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

Wednesday July 19 2017

The internet has worked out that I am interested in the Samsung S24F356 Full HD 24” LED computer screen, and is bombarding me with adverts for it:

image

Click on that to learn more.

This is an I Told You So posting.

Here is what I said, back in 2014, about Google Glass, when they tried getting some idiot fashist woman involved in trying to selling it to other posturing idiot fashists, and someone called Robyn Vinter said Google Glass would never catch on, because, in her opinion, Google Glass wasn’t cool:

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

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

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

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

And now, at Dezeen, I read this, entitled Google Glass resurrected as a tool for hands-on workers:

Following a two-year hiatus, the Google Glass augmented-reality headset has made a comeback, and is being targeted exclusively at businesses.

I told you so.  Google Glass still hasn’t properly caught on yet, but at least Google are now setting about making it catch on in a way that might succeed.  (Perhaps a Google-person even read my 2014 blog posting.)

Work.

Tuesday July 18 2017

Again, nothing much here today, but there is something by me over at Samizdata, entitled ”The overheating Samsung S24F356 – and thoughts about why there are so many complaints about capitalism”.

My quest for a new computer screen, alluded to here some days ago, lasted rather longer than I thought it would.  But at least I got a Samizdata posting out of it all.

I also finally managed to finish and submit a short summary of this talk by Marc Sidwell, which I will inform you of again when it is posted.  This talk happened nearly a year ago.  I personally did not take this long to summarise it, but I did take a few weeks longer than I had hoped.  And, I fear, promised.

Thursday July 13 2017

Throughout this week I have occasionally had the BBC tennis coverage from Wimbledon on, mostly silently.  My favourite moments so far have both involved Johanna Konta, but on a happier day for her than today.  (Today she was crushed in straight sets by Venus Williams.)

Here, in contrast, we see Ms Konta striding off the court after defeating her previous opponent in the quarter finals, photoed by someone other than just the BBC:

image

And the next screen capture also involves a smartphone taking pictures of Ms Konta.  Moments later, we observe Konta doing the twenty first century version of an autograph, in the form of a selfie, with a Chelsea Pensioner:

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I am so used to hiding the facial identity of people on this blog that I did the same for Konta in this screen capture, choosing a moment when the smartphone is covering her face.  And while telling myself that if you dress as ostentatiously as that Chelsea pensioner, you don’t get anonymity, or not here.

Oddly, when I did those screen captures, I move the mouse out of the picture, and the stuff at the bottom of the picture, showing the yellow line slowly working its way across the screen, disappeared.  But then it reappeared in the screen captures.

Which is why I show the version of this next bit of BBC coverage in the form of the photo I took of my TV rather than the screen capture of this image.  That latter would have been useless.  Yes, its the view of the Big Things of London, as seen from high up above the Centre Court:

image

Click to get the entire screen.

This primitively twentieth century way of capturing a TV image proved quite successful.  It compared favourably, for instance, with this picture ...:

image

Which I found here, on Flickr.  Click on that link for the original, but I think you will agree that this guy’s photo is actually not as clear the one I concocted with my camera.  It’s the weather.  When he took his photo, it was gloomy.  When the BBC did the Big Things shot that I photoed, the weather was a lot brighter.

Johanna Konta was born of Hungarian parents in Australia and then raised in Australia.  But, what with her family having moved here more recently, and her having got to the semi-finals, she is now British.  Andy Murray, on the other hand, is back to being Scottish.

Wednesday July 12 2017

Everything involving computers is easy if you know how to do it and you do it often.  Everything involving computers is hard, if you only want to do it very occasionally, and if you don’t know (or don’t remember (which comes to the same thing)) how to do it.  Words like “intuitive” and “user friendly” are thrown about a lot when people like me say things like this, but they are bullshit.  It’s either very easy, or nearly impossible.  “User friendly” just means being presented with an incomprehensible lump of informational overload, in prettier letters and prettier colours and more prettily designed.

Why are computer things hard?  It is because computers can do so many things.  This means that whenever you are trying to persuade your particular computer to do something in particular, that it doesn’t usually do, you have to thread your way through a multi-page questionnaire, in the course of which you tell it: no, I don’t what that, or that, or that.  I want this.  And at any point in this Q&A obstacle course, you may find yourself confronted by a page of things to pick from none of which seem to have anything to do with what you are trying to tell the damn computer to do.

In the Army, I believe, they used to (and perhaps still do) call this: dumb insolence.  Dumb insolence is the offence of taking every word in the orders you have been given with extreme literalness and just waiting, dumbly insolent, to be given different orders, and meanwhile carrying on with what you had been dumbly and insolently doing, even though you know (because of the shouting) that this is not what is really wanted.  You shout at the computer to just use a bit of common sense.  I want this, you moronic machine.  Nothing.  Just the same old screen, and if you click on any of it, you get another page of irrelevance, or perhaps the right page but the exact same dilemma.  None of it seems to have anything to do with what you want it to do.

The fact that the more computers can do, the more there need to be people around who know how to tell the computers to do whatever very particular thing is actually required, rather than all the other things that the computer is now capable of doing, bodes extremely well for the employability of humans in the months and years and decades to come.  But meanwhile, if you happen not to know how to get the computer to do what you want, you can only hope and pray that at some future moment, the answer will drop into your lap.  Someone will tell you.  Your computer will suddenly, out of the blue, volunteer something relevant.  Or, it has been so volunteering all along, but because of all the other garbage it was also volunteering, you didn’t notice, but then, miraculously, you do notice, and bingo.

What brought all this on?  Well, my computer recently had some attention from the Guru and also some upgrades, and in among all this the computer changed its way of opening photos, which for me is a big deal.  I open a lot of photos from my archives, in fact I do this every time I am doing a quota photo posting, which is a lot, and when I do this I am usually in a hurry.  So, just when I really don’t need my computer to be misbehaving, it has been misbehaving.  The problem has been that instead of using “Windows Photo Viewer” to show me a photo that I click on, it instead decided to use something called “Photos”.  Quite different and lacking one crucial ability, which is the ability to take me from a photo up on my screen in “Photos” to the directory the photo is in.  “Windows Photo Viewer” can do this.  “Photos” can’t, or not in any way I know how to make it do that isn’t immensely complicated, every time.

How to correct this?  For about a week I couldn’t.  The internet, as so often, was no help at all.  It said that this was easy if blah blah, but if blah blah blah bah, then contriving the answer I wanted was really difficult and involved blah blah blah blah blahdy blah blah blahdy blah.  If you get my meaning.  (Which turned out not only to be incomprehensible, but also wrong.  See next paragraph.)

And then, the answer dropped into my lap.  I saw a page I didn’t recall seeing, with a question that I hadn’t noticed before.  I was allowed the option of opening a photo “with” a different programme.  But then crucially, I was also presented, in a way that I either hadn’t been shown before or that I hadn’t noticed before, with the option to put a tick in a box saying: always open the photo with this progranne that you have just chosen to switch to.  Problem solved.  My computer now opens photos, just as it always did, with Windows Photo Viewer, unless otherwise instructed.  Which I now know how to do, but will soon forget.  Which won’t matter.

The idea that computers are getting steadily more “smart” is a half truth.  Yes, they can do steadily more and more with each passing year.  But the more they know how to do, the stupider they get at actually doing it for you.

And oh look.  Just before posting the above, I was checking out an SD card that I used in my camera today, having forgotten to put my regular SD card back in it.  And this irregular SD card turned out to have a bunch of photos on it that I took in the summer of 2014, in France.  And it turns out that the French also have something that sounds to me a lot like Dumb Insolence, although I think it’s more like “polite rudeness” than that in your face deadpan British sneer.  You decide:

image

Whatever the exact translation, I bet this “douce insolence” is how French personal computers behave, when you a trying to make them do something new, and they just won’t be told.

For some reason, that was on the front window of a shop, called “Agatha”, in the Rue Gustave Thomas de Closmadeuc, in the town of Vannes, on the south coast of Brittany. A perfume perhaps?

Friday July 07 2017

As you get old you have to get used to chucking things out, things that get ever more elaborate, and, you would think, worth more and more.  But actually, they are pure useless junk.  The trouble involved in mending them, thereby turning them into unreliable and out-of-date versions of whatever thing they are, is not worth the trouble.  Buy a new one.

Computer screens, for instance.  Here are three that I now, still, possess, of three different, gradually-receding-into-techno-history vintages.  But it would make as much sense to say that they now possess me.  None of these three screens works.  They pay no rent.  They live in my home, for nothing.  I plan to evict them, real soon now.  There’s a Westminster Council number I can ring, or so I seem to recall, when last I cleared out all my obsolete junk electronic toys:

imageimageimage

Nobody wants a second-hand computer screen, even if for you it still works.  Why are you getting rid of it?  Maybe you suspect that it is about to stop working.  Even the suggesting of this drains the thing of all value to anyone else.  If it doesn’t even work for you, it is useless times about five.

Put it this way.  I am about to buy a new screen.  I am not going to buy a second-hand one.  A second-hand screen would be overpriced at zero.  I want a brand new one, a truly nice one, with a warranty which will tell me how much use I can reasonably hope to get from it before it conks out and joins the parade of uselessness pictured above.

Would you like to pop round to the BMdotcom home and take one of these screens away with you?  Of course you wouldn’t.

Monday July 03 2017

More photos of photoers.  I knew you’d be excited.

Ever since the Tate Extension opened about a year ago now, I’ve been popping up to the top of it every so often, to check out the changing scene that is to be seen from there.

But I have also discovered a whole new genre of photo up there, provoked by the big dots on the glass screens that divide the inside of the top from the walkways outside, where you do the viewing from.

Often, these dots give me something to focus on, while still capturing, out of focus, the postures and gestures, rather than the facial likenesses, of the objects of my attention.  Or, the dots, themselves out of focus, provide some visual diversion.

Almost always, the photoers are in silhouette, again good for avoiding facial identifiability.  Also, silhouettes show up pretty well on my current crappy little computer screen, which I think I will soon be replacing.  So now is a good time to be doing this posting:

imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage

Occasionally, the light behind the photoers is enlivened architecturally, which I like.  But as often as not, not.  And as it happens, I think my favourite of these is 2.1, which features no architecture at all.

But I also like 2.3 and 4.1, which do feature architecture, because of the architecture.

Sunday July 02 2017

One of them being taken by the people in my photo, and the other being taken by me, of me:

image

Taken on Westminster Bridge, in March of last year.

I’m standing in their screen, behind them, in case you were wondering.  MeaIwhile, I am wondering if they photoed me photoing them.  I don’t know what the V sign gesture is about.

I surmise that one of the many differences between photoers like me and Real Photographers is that Real Photographers abhor any trace of themselves in the photos they photo, whereas photoers like me rather like it when you can see me in the photo,although preferably rather dimly.

I am off socialising now.  I find that having already done my duty here makes socialising a lot more fun.

Two selfies
What a difference a screen makes
Accidental movie
Food photoing
Animated tube maps
New Zealand at the ASI
When what I think it is determines how ugly or beautiful I feel it to be
Playing golf versus following cricket
Battersea Power Station then and now and soon
Lea River footbridge
The Limehouse Cut is boring to walk along …
Anti-BREXIT demo signs
Longer life would make most of us (certainly me) more energetic and ambitious
New River Walk
Today’s plan
Objectivity is indistinguishable from hate
My comment on the Six Nations so far
Opera North’s Ring
Calatrava coming to London
Signs
A snip at £7,499.99
A new stadium for Chelsea
Plan as energy
Somebody needs to invent electronically changeable paint
Scum?
Sunlight on sea
A dogs and cats building
The Spraycan bounced off the new US Embassy
Strand Palace Hotel footbridge
Another fine day at the Oval (4): Scoreboards old and new
Another fine day at the Oval (2): Jason Roy – and an extreme contrast
The hottest day of the year (5): Old Citroens in Roupell Street
Large number of jobs
Comparing London then with London now (and the Oval then with the Oval now)
The right moment and the right alignment
On comments – and some commentary on some Brexit comments
Brexit graphics
Referendum day graphics
Big Things and viewing galleries in the Square Mile
WWWhite Van
New Thin Things in New York (but not in Lower Manhattan)
Incoming horizontality from Simon Gibbs
Goodbye PhotoCat – hello PhotoPad
Benevolent Laissez-Faire photos
Weather and weather
With PhotoCat I can do cropping while keeping it the same shape
A souvenir screen capture
Looking in at the Zaha Hadid Design Gallery in Goswell Road
John Cage does Sudoku
South Bank views
Context
What I hope will be a better way to post clutches of photos here
Sports thorts
Checked out: The Big Olympic Thing
Memo to self: photo-destination required for tomorrow
Recent taxis with adverts photos
Feeling the need to meet
Toegangsbeveiligingsproducten
Blue Big Things by Shard Baby
Photoers on Westminster Bridge
A rejected Grand Chose that shouldn’t have been
Footbridges in the sky
A Big Thing and a Much Bigger Thing – on a not-black cab
Enjoy it when you can
Wrap artistry
A really good piece about London and its Big Things by Oliver Wainwright
Skyscraper covered in Gothic sculpture proposed for Manhattan
Out and about with GD1 (6): The journey gets properly started
The next but one London Big Thing
Metros of the world
Four towers joined together by two bridges
Antony Flew on the Terrors of Islam
Going to Kings Cross to see gas holders
Jim Glymph gets Frank Gehry past the limits of what is buildable
A new Big Thing for Paddington?
Painting the bridges of Richmond
What’s this?
A day in BMdotcom heaven (4): A tale of two penultimate overs
A day in BMdotcom heaven (3): Adverts
A couple of old squares
Designing and building with glass
Palestra House – then and now
The next London Big Thing
The Shard was looking very special today
Windsor Castle from the top of the RAF Memorial
Tourists and locals in London
All this stuff
Snohetta does zig zag roofs for competitive cities
London is getting more colourful
From a cat cushion to Bill Murray and a nude to a demon horse sculpture that killed its creator
BT Tower behind trees
Feline Friday – an apology for yesterday’s premature posting about cat recognition
Peter Thiel on how humans and computers complement each other
Drunkblogging a new London Big Thing
The Bayeux Tapestry small enough to fit in this blog
The Bayeux Tapestry – the ultimate horizontalised graphic
Smartphones and tablets at the Charlie Hebdo demo
Hand done photos
Sixty Charlie Hebdo demo signs that say something other than “Je Suis Charlie”
Some photographers last November
Posting difficulties so see you tomorrow
Touch typing or no typing at all
Christmas Day photos
Christmas tree with scaffolding
Trousers keyboard
Cameras photoing the Wheel (in 2007)
Cats – and technology
A small photo posting
Friday photo-puzzles
In which I quotulate from a photo of a Canadian train
Driverless open-plan tube trains for London
An old story about colour perception
Helter Skelter scrapped
Another facade being carefully preserved
The ballerina and her support act
On not letting either God or (the other) God do everything
PID at the Times
Back from France (plus cat photos)
The River Thames carpet
New London bridge competition
OpenOffice Writer default resetting nightmares
More Big Things from the Oval
Big Things in the sunset
Cashing a cheque by photoing it
Robyn Vinter is wrong about Google Glass
Capturing moments
Photographer photoing photographer photoing Big Ben
The London Look
Moving picture
Pictures of soon-to-be-built London Big Things
Spot the owl
Battersea park in the sky
Another strange artificial landscape
Sam Bowman on Bleeding Heart Libertarianism
Blue wind
Me trying to tell Norman Foster and Richard Rogers apart
When Open Symbol attacks!
Big Things happening in the City
One new thing (an IPS screen) makes me want another new thing (also an IPS screen)
My 110 percent problem
Eiffel Tower with chimney pots – La Défense ditto
I now have a new computer screen
Big Thing news from New York and London - and a picture of climate alarmism losing
Please help me buy a new computer screen
The text of my talk for Christian Michel last night on the impact of digital photography
3D printer sighted!
Nowadays a picture is no longer worth a thousand words
I’m not the only one who suffers from rightward lean
Taking photos with Big Flat Things
Confirmation that map use has seriously declined
Digital photographers holding maps
How big should these squares be?
Rob Fisher on old things not looking old
Smaller is more legible – big is more fun
Twisted picture from Burgess Park (untwisted with Photoshop Elements)
A fake feline photo and a faltering feline enumerator
Women of Japan – better luck next time
The Johnathan Pearce Samizdata gap
the Norlonto Review is back!
Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
Wembley Arch with balloons and with umbrellas
Typing on the new smartphone
More March 5th photographers (and more spaces between pictures)
A mannequin in Tachbrook Street sheds light on the nature of perception
Crossrail grubbings
Panoramic view of London from the top of the BT Tower
Alastair James on Blythe Hill Fields and smartphones
Looking along Victoria Street to The Wheel (and on how to be liked (or disliked) by Google)
Is Samizdata in danger of becoming a photo-blog?
“No one has to know!”
Some more presidential debate prophecy
PID at Samizdata
How gun control works and how it will defend Libertaria
Does anyone know how I can straighten these gasometers?
What’s up with that?
Hockey Stick art
The Jobs difference
One World Trade Center
Empty tables and empty chairs
A photo taken of a taken photo of the photo being taken
Gormley’s South Bank Men
Wot inflationz?
Jobs departs from Apple (again)
On pictures that don’t get any bigger when clicked and on the power of the tangential
OpenOffice.org 3.2.1 Writer font default setting help wanted
Richard Dawkins on university debating games
I can do squares!!!
The new mainframe
First blood to Australia
Shard in rain
Cricket technology and its imperfections
Taranis
Cricinfo gets its clock in a tangle and Pyrah bowls an unforgivable no ball
Everyone who shows this picture needs to add that it is not Photoshopped
Cats and bridges on Pixdaus
Alex Singleton on Photoshop CS5
Everybody draw Mohammed every day!
Darling and Darling cat
Incoming from Molly Norris!
Molly Norris was just kidding!
Everybody draw Mohammed on May 20th!
Beyond iPad (and a picture that goes beyond this posting)
What’s up with this?
Forget the fifth of November - and the Brown curse strikes (again)
Green cats - feral cats - cats murdered in Wales - more than 113 cats in Livingston NJ
A little archaeology
Model T parts flatvert
Back lit by the sun
Laptop for emails
Register for your free pack and five £1-off-coupons
PurseBook
A question about double inverted commas in OpenOffice.org Writer
Cricinfo
Jesus above the keyboard instead of beyond it
Jesus gets a big new keyboard
Another resizing test
JD gets PTD
First picture posted to this blog from the wild
Now I’m going to try to stick up a picture with Jesus
Inamo
They aren’t complete idiots all the time
Wonderwoman picked by Unsuperman
Africa is big
Cats are (as of) now being counted in permanent italics
What’s this for?
Cisco – fuck off and die
Permanent Bold Disease strikes Brassneck
Keyboard blues
PID strikes Guido
An impulse posting about procrastination
PID hits DK
Self-guided photo-tour of the streets of San Francisco
Flat pictures for flat screens
Screen problems
Beetham Tower – and a couple of other towers
Otherwise engaged
Dot matrix printing in the sky
Typed man walking
LAHTML
Aid rewards low growth
Dave Gorman sees faces!
Short picture of a long distance
Photo-ing the weather
Pictures with words
Not actually a photo of Saturn’s rings
Smallest mobile keyboard yet?
Amazing map of amazing new Moscow bridge
Evite makes sure I remember it
New Moscow road bridge
“I already knew most of what they were to try and teach me …”
One Man and His Very Thin Blog
Printer in your pocket
Flashdrawing
Very very low cost kitten in space
Other people’s photos (2): New architecture in Hamburg
But what is so evil about Powerpoint?
Other people’s photos (1): Soul transference
History of the Middle East as a moving map
Screen back
Spreading the word for free
Admiral Coward
Venus undistorted