I found it! Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2

It's just a little below the Pleiades now. Not the best picture you'll see of it, but that's about as good as my camera can do with a 315mm (equiv) lens.
I found it! Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2
It’s just a little below the Pleiades now. Not the best picture you’ll see of it, but that’s about as good as my camera can do with a 315mm (equiv) lens.

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Well I tried to find comet Lovejoy last night.  I found Orion, Aldebaran, and The…

Well I tried to find comet Lovejoy last night.  I found Orion, Aldebaran, and The Pleiades.  I used my binoculars to search around where the comet should be, got a kink in my neck, and saw lots of fainter stars, but nothing obviously a comet. Hmmm. Comet finding is harder than it sounds.  I guess I'll try again tonight.

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Until I read this I had no interest in seeing this movie, expecting it to be typical…

Until I read this I had no interest in seeing this movie, expecting it to be typical American patriotic tripe.  Now I'm interested, if only to see how Eastwood treats Chris Kyle.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/06/real-american-sniper-hate-filled-killer-why-patriots-calling-hero-chris-kyle

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The real American Sniper was a hate-filled killer. Why are simplistic patriots treating him as a hero? | Lindy West
Lindy West: Clint Eastwood’s film about Navy Seal Chris Kyle has hit a raw nerve in America, with right wingers calling for the rape or death of anyone ungrateful enough to criticise his actions

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Yet another exception to the Central Dogma

http://www.wired.com/2015/01/grawk-proteins-making-proteins/

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Science Graphic of the Week: Scientists Discover the First Protein That Can Edit Other Proteins | WIRED
A new graphic shows how that DNA isn’t the only thing in charge of handing out code for proteins.

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Sad to see Team USA get eliminated.  The game against Canada a few days ago was…

Sad to see Team USA get eliminated.  The game against Canada a few days ago was one of the most entertaining hockey games I've seen in years.
http://www.tsn.ca/shestyorkin-shines-as-russia-tops-u-s-to-advance-to-wjc-semifinals-1.173142

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Shestyorkin shines as Russia tops U.S. to advance to WJC semifinals
Moving On

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The next time I see some small retailer complaining about losing business to large…

The next time I see some small retailer complaining about losing business to large retailers like Amazon, I think I'm going to puke.

Every once in a while I make the mistake of trying to shop somewhere other than Amazon. A few weeks ago I tried to order a car stereo from Crutchfield.com.  They have a good website, and they make a big deal about how great they are for accepting international credit cards.  They seemingly have a good reputation so I thought I'd try them out, even though their price was more than Amazon.

Turns out that even though they technically do accept international credit cards, they make international customers jump through ridiculous hoops. They required conditions that were impossible for me to meet using my favourite forwarding service, at least without spending a lot more money.  After a couple of days of email back-and-forth I finally got frustrated enough to tell them to piss-off – I'd take my business to Amazon who value their international customers.

So, I figured that was the end of it… Crutchfield are asses and I'd never shop with them again.  Except next they decided to put me on their catalogue mailing list… even though my international forwarding address wasn't good enough for them to actually sell me something, it seems it's good enough for them to send me junk mail.  So now I'm paying to forward junk mail from a company I'm never going to shop at again.  Crutchfield, I'm really starting to hate you.

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Jeeze, when did Dom Joly go from being mildy amusing to being a bitter old man? …

Jeeze, when did Dom Joly go from being mildy amusing to being a bitter old man?  Joly is criticizing juvenile humour? Really? Dom Joly, the guy who is only (slightly) famous for ripping off candid camera?

A clear case of "He hates us cause he ain't us".

FWIW, I thought The Interview was pretty good.  Yes, juvenile humour, but funny juvenile humour.  Much better than This Is The End.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/kim-jongun-farce-is-no-laughing-matter-9946478.html

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The Interview and Kim Jong-un farce is no laughing matter
So it turns out that The Interview – the world’s most over-hyped movie since Ishtar – is a pile of poo… who’d have thunk it? I’m not a huge fan of Seth Rogen and James Franco at the best of times. The idea that they might have somehow made a biting satirical comedy that both exposes and ridicules the hideous Pyongyang regime was the only laughable thing about the whole affair.

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Hurray! #TheInterview is available on Google Play Movies.  That's my Christmas…

Hurray! #TheInterview is available on Google Play Movies.  That's my Christmas Day movie decision sorted.
Hurray! #TheInterview is available on Google Play Movies.  That’s my Christmas Day movie decision sorted.

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Time for a rant

 I've been growing more and more disgusted with people who are trying to make it taboo to wish somebody "Happy Holidays".  This has been going on for years, but really seems to be intensifying this Holiday Season.  

Absolutely, it's OK to say "Merry Christmas". But it's also absolutely OK to say "Happy Holidays". How far up their own ass does a persons head have to be, to take a friendly "Happy Holidays" greeting and try to find some offence in it?

The other day I read a pathetic argument that "Merry Christmas" is a "Canadian Tradition" – this idiot was boycotting a Canadian business that uses "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" – for the sake of "tradition".  Oh really?  And who the hell is this guy to decree a tradition for an entire country? One THIRD of Canadians are non-Christian.  Many Non-Christians are also celebrating at this time of year, and they're not celebrating Christmas.  Some of us are even celebrating for no reason at all, other than we want to.
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/faithbased/2008/12/no_reason_for_the_season.html

So, many businesses decide to wish customers "Happy Holidays" to be inclusive of all.  A little factoid that this guy apparently missed: "Happy Holidays" in no way excludes Christmas or Christians.  But he takes offence that these businesses are wishing a greeting to everyone, including people who might be of a different culture or faith than him?  No, hiding behind the word "tradition" doesn't hide the bigotry.

I guess some people just like to have something to bitch about, but bitching about using "Happy Holidays" as a greeting is just ugly.

If you want to wish someone "Merry Christmas", by all means go ahead. But if someone greets you with "Happy Holidays", take it in the good spirit that it was meant instead of turning it into a reason to spread negativity in what is supposed to be a happy time of the year.

Here's an article that makes the same argument from a more Christian perspective than I could ever manage:
http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/peter-roff/2014/12/12/theres-nothing-wrong-with-saying-happy-holidays-or-merry-christmas

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There’s Nothing Wrong With Saying ‘Happy Holidays’ (or ‘Merry Christmas’) – US News
Taking offense over “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” misses the point of the season.

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OpenSuse

After about 4 months I finally finished building my home theater PC.  What a frustrating build – one problem after another…  Anyway, once I got it running, as per usual I installed the latest version of Ubuntu (14.10 this time), and as per usual my frustrations continued.

I've been using Ubuntu for the better part of 10 years now and on the whole it's a pretty good OS, but it always has niggly little annoying problems.  Every single release.  They're never deal breakers and I can usually fix them after a bit of research, or at least work around them, but they are frustrations all the same.  And you know, after all this time I'm still not a fan of Unity.  It's at least mostly functional now (after what seems like years of pain), but about the best thing I can say about it is – it's adequate.

Well, earlier this week I had surgery on my ankle and I've spent the last few days convalescing on my sofa. I decided this down time would be a great opportunity for some distro-hopping.  Now, I'm not much of a distro-hopper.  Over the last few years the most adventurous I've been was a brief stint with Linux Mint (during the darkest days of Unity).  And Mint is (was?) hardly a change from Ubuntu (other than a refreshing change of desktop environment).  The last time I tried an rpm-based distro was Fedora about 5 years ago, and that didn't last very long.

I haven't really been keeping up with the linux distro world lately so I started off with a bit of research.  I was surprised that there are several new distro's out there, getting good reviews and looking very interesting, but the one distro that really caught my eye was an old-timer: OpenSuse.  The latest version, 13.2, was released a short time ago, and it's received mostly glowing reviews.  It sounded good enough that I should give it a try.

I have a bit of history with Suse – it was actually the first distro I ever installed.  This was back around 2005 (well before OpenSuse, and I think before Novell) when you could still buy linux distro's in a box from computer shops.  I wanted to try linux but knew nothing about it, so I went out and bought Suse-in-a-box for some ungodly amount of money.  It came with some big thick manuals that I hoped would help me get going and would justify the cost.  Well, I got it installed, hated it, and replaced it with Ubuntu Warty Warthog and never looked at Suse (or the manuals) again.  My wife still complains about that money I wasted.

Well, now 9+ years later I've given it another shot..  I've had OpenSuse installed for a few days now, have it mostly set-up how I like it, and I'm pretty happy with it.  Sure I've had some frustrations, but more of the "learning-curve" type than the "buggy-not-working-the-way-it's-supposed-to" type that are so common with Ubuntu.  OpenSuse of course is very different from Ubuntu, so the learning-curve was expected.  I have to say, it's not nearly as idiot-proof as Ubuntu.  It seems pretty easy to get yourself into trouble mixing repositories for example.  And some non-free software – like Skype or Steam – can't be installed via repositories at all.  Not a big deal, but it reminds me that Ubuntu's PPA's and Partner repositories are very handy.

I decided on the Gnome Shell desktop, for now at least.  I've used it before and like it better than Unity, but I'm still not entirely sold on it.  I'll keep with it for a while to get a longer-term opinion.  I really wanted to try Cinnamon, but the OpenSuse Cinnamon webpage has scared me off for now.  Apparently it's still fairly experimental in any distro but Mint – I'm not sure how true that is, but I'll wait to see a few success stories online before I try it myself.

When I started this distro-hopping experiment a few days ago I also downloaded the brand-new Fedora release, but now I'm so impressed with OpenSuse that I think I'll just delete that Fedora image.  OpenSuse is great, and it's a keeper – at least on my home theatre PC. Actually I'm liking it so much I'm thinking of wiping Ubuntu off my desktop and installing it there as well. 

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