Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Simon Gibbs on "In order to comply with Google's regulations ..."
Brian Micklethwait on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Friday Night Smoke on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Brian Micklethwait on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Darren on A Bitcoin vending machine and a Lego photographer (and a Lego Hawking)
Michael Jennings on Ashes Lag recovery continues
Michael Jennings on "In order to comply with Google's regulations ..."
Michael Jennings on Ashes Lag recovery continues
Michael Jennings on A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
Brian Micklethwait on Ashes Lag recovery continues
Most recent entries
- 3D printed baby in the womb
- A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
- Ashes Lag recovery continues
- A Bitcoin vending machine and a Lego photographer (and a Lego Hawking)
- “In order to comply with Google’s regulations …”
- Blue wind
- Don’t judge a new technology by its first stumbling steps
- Me trying to tell Norman Foster and Richard Rogers apart
- I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
- The Met swoops on the Adams Family
- South Bank Architects?
- Colour photography
- Games lovely games
- A quota post (with a quota link to a post about a post about a quota photo) and another quota photo
- Omaha dead
Other Blogs I write for
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
Art Of The State Blog
Boatang & Demetriou
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
Douglas Carswell Blog
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
Gates of Vienna
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
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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Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
Non Diet Weight Loss
Nurses for Reform blog
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Setting The World To Rights
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Sky Watching My World
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Friends
… 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.
This was one of many pictures I took this afternoon, following a most agreeable and tasty lunch at the Windmill, courtesy of Michael Jennings:
A classic church dwarfed by modernity. And off the top of the picture there is more modernity that I did not include, a lot of it being what used to be called the NatWest Tower, or Tower Something Numerical, as it’s now called. It took me a while to hunt down this particular church, but I finally found it.
In the foreground, Blackfriars Station, the one on the bridge.
Much humour is to be had by modifying a cliché, and something similar applies to photography. The Eiffel Tower features in many photos. The chimney pots of Paris, not quite so much.
That was taken on February 2nd 2012, from the Pompidou Centre.
I an still stunned by how brilliant my new, cheap computer screen is. Pictures like this one become hugely better than I remember them first time around, and wandering around in my photo-archives is more enjoyable than ever before.
Here is another picture taken at the same time from the same place. Also lots of chimneys, though you have to look a bit more closely this time. But in the background there, La Défense, Paris’s Big New Thing district.
What that big dome is in the foreground, I don’t know. I was staying with Antoine Clarke when I took these snaps, and in fact he was up there with me when I took these. Maybe he can tell us what that big curvey thing is. When you take pictures of some big thing, there is a presumption that you do care what it is, but personally, in this case, I don’t really care. There are more than enough mysterious buildings like this in London to keep me wondering, without me fretting about mystery buildings in Paris. But maybe you would like to know.
And yes, I am almost certain that is a crane.
One other thing. This new screen has me thinking that maybe the size of pictures I am putting up here may be a bit wrong. When you click on the above two, you’ll get them at 1200x900, which is bigger than I usually do, because now my own screen is bigger. Is this either too big, or too small? I’d welcome anyone’s opinion on that.
Incoming from Simon Gibbs:
Near the mayors blob
And there was a photograph attached to this message, “sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone”:
On the left there, as we look at it, is the Mayor’s Blob that Simon mentions, near the Shard, and a building I am very familiar with, at any rate from the outside. In the middle, something new, which Simon knew I might be keen to check out. So, he photos it, and sends it to me.
Neither Simon nor I are asking anyone to think that this is a good photograph, in the technical sense. Don’t click on it, because it is quite big enough as is. Simon is probably a bit appalled that I am even showing it to anyone, even in the almost total privacy that is BrianMicklethwaitDotCom. But the photo suffices for its purpose, which is not to delight attenders at an art gallery (real or virtual), merely to provide me with information, should I be interested. (Although actually, this is the kind of thing you often do see in an art gallery nowadays, put there by an artist trying, as most artists must these days, to be contrary. “Good” photos are so twentieth century, my dears. Imagine the blurb, as written by this guy.)
I show this casual snap because it illustrates a typical use of digital photography, which is the communication of information, potentially in real time. Me being so hopelessly twentieth century in my uses of twenty-first century tech, I don’t know when he took this photo. It duly arrived on my desk, via my clunky old twentieth century desktop computer. Was it taken only seconds before Simon sent it to me? Perhaps he can tell us. But my point here is that he could have. And like him, I could have been as much on the move as he clearly was, while still as connected to the world as he was.
Here we see photography not as the nineteenth and then twentieth century mechanisation of oil painting, but as a twenty first century amplification of conversation. “Ooh, Brian might like to see that, snap. Hi Brian. Take a look at this.” Try doing that with a twentieth century phone. You could, in this case, after a fashion, but it wouldn’t be nearly so quick, definite and easy.
I am giving a talk on Monday evening at Christian Michel’s about The Impact of Digital Photography, and this is the kind of thing I will be talking about.
Digital photography was, or so I recall reading recently, invented by NASA, not so much to take photos, as to communicate photos, of other planets from robot cameras on space-ships, back to planet earth. Yes.
The logical mid-to-late twentieth century end-point of episodes like this, after you have thrown in a big dash of this sort of stuff, is (see above): telepathy.
I spent all my blogging time today concocting this posting, which is very long (being a review of my past year) and has twelve of my photos in it (one from each month). Enjoy.
ls Happy Old Year right? As in: hope you had one. I rather think it might be, for today. Anyway, I hope you did.
I have categorised this under, among other things, “Friends”, because if you are reading this today, or at all frankly, then you are.
According to Michael Jennings, the Mercedes-Benz W123 is the vehicle of choice for all taxi drivers in Morocco, which basically means that all transport in Morocco other than by means of legs, human or animal, is the Mercedes W123.
Here is a picture of lots of Mercedes-Benz W123s which Michael took on his travels. They are resting, presumably:
Michael was telling Patrick Crozier and me about this iconic vehicle, and just as he was telling us, look what we found ourselves walking right past, on our way to our pub lunch:
That’s not quite a Mercedes-Benz W123, apparently. But it is the exact same shape.
One of the things I like to photograph, on my walks, is vehicles that are strange or interesting for some reason. Another for the collection.
It may not look much like a Volkeswagen, but it sort of is that. Sturdy enough and mechanically simple enough for it not to break down often, and to be locally mendable when it does. They stopped making them in the eighties, but they are still going strong.
And not just any old telly. BBC1, The One Show, no less, watched by millions. I was and I am impressed. Watch Elena Procopiu in action 25m30s into it, here, while it’s still there. (For future reference, this was on Tuesday December 3rd.)
Elena was born in Romania and did a piece to camera about Romania and about Romanians in England, entirely in a Romanian accent until right at the end, when she said in her regular English voice that lots of Romanians have been here for years. Many Romanians have already seen this performance, on the www. Some, who missed the bit at the end, were surprised that someone who has been in England for so long still has such a strong Romanian accent. None said that the Romanian accent was not a proper Romanian accent, which is not that easy to get exactly right, if you no longer have such an accent.
Last night, at Chateau Samizdata, I and all others present drank this:
Until last night I did not know that there was any such thing. Well, I knew there was Sauvignon Blanc, but not called that.
Sadly, I failed to properly include the hippo at the top of the label on the left, but you can see plenty of the hippos here, because of course there is a website and you can read all about it.
Clever marketing, I think. The real wine buffs will like it, if they like it, regardless of the name. “Oh yes, it’s actually rather good, you know” blah blah. And the wine unbuffs like me will like it too, because it’s a laugh, and a bit of a tease of wine buffs of the sort who expect wine not to be called such a thing. So, win win.
Alex Singleton has sent me an advance print-out of a book he has written about how to do PR. I have reached page 59, and am so far very impressed.
When I read a book of this sort, I like to read about relevant personal experiences, as well as Big Lessons and Grand Principles. That way, you are more likely to be convinced that the Big Lessons and Grand Principles really are as good and grand as they may merely seem.
So I particularly enjoyed this bit (from page 59):
When I got my first column in 1994, in a newsstand computer magazine, I had no idea what I was doing. But it seemed like I needed to get some stories, so I wrote to all the relevant companies and invited them to send me information about what they were doing. Not all of them replied - those that failed to respond were PR idiots. Some of them wrote to me saying that they would add me to their press release distribution lists - they were amateurs.
Then some guy called Quentin got in touch. His company, Accountz, sold products by mail order and it was miniscule - just him and his wife. But he wrote me a personal two-page letter (this was before email was commonplace) explaining how he had a Big Idea to defeat the major players in his sector. Unlike some of the other companies, he had no PR agency - but he had a story. And during the 15 issues I wrote that column, I could always rely on him
to take my calls and give me a good quote. When I upgraded to bigger-selling PC titles, including the market-leading ComputerActive, I kept on writing about his company. Today, his products are sold in PC World, Currys, AppleStores and Staples, and as I type this he has just made a successful exit from the company, passing it onto an investor.
What worked about that PR-journalist relationship is that Quentin - perhaps unwittingly - had good personal brand. He never tried to force a bad story on me and never wasted my time.
Alex has told me he is in the market for typos, and I think I see another blemish, to add to the two I’ve already told him about. Shouldn’t “onto” (final line of para 2 there) be “on to”? Not sure, but I think I’m right about that.
More about this book when I have finished it.
This is a memo from me to me, and also an email to a friend, about another great photo op that I don’t want to forget about until I’ve done it.
The friend wants us to meet up at this, which has excellent views of both the Gherkin and the Shard, from approximately as high up as they are. This is me saying yes I very much want to do this. I am always on the lookout for such lookouts, and further suggestions are always very welcome.
Located on the 38th & 39th floors of the Heron Tower, SUSHISAMBA delivers a unique blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine, culture, music and striking design to the City of London.
Yeah yeah, foreigners cooking and overcharging for it. I get it. But what can I see? What can I photograph?
Europe’s two highest dining outdoor terraces flank the restaurant, offering unparalleled views of the City to the west and the Olympic Park to the east. Award-winning architects Cetra Ruddy designed the restaurant’s 13,423-square-foot (1,247-square-meter) space, which has direct access via two scenic lifts from a dedicated entrance on Bishopsgate. The venue is open daily for lunch and dinner, offering outdoor dining, a bar and lounge, and premier event space.
Scenic lifts. Sounds terrific. Even better if you get stuck in the scenic lift for ten minutes (not for ten hours), two thirds of the way up.
SUSHISAMBA’s menus offer an inventive culmination of three cuisines. Guests will be treated to Brazilian Churrasco and Moqueca, Peruvian Anticuchos and Seviches; and Japanese tempura and sushi.
With any luck, the lack of proper meet+2veg food, which does not taste like it was assembled in an explosives factory, will put enough people off going to this place to give me a reasonably free run of it, and plenty of photo ops. But that might be hoping for too much, and anyway, you only ever really find out what’s what with a deal like this when you actually go there, which I most definitely intend to do.
A link to this posting will go to the friend. I find that this personal blog is good for writing emails to people. What I have found myself doing recently is writing the email as a blog posting, and then emailing them the mere link, introduced with a brief summary of it. That way you achieve email brevity and say what you really want to say about whatever it is, and you get more readers for what you have written, in this case a not quite so tiny trickle. (I’ve sent the link to this posting, about how I want a new sofa/bench, to all sorts of people.)
The merging of the public and the private, which is a big story of the century so far, and which I will definitely be writing about some more, in other blog postings but not this one.
Tomorrow evening I have another Brian’s Last Friday. Richard Carey will speak about “The English Radicals: 1640-1660”. Click on Contact (top left) to cadge an invite.
Until now, I have been slightly struggling to get good speakers soon enough for these evenings, but now I have at last got ahead of myself and have fixed, barring mishaps, the next three speakers also.
Oct 25 - Preston Byrne on Mortgage Subsidies: Why They Didn’t Work in America and Won’t Work Here.
Nov 29 - Dominique Lazanski on Digital Freedom in the UK and Europe.
Dec 27 - Antoine Clarke on Immigration and the Bad Arguments Against It.
Note in particular December 27, Antoine Clarke. This might seem like the sort of date I might want to cancel, but actually, the more that a date might seem like cancellation fodder, the better this is, by not cancelling, an opportunity to tell people that there will be a Brian’s Last Friday, every last Friday, every month, no matter what. Even if it’s just me talking to myself on Christmas Day, or some such strange thing.
I’m already starting to get emails from people who are just assuming there will be a meeting on Friday the whenever-it-is, and simply asking who will be speaking and can they come. I want to encourage this sort of thinking. You know the dates for years in advance, just as I do.
So, I am especially grateful to Antoine for agreeing to do that one in December. I have no idea how many people will show up, but I have a feeling that the day after the day after Christmas Day might prove quite a draw. Public transport will be back in business, unlike on the previous day, and … what else is there to do on that particular day? Work? Play with presents? Go to other meetings?
So yes, this time last week Goddaughter One and I went on a photowalk in the Hackney Wick area.
She sent me this photo that she took, of me photoing:
If you want to make an old man look bad, have him bend down.
This, with much rotating and cropping to avoid total embarrassment, is the photo I was taking:
I think we can agree that her photo is uglier, but more interesting and amusing.
Here is a photo I took of her:
If you want to make a young woman look good, have her bend down.
As for the photo that Goddaughter One was taking, well, I don’t have that. In general, though, she does this kind of thing quite often, e.g. when she spots a plastic bag floating in the canal. Commonplace, even ugly, objects can become very beautiful when photographed with a lot of skill, such as Goddaughter One possesses. (She is a professional, having recently had one of her photos on the front cover of the RIBA Journal.)
So, in the absence of the exact photo that Goddaughter One was taking when I took that photo of her last Sunday, here is a canal effect that I photoed, and would have photoed more had I realised, as I only did when I got home, how amusing the effect was and is. I refer to the way that a certain sort of water weed growing on the surface of still water (actually water that the water weed itself makes still) can make that surface look like dry land.
This effect is greatly enhanced when there are ugly things that are very light floating on that surface, with the water weed somehow seeming to push those objects upwards to the point where they appear simply to resting on the top of the surface, just as if it really was dry land:
Were I a bit cleverer with my camera, and were my camera also a bit cleverer, that could be an award-winning photo of the sort they print out and put in art galleries. Well, that’s what I think.
My friend Alex Singleton dropped by the other day. He often does, after or between appointments that bring him near to my home. He has a blog, which I recommend, and Alex himself recommends blogging as a good way to spread ideas or sell products. I sort of knew Alex had a blog for a quite a while, but did not really register this fact. I am now digging backwards, and finding things like this, from someone called Harold Burson:
The term communications has become synonymous with PR but this does a disservice to our profession by making it tactical … The best term for what we do is public relations.
I recently read a book where “PR” meant photo reconnaissance throughout. It described a different world entirely from ours, in which misdirected photographic efforts could easily cost your your life. But yes, good to encounter someone who is not ashamed of what he does.
Too few practitioners have even heard of the legendary figures of PR, such as Ivy Lee and Sir Basil Clarke, let alone read about them. But it does mean that those who put the time in to study how PR works – practically, not academically – quickly shine.
That’s Alex himself. There are, throughout his blog, regular references to and quotes from old dead guys, another who is frequently mentioned being David Ogilvy. Why reinvent the wheel? A particular theme of Alex’s thinking is that the new social media don’t render all the wisdoms of the PR and advertising past obsolete.
I like how Alex writes. He prefers short and clear sentences to longer and wafflier ones, clear words to the vaguer words so loved by PR-ists. Everything he writes exudes confidence in his ability to help enterprise do their PR better. Which would explain why he is not afraid to have as his latest posting an admiring piece about Rudolf Flesch. Quote:
Flesch writes: “while we don’t need so many words any more to express our thoughts, the words we do use carry a much heavier load of ideas… as far as ideas are concerned, our sentences are usually much longer and fuller than those people wrote two or three centuries ago”.
The danger, he says, is that “our more heavy-handed writers don’t care much for the modern short sentence either; and so we get prose that consists of overlong sentences packed to the brim with long, overloaded words”.
And that, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with so much material that comes out of big organisations today.
You don’t put stuff like that up if you fear that your earlier postings will then be scoured by envious rivals, successfully, for great gobs of longwinded nonsense.
Alex, just like all these old dead guys, dresses smartly, as he explains in this posting, i.e. more smartly than he did in this photo of him (by me with me also in it) here. I particularly like that one.
Talking with Alex also helped me to think through an enterprise of my own that I am now contemplating. He supplied some very helpful ideas about how I could do this more easily and effectively.
Perry de Havilland doesn’t like it when we discuss Blog Admin in comment threads. Fair enough, his gaff his rules. But here in the privacy of BrianMicklethwaitDotCom, I can say whatever I like about such things. And today, a couple of Samizdata screen captures:
That’s the bottom of the latest Samizdata posting from Johnathan Pearce.
Note the big gap, between the last of the actual text of the posting, and the bit where it says the date and the number of comments.
JP always seems to get this wrong, by piling in with about half a dozen carriage returns at the bottom of what he has written, which WordPress faithfully reproduces.
Until WordPress is told otherwise, by an editorial elf:
I see I sliced off the thingy at the very bottom of each posting in that second screen capture there. This was, I think, because I do like vertically narrow pictures, as was a regular theme here a year or two back. But either way, you get the picture.
The other thing JP always seems to get wrong is the indentation on Samizdata quotes of the day. The text of these is supposed to be not indented, but JP always seems to indent it. And I really do mean always. It’s the exception when he doesn’t do this.
For a bloke who has been a steady contributor to Samizdata for over a decade this is very odd. I guess it is because he is so highly valued – and quite rightly so – that PdeH doesn’t make a fuss, but instead just laughs about it.
My latest Samizdata offering is this, about some Greenpeace people climbing up the Shard.
Now I am going to add lots of carriage returns here, to see if ExpressionEngine does this. No sign of a problem from within the posting process, but some things only show up in the final, on-line version. So, let’s post this and see.
No, no problem. No big space in the final version.
Now let me try putting a big gap between this paragraph ...
... and the next one. How does that look?
Again, no big space there. Which is actually a bit of a problem. Sometimes you want a space.
This last lot – and I do promise you that this really is it – shows the event winding down. My favourite is the one of the Bride (3.2), striding purposefully (but not too personally recognisably) across the dance floor, in pursuit of some wifely purpose or other. I was able to do that thing you do with fast moving objects, and blur the background. I love that effect.
As you can see there are a couple of reflection photos (1.1, 1.3). As already mentioned, there were two Real Photographers present, a wise precaution.
Ms Real Photographer told me that one of the big things Mr Real Photographer taught her was, when you photo a thing and the thing reflected, photo the reflection, and let the thing take care of itself. I rather think that 1.1 was taken right after she said that. And presumably that’s what she is doing in 2.2.
The end of an excellent day. I got a car ride home, which turned into a bit of a nightmare on account of the M4 being dug up. Luckily, however, I had my recently acquired Google Nexus 4 with me, complete with its ever changing map, with its arrow showing where I am. Thanks to that, we eventually found our way to the M3, and thus home.
And that concludes my The Wedding photo-postings.