December 23rd, 2013
April 2013: Interesting short documentary about the dance music scene in Brooklyn, and how gentrification threatens to stamp it out.
December 18th, 2013
The video for Erol Alkan’s track ‘A Hold on Love’ is wonderful. Looks like it was all shot in and around Kendal in Cumbria.
December 4th, 2013
Fascinating and more than a bit clever, if you’ll excuse the pun.
November 5th, 2013
The Milky Way panorama by ESO/S. Brunier (The Milky Way panorama) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
If you’re like me, which you’re probably not, then you’ll enjoy thinking about some of the ridiculously big numbers that crop up in science and particularly in relation to space, which is almost definitely the biggest thing there is.
Thanks to Kepler the estimate of the number of habitable or ‘Earth-like’ planets in the Milky Way has just been revised up to two billion. While this is unarguably a lot it’s worth remembering that our galaxy has a diameter of 31 kiloparsecs or 100,000 light years. Given that light travels 299,792 kilometers every second that is an exceptionally big thing.
Think about how big the galaxy is for a moment, and then recall that the visible universe has an estimated diameter of 93 billion light years and contains at least 100 billion such galaxies…
Someone once said to me that they’re ‘not really that interested in space’, which to me equates to saying that you’re not very interested in practically all of everything. Sure, there’s plenty of engaging stuff going on down here at our microscopic level, but how could you not want to look up once in a while?
October 27th, 2013
I’m writing this in the notes app on my phone because I’ve got no signal so cannot log into my blog, or download and set up the WordPress app (which itself wouldn’t be able to connect to my blog anyway, and I can’t remember whether it works offline). Actually, worse than having no signal, I’ve got a patchy 2 bars and a GPRS connection that occasionally steps up to Edge but then drops out completely and the process starts over again. The tease.
I’m at my in-laws’ house and they don’t “have the Internet” here, and actually don’t particularly want it either. Oddly there are no neighbours’ WiFi networks in range; I just tried in the hope of finding a BT Openzone (or Fon) I could latch onto. Nope. Not even any private ones. A luddite neighbourhood?
I remember (of course) not having the Internet. Other than games, in those days PCs were more or less devoid of distractions. The 1996 equivalent of scrolling through Vines for 10 minutes was playing a game of Minesweeper on the big setting.
I remember my dad having Compuserve, and it seeming a bit boring. Then, later, I remember picking up a Freeserve disc from Dixons in Stockport and being fairly excited about getting on the World Wide Web – but not being exactly sure what the web was or whether I’d be that into it. I think I assumed it’d be a novelty for a while – I liked the idea of email – but had no idea quite how big a deal it would turn out to be. “Quite”, you might say.
By 1997 I had made my own website complete, of course, with a visible hit counter and a Java plugin ripple effect. The future.
At university in 1998 we had an internet connection at our student house in Leeds but only on one of our PCs at a time, depending on which room we ran the phone extension and modem to. “Are you going to be long on the Web? Can you give me a shout when you’re finished so I can use the phone?”
We played 2-player Warcraft II and Starcraft between the bedrooms on floors 2 and 3 by way of daisy-chaining parallel printer cables (remember LPT1?) and putting a Laplink cable on one end to reverse the gender and pin-out. I always lost.
And Unreal Tournament through a 56k ‘v90’ was unseen assailant frag hell. Though it’s impressive that it was playable at all.
None of this was that long ago. It’s remarkable how quickly we’ve come to expect connectivity to the Internet, wirelessly everywhere, such that now (trips into the wilderness aside) being offline is the exception rather than the norm.
The Internet has become a kind of magical Higgs-Field-like property that pervades the very air we breathe… Until we lose signal and the spell is broken.
“Oh for God’s sake, why won’t it just load?!”
So, keeping in mind that famous Louis C.K. clip, I won’t complain. That such a thing as a wireless Internet connection exists at all is little short of a miracle (well that and the culmination of decades of work by scientists, mathematicians and engineers).
Instead I’ll write this offline on my phone to kill some time until I’m tired enough to fall asleep. Which is, conveniently, now.
September 30th, 2013
Impressive projection mapping onto moving surfaces controlled by robot arms. Go full screen / 1080p etc.