That’s two of my questions answered about Sigma’s 18-35mm ƒ/1.8 zoom lens for APS-C cameras: it’ll be available in July, and it’ll cost around $800 (£800/€1000) — a lot less than expected (DP Review, Engadget, Nikon Rumors, Photography Blog). As for whether it’s any good, there are some samples out there: here and here. And here’s a review. My suspicion that this might be a good lens for candid shots at conventions (low light, close quarters) has not been dampened. I’ll probably have to get it. There’s really nothing else out there for APS-C cameras (Canon EF-S, Nikon DX) with that aperture at those focal lengths other than 30-35mm prime lenses.
Previously: Sigma’s New Fast Zoom Lens.
More cat health adventures. Earlier this week Scourge’s left eye clouded up, which obviously required attention. Anterior uveitis, said the vet, which could result from one of two things: head trauma or feline leukaemia virus. Now FeLV is obviously a Very Bad Thing, particularly in a multiple-cat household, so we were crossing our fingers for head trauma. After all, Scourge is (still!) a high-energy kitten, and tends to bounce off furniture, walls and other cats. With his head. A lot. A sharp bonkus to the conkus was a very plausible culprit.
Fortunately the FeLV test came back negative. Head trauma it is! And two sets of eye drops for the next ten days to heal up his eye. One set of those eye drops is atropine. It turns out that atropine causes much hilarity. For one thing it dilates the pupils, and since it’s just the one eye getting the drops, you get only one eye dilated. Which looks kind of freaky, as you can see here. For another, atropine causes hypersalivation: for a few minutes after the drops are administered, the kitten just froths at the mouth, rendering him briefly eligible for a cable news talk show.
Right now he’s attacking Doofus with his usual vim, so I’m not sure this has slowed him down much. At most he’s gone from prestissimo molto e con brio down to allegro assai. A little less of a blur. For now.
It’s a bit of a relief; this hasn’t been a good week for cats in our social circle.
Evidently I got a bit carried away. Yesterday I redesigned The Map Room’s front page to fix the broken and make it look nice, and once I was finished that I had a few more ideas, and before long — well, as you can see (unless you’re reading this via RSS), this site has a new design this morning. Hope you like it.
A Mac version of Apple’s maps was among the new features announced for Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday. Coverage: 9to5Mac, The Verge. I’m surprised to see that they’re doing it as a standalone application rather than on the Web, which is what I’d expected. One trick of the app is that you can send turn-by-turn directions to your iOS device. There’s an API, so developers will also be able to integrate the maps into their own apps. If they want. Cue old and tired jokes about Apple maps’ quality in three, two …
Stefan Ekman’s Here Be Dragons is a book-length examination of the use of maps and settings in fantasy literature. Maps and settings. Which is to say that maps are not the sole focus of this work: mark that. There are four main chapters, only one of which deals with maps; the remaining three deal with the issue of borders and territories, the relationship between nature and culture in fantasy cities, and the relationship between ruler and realm. Taken as a whole, this book discusses the role of place in fantasy.
But I won’t be discussing that whole here: I am no literary scholar, and can’t say much of value about the chapters that do not discuss maps — nothing that would rise above the level of a last-minute undergraduate paper, anyway. But maps are something I can say something about, especially fantasy maps, since I myself have been paying attention to them over the past decade, first during my time blogging at The Map Room (see the Imaginary Places category) and since then more sporadically, but with more focus, for my fantasy maps project.
One of the things I’m interested in for my fantasy maps project is the origin of fantasy map design: where does that tell-tale fantasy map look come from?
Look at enough fantasy maps, and it’s hard not to notice certain commonalities in design. As Stefan Ekman demonstrates in Here Be Dragons (yes, I have a review coming — soon!), the maps that accompany fantasy novels tend to be characterized by a number of typical features. “Like much high fantasy,” he writes, “the secondary-world maps follow a pseudomedieval aesthetic according to which dashes of pre-Enlightenment mapping conventions are rather routinely added to a mostly modern creation.”1 Fantasy maps look nothing like medieval maps, and can in many ways be seen as the hybrid descendent of 19th-century amateur mapmaking and early-20th-century children’s book illustrations.
NASA has released an updated map of the bedrock beneath the Antarctic ice sheet; the map, called Bedmap2, adds considerable detail — a tighter grid and millions of data points — to its decade-old predecessor. The image above exaggerates vertical scale by a factor of 17 to increase visibility. See also this short video. Image credit: NASA-GSFC.
Out here we lose people to accidents, disease and old age; very rarely do we lose people to violence. Woke up this morning to news reports that police were investigating a late night altercation in Shawville that left a man dead. This evening those reports have been updated: a 32-year-old man has been charged with the second-degree murder of Barry Brosseau (CTV News, Ottawa Citizen). We don’t know the victim or the man facing charges; while I’ve heard things through the grapevine about the situation, I shouldn’t pass along unsubstantiated talk — it’s not my business. I can say, though, that the “apartment complex” in question is a large, shabby old red brick house at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Railroad Street that has apparently been subdivided into a number of units.
Thoughts on who will play the next Doctor, now that it has been announced that Matt Smith is stepping down from the role at the end of the year:
Lots of fan speculation about who will play the next Doctor, most of it ridiculously wishful. The role will almost certainly be played by a young or upcoming British actor you’ve never heard of — someone who can pull off slightly mad/off-kilter without being a full-on comedian, and someone fit enough to be able to run all the time, as one does in Doctor Who. Anyone you’ve heard of is almost certainly too busy and too expensive for a TV show. It will definitely not be your favourite actor or actress who appeared in another genre TV show or movie with a fanbase. At most, the actor will have had a bit part in some British TV show or movie you might have seen.
Lots of fans are hoping for a Doctor who isn’t white or male or both. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either idea. But don’t hold your breath for too much diversity. This show, after all, has had a somewhat problematic relationship with Scottish and Northern dialects: whatever the next Doctor’s sex or colour, he or she will speak Estuary English.
- A Rheumatology Update
- A Renaissance Globemaker’s Toolbox
- Review: The Art of the Map
- IC 2944
- New Google Maps: First Impressions
- 2013 Hugos: Short Stories
- My Own Private Westeros
- The Ring Nebula
- Here Be Sea Monsters
- 2012 Nebula Award Winners
- Pine Siskins
- Earthquake Near Shawville
- An Amphibian Typhoid Mary
- Spoilers Have an Expiration Date
- A Topographic Map of Titan
- Google Maps Redesigned
- 2012 Nebulas: Novelettes
- A Question About Cardinals
- Frogs and Toads in Shawville