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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Technology

Wednesday April 24 2019

Fifteen years ago today, on April 24th 2004, at the Parliament end of Westminster Bridge, I took a clutch of photos of a guy who was photoing the London Eye from that spot:

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So far so ordinary.  Not so ordinary, however, is that he was using a mobile phone.  This is one of the earliest sightings I have found in the archives of mobile phone photoing, a trend only resisted now by freaks like me who care lots about photoing, but almost nothing about instantly communicating, of photos or of anything much else.

My camera was a Canon A70.

Friday April 19 2019

But it does very well without one.

Video here.

I’ve included “War” in the category list below, because the battlefield is surely one of the places where these contraptions will make their creepy presence particularly felt.

Saturday April 13 2019

After I photoed those metal men beside the river; outside the old Woolwich Arsenal, I then walked up river towards the Dome, photoing photos like this:

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However, just before photoing that photo; I photoed this next photo, of a painter, hard at work:

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And here is the photo I photoed of how he was making this scene look:

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The painting above had yet to say this, but that is the Tate & Lyle factory just south of London City Airport.

I asked this artist’s permission to photo his painting, which he graciously gave, but I did not ask him who he was.  The polite way of asking that would have been to say: Do you have a website?  But, alas, I forgot to ask this:  So, no link to any website, Apologies to him if he does have a website, and apologies to you.

Saturday April 06 2019

The designated starting point of my walk beside the river last Monday was Assembly (that being a photo of Assembly being assembled), the sculpture assembly outside the Woolwich Arsenal next to the river:

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Those are some of the photos I photoed, and they are pretty much the photos everyone else photos of these metal men, and pretty much the same as the photos I photoed when last I visited these men.  That was in April 2011.  It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago, which I think is because these metal men, once seen, are not soon forgotten.

Assembly is the work of Peter Burke.  My googling skills are such that I often have to have several goes at a subject before I find my way to the stuff that I find the most informative and interesting.  I can just about remember visiting the Peter Burke website, but I don’t recall ever reading this biography of Peter Burke before.  Nor do I recall learning that this Assembly assembly began life somewhere else.  Or maybe he did an Assembly for that rural setting, and then did another Assembly for outside the Woolwich Arsenal.  Yes, probably that.  Burke is big on mass production, like his contemporary and mate (apparently) Gormley.

And, I certainly never watched this video of Peter Burke speaking until now.  As with all artists talking about their work, I see rather little connection between what he says about his work and what the work says to me.  But at least what he says is mostly accurate, in that he mostly describes how he made it.  There is hardly any pretentious art-speak bollocks of the sort that would get him sneered at at Mick Hartley‘s.

A key to why I like Peter Burke is that before he started doing art he was a Rolls Royce engineer, working on aero-engines.  He liked and still likes how stuff like that looks.  Snap.  Unlike me, from then on, he knew how to make it.

But someone could do all the things Peter Burke describes himself doing when he does his art and produce art that says nothing to me at all.  Insofar as he does describe what he thinks his art actually means, he pretty much loses me.  Which might explain why I only like some of his art, such as Assembly.

What I get from Assembly, as well as the obvious military vibes I wrote about in that 2011 posting, is something to do with stoicism, emotional self-control, being a man, being a man under extreme pressure while keeping your manly cool.  Even to the point of looking rather comical while doing all this.

Friday April 05 2019

On June 13th 2008 I was wandering about in Quimper, photoing photos.  Mostly the photos were of such things as Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, photoers photoing Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, that kind of thing.

But in among all those, and with no accompanying explanation (like a context photo with less zoom (memo to self: always photo a context photo if it might help)), this:

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KanaBeach seems to be some sort of Brittany based clothing brand ("Kanabeach est une entreprise de vêtements bretonne"), which a few years later seems to have crashed and burned, after which catastrophe it may or may not have made a recovery.  (A recovery attempt which involved a giraffe, for some reason.)

But, I have no idea who Jean-Francois Kanabeach is.  And I am similarly baffled by the Nuclear Rabbits From Outta Space.  Google’s basic reaction to that was, first off, to ask if I meant “Nuclear Rabbits From Outer Space”.

A rabbit was, so it says here, launched into space in 1959.  And the Chinese did some stuff on the Moon in 2013, with something called the Jade Rabbit (aka Yutu).  But Nuclear Rabbits, from Outta Space?  Quesque c’est? Usually the Internet has something to say in answer to questions like this.  But in this matter, rien.

Monday April 01 2019

Today, in the spectacular weather that had been promised and which duly occurred, I took a walk along the river, from the Woolwich Arsenal back towards the centre of London in a westerly direction until I got to the Dome, ak these days a the O2.

I saw many things, but I only now have the energy to tell you about one of them.  This:

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Click to get a more panoramic view, with more context.

After much futile searching with Google Maps, I eventually just took a guess that it might be something to do with London City Airport, and so it proved.  (Scroll down there and all is explained.) This is the London City Airport Digital Air Traffic Control Tower.  Thanks to this structure, and thanks in particular to its numerous superzoom surveillance cameras, the people who do the Air Traffic Control for London City Airport can be miles away.  Either they already are or they soon will be:

London City Airport has announced it is to become the first UK airport to build and operate a digital air traffic control tower, with a multi-million pound investment in the technology. The innovative plans are a flagship moment in the airport’s 30th anniversary year, and mark the start of a technological revolution in UK airport air traffic management.

Working closely with NATS, the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services, London City Airport has approved plans for a new tower, at the top of which will be 14 High Definition cameras and two pan-tilt-zoom cameras. The cameras will provide a full 360 degree view of the airfield in a level of detail greater than the human eye and with new viewing tools that will modernise and improve air traffic management.

The images of the airfield and data will be sent via independent and secure super-fast fibre networks to a brand new operations room at the NATS control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire. From Swanwick, air traffic controllers will perform their operational role, using the live footage displayed on 14 HD screens that form a seamless panoramic moving image, alongside the audio feed from the airfield, and radar readings from the skies above London, to instruct aircraft and oversee movements.

That announcement happened in 2017.  The tower no longer needs to be a computer graphic, because there it now is.  But, I suspect, only rather recently.  I think the reason I couldn’t find this Thing on Google Maps is that Google Maps has not yet caught up.

Scaffolding is not a category for this posting.  It may look like scaffolding, but it’s not.  That’s it.

Thursday March 28 2019

Today, thanks to GodDaughter2, who is a singing student, I got to see a dress rehearsal of a new opera being staged by English National Opera called Jack The Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel.  I had my camera with me, but these places don’t encourage photography, so I was assuming I’d emerge from the Coliseum with only the memories of what we’d seen and heard.

The story was, of course, gruesome, and GodDaughter2 grumbled about the lighting, which was relentlessly dark and depressing.  However, the music was pleasingly tonal, drenched in melodies, and most especially in harmonies, of a sort that seemed, in my youth half a century ago, like they’d vanished from the world of new opera for ever.

Back in that stricken post-Schoenbergian musical no-man’s-land, posh music was thought to “progress”, like science.  And it had progressed up its own rear end into unmelodious, unharmonious, unrhythmic oblivion, and because this was progress, no way back was permitted.  But then, that was all blown to smithereens by the likes of Philip Glass and John Adams.  Iain Bell, the composer of Jack The Ripper, operates in the musical world established by those two American giants.

So even though we were about a quarter of a mile away from the action, up near the ceiling, and thus couldn’t make out anyone’s face, just being there was a most agreeable experience.

And then come the curtaln call at the end, there was another nice surprise:

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That being the final surtitle of the show, to be seen in the spot up above the stage where all the previous surtitles had been saying what they had been singing.  So I got my camera out, cranked up the zoom to full power, and did what I could.

The curtain calls looked like this:

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I was particularly interested in the lady in the yellow dress, on the right of the four ladies (guess what they all had in common), because that lady was Janis Kelly, who is GodDaughter2’s singing teacher at the Royal College.

Rather disappointingly, for me, was that most of the photos I took of Ms Kelly were better of the lady standing next to her when they were taking their bows, a certain Marie McLaughlin:

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But I did get one reasonably adequate snap of Ms Kelly, suitably cropped (the photo, I mean) to remove Ms McLaughlin, whose nose had been sliced off in the original version that had emerged from the camera:

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My camera now has much better eyesight than I do, and the gap seems to grow by the month.  Okay, that photo is rather blurry.  But there was a lot of zoom involved. I only managed to decipher about a third of those surtitles.  One of the key members of the cast was black, but I only found this out when I got home and saw her in one of my photos (see above).

I hope a DVD, or perhaps some kind of internetted video, of this production emerges.  And I think it might, because this is a show full of pro-female messages of the sort that appeal to modern tastes, and featuring one of the most spectacular exercises in toxic masculinity in London’s entire history.

I’m now going to read the synopsis of the show at the far end of the first link above, to get a a more exact idea of what happened.

Wednesday March 27 2019

While I’m on the subject of One Blackfriars, as I was last night, here is a rather charming piece of urban sculpture to be seen outside its front door, photoed earlier on the day I photoed the photo in the previous posting:

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I’ve heard this expression but never understood what it was about.  Having read this, I now understand it a bit better:

Wet risers are used to supply water within buildings for firefighting purposes. The provision of a built-in water distribution system means that firefighters do not need to create their own distribution system in order to fight a fire and avoids the breaching of fire compartments by running hose lines between them.

Wet risers are permanently charged with water. This is as opposed to dry risers which do not contain water when they are not being used, but are charged with water by fire service pumping appliances when necessary.

Part B of the building regulations (Fire Safety) requires that fire mains are provided in all buildings that are more than 18 m tall. In buildings less than 50 m tall, either a wet riser or dry riser fire main can be provided. However, where a building extends to more than 50 m above the rescue service vehicle accesslevel, wet risers are necessary as the pumping pressure required to charge the riser is higher than can be provided by a fire service appliance, and to ensure an immediate supply of water is available at high level.

Blog and learn.

Monday March 18 2019

Further evidence (see below) that vapour trail light is my favourite sort of light:

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That photo was photoed by me in June 2008.  In Quimper I think, but if not in Quimper, then somewhere close.

I had been browsing through the directory in which all my photos from that expedition are stored, and I was struck by how well the best of them came out, despite the fact that the camera I was using was quite antique compared to my current camera.  I had always supposed that there had been a big jump in photo quality for me when I got my Lumix ZX150, which was a few years after that.  Since that Lumix ZX150, I have had a Lumix ZX200, and now use a Lumix ZX330.  All of those Lumixes (Lumes?) being much of a muchness.  And I think that’s right, there was quite a jump.  Nevertheless, earlier cameras of mine, when the light was really good, did just as well.  Where they suffered, by comparison, was when the light was merely quite good.

Vapour trails are a feature of the Brittany sky.  Basically, you’re talking about half of all the airplanes from Europe to America, and half of all the airplanes from America to Europe.  So, in Brittany, if the weather is vapour trail weather, there will be vapour trails.  A lot of vapour trails.

France also has excellent street clutter, with lots of wires.  The wires go well with the vapour trails, I think.

Sunday March 17 2019

Was out in Bermondsey today, and as usual photoed lots of photos.  But the light was dreary, so here is a photo I took in the same place just under a month ago, on February 19th:

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Vapour trail weather, which I love.  And not just for the vapour trails.  In such weather, everything looks good.  Those two birds, for instance.  They look very good.

Ah, the Summer of February 2019.  They don’t make them like that any more, except that they just did.

Wednesday March 13 2019

Some close- and closer-ups of the Optic Cloak:

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What these photos, photoed just after I’d photoed these photos, only show a few glimpses of is how different the OC looks, depending on the light’s strength, its direction, and its colour.  All of the above photos were photoed from the western, upstream side of the OC, as I moved from north to south, and all on the same day.  There’s a whole different set to be taken from the east, or from the West on a different day.

This is something that all the best London Things, Big or, as in this case, not so Big, have in common.  (I’m thinking in particular of the Shard and of the Walkie Talkie and, more recently, of the Scalpel (which is only very small in that photo, but which does wonderful things with the light).)

Thursday March 07 2019

My expedition to check out the Optic Cloak got me appreciating the new version of the Greenwich Peninsula, the post-Dome version, that is now taking shape.

Here is a picture of it, one of those computer fake photo things:

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The Optic Cloak is an invisible smudge of grey, just after the C of OPTIC and just above the K of CLOAK.  That’s because this picture is not about the truth as such, but about new tall buildings, and the Optic Cloak, although quite tall, is not a building, so, in this picture, it is ignored.

However, what the above photo does show is the big double-barrelled road which takes traffic into and from the Blackwall Tunnel.  And you get a great look at this mighty traffic artery if you climb up onto a footbridge that takes you over it.  Over it if, for instance, you are walking south from North Greenwich tube station, in order to get a closer-up view, from the West, across the big road, than you’d get otherwise, of the Optic Cloak, as I was when I went there, however many weeks ago it was.

You can just about make out this footbridge in the picture above, just above and to the right of the C of COPTIC.

Here are a couple of photos that I photoed of this footbridge:

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And here are a couple of views from it, of the Optic Cloak:

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But I especially liked the sort of views you get from this footbridge, looking north, towards the Blackwall Tunnel:

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Most of the towers in the distance there are across the river, in Docklands, and already that view, as you approach the Blackwall Tunnel is quite something.  As the Greenwich Peninsula itself fills up with more towers, it will look even more mini-Manhattan-ish.

Here are photos I took from the bridge of a couple of interesting vehicles, going north (left) and south (right):

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Plus, here is a close-up of that roof clutter, in the left hand of the two looking north photos, above:

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This roof clutter makes a point, as do those two views looking north, and the traffic.  This new Greenwich Peninsula has the feeling of old-school work getting done, just as I presume the old one had.  Stuff that really hurts if you drop it on your foot is being made, modified, bought and sold, in this particular part of London, just as it always was.  Noxious gasses and fluids are being propelled hither and thither, in pipes and cans and lorries.  You get the feeling that this isn’t going to stop any time soon, the way it has in Docklands.

It could just be all that Blackwall Tunnel traffic thundering by which gives off that feeling.  However, I don’t think so, if only because the thundering traffic creates the sort of place where the Financial Services Industry wouldn’t want to be.

Here, finally, is the kind of close-up of the Optic Cloak that I had come for …:

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.. with a lorry roaring by, full of noxious fluid.

There can be no higher praise for the Optic Cloak than to say that it fits right in with all this hustle and bustle and noise.  Indeed, it dominates it.  It presides contentedly over it.  Most “Art” in such a place would look ridiculous.

Wednesday March 06 2019

Yesterday, as already noted, I was out and about in London.  And another interesting thing I photoed was this, also healthcare-related:

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I photoed this photo with his permission, by the way.

I guess that the purpose of this gizmo is to enable the knee-joint to keep moving, while remain in its correct state, without putting any (or at any rate undue) strain on it, the strain being taken by the gizmo and the bits of limb it is attached to rather than (only) by the joint.

But, truthfully, I don’t really know.  What I do know, just from looking at this photo, is that there is a definite plan in action, and that it is helping a lot, far more than one of those big old rigid plaster caste monsters would have.

Here is a close-up of the name of this contraption …:

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… which enabled me to find some produktinformation.  What the gizmo does is Führung und Stabilisierung des Kniegelenks.  Which is, I rather think (guess), pretty much what I just said.

Tuesday March 05 2019

Today a friend needed some rather dramatic medical attention, and I dropped by to provide what I hope was a little moral support.  Outside the place where this was happening, I encountered this cute little vehicle:

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Two interesting things about this little gizmo.  First, there is the way that its door opens.  The door on its right is open, in the above photos.  Useful in a tight space, I should guess.

And second is what it does, there being a website on it which enables you to learn about this.  It takes tissue or samples from sick people to a lab, where the lab decides its opinion about the nature of that sickness.

I like these little cars, which are so small they are almost motor bikes.  I certainly prefer them to those huge Chelsea Tractors, which look like they’re for doing bank robbery getaways or off-roading or maybe both at once.  Which, let’s face it, most Londoners do neither of, ever.

Tuesday February 26 2019

On Sunday evening, and then again yesterday during the day, my water supply was interrupted.  This has never happened before.  Electricity, yes, that has been interrupted, I seem to recall.  And once, my hot tank refused to stop heating its water, which was alarming.  I had to switch off all my electricity myself, to stop my boiler boiling itself and perhaps exploding like a steam locomotive having a crash.  But, no water?  That was a new one for me, here.

When my taps first ran out of puff, I didn’t know what was causing this.  At first, I thought the problem might be my own personal arrangements, as it had been with that over-eager heating system.  But, I knocked on the door opposite and discovered that my neighbour had received an email threatening water disruption, and it all started to make sense.  One of our neighbours was having work done which necessitated a block-wide water switch off.  This was on Sunday evening, but the email concerned threatened disruption on Monday, disruption that duly occurred.

I wasn’t even completely sure if the water, when restored, would automatically fill up my pipes again, once it had abandoned them.  You know how you can get water to to go up and down in pipes, in school physics lessons.  What if interrupted water supply created a permanent unwillingness of the water to travel along my personal pipes, to my personal taps?

When the water returned later on Sunday evening, it was quite a relief to see it gushing out of my taps again, of its own accord, with no suction pump needed to coax it back into action.  But then, disruption happened again, exactly as threatened, on Monday.

It’s only when you are deprived of something you are used to having that you realise how much you depend upon it.  For washing, of me and of the things I eat from and off.  For flushing the loo.  There was an event I wanted to attend on Monday evening.  No go.  Unclean.

I had never had anything to do with my lady neighbour before this little water drama.  Interesting that things not working properly and “community” go together like this.  When the great machine we all depend on stops working, we suddenly become more dependant upon each other, if only to find out what the hell is going on and when it is likely to stop.