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: The internet

Monday December 05 2016

On my way to Tottenham, a week ago today, my first stop was Seven Sisters on the Victoria Line, where I changed to the regular railway in order to travel onwards:

image

But who, I wondered while I waited for my next train, were those Seven Sisters?  I made a note to self – written only on my brain cells, but it worked nevertheless – to search out the answer.  Which is easy these days.

Here it is:

The name is derived from seven elms which were planted in a circle with a walnut tree at their centre on an area of common land known as Page Green.  The clump was known as the Seven Sisters by 1732.

In his early seventeenth-century work, Brief Description of Tottenham, local vicar and historian William Bedwell singled out the walnut tree for particular mention. He wrote of it as a local ‘arboreal wonder’ which ‘flourished without growing bigger’. He described it as popularly associated with the burning of an unknown Protestant.  There is also speculation that the tree was ancient, possibly going back as far as Roman times, perhaps standing in a sacred grove or pagan place of worship

The location of the seven trees can be tracked through a series of maps from 1619 on.  From 1619 they are shown in a position which today corresponds with the western tip of Page Green at the junction of Broad Lane and the High Road.  With urbanisation radically changing the area, the ‘Seven Sisters’ had been replanted by 1876, still on Page Green, but further to the east.  Contemporary maps show them remaining in this new location until 1955.

So: trees.  I was hoping for actual sisters.

Thursday November 24 2016

I took this photo …:

image

… yesterday.

This rather alarming message was displayed in the Waterloo Station concourse area, in rather large lettering, and you can see more of that if you click on the above horizontal visual slice.

All it was was part of an advert for the Top Gear replacement that Clarkson, Hammond and May are now doing for Amazon.  But photography sometimes does this.  But “this”, I mean that it can snatch messages out of the flux of everyday life – especially everyday advertising – and bestow upon them a portentousness that they don’t really radiate, when they are merely doing their job.  Now that adverts can change their screens, there can be one message, and then another, like a TV advert.  And the result is these snatches of text that can pack far more of a punch than they do in real life, so to speak.

Monday November 21 2016

For the last week or two or more, I have been unable to reach the 6k blog, which is one of my favourites.  I’ve been able to reach everything else I wanted to, but not 6k.  Odd.  My computer has been behaving strangely in recent weeks, so it’s almost certainly me rather than him.  Or maybe, as The Guru suggests, it might be my internet provider. Whatever the reason, it’s been a frustration and a worry.

But today, for no reason that I can think of, I clicked on 6k yet again, and back it came, like it had never been away.

To celebrate, here are some more lighthouses, something which 6k likes, and which in a more ignorant and casual way I do too:

image

That’s a crop from the middle of a hastily snatched shop-window shot, full of reflections and general confusion.  Memo to self.  Next time I visit my friends in Brittany: better lighthouse shots.  Of postcards, of toy lighthouses like these ones (I seem to recall entire walls of lighthouses in tourist crap shops), and of actual lighthouses.

image6k likes lighthouses so much that the little square graphic at the top of the window where his blog is windowed, or whatever is the word for that, is a red, white and blue square from a red and white lighthouse picture.

Friday November 04 2016

The human eye comes with a brain attached, a brain which continuously works out what is actually there, as opposed to how things merely look.  But the camera is stupid.  It sees everything but understands nothing.  It does not cut out what doesn’t matter.

So, when a camera takes a picture like this ...:

image

… it shows the sign, but it also shows all the stupid lighting effects that are messing with the sign.

It also shows weird lighting effects above and beyond the sign, which perhaps you hadn’t noticed, until I told you to look for them.  Your brain may have cut that out, because it doesn’t have anything to do with the sign and you were concentrating on the sign.

But now do what I did next, when I realised what was really going on here.  Having acquired the photography habit, I have become visually stupid, which means that I now see more, almost like a camera does.

Feast your eyes on this:

image

I am not sure if the above photo was the best I took of this effect, or the below photo.  So I post both:

image

This was, I think, the single most remarkable thing I saw on my walk from Battersea Park station back to my home, last Wednesday afternoon.

From the above photos, you may be able to deduce what is causing this, but I’ll save you the bother of working it out.  Here is the next photo I took:

image

And here is another photo which makes everything even clearer, that I got from the internet:

image

It’s the curvature of the surface off which the sunlight is bouncing that does it.  That separates the blobs of light from each window into distinct columns, creating a parthenonic magnificence that would, with a flat wall of windows, have been just a big jumble.  That would have been pretty good, but what we actually see is something else again.  And yet, when I was photoing this, I was the only one paying attention to this amazing light show.  Everyone else just walked past it, like it wasn’t there.  This was because, thanks to their brains, it actually wasn’t there.

The internet ought to be able to correct such failures to notice.  But the strange thing is, if you google the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, all you get is a lot of stuff about dogs and cats.  No mention at all of this amazing special effect.  The modern world has its priorities badly skewed.

I have photoed similar lighting effects before, such as the one reported in this posting.  But that one is put completely in the shade by this one.

Categories below include Transport.  That’s because all this drama was to be seen on a manky old railway viaduct.  Which I actually think made it look better.  (All everyone else saw was a manky old railway viaduct.)

Thursday October 27 2016

It’s for lots of other things, for other people, like: a telly.  But that is definitely one of the things that the internet is, for me.

Whenever a new kind of information storage or information transmission comes along, people fret that it will replace all the previous ones.  And the others, which when they started were things that people fretted about, become good for you.  When reading by the masses got started, there was concern that the masses were doing too much of it, getting addicted to it, enjoying it too much.  Dear oh dear, can’t have that.  But then telly came along, and reading suddenly became good for you.  Telly was the thing that people were enjoying too much, wasting their lives on, etc. etc.

And now that the internet is here, you even hear people moaning that Young People These Days don’t spend enough time watching telly, because they are, you’ve guessed it, addicted to their smartphones (on which they watch telly).

My own feeling is that Young People These Days spend far more time than is good for them gadding about in the open air and watching tiny screens and not enough time sitting at home watching proper telly and proper computer screens, big enough to see what’s going on, the way God and Nature intended.  But that’s a feeling, based entirely on which exact generation I happen to be a member of, not a real opinion.  Young People These Days, as always, have better eyesight than oldies like me, and, unlike me now, they like to get out and have fun.  When I was a (moderately) YPTD, I loved small screens, like the one on the Osborne.  (Look it up.  Another thing the internet is is a machine for telling you things like what an Osborne was.)

The thing is, new methods of information storage or information transmission typically give the old ones a new lease of life, rather than the kiss of death, at any rate at first and often for ever.  Printing didn’t stop people talking to each other, it gave them interesting things to talk about.  Trains caused a surge in horse transport, to get people to and from the station.  The telly adapts books into telly-dramas, and people buy the books to find out what’s going on and who these people all are.  Telephones, email and now smartphones make it easier to organise face-to-face meetings.  The first big internet business sold books.  And lots of telly shows now consist of bits from the internet, for those who like telly.

And now, for me, one of the most useful uses of the internet is enabling me to keep track of what’s on the regular old telly.  Recently, for instance, I recorded a whole stash of Columbo episodes onto DVD.  But, which episodes were they and what order should they go on the DVD in?  The Radio Times only tells you so much?  How many Columbo episodes were there?  Who else besides Columbo himself was in them?  Step forward, the internet, to tell me all about that.

See also this other blog posting that I just did, in which, among other things, I give a plug to a face-to-face meeting that I will be hosting tomorrow evening.

Monday October 17 2016

When you talk about an airplane being blown up, that usually means it has been exploded, destroyed, incinerated.  This airplane, however, has been blown up, yet it looks like this:

image

Details at 6k.  This posting here is basically a celebration, of the fact that I am now able to get to 6k, copy pictures from 6k, etc.

For the last few days, right up until nearly now, my computer was unable or unwilling to access 6k.  Everything else: okay, but rather clunky.  6K: not.  I checked if this was 6k’s fault by trying to access 6k via my mobile, and that worked.  Ergo, it was me.  Strange, and rather frustrating, because I like 6k.  And now, for some equally bizarre reason, my computer did some sort of internet connection hiccup involving that thing where it says something about a testing process and says you have to check in again, with some password you never knew you had which you can actually ignore by just opening a new window, and once I reopened a new window, everything was suddenly back working properly.  And: 6k returned.

Dodgy connection?  Well, maybe, but I hadn’t touched any of the connections.  Why did this happen?  Don’t know.  And: don’t care, unless it happens again.  Then: it did happen again.  Fiddled about with connections.  TURNED COMPUTER OFF AND TURNED COMPUTER ON AGAIN.  Seems now to work.  Weird.

Also weird is what the Russians are about to be getting up to.  (The airplane above is Russian.) Some things never change.  The Russians are always doing one of two things: pretending to be weaker than they are, or pretending to be stronger than they are.  They seem to be in a stronger than they are phase just now.

Life is full of mysteries.  More so, as you get older.

Thursday October 13 2016

I recently photoed this van:

image

What intrigued me about it was its minimalist propaganda message.  “GREY MOTH”.

My original thought was that, in the age of google, you don’t actually need a mass of information to find out all you want to know about an enterprise.  That’s what this posting was going to be about.  (I still remember fondly that van outside the Oval, which just said “VOITH”.  I quickly learned all about VOITH.)

Trouble is, if the name of the enterprise is “GREY MOTH”, and you google “grey moth”, well, in addition to the GREY MOTH enterprise, somewhere in there, you get lots and lots of grey moths.  (If you google “voith”, all you get is VOITH.  A voith is not a regular thing, from which the VOITH enterprise merely took its name.)

Luckily, however, there was a website on the van, front and back.  This website was back to front at the front, ambulance style, but I was still able to decypher it as: www.grey-moth.com, crucially including that all-important hyphen.  Which, as you see, gets us where we need to be.  And it turns out to be a very interesting business.  I was thinking that it would be some dreary fashion enterprise, but not a bit of it.  Turns out, it’s an aerial videoing business, using drones.

I’ve been keeping an eye on drones for a while.  And after initially wondering if I might ever buy one, I eventually concluded: no.  If you get a drone, then you will either have to take it very seriously and learn all about how to do it, and become a full-time droner, mastering not only all the technical problems of drones but also the many legal minefields that droners must walk across (safety and privacy to name but two).  Or: not.  And I decided: not.

Drones, in other words, are not toys.  But, they are a huge business opportunity, both for businesses that can make serious use of them, like farms or pop concert promoters or movie-makers, and for people willing to master drone use for a living and to hire themselves out.  Like Grey-Moth does.

Speaking of minimalist propaganda, those Guys & Dolls Unisex Hair Stylists look like they are ("UYS DOL S") on their last hair curlers, if not already gone.

Thursday October 06 2016

Yesterday I was reminding myself that we live in an age when pub quiz questions have instant answers.  So when, soon after posting that posting, I came across this photo I took a while back, of a boat, …:

image

… with the words “THAMES RIB EXPERIENCE” written on it, I set to work to find out what the “RIB” bit means.  I had vaguely supposed that this was some sort of steakhouse sponsorship deal.  The world is now full of ridiculous arrangements of that sort, sponsored by commercial enterprises whose only way to sell more of their stuff is to cause even more people to have heard of it.  The mere merits of the product being irrelevant, for their purposes.  “Yes it’s bad for you but it tastes really nice” not being a message they want to be too publicly and explicitly associated with, because then they’d have the health fascists all over them.

So “Thames Rib Experience” as an exercise is boosting meat consumption?  But which ribs should we be consuming.  Just ribs generally?  The British Rib Council, a combined consortium of ribbers, combining to boost ribs in general?  It didn’t seem very plausible.  So, what does RIB really mean?

It turns out that RIB means rigid inflatable boat.

This is a triviality, of course, unless you are in life-threateningly urgent need of a rigid inflatable boat trip on the Thames.  But the change in the world towards a state where it is much easier to find things out is not trivial.  The story that lots of people mention in this connection, and lots of people are not wrong, is the ease with which a formerly dirt poor farmer now can, in the depths of the African countryside, keep himself informed about the prices he can expect to get for his products, when he takes them to market.

Quicker and better answers to questions is all part of why all this stuff has been happening lately.

What does Thames “RIB” Experience mean?
Not a shot tower – no longer a pumping station tower
John Croft: Composition is not research
The cuddly killer
Another illustrated van
Pletnev plays Haydn and I own it!
Another fine day at the Oval (2): Jason Roy – and an extreme contrast
Large number of jobs
LIFE at the Park Theatre
Lioness eats camera
Brexit - the movie - here!
Feline Friday at Samizdata
Face recognition – face disguise – the age of pseudo-omniscience
Goodbye PhotoCat – hello PhotoPad
A bridge in Narbonne
Benevolent Laissez-Faire photos
With PhotoCat I can do cropping while keeping it the same shape
Second childhood
What sort of duck is this?
South Bank views
Photo of Mountbatten on Sea Containers House
Recent taxis with adverts photos
Toegangsbeveiligingsproducten
Asking about the Southbank Mosaics Gallery and asking about London’s Big Things
A rejected Grand Chose that shouldn’t have been
A busy day and a collection of Big Things
Polishing
Big Things having orgasms
I slept right through it
Bike fishing in Amsterdam
Modernist sand castles at Amusing Planet (and at Mick Hartley’s)
Confirming an offer I made last night to Rob Fisher
White Vans are looking more and more like websites
Cats on an iPhone and Anton Howes on video
Matt Ridley on Epicurus and Lucretius
What is this iceStone device?
Going to Kings Cross to see gas holders
The sexiest statue in London?
Mental notes
An underground history lesson
Here begins the Essex Way
I was photoing white vans in February 2007
Tricycle transport
A Real (cat) Photographer
The wait continues
Blog interrupted
Swarm Manned Aerial Vehicle Multirotor Super Drone
A blast from the photographic past
My next camera?
An extraordinary coincidence
Smoke over west London
Cat picture on white van
Heaven aka the Barley Mow
England crush NZ (and Surrey beat Leicester)
What is this weird plastic thing?
Strange London buses
Another horizontal advert for an only slightly more expensive drone
Adverts for small and cheap drones
Giant cat head worn by a human
The receiving station at Swains Lane (and the previous version of it)
BT Tower behind trees
Peter Thiel on how humans and computers complement each other
Big cat advert
The rise of (interest in) 3D printing
Anish Kapoor photoed next to his big shiny balls
Anthrozoology
Quota soap foam
BMdotcom What if? of the day
Some batsman – some neck
Hand done photos
Old Quimper Cathedral
Dominic Frisby on the Hype Cycle
How the internet is cheering up Art
Fuck the duck until exploded
Big cat advertises guide dogs
An old story about colour perception
Is it practise or practice?  (And: would perfect communication actually be perfect?)
Blog down
Not about cats
On the unappealingness of classical music on the internet
On not letting either God or (the other) God do everything
5G Boris
A Sunday ramble
Cat news
Cats … on scaffolding … with shadows …
New London bridge competition
Why you are wrong
OpenOffice Writer default resetting nightmares
Why aren’t people happier about amazing new stuff?
Capturing moments
Surrey doing rather well shock
Last night at my place
I see cats
Hao Ruan and LYCS Architecture are now world famous
Pictures of soon-to-be-built London Big Things
Guardian online is a group blog that trolls its own readers
T20 fun and games
Classical Amazon
Mysteriously losing my internet connection and then mysteriously getting it back
Amusing cats versus important people
Libeskind doing the saw cut style in Ontario
Classic Feline Friday quote from Tim Berners-Lee
Christopher Seaman on conducting
A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
Ashes Lag recovery continues
“In order to comply with Google’s regulations …”
South Bank Architects?
The text of my talk for Christian Michel last night on the impact of digital photography
Tough going in Australia
Tube interrupted
Quota videos
Simon Gibbs last night at the Rose and Crown
RNSQotD
The next four Brian’s Last Fridays (including December 27)
Quotes from there
Amazon pricing puzzle
Billy Fury Way
A fake feline photo and a faltering feline enumerator
Wedding photography (6): The Wedding and the Reception
Testing again
Alastair James on Blythe Hill Fields and smartphones
Classical CDs from Gramex
Looking along Victoria Street to The Wheel (and on how to be liked (or disliked) by Google)
Michael Jennings on why iPad photoing is not ridiculous
Testcricketlag
Australia v South Africa starts now
Malta Day procession
Cheese or font?
Talk by Frank Braun about Bitcoin at my home on Aug 3rd
A pill that turns sweat into perfume
Internet connection oddities
Davies and de Bruyn get promotion for Surrey
A review of Detlev Schlichter’s new book (multiplied by 4)
One World Trade Center
WWWhat a great afternoon!!!
More shiny new headquarters buildings
Infrequent flyer
Possible light blogging for the next week
Bitcoin etc.?
Three videos from the USA that I recently watched
Release Ai Weiwei
Someone doesn’t understand what I mean by roof clutter
Let us now trash infamous men
And then give up and stay fat
And it resumes …
Questions concerning the death of copyright protection on downloaded MP3s
A down and up weekend
Obamanomics dod not work
First blood to Australia
Cat defeats alligators
Nice try
Is this blog somewhat broken?
Malcolm Hutty on protecting the internet
Guerrilla webfare
Greenies make a video saying: “We’re a bunch of vile greenie-nazis!”
Advertising aimed entirely at me
Which just goes to show that stuff gets around
Links to this and that
Expendable movie news
“An alternative definition of intelligence …”
Cricinfo gets its clock in a tangle and Pyrah bowls an unforgivable no ball
Spare A3 paper
England beating Australia – Germany beating England
Curse you Friends Provident t20
Big box computers versus laptops
Nuking the Oil Spill is probably a rather bad idea
Shard sitings and and an agreeably honest rabies prevention sign
I love television
One man’s intellectual theft is another man’s marketing
This is not Mohammed
Everybody draw Mohammed every day!
Brightly lit buildings against a dark sky
Molly Norris was just kidding!
Three cheers for Molly Norris but also a few small grumbles
Everybody draw Mohammed on May 20th!
How my camera and the internet explained an old bus
You know where you are with a book - usually
Shingles
IPL on ITV4!
Why David Hepworth is wrong about podcasting
Biker shadow
Does Google now rule the world of computing?
Me taking pictures in a funny way while it’s still allowed
List of popular misconceptions
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom understatement of the day
Antoine Clarke on the Massachusetts election and the online effect
In Alicante
My local Blockbuster Video just closed
Cricket talk tonight
Old-school media versus (or becoming) new-school media (again)
India looking good against Sri Lanka
ClimateGate roars on and Man(n)-made warming is taking on a whole new meaning
What’s up with this?
Going global
American video
Antoine Clarke talks about Facebook and Twitter – Guido and … Ian Geldard?
Under a hundred copies
Rude Ian Morbin should have a blog
Prodicus (and me) on the shitness of the LibDems
Was it Sweeney?  And what else were they trying to suppress?
Two Samizdata pieces
Prize idiots
God is killing cinemas!
Quotes dump
The Instadaughter on the morals of actors
All your Quite Interesting questions answered
When Cricinfo doesn’t supply the info
More recorded cricket chat and some further Oval hindsights
Me and Michael Jennings talk tech trends
England and me both upset
Summer break
Laptop for emails
Our shortening atten … ooh look!
What a difference a g makes
How technology has improved detention
Go Gordon!
Thoughts on the Go Gordon petition
Spelling Micklethwait wrong and Googling for Brian Micklethwaite
On Bernstein – and Previn
Register for your free pack and five £1-off-coupons
Multipurpose internet-connected rabbit
WWW
The Fixed Quantity of Advertising fallacy and the menace of targetted advertising
What the previous two postings here have in common
Daniel Hannan and the shape of the media to come
Someone called Rick wants me to puke on President Obama
Kevid Dowd video now up and watchable
God moves in mysterious ways
By bus to Sheffield
Google and dongle
Second Class power
You don’t wait for it – you go looking for it
Billion Monkeys liked photoing the nastiest poster!
Cricinfo
On autobiographical ruthlessness
P. J. O’Rourke confuses the average with the significant
Pink bunny successfully resized and posted only with Jesus!
Dongling at Michael’s
Not the same thing
Cricket chat
Gramophone are putting their back catalogue of articles online for free
Collingwood comes through and The Internet is a hat trick
Never mind the telly
If the Jews have been running the world they haven’t been doing it very successfully
Two adverts in the tube
Mainstream media bloggers and the problem of my blogroll
Seven Napiers – three Ansaris - Gilchrist
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
Cisco – fuck off and die
152 not out in a Twenty20
Underestimating crime
Ridiculous story but great headline
I really should stop buying newspapers and magazines
Self-guided photo-tour of the streets of San Francisco
Fourth innings heroics
Billion Monkeys like being photoed!
Meltdown in Russia … and New Zealand
She learned to knit her before she learned to spell her
Cricmisinfo
Thank you very much Ambrose and Collingwood
I love the internet
Obama a loser?
On hating and not hating commenters
Lucky I don’t take cricket seriously
Antoine Clarke on the US Primaries – either Obama will beat McCain or McCain will beat Clinton
Customer service
Michael Jennings on telecoms at Samizdata
More horizontal thinness
The great DVD packaging clearout
Democracy for sale – starting with football and beer
The romance of new technology – or the drudgery of it
Chanelle and Ziggy - romance in the age of total surveillance
It’s the decline of old-school advertising that’s really hurting old-school journalism
Breaking the Left’s stranglehold on the moving image
New word alert
RSS feed news
American war memorial by the sea at St Nazaire
Comment is free and WiFi should be too
Renaissance Man
“It’s going to be very exciting to see what young people come up with when they reject college”
Ideas and opportunities
Splog is the new splig
Facebook
A new tower in Manchester
The publicness of private life
Internet problems solved
Writhing
Is the internet replacing higher education?
How to handle the complaints of your fiercest critics
Irrelevant heart attack adverts
More internet connection problems
Billion Monkeys photo their own demo!
Evite makes sure I remember it
New Moscow road bridge
He likes it - but does he understand it?
Does the internet change education?
That Rooney goal
Micklethwait’s Four Star Theory of the Internet
Screw you Dove – good on you Ruth Kelly – the right to avoid gay adoption
Me on internet telly this evening with Andrew Ian Dodge
Jott
Other people’s photos (3): Ice storm
Back to the future with the virtuoso violinists
Screwed by Google – and Google screwed by the kitten-bloggers?
What next for the virtuoso violinists? - Simon Hewitt Jones has some answers
More G&S - and some strange Times errors
Firewall nonsense
Leon Louw talks about the habits of highly effective countries
Hands off the Net
Search
Oscar Wilde defends society
Airship photos loading tri-incidence
Pro-am music video
Everyone likes Magic Andy
Frederick May
A dangerous development
The great Google www dictionary
Thoughts on the Age of Google
An intrusion of green rectangles
Adriana’s Thing mp3
Blogging takes longer than doing things - a picture - and why does a hot bath make me colder?
Guido’s narrative
Bartók outside South Kensington tube
Big Media crap and football cock-ups
Brian and Antoine democracy mp3 number twelve
Attacks of the mad robots and the little red crosses
County cricket - great and not so great - and what to do about that
Wisden on the back foot
Billion Monkeys stop cover-ups!
So does Flintoff really look like Jessop?
Must
Phone glitch
The internet is creating new video stars
The Wealth of Networks
Internet sex machines instead of photos
Hosting matters
Blue balls – kaleideskopes – etc.
Computer transparency
Reading and writing for the www are the same
Wrong comparison
Quoted but not linked to
The Falkirk Wheel
‘Libertarian’ now beats ‘Marxist’
The problem of long blog postings
iBrian may be coming but I promise nothing
The Million Dollar Homepage
Read-Write versus Read-Only
Talking about my generation
TV.com
I am not too clever
Groowy mess
Happy New Year
Cheaper movies
Is Africa about to look boring?
Phonic Googling
Plink plink plink plinkplinkplink plinkplink plink plink plinkplinkplinkplink plinkplinkplink
I actually think that this is quite mindful
Ordinary photos
Either $150 or free
The stupid internet
Katrina as art – and Katrina as proof of What I’ve Always Said
Blowing Smoke all over old school advertising