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Automated scrapers getting it amusingly wrong

I've got a subscription to Bandsintown, which attempts to notify its users when artists on their play lists are giving concerts within their area.

(For area which could do with better tuning options, to be honest. Something in Portsmouth is unlikely to be worth our going. Marina excepted. And OK, we did go to Pompey to see Megson. But anyway ...)

But I will admit to being intrigued when the latest email arrived, with this announcement:

Dido

Partnership House - London, United Kingdom
Mon, Jun 13, 2016


OK, so Dido is one of those unfashionable performers, but I've got an album or two of hers, and I do like to listen to them sometimes. What was more interesting was the venue.

Partnership House, London

Really? The only Partnership House that I know of in London is the John Lewis Partnership HQ on Victoria Street, in which I've spent way too many hours. Surely not?

But JLP do like Paloma Faith, so the female singer/songwriter isn't entirely unreasonable ... but no.

I had to go find the details.

MON JUNE 13, 2016 - 6:00 PM
Dido
with:Aeneas
Partnership House
London, United Kingdom
John Lewis Partnership Music Society presents its first opera for 19 years.

Henry Purcell

Dido & Aeneas

Dido with Aeneas? Oh how amusing, it's the Opera Dido and Aeneas, by the JLP Am Music society.

There's going to be a number of disappointed Dido fans. And possibly Aeneas fans, if there is such a band.

(Meanwhile I'm wondering where in those offices one could stage an opera. The canteen may be the best bet.)

ETA: Apparently in the Car Park. It was my impression that that was an underground car park.
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More photographic problems

In my last post, I noted that I managed to recover from a jammed mirror on the DSLR.

What I'd not done was to properly try out the lens after the drop. It appeared fine when I was giving it an initial check, so I assumed all was OK. But on Sunday we had family down from York, and it being a nice day we took them out on the Heath.

That is where I discovered that the 18-200 VR lens was refusing to focus properly at infinity when zoomed all the way open. It was fine at shorter ranges, and fine focusing to infinity when at the 18mm end of the range. But attempting to use the zoom to focus on something a good distance away?

Nope. Just a blur, with auto or manual.

Sigh.

This is the most expensive bit of photographic kit I've ever bought, and not being able to use it for longer ranges rather defeats the purpose.

Getting one of these repaired looks like a three figure sum — not as much as it cost, not as much as it would cost to replace, but still a fair sum. But then I discovered something on the 'net. This symptom can be caused by a loose front element. There's a ring that holds the front-most bit of glass in, and if that's loose and the glass has ridden forwards, it can't focus. But if you tighten the ring back in, it may work.

And yes, the front element ring was loose, and yes, I could turn it with my fingernails, and it took about a complete turn.

So I now have a properly-working-at-full-zoom-and-infinity lens again. For what it's worth, I don't think this was actually caused by the drop, as I think it was a bit blurry at full zoom before that, but the extra shake won't have helped.
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Percussive maintenance, or "If in doubt, give it a clout"

Actually, I didn't, but I did consider the option.

On Tuesday, we were on the way to the Distraction Club monthly show in the Phoenix on Cavendish Square. We had arrived at Oxford Circus tube, and were walking along the corridor toward the escalators when I suddenly felt the weight on my shoulder go, and heard a thunk on the ground behind me. I looked round to see my Nikon D5100 DSLR had slipped out of its case and fallen to the tiled floor.

Hoping it was all okay, I picked it up, put it back in the case and zipped the flap properly shut before we proceeded to the pub.

Once at the destination, I could check it over. And that's when I discovered that though all the electronics appeared to work and nothing appeared chipped or cracked, the shutter wouldn't work. And so, swearing silently, the only pictures I took were with my phone.

(The Nexus 6P does remarkably good work in a dimly-lit basement with moving targets, but it doesn't exactly have the same quality of picture)

Taking the lens off (a piece of equipment that had actually cost me more that the camera body when I originally bought it back in Kyoto in 2007), I looked inside the resulting aperture. The mirror wasn't moving properly when I pressed the shutter button. It quivered in place, but that was it.

Hello Google.

Well, it turns out that there are various possibilities, but one seemed to match what I could see. There's a plastic post that's supposed to stop the moving mirror from going too far when it springs forward and then back again, but the mirror had ridden up past it and was jammed on it. I stuck a jeweller's screwdriver in, wiggled a bit, and the mirror came loose. I pressed the shutter button, and everything was back to normal. Hooray and phew!
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On BristolCON

Well, that was another BristolCON.

It's not a big convention, but it fits the venue nicely: the rooms are big enough for the panels we were going to. The convention has the advantage of being in the same place it's been since we started going (and we only missed the first), and being run by much the same team since the first. That gives a consistency which somehow helps. This was probably the largest yet - looking at the stats, there were 287 badges pre-printed, and a few dozen walkins, so a bit over 300 people there I guess.

That venue is a central Bristol hotel. It used to be the Ramada, but it was taken over a few years ago and is now a Hilton Doubletree. The building itself is a fairly ugly block, though with an astonishing structure at the back which is a former glass kiln, a semi-conical brick construction which is used as the restaurant. But the advantage of being inside the hotel is you don't see it from outside, and it's a comfortable place to stay. The staff are friendly and the general atmosphere is relaxed.

We travelled down on Friday and back on Sunday, meaning that we stayed two nights in a hotel for a one-day event. (This makes it oddly expensive on a pounds-per-day basis - we could if we really wanted drive down and back the same day which would make it much cheaper, but it would wipe us out and, while we're not rich, we can afford a couple of nights these days.) We went by train, because buying the tickets in advance got us there and back for about £75. That was the idea anyway - in practice we spend another £20+ on taxis on the way back. But that was because we stupidly forgot not to buy any art from Jim Burns, and we ended up hauling three framed pictures by him. No way were we going to haul those around on the Tube from Paddington to KX, or from Royston station home.

The panels we went to worked well, and between them we caught up with friends, including Graham and James Higgins who we'd not seen in way too long. (We're pretty sure James hasn't actually doubled in age since we last saw him, but we can't work out where in the last dozen years we may have seen him.) jemck was a comically miffed, on the totally spurious grounds that her badge misspelt her name. We blamed our cats, who we said distracted us. That's obviously because their mother didn't bring them up correctly, so the blame properly belongs to major_clangerand Sian (whose LJ handle I've mislaid since I last posted ETA: attimes_bracing), as they now have that mother.

And of course we saw lots of other friends. Oops, back to work
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(no subject)

Oh dear. Oh dearie me. Someone's online payment system is incompetent.



An error occurred while trying to report this transaction to the merchant. An e-mail has been sent to the merchant informing them of the error. The following is the result of the attempt to charge your credit card.

This transaction has been approved.

It is advisable for you to contact the merchant to verify that you will receive the product or service.



I suppose it's a bit closer. Shame the 'merchant' doesn't have a suitable contact email.

(Register for the convention? Not that
Volunteer as convention staff (pre-con or at-con). Nope, that's not relevant.
To sign up as a dealer. Not right either.

And on the contact page, that's it!)

I'm very far from impressed by the organisation of this convention.
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Oh my

'perhaps the most prolific poetry plagiarist of all time'

What a damning phrase that is.

I don't normally pay much attention to the world of English-language poetry (even less to foreign language poetry if I'm honest), but it appears that the advent of Google and other search engines has been setting the cats among several flocks of pigeons. The short version is that various published poets are now being discovered to have been engaged in behaviour varying from creating poems from a bricolage of others' words and phrases all the way through to taking existing poems, filing off the serial numbers and entering them in competitions. Some of the articles make it sound as problematic as the cycling world's drug problems, with entries being disqualified only for the runners-up to be disqualified too.

How did I stumble over this though? Well, Google of course. I decided to search to see what my one-time lodger was up to these days, only to discover him embroiled in this scandal, with that opening phrase applied to him.

I have one book by him, but it's a short novel and he maintains those were not copied.
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The Journal of a Tour to the Summerset Isles

This last weekend, while the better half was away on a Worldcon staff weekend, I was off in Tamriel.

To clarify, I was playing Elder Scrolls Online, the MMO game set in the same world as Skyrim.

It's still in beta, not being released for another month, and it's got some glitches, but oh my it's beautiful. There are occasions when, wandering along a bit of sea shore, when I could taste the salt in the air. Or I could feel the welcome coolness in the air as a thunderstorm broke and the rain started to fall. That's immersion, and the sheer quality of the graphics really helps.

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Firewater and music

Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear.

I was at the Distraction Club last night, and I had a shot of this, as supplied by Ivan 'mad drummer' Sheppard.

It's a vodka infused with the Ghost Pepper (aka Naga Jolokia) Chilli.

It does produce quite a nice glow, but having it with no run up gave me my instant hiccoughs.

Yes, I have two odd reactions to chilli heat.

The first — as above — happens when I take a good dose all at once, with no lead in. In those cases, I often get instant hiccoughs, after only a handful of seconds. It doesn't last very long, but I do feel a bit silly.

My other reaction is that my scalp sweats.

That second one can happen even when I don't actually have much heat impact. Sometimes it's the only way I know is something is really hot, because the thing about chilli heat is it's something you acclimatise to, and that acclimatisation is something that can occur during the meal itself. If I'm idling over a meal, and the first few bites are relatively mild, I don't get the impact, but my body realises that heat is coming up, and it recalibrates ready. So I can end up eating quite hot curry, and yet the only symptom is my scalp getting moist.

In the case of the vodka, my scalp stayed dry, even though my mouth spent a couple of minutes going "Hey, hey, that wasn't fair" before settling down to a warm (and not unwelcome) glow.
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On Gravity

So on Tuesday we finally caught up and went to see the film Gravity. Only about 10 weeks late, but what the heck. The screen was reasonably full, and dorispossum/Kate and bdikkat/Malcolm came in and sat behind us. (At the time they came in, bellinghwoman was out of the room and I was buried in an article on my phone, so I didn't note their arrival. Oops, and sorry!)

The film itself was pretty damned good. We were in the 3D screening, and it's fair to say that if you want to see how well 3D can work, this is the best I've seen: it's stunning. Sound is done well too - the film makers have really thought about the fact that sound doesn't carry through a vacuum, so there are parts where it is totally silent.

(This made the slightly late arrival of one viewer particularly noticeable.)

The music was a bit overloud, but that could be fixed by turning down the volume.

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And then, because the film was only about 90 minutes long, and 3D showings have fewer ads, we wandered downstairs to Frankie and Benny and had (in my case) coffee and drinks with K&M and chatted for a while.
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Moan

It's the 23rd day of January. And for 21 of those days I know it rained.

I don't know that it didn't rain on either of the other two days, I only don't have evidence that it did.

Pretty please, can we stop with all this liquid falling from the skies?