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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

Sunday August 19 2018

Earlier this evening I did some laundretting, and while I was there, this showed up outside:

image

I still photo taxis with adverts on them, and I especially liked this one, advertising this..

It made me think of the last time I went up to the top of the Shard, just over a year ago.

So I took a browse through the photos I took that day, and this time around, this one particularly struck me:

image

That was cropped to confine itself to the one building, and photoshop(clone)ed to resist the dullness of the day and general fogginess of the original.

Part of me wants to say that this is a classic case of the behind-the-scenes bit of a building, a chunk of it that you are not supposed to look at and get all aesthetic about.  It is what it is.

But I actuallly think that this is the facade of the buildig that the architects of it were most proud.  There is an exuberance about this roof, done in the equipment-as-decoration style, that is utterly lacking in the rest of the building.  The “official” bits of which are about as dull as dullness can get.  They didn’t have the budget to go full Lloyds Building, all over.  But they were able to go crazy on the roof, because the politicians whose job it was to tell them to redo the design more boringly didn’t give the roof any attention.  They thought they were building a machine for studying in, but only on the roof were they able to go mad with “expressing” that machineness.

I reckon they were delighted that the Shard was later put right next to this block of boredom with a great roof, enabling thousands of folks to gaze down on their favourite bit..  Gotcha, boredom police!

Okay, just a thought, and a thought that could well be wrong.  Maybe they really didn’t car how the roof looked.  But take a look through these photos of this mostly very dull slab, mostly taken from street level, of course, and see if you don’t share my suspicions.

Saturday August 18 2018

Indeed:

image

Here.

She also wrote that NYT letter about white privilege, concerning which she Tweets:

Do not deny my lived experience.

Absolutely not.

Thursday August 09 2018

The final full day of The Great Heatwave of 2018 was two days ago, on August 7th.  August 8th was a couldn’t-make-up-its-mind day, and today was a could-make-up-its-mind day, and it made up its mind to be cold and wet and generally horrible, perhaps in honour of the Lord’s Test between England and India, today’s first day of which was totally rained off.  One day, magic beams will rise up into the sky from around the boundaries of all major cricket games and will divert the rain into giant vats, also on the boundary, and play will proceed no matter what the weather beyond the ground.  (Such devices will also transform global agriculture, and make the entire population of the world obese.)

So, as I was saying, two days ago was the last day of the Heatwave, and maybe it was this heat which cause this lady to be wearing, in a street near me, this headgear:

image

This lady looked normal enough, apart from the headgear.  I made no secret of the fact that I was photoing her, and she clearly saw me doing this and didn’t seem to min.  Or maybe she was concentrating on her phoning and actually didn’t see me.  Either way, I waited until her face was hidden.

The sane explanation for the headgear was the heat.  And honestly, I do believe that this was what it was for.  That heatwave really was very hot.

Wednesday August 08 2018

I don’t believe I am the only man to have been deranged by the heatwave in the manner I am about to describe, in fact I know that I am not, because I had one of those How-Very-True You’re-So-Right type conversations with GodDaughter2’s boyfriend, Only The Other Day, about exactly this matter.

I refer to the fact that I, and many other men, do not merely wear a jacket to fend off frigidity.  We also wear it to carry stuff.  It is our version of a handbag.  In my case: wallet, cheque book and paying in cheques book (so I was born before you were - live with it) (both these items serve another purpose besides handling the financial instrument relics of the previous century, which is to fill up the pocket containing my wallet and stop the wallet falling out (which would be a catastrophe)), pen, purse, Old Git free London transport pass, keys, handkerchiefs, mobile phone, spectacle case with reading spectacles, spectacle case with spare camera batteries and spare SD cards (the latter for if I forget to put my regular SD card back in the camera), Disprins, cough sweets, regular sweets, eye allergy spray, and no doubt several other things I can’t now remember.

Unlike some men, I also carry an actual bag around with me on my travels, containing: a folder with paper to take notes, a shopping bag for if I shop, a camera, a book, a small bottle of fruit flavoured anti-dehydration liquid, any food I have bought, any spare garments I might need for if it gets colder, an umbrella, and even sometimes a laptop computer, on those days when I am in a mobile laptop computing sort of mood (although lately I have tended not to be in such a mood (too heavy)).

But, transferring all the clobber described in paragraph two above into the bag, and into the midst of all the clobber described in paragraph three above, is a serious derangement, not least because the bag gets far too full.  For remember, what if, late at night, if the heatwave abates, I need the jacket?  I have to have the jacket in the bag, just in case, even though it is far too hot to wear it and in fact, throughout the heatwave, it remained so.  So, with everything now in an unfamiliar place, much of it buried under other bits of it, all the usual reflexes stop working.  Nothing is any longer where it usually is.  I start suffering from that frightful female syndrome of digging about inside the bag, frantically trying to find whatever it is.  Which may in fact be in one of my trouser pockets, or maybe even my shirt pocket, for goodness sake.  Oh God, where’s my wallet (which contains all sorts of priceless stuff which I dare not even itemise (see above))?!?!  Etc..

Today, the heatwave sort of ended, as in: the weather oscillated between pleasantly warm and somewhat warmer.  But unfortunately the London Underground didn’t get the email containing the link to the short-term weather forecast, and chose to remain full of the horribly hot air that it had been accumulating throughout the previous fortnight, or however long it’s been.

But the discomfort I suffered was the discomfort of wearing my jacket when it was rather hot.  That I can live with.

But worse, just like the London Underground, I too found myself suffering a systemic hangover from the previous period of high temperature hell.  Earlier this evening I was in a pub, and when my pubbing was done, I picked up my bag, and visited the toilet, prior to leaving.  Luckily, while there, I realised that I had left my jacket on the back of the seat that I had been sitting on.  I reclaimed it, seemingly unmolested by plunderers, except that … hell’s bell’s, my wallet wasn’t in it! It was, of course, in the bag, where I had recently been learning instead to put it.

It’ll be a few more days before I recover my usual calm and suave demeanour, when out and about.

Monday August 06 2018

Andy Bull of the Guardian lists the runs per over totals of the fourteen overs it took for Aaron Finch and Jason Roy to score 194 for the first wicket, for Surrey against Middlesex in a recent T20 slamfest at the Oval:

14, 17, 23, 15, 14, 15, 15, 10, 12, 9, 15, 11, 10, 14.

Middlesex had scored what looked like a very formidable 221 in their twenty overs.  Surrey demolished this target with four overs to spare.

Then, in the next game, Jason Roy …:

… managed the philosophically challenging task of getting stumped for a duck without facing a ball, as he overbalanced to a wide speared down the leg side ...

I was indeed puzzled, as I perused the result of that game on my mobile phone.  0 runs scored, 0 balls faced.  Stumped.  But I worked it out for myself, so I guess I solved the philosophical challenge.  Finch didn’t do much better, scoring a mere 16.  But Surrey still won.

And in between, there was the little matter of England squeaking home against India.  So, a good three days of cricket, which, with the magic of mobile phonery, I was able to combine with having a bit of a life.

Apart from the little fact that Joss Buttler, whom I earlier talked up, was the only total non-contributor to England’s win.  He got out twice for a total of one run, facing all of four deliveries.  Adil Rashid, whom I talked down, got three wickets, including the crucial one of Kohli in the first innings.  Kohli had, by then, scored 148 runs.  But if Rashid hadn’t then got him, who’s to say Kohli wouldn’t have scored another big pile of runs and given India a match-winning first innings lead?

At least I didn’t trash Stokes, who got the vital wickets for England at the end, or Surrey’s own Sam Curran, who got Man of the Match for taking five wickets and for turning England’s second innings from match-losingly terrible into, as it turned out, sufficient.

The second test starts on Thursday.  And another Surreyite, Sam Pope, is in the England squad and could also play.  I can’t wait, as GodDaughter 2 and her sister both say in such circumstances.  Meaning: I can wait and I will wait, even though I would prefer it if I didn’t have to wait.

Tuesday July 31 2018

The Daily Mail has the story:

Sony has revealed a radical new sensor chip that could dramatically improve your smartphone pictures.

Called the ‘IMX586 stacked CMOS image sensor’ it boasts 48 megapixels, yet measures just 8mm diagonally.

It is set to come to phones later this year, and could even appear in the next iPhone.

The rise of smartphone photography continues.

The Daily Mail had this story about a week ago, actually, but creativity news is not like regular news, and a week’s delay doesn’t really matter.  Such developments happen slowly, and putting a date to them can be difficult.  Unlike with regular news of the sort that newspapers clear their front pages tp proclaim, which usually involves disaster erupting at a very particular moment.  As for this gizmo, will it actually happen “later this year”?  Maybe, maybe not.  Either way, it, or something a lot like it, will happen in a few months time.

In other smartphone news, I have been looking, not very determinedly, for a smartphone with a big screen.  One of the contenders is the Samsung Galaxy S9+.  But in my experience, Samsung screens overheat.  So I googled “samsung s9+ overheating” and immediately got a result.  Apparently, Samsung are still presiding over overheating screens.  I do not understand how such absurd behaviour can be to their advantage.  Not all such screens overheat.  Clearly, such nonsense is fixable.  So why don’t they fix it?

Progress progresses, but not all capitalists are necessarily anything to do with the progress process.

Saturday July 28 2018

I am now (a) recovering from last night’s meeting, (b) feeling pleased that my recording of it came out quite good, and (c) I am now watching a video of Alan McFarlane talking about the Anglosphere..  As I concoct this posting, I can hear McFarlane talking.  Which works well, because the visuals made his early points, but not later ones.  This is the first time I have seen him in action, seen what he looks like.

(c), and things like (c) is/are the reason/s why I joined Twitter.  If you are on Twitter, but all it does is communicate to you a world of screaming idiots, you are not, unless a world of screaming idiots is what you want, doing Twitter right.

There is lots of extraneous noise in the Alan McFarlane video.  There is far less on the recording I made last night.  But all that matters, in each case, is what is being said.  If what you are being told is good then you can tolerate any amount of extraneous aural clutter.  If it is not good, then audio-perfection makes no difference.

Wednesday July 25 2018

I like this, in an I wouldn’t actually want one sort of a way::

image

But it isn’t a serious piece of furniture.  Nobody is actually going to buy one of these edifices.  If that’s wrong, I look forward to learning about it and telling you about it, with more photos, of this 3 decker sofa in an actual home type home, instead of in something that looks like a city office.

The idea is, I assume, to flood the internet with the set of pictures of which the above is but one, of this cross between a sofa and a sports stadium, and thereby get people to link to stories like this one, which are about some kind of joint venture between BT (which stands for British Telecom) and EE (which stands for Esomething Esomething), involving being able to shove whatever television stuff you are receiving on your mobile phone onto your television.  At no extra charge, blah blah, which always actually means at a definite extra charge.  (EE probably began life meaning Extremely Expensive.  Something to do with mobile internet connections, I think.)

For me, what this sofa-sports-stand is about is the fact that domestic television is getting steadily bigger and better, and cinemas and pubs are get steadily less attractive as places to watch … video.  This is the trend that EE/BT are tuning into, to sell whatever it is they’re selling.

The key moment in this process was when big TVs started getting cheap.

Sunday July 22 2018

When I recently went to France, there was a rail strike on.  I even took a picture of the strike, in the form of an electronic sign at St Pancras full of train cancellations:

image

But, what happened to this strike?  Is it still going on?  Or has it finished?  If it has finished, who won?

I am none the wiser about the answers to these questions, but while seeking such answers, I came across this photo, of French trains, taken by someone looking down upon their roofs:

image

Not much roof clutter to be seen there.  (See below.  This is now a preoccupation of mine.) Does the clutter on top of these trains not even exist?  Or, is it merely covered up?  (More research is needed.)

Saturday July 21 2018

6k has Flickred a wonderful little collection of photos he took on a recent expedition to France (he blogs about these here), of which this was one of my favourites:

image

I particular like the extreme middle of this photo, which I have taken the liberty of cropping out and lightly sharpening:

image

I love roof clutter.  So it’s no surprise that I also love rail clutter.  And France, so excellent at roof clutter, also does rail clutter exceptionally well.

Rail clutter embodies the exact same aesthetic contrast that roof clutter points to.  One part of what you are looking at is obsessed over, aesthetically.  The facade of a building is minutely contrived to look the way it should look.  And then on top of it, you can just shove up anything you like, to let out smoke, receive and send signals and generally do stuff on the roof.  Well, rail clutter is a lot like that.  The trains (especially the trains in France (and especially the high speed trains in France)) are aesthetically magnificent, or at least are intended to be are are considered to be by their creators (and I happen to agree with them).  Yet all around them is rail clutter, to feed the power into the trains, and this clutter is built in a totally functional manner, to do that job, no matter what kind of a jungle of mess that results in.

Let’s see what the photo-archive tells me about how this obsession played out on my own most recent expedition to France.

Here are two rail clutter photos, both featuring one of those beautiful trains, and both taken at Quimper railway station:

imageimageimage

On the left, you can pretend that the rail clutter isn’t there, if you really want to.  But on the right, the photo is photoed in such a way that you really can’t do that.  Look at that clutter!  I lined it all up with itself, just like 6k did in his rail clutter photo.

Here are a couple more photos of Quimper, taken from the footbridge over the main railway line off to the west of the city, right near where my hosts live, and in particular of the twin towers of Quimper Cathedral.  These two photos point to that same rail clutter aesthetic contrast by shoving it next to a cathedral, instead of next to a train.  But it’s the same point.  The cathedral has been obsessed about aesthetically for centuries.  The rail clutter just looks how it looks and to hell with that.

imageimageimage

But for me, perhaps most interesting of all, here are a couple of photos which point to a closely related phenomenon, which is the matter of clutter actually on the top of the trains.  That’s right.  Trains also, themselves, have roof clutter on their roofs:

imageimageimage

I remember noticing this phenomenon, pretty much for the first time (as in really noticing it), when I took this little clutch of photos.  From that same footbridge in Quimper.

I have the feeling that British trains are not so roof cluttered.  Memo to self: look into that.  But that can wait.  There’s been more than enough cluttertalk for this posting.

Thursday July 19 2018

Here.

image

Basically it’s a drone that can twiddle two of its propellers.  A robotised, propeller version of a Harrier Jump Jet.

However, the notion that flying cars will reduce or avoid traffic congestion is absurd.  Once such contraptions are finally made to work, they will not reduce or avoid traffic congestion They will cause traffic congestion to take to the skies.  They will give a new dimension to what is now a merely two dimensional phenomenon, and not in a good way.

Enjoy these days of big, empty, blue skies, while you still can.

Wednesday July 18 2018

Here.  Video, lasting just over twenty minutes.  Just watched it.  Good.

Particularly interested by what he says about how, without cheap paper, the revolutionary changes ushered in by the printing press could not have happened.  Mass produced printed matarial printed on animal skins not economically doable.

Harford ends on what he thinks is a depressing note, about a woman who supplies the final bit of muscle to a huge warehouse system, by receiving verbal orders from an all-powerful robot, which she simply obeys, second by second.  Go here, get this, this number, take it here, ...

Well, it’s a job.

Personally, I think that having to think all the time about your work, when you are at work, is hugely overrated.  Whenever I have had a “job”, I liked it when my job was my job, but my thoughts were my own.  Best job?  Driving a van, delivering number plates.  Drove on autopilot most of the time.  Thought my own thoughts.  Didn’t “buy into the company vision”.  Not “committed”.  Wasn’t “invested” in the work.  Just did it, mostly without having to think about it.  Bliss.

Tuesday July 17 2018

Indeed:

image

That photo was taken (by me (near Westminster Abbey)) in July 2006.  You never see people clutching street maps like that now.  All such maps now are smartphone maps.

Thursday July 12 2018

Photoed by me last Monday, from the train on the way back from Denmark Hill (which is where I also photoed that helipad (better to scroll down to that)):

image

The train being the explanation for that reflection, on the right there.

At the time, of course, I was merely going for that rather splendid Big Thing Alignment, of The Shard with The City Big Thing Cluster.  And at the time, I was merely regretting that it probably wouldn’t come out quite as sharply as I’d have liked, and so it proved.

What I was not going for was a machine in a foreground with the words “REACH FOR THE SK...” on its arm.  Presumably reach for the SKY.  Which is, I think, rather suitable.

Shame I didn’t quite get all of that little slogan, but I got enough for the photo to be worth showing here.

Tuesday July 10 2018

This afternoon I went on a really good photo-expedition, to Denmark Hill, as it happens.

However, today’s overwhelming photoing sentiment, for me anyway, is, for now anyway, regret.  That I missed, until I heard about it about an hour or more too late, this, what would seem to have been one of the biggest flypasts that London has recently witnessed, and maybe ever will again.  Damn.

So, no photos today.

Not even this one.