Nook replacement?

Sep. 24th, 2017 02:37 am
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
I've somehow damaged the screen of my Nook Simpletouch. It's not too bad at present, just a blotch a couple of letters wide and high near the bottom of the page, but it's a bit annoying and I'm worried it might get worse. It's not urgent, but I think I'll replace it if I can find a cheap substitute - but it must be an e-ink based ebook reader, not anything with an LCD screen, the power life is too limited on anything like that.

I get the impression that this technology has to a large extent been sidelined by cheap android tablets etc., but if possible I'd like something a bit faster than the Nook and easier to organize - you can't organize books into "shelves" from the computer with Nooks - and Calibre compatible.

Any suggestions?
selenak: (Schreiben by Poisoninjest)
[personal profile] selenak
Back when I marathon-read Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther series, I saw he's also authored a lot of novels for children, and had a new one coming out this month, a standalone called Frederick the Great Detective, which, however, mysteriously seems to be available in German before it is in English. (Mysterious because Kerr's Scottish and writes in English, and the novel, which got released today, is indeed translated from the English original, I checked the imprint.) Anyway, the novel has a very similar premise to a movie I saw at last year's Munich Film Festival, Erich Kästner and Little Tuesday - the review I wrote about the film is here: boy falls in love with Emil and the Detectives, befriends its author, Erich Kästner, in the twilight of the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich ensues, boy tries to maintain ideals of novel versus increasingly awful reality. Having read the novel now, I can add a further parallel: both Friedrich in Frederick the Great Detective and Hans in Erich Kästner and Little Tuesday have an older sibling who is enthusastically joining the Nazi cause. My original suspicion as to why Kerr picked a fictional main character instead of Hans, who actually existed and did befriend Erich Kästner, was because Hans' fate was sealed by history, and that Kerr wanted a better fate for his young hero. Spoilers ensue. )However, by that point, I had already guessed various other reasons why Kerr chose a fictional over a fictionalized "real" main character, and the differences to Erich Kästner and Little Tuesday are instructive here.

For starters, there's the difference in focus: Erich Kästner and Little Tuesday is, as far as Hans is concerned, a coming of age story - he goes from child to teenager and young man in the course of the story - and has Erich Kästner as the other lead, whose perspective through the movie is even the slightly favored one. Frederick the Great Detective, by contrast, has Kästner only as a supporting character, aside from a prologue and an epilogue ends in late 1933/early 1934, and is above all a homage to Kästner's novel in structure, focusing on Friedrich and his same-age friends, who play detectives until it gets lethally dangerous. (The adults, whether benevolent or malignant or in between, are seen from the outside, the point of view is Friedrich's throughout.) For, befitting the author of the Gunther mysteries, there are actually cases to solve. (Though as opposed to Bernie, young Friedrich - who wants to become a detective through much of the novel - gets the point that you can't be a detective in a system where the criminals have taken over when Kästner desperately tells him just this.)

Indeed, while reading I wondered whether the basic idea for the novel might not have been a wish to write a sequel to Emil which tackles how Emil & Co. would act when the Third Reich starts, because Friedrich's gang with its twins has some similarities. Then again, Friedrich has a distinctly different background to Emil (or Hans Löhr) - no working class single parent mother, instead, middle class parents with his father a journalist and friend of Kästner's, which is the original connection, which allows Kerr to depict the way the press lost its freedom within a year. It also allows Kerr to let Friedrich and his parents vacation on Rügen where Friedrich meets Christopher Isherwood and Isherwood's boyfriend Heinz on the beach. (Leading to a charming scene where Friedrich manages to solve his very first case by finding Isherwood's lost watch.) Kerr provides quite a lot of real life characters making cameos throughout the novel - Billy Wilder (during the premiere of the "Emil and the Detectives" movie version which he scripted), Max Liebermann, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Walter Trier etc. - but the Isherwood cameo was for me the most vivid of these. (And I'm not surprised, having come across an interview where Kerr says bascially Berlin for him as a reader, before he got there, was invented by two British writers, Christopher Isherwood and John Le Carré.)

Kästner himself lis of course the real life character with the most page time, but he feels more like a generic version of Kästner's author persona than an actual attempt at depiction of the man. (As opposed to the Kästner in Erich Kästner and Little Tuesday.) Meaning: he's a benevolent adult the way, say, Justus the Teacher in "Das Fliegende Klassenzimmer" is, with no hint of any inner conflicts, and Kerr slims down the biographical and authorial data about him to "wrote Emil and the Detective, also works as a journalist"; in this book, there are no mentions of either Kästner's other books for children or his adult novel, Fabian (the one who got burned by the Nazis at the 1933 book burning), nor of his sharp political poetry (which in Germany he was and is almost as well known for as for his prose). (Hence ahistorically Emil ends up as the burned book, when in rl Emil and the Detectives was so popular that it got published, as the only one of Kästner's works, within Germany until 1936. Then it was for the axe as well.) The one biographical background fact about Kästner mentioned in conversation by Friedrich's father is in fact a wrong one, or rather, a wrong assumption, that Kästner's mother, like Emil's, raised her son alone. In rl, not only was Kästner's father around and in contact with his son, but he outlived Kästner's mother. There is, however, a reason why I didn't mind this particular wrong statement, which is: Kästner kept his father and his relationship with him very low key as long as his mother was still alive, while his relationship with his mother was intense and very public, so a colleague from work like Friedrich's father could be forgiven for assuming the guy was either dead or had left the family. ( If you've read Kästner's autobiographical writings, one of the most memorable childhood scenes which makes you cringe in sympathy is his parents' christmas competition about him, when his father, a craftsman, proudly presented presents he made with his own hand while his mother spent all her money on presents, and both parents would regard whichever present their son showed any favour to as proof whom he loved more or a rejection respectively. And thus it went on for as long as Kästner's mother lived.)

What the novel does really well, though, is presenting a group of children responding to their world changing radically, and Friedrich as a likeable child hero who ends up rejecting the demagogery, scapegoating and promise of glory that lures his older brother in because he sees how both people he knows and strangers are abused in its name. Again, in an homage to Kästner's novel which has a memorable dream sequence, Friedrich's ongoing crisis of conscience and wonder how to avoid becoming a Nazi himself climaxes in a surreal dream where the various things he has experienced come together. The lesson he draws from this is simple and profound at the same time, very Kästnerian and indeed great advice in current day circumstances as well, to the question as ow to act: Be kind. Being kind and you can't become what you fear and hate. Be kind.

Mind you, the 1945 prologue and epilogue does spoilery things ) But all in all, Frederick the Great Detective is still a very readable children's novel set in a dark time which also manages to pay homage to a classic while being its own thing.

Cheap 52mm filters

Sep. 22nd, 2017 10:26 am
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
Someone on eBay UK is selling sets of 52mm UV filter, polarizer, and lens cap - for 99p! I always need 52mm skylights/UVs and caps for the lenses I sell so I just bought a few which arrived today, and they appear to be exactly as described. Probably not up to the highest quality standards, but I'll be honest, I can't tell the difference at all, and they'll certainly keep the dust out. Annoyingly they don't have any other size at anything like this price.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/253149121163

Probably not worth it outside the UK

Adaptions and remixes

Sep. 20th, 2017 12:07 pm
selenak: (Borgias by Andrivete)
[personal profile] selenak
Two filmed novels in, the tv version of JKR's written-as-Robert-Galbraith mystery novels called Strike comes across as very enjoyable. Holiday Grainger is a delight as Robin, Tom Burke still isn't how I imagined Cormoran Strike, but he's entertaining to watch, and they have good chemistry. Inevitably, characters and subplots were for the axe in both Cuckoo's Call and The Silkworm, but so far they've kept the important emotional beats. In the case of The Silkworm, I'm especially glad my favourite sentence of the entire novel gets to be used in dialogue, though a different character gets to say it on tv: Writers are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want life-long friendship and selfless camraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels."

Of the guest stars, the actresses playing Leonora and Orlando were especially good. I do notice that some of the sharpness of the novels is lost when it comes to politics. I mean, The Silkworm, the novel, has passages like this: : Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, was announcing plans to slash 350 million pounds from the legal aid budget. Strike watched through his haze of tiredness as the florid, paunchy man told Parliament that he wished to 'discourage people from restoring to lawyers whenever they face a problem, and instead encourage them to consider more suitable methods of dispute resolution.' He meant, of course, that poor people ought to relinquish the services of the law. Nothing like it on tv. But the result still doesn't feel as awfully castrated as the tv version of The Casual Vacancy, which lost all the bite and anger and ruined what might not have been a masterpiece but was a novel with genuine points to raise by turning it into inoffensive blandness, more angry reviews here, possibly because such asides aren't the main issue in the Galbraith novels.

In other news, [community profile] missy_fest has been revealing one Missy story per day-ish. This was the smallest ficathon I ever participated in, but a delight to write and read, and as soon as it's de-anonymized, I'm going to link and talk about the story I wrote. Meanwhile, check out the one I received, which was The Master's Faithful Companion (Forever or Just A Day Remix), which remixed my story Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
This was a little disappointing, possibly because it was a very dull day, also because I realise now that I'd left the camera set on 400 ASA, but I didn't feel that the results were much better than my big zoom, which I wouldn't have expected from a prime lens. I ditched about a third of the pictures, what I'm left with is a lot of the same subjects as last time, plus more of the Albert Memorial and a bit more on that black sculpture of the horse, including a plaque with info on the sculptor etc.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/150868539@N02/sets/72157686865515384

My feeling now is that I'll keep the big zoom, really don't use the wider end of the 18-55 enough to justify keeping it, and will probably replace the 18-55 and the 35mm with a good 50mm lens, it's more the sort of focal length I like to work with, and my experiments with the Yonguo lens on the Canon showed that I was getting some reasonable results. Needless to say the Nikon-fit 50mm lenses are hugely more expensive than the Canon-fit Yonguo. There is no urgency about any of this, of course, so the master plan is to get a good 50mm first (or possibly a 60mm Micro-Nikkor if one comes my way) and worry about the rest of it later.
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
This is a follow-up to last years offer of material for the "old-school" RPG Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which I discussed here: https://ffutures.livejournal.com/1213281.html

As with the previous offer, the set-up is a world where adventuring is horrible and dangerous, and the most likely thing to happen is your disgusting and painful death or accidental triggering of an apocalypse or something. It's definitely not a fun setting, and I have to be honest and admit I still haven't tried it. This seems to be all-new material, adventures and settings, but does contain the game rules etc. for those who missed the previous offer.

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Lamentations2

"This is our second offer (a follow-up to the July 2016 Bundle of Lamentations, our top-grossing offer last year) featuring Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing, a sinister and horrific twist on traditional fantasy gaming. Though the rules are a tight retro-clone of B/X D&D, LotFP's attitude comes out of heavy metal and Dario Argento horror films. You could call it "horror fantasy," but this isn't about werewolves or serial killers. LotFP is largely about forces from beyond our awareness causing great distress. Some might describe it as "sick." One review of Towers Two (in this offer's Bonus Collection) struck the right note: "This adventure has torn open a slime-laden murder-blunt-trauma hole in reality's sky and poured down the awesome."

Designer James Raggi explains: "The inspiration for LotFP is the basic belief that the life of an adventurer is a hellish thing nobody sane would want -- full of danger and violence, with no real home, no real family, no certainty, ever. Think of the classic RPG adventure form: You're going into some dark hole with a sinister history, fully expecting to encounter deathtraps and supernatural monsters and all sorts of things that want to kill you and probably eat you, and you're doing it for some money. Or 'glory.' In real life we get pissed and dream of quitting our jobs when our bosses want us to sit at a desk for an extra hour, and our 'glorious heroes' are the people that are victims of the most and worst gossip, and bloody hell this is all terrible. So let's drop the pretense of being noble heroes doing things for noble reasons and just spotlight the fact that 'adventures' are terrible, life-ruining traumatic experiences. And my love of heavy metal and horror movies provides wonderful inspiration for making them so. That's LotFP."

Lamentations has become notorious in the Old School Revival community for this unforgiving ethos. Many fantasy RPGs establish dungeons that are supposedly dangerous ("no one has ever returned"), and then the player characters waltz in and kill everything. But LotFP dungeons are seriously dangerous -- as in, "You're Definitely Going To Die Down Here, No Really." Touch something the wrong way and you're hosed, or sometimes you trigger an apocalypse.

In a metagame sense these doomed journeys teach players caution. They're "nega-dungeons"; they exist for the purpose of you not going there, and if you do, you've already lost. A place like this can help your campaign. As Evan Jeshka wrote in a November 2014 entry on the Bundle of Holding blog, "Welcome to Death Frost Doom, Now Turn Around and Go Away": "It adds grit and verisimilitude, and reminds you you're in a world that exists for its own purposes, not to feed you experience and treasure."

Lamentations made a big showing at this year's ENnie Awards, and this new offer presents the books that took Gold and Silver honors: Blood in the Chocolate, Broodmother Skyfortress, and Veins in the Earth. Along with several older titles not previously in Bundle offers, this collection also brings back three characteristic Lamentations titles from our past Old School Revival offers -- Death Frost Doom, The Monolith From Beyond Space and Time, and Qelong -- as well as the complete rulebook presented in the first Lamentations offer.

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to the charity designated by Lamentations publisher James Raggi, the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$117.50. Customers who pay just US$14.95 get all eight titles in our Weird Starter Collection (retail value $62.50) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:

  • Blood in the Chocolate (retail price $8): A magically horrific candy factory and its enigmatic, bloodthirsty proprietor. 2017 ENnie Gold Award for Best Adventure.
  • Carcosa (retail $15): A weird-fantasy setting of dark and loathsome sorcery.
  • Isle of the Unknown and Dungeon of the Unknown (retail $11): An island hexcrawl that fits easily in any campaign, and a dungeon that explores some of its many mysteries.
  • The Monolith From Beyond Space and Time (retail $8): A reality-warping (and character-warping) entity drives an experience of cosmic horror. [Previously presented in the November 2013 Old School Revival offer.]
  • Death Frost Doom Second Edition (retail $7.50): The anniversary edition, fully revised with all-new artwork, of the controversial adventure that launched Lamentations of the Flame Princess. [Previously in the November 2014 Old School Revival +2.]
  • Lamentations of the Flame Princess Rules & Magic Full Version (retail price $5): The complete core rulebook by James Raggi of weird-cosmic-metal fantasy. Includes the introductory adventure Tower of the Stargazer (retail $6). [Also in the original July 2016 Bundle of Lamentations.]

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $24.95 to start, also get our entire Appalling Bonus Collection with five more titles worth an additional $55:

  • Veins of the Earth (retail $20): The massive treatise on the underworld environment by Patrick Stuart and Scrap Princess (Fire on the Velvet Horizon, Deep Carbon Observatory). 2017 ENnie Silver Awards, Best Writing and Best Monster.
  • Broodmother Skyfortress (retail $10): The super-awesome adventure/campaign design kit by Jeff Rients, Arch-Mage of Old School.
  • Towers Two (retail $10): An unspeakably raunchy sandbox campaign co-designed by heavy metal musician Dave Brockie, AKA Oderus Urungus of Gwar. Truly not-safe-for-work (and maybe -life).
  • No Salvation for Witches (retail $10): A gleefully gory adventure in 1620 England by Rafael Chandler (Pandemonio). Did we mention all these books are adults-only?
  • Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess (retail $5): A village of gumdrops and candy canes run by fairies and teddy bears. Absolutely not for children.
At least one more title will be added after launch. "When a title is added after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased the bundle automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid more than average. This is their reward for buying early"

Additionally "One random purchaser of this entire offer (Starter and Bonus Collections) will receive a full set of all physical LotFP books currently available from the LotFP webstore -- a value of over US$400! Lamentations publisher James Raggi will notify the winner within 48 hours of this offer's end; the lucky customer will have 48 hours to confirm a shipping address to receive this great big pile of books.

I'll be honest, I'm not particularly interested - I prefer a less visceral approach to gaming, and Call of Cthulhu pretty much monstered me out. But if you still go in for this sort of thing it looks like a reasonable offer, and the price seems OK.

15 Characters Meme

Sep. 18th, 2017 01:31 pm
selenak: (uptonogood - c.elisa)
[personal profile] selenak
1. Norma Bates (Bates Motel version)

2. Philip Jennings (The Americans)

3. Missy (aka Gomez!Master) (Doctor Who)

4. Jimmy McGill (Better Call Saul)

5. Rachel Duncan (Orphan Black)

6. James McGraw/Captain Flint (Black Sails)

7. Ahsoka Tano (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

8. Bernie Gunther (Philip Kerr: The Bernie Gunther Mysteries)

9. Sarah Connor (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)

10. Alfred of Wessex (The Last Kingdom)

11. Andra'ath/Miss Quill (Class)

12. Londo Mollari (Babylon 5)

13. Phyllis Crane (Call the Midwife)

14. Doc Holliday (Wynona Earp incarnation)

15. Jessica Jones (MCU version)

And you came up with some awesome prompts!

Now the questions: )

Weird firefox problem

Sep. 18th, 2017 12:45 am
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
Anyone got any idea why Firefox has suddenly stopped allowing me to open images (as opposed to web pages containing them) in the browser? e.g., if I right click on an image and want to open it it will only do that in my paint program, which is a pain.

Any suggestions?
selenak: (Scarlett by Olde_fashioned)
[personal profile] selenak
I've acquired new fandoms and revisited some old ones since the last time I did this, thus, from [personal profile] astrogirl:


1) Make a list of fifteen characters first, and keep it to yourself for the moment.

2) Ask your f-list to post questions in the comments. For example: "One, nine, and fifteen are chosen by a prophecy to save the world from four. Do they succeed?", "Under what circumstances might five and fourteen fall in love?", "Which character on the list would you most want on your side in a zombie invasion?"

3) After your f-list has stopped asking questions, round them up and answer them using the fifteen characters you selected beforehand, then post them.

Also, this unique summary of A Legacy Of Spies cracks me up. :)

What a surprise...

Sep. 16th, 2017 07:29 pm
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
Apparently Denver's Better Business Bureau has just dropped Photobucket's rating to F, the lowest they do, citing fifteen complaints since they changed their terms and no response from the company.

https://www.bizjournals.com/denver/news/2017/09/13/photobucket.html?ana=twt

And then there's this

Sep. 16th, 2017 06:47 pm
selenak: (Black Widow by Endlessdeep)
[personal profile] selenak
The other day, I could hear Arundhati Roy present her new novel and talk about the situation in India today in Munich. And reinforced that by now, I'm not just bugged but disturbed by part of Kala's storyline in Sense8, because it's so exactly in contrast to Indian reality, and so exactly what a vicious government propagandist would want people to believe, that I'm starting to wonder whether the reason why the Wachowskis and JMS came up with it wasn't that they otherwise would not get permission to film in India. Spoilers for both seasons of Sense8. ) Why? Because consider the depth of current day Hindu fundamentalism from Modi (the PM) downwards. Arundhati Roy mentioned the saying "there are just two places for Muslims - the grave and Pakistan", which gets said by officials in the country with the second largest Muslim population in the world (Indonesia has the largest). People get lynched for the crime of possessing or eating beef. Modi belongs to the RSS, the same organisation Gandhi's assassin did, and the vocabulary of said assassin is now mainstream politics. A popular taunt makes the word "secular" into "sickular". An MP could say Arundhati Roy should be used as a human shield in the war in Kashmir to punish her dissent, and not get reprimanded but applauded. (For more, check out check out these statements by today's most famous Indian origin writers.) Basically: the kind of story Sense8 tells is about as likely to happen in this India as a story about, say, a rabid atheist rising in Saudi Arabia's government and starting to persecute Muslims would be. Or, to bring it closer to home, a story about a fanatic atheist becoming a US government official and starting to surpress Christians. Which, of course, is what Breitbart & Co. tell their ilk already happened under each Democratic president. ("War on Christmas", anyone?) Which tells you what type of propaganda this is.

Now don't get me wrong: I don't believe the Wachowskis and JMS are aware. At first, I thought it was simply that they wanted Kala to be a faithful believer and needed some type of conflict for her that wasn't about her not wanting to get married, picked Hinduism as the most popular Indian religion (and the one with the film friendly statues), and didn't do much research about the Indian present. But now I wonder whether they did tell some staff member to do research, and that person came back with this storyline, getting it as a condition for the crew filming Kala's story in India. Because it's just too perfect BJP propaganda to come across by accident, my inner conspiracy theorist says.

For distraction, something lighthearted:

Avengers


Up in the air, Junior Birdman: in which the Avengers (plus Maria Hill, Sam Wilson and Rhodey) go camping. Set at some point between the frst and second movie, this Natasha-centric story is ensemble-tastic, and has Bruce as co-lead.

Who Fears Death Shock Horror

Sep. 15th, 2017 12:18 pm
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
According to George R R Martin's blog the TV series of Who Fears Death will have a... gasp... black director. That's got to be a first for a fantasy novel by a black author, I think

https://grrm.livejournal.com/548883.html

Rainy Evening

Sep. 14th, 2017 08:35 pm
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
Yesterday evening I was testing a very simple Photax 300mm manual lens on my Eos 300D and it started raining as I took the last picture. I was rather pleased with the result:

big picture )

Hillary Clinton: What Happened

Sep. 13th, 2017 04:15 pm
selenak: (Rocking the vote by Noodlebidsnest)
[personal profile] selenak
Briefly; originally I intended to wait for the library to feature What Happened, but the sheer amount of hate Hillary Clinton's book has already produced made me buy it in a hurry. Having read it yesterday, mostly I agree with this review on its major strengths and weaknesses. (My main area of disagreement is with the reviewer's screpticism re: the role of sexism in the election and her comparison between the respective type of hoslitiy aimed at Hillary vs her husband, John Kerry and Mitt Romney.) Therefore, I'll add some trivial observations of my own which are pop culture related:

1.) Wasn't surprised to learn that Hillary, as opposed to The Orange Menace, loved her SNL counterpart. Up and including Kate-as-Hillary singing Halleluja post election.

2.) Was amused that of the various new terms the internet coined in recent years, her favourite is "Mansplaining". (""The second I heard it, I thought"Yes! We needed a word for that.") Of course, the sheer number of guys currently mansplaining what REALLY happened in the election to Hillary Clinton was also predictable.

3.) HC also mentions The Good Wife among the shows she's watched post election for distraction. Given the various comparisons the show draws between the Clintons and the Florricks (my favourite being the Diane and Will conversation where he admits to not getting it and says Peter and Alicia are Bill and Hillary on acid), enquiring minds wonder how distracting that one could have been. Mind you, Hillary is way more positive about Bill in this book (and per previous one) than Alicia ever was about Peter. What Happens includes not just a wry "I heard it again in the 2016 campaign: that 'we must have an arrangement' (we do, it's called a marriage)" and lots of praise for his unwavering support but a straightforward love declaration as well as the statement that if she'd known what was ahead, dark times, public humiliation and all, she'd still marry him again without hesitation.

4.) She loved that pony meme as a summary of her dynamic with Bernie Sanders, and I have to confess it cracked me up as well.

5.) Apparently her Game of Thrones reference ("They shouted "Guilt!Guilty!" like the religious zealots in Game of Thrones shouting "Shame! Shame!" while Cersei Lannister walked back to the Red Keep") is held up as an example of Hillary not getting that Cersei is a villain? Which, well. There are lot of times GoT doesn't want you to sympathize with Cersei. That sequence, though, wasn't one of them.

6.) I don't know the woman, so I have no idea whether or not the book is Hillary Clinton unrestrained, but she certainly sounds like it. ("The President of China had to explain the complexity of the North Korea challenge to him. 'After listening for ten minutes, I realized it's not so easy,' Trump said. Can you hear my palm slapping my forehead?") Also, on Comey: "(Comey) said that he was 'mildly nauseous' at the idea that he influenced the outcome of the election. Hearing that made me sick." I have a bit more sympathy for Comey than she does, but yeah, no kidding.


Generally speaking, I found the book easier to read than her previous memoirs, not least because of her greater focus on one particular era and set of issues.

Tested the 18-55 lens

Sep. 13th, 2017 01:25 am
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
A bit disappointing - if anything not as good as the Tamron 28-300, it felt a little unsharp. I've posted the best photos here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/150868539@N02/sets/72157685127937342

Next time the 35mm f2 - that ought to be interesting, since I've made very little use of it.
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
These are two offers of material for GURPS Traveller, one of the better implementations of the huge Traveller setting, the first SF RPG; one is a repeat of the core material, the other an all-new military bundle.

GURPS Traveller Essentials

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/GURPSTrav1-2017

"Revived from July 2016, this is one of two offers, running in parallel, that present many titles from the licensed GURPS Traveller line originally published by Steve Jackson Games based on the classic SFRPG Traveller. This revival, GURPS Traveller Essentials, presents the core GURPS Traveller rulebook and all the major supplements you need for a complete campaign in this alternate Third Imperium. If you're new to Traveller, start here.

In 1998 Traveller designer Marc Miller licensed the Traveller setting to SJG for use with its Generic Universal RolePlaying System. GURPS Traveller (1998-2015) uses the Third Edition GURPS system. The game takes place in Year 1120 of an alternate Third Imperium timeline (20 years after Classic Traveller) in which no Rebellion occurred (as in MegaTraveller) and the Virus was never released (as in Traveller: The New Era). The late Loren Wiseman, who worked with Game Designers' Workshop on the design and development of the original Traveller, was the GURPS Traveller line manager and editor of the online magazine Journal of the Travellers Aid Society. SJG produced over 30 supplements for the line, covering all the major alien races, many minor races, interstellar trade, expanded world generation, the military forces of the Third Imperium, and starships.

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to these two Traveller offers' designated charity, Heifer International.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$105. Customers who pay just US$11.95 get all four titles in this offer's Starter Collection (retail value $38) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:

  • GURPS Traveller 2E (retail price $12): The complete 179-page Second Edition corebook (2002). Includes the free GURPS LITE rules and the free introductory adventure "Flare Star."
  • Starships (retail $8): Three dozen complete spacecraft designs plus rules for creating your own.
  • First In (retail $8): The Imperium Interstellar Scout Service and a complete system for building the worlds its Scouts discover.
  • Deck Plan 5: Sulieman-Class Scout/Courier (retail $10): Are you a scout in a First In campaign? This is your ship.

Those who pay more than this offer's threshold (average) price, which is set at $24.95 to start, also get this offer's entire Bonus Collection with seven more titles worth an additional $67:

  • Behind the Claw (retail $8): The GURPS guide to the canonical Traveller space sector, the Spinward Marches -- one of the most detailed treatments of the Marches in the setting's history.
  • Humaniti (retail $10): The societies and cultures of 16 different human races -- Darrians, Azhanti, Syleans, Kargol, and many more.
  • Starports (retail $8): The anchors of the Imperium. Written by novelist John M. Ford.
  • Modular Cutter (retail $8): A sourcebook for the workhorse Ship of a Thousand Uses, a favorite of Traveller groups for decades.
  • Deck Plan 2: Modular Cutter and Deck Plan 1: Beowulf-Class Trader (retail $10 each): Ship layouts printed with both hexes (for GURPS) and squares (Classic Traveller).
  • Best of JTAS, Volume 1 (retail $13): Collecting the top articles from SJG's version of the venerable Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society magazine.

At least one more title will be added after launch. "When a title is added after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased this offer -- including the customers for the original July 2016 run -- automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid more than average. This is their reward for buying early -- even waaay early."

GURPS Traveller Wars

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/GURPSTravWars

"This all-new collection... ...presents the military-oriented supplements like Star Mercs and Ground Forces.

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, Heifer International.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$83. Customers who pay just US$11.95 get all four titles in this offer's Starter Collection (retail value $38) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the Star Mercs and Ground Forces campaign sourcebooks, the Rim of Fire location guide to the wartorn Solomani Rim space sector, and complete deck plans for the Assault Cutter, the starship that drops you into battle.

Those who pay more than this offer's threshold (average) price, which is set at $24.95 to start, also get this offer's entire Bonus Collection with three more titles worth an additional $45:

  • Interstellar Wars (retail $25): High adventure in the Traveller universe's earliest history, when the Terran Confederation fought the First Imperium. (This is the only Traveller book for GURPS Fourth Edition, rather than for 3E; we include the free GURPS Lite quick-start rules for 4E.)
  • Sword Worlds (retail $10): One of the most distinctive civilizations in the Third Imperium -- not that they want to stay there.
  • Deck Plan 6: Dragon System Defense Boat (retail $10): Every star system's first line of defense.
At least one more title will be added after launch, as above

GURPS Traveller resources



I think I already have all the basic material, but I'll definitely be downloading the military stuff, even if I never get around to using it - Traveller is an all-time classic, and I'm interested in seeing how this implementation handles things. I think that both offers are pretty good value - but as always, especially when I'm enthusiastic about one of these offers, I need to point out that I get them free if I want them - if you don't you may feel differently - and that this is the oldest SF setting around, there are others that may appeal more to a modern audience.

A trailer and a story

Sep. 12th, 2017 12:12 pm
selenak: (Ashoka and Anakin by Welshgater)
[personal profile] selenak
Trailer spotted: The Man Who Invented Christmas seems to be trying to take the Shakespeare in Love approach to Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol. The following thoughts occured to me in no particular order:

- Dan Stevens is actually made to look like a young Charles Dickens and has something of that manic energy, but:

- as Dickens' favourite daughter Kate Perugini put it, writing to George Bernard Shaw: "If you could make the public understand that my father was not a jolly, jocose gentleman walking about the earth with a plum pudding and a bowl of punch you would greatly oblige me."

- no such luck, Kate, not with this movie. Though Dickens really wasn't

- I know I complain about Mark Gatiss written episodes of Doctor Who a lot, but his very first one, The Unquiet Dead, actually did something more interesting with the basic idea of Dickens + Christmas Carol + supernatural elements than this trailer indicates

- why is it that "based on a true story" movies that tackle author plus famous work always feel the need to pretend the author in question had writers block and/or dire difficulties before hitting on the inspiration for the famous work? Do we blame Stoppard for this one, too? Finding Neverland did it as well, and it's just as untrue here (neither Barrie nor Dickens were when writing Peter Pan and Christmas Carol respectively in any type of financial or inspirational difficulties)

- the idea of Charles Dickens, of all the people, having writers' block is hilarious, though, because his problem was more the opposite. Neil Gaiman in the Sandman story Calliope lets Dream curse a writer with literally unending inspiration (spoiler: it's not a boon when you write your fingers bloody because you really can't stop), and Dickens wasn't quite there, but nearly.

Mind you, the film makers are probably safe to assume most tv watchers know zilch about Dickens' biography. But not for the first time, I wonder whether a miniseries wouldn't be a great format to tackle that, Dickens in his morally ambiguous complexity, covering the whole life from child-of-a-conman Charles to celebrated writer, philantropist and terrible husband Dickens going on one last reciting tour. Abi Morgan did a good job with The Invisible Woman, taking one particular part of his life, and she has tv experience, so she'd be my first choice to write such a series.

Meanwhile, in another fandom, to wit, Star Wars:

Balance Point: now by now there are some stories in which Force Ghost Obi-Wan Kenobi haunts Vader, but this story is the first one which lets someone else who used to be close to Anakin Skywalker do so instead, and executes that premise beautifully.Spoilers for Star Wars: Rebels ensue. )

Multifandom recs

Sep. 11th, 2017 06:01 pm
selenak: (The Americans by Tinny)
[personal profile] selenak
The Americans:

While pondering whether or not to volunteer for The Americans this Yuletide, I checked whether there were new stories since last year, and indeed there were. I especially liked:


It's never over: a look at Oleg in season 5.

My last night: Philip and Elizabeth post Martha.

The Defenders:

Saints in Effigy a Claire pov on her relationships.

MCU:

Spider-Sitting: what Happy Hogan thinks about basically being made Peter's handler.

Talking of Quorn...

Sep. 11th, 2017 11:59 am
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
One of the mystery additions to the Werewolf offer I mentioned has now been revealed. It's the Werewolf 20A Cookbook, which is aimed at gaming groups that like to eat together:

Every werewolf tribe has its traditions, legends, and customs. From the lordly Silver Fangs to the debased Black Spiral Dancers, the isolated Siberakh to the long-dead White Howlers, each tribe has a characteristic approach to food. And they all -- even the Red Talons -- can enjoy a well cooked meal.

The Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition Cookbook, a first for the World of Darkness, provides extra background details on each tribe of Garou and a tasty recipe representative of the tribe. Recipes range from entrees to desserts to snacks to eat on the run. Many recipes include variants for Kinfolk who hold to vegetarian or vegan diets or are gluten-intolerant.


My underlining - the idea of vegetarian and/or vegan werewolves just seems a little odd somehow. And don't werewolves like to eat meat raw? Yes, I know they're talking about the players, not the characters, but even so...

Hail Hydra?

Sep. 11th, 2017 11:29 am
ffutures: (Default)
[personal profile] ffutures
Should I be worried that the new energy company I'm switching to is called Octopus Energy?

They seem to be OK, and I'll be saving a few pounds a month with no penalty if I switch to someone else, but I can't help wondering if I've just signed up with Hydra or Doc Oc...

If anyone else in the UK is interested, I get £15 for everyone who signs up via this link, so does the person signing:
https://share.octopus.energy/cute-owl-37
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