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

Monday March 20 2017

This evening I attended a talk at Christian Michel’s, about (and against) major increases in the human lifespan.

The speaker quoted luminaries saying that infinite life would lead to infinite meaningless of life.  People would just get bored.  It is death that gives life its meaning.  Immortality would drain the meaning out of life.

But from the floor came a different surmise, to the effect that the imminence of death, to some anyway, causes a slowing down, a draining away of zest.  Greatly prolonged life - accompanied by the enhanced and prolonged energy and zestfulness that would make prolonged life enjoyable, rather than merely bearable, or worse, unbearable - would surely cause many now considered old to get stuck seriously into new projects, confident that they would have a serious amount of time and energy left to devote to them.  Something like immortality would cause more lust for life, rather than less.  People who expect to die soon are now inclined just to sit back and wait for it.

When I first encountered a primitive version of the very word processing that I am indulging in right now, nearly fifty years ago now, I hurled myself into learning to type, confident that the investment of time and effort would more than pay for itself.  Had I been nearly seventy when I first encountered word processing for the first time, would I have bothered with it?  Probably, not.  If, on the other hand, I could now confidently expect another seventy or so years of active life, would I now be more inclined to adapt to new techniques and processes?  Yes.  I am pretty much certain that I would be more adventurous, more willing to invest time and energy, if the pay-off was going to be five or more decades of further potential impact rather than just the one decade or so that I now anticipate.

The speaker from the floor who expressed this most eloquently was Chris Cooper, who is giving my next Last Friday of the Month talk, on March 31st, on the subject of the rise of the robots.  Chris thinks they will become our robot overlords.

What I can say with confidence is that one of the reasons I don’t now get stuck into new ways of doing things, new ways that might greatly improve things for me, is that whereas the investment of effort and energy would be unchanged from what was required fifty years ago, the benefits I can expect to gain, now that death looms, will be greatly diminished.

So, if death did not now loom ...

Friday March 17 2017

My day in Highbury and Islington (and Canonbury) began with me not seeing much in the way of Big Things from Islington Highbury Fields.  But very quickly, I made my way to the north eastern end of New River Walk, and took the walk along it.

The thing is, Google Maps, what with it being so easy to change the scale of, can mislead about how far apart things are.  One Google map shows you a big area, that it will take you a day to explore properly.  But then, following further button pushing, another map, which looks like it is of an equally big area, is actually of a place you can be all over within less than two hours.  So it was last Monday.

Everything that day was smaller and more suburban and contrived and just nice, compared to what I had been expecting and compared to what the more northerly bits of the New River are like, when GodDaughter One and I checked them out, back in 2015.

In particular, the New River Walk turned out to be a piece of miniature canal that has been turned into a tiny, elongated version of Hyde Park, thanks to some lottery money that was bestowed upon it in the nineties, complete with fountains, and ducks, and carefully manicured footpaths, and views of nearby affluent houses and apartments, thus:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimageimageimage

It’s the sort of place I am happy to have visited just the once, to check out what it is.  But it isn’t really my kind of place.

But, this is Friday, and there were ducks.  And dogs.  Quite a lot of dogs actually.  Also lots of signs saying don’t let the dogs do dog do, or if the dogs do do dog do, then do tidy it up.

Monday March 13 2017

The omniscient short-term weather forecasters have ordained that today’s weather will be very good, so I will go somewhere, and take photos.

Here is where I plan to go:

image

I am interested in Highbury Fields, from where I hope to be able to see Big Things, uninterrupted by the leaves that will spoil such views later in the year.  And I will also, if I have time, investigate the thin strip of green that goes through where it says CANONBURY, a little bit to the south east.  This is part of the New River, more northerly bits of which I earlier explored with Goddaughter One.

I now plan to go there, because I am so old I now need a plan, in order to get out of the house, good and early, in the first place.

Sunday March 05 2017

Via this posting at the Scott Adams blog, I first learned, just now, about Robots Read News.

All the pictures in this cartoon series are identical.  Only the words change.  Yet, the words on their own would probably not be so effective.

I especially enjoyed the first two comments on the above posting:

AtlantaDude:

If the Robot knows he is superior, I would expect him to be more condescending, and less angry - insulting humans in more subtle and clever ways than simply calling us stupid meat sacks, etc.

Scott Adams:

I am going for insensitive not angry. Part of the joke is that objectivity is indistinguishable from hate.

My next Brian’s Last Friday speaker (March 31) will be my Libertarian Friend from way back, Chris Cooper, talking about the rise of the robots.  They will rule us, he says, if I understand him correctly.  But maybe I don’t because he and I are both meat sacks.  Maybe he is expressing himself badly.  Or maybe I am misunderstanding him.  Or maybe both.  That I am understanding him correctly suddenly seems like a one in four chance.

Saturday February 25 2017

imageI am hopeless at drawing, as you can see.

But having been watching the Six Nations rugby tournament for the last few weeks, and having in particular been listening to the various television commentators, I feel the need to offer you all this attempt at a cartoon.

Anyone who wants to copy this, or indeed copy it and improve the graphics, is most welcome.  I am surely not the first to have thought of this particular observation.

(There was a bit of fiddling about with the presentation of this, on account of my software not actually showing me exactly how a posting like this will look.  Sorry about that.)

Sunday February 12 2017

I just started watching the Opera North Ring Cycle on BBC4 TV.  Very good.

The basic problem with The Ring is how to stage it, and how to do the costumes.  Extreme Trad, where they all dress like nineteenth century fictional fantasy characters almost always looks ridiculous, like a bunch of opera singers clumping about in silly costumers on a daft stage, which is of course what they are.  (The only way to do that would be to do it as a fantasy cartoon movie.  Which I hope somebody will eventually get around to doing.) But modern costumes on a stage that looks like the inside of a nuclear power station is even sillier, because it plays havoc with Wagner’s very carefully scripted symbolism.  You end up with blokes who look like merchant bankers or geography teachers, holding spears and waving them at steam turbines, or some such ancient-modern mish-mash.  Either that or they go totally modern, and rewrite the opera.  Yes.  They literally do not perform Wagner.  If you change the Rhine and its maidens into a nightclub and some strippers, that’s something else, and something else pretty damn stupid.

What Opera North have done is film a stage performance.  The singers all wear suits and dresses, albeit suits and dresses that were very carefully chosen.  And then on top of that is photographically superimposed Wagner scenery, and, when it helps (it often does), simple words on the screen to tell you what is happening.  Plus, because it’s the telly, you get subtitles to tell you what they’re singing about.  (CDs have the best costumes, i.e. no damn costumes, but you do need to know what they’re singing, if you don’t do German.) It’s hard to describe, but I don’t need to, because you can sample it here, it you care to.

The Rhinemaidens are three opera singers in matching dresses on a stage, with wateriness added on top of them.  At no point are you asked to believe that they are actually swimming about, naked, under water for minutes on end, and singing.  I have never before not seen that scene look totally ridiculous, one way or another, and I bet it was totally ridiculous, one way or another, on the first night.  This time, it was not ridiculous.  That’s how very, very good this production was.

I particularly liked how, when Donner was summoning forth the right sort of weather for the Gods to enter Valhalla, at the end of Das Rhinegold, he was dressed like a conductor.  He was dressed that way throughout, but it worked especially well for that moment.

Loge was particularly good, both as an actor and as a singer.  His look and manner reminded me a bit of Stan Laurel.

Thursday February 02 2017

Dezeen details here:

image

Bring it on.

I love signs.  So tedious to copy in writing.  So easy to photo.  And I was photoing signs yesterday, at Victoria Station.

Here are two of those signs that go well together:

imageimage

I was just about to stick these up late last night, but discovered that BMdotcom was malfunctioning.

This is not the kind of sign I love to see, when trying to add stuff to this blog, or for that matter just to look at this blog:

MySQL ERROR:

Error Number: 1194

Description: Table ‘exp_throttle’ is marked as crashed and should be repaired

Query: SELECT hits, locked_out, last_activity FROM exp_throttle WHERE ip_address= ‘91.84.14.3’

But, as you can see, it’s now sorted.  Unless you can’t see and it isn’t.

And until the next time something like this happens.  Partly because of such cock-ups, I am, thinking of doing what all other bloggers who still exist did long ago, and switching to Wordpress, which The Guru also suggested.  Comments on the wisdom of that from other gurus would be very welcome.

Meanwhile, while waiting for sanity to be reasserted here, I did a Samizdata posting, entitled Brexit has unified the Conservative Party and divided Labour.  It has.

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