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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: Design

Sunday December 17 2017

This Is Why I’m Broke has recently featured a couple of new travelling things to stand on.  There was the Exodeck Off-Road Skateboard:

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And there were these Chariot Skates:

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I realise that the Exodeck Off-Road Skateboard supposedly doesn’t need any sort of artificial surface to travel on.  But, I bet a flat surface is easier.  And of course a flat surface is very necessary indeed for the Chariot Skates.

And, it just so happens, there is an absolute mania for new flat surfaces sweeping across the world, in the guise of dedicated cycle tracks and newly expanded pedestrian areas.  The war against the automobile continues apace, and the result will be not mere walking or cycling, but lots of new kinds of mobility, like the two pictured above.

Whenever I encounter devices of this sort in London, which I do more and more often, I try to photo them.  Not always very successfully, to put it mildly.  Often they’re gone before I’ve even put down my shopping, but sometimes: not.  Sadly, a quick search for such a photo yielded nothing, but next time I bump into one in my archives, I’ll do another posting on this subject.

Sunday December 10 2017

There are two places in London where I regularly encounter antique cars, in other words the sort of cars that were new at the time when I was a new human being.  One of these places is Lower Marsh, where there are regular convocations of such cars, which I have regularly bumped into when shopping at Gramex for second hand CDs, which was until very recently in Lower Marsh.

And the other place where antique cars can often been seen is outside the Regency Cafe, which is about two minutes walk away from where I live.  Antique cars congregate there in order to contribute to television shows or films set in olden times, the self-consciously dated Regency Cafe being a regular location for such dramas.

I recall being rather surprised to encounter these two ancient Austins were doing, even nearer to where I live than the Regency Cafe, in the summer of 2013.  What are they do?  Answer: they had been or about to be performing outside the Regency Cafe.  Enjoy:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

I am meeting someone tomorrow morning at the Regency Cafe.  I haven’t actually used this place very often, other than to photo old cars and showbiz activity outside it, but I think I will eat in it rather more in the future.

Friday December 08 2017

My journey to St Albans yesterday began rather inauspiciously.  I was changing at St Pancras International, and I had hoped that I might get the chance to view the International bit, with its wide open spaces, Eurostar trains and its mighty roof.  But all I did was follow the signs to “Platform B”, and that weary plod might has well have been at Green Park or Oxford Circus, for all the wide-open-spaced drama there was to be seen.  And then when I was on the train, the scene outside was grim, grey and wet.

But then, I noticed the seats.  The surprising thing about these was that instead of resting on the floor of the carriage, they were attached to the walls of the carriage, leaving the floor entirely unencumbered.  They hovered over that floor with very little visible means of support:

image

Here are two closer-ups, showing the diagonal compression member that was doing all the worke:

imageimageimage

It looked crazy, but it felt as solid as a rock.  Solider in fact, when you consider the state of a lot of rocks you encounter on your travels.

What I think I see here is not so much a design for a railway carriage, as a design of a system for making railway carriages, just the way you want them.  And for changing them, if you suddenly decide you want them to be different.  If you wanted to redo the seating on these carriages, all you would do is undo the linear compartment at the point where the wall of the carriage nears the floor of the carriage, and make whatever changes you want.  Different seats, differently spaced, whatever.  The floor is untouched.  If you want to change the surface of the floor, easy.  When it comes to cleaning the floor, also easy.

I have a nostalgic fondness for the railway carriages of my youth, with their absurdly thick, manually operated doors, that you had to slam shut, and which all had to be shut before the train could depart.  But whereas I genuinely like old cars, I cannot really mourn those old carriages.  These new ones are just so much better.  For starters, they are wider on the inside by about two feet, because the walls are so much thinner and because these walls curve outwards.

I also like how the latest carriages join together in a way that allows people to walk continuously through, thereby easing congestion at busy times.  Here’s a rather good photo from Wikipedia which shows that.  According to Wikipedia there have been complaints about there being too little leg room between the seats, and no miniature fold-down tables.

They have their reasons for imposing such discomforts.  Basically, they want to enable the maximum number of commuters to be able to travel in okay comfort, rather than allow a lesser number of commuters to travel in greater comfort.  Which makes sense.

My point is different.  My point is that if it is later decided, perhaps in response to such grumbles, to switch to having slightly more generously spaced seats, with little fold-down tables, this would be a relatively easy operation to unleash.  Newly introduced carriages could be differently configured with great ease, without needing a totally new design.

There is much to complain about in the modern world, but stuff like this just gets cleverer and cleverer.

Saturday December 02 2017

Indeed.  I was going through the I Just Like It file, and came across two, independently selected, which make a nice pair.

First, taken in November 2012, the Walkie-Talkie while still under construction, viewed from the top of the Monument:

image

And second, taken in January 2016, the Monument now just about visible in the scrimmage of smaller London

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The Walkie-Talkie looks very big from the top of the Monument.

The Monument looks very small from the top of the Walkie-Talkie.

And while we’re about it, here is another photo that links these two buildings.  Taken on that same day in November 2012, back on the ground, with a little sign on the right there, saying “Pudding Lane”. 

image

The Monument remembers those who died in the Great Fire of London of 1666.  Pudding Lane, or so I was always told, was where that fire started.

Also, three days after taking that photo of the Monument from above, above, I took this photo of the Monument from below, along with another sign, this time a temporary sign telling me how to get to the Monument:

image

The way to get to the Monument was not, it would seem, the obvious way to get to the Monument.

Friday December 01 2017

Last Saturday, a friend invited me to share some gin at The Star.  We also each had a pie, with red wine in it.  Delicious.

The Star is quite near to the junction of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, and has a great slab of Crossrail turmoil right slap against it, which has turned the formerly busy Great Chappell Street into a poky little footway, and has for a year or three now destroyed all possibility of passing trade to The Star.  So, The Star has switched to invites and events.  It hasn’t now even got a sign on over its front door.  Where there once was and still ought to be a sign, there is, for the time being anyway, only blank blackness:

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But inside, things liven up considerably, in particular with an enjoyably ironic display of antique signage:

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This next one, also visible above in the general display, being a particular collector’s item, which explains why I waited until today (Friday is Cats and Other Creatures Day here at BMdotcom) before displaying it here:

image

That wouldn’t be allowed now, any more than all the tobacco adverts would be.

imageAnd since this is a Cats and Other Creatures Day, there on the right is an advert for another product from the same enterprise.  If the product had been made of budgies and canaries, I’m sure the pussies would have loved it.

We got there on the dot at 1pm, opening time, and were the first there, hence those empty tables to be seen above.  But the place was soon buzzing with happy gin drinkers.

An earlier posting, featuring a photo I took just before I got to The Star, was also naughty, in a different way.  It’s interesting what naughtiness is now and is not now allowed.

Saturday November 25 2017

Indeed:

image

Photoed by me in Oxford Street this afternoon,

Like I said: perfunctory.

Friday November 24 2017

Yesterday I showed a photo that I actually took yesterday, rather than last year or last decade.  And today I’m doing the same.  I’m showing you another photo that I took yesterday:

image

That’s the inside of the domed roof in the middle of Leadenhall Market in the City of London.  This is another of those photos which is a lot easier to take if you have a twiddly screen, such as I always now have.

Here is the next photo I took, to show you which place I mean:

image

To me, one of the odder things about Leadenhall Market is that all the enterprises plying their trade in it would seem to be obliged by the house rules to proclaim their names in the exact same style and size of lettering.  This is not what you get in most shopping centres, which is what this place basically is.  But, fair enough: their gaff, their rules.  And although in one sense this is uniformity gone a bit mad, in another sense it is variety, because this is not something you see very often.

It is clearly a recent thing, and Wikipedia confirms this:

Between 1990 and 1991 the market received a dramatic redecoration which transformed its appearance, enhancing its architectural character and detail. The redecoration scheme received a special mention in the Civic Trust Awards in 1994.

Ah yes.  Commercial, you understand, but not too commercial.  The subtle business of not being too businesslike.

I passed through this place on my way to Monument tube, having been wandering towards the City and its Big Things from the Bethnal Green area, enjoying the last daylight of a very fine yesterday.  Of which maybe more here later, and of which maybe not more here later.  (This blog is also not very businesslike.)

Friday November 03 2017

In my recent rootlings about in This is why I’m broke I came across two dog related devices that seemed rather impressive, in the usual punitive and exploitative (respectively) ways that dog related devices so often are.

First, there was this rather sneaky Tug Preventing Dog Trainer:

Train your dog to stop pulling on the leash when you walk with this tug preventing dog trainer. Every time old Sparky pulls on the leash, this clever device will emit a harmless ultrasonic tone that only he can hear, encouraging him to stop pulling and tugging.

Engouraging.  That’s one way of putting it I suppose.

But this does confirm that dogs respond to instantaneous punishments for defying your will.  They respond in particular by not doing whatever it is, and in general by regarding you as their dog superior.  Once subjugated, their deepest pleasure is in serving you.

Serving you, for instance, by supplying power for your Dog Powered Scooter:

Harness your dog’s endless energy to travel around with the dog powered scooter. This revolutionary form of transportation safely allows you and your canine to move in the same direction – giving you and your dog a fun outlet to get some healthy exercise.

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Well, dogs seem always to hanker after more exercise than most of their human masters ever seem to desire.  This contraption solves that problem very nicely.

Friday October 27 2017

One of the depressing things about the Internet is that excellent places, because not quite excellent enough, or because for a few months they don’t feel quite excellent enough, fall off your radar.  Well, maybe not yours, but mine.

So it has been, for me, from a time way back when to about the day before yesterday, with the excellent and constantly updated site which relentlessly explains that This Is Why I’m Broke, this being a succession of things.  Rather expensive and somewhat esoteric things, of the sort which someone, maybe you, is going to like a lot.

Things like this:

image

I have recently acquired a new Cleaning Lady, and her partner happens to like hippos a lot.  This is just the kind of thing that he would love.  And for a mere £82, 555 it could be his.

It wouldn’t suit me.  Quite aside from the thermo-nuclear expense, when I purchase seating I need it to seat the maximum number of people in comfort that it can, in the space that it occupies.  This is for my meetings, of which there was another this evening.  This hippo sofa is altogether too much hippo and not nearly enough sofa, for my purposes.

And I’m guessing that even Cleaning Lady’s Partner would hesitate at the price, and be told by Cleaning Lady that it would occupy too much space.  They being a couple who think that emptiness is a desirable quality in living space.  (I like emptiness, but like even more having somewhere to put all my books and CDs and home-recorded DVDs.)

I must have been quite a blow for Cleaning Lady’s Partner when (a) he first set eyes on the above hippo sofa (he will definitely have set eyes on it, because his hippo radar is state-of-the-art) but then (b) having, reluctantly, to decide that, hugely appealing though it obviously is, he could not, in all conscience, purchase it.

But the good news is that I recently encountered, in a local charity shop, and immediately did purchase, the hippo shown below:

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You couldn’t sit on this hippo, and frankly, it looks considerably less like a hippo than the hippo sofa does, despite its sofa.  But it is a lot smaller and it was a lot less expensive than the hippo sofa.

Following the meeting, Cleaning Lady seems to have departed with the hippo, or I hope she did because I cannot now find it.  Hope Partner likes it.

I love digital photoing.  For many reasons, only one of which is that when you give someone an amusing present, you can photo it before handing it over, and carry on enjoying it in a convenient, digital form.  I took many more photos of the hippo than just that one, but I am now in a hurry to finish this, so one photo will have to do.

Tuesday October 17 2017

I love cranes, especially those big tower cranes they use to build Big Things.  So tall. But so thin.  But they do trouble me.  How do they stay up?  Why don’t they ever fall over?  Well, they do, sometimes.  But mostly they don’t.

And, as I couldn’t help noticing when I was out and about last Sunday, these tower cranes often lean over, in a way that looks like it is asking for headline-making trouble.

Consider one of these cranes, the one on the right, that’s leaning over, about four degree off of the vertical.  How does that not fall over?  (Thank you vertical lamp post for telling us what vertical is.)

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Well, I’m guessing these people know what they’re doing.  No, scrub that, I’d be amazed if they didn’t know what they’re doing.  This kind of thing just has to be business as usual, no matter how crazy it may look to mere passers-by.  As I discovered when I went looking for other leaning cranes in my photo-archives, and I found one that I had photoed just an hour earlier, on the same walkabout:

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I think we may assume that the BT Tower is the very definition of vertical.

In each case, the crane is bent backwards by the big concrete blocks that compensate them for the lifting job they do with the other end of their tops.  But when no lifting is happening, the compensating weight has no weight to compensate … it.  And the result can look very scary.

No London cranes have been reported collapsing during the last few days.  So, like I say, no problem.

Friday October 13 2017
Saturday September 30 2017

I recently referred, with an accompanying photo, to the resistance that reinforced concrete puts up when the time comes that machines destroy it rather than create it.  But the photo in that posting was basically of a machine that was doing the destroying, rather than of much in the way of the resisting concrete.

This photo, taken during the summer of 2016 in the vicinity of the then only beginning to arise One Blackfriars (aka The Boomerang), the big new Big Thing now nearing completion on the south side of the river:

image

Concrete is good under compressioin.  The steel reinforcing rods are strong in tension.  But the steel reinforcing rods don’t crumble when assaulted.  They bend.

Friday September 22 2017

Today I had a taste of what my life would be if I had the Sky TV cricket channel.  (It would be over.) I watched Surrey play Somerset on the live feed from the Oval which comes complete with the BBC’s sound commentary. I had all sorts of plans for today, but managed to get very little else of consequence done.

Surrey spent their day trying to ensure that they avoided all possibility of being relegated from Division One of the County Championship.  When they finally managed to defeat Somerset, they found themselves lying second in Division One.  Division One contains eight teams, two of which will be relegated, and it’s all rather close, apart from Essex, who have already won, and Warks, who have already been relegated.  So, a very strange day, but ultimately a very good one.

So, quota photo time:

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Yes, it’s a still life, with condiments instead of old school food in old school containers.  Little Big Things, you might say.  Photoed five years ago, in a cafe only a very short walk away from the Oval.

Thursday September 21 2017

imageClick on the thumbnail on the right to see why I’m presenting this photo to you, as a thumbnail.

Photo taken outside (as you can probably work out) Westminster Abbey in December 2015.

Tuesday August 29 2017

Roofs?  Rooves? Apologies if roofs sounds wrong to you, but it now sounds a bit better to me.  English eh?  What can you do?

Anyway, yes, the roofs(ves?) … of London Bridge Station, newly erected, as photographed from on high (from a helicopter) by on high specialist Real Photographer Jason Hawkes:

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That being another of the Real Photographs in this collection, featured here already, a few days ago.

To get that bigger, you’ll have to follow the first link above.  I’m guessing that Jason Hawkes might not be bothered at me showing a smaller version of one of his Real Photographs, but that he might be miffed if I appropriated a far bigger version.

What I, and I am sure many others, find entertaining about these roofs is how they look more like a work of Mother Nature than of Man.  No straight lines anywhere, and no two curvey lines exactly the same.

When I was up at the top of the Shard with GodDaughter 2, way back when we were, I also photoed these roofs, which makes sense because they are right next to and at the bottom of the Shard:

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That one, after I had done lots of post-production on it with my Photoshop clone, came out looking okay, although before all that it was looking very iffy.  Amazing how much “sharpen”, for instance, sharpens.

This next one, on the other hand, although a fine view, is ruined as any sort of attempt at Real Photography by that great slab of reflection, bottom left.  No Real Photographer would dream of standing behind shiny sheets of plate glass of this kind:

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With a lot of rotating and some sharpening, I rescued, from the original above, the revised version below:

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But you miss out on the big picture with that, I think.

Somehow, you need to be able get rid of those damn reflections.  Hire a helicopter?  Get a drone?  Helicopters are all fine and dandy for the likes of Jason Hawkes, but the complications of all that would be way beyond me.  Besides which, it’s the cheap shots that we can all take that interest me the most.  For me, throwing money at photography removes a major slice of it’s deeper meaning.  Which is: We can all now do this!

So, how about doing what this guy was doing?:

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This was my first visit to the top of the Shard, but I’m guessing he was not having his first visit.  He did what I did, first time around.  On his first visit, just like me, he took a lot of photos with lots of reflections in them.  But then, he returned, with a possible answer that he had made a point of bringing with him.

What this guy did looks promising, but I reckon I could maybe improve on this.  The problem this guy still has is that he still has his camera and worse, his bright and lightly coloured fingers, all out there in front of his big black rectangle.  What is needed is a big black rectangle with a hole in it, through which to poke the camera.  That would surely defeat the reflections much more completely.  And, unlike with his arrangement, you’d still be able to see what your picture was consisting of, because you’d still be able to see it on the screen or through a viewfinder (if you are viewfinder inclined, which I am not).

Unless of course you don’t want to defeat the reflections.

But, assuming you do, how big would such a rectangle have to be?  Would a rectangle small enough to fit easily into my bag be big enough?  I must do some experiments with a nearby shop window.