Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Carolyn Mohr on The ups and downs of English
Michael Jennings on Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
priscila on The ups and downs of English
Simon Gibbs on Wedding photography (4): Preparations
6000 on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Darren on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Michael Jennings on Wedding photography (2): Signs
MarkR on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
MNB Achari on Google Nexus 4 photos
MNB Achari on The ups and downs of English
Most recent entries
- Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
- Wedding photography (4): Preparations
- Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
- Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
- Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
- Rothko Toast
- Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
- And another posting from my smartphone
- Posted from my new smartphone
- Google Nexus 4 photos
- Wedding photography (2): Signs
- Wedding photography (1): The superbness of the weather
- A Fleet Street lunch
- So painters also used to “take” pictures
- Funniest run out ever?
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
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Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Coffee & Complexity
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
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Dr Robert Lefever
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
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Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
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Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Laissez Faire Books
Last of the Few
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
More Than Mind Games
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
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Never Trust a Hippy
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Setting The World To Rights
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we make money not art
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Category archive: This blog
A few days ago I visited Chateau Samizdata. While there, I picked the brain of its Chatelaine on the subject of my Google Nexus 4, because she now has one of these also.
She showed me various useful tricks. In particular she showed me – and helped me to download – an Android app called BUS LONDON, which identifies the bus stops nearest to wherever you are, and tells you what buses are about to arrive at each stop, when, and where they are headed.
BUS LONDON, in other words, provides you with information like this:
That is a photo I took last night at a bus stop near me. I have always, in my pre BUS LONDON life, found such signs to be immensely useful because so very reassuring. A bus to where I want to go will almost certainly be coming, quite soon, is the message I get, and it is most welcome when you consider the alternative. But only some bus stops have these excellent signs. Hence the value of an app like BUS LONDON.
Irritatingly, however, when I was at Chateau Samizdata, BUS LONDON refused to tell me about the bus stop that I was about to use. This is because this bus stop is a bit further away from CS than it might have been, but is worth the short extra walk because of the greater choice of buses that it offers me. This is a stop that buses converge on, so to speak. But once I got near enough to it, BUS LONDON obliged with all the relevant information.
However, when I arrived at the bus stop, which also has an electric sign like the one in the photograph above, this is what I saw:
I stared and stared at this to see if anything further would happen, but nothing did. This is something I have never seen before. Usually these signs either work, almost always, or occasionally do not work and are blank. Never before have I seen a sign behaving like an 80s personal computer, by publicising its problems like this and getting stuck.
Quite a coincidence, I think you will agree. Within about an hour of acquiring BUS LONDON, I encounter a bus stop sign that fails to tell me what is due, but no matter, because I now have BUS LONDON to tell me!
I could not shake the feeling that my Google Nexus 4 had sucked all the information out of the sign, into itself, leaving the sign utterly confused.
If you think the reflections of all this info are not strictly necessary, and that the reflections might have been cropped out, well, true, but I do like reflections.
Here is the reflection of the first sign, the one near me, rotated and reversed to make it easily legible:
Off topic, but I like it. If you think this reflection to be an irrelevance, then I suggest you redo this posting on your blog, with the first two images cropped, the final image omitted, and these last two paragraphs also omitted. What? You can’t be bothered? Suit yourself.
As do I. Suiting myself being what this blog is for.
The idea being to see if I had to log in again. The idea was that I wouldn’t have to. I didn’t have to.
LATER: Log on as in type in my password again.
Further Google Nexus 4 progress and rumination is reported and ruminated by me here.
This posting is a test, to see if I can post stuff to my blog entirely from my new phone/computer, and it looks as if I can.
No links, no complications. Certainly no picture. Just basic text. It seems to be working. Go.
Had a bit of trouble making the categories I had chosen stick. And touching the screen instead of mousing really takes getting used to. (Will those italics show up? LATER: YES) But, basically it works.
So here are three more digital photographers digitally photographed by me on March 5th, to add to the ones in this photo-collection:
I chose those for all my usual kinds of reasons, to do with focusing and composition and suchlike, which is not major my purpose now.
What I have done is reduced the size of the little photos above, that you click on to get the real photos, from 166 pixels wide to 165 pixels wide, and shoved a small space in between. I’m hoping that 165 x 3 + 2 spaces won’t go beyond the 500 pixel limit, but only posting it will tell.
Which means that this posting is liable to be posted, and then reposted a few times, while I work out what works. I can’t tell from within my blogging software whether these new spaces and pictures sizes are a good fit, or if I’ll have (e.g.) to make the pictures a bit smaller.
It goes with saying (surely a more rational way of saying “it goes without saying”, if you immediately then say it) that I am a bit apologetic about this disruption. But in truth, not very apologetic.
The reason I am doing this is that I have now got my Google Nexus 4 supersmart mobile phone, and have been looking at how this blog looks on it.
Point one: obviously all the regular stuff on the left that you don’t read should be on the right. That may one day happen, and may not.
But the other thing is that when I do these little clutches of lots of little clickable photos, then on the GN4, just as on my computer, I get a small white space between each horizontal row of pictures and the next row down, but not between each picture, sideways. If you get my drift. And a much better arrangement would be to have spaces between each picture, if only to make the pictures easy to see as separate pictures, especially on something like the Google Nexus 4.
So now you know.
A BIT LATER: Too wide. The blurry digital photographer behind the focused leaves, who was supposed to be on the right, has moved himself to a new row below of his own creation. So now I will make the small pictures 164 pixels wide rather than 165. Isn’t this exciting? Well, probably not.
A BIT LATER STILL: Done.
The photos below of NHS headlines were taken in one of my favourite newspaper and magazine shops, the one in Victoria Street on the left as you go towards Victoria Station, having turned left out of Strutton Ground. Moments after leaving that shop, I started off back in the other direction along Victoria Street, towards Parliament Square, and took these the two snaps below.
There is not much point any more in taking pictures of just The Wheel. We all know what that looks like. But I still like to snap away at it, when I am able to combine it with other things, such as particularly sastisfying foreground clutter, or a statue:
I especially like the one on the left, partly because the scene will never be repeated. I do like temporary clutter. And I particularly like how it says “ALARMED”, bottom right. I only saw that when I got home.
The statue on the right is the one featured in this posting here, from 2008, which I had of course totally forgotten about but have just been reminded about by google.
That’s right. I went a-googling for “statue outside westminster abbey”, and clicked on entry number four, “images for statue outside westmister abbey”. And guess what the Gold Medal Image was, the very first image, top left, number one on the list. That’s right, only me.
Not long ago, Alex Singleton dropped by. And one of the many intriguing things he told me was that Google really, really likes blogs like BrianMicklethwaitDotCom. This is because blogs like BrianMicklethwaitDotCom have been going for quite a long time, are quite frequently updated with new stuff, and are real blogs rather than fakes. Also, crucially, BrianMicklethwaitDotCom has now no truck with - and never ever has had any truck with - bullshit tricks for boosting traffic as peddled by bullshit tricksters on the www. Google can tell this. Google has its own box of clever tricks to spot anyone trying to do this, and guess who is cleverer, the bullshit tricksters or Google? And Google has worked out that I never do any of that crap. So, Google likes me, and when people look for a picture and I have such a picture, my picture gets to be at or very near the top of the list.
Alex also told me that some quite Big Cheese car maker and car seller had made the mistake of availing itself of the services of one of these traffic booster nitwits. Jaguar, I think it was. And Google proceeded to expunge Jaguar from its listings. So, when you went looking for a luxury car, you got no Jaguars at all. And if you went looking for jaguars, all you got was big black kitties.
At the time, I thought Alex himself might have been bullshitting, but it seems he may have been exactly right.
No, not Jaguar, so not exactly right, and I have only left that in for the kitty connection. Sorry Jaguar. If you want all that removed, just say the word and it will be done. I have just dined with Antoine Clarke, and he told me it was: BMW.
Things seem to moving fast over as Samizdata, first there was an email telling us not to upload any pictures “whilst we are working on moving the blog”, and now this:
As of this Thursday, Samizdata will temporarily stop updating and on Friday, it will go off-line completely for… a while.
We wil be back at some point over the weekend with the New Improved Version.
And there has been another email clarifying when we may not post.
Meanwhile, here, there was another involuntary outage yesterday afternoon. Something to do with upgrading a router, or some such thing, and all was soon well again. No incoming emails told me of this. I found it out for myself. I deduce that this blog was not much missed.
I look forward greatly to seeing how the new Samizdata system works, and hope that it will continue to make sense for me to use the same software for a revamped version of this blog.
More pictures taken yesterday. Will I ever tire of snapping my fellow snappers? The weather was a bit cold, but not too cold, so there was lots of photography going on with gloves on, but sometimes just the one.
Click an enjoy:
I am hoping that one of the benefits of switching to Wordpress, if I do, will be that both the posting and the viewing of such clutches of photos will become easier. I will be able to fling them up more quickly, and you will be able to click through them more quickly.
And yes, I know that I could contrive this by using one or other of the dedicated photography “platforms”, but I personally particularly relish the thought of using only one platform for all of my bloggage. I want to use Wordpress for Samizdata and for here, and I want to use Wordpress to display whatever photos I want to display. I will only ponder alternatives if I find out that Wordpress doesn’t allow this sort of thing, far better than I am doing this now. But judging by what Alec Muffet (the man who is contriving the Samizdata switch-over) told me in a recent conversation at Chateau Samizdata, Wordpess will offer much better photo-display options. I definitely hope so.
As of late last night, and for I don’t know how much longer before that, this blog was out of action. An error message involving database corruption greeted all those coming here. The Guru was immediately emailed, and very quickly he had the problem licked. Deepest thanks to him, and apologies if you tried to visit during the outage. Thanks for trying again.
As it happens, I have in mind to relaunch this blog, in a matter of months rather than weeks, as a Wordpress blog rather than using what it uses now, which is Expression Engine. The circumstance prompting this is that Samizdata, Real Soon Now, is getting a makeover, which will, I am told, involve Samizdata switching to using Wordpress. This is very good news for Samizdata, and will surely unleash many improvements.
Now that Wordpress is clearly the market leader for blogging software, I thought I’d switch to Wordpress for here also. That way, I will use only one software package, and hopefully I’ll be able to do a whole lot of things here that I can’t do now.
The only reason I picked Expression Engine in the first place is because, or such is my recollection, there was a plan for Samizdata to switch to Expression Engine. That never happened, but meanwhile that was what I went with. Very inconvenient.
Anyone who thinks Wordpress is a bad idea, please tell me why, now.
Yes, Patrick Crozier (to whom deep thanks) has just improved the state of this blog, by making it that if you go via a monthly archive, you can easily access the comments on a selected posting here, even though the chances are you almost certainly won’t be allowed to add any more comments.
If you follow one of my links back to an earlier post here, however, you still may find yourself at a posting which has comments, but which makes no mention of them. In a recent posting, for instance, I did a link, back to an earlier posting about a Muslim man photoing four Muslim ladies in black letter-box costumes. But, as linked to by me, this posting has no mention of any comments. If you want to look at the comments (a bit interesting in this case), then click on the title of the posting, and you will arrive at this, which is the exact same posting, but with all the comments there.
If you feel compelled to add something more, try emailing me.
A recent Patrick Crozier piece at Samizdata illustrates further the value of being able to access ancient comments. Often a blog posting is a question, and a pretty blatant - often shamelessly explicit - attempt to solicit comments that answer that question. I also do this a lot, and I do mean a lot. There is little point in being able to read such questions, but not being able to read the answers.
I am still hoping that someone will tell me who this guy is. He looks a bit like a young Rio Ferdinand. Anyone?
This morning I went to Samizdata and discovered that (a) it has a very good Samizdata Quote of the Day up today, supplied by Guy Herbert, but that (b) thanks in part to careless ilalics instructions by Guy, Samizdata was suffering from PID, aka Permanent Italics Disease.
It looked like this:
Click on that to observe more of the details.
Basically, Guy had switched on the italics at the start of the quote, and then switched them on even more at the end of the quote, instead of switching them off. All it took was to omit one “/”.
But, as I have said before here, Guy was only culpable in part. He is only to be blamed (i.e. not very much at all) for the text wrongly left italicised within his own posting, in other words his own brief comment on the quote. He cannot be blamed for the fact that the rest of Samizdata was, until I corrected it, thus polluted. This is a failure of the blogging software that Samizdata uses.
Here is part of a comment by Michael Jennings on my first PID posting here:
This is one good reason for blogging to Samizdata rather than my own blog when I am travelling, I suppose. Samizdata has editors, and if I make such an error someone will fix it. ...
I am getting lots of encouragement to switch to Wordpress, on account of everyone else now using this. I am strongly inclined to do do this, and actually to start up a new blog on Wordpress, rather than get all in a twist trying to shovel all this stuff here into Wordpress. There is no particular reason for me to do this, it seems to me. Comments on that?
But, more to my point in this posting, question: Does Wordpress allow PID?
I doubt if anyone has been wondering where I have been for the last six days. Me not blogging is not exactly a big surprise these days. But I have actually been doing good things for this blog, by cleaning up the comment system.
Basically, spam commenters have been making my life a misery and this blog an object of ridicule to any who still bother with it, and I decided to drop all other blogging activity until I had turned back the tide. That is now done. For the time being at least, the spamsters have given up.
Basically I fixed it so that neither you nor the spammers can comment on any posting here, except the very recent ones. But you can now read all the proper comments that have accumulated here over the years, along with the postings. Previously, I had shut down quite a lot of the comments in such a way that not only could you not add a comment yourself; you couldn’t even read the comments that had once been there. Many (not most but many) comments from way back, not a few of them very interesting, had been scrubbed out as if they had never been.
Now, all those genuine, non-spam comments, every last one of them, are back. If you remember saying something brilliant about something I wrote about something or other, just type “something or other” into the search box on the left, and you can dig it up and admire it without fear of interruption.
I use Expression Engine, for the benefit of geeks. And the trick in Expression Engine was to fix it so that comments “expire”. Comments which have “expired” may not be responded to with further comments, but the entire comment thread can still be read.
Comments that have not been “allowed”, on the other hand, just disappear. But, those that I had disallowed didn’t disappear entirely. They could be re-allowed again. This is what I did, for all disallowed comment threads. But, I also made sure (by choosing a recent date now in the past) that all these comments have now “expired”. Are we clear?
All of which means that the spammers will no longer regard this blog as a target rich environment. They don’t mind me deleting their crap, so long of some of it sticks, for a little while, like when I am sleeping or having a life. The trick is to make it impossible for them to chuck it here in the first place, or not on any scale. There will still be a handful of recent postings for them to crap all over the comment threads of, but here’s hoping they will now look for bigger pastures (such as this blog used to be from their point of view) to ply their dishonourable trade. It’s now been more than a day since spam commenting opportunities here ceased to exist in anything resembling abundance, and the spammers seem, for the time being anyway, to have moved on.
I would love to meet someone who was foolish enough to boast to me, or come to that to anyone, that he does or ever did spam commenting for a living. I would probably end up in prison by the time I had done my thing to them, but it would be well worth it. Their lives would be a living hell from then on also, because I would have gone to as much trouble as was needed to accomplish that. Besides which, an enlightened judge or jury might decide that what I did, though harsh, was an entirely reasonable example of a crime of passion, or perhaps self-defence, even a public duty well performed, and that the little runt got just a little bit of what he entirely deserved, and that I owed the runt one pee in damages, which I would be delighted then to administer to the runt on the court-room steps, hopefully thereby ruining all the expensive clothes he had purchased for the trial in a vain attempt to persuade everyone that he was not a runt.
Meanwhile, the price this blog pays for all this anti-spamming activity is that no non-runts can now comment on ancient postings here, or not with a “comment”.
But very few ever did, and if you really do want to add something to some old thing here, do please feel entirely free to email in with such commentary, making it clear that you would welcome me including it in a new posting, which will then (because very recent) be available to be commented upon by others besides me.
The other somewhat bad news is that this all took me a very, very long time. Basically, I re-edited every single individual posting here, of which there are now getting on for three thousand. I am sure there was a much quicker way for me to have done this, but in truth I quite enjoyed the task. It went well with listening to music. Plus, I enjoyed acquainting myself with clever things I have written in the past, and with clever comments that others had written (some of them showing me to be not so clever, but there you go, that’s the price of mouthing off on the www).
Nevertheless (Patrick C)? Could I have done all this in a few moments? I bet I could.
A reason for the posting gap here is that I have been ill, and have still not fully recovered. But this is not the only reason. One can blog when ill. I could have. I didn’t. Instead I followed the Kevin Pietersen Affair.
Then, I wrote about that for Samizdata, which also took a while.
That Bitcoin meeting went well, and I owe the world some further bloggings about that, which will presumably materialise Real Soon Now. One of the things I learned at that meeting is that there are people I do not know who actually read this blog.
Although, come to think of it, maybe I now know all of you.
I am having lots of problems with internet connection at the moment, which is one of the reasons I haven’t updated this blog as much as I should have lately. Just when it became urgent to feed BrianMicklethwaitDotCom, the problems began.
The Guru is now ensconced in my kitchen, trying to get God’s internet connection to work, and I am typing this on Judas. (For casual visitors, spam commenters etc.: God is my big suitcase type computer, under my desk. Jesus was my first (crappy) netbook, and Judas is Jesus’s replacement.) But getting Judas’s internet connection to work has been almost as hard as getting God’s working. Both should soon be okay. A “microfilter” has been replaced, so I’m hoping that was the cause of God’s problems.
What I’m saying is: I’m not dead or anything. I’ve just been a bit disconnected.
LATER (Tuesday morning): Well, all seems to be working okay now. Changing the “microfilter” has put an end (touch wood) to random outages, followed by equally random inages, neither happening in a way that seemed connected to anything that the Guru or I had been doing, until the Guru said change the microfilter. Oddly, I had been pondering taking the microfilter into Dixons (Comet? whatever) and saying, I want another of these. Oddly, I would now quite like another, with more sockets in it, so that I can then also connect Judas by wire to the internet, when sitting on my sofa at home, rather than faffing about with dongles, etc. Anyway, life seems to be back to normal.
Last night, the Guru used the word “should” a lot. “Should” work, “should” do it, etc. “Should” is one of the most portentously troublesome words in English, when someone is trying to get something computational to work, in my experience. But, at least it proves that the person saying it himself has plenty of experience. The more experience he has, the more he emphasises the word, because the more weird things he has been involved in that “should”.have worked ... but didn’t. Until they found the ear-ring hiding in the fan, realised that the computer was allergic to the car, realised that it was all the fault of the microfilter, blah blah blah.
Thank God this stuff only started happening after me organising that Bitcoin meeting. Outages/inages/outages greatly disrupted all the thankyou-ing I have been trying to do, but not the more serious matter of making the meeting happen in the first place.
For much of yesterday, the world economy teetered on the edge of chaos, on account of this blog being out of action. In the USA, people from all walks of life complained that, without this blog, sneering at Brits and celebrating the defeat of Britain in the revolutionary war of 1776 or whenever became too difficult, without this blog as an explanation for their otherwise incoherent resentment.
Australians wanting to find out who won the Ashes in 2011 had to look elsewhere for news.
And all over Europe, policy makers, seeking light relief from their self-imposed task of ensuring that the EU goes out with a huge bang rather than with an orderly and rational recognition of what ought really to be done, looked to BrianMicklethwaitDotCom for solace. But it was not there.
How can we be expected to lead the European economy over a cliff in the proper manner, exclaimed Big European Cheeses, if we can’t divert ourselves every now and again with pictures of London bridges, and of new London towers, like the big spiky one and the one with the three holes in the top? After a hard hour fretting about Spaniards who are about to riot and then die of starvation unless we print some more money and give it to ourselves, we need to be able to contemplate roof clutter, stuff about something called “Samizdata”, and photos of London tourists taking photos, another Big European Cheese added.
Fortunately, BMDC came back on line yesterday afternoon, and the happiness of the world and the orderly progress of Europe towards self-inflicted ruin was reestablished in the nick of time.