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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

Friday April 18 2014

So I was in Lower Marsh this afternoon, where I photographed this:

image

Odd.  Why are most of them red, but two of them blue?  And why are the three to the top right seemingly not properly aligned?

At first I thought I was looking at a flock of birdcages. But following closer inspection, of the things themselves and of the photos I took of them, my bet now would be that these are light sockets, and that they will very soon be covered by a giant illuminated arrow, pointing towards the entrance to a new cafe.  But this is only a guess.

I know that you are all now very excited about this.  So, I will be sure to keep you informed, with further photos and reportage.

Wednesday April 16 2014

The pictures below were taken on April 16th 2004, in (on?) one of my regular snapping zones, Westminster Bridge, from which, then as now, you get great views of both Parliament and the Wheel, depending on which way you look.

Most of the things I was photoing then haven’t changed that much, but … I was just then starting to realise that my fellow digital photographers were an object worthy of my detailed and prolonged attention, which they have been ever since.  That summer of 2004 was the moment when I first got seriously stuck into this category of photo.  There are still lots of pictures of people just wandering around, being people.  But, the photographers were just tarting to figure strongly in the archives.  It took me a while to realise that the cameras mattered at least as much as the people using them, that aspect getting steadily easier as zoom got zoomier.

The privacy concerns associated with just shoving recognisable pictures of strangers up on the internet have only grown since then, but I reckon that pictures this old are not such a problem in that way.  Recognisable pictures taken yesterday, that I tend not to do these days, or not so much.  But pictures of people taken a decade ago, well, I’m more relaxed about that.

The little squares zoom in on the cameras.  Click and get the original pictures as taken that afternoon, which would appear to have been exactly as sunny as today is.

Enjoy:

image image imageimage image imageimage image image

Mostly silver rather than black, mostly much bulkier than the equivalent cameras look now.  But of course there is one exception to all that.  Picture 3.1 shows a kind of camera that looked then pretty much exactly as it looks now.  Black.  Shaped like an old school camera.  These are the cameras that are actually just regular quite good digital cameras, but which enable you think of yourself as the beginnings of a Real Photographer.  My kind of camera, in other words.  Cameras in this category look now exactly as they looked then.  Nothing has changed with those.

Except what they can do.

Sunday April 13 2014

Literally about three people whom I spoke with at LLFF14 may now or soon be flooding in to BrianMicklethwait.com, expecting, perhaps, libertarian profundities.  But this is not that sort of place, is it?  No it is not.

Here, I do things like display photos of London, like this:

image image

On the left, a shot taken by me on May 19th 2004, showing how Vauxhall bus station looked when it was under construction.  On the right, how the same building looked when completed, photoed by me last Christmas Eve.

What a very odd object this is.

The 2004 photo was taken with my second digital camera, which was a Canon PowerShot A70.

Saturday April 12 2014

Back quite late from LLFF14, and too tired to say much about that now, other than that I am enjoying it very much.  So here instead is a blatant quota photo of some painted people I snapped, down by the riverside, from Westminster Bridge, last Thursday, late afternoon:

image

It’s a tough life, having a painted face for a living.  She’s saying: I’ll be home soon.

I thought about cropping this snap, but if in doubt, not, is my inclination on that.

Thursday April 10 2014

In this:

image

Well, it won’t have taken you long.  But even so, impressive, I think.

The photograph is one of these.

I seem to recall that, in Total Recall (I wish), people’s homes were decorated not with static pictures, but with images that constantly changed.  We are definitely heading that way.

My computer screen now was amazingly cheap, and is by some distance the best one I’ve ever had, a trend that doesn’t look like stopping at all.  Michael J, I know, has two screens attached to his computer, rather than just the one like me.  That too is, I should imagine, a growing trend.  I might do that myself one day soon, if I ever get round to that remodel of my desk that I keep promising myself.  (At present it’s a total shambles, having been designed for one of those horrible pregnant out the back TV sets, and what is worse, one that I hated and immediately swapped for a better pregnant out the back TV, now long gone, of course.)

So, how long before the typical householder connects his computer to about a dozen different screens, scattered around his home.  I’ll never do this, because I have books.  Remember those.  Actually that isn’t very funny, because of course books still abound.  This is because, as Alex Singleton was saying to me only yesterday, the business of reading books off of electronic screens has yet to be perfected.  A few years back, screens to read books with were excellent, because they were built for that and nothing else.  But the arrival of the smartphone, tablet, phablet, thingy has actually caused book reading on the move to get worse, because there’s a trade-off now being made between reading perfectly, and thingy screen perfection.  What you want is a button on all those thingies, to switch to a perfect reading screen when you need that.

These thingies have got to the stage of being essential, but to put it mildly, they are not yet perfect.

An interesting moment will happen when screens are pretty much flawless at doing reproductions of great paintings.

Or to put all this another way, when people look back on our time, they’ll not be impressed with our screens, any more than I am impressed by the screens we had thirty years ago.

And with pictures of the quality of the one above, or of all the others in the set I found it in, being so abundantly available on the www, there’ll never be any shortage of stuff to show on all our screens.  And that’s not even to mention the ones we take ourselves.

Saturday March 29 2014

Interesting.  I just looked at a particular classical CD on amazon.co.uk, and it told me I’d already ordered it, last October.  As it happens, I knew this.  I was just looking to see what had been happening to the price of the CD in question.  But I am impressed that they reminded me.

In general, Amazon has a clunky, even twentieth century feel to it.  Which for a clunky twentieth century guy is very reassuring.

The automatic delivery to my computer of audio files of CDs I have already ordered in plastic form is very cunning.  It all arrives on my computer automatically, and arranges itself on something called my Cloud Player.  It is now late at night, and although the speakers on my computer are nothing like as good as my real speakers on my real CD player, they are nearer and can thus be quieter.  I’m playing one of these audio files now, which is one I have ordered in plasticated form but which has not yet arrived.  This way, I can play it as soon as I pay for it, just as if I was living in the twenty first century!

And I’ve got to admit that there is something rather agreeable about not having to get out of my chair to hear music.

Monday March 24 2014

Indeed:

image

But for where?  Would you believe, Iraq?  No?

Yes.

Built in China, apparently.

Saturday March 22 2014

As anyone who noticed the sudden piling up of moronic spam comments here may have suspected, I had an internet disconnect crisis last night, and it was still in effect this morning.  I fiddled about with wires, last night and again this morning, because the last time it happened this is what solved it.  I did lots of rebooting last night to no avail, so didn’t bother to do this again this morning.  Instead I rang The Guru.

It was amazing how much The Guru was this morning able to learn about the problem, by which I mean to learn what the problem was not, just by unleashing his remote control Superpowers.  He then suggested another rebooting, and I did this, just to humour him, and back it all came.  But why?  What was I doing right, all of a sudden?  Very troubling.

It’s like that pivotal moment in movie history when Harrison Ford, in one of the first and good trio of Star Wars movies, got a bit of electrical kit in his spaceship to work properly by smacking it.

Thursday March 20 2014

Yes, here is another strange science-fictional artificial landscape, photographed by me a few days ago, to set beside this strange artificial landscape, photoed by me last August:

image

Both these images were contrived in the same way with the same raw material.  But what is the raw material and what did I do with it?

Tuesday March 11 2014

Earlier this evening Detlev Schlichter spoke to the Libertarian Alliance (London Tendency), on the subject of Ludwig Von Mises and his claim that economics is a body of knowledge based upon “A Priori” knowledge.

I attended and took photos:

image imageimage image

As you can see I was sitting just behind the video camera, and had fun lining this up with the object of its attentions.

The talk was good, as you will be able to hear when the video is up and viewable.

While sorting out the link to Libertarian Alliance (London Tendency) I discovered that Sean Gabb, leader of the Libertarian Alliance (South Coast Tendency), has recently given a couple of talks to the Libertarian Alliance (London Tendency).  I did not know this.  Interesting.

Friday March 07 2014

Incoming from 6000, aware of my Feline Friday habit, about a 16th century plan to use cats and doves as weapons of war:

image

Asking for trouble, I’d say.

Thus encouraged on the cat front, I went looking for other weird stuff, in the cat category.

I found this, which is a camera decorated with a logo that is part Hello Kitty and part Playboy Bunny.  Weird:

image

I guess the Kitty is wearing those big pretend rabbit ears.

And weirdest of all, beauty bloggers are decorating cat claws:

image

It seems that doing crazy things with cats is a permanent part of the human condition.  Although to be fair, the excuse for the pink claws above is that they stop your cat from scratching the furniture.  And I suppose making them brightly coloured means you can see at once if the cat is wearing them, or has managed to get rid of some of them.

In the latest manifestation of the original Friday ephemera, there are no cats.  Not this time.  But 6000 included the weaponised cat notion in an ephemeral collection of his own.  His final ephemeron was an octopus photo.  That also just about qualifies as feline, if you focus on the final three letters.

From towards the end of this by Stephen Green:

Apple is one of the biggest users of batteries on the planet. Every iPhone, every iPad, every MacBook runs on battery power. Apple devices also tend to get the best battery bang for the size, compared to the competition. This is a company which understands better than probably any other on the planet how to make devices which conserve power while still producing best-in-class performance. If Apple wants to continue to improve, they should absolutely pursue every kind of energy source Cook believes might produce future improvement for Apple’s devices and for its customers. Will there be blind alleys and dead ends? Sure.

The Apple Newton was a dead-end device, but creating that product also resulted in the super-low-power ARM chips which run damn near every decent mobile device on the planet.

Interesting.  I don’t know what an ARM chip is, but that sounds reasonable.  I’m guessing the Apple Newton was one of those ideas where a whole lot of new things all had to work at once, and only some of them, like those ARM chips, did.

I once bought an Apple keyboard, but apart from that I can’t remember buying any Apple stuff.  But, I am acutely aware of how much I have benefited from their activities, which caused everyone to do far better than they would have done otherwise.

Thursday March 06 2014

I heard about this from two married friends who are expecting, and today I read about it in that book about 3D printing that I already quoted a bit from a few days ago:

… Yet for me, the most memorable 3D printing innovation of the last year or so was the launch of a $1,200 service called ‘Form of Angels’ from the Japanese pioneer Fasotec.  Here an MRI scan is taken of a pregnant woman, and then used to produce a 3D printed model of her unborn baby. The plastic foetus can even be supplied embedded in a resin model of its mother’s midriff for presentation on the expectant parent’s mantelpiece.

Pictures of what that looks like here, among (as you can imagine) many other places.

Monday March 03 2014

imageYesterday I did something that is often rather hard.  I photographed some wind.  Any idiot who can video (a category of idiot that does not really include me – although I hope to be changing that Real Soon Now) can video wind.  You video trees swaying.  Roof clutter swaying.  Things being blown around.  Whatever.  But how do you photo the wind?  Answer you photo its static dislocative (my word processor says that isn’t a word – it is now) effects.  But these effects are rather rare.  What you need is something like sails on boats, or some kind of urban substitute for sails on boats.  Yesterday, when on my way to Victoria Station, I encountered just such a substitute.

Once again (see this), I like the colour.  And once again, I note Mick Hartley’s fondness for colour.  For me, here, it is blue.  For him, most recently, it was yellow.

Did you detect a whiff of verbosity in the first paragraph above?  If so you would, I think, be right.  This is because I was writing verbiage to go next to a big vertical picture, verbiage that needs to be enough to prevent the picture impinging upon the previous posting.

The first two paragraphs of the above verbiage did not suffice to accomplish this task.  Hence these final five paragraphs.

And hence the fact that they are five paragraphs rather than one.

I was just making sure.

I can’t tell until I post it, whether this problem has been sorted, so I am now over-reacting.

Sunday March 02 2014

From the Preface of Christopher Barnatt’s 3D Printing: The Next Industrial Revolution:

Within a decade or so, it is likely that a fair proportion of our new possessions will be printed on demand in a local factory, in a retail outlet, or on a personal 3D printer in our own home. Some objects may also be stored and transported in a digital format, before being retrieved from the Internet just as music, video and apps are downloaded today. While the required technology to allow this to happen is still in its infancy, 3D printing is developing very rapidly indeed. Some people may tell you that 3D printing is currently being overhyped and will have little impact on industrial practices and our personal lives. Yet these are the same kinds of individuals who once told us that the Internet was no more than a flash in the pan, that online shopping would have no impact on traditional retail, and that very few people would ever carry a phone in their pocket.

In 1939 the first TV sets to go on sale in the United States were showcased at the World Fair in New York. These early TVs cost between $200 and $600 (or about the same as an automobile), and had rather fuzzy, five inch, black-and-white screens. Most of those who attended the World Fair subsequently dismissed television as a fad that would never catch on. After all, how many people could reasonably be expected to spend a large proportion of their time staring at a tiny, flickering image?

The mistake made by those who dismissed television in 1939 was to judge a revolutionary technology on the basis of its earliest manifestation. Around 7S years later, those who claim 3D printing to be no more than hype are, I think, in danger of making exactly the same error.

I’m guessing that what I saw in Currys PC World, Tottenham Court Road, was the 3D Printer equivalent of those “rather fuzzy, five inch, black-and-white screens”, at the New York World Fair, the first stumbling steps.

I haven’t read much of this book yet, but I have already learned one excellent application of 3D printing, which is to print not the Thing itself, but the mold for making the Thing.  You then make the Thing itself in the regular old way.  Clever.

LATER: Here is Barnatt’s description of that last thing (p. 9):

A particularly promising application of 3D printing is in the direct production of molds, or else of master ‘patterns’ from which final molds can be taken. For example, as we shall see in the next chapter, ‘3D sand casting’ is increasingly being used to print molds into which molten metals are then directly poured to create final components. As explained by ExOne - a pioneer in the manufacture of 3D printers for this purpose - by 3D printing sand casting molds, total production time can be reduced by 70 per cent, with a greater accuracy achieved and more intricate molds created. In fact, using 3D sand casting, single part molds can be formed that would be impossible to make by packing sand around a pattern object that would then need to be removed before the mold was filled with molten metal.

Like I say, clever.

My scanner turned “molds” into “maids” throughout that piece of scanning.  Not clever.