Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on Why I like Cricinfo
Darren on Why I like Cricinfo
Tatyana on English is weird
Brian Micklethwait on New York construction cranes in action
Andrew Duffin on New York construction cranes in action
Friday Night SMoke on English is weird
Scott Morter on 55 Broadway
Ben on Incoming imagery from Antoine
Brian Micklethwait on Face recognition – face disguise – the age of pseudo-omniscience
Brian Micklethwait on The new US Embassy – from my roof
Most recent entries
- Are London’s cranes about to depart for a few years?
- The new Tate Modern extension from inside Blackfriars Station
- Brexit graphics
- Brilliant Brian’s Last Friday talk
- Referendum day graphics
- Big Things and viewing galleries in the Square Mile
- Why I like Cricinfo
- English is weird
- The Union Jack’s near death experience(s?)
- New York construction cranes in action
- Some thoughts on the Izzard effect
- Lioness eats camera
- An MP murdered
- A great new bridge in Iran
- Lions - Bears - Blackhawks
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Computer graphics
Now that it’s been decided that we shall Brexit, Dezeen reports on what creatives have been creating to mark the event. Here are the two images they reproduce which I think are the most striking:
Both of these images are intended as expressions of regret that Britain has voted for Brexit, but neither quite say that, or not to me. What, after all, is so great for a balloon about being stuck in a whole bunch of other balloons? It’s creator says: “sad day”, but it doesn’t look that sad to me. It just looks like a change. If he was merely describing, relatively objectively, what had happened, then I guess: fair enough.
As for the disintegrating, weeping Union Jack, that would work far better as an expression of regret, in the event that Britain had voted Remain rather than Leave. It is national flags like this one one that the EU has been working tirelessly to replace with its own flag. Very odd. But, a striking image nevertheless.
First, this, which was the graphic on the front page of today’s pro-Remain Daily Mirror, and reproduced at Samizdata, which Natalie Solent reckons sends a somewhat ambiguous message. I agree. Because REMAIN is in the biggest letters, it looks like it could be saying that if you vote REMAIN, you’ll be sucked into a black hole. As you will, by the way, if enough people do this. This is indeed the fate that awaits us all, in the event of a REMAIN victory. One of the reasons why this graphic only works when misunderstood, is that when misunderstood, it becomes true!
The thing is, the EU is a lot nearer to being like a black hole than us leaving the EU is. For that message, they needed something more like an endless desert, or a huge tundra, or maybe some grim maritime scene, doom-laden as far as they eye can see.
The enormity of this decision is, I feel, appropriately reflected in the deranged graphics which occurred when this picture got loaded up. Samizdata usually centres pictures automatically, and also makes them smaller automatically, if they need to be smaller. That doesn’t seem to be happening at the moment.
In the comment thread on that posting, I mentioned that it was raining. Which it was, torrentially. But alas, it soon cleared up, thereby not dampening down the London (= Remain) vote as much it might have if it had rained with less violence but greater steadiness. I mean, they even managed to have a shortened game of cricket at Lord’s, after the rain had stopped.
And on the right there, Elizabeth Hurley, who will have voted Leave by now, that being the picture she Twittered yesterday along with her support for Leave. There she stands, wearing only high-healed sandals and a Union Jack cushion, or that’s how it looks. Thankyou Guido. She was probably right that this would get noticed, and would aid the cause she favours. But I bet the Leavers have been circulating their own interpretations of this rather odd picture. Is the picture recent, I wonder, or does it date from way back?
At least it is upbeat and optimistic in atmosphere, unlike that black hole.
I found a handy little graphic – of Big Things built and Big Things soon to be built in the “Square Mile Cluster” of the City of London – in this piece:
Click to get a bigger and easier-to-read version.
As you can see, the names are all very dull and stupid. The Gherkin is called “30 St Mary Axe”, the Cheesegrater is called “122 Leadenhall Street”. The “Aviva Tower”, which will (if built) be the biggest of the lot (until a bigger one gets built), is far too big and obtrusive to go on being called the “Aviva Tower” indefinitely, by anyone except dull construction magazines terrified of their advertisers. There is also no way that the angular pointy thing (5: “52-54 Lime Street") will remain “52-54 Lime Street”. And I see that they even still calling Heron Tower the “Salesforce Tower”, which got squashed by public opinion ages ago.
Have these people learned nothing from the example of The Shard? The Shard’s owners heard people calling The Shard “The Shard” as soon as they announced it, and said, okay, that’s a name we can happily live with, we’ll call it that too. That way, there is no confusion. Everyone, even its owners, now calls The Shard The Shard. But refuse to bend with the linguistic breeze, and you end up with a building that you persist in pretending is called “34 Boring Street”, but which is really called The Dildo, or some such thing.
But the particular new tower which this article is about, now called “1 Leadenhall”, could quite well remain that, because it looks pretty unremarkable. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The fundamental purpose of the City – London, actually – is to get things done, not to look pretty.
But although unremarkable to look at, “1 Leadenhall” may prove very remarkable to look from. For here is yet another City of London Big Thing which will, assuming they mean it, have a viewing gallery at the top. The views of nearby and bigger Big Things will, I surmise, be pretty spectacular.
I actually think that they do mean it, just as they meant it with the Walkie Talkie. The City’s rulers seem to be making viewing galleries – free and public viewing galleries – at the top of new City Big Things a condition of planning permission. This is, I surmise, because they want to liven up the City at the weekend, by attracting out-of-City-ers there.
The City at the weekend is now about as exciting as the inside of a coffin. When I visited that model of the City (which at the moment is open only on Fridays and Saturdays), I stayed nearly an hour and saw only two other people there. They want to change that.
Trouble is, one of the things that gives the City at the weekend its coffinian atmosphere is its semi-darkness, on all but the brightest days. This is because of the Big Things of the City are not built with daylight in mind. They are built to create as much office space as possible, and maybe look cool from a distance, and they are now starting to cluster in a solid lump. I recently wrote about the difference between London and New York in this respect. In New York, daylight is a very big deal, and the Big Things of New York have always had to be rather further apart than these new London Big Things.
Photoed by me yesterday, in Lower Marsh:
How soon before you will be able to take a smartphone photo of such a vehicle, and then, on your screen, press on the Twitter or Facebook squares, or on the website, and get there. Presumably, with that squiggly square, you can already do something like this.
That would certainly be an “intelligent advertising” improvement on what I have heard threats of, which is that adverts will change when they see you coming, to something they believe you are interested in. But I don’t believe that will happen any time soon, because how would you stop other people seeing what the advert thinks you are interested in? Leaving it up to you to investigate further, if you want to, will be much more civilised.
Here is a picture of the Lower Manhattan end of New York, the bit with the tallest skyscrapers, topped off in 2001 by the Twin Towers:
And here is another picture of the exact same scene, taken fifteen years later in 2016, this time topped off with the single replacement tower for the Twin Towers:
The guy who took these pictures was interested in which photograph is photographically superior. The first one was taken with old-school film and the second is digital.
To me the two pictures look nearly identical. Their technical identicality does not interest me. But their architectural identicality, aside from the Twin Towers alteration, is something that I find fascinating.
Skyscrapers have exploded all over the world in the last decade and a half. New York is one of the world’s great cities. And yet, here are two photos of New York taken at opposite ends of the last fifteen years, and aside from the rather dramatic change imposed upon the place by terrorism, nothing at all seems to have changed.
Things were not changing in 2001 and they aren’t changing now. Consider the cranes in these pictures. Basically, barring a few microsopically invisible ones, there are no cranes.
I don’t know why this is, but it strikes me as an extremely remarkable circumstance.
It’s not that you aren’t allowed to build towers in New York any longer, unless you are replacing something like the Twin Towers. In the part of New York a bit further to the north, just to the south of Central Park, there is an explosion of skyscrapers under way. Skyscrapers that are very tall, but very thin.
Here is a picture of how these new New York Thin Things look like they will look:
People have long feared that skyscrapers would make all big cities the world over look alike. But the shape of individual skyscrapers varies from city to city, and does the shape of skyscraper clusters as a whole, and as does the variations in the heights of buildings. A city where the newest and tallest towers are a lot taller than the older buildings is one sort of city. A city where new towers are only slightly taller than old ones looks very different.
New York’s newest towers are, as I say, these tall Thin Things, a lot taller than their surroundings. In London, the typical new tower is a much fatter looking Thing, the extreme recent case being the Walkie Talkie which is big on the ground compared to its height, and which then bulges outwards as it goes upwards.
Interestingly, the Walkie Talkie is the work of Rafael Vinoly, as is this new Thin Thing in New York. (You can just see the top of this new Thin Thing in the second of the two Lower Manhattan photos above, bottom left, in the foreground. That’s the one big change in these photos aside from the Twin Towers having been replaced.) It’s like Vinoly wants to do his bit to make great cities look distinct and recognisable, rather than them all looking the same. Good for him.
I have been neglecting Libertarian Home of late. Let me assure LH’s Dear Leader Simon Gibbs that this is not permanent, just a combination of the declining energy that accompanies advancing years, and being, first, knackered by my French expedition, ant then preoccupied with the meeting I hosted on Friday addressed by Dominic Frisby. (Because this was a dry run for a theatrical performance at the Edinburgh Festival in August, some rearranging was required in my tiny front room, to make it less completely unlike a theatre.)
Simon has made it easy for me to respond positively to his constant nudgings, by serving up a nudge that is very easy for me to respond to, and in fact which I am glad to respond to, because it takes care of my something-every-day self-imposed rule here, for today.
At the Libertarian Home secret coven site where Simon nudges most of his nudgings to his various LH helpers and comrades, he posted this picture, which he recently snapped in Trafalgar Square:
Click on that to get the original, bigger and with more verbiage.
It is typical of Simon that he nudged this in my direction (picking me out individually thereby ensuring that an email about the nudge would reach me immediately) by emphasising the horizontality of this photo. (He had other ways of recommending it to others.) What this illustrates is that Simon is good at tuning in to how others think, which is the bedrock of the art of persuasion.
Photographic horizontality interests me because it suits the blogging format by helping to make blog postings vertically shorter and hence less unwieldy than they would otherwise be, and because horizontality also suits other circumstances that happen to be of interest to me.
So, he used it. Thus are ideological movements built and strengthened.
That Brexit thing is getting less and less horizontal by the minute, apparently. Although I promise nothing, I have in mind (more Gibbs nudging) to go to Trafalgar Square this afternoon and try to photo the whole thing.
For years I have struggled, with the graphics programme I have been using, to crop, not square (an option this programme does offer), and not to a size I specify (ditto), but to a ratio that I specify. For years, I could not do that. I repeatedly searched for such a thing, in other programmes, but evidently didn’t pick the right words.
Then, in France, I couldn’t remember the mere name (on such things do decisions hinge) of my regular photo-editing package, so I loaded PhotoCat, basically because it had “cat” in its name and I reckoned I could have Friday feline fun with it (ditto), to see if I could photo-edit with that, and I could, and I could do constant ratio rectangular cropping which was a most welcome surprise.
Thus are decisions made, by computer operatives. There are two rules for getting things done in the modern world. (1) Do not unleash solutions upon circumstances which are not a problem. If it doesn’t help you to do something that you need to do, don’t bother with it no matter how cool everyone else says it is. Cool is not a good enough reason to be faffing about with something. (Faffing about to no purpose cannot be cool, because it isn’t, and because another rule is: worrying about being cool guarantees that you won’t be.)
And (2): if it does help you to do just one thing that you do want to do, then, if you can afford the money, the space, the bother, whatever, use it. Then, when you are using that thing for that one essential thing, then, you can move onwards to finding out if it will do any other merely desirable things. But, lots of merely desirable things and nothing essential is not good enough.
Using anything is difficult, if you only use it occasionally, to do something merely occasionally desirable. This rule applies at all times, in all places, and no matter how “user friendly” the gizmo or programme claims itself or is claimed by other users of it to be. Occasional is bother. Always. Don’t do occasional if you can avoid it.
Using anything is easy, on the other hand, if you do it regularly. This rule applies at all times, in all places, to all things, and no matter how “user hostile” enemies of the gizmo or process claim it to be. If a convoluted dance around the houses by a complicated route gets you an essential result, then dance. Convoluted will quickly become imprinted on your brain, and easy, and reinforced each time you (frequently) use it. This is how rats and ants do things. (Hurrah: other creatures!) They’ll probably outlast us. Ants definitely.
The above explains why the division of labour was so epoch-making. When you concentrate entirely on a small but rather tricky part of a big process, you will do it massively better than others attempting this tricky operation only sometimes, in among all the other things they are attempting. The damn near impossible becomes routine and easy.
So, I prepared for a life of frequently PhotoCatting fixed-ratio rectangles out of my photos. Using PhotoCat for that one thing.
But then, earlier this week I was cranking up PhotoCat, prior to some fixed-ratio cropping, and it refused to load. It got to 80%, and then stuck there. Who knows why? Was this PhotoCat’s fault? Was it something I was doing? Probably the latter, but that isn’t the point. It didn’t load. So, I went looking for alternatives, and I found one, called: PhotoPad.
And the bad news for PhotoCat is that PhotoPad also does proportional ratio cropping, and does it rather more conveniently, because PhotoPad operates on my hard disc and doesn’t have to be uploaded from the www each time. Unlike PhotoCat, PhotoPad is not www based, or whatever you call it, which I prefer because you can still use it if the www is out of action. It’s now all mine:
That being a snap of a rather unusual form of transport that I snapped, in France. I like how you can see what’s happening there, like when they zoom in on a detail in a computer picture in NCIS or a movie or something similar. (Question. Does art lead life in computing? Does stuff like the above start out in the movies, just so absolutely everyone can get what’s going on, and then migrate to real life?)
PhotoPad does something else which PhotoCat didn’t do, or not for me, which is rotate much more exactly. Most photo software seems to want to offer only rotation in 1 degree increments. If they can do better, they don’t volunteer the fact. But, PhotoPad does volunteer this. With PhotoPad, instead of rotating something 1 degree or 2 degrees (or 359 degrees), you can do 1.38 degrees or 1.77 degrees or 358.61 degrees. You’d be surprised, perhaps, how often that is a desirable refinement. You can do it by eye, and let the numbers take care of themselves. Terrific. Cool, even.
So. PhotoCat now offers me … nothing. So, … see above.
Just now, while checking out the PhotoCat link for this posting, I successfully cranked up PhotoCat. Whatever went wrong before has now gone away.
Today I attended the Libertarian Home Benevolent Laissez-Faire Conference. Here is the text of the opening speech by conference organiser Simon Gibbs. And here is a selection of the photos I took, of the event and of the speakers:
Conference programme here.
1.1: An attender. 1.2: The venue, very good, with a big side window looking out to a small basement level garden. 1.3: Syed Kamall. 1.4 and 2.1: Janina Lowisz and one of her slides. 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4: Julio Alejandro. 3.1: Simon Gibbs and Yaron Brook. 3.2: Brook. 3.3: Kyril and Rob helping with the books. 3.4: LH info, lit up by the afternoon sun through the window. 4.1: Anton Howes. 4.2: Howes and Brook. 4.3 and 4.4: Gibbs, Alejandro, Howes, Brook.
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
What I hope will be a better way to post clutches of photos here
Checked out: The Big Olympic Thing
Memo to self: photo-destination required for tomorrow
Recent taxis with adverts photos
Feeling the need to meet
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
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
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
Cameras photoing the Wheel (in 2007)
Cats – and technology
A small photo posting
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
Photographer photoing photographer photoing Big Ben
The London Look
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
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
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
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
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
A question about double inverted commas in OpenOffice.org Writer
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
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
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
Beetham Tower – and a couple of other towers
Dot matrix printing in the sky
Typed man walking
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
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
Spreading the word for free