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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 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:

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

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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)):

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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.

Wednesday July 04 2018

Last night, England scraped into the last eight of the World Cup, beating Colombia in a penalty shoot-out.

Here’s a photo of England captain Harry Kane, celebrating the way people do these days:

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The work of the PA’s Owen Humphreys, the last of this collection.

Tuesday June 26 2018

It is called, at any rate by the people who built it, The Peak.  What it is called by others, in the event that they notice it at all, I don’t know.  But it’s more likely to be something along the lines of “that peculiar and asymmetrical lump outside Victoria Station with the big curved metal roof on it, that looks like it was stuck on the top during a refurbishment of some ugly old block built in the sixties or seventies”.

Today, personal business took me to Victoria Station, but before descending from the main concourse of the station into the Underground, and encouraged by the spactacular not-a-cloud-in-the-sky weather, I took a look around outside.

And saw this:

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That being the top of “The Peak”, and on top of that top, the rather splendid window cleaning crane that periodically emerges from that bizarre roof.  I love these cranes, especially when they have odd hats on the way that one has, to make them merge right back into their roofs, when they resume their hibernation.

But today, that peculiar curvey metal bit that sticks out on the left, as we look, was also looking wonderful.

Although almost any building looks good on a day like today was, that particular combination of sights particularly appealed to me, and made me particularly pleased that I had interrupted my journey.

Saturday June 23 2018

Yesterday I walked, in bright sunshine, along Victoria Street to Parliament Square, and then across along the river, ending up at the top of the Tate Modern Extension.  In total, I took one thousand four hundred and seventy two photos, most of them at the top of the Tate Modern Extension, and most of those of my fellow digital photoers.

But here is just one of the photos I took yesterday, not of another photoer, and not anywhere near to Tate Modern:

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That’s the statue of Oliver Cromwell, outside the Houses of Parliament.  Read more about it here.

Usually, the background behind this photo is complicated Parliementary architecture.  But just now, work is being done on this architecture, so Cromwell’s background is unusually plain and unfussy, like Cromwell himself, I believe.

I like temporary stuff.  And a nice variation on temporiness is when the temporiness is in the background behind something permanent, like a statue outside Parliament.

Thursday June 21 2018

Here is a recent Scott Adams Dilbert cartoon, although Dilbert himself is not involved in this particular one:

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I’ve always thought that one of the many things that won the Cold War for Civilisation and doomed Bolshevik Barbarism to defeat was stealth stuff.  By its nature, stealth stuff is undetectable, and the better it is, the more impossibly undetectable it is.  So, if you cannot detect it at all, it could still be there, and really really good at being stealthy.  Hell, it could be anywhere.  It could be right outside the Politburo’s front window.

Of course, it probably isn’t this clever.  But, how would you be sure?

This was why, when the Americans had got these contraptions working reasonably well, they revealed their existence.  They took lots of spooky photos of these spooky things, and made sure the whole world could see them.  Where, at any particular moment, they were, for you to photo, they did not reveal.

How can you defeat an enemy like that?

Same with Star Wars.  Shooting down all incoming nuclear missiles with all-powerful death rays.  Bollocks, right?  But, again, how could you be sure.

Tuesday June 12 2018

I love to photo the huge white, often plasticky, sheeting that they now seem always to cover scaffolding with.  You get delightful shapes and patterns, due to the way that this covering sort of shrink wraps itself around the scaffolding, either because it does actually shrink, or because it is stretched when attached, or because of the wind blowing it around, in or out.

Thus:

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When the sun shines through behind, you also get scaffolding shadows.

Thus:

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I make a point of photoing scaffolding and its covering whenever the sun is being directly reflected of it towards me, very brightly, as is happening in the above photo top right.  So I zoom in on such a spot.  When I do that, the automatic light reaction of my camera darkens everything, including even the sky, overdoing things absurdly, and creates a whole different effect, nothing like what I am seeing.  (Photography is light.)

Thus:

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Plus, there is the added bonus that soon, all this will be gone, and instead there will be a building.  This building will almost certainly be far duller than it looked while it was being constructed.

This particular building is just outside the 2 Chairmen pub, where I did my talk last night, and before which I took these photos,all within a few seconds of each other.

A BIT LATER:  I just posted the above.  Until I did, I was worried that these are stupid photos, not worth anyone else’s attention.  But as soon as I stuck them up, and looked at them, in their blogged setting, so to speak, they looked to me very good.

Monday June 11 2018

The talk in question being this.  I show this photo of my notes here more to remind me to keep thinking about this stuff, than to tell you what I was talking about.  For that, maybe better wait for the video.

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I spent most of my spare time today working on that, even though it may not look like it.  In the end I had far too much I wanted to say, but I did manage to blurt out a decent proportion of it.  The thing to remember in such circumstances is that they don’t know what you forgot to say.  They only know what you did say.  If that was okay, then it was okay.

There is one big misprint, towards the end.  Where it says “Era 2 effects”, twice over, the second “Era 2” should be “Era 1”.  This did not throw me.  I only just noticed it.

Saturday June 09 2018

Yes, in Piccadilly Circus, photoed at the same time as those hair-patting ladies.  And this time, you know, just photoers, just photoing photos.

What strikes me is what a good camera I now have.  The light was not good.  I was there to meet up with someone, not to make the best of some sunny weather, because there was no sunny weather to be made the best of.  In the bad old days, when their were two zeroes in the years, most of these photos would have been an unsightly blur.  But now, the only thing I worry about is if there are recognisable faces on show:

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Once again, I made the selection of what to show here entirely by me liking the photo and you not seeing recognisable faces.  No thought was given to what sort of cameras were being used.  Which means that what cameras were actually being used becomes interesting and informative, like a small scientific experiment.

Once again, we observe the rise and rise of the smartphone as the preferred way for regular people to photo.  There are some Real Photographer cameras to be seen here.  And I think there always will be, because there will always be photoers for whom the best possible photos are the thing they want, and the best that a big old clunky machine can do will always be better that what a smartphone can do.

But, thinking about that some more, is that right?  Will there actually soon come a time when all photoing is done by little things the size of a biscuit?

And will there then be a Great Grumble from all the Real Photographers – a category which is maybe starting to include me - similar to the one when digital cameras first got going?

Friday June 08 2018

Following on from that earlier very vertical dragon photo, here’s some horizontality:

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Original photo, with explanation, here.

My thoughts and feelings towards these ladies can be summed up with the phrase unconditional positive regard.

Monday June 04 2018

imageI find signs to be an endless source of fun and revelation, and I frequently photo them.  So I was much entertained by this New York Times story, about a sign that went wandering.  Across the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane Sandy grabbed this sign from the town of Brielle, on the eastern coast of the USA, in October 2012.  But, on or around May 14th 2018:

A man walking along the Plage du Pin Sec, near Bordeaux, spotted it. The faded sign was missing a chunk, but he could still read the legend “Diane Turton Realtors 732-292-1400.”

“It was curious,” the man, Hannes Frank, 64, a semiretired software consultant who lives in Brussels, said by phone on Thursday. “I looked at it and found it quaint.”

And he got in touch with the enterprise advertised on the sign.  By their nature, signs can be very informative.

The NYT says that its preferred expert on flotsametrics reckons that, given how long this sign took to make its way to France, it may well have crossed the Atlantic not once, but three times.

Flotsametrics is the study of things that float.  Now that the Lefties – like the Lefties who own, run and write for the NYT - are giving up on the claim that capitalism is ruining the planet by ruining the weather, they are back to bitching about how capitalism squirts out lots of rubbish, and they have become particular obsessed with rubbish that hangs about in the sea, especially if it floats.  So this story is actually part of The Narrative, even though it is presumably also a genuine and a genuinely good story.

Once the capitalists work out how to transform all the world’s rubbish into – oh, I don’t know – something like gunk for 3D printers to turn into replacement body parts, the lefties will have to think of some other insult to throw at capitalism.  But for now, this rubbish thing is getting back to being their biggest complaint.  Again.

But just clearing the rubbish up is no good.  Oh no.  The rubbish must be stopped at source by stamping out capitalism, starting with plastic drinking straws.  The actual source of this oceanic rubbish is mostly rivers in poor countries.  But that’s a mere fact.  The Narrative is what matters.

This has been a spontaneous rant, which is why I am keeping it here, rather than switching it to there.