davegodfrey: Marvin: ...and me with a terrible pain in all the diodes down my left hand side... (Marvin)
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davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
I have two fishtanks. One's a big community one with interesting subtropicals like the very personable Weather Loach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus, the very pretty White Cloud Mountain Minnows (Tanichthys albonubes) and the mildly psychotic American-Flag Fish (Jordanella floridae).

I also have a smaller 40cm cube with more red cherry shrimp than the mind can comfortably entertain. There's also a small group of the utterly stunning Pacific Blue Eye (Pseudomugil gertrudae). Sadly the blue-eyes haven't done terribly well, from having 8 I'm now down to four, and while I've seen the males sparring with each other and flashing their fins at the females I've seen no sign of spawning. I think they'd probably do better in a larger group and with a bigger tank. I've decided not to replace the ones I have when they shuffle off this mortal coil- I've had something like 18 Rosy Bitterlings in the past year, and I'm down to my last female. If I can't keep the fish alive I think its best not to try until I have rather more experience. Besides as a beginner with a first aquarium, trying to keep a fish that breeds in Swan Mussels (which are renowned as impossible to keep alive) was perhaps rather too ambitious, though I did see lots of mating dances and one somewhat abortive spawning, so I was well pleased with the result. I'll definitely come back to the Blue-Eyes.

So I added three Least Killifish (Heterandria formosa one of which promptly died during quarantine, and a second jumped out the tank. Today I've seen two babies! There's no sign of mother however- she may well be hiding in the foliage (its rather densely planted), although both babies were relatively large, so they may have been in the tank for some time.

I think I shall have to track down a few more- unfortunately they seem rather thin on the ground only one place in London seems to have them, while others have stocked them they only crop up in small batches, and "when they're gone, they're gone".
davegodfrey: Marvin: ...and me with a terrible pain in all the diodes down my left hand side... (Marvin)
Heartily sick of that sidebar with all those sponsored ads that even AdBlock won't get rid of? I think I've found a solution.

A Greasemonkey script called "Remove Facebook Right Column". Which does exactly what it says on the tin. Gets rid of the "people you might know" section, which, frankly I never used as it cluttered up the screen with people I didn't actually know at all.

And at the same time I found "Facebook Fixed Header" and "Older posts bar always on bottom" which together do something you'd have though FB would have put in from the start wouldn't you? After all if you're at the bottom of the timeline chances are you might want to extend it, rather than hovering about trying to get the thing to pop up. And why have a header with a search bar, and all the other tools disappear off the top that can be so far up?

LJ does this too. Why? Surely we've moved past the days when frames in websites were loathed so universally?
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
When I was a lad I read every dinosaur book I could get my hands on. And this being 20+ years ago much of what I read then is now out of date. Pterosaurs are now always shown as furry, when then there were somewhat brief dismissive mentions of this "Hairy Devil" from the USSR. Sauropods have been rescued from near-certain death by suffocation from snorkeling about in lakes. (The pressure from water at this depth would have crushed their lungs and irreparably damaged their hearts had they tried this. The German physiologist Robert Stigler tried breathing through a six-foot tube and suffered heart damage as a result.)

But one thing was almost universal. Sauropods weren't doing very much in the Cretaceous other than dying out. From their heyday in the Late Jurassic, when Diplodocus Apatosaurus and Brachiosaurus stumped about the place, by the Late Cretaceous the world was full of horned dinosaurs, flamboyantly crested hadrosaurs, spiky club-tailed ankylosaurs and the like. Occasionally you'd find mention of Alamosaurus, a 21 metre 30 tonne sauropod from New Mexico. But it was usually in the "A-Z" type books and tended to get three lines if that.

Now it turns out that a fair bit of this is the result of historical bias. The USA and Canada were the scene of some very intensive collecting during the 19th and early 20th centuries, followed by Roy Chapman Andrews expedition to Mongolia. The rest of the world didn't get much of a look-in. Which is a shame, because in the rest of the world there doesn't seem to have been much of a change. Hadrosaurs and ceratopsians were largely an Asian and American specialisation, and in North America the sauropods seem to have died out completely for 30 million years before Alamosaurus turns up to see out the Cretaceous. But in South America, for example, the sauropods thrived, and grew to even bigger sizes than the Jurassic Morrison Formation ones that everyone knows (Brachiosaurus, and its African cousin Giraffatitan)- despite being relatively poorly known (and in some cases poorly measured) Futalognkosaurus, Argentinosaurus and Puertasaurus were among the largest dinosaurs known, dwarfed only by the semi-mythical Amphicoelias fragillimus.

The impression that I got all those years ago was that this dinosaur was small (relatively), and not exactly common. Which is utterly and completely wrong. Alamosaurus crops up all over the place, and is a very common dinosaur. And while the size estimates might not have got much of a mention (we are talking about the era when Brachiosaurus was supposedly weighing in at 80 tonnes- roughly double the modern estimate), Alamosaurus was still the biggest dinosaur in the USA at the time. And yet faced with all the crazy horned, crested, spiky chaps it still doesn't get much of a look in.

But with a bit of luck this might change, and poor ignored Alamosaurus might get back into the kids books. Denver Fowler and Robert Sullivan would like to introduce you to SMP VP-1625, SMP VP-1850, and SMP-2104. A portion of the femur, a neck vertebra and a tail vertebra respectively. They're big. Really big. Argentinosaurus-sized big.

So all those fantasies about T. rex versus the uber-sauropod just became scientifically viable. Woohoo!

Lehman, T.M. & Coulson, A.B. 2002. A juvenile specimen of the sauropod Alamosaurus sanjuanensis from the Upper Cretaceous of Big Bend National Park, Texas. Journal of Paleontology 76(1): 156-172.

D’Emic, M., Wilson, J., & Thompson, R. (2010). The end of the sauropod dinosaur hiatus in North America Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 297 (2), 486-490 DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.08.032

Denver W. Fowler and Robert M. Sullivan (2011) The first giant titanosaurian sauropod from the Upper Cretaceous of North America. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica in press available, online 07 Feb 2011 DOI:10.4202/app.2010.0105
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
Stephen Green really is a nasty piece of work. Whodathunkit.

Even the Daily Fail have turned on him.

As it happens has his wife. Who clearly endured a dreadful marriage, and frankly I feel dreadful for her, her children and anyone who had anything to do with the man. Who is now married to someone 25 year his junior and hoping to start another family.
davegodfrey: Cyberman: The Future is Shiny (Shiny)
Given that there's a new one, and the price of the old one has dropped a bit on the second hand market I've decided to get a used Canon EOS 5D. Its a full-frame camera, so all my lenses do what they did on the old EOS-1 film body I have, rather than having a 1.6 crop as on the cheaper bodies. Also it won't be killed by the voltages from the flash kit I own too. It'll only work manually, but given the instant feedback that digital gives you that's not something I'm too unhappy about. I'll probably look out for a dedicated flashgun eventually, (and it looks like some of the modern flashguns will still work on a T90, which is a real bonus) but for now its all good, as they say.

I also finally found a hotshoe adaptor so I can use the long flash cable I have. Which is very useful, as you can see...

Now the only thing I need to look out for is one of these, an EOS to FD adaptor, without glass, so I can use bellows and fancy close-up lenses. Knowing there and then if the lighting or focussing are right is really helpful. Much as I'd love one, I just can't afford the MP-E65.

So am I abandoning film? Hell no. I'll still use it for lots of things- especially situations where I know what I'm doing with regards to lighting, etc. Plus I love the feel of the old cameras. I think the F-1 might see rather more use compared to the T90 now. With digital I shoot more, but think less. Which doesn't necessarily make for better photographs. With film I pay much more attention to what I'm seeing in the viewfinder.

But when it comes to experimentation? Digital is much more convenient.
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After Man

Dec. 11th, 2010 01:02 pm
davegodfrey: Coelacanth (Science)
I am a massive fan of speculative zoology. I adore the whole "what if the dinosaurs hadn't died out" ideas, and like many people of my generation I owned lots of books about dinosaurs many of which were written by Dougal Dixon. Who, back in 1981 wrote "After Man: A Zoology of the Future". He also subsequently wrote "Man After Man", which is essentially full on Sci-Fi, though I have to say that Nemo Ramjet did the whole "the next 500 million years of human evolution" thing better in All Our Tomorrows" (seriously, read it, its freaking awesome, if not a little nightmarish in places). In 1988 "The New Dinosaurs", which I read before Jurassic Park came out. Sadly this is the one that doesn't stand up that well to the massive amount of stuff we've learnt about maniraptorans and the like since then. Specworld is a very good modern version.

But its After Man, which was the first, and I think still the best. Not all of the future animals are particularly practical- I agree with Tricia that tusks on a mole are just dumb. but the hypercarnivorous rats are a masterstroke.

But I mostly want to point out that Japan seems to have gone completely nuts for him. There was an hour-long program (sometime in the '80s by the looks of it) with some rather lovely stop-motion animals. I think it also talks a lot about other aspects of evolution, but I don't speak Japanese, so I have no idea exactly what they're talking about, but there's shots of the Galapagos and that kind of thing.

And if that wasn't enough, someone made a cartoon sequence with all these animals in it. Which would be perfectly sane if that happy dancing bipedal baboon wasn't supposed to be the size of a Tyrannosaurus

But what I most want is this the "After Man" model kit. (It looks like there was more than one "After Man" cartoon based on that too. And yes, the Nightstalker, a flightless, blind, bipedal, killer bat, from Hawaii, really was supposed to be five feet tall. Call Roger Corman, I've got an idea for a film...
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