Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
LoriePierce23 on Google Nexus 4 photos
6000 on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Darren on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Michael Jennings on Wedding photography (2): Signs
MarkR on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
MNB Achari on Google Nexus 4 photos
MNB Achari on The ups and downs of English
Robert Hale on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
Laurence Sheldon on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Bryn Braughton on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Most recent entries
- Wedding photography (4): Preparations
- Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
- Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
- Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
- Rothko Toast
- Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
- And another posting from my smartphone
- Posted from my new smartphone
- Google Nexus 4 photos
- Wedding photography (2): Signs
- Wedding photography (1): The superbness of the weather
- A Fleet Street lunch
- So painters also used to “take” pictures
- Funniest run out ever?
- Shadow photography
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Category archive: Software
A few days ago I visited Chateau Samizdata. While there, I picked the brain of its Chatelaine on the subject of my Google Nexus 4, because she now has one of these also.
She showed me various useful tricks. In particular she showed me – and helped me to download – an Android app called BUS LONDON, which identifies the bus stops nearest to wherever you are, and tells you what buses are about to arrive at each stop, when, and where they are headed.
BUS LONDON, in other words, provides you with information like this:
That is a photo I took last night at a bus stop near me. I have always, in my pre BUS LONDON life, found such signs to be immensely useful because so very reassuring. A bus to where I want to go will almost certainly be coming, quite soon, is the message I get, and it is most welcome when you consider the alternative. But only some bus stops have these excellent signs. Hence the value of an app like BUS LONDON.
Irritatingly, however, when I was at Chateau Samizdata, BUS LONDON refused to tell me about the bus stop that I was about to use. This is because this bus stop is a bit further away from CS than it might have been, but is worth the short extra walk because of the greater choice of buses that it offers me. This is a stop that buses converge on, so to speak. But once I got near enough to it, BUS LONDON obliged with all the relevant information.
However, when I arrived at the bus stop, which also has an electric sign like the one in the photograph above, this is what I saw:
I stared and stared at this to see if anything further would happen, but nothing did. This is something I have never seen before. Usually these signs either work, almost always, or occasionally do not work and are blank. Never before have I seen a sign behaving like an 80s personal computer, by publicising its problems like this and getting stuck.
Quite a coincidence, I think you will agree. Within about an hour of acquiring BUS LONDON, I encounter a bus stop sign that fails to tell me what is due, but no matter, because I now have BUS LONDON to tell me!
I could not shake the feeling that my Google Nexus 4 had sucked all the information out of the sign, into itself, leaving the sign utterly confused.
If you think the reflections of all this info are not strictly necessary, and that the reflections might have been cropped out, well, true, but I do like reflections.
Here is the reflection of the first sign, the one near me, rotated and reversed to make it easily legible:
Off topic, but I like it. If you think this reflection to be an irrelevance, then I suggest you redo this posting on your blog, with the first two images cropped, the final image omitted, and these last two paragraphs also omitted. What? You can’t be bothered? Suit yourself.
As do I. Suiting myself being what this blog is for.
Further to what Alastair James said about the panoramic views of central London from Blythe Hill Fields, incoming from Rob Fisher:
Seen this? It’s a gazillion megapixel panorama taken from BT tower. You can zoom in a lot.
I think maybe yes, but it’s good to be reminded of such things.
Plus, I learned something, which is that I must check out these brightly coloured buildings just past Centre Point:
I wonder how such technicolor baubles as these will look in fifteen years time? Drab? Naff? There’s a definite 1970s feel to quite a lot of architecture these days, especially for some reason in the vicinity of the Dome. Look out for (although I promise nothing) further postings here about that rather distressing trend.
There’s lots more stuff happening around Centre Point, in connection with Crossrail, so lots of stuff to photo there. Or at least to try to photo. Sometimes building sites can’t be seen no matter what you try.
Regarding the London panorama, this is but one of many such urban views, there being a website devoted to such things, panoramicly showing you cities all around the world. How long has that been going?
There’s even an app. Above the button for that, it says:
Now with motion-sensitive panorama viewer!
Does this mean that you can hover two hundred feet above yourself? Taking virtual snaps as you look out from your virtual dirigible? If so, cool. And probably cool whatever it is.
Immediately after my first relaunched Last Friday, the one at which Sam Bowman spoke, I suffered a dose of success depression. This is when you achieve a goal, and then feel not happy but empty, because deprived of the goal. The event had gone well. But I expected a little too much from it by way of immediate good consequences. A wise friend who attended the evening later told me that good results would indeed happen, but more gradually than I had been assuming, and that is now starting to happen.
One of the better consequences of these events is that because I send out emails to anyone I half know or know of who I think might be interested in attending, I have re-established contact with a number of friends and semi-friends who I was in danger of losing touch with.
One such, Alastair James, a libertarian friend from way back, recently sent me an email which included this:
I know you mostly like shots of one thing (often with some clutter in the foreground), but if you are also interested in panoramas I wonder if you’ve ever been to Blythe Hill Fields in Lewisham. I think it has some of the best views in London of Canary Wharf and the City but I rarely see it mentioned.
For years I have been nagging people to tell me about good spots to photo London from, but mostly without success. And now that turns up, pretty much unsolicited, merely through me being in touch with Alastair and discussing his son’s sporting triumphs, they being the reason that he often finds Fridays rather hard to do.
As it happens, I had never heard of Blythe Hill Fields, but it immediately sounded very promising, the clues being in the name. A hill, with nothing in the foreground getting in the way, just fields. Ideal for wandering around on, to find the best shots, and so, yesterday it proved.
I immediately found out where Blythe Hill Fields is (from Google maps), identified the nearest station, Honor Oak Park, and soon discovered (from this train website) that there is a train direct to Honor Oak Park from Victoria, which is very near to me. I also learned (from a weather website) on Monday evening, that the short-range weather forecast for Tuesday was, in a word: superb. Not a cloud in the sky, they said, and so it proved. So, a superb forecast in the other sense also.
Yet again, we see here the working through of one of my favourite Laws, which says that new methods of communication (in this case the internet) do not replace older methods of doing things (in this case going there). Rather do the new methods complement and as likely as not reinforce the older methods. Writing gives people more to talk about. Printing makes writing massively more productive, and gives rise to masses more talk. Television adapts books and sells books and provides yet more conversation fodder. Email makes meetings, at which we can all talk to each other some more, far easier to organise and publicise. And now the internet makes wandering around London (also the world) massively easier.
This posting is already getting rather unwieldy, so I’ll hold the photos I took at and around Blythe Hill Fields yesterday for another posting. Instead let me finish up this posting by quoting and commenting on another bit of the Alastair James email, which further emphasises the point about how the internet makes travelling easier, and in his case more fun:
BTW I recently finally got a Smartphone and I find it much easier to follow blogs since I got it – I’ve always felt guilty sitting in front of a PC reading a blog that I’m doing something unproductive. Anyway I just wanted to say that I’ve been reading yours and how much I enjoy it!
You might be surprised to learn what a difference declarations of that sort can make to the morale of a blogger like me, who doesn’t now get many comments, still less comments like that. Without my Fridays, I never get to hear that, which is a perfect example of a somewhat delayed effect that my friend in paragraph one above talked about.
But note also the smartphone thing. Presumably Alastair now uses his to read blogs in circumstances where more serious work would be difficult, such as while travelling.
I am myself currently engaged in buying a smartphone, helped by my friend Michael Jennings (who is giving the next Friday talk this Friday – do come if you want to). Whereas for Alastair James a key app is reading blogs on the move, for me the killer app is definitely being able to learn exactly where I am at any point in my various wanderings, and how to get to where I want to go to next. It would have come in quite handy yesterday, but because of some serendipity that occurred without it (more about that later), I am actually quite glad that yesterday I did not have Google maps with me. That’s another story, for which stay tuned.
I suspect that Alastair and I are not the only ones now, finally, kitting ourselves out with smartphones. I sense a general society-wide stampede in this direction, as the iPhone works its magic. The iPhone defines what a smartphone is, and all those for whom money is no object get one. That tells the Taiwanese copyists what to copy at half the price, and now they have pretty much got there.
I will also be buying a “bluetooth” (Michael J says that will work) keyboard, much like the black keyboard in this posting (scroll down a bit), to go with my smartphone, the idea being that I will be able to type stuff in as well as read things. (That keyboard is also a straight copy, in black, of an Apple keyboard, incidentally. Again with the Apple influence.) A smartphone screen too small for typing, you say? My very first computer, an Osborne, had a screen that was hardly any bigger, and I loved that. Osborne equals a very stupid version of a smartphone, plus a keyboard, plus half a ton of electro-crap that is no longer needed. Discuss. I feel one of those ain’t-capitalism-grand postings for Samizdata coming on.
The trouble with my current laptop is that, like the Osborne if with less extremity, it is still quite heavy. This means that I don’t always have it with me, in fact I pretty much now never have it with me, because when I do take it with me on my travels I often never actually use it, and in the meantime greatly resent its weight. The idea is that I will always have my smartphone with me (obviously), and always (fingers crossed) with the keyboard. So whenever a blogging opportunity beckons, when I am out and about, I will be able to respond.
The smartphone I am getting also has a rather good camera included. It’ll be interesting to compare that camera with my present one.
One benefit of meeting up with fellow libertarians is that together we sort out the world. But there is also the matter of sorting out the ongoing activities of the libertarian movement itself.
When I finally got to the Rose and Crown did some exploratory chit-chatting with Simon Gibbs, about such things as future writings for Libertarian Home by me (I promise nothing but hope to do something) and about how he does his videos. I would like to get good at doing videos, but don’t know where to start. Except now I do. Simon has agreed to teach me what he does. He uses Adobe Premier Elements. So, that’s what I have in mind to be using. I also showed him my camera, the reviews of which when I first bought it said it would be good at video. Will that do? Yes, he said.
In exchange I was able to offer Simon some tips about how to do radio in general and the BBC’s Moral Maze in particular, which he was nearly on last week, and will surely be on Real Soon Now.
I daresay similar conversations were going on elsewhere in the room, where other libertarian doings were likewise being furthered.
I also got to talk with Richard Carey, who is to be my next Last Friday speaker but one. Which means that I now have my next three Last Fridays sorted. February 22: Michael Jennings. (We now – at last - have Samizdata author archives!) March 29: Richard Carey. April 26: Rob Fisher. Michael will be telling us some of the things he has learned about the globe and its ways of organising itself from his various globe trottings. Rob will be talking about open source software. And now it is pretty much settled that Richard will talk about the relationship between libertarianism and Austrian Economics. Excellent. Email me (see “contact” top left here) if you want to know more about any of these events.
Oddly enough, the one thing I didn’t think to do at this gathering was take any photos. I was similarly forgetful on the Last Friday of January.
Neither omission was at all clever. Photos create an aura of significance, a penumbra of meaningfulness, a force field of where-it’s-at-ness. Not much. A bit. We can all do out bit, and bits like that are easily done by me, except that on these two nights, they weren’t.
And after all that I went home, watched some TV, and then went to bed.
The photos below of NHS headlines were taken in one of my favourite newspaper and magazine shops, the one in Victoria Street on the left as you go towards Victoria Station, having turned left out of Strutton Ground. Moments after leaving that shop, I started off back in the other direction along Victoria Street, towards Parliament Square, and took these the two snaps below.
There is not much point any more in taking pictures of just The Wheel. We all know what that looks like. But I still like to snap away at it, when I am able to combine it with other things, such as particularly sastisfying foreground clutter, or a statue:
I especially like the one on the left, partly because the scene will never be repeated. I do like temporary clutter. And I particularly like how it says “ALARMED”, bottom right. I only saw that when I got home.
The statue on the right is the one featured in this posting here, from 2008, which I had of course totally forgotten about but have just been reminded about by google.
That’s right. I went a-googling for “statue outside westminster abbey”, and clicked on entry number four, “images for statue outside westmister abbey”. And guess what the Gold Medal Image was, the very first image, top left, number one on the list. That’s right, only me.
Not long ago, Alex Singleton dropped by. And one of the many intriguing things he told me was that Google really, really likes blogs like BrianMicklethwaitDotCom. This is because blogs like BrianMicklethwaitDotCom have been going for quite a long time, are quite frequently updated with new stuff, and are real blogs rather than fakes. Also, crucially, BrianMicklethwaitDotCom has now no truck with - and never ever has had any truck with - bullshit tricks for boosting traffic as peddled by bullshit tricksters on the www. Google can tell this. Google has its own box of clever tricks to spot anyone trying to do this, and guess who is cleverer, the bullshit tricksters or Google? And Google has worked out that I never do any of that crap. So, Google likes me, and when people look for a picture and I have such a picture, my picture gets to be at or very near the top of the list.
Alex also told me that some quite Big Cheese car maker and car seller had made the mistake of availing itself of the services of one of these traffic booster nitwits. Jaguar, I think it was. And Google proceeded to expunge Jaguar from its listings. So, when you went looking for a luxury car, you got no Jaguars at all. And if you went looking for jaguars, all you got was big black kitties.
At the time, I thought Alex himself might have been bullshitting, but it seems he may have been exactly right.
No, not Jaguar, so not exactly right, and I have only left that in for the kitty connection. Sorry Jaguar. If you want all that removed, just say the word and it will be done. I have just dined with Antoine Clarke, and he told me it was: BMW.
Yesterday I posted a short photo-piece at Samizdata about the Vauxhall helicopter crash, but had difficulty with the photos. Not having posted any photos on Samizdata for about a month, I had to rediscover how to do it. I am definitely not going to be switching to Wordpress here any time very soon. Although, come to think of it, maybe I will switch soonish, if only to be able to practice posting photos on Wordpress, here. Given that here I allow myself to do any damn fool thing I feel like doing. Like not post anything for a week, for no good reason.
So anyway, here is a photo (a slice out of the photo I did post at Samizdata) which I tried to post at Samizdata yesterday, late last night, but got in a muddle with and gave up on. Now, I will embed a link to this, from there.
The problem with photoing this ruined crane is, for me, getting into a good position. This was the best shot I could get yesterday, given that I was in a hurry because of fading light. What I may now try is photoing it from one of the platforms of Vauxhall Station, which is the other side of the crane from where I was yesterday. Station platforms being long, you can move back and forth until you get the best shot. Today looks like nice weather, so maybe I’ll try that this afternoon.
I need more text here, to fit the photo into this posting without it bashing into the previous posting. So, what else to say about this?
Well, one thing I can say is that I am extremely curious about how they will sort this out. I guessed in my Samizdata piece that it will be a while before they get around to sorting out this crane, because on the ground they have other things to sort out, involving thousands of commuters going to and fro every day, on the road onto which the stricken helicopter fell, spreading flames everywhere. The builders will just not be first in the queue. The builders will be needing the road when they bring in whatever other cranes they need, to remove the ruined crane, and to put up another crane, so I’m guessing they’ll have to wait until the road is sorted and back in business.
Plus, do they mend the crane, or replace it? Does anyone kinow what the routine is for fixing a crane in this state, on a site like this one? As I understand it, the entire tower-building job depends on that crane, and now the entire job comes to a shuddering halt, until they can get that crane mended, or another crane into that same spot. Heaven knows what that delay will cost, per hour.
I hope I get really lucky and get to photo them sorting this out, but am not optimistic. Building contractors are not in the habit of drawing attention to themselves when they are busy building. They just want to be left alone to get on with it. The press-releasing, attention-grabbing phase only gets under way when the building is good and finished.
That ought to be enough text.
At exactly the time when I started getting un-ill yesterday afternoon, but moments before I realised it, Michael Jennings rang to ask my opinion, about photos on Samizdata. Still believing myself to be ill, as perhaps I still was at that precise moment, I cut him short. Now, here is an answer.
My opinion is that photos, lightly sprinkled on a blog, send an important message to readers beyond the obvious one that here is a medal, or a strange toy airplane, or a funny media mistake, or whatever. That message is: this blog is something the people who do it care about. Shoving up text is the easiest thing in the world, but adding a photo requires a bit of pausing and considering. These people want their blog to catch your eye as well as your mind. They are putting themselves about a bit. Not only is this blog regularly updated, it looks regularly updated. Even if you don’t read this, others will.
But as those three links illustrate, there have been rather a lot of photos on Samizdata lately, and there is a danger that it will look like photos are being used as a substitute for thought rather than being a mere signifier of blogging seriousness. Besides which, the mystery of sticking up photos is hardly much of a mystery any more, is it? Most people know that sticking up photos is now as easy as sticking up words.
What Michael was asking about, before I told him I was ill and to postpone it, was, in particular, or so I surmise, photos like the one this sign, and like these ones of Samizdata jollification over Christmas. What do I think of those?
Well, they are clever. Notice how, if you narrow your window, to the point where the text rearranges itself to fit in a narrower column, the photo also narrows itself. Cute. Well, I’m impressed. I’m guessing that’s especially good for Samizdata accommodating itself onto smaller media like tablets and smart phones, which (commenters say) the new set-up does very well. These big new photos are also the result of Samizdata having become more tablet- and phone-friendly, because a tablet is where Michael has been doing them from?
The trouble is, however, that by making photos expand to fit the space available for their display, you risk (I think) making photos look like the point of the whole exercise. They cease to be mere seasoning, and become the meal. So, much as I like the expanding and contracting thing, I think that these potentially very big photos would be better if smaller, with the option to expand but not the routine habit of doing this.
Samizdata is all about concepts. It is about, as Perry de Havilland never tires of saying, the metacontext. For that you need words. Even if many of those words don’t get read or are only skimmed over, it needs to be clear that, at Samizdata, it is in the words that the real message is to be found.
Does that answer what was going to be your question, Michael?
At least the whispered question of a few months back, about whether Samizdata is dying, is now well and truly answered. No. (The comments on that posting now make even more interesting reading than they did when posted.) Perry de Havilland may not have written that much lately, but as a leader he remains very much in place and swinging. The makeover proves this.
Here, it doesn’t matter what I do about pictures. This is a kitten blog.
Not quite. The last posting at Samizdata before it does its Big Jump Through Hyperspace is actually entitled: Nice job you have here ... shame if something happens to it.
On Friday of this week, those links don’t work. Here’s hoping they come back on Saturday.
Things seem to moving fast over as Samizdata, first there was an email telling us not to upload any pictures “whilst we are working on moving the blog”, and now this:
As of this Thursday, Samizdata will temporarily stop updating and on Friday, it will go off-line completely for… a while.
We wil be back at some point over the weekend with the New Improved Version.
And there has been another email clarifying when we may not post.
Meanwhile, here, there was another involuntary outage yesterday afternoon. Something to do with upgrading a router, or some such thing, and all was soon well again. No incoming emails told me of this. I found it out for myself. I deduce that this blog was not much missed.
I look forward greatly to seeing how the new Samizdata system works, and hope that it will continue to make sense for me to use the same software for a revamped version of this blog.
This Samizdata posting, for instance, is about a guy using a great big iPad to photo Westminster Abbey. Scorn was expressed by some commenters at how stupid this man was making himself look. I disagree strongly, as did Michael Jennings.
Michael’s comment about this deserves further attention and here it is in full:
It is believed that the reason that the first generation iPad did not have cameras was because Steve Jobs believed that people using it to take photographs would look ridiculous. This received complaints, not so much for people who wanted to use it to take photographs, but for parents of small children. Point the iPad at the baby, start up a video conference with the grandparents, allow the grandparents to watch the baby, and the grandparents will be happily occupied for hours.
However, people then started using the iPad for taking photographs anyway. So, Apple gave it a decent camera. I have one myself, and I prefer taking photographs with it to taking photographs with a cellphone camera. Whether that is the quality of the camera, I am not sure. (By standards of cellphone cameras, the one in the iPad is of high quality, but most high end phones have cameras of similar quality). I think it may be the screen. Everybody who takes digital photographs knows the experience of taking what you think is a good photograph, but discovering later that it is blurry, but being unable to tell that at the time on the tiny screen on the camera. The iPad has a large, very high resolution screen, so you have a much better ability to tell at once if you have taken a good picture or not. If you haven’t, there may even be a chance to take it again.
A final good thing about the iPad is its fantastic battery life. (This isn’t hard to explain - if you look at pictures of the innards of an iPad it is almost entirely battery). At the end of a busy day, its not uncommon to find that your batteries are low or completely depleted on all your devices except the iPad. You see something that needs photographing, so you use the iPad simply because it is still going.
As for looking ridiculous, that is all about what is normal and expected. If everyone does it, it no longer looks ridiculous.
To me what is truly ridiculous is refraining from doing what works best, because you think that looks ridiculous. It’s like that thing about being cool. If you are trying to be cool, you are by definition failing. If your over-riding concern is not to look ridiculous, then you are being ridiculous.
To illustrate the matter further, Michael immediately added another comment, which included this photo, also deserving of a wider audience than it may get while buried in a comment thread:
Underneath which Michael added:
For instance, if on a slow afternoon you unexpectedly find your self at the tomb in Jerusalem where protestants believe that Christ rose from the dead, it can be really helpful to have your iPad with you.
Last night, Michael and I both attended the Adam Smith Institute Christmas Party. Here is my photo of Michael, taking a picture of me with his iPad:
And here is my photo of Michael’s photo of me, as instantly displayed on his iPad:
Michael could be sure that his photo was in focus even as he was taking it, and certainly immediately afterwards. I could only be sure that my photo of his photo was also in focus when I got home, and actually, a great many of the other photos that I took at this shindig were not properly in focus, there being somewhat insufficient light (with what there was of it typically being ill-directed for my purposes), and people being prone to move about when they converse with one another. Which makes Michael’s point yet again.
More pictures taken yesterday. Will I ever tire of snapping my fellow snappers? The weather was a bit cold, but not too cold, so there was lots of photography going on with gloves on, but sometimes just the one.
Click an enjoy:
I am hoping that one of the benefits of switching to Wordpress, if I do, will be that both the posting and the viewing of such clutches of photos will become easier. I will be able to fling them up more quickly, and you will be able to click through them more quickly.
And yes, I know that I could contrive this by using one or other of the dedicated photography “platforms”, but I personally particularly relish the thought of using only one platform for all of my bloggage. I want to use Wordpress for Samizdata and for here, and I want to use Wordpress to display whatever photos I want to display. I will only ponder alternatives if I find out that Wordpress doesn’t allow this sort of thing, far better than I am doing this now. But judging by what Alec Muffet (the man who is contriving the Samizdata switch-over) told me in a recent conversation at Chateau Samizdata, Wordpess will offer much better photo-display options. I definitely hope so.
As of late last night, and for I don’t know how much longer before that, this blog was out of action. An error message involving database corruption greeted all those coming here. The Guru was immediately emailed, and very quickly he had the problem licked. Deepest thanks to him, and apologies if you tried to visit during the outage. Thanks for trying again.
As it happens, I have in mind to relaunch this blog, in a matter of months rather than weeks, as a Wordpress blog rather than using what it uses now, which is Expression Engine. The circumstance prompting this is that Samizdata, Real Soon Now, is getting a makeover, which will, I am told, involve Samizdata switching to using Wordpress. This is very good news for Samizdata, and will surely unleash many improvements.
Now that Wordpress is clearly the market leader for blogging software, I thought I’d switch to Wordpress for here also. That way, I will use only one software package, and hopefully I’ll be able to do a whole lot of things here that I can’t do now.
The only reason I picked Expression Engine in the first place is because, or such is my recollection, there was a plan for Samizdata to switch to Expression Engine. That never happened, but meanwhile that was what I went with. Very inconvenient.
Anyone who thinks Wordpress is a bad idea, please tell me why, now.
This morning I went to Samizdata and discovered that (a) it has a very good Samizdata Quote of the Day up today, supplied by Guy Herbert, but that (b) thanks in part to careless ilalics instructions by Guy, Samizdata was suffering from PID, aka Permanent Italics Disease.
It looked like this:
Click on that to observe more of the details.
Basically, Guy had switched on the italics at the start of the quote, and then switched them on even more at the end of the quote, instead of switching them off. All it took was to omit one “/”.
But, as I have said before here, Guy was only culpable in part. He is only to be blamed (i.e. not very much at all) for the text wrongly left italicised within his own posting, in other words his own brief comment on the quote. He cannot be blamed for the fact that the rest of Samizdata was, until I corrected it, thus polluted. This is a failure of the blogging software that Samizdata uses.
Here is part of a comment by Michael Jennings on my first PID posting here:
This is one good reason for blogging to Samizdata rather than my own blog when I am travelling, I suppose. Samizdata has editors, and if I make such an error someone will fix it. ...
I am getting lots of encouragement to switch to Wordpress, on account of everyone else now using this. I am strongly inclined to do do this, and actually to start up a new blog on Wordpress, rather than get all in a twist trying to shovel all this stuff here into Wordpress. There is no particular reason for me to do this, it seems to me. Comments on that?
But, more to my point in this posting, question: Does Wordpress allow PID?
I doubt if anyone has been wondering where I have been for the last six days. Me not blogging is not exactly a big surprise these days. But I have actually been doing good things for this blog, by cleaning up the comment system.
Basically, spam commenters have been making my life a misery and this blog an object of ridicule to any who still bother with it, and I decided to drop all other blogging activity until I had turned back the tide. That is now done. For the time being at least, the spamsters have given up.
Basically I fixed it so that neither you nor the spammers can comment on any posting here, except the very recent ones. But you can now read all the proper comments that have accumulated here over the years, along with the postings. Previously, I had shut down quite a lot of the comments in such a way that not only could you not add a comment yourself; you couldn’t even read the comments that had once been there. Many (not most but many) comments from way back, not a few of them very interesting, had been scrubbed out as if they had never been.
Now, all those genuine, non-spam comments, every last one of them, are back. If you remember saying something brilliant about something I wrote about something or other, just type “something or other” into the search box on the left, and you can dig it up and admire it without fear of interruption.
I use Expression Engine, for the benefit of geeks. And the trick in Expression Engine was to fix it so that comments “expire”. Comments which have “expired” may not be responded to with further comments, but the entire comment thread can still be read.
Comments that have not been “allowed”, on the other hand, just disappear. But, those that I had disallowed didn’t disappear entirely. They could be re-allowed again. This is what I did, for all disallowed comment threads. But, I also made sure (by choosing a recent date now in the past) that all these comments have now “expired”. Are we clear?
All of which means that the spammers will no longer regard this blog as a target rich environment. They don’t mind me deleting their crap, so long of some of it sticks, for a little while, like when I am sleeping or having a life. The trick is to make it impossible for them to chuck it here in the first place, or not on any scale. There will still be a handful of recent postings for them to crap all over the comment threads of, but here’s hoping they will now look for bigger pastures (such as this blog used to be from their point of view) to ply their dishonourable trade. It’s now been more than a day since spam commenting opportunities here ceased to exist in anything resembling abundance, and the spammers seem, for the time being anyway, to have moved on.
I would love to meet someone who was foolish enough to boast to me, or come to that to anyone, that he does or ever did spam commenting for a living. I would probably end up in prison by the time I had done my thing to them, but it would be well worth it. Their lives would be a living hell from then on also, because I would have gone to as much trouble as was needed to accomplish that. Besides which, an enlightened judge or jury might decide that what I did, though harsh, was an entirely reasonable example of a crime of passion, or perhaps self-defence, even a public duty well performed, and that the little runt got just a little bit of what he entirely deserved, and that I owed the runt one pee in damages, which I would be delighted then to administer to the runt on the court-room steps, hopefully thereby ruining all the expensive clothes he had purchased for the trial in a vain attempt to persuade everyone that he was not a runt.
Meanwhile, the price this blog pays for all this anti-spamming activity is that no non-runts can now comment on ancient postings here, or not with a “comment”.
But very few ever did, and if you really do want to add something to some old thing here, do please feel entirely free to email in with such commentary, making it clear that you would welcome me including it in a new posting, which will then (because very recent) be available to be commented upon by others besides me.
The other somewhat bad news is that this all took me a very, very long time. Basically, I re-edited every single individual posting here, of which there are now getting on for three thousand. I am sure there was a much quicker way for me to have done this, but in truth I quite enjoyed the task. It went well with listening to music. Plus, I enjoyed acquainting myself with clever things I have written in the past, and with clever comments that others had written (some of them showing me to be not so clever, but there you go, that’s the price of mouthing off on the www).
Nevertheless (Patrick C)? Could I have done all this in a few moments? I bet I could.
When I go out photographing, the process goes: that looks interesting, snap, forget about it and immediately on to the next one. Which means that I get all those nice surprises later, when browsing, that I keep going on about.
What do you make of this, for instance:
I can just about remember thinking at the time that a very large number of snappers were taking a mysterious interest in what looked like a very unremarkable young man, including one snapper with very thin legs. And the young man was most definitely cooperating.
But now I ask again, as I asked myself when taking this snap, who is this young man?
My policy with any celebs I myself recognise is that if they are just wandering about making no effort to attract attenntion and probably hoping very much not to, then I will photo them, but will not shove them up on the internet, until a minimum of a few years later. If, on the other hand, they are out and about being photographed, they are totally fair game, and can be internetted within the hour.
Not that I did this to this guy. The photo was taken on March 30th of this year, on Westminster Bridge, and no sooner had I taken it than I forgot about it.
So anyway, who is this guy? Here’s a close-up that makes him a bit more recognisable, if you recognise him.
Are there already clever face-recognition procedures that would enable me to find out who he is, if he is anyone? If you are the kind of person who knows about such things, then please do this yourself, and tell me.