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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: Computer graphics

Thursday August 28 2014

This afternoon, The Guru is coming by to reconstruct God, so God (the other one) willing, I will be back in serious computing business by this evening.

When I was recently in Brittany, my hosts supplied me with a state-of-the-art laptop and a state-of-the-art internet connection.  These last few days, without God (my one) and having to make do with Dawkins (my obsolete and clunky little laptop, the thing I am typing into now), I have felt less connected to the world than I did in Brittany.  I am connected, after a fashion.  But Dawkins is so slow and clunky that I have been doing only essentials (like finding out about England being hammered in the ODI yesterday), and checking incoming emails, and shoving anything however bad up here once every day.  It’s like I’ve regressed to about 2000.

I have managed to put up a few pictures here, in God’s absence.  But Dawkins’ screen makes these pictures look terrible.  I am looking forward to seeing God’s version of these pictures and hope they will be greatly improved compared to what I am seeing now.

Thank God (the other one) I haven’t been depending on God (my one) for music.  As I have surely explained here many times, one big reason I prefer CDs (and separate CD players scattered around my home) to all this twenty first century computerised music on a computer is that if God goes wrong, as he just has, I don’t lose music.  I also have music concerts recorded off of the telly, onto DVDs, which I can play on my telly, which is likewise a completely separate set-up to God.

In general, the argument against having everything done by one great big master computer is that when something goes wrong with that master computer, everything else in your life also goes wrong, just when you may need those things not to.  One of the things that willgo wrong, rather regularly, with your all-in-one master computer is when this or that particular one of its excessively numerous functions becomes seriously out of date.  I mean, if it has a vacuum cleaner included, what happens if vacuum cleaners suddenly get hugely better?  In Brian world, all I have to do is get another new and improved vacuum cleaner, and chuck out the old one.  In all-in-one master computer world, you are stuck with your obsolete vacuum cleaner.  Or, if you can, you have to break open your all-in-one master computer and fit a new vacuum cleaner, and probably also lots of other new stuff to make sure the new vacuum cleaner works, which buggers up a couple of your other functions that used to work fine but which no longer work fine.  Or at all.  I prefer to keep things simple, and separate.

Something rather similar applies with how to handle (the other) God.  That is another arrangement you don’t want to have running the whole of your life for you either.  It’s okay if you do God for some of the time and keep Him in his place, but you want scientists telling you about science, doctors about medicine, and your work colleagues about your work, and so on.  If, on the other hand, absolutely everything in your life, and worse, everything in the entire world you live in, is controlled by ((your version of) the other) God, everything is very liable to go to Hell.  (Aka: Separation of Church and State.  Aks: don’t be a religious nutter.)

I have my own particular take on (the other) God, which is that He is made-up nonsense.  But just as wise believers in (the other) God don’t let that dominate their thinking on non-God things, nor do I think that my opinions about (the other) God can explain everything else as well.  These opinions merely explain the particular matter of (the other) God being made-up nonsense.

Do not, as they say, put all your eggs in one basket.

Monday August 18 2014

Richard Morrison’s article about the impact of WW1 on music, for the Times, is very interesting, but it suffers from an outbreak of PID (Permanent Italics Disease).  This is when you switch on the italics, but then forget or fail to switch them off again.  Here is a screen capture of the offending moment and its surroundings:

image

This was posted on August 16th, in connection with a Prom that happened last night, but it has yet to be corrected, as I write this.

PID is particularly pernicious when it afflicts not only the rest of the text of the piece itself, but then continues throughout the entire page as you see it, as it does here.  That is a site software blunder, as well as a posting blunder.

I got to this piece via Arts and Letters Daily, which perhaps explains how I got to it at all, what with the Times paywall and all.  Does anyone know how that system is working out for the Times?

It seems a bit shoddy that you have to pay for such typographical ineptitude.  It’s not so much the original error that I am unimpressed by.  It’s the fact that nobody quickly corrected it.  And the fact that the site software doesn’t confine the problem to the one posting.

To be a bit more serious, about the content of the article, I have long regretted Schoenberg’s depressing impact upon music, but I had no idea that the man himself was such a German chauvinist.  “Now we will throw these mediocre kitschmongers into slavery, and teach them to venerate the German spirit and to worship the German God …” Good grief.

Friday August 15 2014

Yes, I’ve been in France, and now I’m back.  Have been for several days actually, but I spent my recent blogging time doing this, which is a photo-decorated ramble on various things I saw in France, or thought I did, for Samizdata.

I really want to get back into the swim of things over there, after a recent dry spell, and was accordingly determined to finish that ramble before I resumed rambling here.

Since this is Friday, here are some French cats.

Cat number one stands outside Vannes town hall:

image

Cat number two is impressively perched on an impressively high ledge, somewhere or other.  Cat number three, the cat of the friends I was staying with, is shown here, not being very impressed with cat number two:

image

This photo was taken by Tony, to whom thanks, and to whom thanks also for emailing it to me.

Here, on the other hand are two further photos that I did take of cat number three:

image image

No, I don’t know why his right ear is green on the inside.  I only noticed this when I got home.

His name is Caesar (sp?), and he actually does answer to that name.  It’s not tone of voice, it’s the name, because when I said this to him for the first time, he immediately looked up to see what I had in mind.

There is another cat, Basil, who drops by at the home of Tony et famille from time to time, but he is more shy.  He was otherwise engaged, on my last day there which was when I finally decided I wanted to photo the two cats.  Caesar showed up, but not Basil.  Another time, maybe.

Caesar is now very old, and I may never meet with him again.  We got on well.

Friday July 18 2014

Here is a London picture, with the River Thames turned into a floor, very badly carpeted with very bad carpet tiles:

image

It’s Google Maps’s 3D-isation of London.

Despite the bad river carpeting, I would like to explore this Virtual London.  But none of the reports I read of this exciting new virtuality tell me how can do this.  Can I?  And if I can, will I have to pay?

Friday July 11 2014

City A.M. has a report about another possible bridge across the Thames, this one being one that will connect Chelsea to Battersea.  There is another map here, also showing all the various options for where exactly to put this bridge.  And I see that I already mentioned this Chelsea to Battersea bridge idea in this earlier posting.

This makes three new London bridges that are now being talked up, planned, hustled, whatever.  There is also the Joanna Lumley bridge, which will go from Temple tube station to across the river from Temple Tube station, or then again maybe not.  Both this and the Chelsea to Battersea bridge are footbridges and bikebridges, but they are also forever talking about a big road bridge just down river from City Airport.

If this Chelsea to Battersea bridge gets built, it will be only a dozen minutes (two to three dozen minutes if I want to get close) from my front door, so you can bet that (although I promise nothing) I will be photographing its progress relentlessly.

I hope they make it look good.  Bridges can look so great that it is a serious shame when they don’t look great.  It’s good that they’re going to have a competition for this one.  This, I think, will unleash a contemporary force that is starting to interest me a lot, which is internet informed public opinion.  Now, all the various contending pictures of what they might or might not do can get published and talked about beforehand, far more easily than in the years B(efore the) I(nternet).  The people who rule the world basically don’t care exactly where, or even if, this bridge gets built, so they are perfectly willing to let its final design be settled by Vox Pop.  And Vox Pop, when it comes to bridges, is a force for good, I think. If you are going to spend 8X million quid on a bridge, you might as well spend 9X million quid and make it look really good and distinctive.  That’s what I think Vox Pop will say, and for once I agree.

LATER ON FRIDAY (i.e. not the small hours of Friday morning): More bridgery today from City A.M., this time in the form of a plug for that East London road bridge, already mentioned above.

Monday July 07 2014

Not long ago my Computer Guru persuaded me to upgrade my version of OpenOffice to the latest version.  I then had to reset the default font for typing bog standard text into a bog standard word processing file in OpenOffice Writer, latest version.  It insited on using Times Roman 12 pt.  I wanted Verdana 13pt, and eventually I managed to persuade OpenOffice Writer to do this every time.  Then my computer got stuck and I had to switch it off, but when it came back on again, this resetting was forgotten, and I had to do it all over again.  I was back with bloody Times Roman bloody 12pt, again.  It was a small nightmare, again, to get it to do Verdana 13pt, again, without it having to be told, again.

At least there is an internet, to which questions of this sort can be put.  The answers are a maelstrom of gibberish, but at least you narrow the gibberish down a bit.  Main rule: beware any answer which includes the word “forum”.  Forums are full of wrong answers and answers to wrong answers along the lines of: I did all that but nothing happened.

The basic problem with computers is that because they can do more and more with each passing yeart, it is becoming harder and harder to persuade them to do the one simple thing that you personally want them to do.  You are surrounded by vast and growing explosion of things which the damn computer can do but which you don’t want it to do, which makes it almost impossible to find the one little set of buttons that, if pushed, will make it do the one little tiny thing that you do want it to do.  If there are only three available fonts to choose between, and changing that font setting is about all that can be changed, then it is relatively easy.  But the more complicated the programme gets, the more difficult it becomes to make it do “easy” things with it.

And now, with those sneer quotes, I have just discovered that they have to be reset as well.  This has to be done because if quotes are done the way the unmodified programme wants to do them, that buggers up links when I transfer the text to my various blogging locations.

That was a nightmare too, first time around.  Now, I must endure that nightmare, again.

The fact that there are now two – maybe several – versions of “Open Office Writer” (those sneer quotes are now working, it would appear) out there adds an extra dimension of shititude to this whole shitty shituation.

I still have to make the damn programme refrain from adding extra space between paragraphs.  I do spaces between paragraphs with an extra carriage return, because that too is how text needs to be when I transfer it to a blog.  Bugger bugger bugger.  The nightmares just keep coming.

If you are a geek who understands computer stuff but not people, then your response to all this will be: “Easy – you just to “^)3y6t65+££@{{{ +++ %*%&%**%% ==== XYZXYZXYZ” - what could be simpler?” Answer: Just about anything in the whole damn world would be simpler.

The real nightmare is that soon, all appliances will also be computers.  Whereas it now remains possible to simply switch, say, a vacuum cleaner, you know, on, soon that formerly simple process will become another nightmare of persuasion and internet interrogation, simply to get it to vacuum the way you want rather than the way you absolutely do not want.  People will be buying whole new machines, entirely because they can’t make the damn machine do what the machine is perfectly willing to do, provided only that you know which of seventy-nine buttons to push and what order to push them in.  Ditto kettles, washing machines, fridges, everything.

As I often warn readers, this blog will, as I get older, be, more and more, about the process of me getting old.

Don’t get me started on automatic supermarket checkout machines.

Friday July 04 2014

Further to this posting, more incoming from Darren, following my interest in further Oval views, looking to the right of the Spraycan shot in that earlier posting, towards the middle of London:

Here’s the other photo I took at the same time. No Shard, but you can just see Victoria Tower (The King’s Tower) with a nice crane alongside. Not a great view, but then again actually pretty good considering it was taken with a device whose main purpose it to access the internet.

Yes, cranes are always good.  Here at BrianMicklethwaitDotCom, we like cranes.  And yes, we can all see the Other Parliament Tower, by which I mean the other one besides Big Ben:

image

But now take a closer look (good thing Darren sent me the full sized version rather than a cut-down version) at that Thing Cluster, in the middle:

image

Now you can also see Big Ben itself, and the BT Telecom Tower or whatever it may have decided lately to call itself instead.  I know this Thing as the GPO Tower, and it was the first of London’s modern Big Things.  And there it is, to the left of the spike that is Big Ben.  (Here is another BT Tower picture, one of my best ever snaps, I think.)

The point of photos like Darren’s, and like the previous one taken from the same spot, is not that they are perfect photos.  They are not.  They were taken with a mobile phone, in fading light, for heavens sakes.  What matters is that such photos show what can be photographed from this or that vantage point, what (if you have really good eyesight, better than mine) you can see.

If anyone else - me for instance - wants to go there with a better camera with a zoomier zoom, we now know what we are looking for.  We know that a pictorial snark is there to be hunted.

Monday June 30 2014

Incoming from 6k, about a dramatic Big Things photo that he came across, via a Facebook friend.  There is also a blog posting at his place about it, and about how I might like it, which indeed I do.

I’ve done what he suggested and have thinned it for here:

image

He has the whole thing, and here it is even bigger.  Very dramatic, I think you will agree.

6k entitles his posting “Waterloo sunset”.  This is a fine Kinks song, but sunsets are defined by where you are when you see them, and this photo was taken from the other side from Waterloo of the Big Things of the City of London, which is what these Big Things are.  He has most of them identified, but his big omission (no criticism intended - he is, after all, now 6k miles away) is the tallest one, in the middle.  This is the Cheesegrater.

My first thought was that this view might have been taken from the spot I visited last January, when I took these Big Thing photos.

But that isn’t right.  However, some other photos I took that day that do point at the approximate spot where the above sunset photo was, I think, taken from.

Photos like this one, also thinned:

image

6k’s sunset photo was taken from somewhere in among those houses on the other side of the river, with the Shard sticking up behind, on the left of my photo.

Here is a slice of Google Map which shows were everyone is:

image

I was where it says “ME”.  The Big Things of the City are where it says “BIG THINGS”, and 6k’s anonymous photographer was standing somewhere very approximately where I have put “?”.  The spot I chose for “?” is something called Stave Hill Ecological Park, which sounds very promising, what with it maybe being a hill.  I have never been there and I must check it out.  But, that’s only my guess.  The photographer could have been quite a bit further south and/or west.  Don’t know.

But there is more.  While going through the photos I took last January, comparing them with 6k’s sunset photo, I came across this one, which I have again thinned:

image

Again, click to get the bigger version.

Now, in the middle there, unmistakably (with three unmistakable holes in its top), is the Strata.

But, and I only spotted this today, almost directly behind it is the equally unmistakable Spraycan, unmistakable because in the dark, that is how the Spraycan is always lit up.

Here is a close up of the two of them:

image

The Strata is at the Elephant and Castle, and the Spraycan is way over in Vauxhall.  Beyond Waterloo, in other words.  Once again, I hit google maps, to check on the alignment of these two favourite Big Things, and it all fits.  By and by, I shall return to that same spot, to take more and better versions of this photo.

Like I always say, my camera has better eyesight than I have.  On days like that one, it almost invariably sees far more than I see.

Thursday June 26 2014

From City A.M. today (again):

Chequeholders will soon be able to cash their payment almost instantly by taking a photo on their smartphone and sending it to the bank.

The government’s Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill will allow banks to process cheques using “digital imaging” technology for the first time.

As well as removing the hassle of a visit to the bank, the new scheme is expected to allow cheques to be cleared in two days, instead of the current six.

Yet another surprising impact of digital photography.  Had I known about it when I gave that talk I did about this, I’d have given this a mention.

Tuesday June 24 2014

Here’s a piece entitled Google Glass:10 reasons Brits won’t buy it.  The basic argument is: it’s creepy, it’s uncool, it has various other more specific disadvantages.

I think that the writer of this piece, Robyn Vinter, makes the very common error of saying that a piece of kit won’t catch on because, in her opinion it is, in a general sort of way, not nice or not good.  I know it’s only a jokey piece, pandering to ignorant prejudice and general technophobia, but it contains a serious and wrong idea about how technology gets established in the wider world.

Technology doesn’t catch on because people like Robyn Vinter think that it’s cool.

Technology or software, or whatever, catches on because it solves a particular problem for a particular group of people, and they start using it.  People like Robyn Vinter then say: ooh, how very uncool you are.  And the people using the thing say: guess what Robyn Vinter, we don’t care what you think, we are finding it extremely useful, to do what we want to do.  If you don’t think we look cool, this is entirely your problem and absolutely not our problem at all.  Gradually other uses for the thing in question accumulate, and quite a few people use it for several different things and get really excited and try to use it for everything, because they now like it so much.  If enough uses are found, then the alleged uncoolness of the thing just gets overwhelmed by people using it, in public, in full view, and to hell with the coolists.  If the coolists still want to write articles about how uncool this thing is, even though thousands of their potential readers are now using it, then they are pushed aside and other writers willing to say that it’s cool after all are told to write that instead.

So the question is: will Google Glass be useful enough?  Basically, it would appear to be a screen that you can use while you are doing something else, to do computer stuff and regular stuff at the same time.  Sounds extremely useful to me, for ... various things that I now know not of.  But I am sure things will turn up that it is very useful for, even essential for.  Work, basically.  Not strutting about in the street.  No.  Getting worthwhile things done, more efficiently, faster.  That kind of thing.  We’ll soon see, anyway.

This guy is much more optimistic.  Better, he understands how Google Glass will or will not catch on.  What can it do?  Not enough, yet, seems to be his answer.  But that may change.  My guess is it will change.

See also, this piece by me from way back, about another sort of coolist with delusions of grandeur.

And see also these pictures of another useful thing being used in an allegedly very uncool way, namely people taking photos with tablets.  This tendency has in no way abated since I took those snaps.  Quite the opposite.

There is also a definite whiff, in Robyn Vinter’s piece, of the status anxiety I wrote about in this recent piece here, if not in Vinter herself then in the readers she is appealing to.  What if this gizmo makes us look and feel stupid?  What if it demotes us in the pecking order?  The answer is: if it does, it does.  That won’t stop it being used.

Friday June 20 2014

One of my favourite computer functions is Screen Capture.  For years, I didn’t know how to do this.  How is “prt sc” screen capture?  I used to just photo the screen.  Then I got told, and more to the point, told at a time just before I found many uses for this procedure, and as a result, I actually got it fixed in my head.

So it is that I am able to capture fleeting moments like this one:

image

That was the passage of play that turned the game England’s way, today, on day one of the test match at Headingley.  Sri Lanka went from 228-5 and motoring to 229-9, in nine balls.  In among all this, Broad got a hat trick, but didn’t even realise and had to be told!  There was then a little last wicket stand and they got to over 250, but the big damage had been done.

Here is another interesting moment, which is the moment when they show me all the guys who worked on Adobe Photoshop, while I am loading Adobe Photoshop.

But, the trouble is, when I do a Screen Capture while that is happening, it doesn’t work.  What gets captured is the moment when Adobe Photoshop is finally loaded.  Until then, I guess my computer is too busy loading Photoshop to do a Screen Capture.  Either all that, or else I just wasn’t doing it right, as is entirely possible.

But instead of obsessing about what I might or might not be doing wrong, I instead simply photographed the moment, just like old times:

image

The reason I wanted to photo this was all the Indian names, in among the occasional regular American ones.  Interesting.  Where are they all based, I wonder?  I’m guessing somewhere in the USA, but what do I know?  Adobe seems to have a lot of places where they could be. And of course, if something like Adobe doesn’t know how to plug a global network of co-workers together, who does?  From where I sit, these Indian guys could be anywhere.  Even so, like I say, interesting.

A lot of the Americans I read on the Internet say that Obama is destroying America, and he seems to be doing as much as he can along these lines.  But there is a lot of ruin in a country, and a lot of ruin in American.  This screen shot suggests that at least parts of the good old American upward economic mobility ladder are working just fine.

Thursday June 19 2014

And me photoing the two of them, of course, last night on Westminster Bridge.  Time and again, I only really see what I have photoed when I get home and really look at them all.

So, example, when I photoed this spikey-haired guy, I thought that all I was doing was photoing a photographer who was photoing Big Ben.  I was doing that, but it turns out I was doing even more than that:

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See the bottom left of his screen.

Was he doing this on purpose?  Does he share my fascination with other photographers?  I have another shot that is very similar, and in that one also, there is that same photographer, in the bottom left hand corner?  The fact that he held that exact shot, with the other photographer present and photoing, says to me that it might well have been deliberate.

Tuesday May 13 2014

Today, when out and about, I encountered a big building site with a website on it, and when I got home I investigated.  And I found my way to this computer-modified photo of Victoria Street, other side of from me:

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Click on that and you get the bigger picture, which I am keeping here, for when it inevitably disappears from its original home.

Masterplan my nether regions.  More like a random assemblage of mostly rather ugly great lumps, with no discernible aesthetic affinity other than lots of plate glass being involved, with lots of strange little peculiarly shaped spaces in between.  The London Look, in other words.  Perfect.

For the benefit of all those pathetic wretches reading this who are not native to London, the London Look of my title is a reference to this advertising campaign.

Monday May 05 2014

Here:

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On Saturday, having dropped Goddaughter 2 off at Westminster Tube, I took a stroll over Westminster Bridge and snapped snappers, just like old times.  And the rising tide of people photoing with smartphones rather than just with dedicated cameras was unmistakable.  With about the next but one iteration of the smartphone, will there be any small digital cameras left?  Soon, it will likely be as above.  Big old Real Cameras, and lots of smartphones.

Or then again, maybe instead of all phones having cameras in them, some cameras will have phones in them, and small, cheap digital cameras will carry right on as if nothing had happened.

Wednesday April 23 2014

Before I forget to link to it, here, very belatedly, is a link to four pictures of central London in the Guardian, which, if you left-click on them, suddenly become populated with soon-to-be-built new Big Things.

This, for example, …:

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… turns, when you left-click on it, into this:

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That’s the changing picture of the south bank of the river, just upstream from me.

My personal opinion is: it looks great!  By which I mean not that the second of these pictures looks great, but that the development it attempts to picture will look great, or at least much better than this picture.

This is a general fact about the new Big Things of London of the last decade and more, I think.  All of them have ended up looking, to my eye, better for real than the models and photos of them beforehand looked, which are just too boxy and bland and unrealistic to capture the feeling of how new Big Things will really look.

In particular, the Walkie Talkie looked, to me, terrible, when it was only a faked up computer image.  Now, I like it more and more.  It’s odd.  It’s not beautiful exactly, but it has character.  Once you see it, you don’t forget it.  In short, it is like London.

These new Big Things will, I predict, be like that also.  You can bet that all the architects involved will be trying desperately to upstage each other, by making at least half of these new Big Things systematically more interesting and oddly shaped than these computer mock-ups now make them look.

It occurs to me also to wonder how much difference the ubiquity of such imagery before Big Things get built affects the chances of such Big Things being built.  Could such widely-viewed-in-advance pictures perhaps make Big Thing building easier, by mobilising the support of those who, like me, would like such new buildings a lot, but don’t see it as a life-and-death struggle, the way many opponents of such Big Things perhaps do.  If that’s right, the opponents keep themselves and each other informed even when that is hard, and fight like hell to stop such Things, either out of aesthetic hatred or because some particular Big Thing will, they reckon, wreck their back yard.  Now, we less rabid supporters can all say Go Ahead Build It, but without busting our guts and doing lots of complicated research and politicking, because finding out and saying GABI is now so much easier.