Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
6000 on UPS drones and drone vans
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Peter Chapman on Africa is (still) big
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Michael Jennings on Calatrava coming to London
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- UPS drones and drone vans
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- The outdoor map next to the Twelvetrees Crescent Bridge over the River Lea
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- Guess what this is
- Robots build a bridge
- The Robert Stephenson statue at Euston
- Cruelty to a fake animal – kindness to a fake animal
- Shopping Trolley Spiral beside the River Lea
- An Underground sermon
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- Tim Marshall on the illiberal and undemocratic Middle East
- Opera North’s Ring
- An important game and only a game
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Category archive: Podcasting
As already related here, I had a delightful day out with G(od)D(aughter) 1, way back whenever that was. And I got as far as telling you that we had succeeded, with the help of our mobile phones, in meeting up, not (as I wrongly related (apologies to anyone inconvenienced or insulted)) at the “Manor Park” Cafe, but at the Park View Cafe. And I also wrote about how I nearly didn’t have my mobile phone with me, and about how inconvenient that would have been.
Once settled inside the
Manor Park View Cafe, GD1 and waited for the rain to stop, and conversed.
GD1 was full of apologies for the fact that she had kept on postponing our expedition. I, on the other hand, was rather pleased about these postponements, because they were caused by pressure of work, GD1’s work as a professional photographer. And I think that her being faced with pressure of work is good. Getting established as a professional photographer has been a bit of a struggle for her, but now the struggle seems to be paying off.
Another sign that GD1 is now photographically busier than she had been in former years was that she felt the need to apologise also about not having done much recent photoing for the sheer fun of it, as I constantly do, and as the two of us were about to do again. “You put me to shame” was the phrase she used, in one of her emails to me before this latest walkabout. But again, I see that as a good sign. I mean, if you have spent a day taking important photographs for a demanding client, and being sustained in your efforts by the expectation of money, would your idea of a fun way to wind down be to go out and take yet more photos, with nobody paying you? That she does rather less fun photoing than she once did means, again, that she is probably busier doing work photoing. Good. Under the circumstances, it was all the more kind of her to be willing to share a day with me doing this now, for her, ever so slightly uncongenial thing.
At the Park View Cafe, GD1 and I discussed the fact that, although becoming an established professional photographer may be a struggle, this line of business still most definitely exists.
Not that long ago, some were predicting that the ubiquity of cheap-and-cheerful cameras, wielded by cheap-and-cheerful photographers like me, would drive the formerly professional photographers out of business. Well, it did drive some of the old pro photographers out of business. But the world now is at least as full as ever it was of pro photographers, including many who started out as cheap-and-cheerful digital amateurs.
Yes, there have been big changes in the photography business, as my friend Bruce the Real Photographer long ago told me, when digital cameras first started catching on. And change often registers first as bad news for existing practitioners, who then have to adapt fast or go out of business. Because yes, lots of the kinds of photos that Real Photographers like Bruce used to charge for are now taken by amateurs instead. Family portraits, for instance. If you take photos of your kids constantly, you are pretty much bound to get lucky with some of them, and that’s all most people probably want.
And yes, amateurs like me can sometimes take nice wedding pictures. But, would you want to rely on the amateurs to take those crucial never-to-be-posed-for again wedding moments, just for the sake of a few dozen quid? I think not.
Or consider the house-selling trade. The phrase “false economy” is the one that best explained why there will always be professional photographers alive and well in that line of business. Imagine you are trying to sell a house, perhaps for several million quid. Does it really make sense to rely on some fun-photographer like me to try to make the place look its best? No it does not. A crappy set of house photos or a flattering set of house photos could be the difference between sale and no-sale, a difference that could be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds or more. So, not spending a few hundred quid making sure that the photos are non-crappy is … a false economy.
In general, whenever the economic difference made by good photos dwarfs the mere cost of good photos, then good photos will be demanded, and good photos will be paid for.
Here is a rather crappy picture which I recently took, of a non-crappy picture of a house interior, a house recently featured in the Guardian, a house which is (fingers crossed, for it is now (or was until very recently) owned by a good friend of mine) about to change hands for several million quid:
That’s a photo of a glossy brochure, devoted to this one, highly desirable house. The house-sellers paid quite a lot for that glossy brochure. For the same reason, they paid quite a lot for the photos in it. Why would they not? My friend described the mysterious things the photographer did with light when he visited. “Ambient” light, was it? I can’t even remember. A simple way of putting it would be to say that if a muggins photographer like me had taken the photos, the garden would either have been invisibly white or the rooms would have been invisibly dark. Plus, more generally, and for reasons I don’t even understand, it wouldn’t have looked like nearly such a desirable place. No wonder the guy who took this photo makes a living at it. And I’ll bet he doesn’t any longer go out fun-photoing in his spare time, any more than GD1 now does.
So, in the short run, Bruce the Real Photographer was suddenly faced with a hoard of crappy photographers like me, taking all the “good enough” photos that he had been taking, and he had to adjust to that by finding other photos to take. This was not fun for him, at all. But meanwhile, the same digitalisation-of-everything process that was making such miseries for Bruce the Real Photographer was also creating a whole new world of internettery where photos are now required. Most of these photos need only be “good enough”, so Bruce the Real Photographer can no more make a living doing them than he can make a living with the many of the photos that he had been taking for a living in his younger days. But, GD1, after a struggle, is finding work, illustrating all that internettery, for all those people - people like my friend’s house-sellers - for whom only very good is good enough.
If only because there are now so many more photos swirling about in the world, if you want your photos to stand out from the crowd, they need to be really good. And really good costs.
My guess is that the photography profession is now several times bigger in number than it used to be, before cheap digital cameras erupted.
I say similar things from time to time (for instance towards the end of this recent posting here about the changing context within which Samizdata now operates) about the impact of the internet on the old-school news media. Despite many individual failures to adapt to the new digital dispensation, and despite similar prophecies of doom at the start of the digital age, the Mainstream Media are in much the same sort of healthy state as, to adapt that phrase, Mainstream Photography. And the current non-plight of the Mainstream Media is not only analogous to the non-plight of Mainstream Photography, but yet another cause of that non-plight. After all, one of the biggest customers for Mainstream Photography is the Mainstream Media.
I just did a posting here about Doctor Theatre, which is about how performing stops you being ill for the duration of the performance. But as soon as I stuck it up here, I realised it would also do for Samizdata, so I put it there instead. Perhaps commenters will tell me about the physiological processes involved. Hope so.
I seem to be almost the only person writing for Samizdata just now. This troubles me.
Well, I’m watching England go out of the World Cup to France. At present it’s 16-0 to France, and who saw that coming? Not me. The French team seem to have decided that it’s time they started playing, and they have.
Earlier, Wales beat Ireland. Who saw that coming? Again, not me.
Earlier in the week, Michael Jennings recorded a conversation between him, me, Patrick Crozier and Antoine Clarke. Antoine, like everyone, was pretty unimpressed by France, and in particular by Marc Lievremont. But if France win this, as they look like doing, and if they then beat Wales (as they are also entirely capable of doing) and if they then upset the All Blacks in the final (ditto), will the Lievremont method be enthroned in rugby fan esteem? Coaches everywhere will play totally different teams from one match to the next, and make a point of playing non-fly-halfs at fly-half, trying it first in a World Cup game against the All Blacks.
England have just scored a try. I was just about to put that England are attacking, but look laboured. This conversion has to go over. It does. In the first half, France scored two tries, but only kicked two kicks out of quite a few more than that. Will this return to bite them? Probably not.
In that recorded conversation, the most eloquent points were made by Antoine, not about the actual games in this tournament, but concerning the process of qualification. He said something like: “The Christmas Islands had to play about thirty games over four years to qualify. Wales had to play no games at all. This is obscene.” He didn’t use the word “cartel”, but he easily might have. Good that the most important thing that got said will outlast any silly guesses we made about who would win the actual World Cup. I guessed Ireland to win it all, and said Wales would be the most surprising winners other than Argentina. We all agreed that NZ were looking unbeatable, but would find a way to be beaten.
France, stung by that England try, are looking to finish this off. Less than twenty minutes to go.
Tuilagi - is that how he’s spelt? (it certainly isn’t how he’s pronounced) - has looked good all tournament.
France scrum looks well on top. Shots of insanely dressed French fans celebrating. Well, they deserve to be happy, after all the misery Lievremont has put them through. France attacking again, with just ten minutes to go. If England can’t scamper to the other end and score this will soon be over. Oh. France seem to have scored another three points, some way or another, and now lead 19-7. A drop goal by Frenchman number 20. That means England have to get two tries. No chance. England bashing away but it’s too much. Or is it? Have England scored? I think yes. Video refs confer. Try. This also has to go over. No. 19-12. “What a come back it would be”, says a commentator. Indeed.
I’ve spent most of the game resigned to England losing, and still am resigned, so am not now suffering that much. I still think it’s all done. Seconds left. But, I fancy Wales to beat France. England retreating. 80 minutes up. Penalty France, and they win. Final twist of the dagger. It hit the post and bounced out, but might have bounced into an England hand, at which point England would have tried to score a converted try at the other end. Only a bounce off the post could have had that outcome.
Meanwhile (i.e. carrying on from the previous posting about Patrick-Crozier-Brian-Micklethwait techno-collaboration), Patrick Crozier has been investigating doing Skype interviews. He did one with me not long ago, about Austrian economics, the recent financial turmoil and its possible ideological consequences, with me, as usual, trying to be optimistic about what might happen. I did it pretty much off the top of my head, when he told me that he was recording our conversation, which when it began I didn’t realise. He reckons what we then said was worth listening to. I hope that if you listen, you agree. It lasts just over half an hour. When it starts I was talking about another talk I was thinking about giving a couple of days later.
This is it. Patrick’s blog posting about it is here. I’m listening to it again, and technically, it is imperfect. I am louder than I should be compared to Patrick, which means that my interruptive umms and mmms and ers, a problem under any circumstances (although when doing Cobden Centre interviews I have learned not to do this), keep trumping Patrick when he talks. Sorry about that.
Last night, doing some homework for that architecture talk which I am doing next month, I googled “spontaneous architectural order”, with the inverted commas. I found that I seem to be the only person who has ever used this phrase during the last decade, if the internet is anything to go by. Which saddens me.
But I did find my way to this posting, and to this conversation about modern architecture with Patrick Crozier (useful (mostly) London pictures there, if you are a non-Londoner), which I listened to again. I was actually quite pleased with it. It covers a lot of the ground, more than I expected, and most of the judgements I then made struck me last night as between about right and very right. I hope I do as well (or better) on Feb 14.
At least as important as the eloquence of Jesus Huerta de Soto last night was the size of the audience that he addressed. Here are a couple of snaps I took. Click to get them bigger:
The point about these people is that these were not the usual movement suspects, such as will be attending the Libertarian Alliance Conference this weekend. These were mostly civilians (i.e. mostly regular LSE students), wanting to know the answer to the question that all civilians want the answer to just now: What the hell just happened? And there are a lot of civilians out there. This was preaching to the unconverted, big time, as the Q&A afterwards demonstrated. They weren’t hostile. It was just that half of them had never heard such stuff before.
Said somewhat grumpy Samizdata commenter “Snag” (on this):
It was good, it was also over-full, I was banished to a separate room to watch a live video link.
Like I said, they wanted a good-to-bursting type turn-out, and they got it.
As for the sound recording I made (see immediately below), in the end I just uploaded it to my blog-host. But didn’t post it here; I just sent the link to Cobden Centre Radio. Duh. If it is reckoned usable (which it may not be - it does sound a bit “bumpy”, as the background noise cuts in and out), they’ll have it up in the next few days. Whether that happens or not, there will be a video.
LATER: Cobden Centre Radio did use my recording.
Last night I recorded the de Soto lecture. Just switched on my little machine and stuck it on the table in front of him, and now it’s all in there. So far so good.
But, I now have it as a huge .wav file, and have successfully converted that into another huge .mp3 file, in “stereo”, but with what appear to be two identical tracks. Don’t know. These files are, as I say, very huge, what with it lasting over an hour and a half. The mp3 says: “Bitrate”: 96kbps, size: 65.7mb. Emailing that to Cobden Centre Radio (who would like to have it) failed.
I am using Audacity to edit. Does anyone know how to turn this huge file (either the .wav or the .mp3) into a smaller mono file, and generally make it smaller, by “compressing” it? This is a generic problem that I keep facing with these things. Can find nothing in Audacity suggesting any such processes.
Any help that anyone can supply would be much appreciated.
LATER: I succeeded in turning it all into a mono file, by following instructions here. But, the damn thing is exactly the same size as before! Why? Still need help with compressing.
EVEN LATER: Did some compressing with something called “Lame”, which I already had on my computer, for converting mp2s into mp3s. Why would anyone call a programme lame? Anyway, panic over, I think.
Read the text of the lecture here.
I was glad to read this:
Unfortunately, although the conversation is timely and should be posted quickly, but I have not had the opportunity to give it a great deal of editing. (I am presently in Romania, as part of having a life, and a touch short of editing facilities). As a consequence, the conversation still contains a few ums and ahs and pauses, and I think it is a little slow in starting. However, for those who want to give us a fair shake of the sauce bottle, I think it is pretty coherent once we get going. Enjoy.
Glad because when I do recorded talks involving Michael Jennings, I edit him a lot. No offence, and all that, but Michael is indeed an um-er and ah-er, and also a pauser, especially, as he says, when getting started. And glad because it’s always fun to read a deftly written apology for something potential listeners might otherwise fret about and not get past.
I have a special interest in this recording, because although I had no hand in making it, I am now its host. I have listened to only a tiny bit of it so far. I sounds a bit quiet to me.
Why David Hepworth is wrong about podcasting
Reasons to be a bit more cheerful
Tama the feline stationmaster saves the Wakayama Electric Railway Co.
Tom Burroughes on the banking crisis
Talking about St Pancras at St Pancras
I listened to both of them at the same time!
Socialising with the Social Media
More rugby talk
A conversation - and another outage
Emmanuel Todd (5): A CrozierVision podcast
A talking blog welcomes me back
Patrick and Brian talk about the War on Terror - thoughts about podcasting
The More4 news blog – I’m grateful but I’m also confused
Unpaid happiness is not misery but it is a step in that direction
Run Germany with thirty megs
Latest Brian and Antoine elections around the world mp3
Lightning strikes twice
More election podcasting
Midsummer Night’s Dream now downloadable for free
The internet is creating new video stars