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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Computer graphics

Thursday May 14 2015

Incoming from 6k, to whom thanks:

Busy in the lab, but thought you might appreciate this …:

image

… from here.

It’s old, but maybe interesting.

That’s London, of course, and I cropped the original graphic somewhat, concentrating on the top right hand corner.

Presumably the red bits are where the tourists go.  And the blue bits are where the locals are to be found.  But how exactly was this graphic concocted?  Is it a map of flickr activity?  (Should there be a “digital photographers” category below?) And what are the yellow bits?

Colour me purple.  I live here, and I’m a tourist.

Monday May 11 2015

I wonder if me posting this will help:

image

And when I say “if me posting this will help”, what I mean is: if me posting this will help me.  To take an informed interest in all this stuff, and then to start doing it.

All this stuff being:

aperture, shutter speed and ISO ...

That being a link to the posting at Quotulatiousness, in the heading of which those words are to be found, and where I found the above graphic.  Mr Quotulatiousness found the graphic here.

I have tended to own cameras from which, had I understood all this stuff, I might have got the occasional much better result.  However, the only reasons I owned such clever cameras was that I wanted lots of zoom and a twiddly screen.  With all that, they have tended also to be very clever.  But I have treated all of them as brainless point-and-shoot cameras.  All my thinking has gone into the matter of what I have pointed at and shot at.

Goddaughter One once tried to give me a lesson in all this stuff.  Well, correction, she did give me a lesson in all this stuff.  But it didn’t stick, at all.  One of the categories below is one of my favourites: how the mind works.  But perhaps this posting would be better labelled as: how the mind doesn’t work.

Monday April 27 2015

One of my favourite buildings that I’ve never seen is the recently completed (quite recently completed - 2008) Oslo Opera House, which looks like this:

image

Sooner or later, some big public building was bound to be built like this, with a roof that doubles up as a big public open space, where you can walk to the highest spot on the building’s roof, without once having to go indoors.

Oslo Opera has become a new landmark for the city and proved an instant success with both locals and tourists.

And of course, that roof doesn’t have to be the bland and featureless desert that this one is, in this picture.  Sooner or later, it will acquire roof clutter!  Perhaps it already has.

As entire cities compete with one another for tourists, buildings like this, with walkabout roofs, will surely become ever more common, as ever more tourists search, as I search, for places up in the sky from which to take tourist snaps.  It is no accident that I found the above picture and quote at a site called Visit Norway.  (Although sadly, this Visit Norway site fucks with the links and causes them not to work, and these fucked links also fuck with subsequent links which are none of Visit Norway’s damn business. This caused me major problems, until I just stripped out all Visit Norway linkage, at which point sanity was restored.  So if you care, you’ll have to find the damn place for yourself.  I think Visit Norway was trying to help. It failed.  Norway, sort this out.)

Even as I praise this building, I make no judgement about what goes on inside it.  The point of these “iconic” buildings - horizontal Big Things - you might say, is that they are fun to visit, regardless of their mere indoor contents.  See also: Tate Modern.  After all, one of the advantages of a roof like this is that the roof can be enjoyed even as the inside of the building can be entirely ignored.

What got me writing about this Oslo building was a recent posting at Dezeen, featuring another proposed building by the same architects, Snohetta (which has a forward slash through the “o") which uses the same trick, of people being able to walk up to the top in a big zig zag.  This time it is a museum in Budapest:

image

And oh look, I went to the Sn o-with-forward-slash hetta website, and here is another Snohetta proposal, using the same trick, for another opera house, this time in Busan, South Korea:

image

With the design of the Busan Opera, the opera is no longer a passive playground for the elite but becomes interactive, democratic space, responding to the public’s ambitions and interests.

This is architect speak for:

People can walk about on the roof and take photos without having to sit through some stupid damn opera.

And oh look, again.  Snohetta have also proposed that a new media centre in Vienna should look like this:

image

Look again, and you encounter the Barack Obama Presidential Center:

image

These last two are not so zig zag, but the principle is the same.

London awaits you, Snohettans.

Sunday April 12 2015

Here is a piece I did here about how Modernism got associated with whiteness.  And for most would-be Modernists, Modernism still is white.  But, here is another piece I did about coloured Modernism, in the form of Renzo Piano’s very colourful buildings near Centre Point.  (Renzo Piano also designed the Shard.)

Here is another photo I took of these, I think, delightful edifices:

image

And here is a faked-up picture I came across not long ago, which suggests that Piano’s colourfulness may have struck a chord with other architects:

image

That picture adorns a report about the footbridge that you can see on the right of the picture, the very same one that I saw being installed last August.  But I think you will agree that the towers on the Island there are a definite echo of that Pianistic colour.

The great thing about coloured architecture is that you can build the most severely functional lumps, and only worry about brightening them up afterwards.  Form can colour function, and then colour can cover up the form and make it fun.

But it need not stop at just having one plain colour.  Soon the artists will join in, and there will be giant murals.

If I had to place a bet about how different London will look from now in thirty year’s time, this would be the change I would bet on.  Both new buildings and dull old ones will be much more brightly coloured.

I’m guessing that outdoor paint is a technology that has had a lot of work done on it in recent years, and that such work continues.

I will be interested to see if those Piano office blocks become faded, or if the colour stays bright for a decent time.

Interestingly Le Corbusier was a great one for colour being slapped on Modern buildings, but the notion never really caught on.  Or rather, it is only now catching on.

As is illustrated in this posting at Material Girls.  Where the point is also made that another huge influence on the monochrome association with Modernism was early and black-and-white photography.  Even colourfully painted buildings didn’t look coloured in the photos.  (One might add that newspapers and magazines only burst into colour after WW2, in the case of newspapers only in the 1960s.  Until then, all newspaper and magazine photos were printed in black and white.  So even if Modernism was done in colour, its influence spread in black and white.)

Now, colourful buildings tend to look colourful, both for real, and in the photos.

Friday March 27 2015

It started with this picture, which I took at the home of some friends a while back.  I know exactly how you probably feel about this cushion, but on the other hand, I don’t care:

image

I love how the TV remote is there next to it.  I had no idea at the time, or I would have made a point of including all of it.

But now the www-journey begins.  At the bottom right hand corner of the cusion are the words “Susan Herbert”.

I google susan herbert cushion, and enter a world of cushion kitsch.  Mostly it’s more cats on more cushions, as you can see, but one of the pictures is this:

image

Obviously, I click where it says “visit page”, and arrive here.  I scroll down, looking for the picture of Bill Murray and the artistic nude girl.  I don’t ever find the picture of Bill Murray and the artistic nude girl, but I do encounter this, which is a posting about a big blue horse at Denver Airport.  Clicking on “Denver Public Art Program” merely gets me to useless crap about Denver, but googling “luis jimenez mustang” gets me to pictures like this ...:

image

… and to an article in the Wall Street Journal from February 2009, which says things like this about the Blue Denver Horse:

Anatomically correct - eye-poppingly so - the 32-foot-tall fiberglass sculpture makes quite a statement at the gateway to Denver International Airport.

But that begs the question: What kind of statement, exactly?

“It looks like it’s possessed,” says Denver resident Samantha Horoschak. “I have a huge fear of flying anyway, and to be greeted at the airport by a demon horse - it’s not a soothing experience.”

Many people here agree, calling the muscular steed a terrifying welcome to the Mile High City.

Samantha Horoschak was not wrong.  Because, it gets better:

Mr. Jimenez was killed working on the sculpture. In 2006, while he was hoisting pieces of the mustang for final assembly in his New Mexico studio, the horse’s massive torso swung out of control and crushed the 65-year-old artist.

Ah, that magic moment in the creative process when a work of art escapes from the control of its creator and carves out a life of its own, independent of its creator.  And kills him.

Is it still there?  How many more victims has it claimed?  Has it caused any crashes?

I love the internet.  And not just because I am quickly able to look up the proper spelling of such words as “posthumous” (which was in the original version of the title of this) and “kitsch”.  It’s the mad journeys it takes you on.  Who needs stupid holidays when you can go on a crazy trip like this without getting out of your kitchen chair?

Tuesday March 17 2015

I was in Tottenham Court Road this afternoon, searching out a toner cartridge for what I discovered is now an antique laser printer.  I had no idea until now how much less toner cartridges cost if you get them on line.  Stupid me. 

Anyway, it was a chance to photo the BT Tower, the first and still one of the greatest of London’s new Big Things (Big Thing being what BT stands for).  Most things in London look better in bright sunshine, or at least I can photo them better.  But for some reason, this rule does not apply to the BT Tower.  Today’s decidedly muggy weather suited it very well.  Because it is quite a way behind those empty trees, it looks dim and grey, instead of bright, and this seems to suit it.  Maybe this is because muggy weather makes it look further away, and consequently bigger.  Here is my favourite shot that I took of it:

image

Summer is very nice and well lit and warm and everything, but all those damn leaves get in the way horribly, and ruin all manner of what could be great shots.

Friday March 13 2015

Indeed. What on earth was I thinking, posting - on a Thursday, rather than today, Friday, the traditional BMdotcom day for cat-related items - a piece that starts with how computers are rather bad at recognising cats? I only even realised that the cat category should be attached to the posting just now.  Oh well.

imageAnyway, more cat news, which I did deliberately hold back until today, is that the mega-behemothic-super-industry that is Hello Kitty is making a deliberate play for more male customers, with T-shirts decorated with such things as the picture you see to your right.  But, will such images repel human females?  You can imagine the high level debates that the Hello Kitty high ups (I somehow imagine them to be mostly men) must have been having about this issue, of such fundamental importance to their brand.

More cat news?  I need a bit more to be sure that the picture there doesn’t bash its way into the posting below (even though that would be rather appropriate).  Well, I am sad to report that for some people, the most interesting thing about the death of Terry Pratchett (good quote that – that’s the sort of thing he will be really missed for) was that he had a cat sleeping on his bed at the time.

Thursday March 12 2015

I have been reading Peter Thiel‘s book Zero to One.  It abounds with pithily and strongly expressed wisdoms.

Here (pp. 143-5) is how Thiel explains the difference between humans and computers, and how they complement one another in doing business together:

To understand the scale of this variance, consider another of Google’s computer-for-human substitution projects.  In 2012, one of their supercomputers made headlines when, after scanning 10 million thumbnails of YouTube videos, it learned to identify a cat with 75% accuracy.  That seems impressive-until you remember that an average four-year-old can do it flawlessly.  When a cheap laptop beats the smartest mathematicians at some tasks but even a supercomputer with 16,000 CPUs can’t beat a child at others, you can tell that humans and computers are not just more or less powerful than each other - they’re categorically different.

The stark differences between man and machine mean that gains from working with computers are much higher than gains from trade with other people. We don’t trade with computers any more than we trade with livestock or lamps.  And that’s the point: computers are tools, not rivals.

Thiel then writes about how he learned about the above truths when he and his pals at Paypal solved one of their biggest problems:

In mid-2000 we had survived the dot-com crash and we were growing fast, but we faced one huge problem: we were losing upwards of $10 million to credit card fraud every month.  Since we were processing hundreds or even thousands of transactions per minute, we couldn’t possibly review each one - no human quality control team could work that fast.

So we did what any group of engineers would do: we tried to automate a solution.  First, Max Levchin assembled an elite team of mathematicians to study the fraudulent transfers in detail.  Then we took what we learned and wrote software to automatically identify and cancel bogus transactions in real time. But it quickly became clear that this approach wouldn’t work either: after an hour or two, the thieves would catch on and change their tactics. We were dealing with an adaptive enemy, and our software couldn’t adapt in response.

The fraudsters’ adaptive evasions fooled our automatic detection algorithms, but we found that they didn’t fool our human analysts as easily.  So Max and his engineers rewrote the software to take a hybrid approach: the computer would flag the most suspicious transactions on a well-designed user interface, and human operators would make the final judgment as to their legitimacy.  Thanks to this hybrid system - we named it “Igor,” after the Russian fraudster who bragged that we’d never be able to stop him - we turned our first quarterly profit in the first quarter of 2002 (as opposed to a quarterly loss of $29.3 million one year before).

There then follow these sentences.

The FBI asked us if we’d let them use Igor to help detect financial crime. And Max was able to boast, grandiosely but truthfully, that he was “the Sherlock Holmes of the Internet Underground.”

The answer was yes.

Thus did the self-declared libertarian Peter Thiel, who had founded Paypal in order to replace the dollar with a free market currency, switch to another career, as a servant of the state, using government-collected data to chase criminals.  But that’s another story.

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
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