan Piraro is a Good Egg™, for as he observes on his "Bunny of Exuberance" secret symbol: "We must all stay in touch with the bunny inside us at all costs."

Speaking of whom, I'm afraid there haven't been any new bunpics lately, owing largely to rather mediocre (damp and cloudy) weather much of the time.

Just to avoid duplicating work: has anyone already made a VM of NextStep 3.3 or OpenStep 4.0? I feel I need to, if not. ^_^ Such a brilliant OS family, even if Display PostScript had to be dropped on its way to becoming OS X - that loss of separation of client and server meant the loss of X-Windows style abstraction, so remote control became the blunt instrument that is VNC.
As far as net.radio goes, I seem to've mostly settled down on Radio Paradise and KLFM - both offer quite a good breadth of variety, with KLFM paying a bit more attention to the 80s onwards, and neither having any advertising, which always sends me quickly flicking over to iTunes to choose another station.

Last Saturday's selection was remarkably simple: we started with "Hail, Caesar!", a veritable return to punchy form by the Coens, followed by a latterday classic, The Prophecy, with Christopher Walken superbly cast as an angel - but not of the kind fabled in recent lore. (Inexplicably, the latter only has a 6.6 rating on IMDb, roughly level across age, leaning slightly female) Tonight, I'll either be chilling here on LJ, or perhaps finally getting to see The Martian, as the roomie's off in the big city, enjoying a night of cocktails. Who knows? Maybe I'll even get back onto Reddit, where I've been absent for a year or so. I did get to see half of "The Huntsman: Winter's War", which.. was enjoyable fluff, but could have been much more, had the writing simply been up to the task. Still, it struck both of us that the costume design was quite remarkable, especially Queen Freya and Ravenna's ensembles toward the end - breathtaking! Apparently, the work of Colleen Atwood, whose credits include one or two other productions, such as Mars Attacks!, Sleepy Hollow, Edward Scissorhands, the current Supergirl series, and the forthcoming Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

WWDC took place last week, and with it, no shortage of headline material, as well as more geeky issues, like the unveiling of a new filing system, inexplicably titled Apple Filing System, taking plenty of cues from the likes of ZFS. Right now, it's a developer preview, and can't be used as a boot disk; but, they seem to be aiming to unleash it in 2017. And, it appears the Quicktime framework is now officially muerto, no longer present in macOS Sierra's SDKs. It's not really something most folks will care about, I know, but Quicktime was once quite an astounding framework, with forward-looking technologies like QuickTime VR, and scriptability to the point where one dev demo CD included a complete Breakout game implemented purely as a QuickTime file. ^_^ And then there was the media processing/compression app I worked on - around 1998-2001 or so, pretty much any professionally produced media on the web had almost certainly been prepared with it - which relied on QT for its cross-platform nature. (I should note we didn't go with any cross-platform UI kits, in order to provide a genuinely native UI on both Mac OS and Windows. Not much extra work, really - the vast majority of the code sat beneath that level)

(w00t! Aperture is listed as compatible in MacRumors' Sierra compatibility thread)

The more geeky keynote, as it were, is State of the Platform, session 102. (You can watch it on the site, or flip to the Resources tab, and download the HD or SD version; 3.3GB for HD. All the other sessions can be found over here)

It's also been quite a pleasant surprise to see Apple moving to mandate HTTPS for iOS apps by the end of 2016, given apps are typically opaque about the level of security involved.

And yes, gone is OS X: long live macOS. ^_^ I'm quite happy with that. It's a nice combination of the old name, tweaked to blend in with its kin. And finally gets rid of the "Oh Ess Ecks" monicker smart alecs have persisted with. =:)

There were, of course, little videos they'd prepared, and they're actually rather cool by themselves: New Beginnings, on what motivates people to program - quite wonderful, and seriously, worth a minute or two of your time; and, more of a zappy summary on Messages, Hey Hi Hello. (Love that track: provided by Hollywood Wildlife, apparently, track of the same name) FSM knows, I'm not the audience for anything IM-related, but there's equally no doubting it'll be gobbled up by those who are. The new enhancements are fun, I will admit. ^_^

There's plenty of coverage elsewhere, so I shan't bother touching on everything. Nice to see the supported devices list being largely (completely?) unchanged: iOS 10 will support devices beginning with the iPhone 5, iPad 4, and iPad mini 2. Still, I was quite intrigued to see Serif demoing a work-in-progress version of their Affinity Photo, for iPad. Trouble is, AP's still much more of an app to work on specific photos - as I recall, it doesn't really sport any asset management features, where Aperture works so well. At least it seems like Aperture's running happily under macOS Sierra, which is a big relief - indeed, the list of incompatibilities, with this first preview, is quite petite.

Via hastka, 8 bit wood, celebrating classic games' 8/16 bit artwork, beautifully realised with wooden pixels. ^_^

In politics, The Canary (an independent news site, along the lines of The Intercept and ExaroNews) reports that a recent AQAP routing in Yemen wasn't what it seemed: whilst official reports claim an intense routing of the enemy from their fledgling statelet on the southern Yemen coast, it appears it may have been much more arranged, with Al-Qaeda's safe passage in exchange for the safety of the oil pipeline they'd had control of. "The commandos bravely secured the Dhabah oil terminal from the AQAP barbarians, before rapidly defusing hundreds of landmines. Except they didn’t. Independent on-the-ground sources have denied there was any such attack. Veteran BBC journalist Iona Craig, who has reported extensively from Yemen, said that the coalition statement was “ridiculous”, as AQAP had already deserted the city before the alleged military ‘rout’"

With Thursday not being an especially good day, I took refuge in catching up with the final three episodes of pony (well, this half of the season - they're doing a Doctor Who style split, with a Summer recess). And, delightfully, they were all well on form. ^_^ Applejack's "Day" Off didn't dwell too heavily on the difficulties encountered in trying to secure that precious time off, instead showing AJ as simply doing what she could to help, fixing a problem affecting so many. The coda, however, was quite perfect, with the excellent moral illustrated amusingly: that sometimes, others' perspectives can be very useful in revealing problems in your routine that you've simply grown accustomed to. Then, Flutter Brutter saw a remarkably assertive (in a kind way) Fluttershy, including the best ever use of the word "peeved". I was very pleased with this episode simply because it showed a dimension to her we haven't seen much of - with writers often falling back to her being extremely timid - being quite determined, yet still compassionate. Finally, Spice Up Your Life, with one of the best songs in a while, and ultimately, celebrating creativity and being true to yourself. ^_^ I admit, I felt a bit awkward with Rarity being painted as so strictly conforming - true, there are trends in cuisine, just as in couture, but there's no lack of variety for that; and there's no way anyone with as tightly restricted a concept of good food as Zesty Gourmand would rise to prominence, or even be considered by such as Michelin. Still, that's a minor nitpick. ^_^

It was, as we've all heard, a terrible time for targeted murders, with the Pulse nightclub the focus of a religious homophobe, and on Thursday, an MP, Jo Cox (by all accounts, a very good and genuinely compassionate representative) stabbed and shot, dying later that day, because of a neo-Nazi nationalist. I'd been vaguely hoping his appearance in court might offer up some measure of repentence: but, no. He apparently gave his name in court as "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain". I might hope, similarly, for some measure of regret from the likes of Ken Paxton, Attorney General for Texas, or the sponsors of North Carolina's loathsome HB2, but I very much doubt they'll be experiencing anything negative. They do not get to spread fear and hatred of the LGBT community, doing all they can, wilfully, consciously, deliberately stoking prejudices, villifying LGBT folk, or immigrants, and be surprised when some people act on that hatred, whilst offering platitudes of mock sympathy. As noted by lovelyangel, Only The Onion Can Save Us Now, whose writers have nailed the issues so well in the past, eg “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.” or “At Times Like This, We Need to Pull Ourselves Up, Hold Our Loved Ones Close, Block Any Legislation That Would Prevent Suspected Terrorists From Buying Guns, And Say a Prayer For the Victims.”

And, via supergee, apparently Stanford rapist Brock Turner was like that all along.

Courtesy of Dinosaur Comics, I am enlightened that the Spanish equivalent of "the ball's in your court" is the rather spiffy "the ball is on your roof". ^_^

Finally, I'd like to end this entry with five simple, delightful minutes, via drhoz, of Denis Lock at the Palladium, blowing bubbles. Yes, really. And the finale is just a moment of simple wonderment.
If you're using TeamViewer - software permitting remote operation of your computer - be aware that there's an ongoing threat, and researchers aren't certain how the hacks are occurring. All that's known is there's a large number being reported recently. The hackers involved, once controlling a computer, then send themselves money by PayPal or eBay. If you don't need it installed, I'd recommend simply removing it; else, ensure it isn't set up to launch on startup, only running when you intend to make it available, and enable two-factor authentication. One possibility is that the hackers are simply trying out passwords obtained in other breaches, especially LinkedIn, and seeing if people reused those passwords with TeamViewer, apparently with some success.

So, that was rather cool.. getting to see Russell Brand in the wild. =:D I hadn't quite reckoned on just how intense he is in person, having only seen him on TV appearances like QI and HIGNFY - but an hour and a half in his element, touching on the spiritual and metaphysical, whilst merrily trampling on many social mores.. so damned good. ^_^

A couple more online learning venues - not accredited, but none the worse for that: FutureLearn, and edX.

Ars recently ran quite an insightful little article: you've probably seen some folk claim that scientists were all predicting a coming ice age, and thus, we can't put stock in any warming claims. They took a look at: did 1970s climate science really call for an ice age?

Sunspring is a surreal sci-fi short with a bit of a difference: it was written by an AI. (If you'd like to download it for viewing on TV or suchlike, try this. It's 142MB)

The buns - well, I'm not sure that the scourge has completely run its course just yet, but, only a couple seemed possibly affected, with most looking fine. Numbers appear to be more or less steady, with around 10-12 visible at peak. And some of them have, I hope, enjoyed a few of the raisins I've been scattering. ^_^ There was even a little round of jousting on Thursday! It began routinely enough, with two poised intently toward each other, followed quickly by a succession of launches. No altercation, thankfully. Here's a little sequence..

Siri, Cortana, et al are pretty much everywhere now. But - do people actually use them much? Personally, I've barely used Siri - about the last time was a few weeks ago, when I didn't feel like half getting up and setting an alarm for the morning, and did it that way instead. Do you use such voice-based personal assistants much/at all/routinely?

Did you know it's possible to tattoo your eyeballs?

Alternatively, how about Elite for Emacs?

Music video of the week: Hifi ft. Fred Schneider - "Truck", being a minimalistic disco-electronic track channeling Convoy et al of the 70s. If the name isn't familiar, FS is the distinctive voice of the B-52s.

How's this for some outstanding cosplay? The "junk lady" from Labyrinth.

You may recall, from a couple years ago, word of a writer in New York who was offering people very brief stories, for what they chose to donate, typed on as he sat on one of Central Park's benches. Here's his own story, including when a photo of him hit the front page of Reddit - with his sign explaining things cropped out, showing only someone on a park bench with a typewriter. Instantly, he was branded a "hipster", and out came the hatred..

Headline of the month must surely belong to Seagull turns orange after falling into curry. The accompanying photo is quite priceless. (The bird in question is fine, but continues to smell strongly of tikka masala)

Artwork du jour: Tori: Delicacy, recasting Judy & Nick as TRON: Legacy characters. =:D (The same artist's done a whole slew of other film parodies on Zootopian themes, including Deadpool and Kill Bill, equally professionally executed)

Saturday's viewing turned out to be somewhat truncated, as the roomie got up at Silly O'Clock, so we only had time to watch The Good Dinosaur, and a few shorts, including Hyper-Reality and XXIT. The pizza prelude went very well - starting with a Sainsbury's Iberico chorizo and butter chicken pizza, I added: a bit of crushed tomato (with some garlic, basil, oregano, and rosemary added), a couple chopped up slices of Brunswick ham, further sprinklings of rosemary and basil, a tiny dash of hot smoked paprika (beautiful stuff, but you do need to be careful with the quantities), and a bit of black pepper. And as I felt the cheese could use a little help, I tossed on some crumbled Manchego and smoked Cheddar, simply to add to the flavor profile. Regrettably, it was sliced and consumed far before I had the presence of mind to deploy any camera. ^_^;

As for The Good Dinosaur? Mmm.. I feel my initial discomfort with the trailer was warranted, with the breathtakingly beautiful, realistic scenery simply not meshing comfortably with the very toony characters, supported by a very straightforward tale. Not a bad production in the least, but, for Pixar, surprisingly weak. (And next year brings Cars 3 - what, the first two weren't bad enough? - and a knockoff of The Book of Life? Ah well. It's rather feeling like the A-game's shifted over to Disney Feature Animation, with Big Hero 6, and now Zootopia) It felt, overall, like a bit of a lukewarm rehashing of Disney's arguably superior "Dinosaur" (combining CG for the characters with live action elsewhere), blended with a good dose of The Lion King, including that moment, and their encounter with their late father. That said, it certainly wasn't a bad production at all - hardly something to avoid! - just, not up to the calibre of Ratatouille, Wall-E, or The Incredibles. (Tonight, I'm thinking "Hail, Caesar!" needs to be in there somewhere - it sounds like the Coens were fully back on form for that, even if it'll take a miracle to surpass The Big Lebowski =:)