December Days: Day 5: Telstar

Monday, December 5th, 2016 04:38 pm
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
[personal profile] nanila
Talk to the paw
Telstar lounging on our bed in the afternoon sun.

Cooking for other people

Monday, December 5th, 2016 04:36 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
[personal profile] bunnypip asked about "cooking for other people and what you get out of it (because it's something I used to love and fell out of love with) are there any downsides for you that make it less fun? what are the best bits?"

Basically, I just really like food. Eating really delicious things is one of my favourite things to do, and especially one of my favourite things to share doing. So cooking for other people is just an extension of that really; it means I get to share eating (hopefully!) delicious things whilst at the same time knowing that I made it happen.

One of the really nice upsides to living in Northampton for a while is having new people to feed; all the dishes that I've cooked dozens of times for [livejournal.com profile] obandsoller and [livejournal.com profile] robert_jones get to be appreciated anew by [personal profile] hjdoom and [livejournal.com profile] vyvyan, and I find myself experiencing them with a fresh palate as well.

The best bit is when you serve dinner to a noisy room full of fabulous people, and then for the next five or ten minutes silence descends, because everyone is too focused on the food to continue their conversations, no matter how engaging, and you know that you've absolutely nailed it. I don't manage this every time, but it never gets old.

There aren't many downsides. I used to get very stressed about things coming out less than perfectly, but by now I'm confident enough that I'll be able salvage something edible from nearly any mistake, and that the people I cook for will be forgiving even if it does go horribly wrong and I have to resort to ordering takeaway. And unsurprisingly, being more relaxed means that things go wrong much less often anyway.
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Posted by Eric Berger

Virgin Galactic

It has been a long road back from a fatal 2014 accident for Virgin Galactic, the splashy spaceship company founded by Sir Richard Branson to bring the masses into space. After its VSS Enterprise crashed into the Mojave Desert during a test flight, killing vehicle co-pilot Michael Alsbury, the company has had to redesign some key safety systems and rebuild its spacecraft. It revealed the VSS Unity in February.

Since then Virgin Galactic has completed a series of ground tests and mating to the "mothership" aircraft, Eve. Following captive carry tests in September, the company performed its first glide test on Saturday, when VSS Unity was released at an altitude of about 15km. The spacecraft reached a velocity of mach 0.6 during its 10-minute descent back to the ground in California. It then made a safe landing at test facilities in Mojave.

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Oculus Touch review: Let your fingers do the grabbing

Monday, December 5th, 2016 03:34 pm
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Posted by Kyle Orland

Edited and produced by Jennifer Hahn. (video link)

Oculus Touch Controllers
Weight Approx. 272g (excluding batteries)
Features 3D gesture and motion tracking, analogue stick, trigger and three face buttons
Battery Life Up to 20 hours on two AA
Price £190—requires Oculus Rift headset at £550

After years of development kits and prototype demos, the Oculus Rift VR headset finally launched in March. But even as a real product that people could purchase, the first consumer version of the Rift was incomplete when it launched. That's because, unlike competing high-end VR headsets like the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, the Oculus Rift didn't have an integrated method to track your hands in virtual space.

To be sure, you can do plenty of fun things in virtual reality with the kind of standard, handheld, button-based controller that's been guiding games on 2D screens for decades. But when you're confronted with a stereoscopic 3D world that entirely surrounds you, as happens in the Rift headset, your first instinct is to reach out and touch the things in that world. As I noted with disappointment in my initial review of the Rift, without hand-tracking controllers, "this brave new display technology is a strictly 'look, don't touch' affair."

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

The “X movie in the style of Y director/genre” idea has been done a million times (several times just with Wes Anderson alone), but they don’t always work as well as this recut trailer for The Witch. A quick change of music and the right selection of clips, and one of last year’s big horror movies is a quirky comedy classic.

(via /Film, image via screengrab)

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Posted by Kyle Orland

Enlarge

Way back in 2010, a full year after it was first announced as a PlayStation 3 game, The Last Guardian creator Fumito Ueda stressed to a Tokyo Game Show press conference audience that the key to the game he envisioned was developing an "emotional attachment" between the game's unnamed boy character and Trico, his three-story tall mythical animal-hybrid companion that combines elements of a bird, a dog, and a horse. Six years later, after finally completing Ueda's oft-delayed opus, I find that the main emotion I feel towards Trico, and the game he inhabits, is frustration.

A beautiful disaster

The Last Guardian plays out as one big joint escort quest, with Trico and the boy working together to escape the extremely intricate ruins of a crumbling tower complex built into the side of a cliff. Before I dig into what frustrated me so much about the game, I'd be remiss not to laud the architectural feat of that digital environment.

Every broken brick, every rusted-over bridge, and every pile of rubble overgrown with weeds makes you feel like you're inhabiting the epilogue of a once-great civilization. It's a world full of ornate symbology and bronze-age-meets-magical-realism technology that's all the stronger for never being even partially explained. You'll feel like you're trespassing on the ghosts of master builders, who placed every last stone with a sense of purpose you'll never fully understand but love examining anyway.

Much like Ueda's Ico and Shadow of the Colossus before it, The Last Guardian also benefits from a painterly use of light, which pokes through holes in the walls to reflect through cavernous halls and oversaturated outdoor scenes with a soft, otherworldly glow. Played on an HDR television on the PlayStation Pro, every scene has a vibrancy and range of visual expressiveness that's hard to equal in modern gaming (Things look pretty good on a standard 1080p television, too). Seeing what new visual splendor lies around the next corner quickly becomes the main impetus to struggle your way through the game's puzzles.

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Posted by Jonathan M. Gitlin

(credit: Volkswagen)

On Monday, Volkswagen Group used the TechCrunch Disrupt meeting in London to announce a new company, Moia. It joins the group's 12 automotive brands but isn't necessarily going to make cars; VW says that Moia is a response to the future of transportation and that buzzword du jour, "mobility."

Even though not everyone will still own a car in the future, "MOIA can help make everyone a customer of our company in some way or another,” Matthias Müller, CEO of VW Group, said. At first that means ride-sharing, and VW has already invested $300 million in a ridesharing platform called Gett (used by London's black taxis, among others). But eventually the plan is for Moia-owned vehicles—electric and autonomous, we assume—to be the ones summoned via app. Autocar speculates that this could be the eventual use for VW's BUDD-e concept car, which would be co-branded with Moia.

This looks like a smart move for VW Group, switching the topic as it does from the ongoing scandal of cheating emissions tests. Most of its rivals have already thrown down a mobility flag; GM and Maven, Daimler-Benz and Car2Go, BMW and ReachNow, and that's before we see autonomous car services from Ford and Tesla. Now VW can try to do the same with a name that's not covered in a layer of soot and particulates.

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Robot aircraft take to British skies

Monday, December 5th, 2016 03:02 pm
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Robot aircraft are to be tested in UK airspace to help refine systems that control autonomous planes.

Seattle 'thief' caught by remote car door lock

Monday, December 5th, 2016 02:40 pm
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Police in Seattle arrest a suspect after a stolen BMW was tracked and the doors locked remotely.
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Although progress is being made, up to US $906bn of company turnover is still tied to global deforestation, an assessment suggests.

Monday Cute: Kitty Just Wants to Play With Puppy Pal

Monday, December 5th, 2016 01:25 pm
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Posted by Jessica Lachenal

kitten-escapes-cage

Look: I know you more than likely clicked on this post the moment you saw “Kitty” in the headline. That’s totally cool, I’d do the same exact thing. But let me break down what you’re getting here.

So this kitten in a pet shop is totally not feeling his cage, right? He’s bored, kind of tired with the little box bed he’s got in the back, and so he looks over and notices there’s a puppy (a puppy!) in the cage next to his. He gets up and he’s like, “Man, I want to go play with that puppy,” you know, as you do, so he plans this totally elaborate heist-style plot to escape his cage and play with his puppy pal.

Of course, by elaborate heist-style escape, I actually mean he’s going to squeeze his fuzzy, pudgy little kitty body through the gaps in the cages to go over to his pal’s place. It’s not the most graceful thing ever, but it totally gets the job done, am I right?

What’s even more funny is that the puppy is like, so bored until it notices that his kitten friend is coming over. Oh, man, he looks over and it’s like, over, that puppy is down. To. Play. He’s hopping around, and really, he doesn’t exactly help with the escape more than he just sorta stands there and licks the kitty, nipping at him a little bit in some kind of token gesture of assistance.

Anyway, this is cute, and it’s totally a reminder that if you want to go play with your friend, you should go play with your friend. Just go have fun and enjoy the things you can enjoy. The work and the worry will be there later. Just… go. Enjoy.

(via The FW)

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Credit card numbers guessed in 'seconds'

Monday, December 5th, 2016 01:07 pm
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Smart cyber thieves who run queries across lots of different websites can guess credit card numbers in a few seconds, suggests research.

Dirty Money (a comprehensive review)

Monday, December 5th, 2016 01:00 pm
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Posted by Martin Gardiner

Before you reach into your pocket, bag, purse or wallet for some cash … you might pause for thought about the bacteria, yeasts, fungi, cysts and ova of intestinal parasites that could be lurking there.

dirty-money

All the above are commonly found on money worldwide – but which types of cash are the filthiest? In a comprehensive roundup of global research into money and its disease-causing potential, researchers Emmanouil Angelakis, Esam I Azhar, Fehmida Bibi, Muhammad Yasir, Ahmed K Al-Ghamdi, Ahmad M Ashshi, Adel G Elshemi and Didier Raoult have examined various physical forms of cash to determine which might be the most problematic.

They note that paper (i.e. cotton and linen based) notes are particularly bad (in Ghana, 100% of the currency notes tested were found to be contaminated with one or more bacterial species). Plastic (i.e. polymer) notes were considerably cleaner (polymer-based banknotes from Australia and New Zealand presented less than 10/cm2 bacteria). And coins – particularly those rich in copper, were also less contaminated than the paper (possibly due to the antibacterial properties of some metals).

The research team suggest that :

“The capacity of banknotes, coins and fomites* to serve as sources of pathogenic agents represents a major challenge in the 21st century. It is possible that the replacement of cotton-based banknotes by substrate material can play an important role in the reduction of bacterial concentration.”

REFERENCE: ‘Paper money and coins as potential vectors of transmissible disease’ in Future Microbiology (2014) 9(2), 249–261

*NOTE: A ‘fomite’ is any non-living entity that can transmit disease – like, say, a church font, or a doorknob

BONUS[1] ‘Microbiology: A Very Short Introduction’ by Professor Money

BONUS[2]: A look at another type of dirty money

NEXT POST: Can mathematicians understand each other?

 

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Posted by Smithy

apple-electric-carAfter Apple revealed it is working on a self-driving electric car, fans of the brand said they are excited about the prospect of the car shutting down when it says there is 30% left on the battery.
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Posted by Glyn Moody

Enlarge (credit: JAY DIRECTO/AFP/GettyImages)

The appeal court of Rome has overturned one of the 152 website blocks another court imposed last month, and ruled that embedding does not constitute a copyright infringement. The order against the Italian site Kisstube is annulled, but the other websites remain blocked.

Kisstube is a YouTube channel, which also exists as a standalone website that does not host any content itself, linking instead to YouTube. Both the channel and website arrange content by categories for the convenience of users.

The Italian court's decision was informed by an important ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). In the BestWater case, the CJEU held that embedding or framing a video or image from another website is not copyright infringement if the latter is already accessible to the general public.

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Fake news cash-in

Monday, December 5th, 2016 02:43 am
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Many of the fake news websites that sprang up during the US election campaign have been traced to a small city in Macedonia, where teenagers are pumping out sensationalist stories to earn cash from advertising.

Final Fantasy 15 review: A curio, not a classic

Monday, December 5th, 2016 12:02 pm
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Posted by Ars Staff

Enlarge

There are worse places to be stuck in a car than on the sun-cooked roads of Lucis. "Picturesque" doesn’t cover the symbiotic qualities of these mountains, great lakes, and patchwork fields. Small wonder that one member of your entourage, comprised of Noctis, the heir to Lucis' throne, and his three friends and bodyguards, will routinely request you stop the car so he can take a photograph.

It's the eve of the prince's wedding and, rather than slosh drunkenly around some coastal town, he and his buddies have taken to the open road in their preposterously sleek and muscular car, the Regalia. It’s a curious choice of vehicle for a series defined by its fable-like airships and fantastical giant chicken mounts, but in time it makes sense. This is a contemporary-set Final Fantasy, complete with sat-navs, mobile phones and motels. What better way to conjure the sojourner spirit of the series in the modern day than via the conceit of a road trip?

Not that you have much freedom to drive anywhere you please. The Regalia must stick to the roads in Final Fantasy XV—the latest in a very long line of role-playing games that stretches back to the NES—and while it's possible to take the wheel yourself, the simplistic controls mean that you're more likely to hand over driver duties to Ignis, the most mature member of the group, and sit back to enjoy the views instead.

The open road

If the setting is plainly exquisite then the company is more of an acquired taste. There's sensible Ignis, who cooks meals for the group each time you set up camp for the night, and whose bother and worry soon starts to grate. There’s hothead Gladio, whose tantrums can weary (even if, at times, they provide him with an advantage in battle). And there’s Prompto, who yelps and tugs like an excitable puppy. As the four bond not only via freelance monster-battling missions, picked up, rather confusingly, from the owners of the various cafes dotted around Lucis, but also in their often affecting moments of vulnerability (quiet moments of male bonding snatched on a motel roof, and so on) a sense of pleasing and enriching camaraderie develops.

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Posted by Tom Mendelsohn

Enlarge (credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News)

The Metropolitan Police have debuted a new tactic to beat Apple's iPhone encryption—by mugging a suspect while he was making a call and then keeping the screen alive while they downloaded all the data from the phone.

The technique, which bears all the hallmarks of a real mugging, is apparently legal and seems set to be adopted as a standard means of gathering evidence from devices that might otherwise be locked to investigators.

The evidence gathered from the tactic helped jail five men involved in a major fake credit card operation. Officers from Operation Falcon, the specialist London unit tackling major fraud and other related online crime, seized the phone from one of the ringleaders, Gabriel Yew, whose gang were suspected of manufacturing false bank and credit cards and using them across mainland Europe to buy luxury goods.

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Posted by Gary Stanton

paul-nuttall-nigel-farageNationwide Conference side, Tranmere Rovers, is a seething hotbed of young, white UKIP-leaning disenfranchisement, it has emerged.

Last winter's flooding 'most extreme on record' in UK

Monday, December 5th, 2016 11:04 am
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Flooding across parts of the UK last winter was the most extreme on record, experts say.

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