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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

Saturday May 23 2015

Indeed:

image

No not taken by me. I wish.  The original and several others of the same guy that are equally fun, here.

I chose that one because, in addition to showing the artist and his murals, it also shows what a fight reinforced concrete puts up, when someone tries to destroy it.  (A point also made, with an illustration (yes taken by me) in this earlier posting.)

Friday May 22 2015

And this one has a camera!:

image

Drone details.

It’s like the internet can read my mind.

Am I happy about that?  Are you?

More to the point, what are the rules about flying one of these things around in London?

Wednesday May 20 2015

Another 20th of the month another evening at Christian Michel’s, and another walk from Earls Court tube to his place in the Cromwell Road.  It’s a quite short walk, but long enough for me to take photos.  Photography is light, and there was a lot of light, pouring down from the sun, uninterrupted by clouds:

image imageimage image

These snaps look pretty average in the above small size, but if you click on them, they get bigger and better.

The tree and its shadow I saw from within Earls Court tube, in a street not on the regular route, but I just had to immortalise it, and that got me looking for other things to photo.  I include the very thin buildings, top right, because I like such thin buildings of this sort.  I include the chimney with the satellite receivers, bottom right, because I especially like how light falls at an angle on bricks.  And I like the blue sky, bottom left, which illustrates that the way to persuade a digital camera to make a sky really blue is to stick a very brightly lit building next to it.  In the thin buildings picture there is quite a lot of darkness, which is why the sky came out not so blue.  Ditto the chimney, again rather dark.

See also, between me and the very blue sky, bottom left: wires!  But these are not the regular and invisible sort of street wires.  These are wires that you are supposed to see, because they were put there deliberately, to look good by lighting up in the dark.

A few months back my computer got a going over from The Guru, and I immediately started receiving more internet advertising than hitherto.  At first this continued because I merely didn’t know how to stop it.  But now, I find myself interested by this advertising.

I like old-school advertising, the sort that has no idea who you are or what you like, not even a bad idea.  I learn from old-school advertising how the world in general is feeling about things, which is interesting and amusing information.  (This is, for me, one of the pleasures of walking about in London.  (Soon this pleasure may also vanish, because of embedded spy cameras.  Soon, I may find myself looking at adverts for classical CDs and history books (and drones – see the rest of this), whenever I walk past a billboard).)

But I am now starting to enjoy new-school, internet advertising, where your most trifling internetted thought results in adverts appearing a little while later, for related (or so the internet thinks) products.  Sometimes, it’s just crass, like a salesman barging into a conversation at a party and changing it.  Fuck off jerk.  But I am starting to enjoy this sort of advertising, sometimes.

So, for instance, all my droning on here about drones - arf arf - has resulted in adverts for this miniature contraption appearing on my computer screen:

image

As you can see from this picture, this drone is very small.  It is also very cheap.  But does it have a camera on it?  Could you even attach a camera to it, or would that make it too heavy and crash it?

The last drone posting here was about a drone noticed by 6k that costs $529 dollars.  But the above drone costs a mere £13.78.  It is as cheap as that partly because you get it in the form of a kit rather than completed.  But there must surely be a factory in China where people are paid 10p a go to assemble such things.  I could surely buy a completed Eachine Q200 40g Carbon Fiber FPV Quadcopter Multicopter if I wanted to, rather than have to make do with an Eachine Q200 40g Carbon Fiber FPV Quadcopter Multicopter Frame Kit.

Kit or completely, I have no intention whatsoever of buying such a thing any time soon.

I can’t help thinking what gadgets like this, so small, so cheap, will do to photography, in a place like London.

A lot of what this blog is about is the texture of everyday life, and how that is changing.  (I mean things like down-market computer stuff and smartphones and CDs.  And advertising, see above.) Well, these drones are not yet a Big Thing about which old-school moany newspaper articles are being written about how the twentieth century was better, blah blah.  But, they soon will be.

If I ever do get a drone to take photos, you may be sure that I will make a point of photoing the other drones.  Although that’s assuming I’d be able to make something like a drone actually work, and I now assume the opposite.  Maybe I will compromise, and photo all the drones I see from the ground.  So far, I have only seen drones for real in shop windows.  But give it a couple of years …

And oh look, the mere fact of me working on this posting, embedding links into it, caused another advert to present itself to me (for this only slightly more expensive drone (and this one you don’t have to assemble yourself (it’s like it read my mind!))), when I switched to reading something Instapundit had linked to.  The advert has vanished now and been replaced by something for Walt Disney (?), but I screen-captured it before it went:

image

Adverts at blogs are a rich source of horizontality, I find.

Sunday May 17 2015

A while back, I showed you this photo, and mentioned how a sight like that often gets me going, photographically speaking.  That one certainly got me going that day.

Here is one of the more fun snaps I then took, of a hair drying machine that looks like an alien robot about to crush your head with a pair of cymbals, ...:

image

... or perhaps it is about to hug you.  You decide.

And here, taken only moments later, is a picture of a celebrity (the sort of celebrity that nobody has heard of) being papparized by a bunch of big-arse paps in big-arse trousers, outside what I assume is some kind of club, just off of Seven Dials.

image

When you get into that state of photographic ecstasy, that’s the kind of thing that seems to present itself to you.

Who knows?  Maybe the cymbal playing alien robot had just been drying Madam Celeb’s hair.  It does have some rather artful curls in it, that have the look of having been done to her, so to speak.

Nothing wrong with her arse.

Friday May 15 2015

Once again 6k provokes a BrianMicklethwaitDotCom posting, this time about a drone, and by the look of it maybe the best and cheapest drone yet.

The video at the other end of that link sells the drone as being fun for tourists.  But I now surmise that the first great impact of drones on economic life is now already happening, in agriculture, in the bit of it where a tiny number of people manage vast acreages of agricultural land, and where a tiny increase in productivity is worth millions.  These people already have an entire industry of small airplanes doing things like crop dusting, which is a very ungainly process but still already well worth doing.  Imagine the benefits of being able to do that and much more, at virtually zero cost.  You could plant the crop.  Spray the crop.  Keep and eye on the crop.  Only the actual digging up of the crop, or whatever it is you have to do to crops, would still involve a bit of old school work.

I just googled “drones in agriculture”, and then clicked on Images.  Wow.

Drones are a bit like 3-D printing, as a technology.  There is much talk of mere humans doing it for fun, in their homes (3-D printing) or while out and about having fun (drones) but the real impact of poth these technologies is in niche markets, where specialists are doing things that have long been done, but quicker, better, cheaper, and by-and-by doing things in their line of business that were never before doable.  Drones, for instance, will make a lot of land farmable that was not farmable before.

I have always believed that the core skill of my generation, watching television, would end up having huge economic impacts.

Tuesday May 12 2015

Photoed by me a few days ago, in the Houses of Parliament area:

image

Like so many photographers these days, this lady is using a smartphone, and like so many smartphone users, she has a smartphone in a pretty case.  I try to collect these, photographically I mean.

I like how I manoevred my way around this lady to make her face unrecognisable - at least, I hope, to a face recognition system.  And I like how she’s wearing a pair of spectacles, by which I mean two pairs of spectacles.  (A pair of pair of spectacles doesn’t sound right at all.)

But now, I want to ask about another pair that this lady is wearing.  What I want to know is, what are those rubbery things on her hands?  Are they something to stop her thumbs moving too much?  That there are an exactly matching pair of these devices says to me a condition, rather than a pair of coincidentally matching injuries.  But what might that condition be?  Something like arthritis?  Or am I way off with this guess?  Anyone?

I only saw these rather strange manual additions when I looked later at the picture.  As so often, my camera sees more than I do.

Monday May 11 2015

I wonder if me posting this will help:

image

And when I say “if me posting this will help”, what I mean is: if me posting this will help me.  To take an informed interest in all this stuff, and then to start doing it.

All this stuff being:

aperture, shutter speed and ISO ...

That being a link to the posting at Quotulatiousness, in the heading of which those words are to be found, and where I found the above graphic.  Mr Quotulatiousness found the graphic here.

I have tended to own cameras from which, had I understood all this stuff, I might have got the occasional much better result.  However, the only reasons I owned such clever cameras was that I wanted lots of zoom and a twiddly screen.  With all that, they have tended also to be very clever.  But I have treated all of them as brainless point-and-shoot cameras.  All my thinking has gone into the matter of what I have pointed at and shot at.

Goddaughter One once tried to give me a lesson in all this stuff.  Well, correction, she did give me a lesson in all this stuff.  But it didn’t stick, at all.  One of the categories below is one of my favourites: how the mind works.  But perhaps this posting would be better labelled as: how the mind doesn’t work.

Saturday May 09 2015

Spent day doing other things, so quota photo time, but from the archives:

image

Taken in June 2005.  I don’t understand mobile phones, but presumably things have changed since the above arrangements were advertised.

But how about that war that either Britain, or Europe, had with France?  I don’t remember that.  Seriously, I wonder what on earth that was about.

Tuesday May 05 2015

Shiny Thing in London, by Frank Stella Hon RA, one of the most important living American artists, near to where I live.  I go there.  I photo it.  I show you some photos.  I tell you what I think of the Shiny Thing.  (I like it.  If I didn’t like it I’d not be mentioning it.) So far so ordinary.

But for me this was not a regular photowalk.  The difference this time was that I had a friend with me while I did my snaps, and she was snapping also.  Just as I was about to depart from my home and do the checking out of the Shiny Thing on my own, the friend had rung up and we arranged to meet, near the Shiny Thing so that I could combine the two things, meeting the friend and then, as a separate operation, me checking out the Shiny Thing.  But while seeking somewhere to sit down and have a drink we went right past it, she saw it and liked the look of it, and we ended up photoing it together.

I was using my “camera”, and she was using her iPhone.  And of course I photoed her doing this:

imageimage

I have been out and about in London with this same friend quite a few times over the years, and I have usually been taking photos in among chatting.  But I don’t recall her even joining in with the photography so enthusiastically.  It was the Shiny Thing that did it.  And you can bet that her bests snaps were pretty soon if not instantly transmitted to others, long before I posted a couple of mine here.

There is a lot of this sort of opportunistic smartphone photography going on in the world, just now.  The key moment was when cameras in smartphones got good enough, which at first they weren’t.  But for a handful of years now, smartphone cameras have been more than adequate for shots like the ones my friend was taking, and of course smartphone cameras will, like my kind of cameras, keep getting better and better.  Soon, it just won’t make any sense to own a dedicated point-and-shot camera, if you also use a smartphone, because the camera on your smartphone will be plenty good enough for all but the fussiest of purposes.

Here is a piece by Michael Zhang, linked to a while back by Instapundit.  This tells the story in one graph, but presented in two different ways.

First, in this graph of camera sales from 1933 until 2013, we see the defeat of the old-school roll-of-film camera (the grey stuff) by digital cameras (in blue) like the ones I have owned over the last few years, and by DSLRs (green):

image

But now, take a look at what happens to this exact same graph when you include all the (yellow) smartphone activity, top right:

image

At the other end of the above link, they show the graph in all its endless-scroll-down vertical hugeness, huge enough to include all those smartphone cameras.  Above, here, is the exact same graph, but ruthlessly flattened, to enable you to see the entire picture in one go, with no scrolling up and down.

As you can see, the big - very big - story is the sheer quantity of half-decent smartphone cameras there now are in the world, in private personal hands, such as the hands of my friend.

This is a transformation that I have of course been registering, with all my photos of digital photographers, with an increasing proportion of them in recent years using smartphones.  See, for instance, this posting.  Quote:

And of course, there is that vast category that has hove into view in the last few years, of people taking photos with their mobile phones.  No less than seven of the above twelve snaps are of people doing this.  This was not a decision on my part, merely a consequence of me picking out nice photos of people taking photos.

For me, the most interesting titbit in the article with the graphs linked to above (and again), is this, right at the end:

… and 92% of smartphone users worldwide say that the camera is the most used feature on their phones.

That embedded link being to another piece, which elaborates on this point.  The other big use is, of course, texting.

The point being that all these smartphone cameras have not merely been sold to a billion plus people so that they can have them in their pockets.

Almost all of those cameras are being used, to take photos.

LATER:

We also used our phone cameras while we were away. Firstly, so that we could email the kids something each evening and secondly (and photography snobs may want to look away now) because you can actually grab a decent shot every now and again. Oh, and it enables you to do things like this while someone else is using the “real” camera.

... and to make mini-movies.

Monday May 04 2015

Part of getting old (new category here – I still have a lot of categorising to do so bear with me on that) is that you just forget to do things, even things that you like.  Thus, I have recently been forgetting to read Anton Howes.  Today I remembered, and started reading, in particular, this posting, which is most recent as of now.

Fun quote:

Uber isn’t a taxi company; it is a market. It provides a trust-based platform made up of assurances and ratings in order to let anyone ask “Can I have a ride? / Want a ride?” without sounding creepy.

Nicely put.

I will now read the whole thing.

Thursday April 30 2015

Another day another Dezeen posting, about some modernistical architecture, surrounded by The Wires:

image

But this time around, guess what.  Do I believe my eyes.  I must.  For what they are telling me is that, in among this posting’s accommpanying verbiage, is to be found … this:

The gridded monochrome glass facade that wraps around the upper levels was conceived as a contrast to the “chaotic” urban area and criss-crossing electrical wires that surround the site, and features one raised corner covered in dark-tinted glass.

Yes, those “criss-crossing electrical wires” are acknowledged to exist.  Amazing.

The Wires are mentioned, because the architects themselves mention them:

“The area where the building is set is highly chaotic in terms of architectural typologies, textures and colours, so it was therefore chosen to generate a building that would constitute itself as the order within the neighbourhood’s chaos,” explained the architects.

This is architect speak for:

We are going to build the exact same modernistical erection that we would have built had The Wires not been there.  Screw The Wires!  Yes, The Wires are there.  But we will build as if The Wires were not there.  The Wires have no power over us!  The Wires, we spit on you with our modernism!

That’s the spirit.  Unless it isn’t, and they actually only noticed The Wires after they had built the thing.

The point is, whether they see The Wires or they ignore The Wires, The Wires make no difference!

Sunday April 26 2015

Three exclamation marks in the title there, because this is the third time I’ve had cause to mention this strange habit, of writing about newly designed houses (in this case a newly adapted house) where there are lots of Wires in all the outside pictures, but The Wires never get a mention.

Here:

image

But at least, what with this house being yellow instead of white, we see an architect thinking in colour.  Soon, soon I tell you, the floodgates of architectural colour will open.

Wednesday April 22 2015

Another of those pictures from the archives that gets better with age.  Can you see why?

image

Well, let me tell you.  In the foreground (perhaps that should be “forewater") is the Thames Barrier, looking as it always did, and looking as it does now.  But right in the middle, in the distance there, between the two nearer buildings, is the Shard.  But not the Shard as we know it.  The Shard when it was big enough to be hugely impressive, but when it was still under construction.

Taken in January 2011.

Thursday April 16 2015

Around ten days ago, I took lots of rest (the medical term for sleeping) during the day, and then couldn’t sleep properly at night. Since then the lurgy has persisted and I haven’t really got back to sane hours.

In the meantime, what did not help - did not help at all - was the latest from Madame Harry Potter, who now, some of the time, goes by the name of Robert Galbraith.  I read the first Cormoran Strike tale when it came out, and a few days back I was awake all night reading number two.  It was daylight when I finished it.

One of the many things I like about Cormoran Strike is that he operates in London.  His lair is a flat on top of one of the shops in Denmark Street, which is London’s pop musical instrument street.

Here is a clutch of Denmark Street photos I took recently:

image image imageimage image image

Lots of amateurish reflections there, in among the occasional deliberate ones, but what the hell?  I am an amateur.  (Spot the selfie.)

That grey-blue front door (on the right of the picture bottom middle) is how I imagine/presume Strike’s front door to look.

Having kept up with all the Rebus books, I found it much more fun actually knowing a lot of the places haunted by The Detective.  And with this in mind, I have now started on this first crime novel by Tony Parsons.  All this searching has just told me that it is the first of three.  This is (these are) also set in London.  This morning I was reading about The Detective visiting something called Westminster Public Mortuary in Horseferry Road, which is a five minute walk away from where I live.  (The Tony Parsons detective is called DC “Max Wolfe”.  Why can’t fictional detectives ever be called something like Colin Snail or Brian Sludge or John Watson?)

“Robert Galbraith“‘s Cormoran Strike is a freelance, but Max Wolfe is regular police, so he often visits New Scotland Yard, which is not much further away from me than that Mortuary, another five minutes walk in the same direction.  Here is a photo I took of New Scotland Yard from the roof of my block, in 2006:

image

London possesses roof clutter arrays that are denser and more voluminous, but none that I know of is more elegant.