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: Software

Wednesday February 21 2018

One of the photos illustrating this report:

image

Can we please have a Lego London?

I just typed “lego london” into google, not expecting anything helpful.  A Lego cow in London.  Lego shops in London.  General Legonic activity of all kinds, in London.  I did not expect to be told, right at the top of the list, about making London in miniature, out of Lego.  But, I was immediately shown this:

image

Cancel my request for Lego London.  It already exists, and it is very bad.  Indeed, I would say that using Lego to mimic a very particular looking thing on a tiny scale is the very essence of what Lego is bad at doing, and the fact that Lego seems to spend so much of its time and trouble and focus and resources doing this exact thing spells its long-term doom.  The whole point of Lego, surely, is that you can make everything – everything, that is to say, that you can make out of it – with a few generic shaped objects.  Just like the Meccano of my youth, in other words, but architectural rather than mechanical.  A big Tower Bridge, yes, good idea.  A big Big Ben, not bad.  But tiny versions of these, stupid and totally unrealistic? See above.  Stupid.

For that, what you need is a 3D printer. And the smaller you make your small buildings, the more of them you can have in one spread.

A subset of them could be made to be exactly the right size for making buildings to attach to miniature railway layouts.  So, do railway modellers use 3D printers, to make, not trains, but train layout appendages?  It would make sense.

I just image googled railway modelling 3d printer, and got mostly 3D printed trains and train bits, rather than architecture.

Could making such models be the domestically owned 3D printer killer app?  Because so far, a domestically owned 3D printer killer app has been conspicuous by its total absence, and any company which has tried to make its fortune making domestically owned 3D printers has gone bust.  Such modelling – trains and houses and mountains and stuff - was all the rage when I was a kid, but all that has since been replaced by computer games.  But might not those computer games in their turn come to seem rather dated?  As is not the making of things now returning to the rich countries again, now that the computer guys are applying their wizardry to stuff-making?  Conceivably, toys may some time soon become three dimensional and material again, with swarms of robot cars and lorries replacing the trains.

Probably not, because things seldom just come back into style like that, any more than dance bands ever did or ever will.  More likely, the kid’s games of the future will involve some variation on virtual reality, which is to say they’ll be computer games only more so.  If so, we might see a further reduction in the crime rate (see below).

Tuesday February 20 2018

These are experts whom I want to believe, so I do!:

Violent video games may actually reduce crime as aggressive players are “too busy” shooting virtual enemies to cause trouble in the real world, experts claim.

I have long believed that television caused crime waves, in each country it arrived in, by immobilising the respectable classes inside their respectable homes and handing the world’s public spaces over to non-television-owning ne’er-do-wells, every night.  It is not the sex-and-vi0lence-on-telly that causes the crime.  It is the near total absence of these things.  Violent people were repelled by telly, because it was so abysmally well-behaved.

I myself have spent a huge proportion of my life watching television.  Had television not existed, I would have been out in public places fighting crime, by looking like I might notice it and then give evidence against the ne’er-do-wells committing it.

But now, with the rise of video games, it is the ne’er-do-wells who are busy playing video games.  Video games are not well-behaved.  You get to kill people, and to commit grand theft upon autos.  If duty calls, it calls on you to kill yet more people.

Presumably, this evening, the public places are all deserted.  I wouldn’t know.  I am watching television.

Wednesday January 24 2018

Yeah, another.  (See also: this one.) This time it was brief, and to the point, whatever point that was:

PHP has encountered an Access Violation at 7C8108EB

I don’t know how long that was the solitary message being sent out by this blog, but that was it.

It has become a priority for me to set up a new blog, powered by Wordpress, and I need someone who knows Wordpress to help me do that.  In exchange for money.  Anyone interested?  Anyone know anyone who might be interested?

This blog being this blog, I am pretty confident that the answer, here, will be: Comments (0).  This posting is more in the way of a memo to self.  This is the thing I now need to be cracking on with.

Tuesday January 23 2018

I haven’t taken many photos of people in silhouette, but I should do it more, because it is a really good way to photo people.  Maybe the problem is that a person has to be in the dark with lots of light behind him or her, and if you are like me and you just photo people out in the open, and you let the lighting be an act of God, so to speak, God only very rarely obliges with a silhouette.

But God did so oblige, on Jan 5th, which was the day I also took the first four of yesterday’s photos.  This photoer was under Blackfriars Bridge and hence in darkness, and behind him, we observe the Millennium Bridge, artistically out-of-focus:

image

See also this photo, taken indoors, of Christopher Snowdon.

Does face recognition software work with silhouettes?  I just shoved that question into google, but answer came there none.

Saturday January 20 2018

By which I mean that the content is what it is, but that the loading up is either very slow or, from time to time, non-existent.

If you had been trying to view this blog today, this is what you would have seen:

image

I cranked up BMdotcom on my mobile, just to make sure it wasn’t my computer that was in some mysterious way causing this.  It wasn’t.

And yes, I cheated with the timing of this posting.  I actually stuck this up in the small hours of Monday morning, and backdated the date.  If this bothers you, have your lawyers call my lawyers.

Conversations are now ongoing about not only how to get fewer such collapses, but also about how to speed up the loading, to the point where a decent number of people might consider reading it, again, or even for the first time.  What I am thinking I will do is set up a new Wordpress blog, and leave this as Classic Brian, or some such thing.

Tuesday December 26 2017

After that trip to Primrose Hill with GodDaughter2, when my camera stopped cooperating, and I later got it working again, I went back there, on my own.  I couldn’t be content until I had taken as many photos there as I would like to have taken on the previous visit.

One of the better photos I took on that second trip, of photoers photoing, was this:

image

Is that guy photoing his photoer lady-friend, as she photos the view?  Judging by the red blob on his screen, which has got to be her bright red rucksack, I would say: yes he is.  What a peculiar man, wanting to take a photo like that.

Joking aside, there is something else about my camera that troubles me, besides having spent a day thinking it was completely bust.  Do you remember that day earlier this year when the sky turned yellow, because of some North African dust storm, or some such thing.  Well, when my camera is set on automatic - and when I use it it is always set on automatic – it does this all the time.  Everything comes out yellower than it should.  Blues are diminished into white.  The merest suggesting of actual yellow is intensified.  Not good.

The above photo, effective though I think it is, illustrates this only too clearly.  Notice how even my photo of the guy’s screen has his sky bluer than my version of the sky.  Which means that his screen must have been very blue.

I tried reading the camera manual, but unfortunately this is written in a Serbo-Croation dialect of Sanskrit.  Not one word of it makes any sense to me at all.  And I tried fiddling around with the camera itself, without any success.  I couldn’t even find anywhere on the www where I might be able to ask my question, and more to the point, maybe get some worthwhile answers.  Help.  I realise that Boxing day is not a good day to be saying such a thing, but I say it anyway.  By the time anyone gets around to reading this, the problem is unlikely to have gone away.

Friday December 15 2017

Incoming from Rob Fisher: link to a piece in the Independent, about machine learning applied to old telescope data is finding new planets.

Quote:

A computer was trained to look through the data from the Kepler space telescope, and look for signals that might belong to planets. And it found new planets within existing systems, by spotting signals that seemed to indicate something of interest but were too weak to have been spotted by humans.

That suggests that there might be whole worlds and solar systems hiding within the data we’ve already collected, but which we had not noticed because there are simply so many signals to pick through. Kepler has collected four-years of data from looking at the sky and 150,000 stars – far more than humans could ever look through.

So, exactly what were these weak signals?

The new planets – just like all of the thousands found by Kepler – were spotted by watching the sky for light coming from the stars. When planets pass in front of their stars, scientists can register the dimming as they go, and use the speed and characteristics of that dimming to work out what the solar system might actually look like.

Much of that work relies on pattern recognition, which until now has been done by scientists looking through the data. But the new findings are the result of work between Nasa and Google, which trained machine learning algorithms to learn to spot those patterns itself and so pick through the data much more quickly.

This is good.  Keep Skynet busy with harmless hobbies.

Maybe not.  Getting Skynet to compile a huge and exhaustive list of all the places in the universe where biology-based life might be, after biology-based life on this planet has been taken care of.

This is maybe how the robot holocaust will happen.  We will have been telling them to “take care of” us and our fellow creatures.  But they’ll have been watching too many gangster movies, and ...

Thursday December 14 2017

My camera has conked out.  The autofocussing is refusing to autofocus.  Which is nasty.  And even nastier given that I only found out about this when I was trying, with it, to take photos, this afternoon, like this one:

image

That’s from the top of Primrose Hill, as photoed by my mobile phone, which is a Google Nexus 4.  That one wasn’t too bad, but most of the phone-photos I phone-photoed with this annoying gadget, truly good only for telling me where I am and how soon I will reach my tube destination and what the cricket scores are, were rubbish.

Here is one of the few other good ones, taken from one of the bridges over the Regent’s Canal:

image

That red boat is the Feng Shang Princess.

GodDaughter 2 was with me.  Since I couldn’t take lots of photos, there was nothing for it, I had to make do with talking to her.  And also listening to her.  Which worked out quite well.

Two phone photos
Shazam for art
How computer dating erodes racism and strengthens marriage (and rearranges tribes)
A clean dirty joke
Maps!
Frollicking outside the Abbey (a decade ago)
How Pablo Picasso (and Picasso’s wife Jacqueline) saved the life of Lucien Clergue
Aug ‘17 OSB8: More tech
August 2017 Old School Blogging (5): Ex-Googler James Damore
I don’t know whether it’s the weather or my camera
Google now realises that I was spot on about Google Glass
Bright light on crane tower
Why computers are so dumb and so insolent
City peddlers etc.
Battersea Park bird
Cat proximity awareness
Guess what this is
Signs
A new stadium for Chelsea
An Eiffel Tower at Wembley?
Skull Shaver
Tottenham Court Road tube entrance next to Centre Point
More database problems
Batman consults his smartphone
Chuntering
Busy days
Referendum day graphics
Brexit - the movie - here!
Face recognition – face disguise – the age of pseudo-omniscience
Goodbye PhotoCat – hello PhotoPad
Incoming imagery from Antoine
Benevolent Laissez-Faire photos
With PhotoCat I can do cropping while keeping it the same shape
What sort of duck is this?
Taking photo-notes and an app for improving photo-notes
Photo of Mountbatten on Sea Containers House
How cranes might not keep falling
Drivel
Michael Jennings on Uber (and the Uber logo ruckus)
Hemingway
Screens at dusk
Simon Gibbs on computer programming - me on how Alex Singleton has not written himself out of a job
Excellent headline
Jim Glymph gets Frank Gehry past the limits of what is buildable
How to Weaponize your Cat to Hack Neighbours Wi-Fi Passwords
It begins (badly)
Out and about with GD1 (3): Baritone borrows my charger
Adverts for small and cheap drones
Peter Thiel on how humans and computers complement each other
A drone weaving a structure in space
Touch typing or no typing at all
Playing away
Christmas Day photos
Matt Ridley on how technology leads science and how that means that the state need not fund science
Database blues
Dominic Frisby on the Hype Cycle
Blog down
It turns out that lightning speed is immensely useful
God was overheating and now needs radical transplant surgery (and Dawkins now has to do my email)
PID at the Times
OpenOffice Writer default resetting nightmares
Cashing a cheque by photoing it
Robyn Vinter is wrong about Google Glass
TfL electronic signs (etc.)
Capturing moments
Ubernomics
The joyful excitement of the Festival lyrique international de Belle-Île-en-Mer
My blogging software is behaving badly
Classical Amazon
Green screen blue screen
Art has its uses – but where did it have its uses this time – and what is it?
Another photographer photo from the archives
Confirmation that map use has seriously declined
Digital photographers holding maps
Mark Steyn on Obama’s Hoover Dam and me on paywalls
On the insecurity of ObamaCare - and on the unwisdom of only punishing big and later
Simon Gibbs last night at the Rose and Crown
RNSQotD
Alex on Quentin
Twisted picture from Burgess Park (untwisted with Photoshop Elements)
Finding Rover app tracks lost dogs using facial recognition
Richard Stallman on software patents
Interesting software NewZ
Rob Fisher on the 3D printing future
The Johnathan Pearce Samizdata gap
Testing again
Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
Panoramic view of London from the top of the BT Tower
Alastair James on Blythe Hill Fields and smartphones
Doing libertarian business at the Libertarian Home social
Looking along Victoria Street to The Wheel (and on how to be liked (or disliked) by Google)
Close-up of the ruined Vauxhall crane
Is Samizdata in danger of becoming a photo-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
Celebrity photoshoot?
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
Infrequent flyer
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
Brian Sickle-feather?
Does Google now rule the world of computing?
What’s up with this?
Antoine Clarke talks about Facebook and Twitter – Guido and … Ian Geldard?
Twitterings
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
Embedded video
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
Imperfect day
Pink bunny successfully resized and posted only with Jesus!
Now I’m going to try to stick up a picture with Jesus
Baffled
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