Fungi fun

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It’s that time of year again, mushroom picking time and there is no shortage this year due to the mild, wet autumn so far. I have already had some on toast though not the particular mushroom pictured, which is the easily spotted Amanita and poisonous.

Although there is a wide variety to choose from and no doubt many are edible, I tend to restrict myself the 3-4 types that I can easily identify and have often tried in the past with no ill effects.

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The golden colours of autumn are everywhere to be seen.

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Sud France

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The scenery is spectacular along the south coast of France as I head from Barcelona to Montpellier. Water stretches both side of the train and occasionally it seems like we are traveling in some sort of high speed boat. Masses of flamingos, herons, egrets and birds of prey can be seen along the marshy strips of land. A nature paradise, perfect for wading birds and ducks.

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Flamingos group together on an inshore lake as the sun sets behind them.

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Two flamingos wade in shallow water with their heads down.

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What appears to be a siege of herons heading south, maybe for the winter. Below more flamingos on the waters edge.

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Return to the Outback

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Rattling along at 300kph through the outback on my return leg.

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I have taken loads of interesting photos along the way but unfortunately I forgot to take my camera cable for transferring the images. So here are a couple of mobile phone shots until I download the other images. Even at 300kph it is possible to capture quite good images of the Spanish outback because the landscape is huge, so only passing trees tend to blur which give them a nice sense of speed too …

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… a perfect sunset as we near the Camargue and southern France.

Strange days

So, last night I updated the Safari on my Mac. At least that is what was displayed on my screen. I had updated my Mac OS a few weeks ago and that download was 1.98 GB! That in itself is pretty large for an update but it was the OS, so I was not unduly concerned.

Yesterday however the Safari update was also 1.98GB. A truly staggering size for an update when you consider that the full software to download is only 65MB!!!

I repeat 65MB, that is no typing error!

So WTF is going on.

The last (OS) update took over an hour to install once downloaded and yesterday it took almost an hour again to install the Safari update. The computer restarted several times and occasionally informed me how long it might take, but more often left me in the dark to wonder whether I would be staring at the screen for the rest of my life.

FFS

This morning I discover almost all my favourite websites have been deleted from the Safari browser but it had left a number of important ones. Why had the others been deleted and why had certain ones been left ??? Who decides, what decides?

(Update to above paragraph) Favourites were not deleted I discover they were hidden.

Initially I thought my WordPress link has been deleted, so I went to Google and typed in ‘WordPress login’ to login. It did not recognise my password. I try the ‘forgotten password’ link and type in my username (email address). I am informed there is no account under this name.

By now I am slowly fuming. How can I contact WordPress if I cannot access my account? I go back to my Safari favourites page and go through the icons and to my relief find that the WordPress link icon is still there so I click on it and am able to login as usual.

You really do have to wonder what is going on in the background on our computers and the Internet. How concerned should we be? This is a recurring problem that I have had with both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS and yet when I use Ubuntu (Linux), it is updated in minutes and you hardly notice. Open source software is NEVER a problem and it is free!

Previous posts about 3D software (Blender vs Rhino) have similar issues. Rhino is paid for while Blender is free. Rhino is always a pain, updates are useless and it often creates havoc on my computer, meanwhile Blender is never a problem and in many ways it is vastly superior to software that cost 1000s euros to buy.

Maybe someone can explain these anomalies to me.

 

Outback

Barcelona – Malaga

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Sweltering hot sunshine outside Barcelona station but a landscape of water does much to help temper the heat. I have yet to discover what those bizarre towers are dotted around this concrete and water landscape. They look like lighthouses but are too far from the sea for that.

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An almost empty restaurant car and very relaxed journey headed for Barcelona.

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Traveling in style at high speed through the heart of Spain’s outback. Scenery that never fails to impress me despite much of it being desert-like and barren. The restaurant car is always a great place to record the passing scenes and have a cup of coffee of course.

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Olive trees can be seen littering the hard baked sandy earth inland …

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… and sometimes there is little sign of vegetation.

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The flip side

Quote from the preacher’s sermon in Moby Dick by Herman Melville:

“Delight is to him, who gives no quarter in the truth, and kills, burns and destroys all sin though he pluck it out from under the robes of Senators and Judges. Delight, -top-gallant delight is to him, who acknowledges no law or lord, but the Lord his God, and is only a patriot to heaven”.

Something to mull over …

Eco warriors

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We all know who the biggest capitalist is and his disliking for environmental issues.

Here is just one reason why eco warriors are right:

The wildlife charity Plantlife recommends reducing how often roadside grassland is cut.

Brilliant!

Why? Because it saves money, reduces pollution and helps the environment by allowing wildflowers to grow, insects to flourish, particularly bees, which are needed for pollination and honey. Of course Mr. Big C would probably rather the scientists invented artificial honey, then he could concrete over everything, build skyscrapers everywhere and maybe a few golf courses for his green concience.

According to the Guardian this morning (see article) 97% of wildflower meadows have been destroyed in Britain in less than a century. Thankfully now roadside grassland has become a haven for wildlife and wildflowers.

I have long called for less trimming in towns, maybe now things are finally registering and governments and councils are beginning to listen and realize that being environmentally friendly makes financial sense as well as helping the environment.

My particular bugbear with this subject concerns Germany and Spain, the two countries I am most familiar with, where I see wonderful nature areas yearly cut down for no good reason other than to keep a few unemployed youngsters in work. – (Council workers simply lack the imagination to think of anything more creative) – Spain (Andalusia) is particular is guilty of this which is bizarre as being a hot country cutting the grass back to its roots just adds to a parched earth environment and more likelihood of fires.

Guardian article

Robots

The robots are coming. Boston dynamics is already advertising its first product, ‘Spot’ the dog. Atlas will no doubt be next and just like chess computers that eventually beat grand masters, so Altas is on course to becoming the ‘perfect’ ballerina.

atlas-00Photo: Unknown (maybe Boston Dynamics)

Watch this video if you don’t believe me:  Atlas YouTube video

Of course watching 10 robots performing Giselle flawlessly would not be the same as watching real dancers. It would be highly impressive from a technical viewpoint but it would lack the wonder of watching humans performing. So no need to panic just yet. The real problem will come when it is impossible to know whether the dancers are robots or real people.

I reckon by the year 3000 robots will be walking among us and we will be hard put to tell the difference. It may well be that a law will be introduced requiring robots to be clearly marked and registered, but that won’t stop law breakers.

Rhino 6

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After much tweaking it’s time to put the Stratos to bed. This is the final image and I am pretty happy with the results. Although most of it was done in Blender 2.8, it would have been impossible for me to achieve this quality without building the initial model in Rhino 5.

However, I have seen plenty of stunning examples on YouTube built solely in Blender, but how this has been done is still a bit of a mystery to me. Even using shrink-wrapping I was unable to achieve the quality I was after.

The next step is to try out the updated Rhino version 6. I have avoided this up till now but my Rhino 5 has a Windows license and I no longer use Windows, so it has been rendered obsolete. Rarely do I enjoy the ‘thrill’ of trying new updated software as it’s a bit like walking in new leather shoes compared to comfy old ones (a pain) … but unlike shoes, which have to be replaced, software does not wear out.

So I download the Rhino 6 trial for Mac successfully, unlike when I last tried via Windows 10. My initial impression is that nothing has changed. I glanced over all the drop down menus and could not see any additional functions, though there may well be one or two lurking somewhere. I can only conclude that this new version 6 is more of a bug fix than anything profoundly earth shattering. That is a shame as I found many functions in Blender superior, which they could easily have adopted to improve user experience. Examples of these I will post later as I come across them. On the plus side, as little has changed I at least do not have to relearn it all over again and can carry on as normal, which is a great relief.

Now I don’t want to get too picky as it is early days. However within the first hour of using Rhino 6 it crashed. I may have been pushing it to its limits but that is no excuse. It should just ignore my commands or at the very least give me a warning that proceeding is inadvisable. Also a .obj file that was previously saved in Rhino 5 (16mb) was now (167mb) saved in Rhino 6! I have yet to discover the reason for that. I would also be interested to know why Rhino 6 software (1.3GB) is almost 4x larger than Blender software (350mb), despite having less functions!

Open source software like Blender (Linux) are invariably more stable than bought software and you do have to ask yourself why is that. Well? Answers on a postcard please.

Watch this space for any further reviews, groans, moans and meltdowns.