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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Dr Plokta's LiveJournal:

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    Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
    10:25 am
    Heartbleed Followup
    Now that lots of people are revoking potentially compromised SSL certificates, it's quite important to check that your web browser is picking up certificate revocations. Try loading this URL: https://www.cloudflarechallenge.com/heartbleed

    If you don't get a warning about the certificate being revoked or invalid, you should Google for your browser's name and "enable certificate revocation" and look for instructions on enabling it.
    Monday, April 14th, 2014
    9:37 pm
    Full Moon
    Full Moon tonight, with Mars in opposition just above it. Here they are rising through the treeline on the opposite side of the valley.

    Cut for a big pictureCollapse )
    Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
    8:16 am
    Imminent Death of the Net
    The "Heartbleed" SSL vunerability released last night (UK time) is a bad one, to the extent that I recommend being careful when accessing sensitive websites (webmail, online banking, etc.) for the next month or so, especially when you're on an untrusted network (e.g. someone else's wifi). If you know how, it's worth checking the SSL certificate details and being suspicious of any certificate issued before today's date.

    http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/07/massive-security-bug-in-openssl-could-effect-a-huge-chunk-of-the-internet/?ncid=twittersocialshare

    http://arstechnica.com/security/2014/04/critical-crypto-bug-in-openssl-opens-two-thirds-of-the-web-to-eavesdropping/
    Sunday, April 6th, 2014
    8:13 pm
    Photos
    But first, an overdue species update.

    31. Painted Lady
    32. Brimstone
    33. Grey Heron (trying to eat our goldfish, I expect)
    34. Grey Partridge (on our front lawn)
    35. Orange Tip

    Also saw a Mute Swan and Coot between Bishopsbourne and Bridge, but that's a bit too far from home to count as walking distance unless I actually walk there from home.

    And now some photosCollapse )
    Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
    4:18 pm
    How an electric fence tester works
    1. Stick the earth spike in the ground
    2. Loop the metal bit over the fence
    3. Squint at the LED in the bright sunlight
    4. Put your hand over the LED to shade it enough to see if it's flashing
    5. Get your hand zapped with 3,000 volts
    6. The fence is working
    Thursday, March 13th, 2014
    6:40 am
    A few more species
    26. Herring gull
    27. Small tortoiseshell
    28. Peacock* (the butterfly, not the bird, though in fact there are peacock birds near here (but they're not wild))
    29. Green woodpecker
    30. Tawny owl* (been hearing them ever since we moved in, but I finally saw one flying across the road while driving home from an evening out)
    Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
    5:14 pm
    And another one
    25. Common frog. Two of them, in amplexus in our fish pond. Which will do them no good as the fish will eat all the eggs.
    Monday, February 24th, 2014
    4:08 pm
    More Species
    22. Badger* (I'm reasonably certain)
    23. Pied wagtail (on our muck-heap)
    24. Green woodpecker

    Spring arrived very suddenly (and early) eight days ago, and everything is finally drying out (except for the assorted flooding winterbournes around here, which are largely fed by groundwater and thus take weeks to react to changes in the amount of rainfall). We have snowdrops in our garden, and there are primroses, daffodils and crocuses elsewhere. I mowed the lawns yesterday and today. We're able to sit in the conservatory in the afternoon and go "It's a bit warm in here." The horses have been out a couple of times without their rugs on. And Jonny is shedding like a mad thing, creating a blizzard of hair every time I groom him.
    Saturday, February 8th, 2014
    7:51 am
    Google Fails Me
    The Aga's ovens aren't very wide, but they're deep. And so I want a bread/pizza peel that I can use to take full advantage of them and put a large pizza or three loaves into the oven. That means that the blade needs to be 12" x 18", and I can't find any such thing on the Internet -- there are some things that size that call themselves pizza peels, but they're actually serving plates and don't have long handles. Does anyone know of such a thing (or have better Google-fu than me)?
    Monday, January 27th, 2014
    4:49 pm
    It's Spring!
    Jonny has started shedding his winter coat, so we can look forward to several months of having all of our clothes covered with horsehair.
    Sunday, January 26th, 2014
    12:33 pm
    Still Counting
    16. Grey squirrel
    17. House sparrow
    18. Kestrel*
    19. Mallard (swimming around in a field...)
    20. Coal tit*
    21. Great spotted woodpecker

    The last two were spotted while doing the RSPB's Great Garden Birdwatch survey just now (along with 3 blackbirds, 5 blue tits, 11 chaffinches, a dunnock, 3 great tits, 4 greenfinches, 2 magpies, a robin and 3 woodpigeons).
    Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
    3:17 pm
    Vital Statistics
    Since my friends list seems to be full of this kind of thing at present.

    Over the past 2½ years I seem to have lost about a stone and a half, nice and gradually but accelerating a bit since we moved house and I started doing a lot more exercise (and eating more, too). My BMI has gone from around 26 to around 23.5. I'm now lighter than at any time since July 2008 (when we got a Wii Fit and so my weight started getting graphed). And so I'm going to have to throw out a bunch of 33" and 34" waist trousers. Of course, I'm still three stone heavier than I was at 20 (when my BMI will have been around 17.5).
    Monday, January 13th, 2014
    3:05 pm
    More Birds
    12. Robin
    13. Buzzard
    14. Dunnock
    15. Starling

    No photos yet of any of those. I'm pretty sure that Mrs nwhyte was correct to suggest that I've mis-labelled a female chaffinch as a greenfinch, but I definitely have seen greenfinches, so they stay on the list.
    Sunday, January 12th, 2014
    4:31 pm
    Thursday, January 9th, 2014
    8:11 am
    Counting Species Again
    So, back in 2007 I spent the year seeing how many different species of vertebrate (excluding fish) and butterfly I could spot around Rotherhithe, in inner London. And I scored 71.

    Since I now live somewhere completely different, I'll try the same again for 2014 and see how I get on. The ground rules (lightly edited from last time) are:
    1. The area is everything in walking distance of home.
    2. Air-breathing vertebrates and butterflies only. Fish are too dull and hard to see, and invertebrates are too numerous and hard to identify. Amphibians at a non-air-breathing stage count, but will probably also be hard to identify.
    3. Domesticated animals, including homo sapiens, don't count, but escaped or released animals do (e.g. pheasants).
    4. Dead animals don't count, even though that's the only way I'm likely to find a hedgehog.
    5. Photos to be provided where possible, but it still counts if I can't get a photo.
    6. Hearing but not seeing does not count. (So much for scoring any owls.)
    7. Updates to be posted behind a cut tag for the benefit of those people who don't want to download large numbers of blurry thumbnails.
    8. Herring gulls, lesser black-backed gulls, yellow-legged gulls and Caspian gulls are different species. Whether or not I can tell the difference is another matter.

    As before, here's a poll for you to guess how many I'll see. A few points to bear in mind:
    • I'm now in the middle of the Kent countryside
    • But farmland is actually not very biodiverse, less so than suburbia
    • But there's plenty of woodland nearby as well, and we have a big garden now
    • But there's no open water, so a lot less waterfowl and seagulls than last time
    • And I'll mostly be accompanied by a large and boisterous carnivore who will scare off some of the wildlife

    Poll #1951386 Species Count II
    Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 19

    How many species will I spot?

    View Answers
    0
    0 (0.0%)
    5
    0 (0.0%)
    10
    0 (0.0%)
    15
    0 (0.0%)
    20
    0 (0.0%)
    25
    0 (0.0%)
    30
    0 (0.0%)
    35
    2 (10.5%)
    40
    1 (5.3%)
    45
    1 (5.3%)
    50
    0 (0.0%)
    55
    0 (0.0%)
    60
    1 (5.3%)
    65
    0 (0.0%)
    70
    0 (0.0%)
    75
    2 (10.5%)
    80
    4 (21.1%)
    85
    2 (10.5%)
    90
    1 (5.3%)
    95
    0 (0.0%)
    100
    5 (26.3%)
    Monday, January 6th, 2014
    3:47 pm
    Living in Fiction
    From Little, Big by John Crowley:
    It was a county map or something, much more detailed than Smoky's; he found the constellation of towns he knew of, neatly outlined, but nothing for Edgewood. "It should be somewhere around these." Jeff found the stub of a pencil, and with a "hmmm" and a "let's see," connected the centers of the five towns with a five-pointed star. The pentagon enclosed by the lines of the star he tapped with the pencil, and raised his sandy eyebrows at Smoky. An old map-reader's trick, Smoky surmised.

    Pentagram

    Also, James Bond grew up in Pett Bottom in the next valley to the north-west of us, and Diana Villiers (from Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books) moved to Barham Down to raise horses, just to the north-east of us.
    Saturday, January 4th, 2014
    5:05 pm
    FAO autopope
    Bob Howard needs to find out what DEITYBOUNCE is really a code name for.
    Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
    9:53 pm
    2013
    Well, that was a busy year. New horse, new house, new lifestyle. Things that are more important in my life than they used to be include:
    • Decent boots (I have four pairs of boots that I wear frequently, and I think I wear all of them more often than I wear shoes of any kind)
    • Decent waterproofs
    • The phase of the moon (New Moon at present)
    • The weather forecast (pretty grim for tomorrow)
    • Decent boots
    • Sunrise and sunset times (08:00 to 15:45 at present, plus or minus a minute or two. And yay, sunset is now getting later, and sunrise will start to get earlier in a day or two.)
    • A good axe (not to mention a chainsaw)
    • The ability to drive a quarter of a mile backwards
    • Did I mention the boots?
    Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
    8:40 am
    An odd thing to find while Googling
    The text below is from http://mayfair-antiques.com/old_blog/blog.cgi?n=34&category=004. There isn't actually a valley between Hardres (sic) and Stelling Minnis, as they're on the same ridge, but we're in the next valley over (which is fairly forgotten). Sadly, the page to which it is attributed no longer exists.

    But topics exhaust themselves and, at the last, I myself brought the talk round to the Fourth Dimension. We were sauntering along the forgotten valley that lies between Hardves and Stelling Minnis; we had been silent for several minutes. For me, at least, the silence was pregnant with the undefinable emotions that, at times, run in currents between man and woman. The sun was getting low and it was shadowy in those shrouded hollows. I laughed at some thought, I forget what, and then began to badger her with questions. I tried to exhaust the possibilities of the Dimensionist idea, made grotesque suggestions. I said: And when a great many of you have been crowded out of the Dimension and invaded the earth you will do so and so? something preposterous and ironical. She coldly dissented, and at once the irony appeared as gross as the jocularity of a commercial traveller. Sometimes she signified: Yes, that is what we shall do; signified it without speaking?by some gesture perhaps, I hardly know what. There was something impressive?something almost regal?in this manner of hers; it was rather frightening in those lonely places, which were so forgotten, so gray, so closed in. There was something of the past world about the hanging woods, the little veils of unmoving mist?as if time did not exist in those furrows of the great world; and one was so absolutely alone; anything might have happened. I grew weary of the sound of my tongue. But when I wanted to cease, I found she had on me the effect of some incredible stimulant.
    Friday, December 6th, 2013
    4:21 pm
    Photos
    So, I'm a few months behind with posting photos.

    Cut for photosCollapse )
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