Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Business

Sunday June 10 2018

Indeed:

image

Taken by me in, I’m pretty sure, Earlham Street, which is one of the spokes that converges on Seven Dials.

The mirror is presumably there for people to see how potential purchases look on them.  But my first thought when I saw the mirror was: Is that for encouraging people to take selfies?  And I was happy to oblige.

Sunday May 20 2018

Next Friday, my good friend Adriana Lukas will be giving a talk at my home entitled Personal Recollections of Life Under Communism.  While concocting some biographical information for my email list members, I took a closer look than I have before at her Twitter feed.

Way back in 2015, Adriana retweeted this remarkable image:

image

It looks like some ancient oil painting, rather than the latest-thing highest-of-high-tech imagery, which of course is what it is.

GE Healthcare’s 3D-printing software works seamlessly with GE Advantage Workstation systems already working inside hospitals around the world. After a scan, the anatomy is rendered as a 3D image using GE’s Volume Viewer software, a 3D-imaging platform that combines data from sources like CT but also MRI and X-ray. The software then converts the image file generated by the Volume Viewer and within seconds translates it into a file format that can be interpreted by a 3D printer.

“In the past, it would take several days to get the images back” from an outside 3D software processor, Cury says. “The advantage of the new software is it’s in the same workstation where the technologists already do work on 3D images. The steps are a lot quicker and easier.”

More than 100 hospitals around the world have already ordered GE’s 3D organ printing software, which can be used for any type of organ as well as models of bones and muscles. GE says that as more hospitals use the software, it will be easier and quicker for doctors like Cury to share files with each other and have 3D models to use for planning and education prior to procedures.

The most impressive 3D printing stories often feature hopelessly old-school businesses, like GE.  This is because 3D printing is the ultimate non-disruptive technology.  It attaches itself to existing businesses and makes them better.  If you know only about 3D printing, and are not willing to cooperate with a regular business, forget about it.

All those stupid 3D printers that they tried to sell in Currys PC World a few years back were just ridiculous junk for making further even more ridiculous junk.

Sunday May 13 2018

One of the things about travel in foreign parts is that you regularly see things which you just do not understand.

And for me, when I was in Paris on May 5th, this photo, hastily snatched while crossing a road, definitely falls into the I Do Not Understand This category:

image

The buildings reflected in the window behind me introduce a note of sanity into an otherwise incomprehensible scene.  Why the upside down chickens?  And what has this to do with fortieth birthdays?

Shop windows are an endless source of photo-amusement for me.  I can enjoy it for ever, but without paying a thing or taking up any of my scarce home-space!

Busy day today, so that will have to do.

Saturday May 12 2018

I believe that many of the best photoers have a touch of the perve about them, and quite a few other photoers also.  At the very least, photoers sometimes have to be okay with people thinking they’re perves, which I suppose is part of what being a perve is.

So, for instance, in order to take these photos, I had to be using a camera in a public toilet:

imageimageimage

After we had done passport and baggage checking in for our Eurostar journey from the Gare du Nord back to London, nature had summoned me to the gents.  After I had answered my summons, I washed my hands, and then dried them in the hand dryer that you see above.  I had to leave to get my camera, and then go back there to photo the hand dryer.  Happily, nobody saw me at it.

The solidity and cleanability of the device inspired confidence.  I could see everything, so it would also need to look clean, which increased confidence that it almost certainly was clean.  Best of all, the heat was concentrated in a sort of horizontal sheet, if you get my meaning.  And you could move your hands up and down to where you needed to, to get rid of the last of the moisture.  It felt like it needed less power to do the same job, better.  And that of course is what its makers claim.

Those makers being Dyson, known to me until now only for their vacuum cleaners, and this is, as my photos had already told me, the Dyson Airblade dB hand dryer.

Capitalism just keeps on getting better, tiny step by tiny step, that being why this fact seldom hits the headlines.

Thursday April 26 2018

I like this, which I photoed this afternoon in my local laundrette:

image

I like the photo it makes, and I like the thing itself.  What I think I like about the thing itself is that it suggests to me that someone is putting an effort into this laundrette, like they care about it and intend for it to stick around.  In recent years, this places has seemed temporary, uncared for, intended for closure.  The above sign with socks suggests to me that the laundrette won’t be closing any time very soon.  Which I am very glad about.

Thursday April 12 2018

At the time of the Scottish Independence referendum, I discovered in myself a great fondness for the Union Jack.  Not for its political symbolism.  I see the break-up of the UK as pretty much, in the longer run, inevitable, and probably desirable.  We’d be rid of Scotland’s stupid politics, and they have to live with all the consequences of their stupid politics and would shape up.  Win win.  No, I just like the Union Jack as a design.

One of the many things I like about the Union Jack is how you can change the colours, yet still keep it clearly recognisable, as an altered Union Jack, but still a Union Jack.I don’t know any other flag design that works so well that way.

So, for instance, this afternoon, on my way from meeting up with a friend, I was in Wilton Road (I think it was) and I encountered this Union Jack variation:

image

Website.

Wednesday April 04 2018

Yes, a few days ago now, I had a haircut.  I like to get value for money, and get rid of lots of hair whenever it gets cut.  Here’s the before and after of it:

imageimageimage

Both of those photos are examples of Multiple Selfies, where, one way or another, you get two or more selfies instead of just the one.  The one on the right, if my camera screen and my camera and my mirror and your screen were all perfect (which they are far from), would have been an Infinitely Multiple Selfie, but in reality it only makes it to being what the one on the left is: a Double Selfie.

Note how in each case I artfully disguise the state of my chin(s?).  On the right by holding my head high and stretching it.  On the right with the careful (but alas not quite perfect) placing of the camera.  Sometimes, when selfie-ing I try to look my best.  Often, I just don’t bother.

I know what you’re thinking.  Selfies aren’t cool.  But look at it this way. The human face is interesting, but you can’t just photo Other People and shove their faces up on the WWW, WWWithout their permission.  It’s not polite.  It could make trouble for them, if they are strangers who didn’t want it known that they were in London, or if they are friends of mine and don’t want it know that they are friends of mine.  Which leaves my face as the only face it is convenient for me regularly to photo and then stick up here, with my oWWWn full permission.  I had to crop the Double Selfie on the left to cut out another bloke.  I did this because of internet etiquette, not raging egocentrism.  Besides which, if selfies are raging egocentrism, this is my blog and I’ll do whatever I want with it.

So anyway, back to the haircut.  I have been going to the local haircutting shop, Adriano’s, at the corner of Horseferry Road and Horseferry Road (it does a right angle kink), pretty much ever since I moved into my home in about 1990.  Every time I go there, I say: very short please, shorter than you usually do.  And the old bloke there (Adriano?), who has a full head of hair, starts snipping away, very carefully, and goes on for as long as he considers seemly.  The result looks great, but not as short as I want.  Once, I very nearly got what I wanted, when another bloke with shorter hair cut my hair shorter.

This time was different.  It was another bloke, with no hair on his head at all.  He is not completely bald, but he had that look where he was pretending he wasn’t partly bald by saying, I’m deliberately bald.  On purpose.  Without such deliberation, I would have hair all over my head!  It fools nobody because his hair immediately starts to grow again, and his actual baldness is quickly evident.

Anyway, I felt optimistic about this guy.  Make it almost as short as your hair, I said, but not quite.  Said he: OK.  Maybe, finally, I’d get the haircut I wanted.  I did.  Instead of the agonising, disapproving and prolonged snipping I was used to, Mr Baldie got an electric shearing device and just sheared it off, as if my head was a sheep.  It took less than a minute. The next three minutes was just tidying up, and it was all done.

Next time, if Mr Baldie does it again, I will take photos during as well as before and after, because these would have been outstanding.

I rather think that in the left hand one, above, before, a weird effect is that my hair is shorter on my right side than on the left.  This is because, being right-handed, I pull out more hair from the right side than the left side, when washing it in the bath.  (I wash it in the bath.)

Tuesday March 27 2018

I don’t quite know why I am so very fond of tourist crap shops.  I think it’s basically because of how very weird they are.  Also, perhaps, the notion that no-one else in my circle of friends and acquaintances gives them a second look, so I do, just to be different.  My friends and acquaintances certainly certainly wouldn’t consider the crap in tourist shops to be worthy of photo-immortality, and those are just the things that I think often make the best photos.

Consider this photo, taken recently in Piccadilly: 

image

What is particularly weird about that is how very unlike the actual Queen Elizabeth II those Queen Elizabeth IIs contrive to look.

And those Sherlock Holmeses are hardly any better.  In fact, they are probably worse.  Sherlock Holmes didn’t look like anything at all, because he was made up, by a writer of fiction.  But he surely doesn’t, in anyone’s mind, look like those Sherlock Holmeses.  They look like Sherlock Holmes as re-enacted in a school play, by a rather bad boy actor who couldn’t do make-up properly, and who therefore sought assistance from someone else who couldn’t do make-up properly.

It’s as if the people selling these things, and the people buying them, are all people to whom us white people all look alike.

Sunday March 25 2018

Fortnum & Mason are promoting their tea with their window displays just now, with giant teapots.

Here is a giant teapot made of bits of broken mirror, promoting Royal Blend:

image

And behind the teapot is me, and Piccadilly, and a woman walking along Piccadilly, into a giant pile of liquid-but-solid tea.  Reflections can be very strange.

And then, when I reached Green Park tube, I saw this, in the distance, maximum zoom:

image

It’s Nova, complete with its crane for cleaning its windows.  Weird because the light is so weird.  Cloudy, just getting dark, but not dark yet.

I love these window cleaner cranes.  Roof clutter above and beyond the call of duty.  Best of all are ones like these, which sometimes you see and sometimes not.

Monday March 12 2018

On March 21st, Roz Watkins, author of The Devil’s Dice, will be signing copies of that book at Waterstone’s Piccadilly, an event which I will attend.  This afternoon, finding myself in that part of London on account of needing a new battery for my ancient Casio watch, I dropped in on Waterstones to see what, if anything, they were doing with the book.

They had just one copy on show, in a New Crime Hardbacks display:

image

Can you spot it?  Memo to self: If I ever design a book cover, make the title on the front either in dark lettering with a light background, or with light lettering on a dark background.  The Devil’s Dice, with its light orange title on a light coloured sky, is second from the right, bottom row (on account of Watkins beginning with W).  Another memo to self: When I become a published author, have a surname starting with a letter near the beginning of the alphabet, rather than almost at the end.

Anyway, here’s a close-up of it, just so you know it was really there:

image

I needed another copy of the book, because I gave the advance copy Roz sent me to someone else.  But I was reluctant to buy the only copy of The Devil’s Dice that they had on show, thus depriving Waterstonians of any further sight of it.  I asked at the desk if they had a paperback.  Oh no, they said, not for at least six months.  I asked if they had any more copies on order.  Yes, said the lady, sounding rather impressed when her computer told her, we have eighty copies coming, ordered this morning.

I have no idea what that means.  Maybe those copies are just for the book signing, and maybe many will be sent back after that.  But maybe this is good, and reflects how well the original launch in Derby went, assuming that this did go well.  Anyway, with eighty more copies on their way to Waterstones, I bought that one copy that they had today.

See also, The Devil’s Dice with dog, in Waterstones Brighton.  Again, right down by the floor with the other Ws.

Thursday March 08 2018

Earlier today, in the Derby branch of Waterstone’s:

image

Standing on the staircase, top left, in a black dress, is Roz Watkins, speaking at the launch of her crime thriller, published today, The Devil’s Dice.

I mention Roz and her book here because she is my niece.  Another sign of getting old, to add to the collection: instead of boasting about elderly relatives who did great things in the past, e.g. WW2, you instead find yourself boasting about younger relatives who are doing great things now and who will probably do more great things in the future.

Roz sent me an advance copy of The Devil’s Dice and I am happy to report that I agree with all those effusively admiring Amazon reviewers.  Very absorbing, very well written.  I am now working on a longer piece about this book for Samizdata, which I hope will go up there tomorrow.  If not then, then soon.

Wednesday February 21 2018

One of the photos illustrating this report:

image

Can we please have a Lego London?

I just typed “lego london” into google, not expecting anything helpful.  A Lego cow in London.  Lego shops in London.  General Legonic activity of all kinds, in London.  I did not expect to be told, right at the top of the list, about making London in miniature, out of Lego.  But, I was immediately shown this:

image

Cancel my request for Lego London.  It already exists, and it is very bad.  Indeed, I would say that using Lego to mimic a very particular looking thing on a tiny scale is the very essence of what Lego is bad at doing, and the fact that Lego seems to spend so much of its time and trouble and focus and resources doing this exact thing spells its long-term doom.  The whole point of Lego, surely, is that you can make everything – everything, that is to say, that you can make out of it – with a few generic shaped objects.  Just like the Meccano of my youth, in other words, but architectural rather than mechanical.  A big Tower Bridge, yes, good idea.  A big Big Ben, not bad.  But tiny versions of these, stupid and totally unrealistic? See above.  Stupid.

For that, what you need is a 3D printer. And the smaller you make your small buildings, the more of them you can have in one spread.

A subset of them could be made to be exactly the right size for making buildings to attach to miniature railway layouts.  So, do railway modellers use 3D printers, to make, not trains, but train layout appendages?  It would make sense.

I just image googled railway modelling 3d printer, and got mostly 3D printed trains and train bits, rather than architecture.

Could making such models be the domestically owned 3D printer killer app?  Because so far, a domestically owned 3D printer killer app has been conspicuous by its total absence, and any company which has tried to make its fortune making domestically owned 3D printers has gone bust.  Such modelling – trains and houses and mountains and stuff - was all the rage when I was a kid, but all that has since been replaced by computer games.  But might not those computer games in their turn come to seem rather dated?  As is not the making of things now returning to the rich countries again, now that the computer guys are applying their wizardry to stuff-making?  Conceivably, toys may some time soon become three dimensional and material again, with swarms of robot cars and lorries replacing the trains.

Probably not, because things seldom just come back into style like that, any more than dance bands ever did or ever will.  More likely, the kid’s games of the future will involve some variation on virtual reality, which is to say they’ll be computer games only more so.  If so, we might see a further reduction in the crime rate (see below).

Saturday February 17 2018

I still get cheques through the post, and then I insert these cheques into my bank account by going physically to my local physical branch of my unlocal bank and by handing the cheques over to a cashier.  My bank, however, doesn’t like this.  Just like Tesco, they want me to do the work.  In Tesco’s case they now demand that I become my own check-out person and operate their computers for them.  So, it’s Sainsbury’s and Waitrose for me, from now on.  Bye bye Tesco.  In the bank’s case, they want me to do their work for them while I sit at home.  But, I like the exercise.  In the huge bank queue, I get to read a book concentratedly, because there is nothing else to do.  Good.

All of which is a preamble to the fact that when I came across this, I LedOL:

“Are you aware that you can now do all of this online?”

image

Genius.  K. J. Lamb, well done.

One of the many techniques they use to put you off actually going to the physical local branch of your Big Bank is to keep changing the people behind the bars.  And these total strangers are constantly, and insultingly, asking you to prove that you are who you are.  Well, madam, I’ve been banking with your bank for the last half century.  Who the hell are you?  Please could you give me proof that you actually do work here?

Someone should make a movie about a twenty first century bank robbery, where the robbers, who are disgruntled ex-employees of the Big Bank that owns the bank branch they bust into, bust into the bank branch, overpower the witless bunch of newbies who happen to be running the place that day, and park them all in a back room for the day with tape over their months, and then the robbers run the bank all day long, while one of their number hacks into the mainframe computer of the Big Bank that owns everything, and sucks all the money out of it.  The point is: none of the customers who visit the branch while all this is happening would find it in the slightest bit odd to be confronted by a bunch of total strangers.  That would ring no alarm bells at all, because this happens all the time.

Tuesday February 13 2018

I like to take sneaky selfies, with other amusing things.  I have a file full of such selfies with other amusing things, from which I extracted the photo below.  This sneaky selfie has something very amusing in it, besides me.  So much so that I rather suspect I was photoing it (back in March 2010), and that I only got in the picture by accident.

image

Why I like to take sneaky selfies will have to wait.  My concern now is the other amusing thing, the gymnasium I was photoing, through its big front window.  This was in Warwick Way, where another doomed enterprise, Blockbuster Video, used once to be.

The particularly amusing thing, to me, about this gymnasium was that throughout the few short months of its woebegone existence, I never once, despite going past it every time I ever shopped in either my local Sainsbury’s or my local Tesco, ever, saw anyone in it.  Nobody exercising.  Nobody doing anything.

My theory is that the big front window put people right off the idea of doing what for spectators would have been dance routines.  Besides which, Warwick Way is not really a gymnasium sort of locality.  People in the Warwick Way area get their exercise by doing such things as going to their preferred supermarket and then lugging their numerous carefully chosen purchases, maybe to their cars, but more probably straight to their homes, in big bags.  Special places set aside for taking exercise happen only in places where life itself does not supply enough exercise to all those present, or so goes my theory.

LATER: It now occurs to me, eight years later, that maybe this was not a gymnasium, but rather a place for selling gymnasium equipment.  But whatever, I never saw anyone in their, either exercising, or trying out exercising equipment with a view to purchasing it.

Wednesday January 24 2018

Yeah, another.  (See also: this one.) This time it was brief, and to the point, whatever point that was:

PHP has encountered an Access Violation at 7C8108EB

I don’t know how long that was the solitary message being sent out by this blog, but that was it.

It has become a priority for me to set up a new blog, powered by Wordpress, and I need someone who knows Wordpress to help me do that.  In exchange for money.  Anyone interested?  Anyone know anyone who might be interested?

This blog being this blog, I am pretty confident that the answer, here, will be: Comments (0).  This posting is more in the way of a memo to self.  This is the thing I now need to be cracking on with.