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: Computer graphics

Thursday February 07 2019

There’s a bridge right near where I live that is wending its way through politics to the point where geography and physics and civil engineering will take over, and they will actually start building it.

I refer to the biking-and-walking-only bridge that will eventually join Battersea to Pimlico:

image

The bridge is at the stage where they are trying to pacify objectors to it.  Hence this Canaletto-like pseudo-photo, in which the actual bridge itself is hardly to be seen at all!  How could anyone possibly object to this wraith-like presence, scarcely visible through the mist rising from the river and bathing everything in obscurity?  The steel struts that will eventually to be seen holding up the actual bridge are invisible in this pseudo-photo, so it’s just as well that the bridge itself, as (just about) seen here, is made by laser-beams projecting into the mist and weighs nothing at all!  If you want to protest, protest about those big lumpy old boats clogging up the river and making such a rumpus, not the ghost bridge.

That’s the trouble with infrastructure.  Those who will be disrupted by it know exactly who they are, or they think they do.  But the far greater number of people who will have their lives somewhat improved by by this or that item of infrastructure only find out about this after it comes on stream.  On in this case, on river.

My guess is: I will like this bridge, and will quite often walk across it, if only to avoid a there-and-back-the-same-way walk to and from Battersea.  (Now, to avoid this, I often take the train from Battersea to Victoria, and then walk home from there, past my local supermarkets.) But that’s only a guess.  Meanwhile, those who now live in the peace and quiet of Georgian Pimlico just know that their sleep will from now on be ruined by noisy bike gangs at 4am, making their way from Notting Hill (after a spot of carnival rioting) to Brixton, and if not by that then by something else equally unwelcome, perhaps originating in Battersea and walking across the river, while probably being drunk.  Why take the chance?  So, if they can stop the bridge, they’ll stop it, just to make sure.

Saturday January 26 2019

This looks promising.  I’ve been waiting all my life for a really good orchestral concert hall, to replace the abominable Royal Festival Hall, and it looks more and more like the City of London is going to oblige.

Here’s how they are now saying it will look:

image

Well, maybe it really will look like that.

Here’s what the outside will look like:

image

Combines being boring with being ungainly and awkward.  But then, that was what I thought when I first saw the fake-photos for the Walkie-Talkie, and now I love that Thing.  Maybe this Thing will play out the same.  Hope so.

This is how the top of it will look:

image

This is apparently where the horror that is Jazz will be perpetrated.  Sorry, if you like Jazz. If you like it, like away.  But I hate it, ever since it stopped being pop music.

But, that view looks great.  So, the question is: Do I like great views out over London, more than I hate Jazz?

A good way to learn more about this building, what it consists of and where it is, is to watch the video in this Classic FM report.

As for their report, I particularly like when they quote Simon Rattle, whose musical castle this will surely be:

At the press briefing for the new concept designs, Simon Rattle batted away concerns surrounding Brexit, saying: “It’s important for us to remember there are other things going on in this country other than Brexit.

“It won’t make anything easier, but we are trying to deal with something else at the moment. I think we also have to place our confidence in the extraordinary cultural life of this country, and support it.”

Life goes on.  I sense that Brexit Acceptance may now be setting in.

They say it’s going to cost a mere £288 million.  You can double that.  But The City will surely find the money, and I am very glad that The City is having to find the money.  I love classical music, more than life, but nobody who is indifferent to it should be forced to pay for the likes of me to listen to it being performed.  (Any more than I should have to pay for Jazz.)

Wednesday January 16 2019

With thanks to Patrick Crozier‘s Twitter feed, this, posted by Steve Stewart-Williams.

He got it from Denny Borsboom, who says (at his Facebook page), this:

Different scientific models can have equivalent observational consequences. In statistics, this is known as statistical equivalence; in the philosophy of science, underdetermination of theory by data. This is often hard to explain and I know few good illustrations that go beyond Wittgenstein’s duckrabbit. This GIF is a really nice illustration - and beautiful too.

If I knew how to post a GIF here, I would.  But I couldn’t make that work.

For me, the the star with seven points is the most remarkable aspect of this.

Wittgenstein’s duckrabbit is presumably that creature that looks like both a duck and a rabbit, depending.

Tuesday January 15 2019

Thursday looks like being the first properly sunny day (though still with plenty of clouds) since I don’t know when:

image

That’s what the short-term weather forecast forecasts, and short-term weather forecasts are very dependable.  (Longer than short-term forecasts (more than a few days) have a random connection to the truth, and ride entirely on the authority earned by the the short-term forecasts.)

So, Thursday will be the day for my first big photo-walkabout of the new year.  If I don’t think of anywhere better, I will start by visiting this place.

Saturday January 12 2019

It’s been a while since I visited the Isle of Dogs.  Here are some photos I photoed of a building site there, next to the river, in January 2014:

imageimageimageimageimage

I wonder how all this looks now.  I’m pretty sure I know where this is.  Google Maps is good enough for that.  But not for the up-to-date story.

In decades to come, if will presumably be possible to go pretty much anywhere that’s public, virtually, without leaving your dwelling pod..  But for now, the only way to be sure about a place like this is to go there and see.

Tuesday January 08 2019

Recently, I bought a book on Amazon, about English as a Global Language.  I’ve not read it right through yet, but it seems really good.

As regulars here will know, one of the things I like to do is reproduce short excerpts from books.  This I do by scanning.  But, unfortunately, my copy of English as a Global Language came to me full of underlinings of what the previous owner consider to be significant sentences and phrases.  For what it’s worth, I often agreed with his choices.  But such underlinings play havoc with scanning, so I wanted them gone.

Luckily they were not in ink, only in pencil.  So, an eraser of some kind ought to do the trick.  So, where could I buy an eraser locally?  I actually wasn’t sure.  It would certainly be a palaver.  So, maybe I already owned an eraser.  I had a rootle through a couple of small transparent crates, which I use to keep such things as pens, pencils, felt tip markers, and so forth and so on.

I found several erasers, all hard as rock.  They hadn’t been used for a decade and they might as well have been plastic cutlery for all the use they were for removing pencil marks.  But then, I came across this:

image

Just like everything else in the crate, this thing had not been touched for a decade.  This too would prove useless, surely.

But no.  It worked perfectly.  The rubber was as soft and useable as it was the day, lost in the mists of time of the previous decade or even longer, when I first acquired it.  Amazing.  And the print of the book was utterly untouched, so soft was the rubber of this wondrous item.

One of the things you seldom see on the internet is any reportage of how well something works a decade later.  Usually the reviews are instant.  Does it work now?  If it does, five stars, or four if you have some minor quibble about it.

So now, I am delighted to report that the STAEDTLER Mars plastic, or whatever it’s called, has real staying power, as a remover of pencil marks.  Buy a STAEDTLER Mars plastic now, and if you still have it a decade hence, it will still work.

The thing is, it was such a trivial task.  To have to have spent an afternoon wandering around London SW1 looking for a new eraser would have been so annoying.  To be able to get erasing right away was just so satisfying, compared to all that nonsense.  That the actual erasing took hardly any time at all only emphasises the contrast between how well things went and how annoyingly they would have gone, in the absence of my STAEDTLER Mars plastic.

I may never do any actual scanning of this book, but that’s not the point.  The point is, now I can, with no bother.

Friday December 28 2018

Samizdata Supremo Perry de Havilland likes hippos.  A rather disconcerting thing that happens to you from time to time if you are a Samizdata contributor is that if you do a posting, but forget to add categories to it, the default category that gets added automatically is: Hippos.

So, anyway, yes, Perry likes hippos, so a friend of his gave him a hippo for Christmas.  It was presented to him at Chateau Samizdata on Christmas Eve, where I was also present.

I photoed it:

image

Trouble is, the hippo is all black, and my camera didn’t do very well.  (The above result reminded me of this Samizdata posting that I did last year, about a very black sort of black.)

I tried lots of photo-editing, but I’m not sure that this was really much of an improvement:

image

But yes, this really is also a bottle opener.  (I’m pretty sure it’s this one.) The friend who got it told me beforehand that it was a bottle opener also.  Would Perry really want it, if the bottle opener turned out not to work very well.  I said: if it’s a hippo, Perry will want it.

Monday December 24 2018

Here is Renzo Piano’s design for a new bridge in Genoa to replace the one that collapsed:

image

Nice, I think.  Does the job, with no fuss and much elegance.

A lot of the “photos” make this look like the Millau Viaduct.  However, the spikes on the top are light fittings, not structural columns.  All the load bearing is done by the columns under the roadway.

Thursday November 29 2018

Again from designboom, this posting about a Ukrainian rug-maker who is souping up his designs with modern references.  I particularly like this one:

image

This works for many reasons, one of them being that there is something very medieval and nostalgic about the whole Star Wars franchise, and lots of cinematic and other scifi in general.  Faster than light travel, for instance, isn’t modern.  It is a bogus technology trick for turning the future back into the Middle Ages, into a world full of faraway wonders and monsters, but not so far away that you can’t reach them soon enough to still be alive when you get there and make your visit count.

By the way, I think “designboom” postings are very badly designed.  The basic problem, although not the only one, is their juvenile refusal to understand capital letters, and their determination instead only to use capital letters for acronymic organisations (like, in this case: “OLK"), but never to signal the beginning of a sentence, or the beginning of a heading.  Or for something like Star Wars.  This is stupid when you are simply writing a chunk of prose.  But it is seriously stupid at a website, because websites are tricky to make clear at the best of time.  Boom?  No.  Fail.  Pity, because they seem to have a lot of good stuff.

This blog, the one you are reading now, is much better designed.  To look at I mean.  Not how it works, which is very badly.

Thursday November 22 2018

Following yesterday’s very generic, touristy photos of the Albert Memorial (although some of them did involve a breast implant), here is a much more temporary photo, of the sort most tourists wouldn’t bother with:

image

You obviously see what I did there, lining up what looks like a big, all-seeing eye with a clutch of security cameras, cameras made all the scarier by having anti-pigeon spikes on them.

And what, I wondered when I encountered this in my archive, and you are wondering now, is the provenance of that big eye?

Turns out, it was this:

image

So, not actually a photo about and advert for the Total Surveillance Society.  It merely looked like that.

However, just two minutes later, from the same spot of the same electronic billboard, I took this photo:

image

So as you can see, the Total Surveillance Society was definitely on my mind.  Terrorism, the blanket excuse for everyone to be spying on everyone else.  The two minute gap tells me that I saw this message, realised it was relevant, but it then vanished and I had to wait for it to come around again.  Well done me.

According to the title of the directory, and some of the other photos, I was with a very close friend.  A very close and very patient friend, it would seem.  Hanging about waiting for a photo to recur is the sort of reason I usually photo-walk alone.

I took these photos in Charing Cross railway station on April Fool’s Day 2009.  I would have posted them at the time, but in their original full-sized form, they unleashed a hurricane of messy interference patterns.  But just now, when I reduced one of them to the sort of sizes I use for here, those interference patterns went away.  I thought that these patterns had been on the screen I was photoing.  But they were merely on my screen, when I looked at my photos.  And then, when I resized all the photos, it all, like I said, went away.  Better late than never.

Monday November 19 2018

Another for the Department of I’ll-Believe-It-When-I-See-It:

image

Yes, a Tulip, for the City of London, right next to (and dwarfing) the Gherkin, a Big Thing from which to gaze at and photo all the other nearby Big Things:  And to be photoed from the other Big Things, and from everywhere else in the vicinity.

No comments on that Dezeen report (with lots more photos (i.e. fake photos)) as of me now writing this, but I expect a lot of derision from people who dismiss it as a mere Foster publicity stunt.  Which I dare say it is.

I’m for it of course, even if it will surely cost a fortune to actually go up it.  So I won’t be doing that very much, I don’t suppose.  But I will photo it constantly, from near and from far.

What’s the betting it does get built, but not in London?

Thursday November 08 2018

This is not an advert for a book.  Well, it is, but that’s not my purpose in showing it here.  My angle is my niece, the crime fiction writer Roz Watkins, who is quoted here, enthusing about the book:

image

The point being that, with what seems to me like remarkable speed, Roz has turned herself into someone whose opinion about other people’s writing is considered worth quoting.

I found the above graphic at her Twitter feed, along with her thanks for having been described as “the great Roz Watkins” by a grateful publisher.  Everything about Roz’s public and social media presence says to me, and I am sure to everyone else who is following her, that she is very serious about her writing career.  Deadly serious, you might say.

This matters, because readers of crime fiction need to know that, if they invest their time and curiosity and shelf space, to say nothing of their cash, in a leading character, this investment will pay off.  The energetic and upbeat way that Roz presents herself says that there will be plenty more books about her lead detective.  There is already a second Meg Dalton tale coming out next April, and if several more Meg Daltons do not follow, at a speed no faster than (but no slower than) is consistent with the maintenance of quality, I for one will be very surprised.

Tuesday November 06 2018

I remember, during the reign of President Bush Jnr., how I used to blog about how photography was used to glorify President Bush.  Well, here’s another political photo of a rather similar sort, which has been an open window on my computer for some time:

image

What I find entertaining about this photo is the extreme contrast between the clearly very humdrum appearance, for real, of the old guy in the photo, and the way that (I suspect) pushing just one Photoshop button has turned this same guy into something almost heroic.

The headline above the photo is telling:

The most consequential conservative leader of the century? He’s still alive, in office and owed an apology

The old guy in the photo-edited photo is US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom the Tea Party people used to regard as a waste-of-space sell-out, but who is now being lauded to the skies by the Trumpsters.

Says Jewish Chronicle writer Marc A. Thiessen:

While President Trump deserves credit for making outstanding judicial nominations, long before Trump declared his candidacy McConnell was laying the groundwork for a conservative transformation of the federal judiciary. It was, he told me in an interview last week, “entirely premeditated.”

McConnell reminds me of a particular American actor, whom I recall having seen in a number of movies.  Trouble is, that actor is the sort of actor you recognise the face of, but whose name you never quite register.  It’s that sort of face.

Thursday October 25 2018

Whenever I see a taxi with an interesting advert on it, I try to photo it.  To recycle what I said in this, there is something especially appealing about a large number of objects, all exactly the same shape, usually all decked out in the same bland colour, but each one instead decorated differently and very colourfully.

It would appear that I’m not the only one.  Further evidence that taxi adverts count for more, per square inch, than other adverts do, comes in the form of the meme war that this taxi and its advert is now provoking:

image

The CEO of a plumbing firm has announced that his company will be paying a delivery driver to ride around London in a taxi emblazoned with the slogan ‘Bollocks to Brexit’.

Social media gobbled this up, of course, and the responses were not long in coming.  There was this:

image

And then this:

image

And there will surely be many more.  I hope I chance upon the original, and get a go at photoing it myself.

More taxis with regular adverts will definitely follow here, as soon as I get around to it.

LATER: And, as I should have mentioned sooner, my friend from way back, financial journo Tom Burroughes, is giving a talk this Friday,tomorrow evening, at my place, about Brexit and all that.  I anticipate a more subtle and more elevated discussion than the one on these taxis.

Wednesday October 17 2018

Yesterday I was writing here about how temporariness is a great softener of visual blows.  If you don’t like it, wait until it goes away.

Well, here is news of progress in the technology of making how something looks something that can keep on changing:

Flexible electronic paper could be available in colour as early as next year, allowing designers to create clothing, accessories and other products that double as display screens.

Commonly used on devices such as Kindle e-readers, e-paper has until now only been available in monochrome, restricting its appeal.

But advances in flexible e-paper technology mean that products such as shoes, watches and garments could soon feature full-colour text, patters and images that can constantly change.

It won’t just be how people dress.

However, this will be a different kind of temporariness, because the changing, at least potentially, will never stop.  There will be no normal that gets interrupted, which you can wait for things to get back to, the way you can with scaffolding.

But, ”could be available ...” means that all this will be taking a while.