Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
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Simon Gibbs on Wedding photography (6): The Wedding and the Reception
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Most recent entries
- Steve Davies talk last night
- Emmanuel Todd links
- the Norlonto Review is back!
- There are cranes and there are cranes
- Savoy cat
- Spot the Samsung connection
- Stairs Thing outside St Paul’s
- Cassette iPhone photographer
- Wedding photography (6): The Wedding and the Reception
- Testing again
- BMdotCOM insult of the day
- Views from the Hackney Wick station footbridge
- BMdotCOM mixed metaphor of the day
- Wedding photography (5): Photography!
- Phablet news
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Boatang & Demetriou
Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Coffee & Complexity
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
Dr Robert Lefever
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
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From The Barrel of a Gun
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Here Comes Everybody
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Software
I am testing out my ability to do posting with my Google Nexus 4, again. This is because I tried doing this earlier today, and I lost everything I had put. This was no loss to literature, any more than losing this would be. But it was troubling. I hope this works better.
Well, a bit of a problem with the categories. Forgot to press OK. Otherwise, OK, if very slow.
And it is quite amusing to be checking progress with Dawkins The Big Computer, on the exact same desk.
A few days ago I visited Chateau Samizdata. While there, I picked the brain of its Chatelaine on the subject of my Google Nexus 4, because she now has one of these also.
She showed me various useful tricks. In particular she showed me – and helped me to download – an Android app called BUS LONDON, which identifies the bus stops nearest to wherever you are, and tells you what buses are about to arrive at each stop, when, and where they are headed.
BUS LONDON, in other words, provides you with information like this:
That is a photo I took last night at a bus stop near me. I have always, in my pre BUS LONDON life, found such signs to be immensely useful because so very reassuring. A bus to where I want to go will almost certainly be coming, quite soon, is the message I get, and it is most welcome when you consider the alternative. But only some bus stops have these excellent signs. Hence the value of an app like BUS LONDON.
Irritatingly, however, when I was at Chateau Samizdata, BUS LONDON refused to tell me about the bus stop that I was about to use. This is because this bus stop is a bit further away from CS than it might have been, but is worth the short extra walk because of the greater choice of buses that it offers me. This is a stop that buses converge on, so to speak. But once I got near enough to it, BUS LONDON obliged with all the relevant information.
However, when I arrived at the bus stop, which also has an electric sign like the one in the photograph above, this is what I saw:
I stared and stared at this to see if anything further would happen, but nothing did. This is something I have never seen before. Usually these signs either work, almost always, or occasionally do not work and are blank. Never before have I seen a sign behaving like an 80s personal computer, by publicising its problems like this and getting stuck.
Quite a coincidence, I think you will agree. Within about an hour of acquiring BUS LONDON, I encounter a bus stop sign that fails to tell me what is due, but no matter, because I now have BUS LONDON to tell me!
I could not shake the feeling that my Google Nexus 4 had sucked all the information out of the sign, into itself, leaving the sign utterly confused.
If you think the reflections of all this info are not strictly necessary, and that the reflections might have been cropped out, well, true, but I do like reflections.
Here is the reflection of the first sign, the one near me, rotated and reversed to make it easily legible:
Off topic, but I like it. If you think this reflection to be an irrelevance, then I suggest you redo this posting on your blog, with the first two images cropped, the final image omitted, and these last two paragraphs also omitted. What? You can’t be bothered? Suit yourself.
As do I. Suiting myself being what this blog is for.
Further to what Alastair James said about the panoramic views of central London from Blythe Hill Fields, incoming from Rob Fisher:
Seen this? It’s a gazillion megapixel panorama taken from BT tower. You can zoom in a lot.
I think maybe yes, but it’s good to be reminded of such things.
Plus, I learned something, which is that I must check out these brightly coloured buildings just past Centre Point:
I wonder how such technicolor baubles as these will look in fifteen years time? Drab? Naff? There’s a definite 1970s feel to quite a lot of architecture these days, especially for some reason in the vicinity of the Dome. Look out for (although I promise nothing) further postings here about that rather distressing trend.
There’s lots more stuff happening around Centre Point, in connection with Crossrail, so lots of stuff to photo there. Or at least to try to photo. Sometimes building sites can’t be seen no matter what you try.
Regarding the London panorama, this is but one of many such urban views, there being a website devoted to such things, panoramicly showing you cities all around the world. How long has that been going?
There’s even an app. Above the button for that, it says:
Now with motion-sensitive panorama viewer!
Does this mean that you can hover two hundred feet above yourself? Taking virtual snaps as you look out from your virtual dirigible? If so, cool. And probably cool whatever it is.
Immediately after my first relaunched Last Friday, the one at which Sam Bowman spoke, I suffered a dose of success depression. This is when you achieve a goal, and then feel not happy but empty, because deprived of the goal. The event had gone well. But I expected a little too much from it by way of immediate good consequences. A wise friend who attended the evening later told me that good results would indeed happen, but more gradually than I had been assuming, and that is now starting to happen.
One of the better consequences of these events is that because I send out emails to anyone I half know or know of who I think might be interested in attending, I have re-established contact with a number of friends and semi-friends who I was in danger of losing touch with.
One such, Alastair James, a libertarian friend from way back, recently sent me an email which included this:
I know you mostly like shots of one thing (often with some clutter in the foreground), but if you are also interested in panoramas I wonder if you’ve ever been to Blythe Hill Fields in Lewisham. I think it has some of the best views in London of Canary Wharf and the City but I rarely see it mentioned.
For years I have been nagging people to tell me about good spots to photo London from, but mostly without success. And now that turns up, pretty much unsolicited, merely through me being in touch with Alastair and discussing his son’s sporting triumphs, they being the reason that he often finds Fridays rather hard to do.
As it happens, I had never heard of Blythe Hill Fields, but it immediately sounded very promising, the clues being in the name. A hill, with nothing in the foreground getting in the way, just fields. Ideal for wandering around on, to find the best shots, and so, yesterday it proved.
I immediately found out where Blythe Hill Fields is (from Google maps), identified the nearest station, Honor Oak Park, and soon discovered (from this train website) that there is a train direct to Honor Oak Park from Victoria, which is very near to me. I also learned (from a weather website) on Monday evening, that the short-range weather forecast for Tuesday was, in a word: superb. Not a cloud in the sky, they said, and so it proved. So, a superb forecast in the other sense also.
Yet again, we see here the working through of one of my favourite Laws, which says that new methods of communication (in this case the internet) do not replace older methods of doing things (in this case going there). Rather do the new methods complement and as likely as not reinforce the older methods. Writing gives people more to talk about. Printing makes writing massively more productive, and gives rise to masses more talk. Television adapts books and sells books and provides yet more conversation fodder. Email makes meetings, at which we can all talk to each other some more, far easier to organise and publicise. And now the internet makes wandering around London (also the world) massively easier.
This posting is already getting rather unwieldy, so I’ll hold the photos I took at and around Blythe Hill Fields yesterday for another posting. Instead let me finish up this posting by quoting and commenting on another bit of the Alastair James email, which further emphasises the point about how the internet makes travelling easier, and in his case more fun:
BTW I recently finally got a Smartphone and I find it much easier to follow blogs since I got it – I’ve always felt guilty sitting in front of a PC reading a blog that I’m doing something unproductive. Anyway I just wanted to say that I’ve been reading yours and how much I enjoy it!
You might be surprised to learn what a difference declarations of that sort can make to the morale of a blogger like me, who doesn’t now get many comments, still less comments like that. Without my Fridays, I never get to hear that, which is a perfect example of a somewhat delayed effect that my friend in paragraph one above talked about.
But note also the smartphone thing. Presumably Alastair now uses his to read blogs in circumstances where more serious work would be difficult, such as while travelling.
I am myself currently engaged in buying a smartphone, helped by my friend Michael Jennings (who is giving the next Friday talk this Friday – do come if you want to). Whereas for Alastair James a key app is reading blogs on the move, for me the killer app is definitely being able to learn exactly where I am at any point in my various wanderings, and how to get to where I want to go to next. It would have come in quite handy yesterday, but because of some serendipity that occurred without it (more about that later), I am actually quite glad that yesterday I did not have Google maps with me. That’s another story, for which stay tuned.
I suspect that Alastair and I are not the only ones now, finally, kitting ourselves out with smartphones. I sense a general society-wide stampede in this direction, as the iPhone works its magic. The iPhone defines what a smartphone is, and all those for whom money is no object get one. That tells the Taiwanese copyists what to copy at half the price, and now they have pretty much got there.
I will also be buying a “bluetooth” (Michael J says that will work) keyboard, much like the black keyboard in this posting (scroll down a bit), to go with my smartphone, the idea being that I will be able to type stuff in as well as read things. (That keyboard is also a straight copy, in black, of an Apple keyboard, incidentally. Again with the Apple influence.) A smartphone screen too small for typing, you say? My very first computer, an Osborne, had a screen that was hardly any bigger, and I loved that. Osborne equals a very stupid version of a smartphone, plus a keyboard, plus half a ton of electro-crap that is no longer needed. Discuss. I feel one of those ain’t-capitalism-grand postings for Samizdata coming on.
The trouble with my current laptop is that, like the Osborne if with less extremity, it is still quite heavy. This means that I don’t always have it with me, in fact I pretty much now never have it with me, because when I do take it with me on my travels I often never actually use it, and in the meantime greatly resent its weight. The idea is that I will always have my smartphone with me (obviously), and always (fingers crossed) with the keyboard. So whenever a blogging opportunity beckons, when I am out and about, I will be able to respond.
The smartphone I am getting also has a rather good camera included. It’ll be interesting to compare that camera with my present one.
One benefit of meeting up with fellow libertarians is that together we sort out the world. But there is also the matter of sorting out the ongoing activities of the libertarian movement itself.
When I finally got to the Rose and Crown did some exploratory chit-chatting with Simon Gibbs, about such things as future writings for Libertarian Home by me (I promise nothing but hope to do something) and about how he does his videos. I would like to get good at doing videos, but don’t know where to start. Except now I do. Simon has agreed to teach me what he does. He uses Adobe Premier Elements. So, that’s what I have in mind to be using. I also showed him my camera, the reviews of which when I first bought it said it would be good at video. Will that do? Yes, he said.
In exchange I was able to offer Simon some tips about how to do radio in general and the BBC’s Moral Maze in particular, which he was nearly on last week, and will surely be on Real Soon Now.
I daresay similar conversations were going on elsewhere in the room, where other libertarian doings were likewise being furthered.
I also got to talk with Richard Carey, who is to be my next Last Friday speaker but one. Which means that I now have my next three Last Fridays sorted. February 22: Michael Jennings. (We now – at last - have Samizdata author archives!) March 29: Richard Carey. April 26: Rob Fisher. Michael will be telling us some of the things he has learned about the globe and its ways of organising itself from his various globe trottings. Rob will be talking about open source software. And now it is pretty much settled that Richard will talk about the relationship between libertarianism and Austrian Economics. Excellent. Email me (see “contact” top left here) if you want to know more about any of these events.
Oddly enough, the one thing I didn’t think to do at this gathering was take any photos. I was similarly forgetful on the Last Friday of January.
Neither omission was at all clever. Photos create an aura of significance, a penumbra of meaningfulness, a force field of where-it’s-at-ness. Not much. A bit. We can all do out bit, and bits like that are easily done by me, except that on these two nights, they weren’t.
And after all that I went home, watched some TV, and then went to bed.
The photos below of NHS headlines were taken in one of my favourite newspaper and magazine shops, the one in Victoria Street on the left as you go towards Victoria Station, having turned left out of Strutton Ground. Moments after leaving that shop, I started off back in the other direction along Victoria Street, towards Parliament Square, and took these the two snaps below.
There is not much point any more in taking pictures of just The Wheel. We all know what that looks like. But I still like to snap away at it, when I am able to combine it with other things, such as particularly sastisfying foreground clutter, or a statue:
I especially like the one on the left, partly because the scene will never be repeated. I do like temporary clutter. And I particularly like how it says “ALARMED”, bottom right. I only saw that when I got home.
The statue on the right is the one featured in this posting here, from 2008, which I had of course totally forgotten about but have just been reminded about by google.
That’s right. I went a-googling for “statue outside westminster abbey”, and clicked on entry number four, “images for statue outside westmister abbey”. And guess what the Gold Medal Image was, the very first image, top left, number one on the list. That’s right, only me.
Not long ago, Alex Singleton dropped by. And one of the many intriguing things he told me was that Google really, really likes blogs like BrianMicklethwaitDotCom. This is because blogs like BrianMicklethwaitDotCom have been going for quite a long time, are quite frequently updated with new stuff, and are real blogs rather than fakes. Also, crucially, BrianMicklethwaitDotCom has now no truck with - and never ever has had any truck with - bullshit tricks for boosting traffic as peddled by bullshit tricksters on the www. Google can tell this. Google has its own box of clever tricks to spot anyone trying to do this, and guess who is cleverer, the bullshit tricksters or Google? And Google has worked out that I never do any of that crap. So, Google likes me, and when people look for a picture and I have such a picture, my picture gets to be at or very near the top of the list.
Alex also told me that some quite Big Cheese car maker and car seller had made the mistake of availing itself of the services of one of these traffic booster nitwits. Jaguar, I think it was. And Google proceeded to expunge Jaguar from its listings. So, when you went looking for a luxury car, you got no Jaguars at all. And if you went looking for jaguars, all you got was big black kitties.
At the time, I thought Alex himself might have been bullshitting, but it seems he may have been exactly right.
No, not Jaguar, so not exactly right, and I have only left that in for the kitty connection. Sorry Jaguar. If you want all that removed, just say the word and it will be done. I have just dined with Antoine Clarke, and he told me it was: BMW.
Yesterday I posted a short photo-piece at Samizdata about the Vauxhall helicopter crash, but had difficulty with the photos. Not having posted any photos on Samizdata for about a month, I had to rediscover how to do it. I am definitely not going to be switching to Wordpress here any time very soon. Although, come to think of it, maybe I will switch soonish, if only to be able to practice posting photos on Wordpress, here. Given that here I allow myself to do any damn fool thing I feel like doing. Like not post anything for a week, for no good reason.
So anyway, here is a photo (a slice out of the photo I did post at Samizdata) which I tried to post at Samizdata yesterday, late last night, but got in a muddle with and gave up on. Now, I will embed a link to this, from there.
The problem with photoing this ruined crane is, for me, getting into a good position. This was the best shot I could get yesterday, given that I was in a hurry because of fading light. What I may now try is photoing it from one of the platforms of Vauxhall Station, which is the other side of the crane from where I was yesterday. Station platforms being long, you can move back and forth until you get the best shot. Today looks like nice weather, so maybe I’ll try that this afternoon.
I need more text here, to fit the photo into this posting without it bashing into the previous posting. So, what else to say about this?
Well, one thing I can say is that I am extremely curious about how they will sort this out. I guessed in my Samizdata piece that it will be a while before they get around to sorting out this crane, because on the ground they have other things to sort out, involving thousands of commuters going to and fro every day, on the road onto which the stricken helicopter fell, spreading flames everywhere. The builders will just not be first in the queue. The builders will be needing the road when they bring in whatever other cranes they need, to remove the ruined crane, and to put up another crane, so I’m guessing they’ll have to wait until the road is sorted and back in business.
Plus, do they mend the crane, or replace it? Does anyone kinow what the routine is for fixing a crane in this state, on a site like this one? As I understand it, the entire tower-building job depends on that crane, and now the entire job comes to a shuddering halt, until they can get that crane mended, or another crane into that same spot. Heaven knows what that delay will cost, per hour.
I hope I get really lucky and get to photo them sorting this out, but am not optimistic. Building contractors are not in the habit of drawing attention to themselves when they are busy building. They just want to be left alone to get on with it. The press-releasing, attention-grabbing phase only gets under way when the building is good and finished.
That ought to be enough text.
At exactly the time when I started getting un-ill yesterday afternoon, but moments before I realised it, Michael Jennings rang to ask my opinion, about photos on Samizdata. Still believing myself to be ill, as perhaps I still was at that precise moment, I cut him short. Now, here is an answer.
My opinion is that photos, lightly sprinkled on a blog, send an important message to readers beyond the obvious one that here is a medal, or a strange toy airplane, or a funny media mistake, or whatever. That message is: this blog is something the people who do it care about. Shoving up text is the easiest thing in the world, but adding a photo requires a bit of pausing and considering. These people want their blog to catch your eye as well as your mind. They are putting themselves about a bit. Not only is this blog regularly updated, it looks regularly updated. Even if you don’t read this, others will.
But as those three links illustrate, there have been rather a lot of photos on Samizdata lately, and there is a danger that it will look like photos are being used as a substitute for thought rather than being a mere signifier of blogging seriousness. Besides which, the mystery of sticking up photos is hardly much of a mystery any more, is it? Most people know that sticking up photos is now as easy as sticking up words.
What Michael was asking about, before I told him I was ill and to postpone it, was, in particular, or so I surmise, photos like the one this sign, and like these ones of Samizdata jollification over Christmas. What do I think of those?
Well, they are clever. Notice how, if you narrow your window, to the point where the text rearranges itself to fit in a narrower column, the photo also narrows itself. Cute. Well, I’m impressed. I’m guessing that’s especially good for Samizdata accommodating itself onto smaller media like tablets and smart phones, which (commenters say) the new set-up does very well. These big new photos are also the result of Samizdata having become more tablet- and phone-friendly, because a tablet is where Michael has been doing them from?
The trouble is, however, that by making photos expand to fit the space available for their display, you risk (I think) making photos look like the point of the whole exercise. They cease to be mere seasoning, and become the meal. So, much as I like the expanding and contracting thing, I think that these potentially very big photos would be better if smaller, with the option to expand but not the routine habit of doing this.
Samizdata is all about concepts. It is about, as Perry de Havilland never tires of saying, the metacontext. For that you need words. Even if many of those words don’t get read or are only skimmed over, it needs to be clear that, at Samizdata, it is in the words that the real message is to be found.
Does that answer what was going to be your question, Michael?
At least the whispered question of a few months back, about whether Samizdata is dying, is now well and truly answered. No. (The comments on that posting now make even more interesting reading than they did when posted.) Perry de Havilland may not have written that much lately, but as a leader he remains very much in place and swinging. The makeover proves this.
Here, it doesn’t matter what I do about pictures. This is a kitten blog.
Nice blog you have here … shame if something happens to it
All change at Samizdata and another outage here
Michael Jennings on why iPad photoing is not ridiculous
More photographers photographed
Outage here last night - and the possible Wordpress future of this blog
PID at Samizdata
Turning back the spam comment tide and allowing proper comments from way back still to be read
Untrue colours from Windows Photo Viewer
Google Earth and Mr and Mrs Goose
The Jobs difference
Notes to self but not to you
How can I change the double inverted commas in openoffice.org writer from curved to straight-up?
Empty tables and empty chairs
Someone doesn’t understand what I mean by roof clutter
Out to lunch with Alex Singleton
Jobs departs from Apple (again)
OpenOffice.org 3.2.1 Writer font default setting help wanted
Problems here (now sorted)
I can do squares!!!
Is this blog somewhat broken?
Help with Audacity please
Brianmicklethwait Dot Com headline of the day
Google rolls out computer controlled cars
Links to this and that
Bay Bridge plus a new bridge next to it
Big box computers versus laptops
Alex Singleton on Photoshop CS5
How my camera and the internet explained an old bus
Apple keyboard remains excellent – iPhone software not so excellent
Green cat email mystery solved
Does Google now rule the world of computing?
What’s up with this?
Antoine Clarke talks about Facebook and Twitter – Guido and … Ian Geldard?
Me and Michael Jennings talk tech trends
Chrome now seems better than IE or Firefox
MP3 Haydn symphonies
Is the original version of this with all the spelling mistaks what goes on all teh uther blogs?
A photo of the Samsung NC10 and the original Asus Eee-PC next to each other
Daniel Hannan and the shape of the media to come
A question about double inverted commas in OpenOffice.org Writer
Milk containers ancient and modern
Has the Linux moment passed?
Billion Monkey with red mittens on
Jesus gets a big new keyboard
Another resizing test
Resized picture done with Jesus but quickly
JD gets PTD
Pink bunny successfully resized and posted only with Jesus!
Now I’m going to try to stick up a picture with Jesus
Cats are (as of) now being counted in permanent italics
Permanent Bold Disease strikes Brassneck
PID hits DK
Coffee House struggles with Permanent Italics Disease
Instapundit succumbs to PID
Permanent italics disease at the Coffee House
A cheaper competitor for the Eee PC
The Eee PC just got better
Eee PC and Brahms CDs
Typed man walking
The petty cash effect cuts in for Linux
Linux versus Windows - the bigger tiny laptop breakout
Vista won’t work on the new small and cheap computers
Blu-Ray - HD DVD – IBM – Microsoft - Google
I love competition
A job well done
Eee PC not eeesy to get in Asia either
Facebook – not so social
Engadget suffers from intermittent giant text disease
I listened to both of them at the same time!
Smelling the smoke in the Microsoft machine
YouTube - Internet Explorer - Firefox
The permanent italics disease