Sunday, 30 June 2013

In which Glastonbury reminds me of the need to sit in a field

mumford and son
Watching some of Glasto on telly this weekend, I realised that we're not booked into any festivals for the whole summer.

This year the closest I've been to the live Glastonbury experience was an escalator behind a lone camper at Paddington station. She had what looked like all new camping gear, a fancy backpack and a 10 litre water bottle with maybe 4 litres in it. I couldn't help thinking it was a lot of heavy gear to be carrying, let alone from the train station and the likely long walk into the festival. Tomorrow I'm sure I will wistfully notice the (presumably) big round car park stickers as people return towards London.
covert capture tents
Usually we're are at one or two big field gigs in the summer, so I suppose there's still time for something to turn up. Maybe a small field this year.
DSC_1760
It's interesting to watch some of Glastonbury on television. There's good coverage of some of the live bands, but it can't really capture the experience, despite all the cutaways and TV presenter inserts.
early morning tea song
Similarly the scale gets diluted, even with the ranging overhead cameras. The 45 minute walks from one area to another, strange blisters from wellington boots, the street food, beer and cider diet, random weather and even more random experiences with strangers.
tentacles
Sunday's headline act is Mumford and Son. The top picture here is when we saw them at Glastonbury playing The Park. We sat on the grass in front and I could casually wander to the front for a few snaps. I doubt if it will be like that this evening on the Pyramid Stage.
DSC_2293

Friday, 28 June 2013

sign of the vines?

Lamb Tavern
A few of us had a meeting close to Leadenhall Market on Friday. I was early and wandered into the main market area ahead before heading to the assigned plate glass office block.

It was mid afternoon and I was struck by the lively bustle from the various pubs. When working around the City, there's an oft quoted saying that economic conditions can be determined from the pubs and wine bars. When graphs dip down the pubs are quiet.

This was 3.30pm and most of the pubs were jammed and standing room early.
Leadenhall_Market_Illustrated_London_News_1881
Too early for it to be those finished for the day, so more likely to be extended lunch-times? And Leadenhall Market is hardly an upstart area. Slap bang in the middle of the City, the original market dates back to the 14th Century. It's served its share of liquid lunches.

I'm wondering; the dilemma that if this extended Friday tippling really is a sign of economic improvement, then is our money safe in their hands?
New Moon at Leadenhall

Thursday, 27 June 2013

a visit to the sugar factory's legacy

The Acquired Inability to Escape 1991 by Damien Hirst born 1965
I was in Tate Britain during the week, as a break from my office-based side project.

The recently completed massive re-hang of works has cubed them into a sweet chronological order. Yes, Tate was founded by the importer who created those little sugar cubes.

The Tate Modern (the other London Tate) has more variability, contrasting pieces from different eras, but here in Tate Britain it is genuinely helpful to be able to select a period from 1540 up to modern day, step into a relevant room and to see how art work has developed.

It's also created a surprisingly good mix of 'Greatest Hits' type works interspersed with (to me) lesser known pieces. It's totally impossible to take it all in one go, and much better to spend time in a few areas and maybe contrast the styles and developments.
Cookmaid with Still Life of Vegetables and Fruit circa 1620-5 by Sir Nathaniel Bacon 1585-1627
There's early portraits, then development of surrounding scenes, landscapes, social commentary, abstraction, the conventions of the painters, both formal and sometimes humorous. It's easier in the new format to see it unfold through the different rooms. There's some - like the huge picture of the Lady of Shallot after the mirror shatters and she makes her cursed way downstream to never reach Camelot. Just one picture can take an age to absorb.
The Lady of Shalott 1888 by John William Waterhouse 1849-1917
To the side of the huge galleries are smaller side exhibits which can be rotated with individual spotlight shows. I visited a couple related to the main show and a couple of very specific additional gallery collections.

I've dotted a few pictures through this blog entry. That top installation is from Damien Hirst. I think I saw it first in the old Saatchi gallery, which used to be on the South Bank. The Acquired Inability Escape. A curiously familiar scene? It's odd how some of these pieces seem to travel around London, probably at dead of night.

The middle picture is the Cook maid, by Sir Nathaniel Bacon, from around 1620 and the final one is the Lady of Shalott, 1888, by John William Waterhouse. Tate have also put around 500 of the works online into a useful gallery, which is here. Dive in for a Bigger Splash.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Drowned Man - Punchdrunk

Temple Studios
I've been told not to say too much about the evening. There's others expecting the full range of surprises, so I'll keep this oblique.

A visit to an almost derelict building around the back of Praed Street, where a line of people formed quietly alongside one of the loading bays. No signage to indicate the purpose, just recognition from others attending.

We were there for a preview of 'The Drowned Man', the latest production from the theatre company Punchdrunk, this time set in Temple Studios, the London outpost of Hollywood's Republic Pictures.

I've been to Punchdrunk at other venues and it's a rather unique theatrical experience. In this case a multiple story building for the multiple stories of the production.

200,0000 sq ft of space to create a series of offices, movie sets and so much more. The detail is there too, look into artists' rooms and their lives are spread out before you - blending early 60's London with Hollywood.

There were around 600 of us at this National Theatre preview performance, although the unguided nature of the show meant that sometimes I could find myself alone in a broad town square, a forest, a caravan or ... I'd better not say more. Go with friends, but expect to completely lose them for at least part of the evening.

Other times there would be action unfolding with more than a hundred masked audience following a single actor as they moved to a new scene. Kind of audience as character. Or a couple of audience sitting alone on a swing. Someone sleeping on a bench. A significant and sometimes guarded barrier. A song and dance number being performed on a sound stage for the cameras. Or two shots of happy and one shot of sad.

The walk-around (promenade sounds too structured) nature of the show means there really isn't a fourth wall to break, because it's quite possible to find oneself in amongst the Tinseltown action. Sometimes quite graphically.

It's safe to say that every visitor's acquired performance will be unique. It's a type of Dream Factory, one of the old nicknames for Hollywood. It worked, both whilst I was there, and the later present of sand in my shoes and unexpected dreams when I returned home.

I'll go again, for more and a different story, when it's past the previews.

Monday, 24 June 2013

outdoor art gallery

Untitled
A few days ago I mentioned the Artworks plan to spread some art around the UK during August. Of course, I realised that, at least in London, there's already quite an array on display.

The construction site hoardings illustrated are by the Tate Britain, so it's not surprising that they would be covered in paintings, but it is also fascinating to see people slow down as they walk past, to take a look at the pictures.
outdoor gallery?
Not everyone does it, there's still some people in a hurry or in a phone conversation, but others will walk along just as they might in an actual gallery.
Untitled
I also spotted the Yoko Ono picture hanging outside the RFH. It's just behind a well known area, but I suspect many passing people don't even spot it.
Untitled
And then, quite close by is Roa's squirrel fight mural. It's part of a set of garden impressions around the concrete of this particular area of the South Bank and just a scratch of the surface of what's out there.
fight
The people at Artworks are asking for votes at the moment, for which UK artworks to display on the posters. It's quite fun to simply scroll through the suggestions.

I voted for the Edward Burra "Snack Bar", partly a synchronicity moment because it was also on today's billboard but equally because there's such a lot going on in this picture. Of course the original version hasn't been admired by birds in quite the same way.
P6240039

Saturday, 22 June 2013

why shopping loyalty schemes don't work

Untitled
I know there's those fortune teller types who can predict lifestyle from the contents of shopping trollies. Along the lines of 'Busy young family', 'Office worker lunch break', 'Single female' and so on, and that there's proper industry classifications for these demographic baskets.

There's also some fun mathematics and algorithms to predict missing items from shopping trollies - surely that will become one of the next things in checkout lines ('Would you like us to find you the maple syrup to go with those pancakes?' etc.)

The last century supermarket 'shopper loyalty' systems persist, but still have some very basic flaws in use. I'm suspicious that they want to appear to be being helpful whilst deliberately failing most of the time. An unspoken collusion of the programming and the store staff.

The merchants would deny this and cite the great case studies, heavy investment and use of micro-segmentation data mining to build loyalty, but it's still mainly a faff to use these things.

My recent examples (I should really have made this a Thursday Thirteen)

  • The 'Match' systems used to show that I've saved money at supermarket X, compared with the others. Sure. I get a voucher if I've been charged more than elsewhere. It's like an 'I lose' ticket. I just paid £3.47 more than if I'd shopped elsewhere. Thanks.
  • Refunding the same ticket on the next shop may allow me to get a saving. Goody. Except, at the end of the next shop I get another ticket saying I've just spent £2.49 more than if I shopped elsewhere. By now I'm thinking I need to be shopping at that other place.
  • Didn't need to visit the store for a couple of weeks? Oops the remaining ticket has now timed out, so the store has now retained my overspend in any case
  • What about those little barcodes on key rings? It's a pretty good way to collect the points without having to do much, so long as you don't mind carrying a permanent advert for the store(s) on the keyring. In my case I thought I'd use the iPhone ap instead, which also allows the barcode to be stored and swiped. Except, after an update to the iPhone, the system forgot my number. Inconveniently it wouldn't let me log on either.
  • Vouchers. Yes, I get given vouchers at the end of a shop. Sometimes for improbable purchases. I normally empty them into a bin at the first opportunity. I used to be amused by those electric machines they use in U.S. Stores that issue discount tickets at the point of decision (e.g. for shampoo). I suppose at least they are relevant to the shopping, although I suppose a sign with "Offer- $1 reduction" might work just as well.
  • Voucher redemption. I can't really be bothered to carry vouchers around and fiddle about trying to use them. I get sent a bundle every so often from whichever schemes I'm in, but they also go into the bin. I've seen other people with these at the checkout and it can take some time to get them processed. A kind of anti-loyalty scheme for the fast shopper caught behind someone using them in a checkout queue.
  • A few days ago one of those booklets arrived by post, just as I was heading to the store. Experiment time. I thought I'd see what happened. There were about twenty or so vouchers in the perforated booklet. Some were for common things, like milk and bakery products. I reached the checkout and triumphantly handed a few ostensibly relevant ones over. Even that was fiddly because of the multi page booklet and the need to tear out relevant individual squares. Epic fail. The milk I'd purchased was the wrong type. The bakery products I'd picked were excluded. The coffee voucher for two packs of coffee could only be used for one pack in a single shop. The double points vouchers were not valid until July. Yes, I had become the person in the line that everyone hates. Except there was no line of shoppers.

  • Disloyally, I threw the rest of the vouchers away when I returned home. I'd suspected all along it was all a waste of time.

I could go on, but I'm clearly not loyal enough for these schemes. Maybe I'm not the target market. My simple suggestion is that instead they just send me a large value money voucher each month to persuade me to shop in their store. More a transaction than a relationship, but a whole lot simpler and it might even work.

Friday, 21 June 2013

winning ways of summer?

junction
I can't reconcile the last few days with it being around summer solstice. Admittedly, a gang of us were together yesterday evening in a bar with a sunny balcony, but for much of the time we have seen dark skies.

There's enough bad weather for it to be inconvenient, but I've still needed to rig up a hosepipe to water some freshly laid turf.

The place we met for evening drinks was on a road close to Ascot races, where we could see a stream of exotic cars mixed with stretched limos of every hue.

The pinky purple extended Hummer was one of the larger varieties amongst the mainly American imports sprinkled with a few modified Mercedes.

We remarked that the unstretched Rolls-Royces needed chauffeurs although the equally fancy Bentleys should really be driven by their owners.

Later, on the way back home, I drove past a Ferrari dealership, and noticed a couple of taxis stopped outside, no doubt with people from the races wondering what they'd have spent their winnings on, if only they'd won.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

meerkat time

branch
My cycling mileage has just flipped over 3000 miles year to date, which means I'll probably do more than last year.

I hadn't linked my cycling mileage with my car mileage, but -duh- I've noticed that my car miles have reduced. Probably 1/3 less car miles averaged over the last 2 years since my last new car. What I hadn't realised was the effect that it could also have on my car insurance, which has also gone down slightly, even staying with the same company.

That's not what happened with household insurance, which has been quietly increasing year on year. Two years ago I didn't notice their crazy adjustments and I foolishly let the new premium go through unchallenged.

This year they shot themselves in the foot, because there was also a further increase that tipped me into meerkat territory. Yes. Time to compare the market and attain a significant saving. Of course, I phoned my old company as well and they were happy to offer various reductions to the premium, which by the end of the call was down to nearly half of the original quote.

I felt I had to say 'No' to them though, based upon the huge differential. Along the way I noticed errors in their quote produced from a perfectly good quote in prior years. They seemed to know about these 'computer errors' and I can't help notice these accidents worked in their favour.

We will never know though. The policy is now with a different supplier.

And another meerkat is on the way from Meerkovo.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Flamethrowers - Rachel Kushner

The Flamethrowers
I suspect Rachel Kushner has crashed a motorcycle. I'm reading her story about Reno, an artist conduit riding between New York, Italy and Bonneville Salt Flats.

The sweat wicks from unzipped leather as we start this mainly 1970's journey. We pause the new Italian motorcycle, somewhere near the casino lands in Nevada.

My small confession; at the start, I wasn't even sure if Reno's voice was male or female. It's a good thing.

Kushner writes with a coriandoli flourish of descriptions; whether it's glittering shards of Peroni bottle on via Corso or the scream, careen, rooster tail, float of fast boys in the American desert.
Rachel Kushner
There's sparsely written incidental characters who could inhabit Tom Waits lyrics.

Reno comes from unsentimental people. Sibling Sandro, fourteen years older, photographed as an artist aloof with a shotgun slashing an X across the picture.
Allen Ginsberg's picture of Chia
There's a richness from the characters that Reno meets. Quite often they get the best lines.

There's several themes dipped in seventies colour: alienation, politics, art, types of freedom.
Bonneville-Salt-Flats
And I'll pause right there.

I was fascinated enough to root around for back story. And there, in the Paris Review, was an issue curated by Kushner.

It's a useful read and more detailed than author puff-pieces from week-end magazines. It informs the writer's process and provides the fun of sometimes uncommented trails back to the novel like the Chia picture by Ginsberg illustrated above.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

sunrise

long shadow
I was up early enough to watch the sunrise this morning (04:42, since you wondered). That's a pretty early sunrise and its still getting earlier each day. Today, it has also been the sunniest time.

The sun also somehow managed to get into a gap between two houses at a very low angle, which I'll refer to as my local equivalent of a pre-solstice Stonehenge moment. I know jealous New Yorkers talk about Manhattanhenge when the sun sets at the right angle to shine along those blocky streets (July this year, I think).

Such regimented sun alignment doesn't work in London because of the non grid structure of the streets, but my local sunrise moment is still fun.
sunrise
It's a good time to think of other entertaining sun rises and sunsets, hence my picture from Utah of a sunrise which allowed me to cast an extra long shadow. Yep, zoom in on the picture at the top of the post - that's my shadow with a camera.

But back here we now have the London rain, although it's still another few days until the proper solstice.
Turbine Hall

Friday, 14 June 2013

wallet

South Bank SunshineA few days ago, some of us were together in a restaurant in London. We were chatting away and probably because it was near 'bill time' the chatter briefly swayed to wallets. Or more particularly, how to keep them thin. Yep, it was that part of the evening.

People sometimes comment on my use of Oyster card holders as a substitute for a proper wallet. I see the objective to be to somehow reduce the number of cards I need to carry and therefore the Oyster card holder creates an interesting lower end design point. They are also (a) free and (b) frequently given away at places like train stations. My current groovy one is from the Tate Modern.
wallet
So I could claim that it's a proper work of art as well, although I confess that a previous version was in the colours of Sweden and advertised IKEA.

I decided to look at how professionals of wallet management would handle this and found the useful item below.
wallets
It's fair to say that I've discovered most of this myself, but it's useful as a summary.

Te tricky part is the bit about storing card info on the phone. I do that as well, using one of the keyring type applications which scans the card and makes a copy of the relevant information, optionally allowing the images of it to be stored too. There's a few of them around and it's quite a good idea.

The challenge, as we were discussing in the restaurant, is that these services also use 'The Cloud' which can create problems.

The first problem is that some of them don't keep a local copy of the image cached in the phone. That's not a lot of use if someone asks you to 'prove it' when you quote a (non payment) card number to them. The related problem is the one we've seen at plane check-in gates, when there's no phone signal and someone is trying to check in using a phone based bar code. It's a great idea but doesn't always quite work. I've also had the dedicated apps (ie Storecard apps) lose the information after being updated.

The second and topical problem is the thought that all these codes are now in the ether Cloud somewhere. The more paranoid might think it was all part of a Big Brother plan.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Norton One slows my Mac browser

Three Macs slowed down just after I installed Norton One.

An older Macbook (2009), a Macbook Air and an iMac. All were on latest OS X software.

After installing Norton One all three ran Safari noticeably slower. With one, I didn't even tell the regular user but received complaints.

The most powerful system was a 32Gb memory quad core i7-3.7.

I have now removed the whole Norton One suite from these Mac environments. They have all speeded up again.

Draw your own conclusions.

Here's a link to the uninstall page

Update: I called Norton.

They told me they had not heard of this slow running before.

They suggested maybe I should try removing the browser 'add-in' for Norton?

As a quick experiment, I reinstalled Norton on the fastest machine. I ensured the browser extension was removed. The browser ran faster, but of course it didn't then have the Norton capability.

Hmmm.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

edging forward

Mac Pro 1
I've had to upgrade the network security at rashbre central again. There's been someone attempting to tamper with one of the lesser known rashbre web-sites and trying to add some code into a directory. It didn't work and I think they will have burnt fingers. I've got a log record, IP address and bizarrely a phone number for this errant stranger so 'matters are in hand', as they say.

The web-site is actually hosted in Germany, although at least part of their internet journey passed through America. So like the recent reports about PRISM, it's probably fair game to provide a small notification about it to NCCIC or CERT.

It's annoying having to spend time on dealing with these negative activities. It's big business of course. There's one set of people selling pointless search engine optimisations by attempting to drop links of their client's products sneakily into other peoples' websites.

Then there's the other group (or parts of the same group?) selling the antidote products.

Facebook and twitter create another market. I'm sure I'm not the only one to get spammed by people offering packs of 'friends' to bump up the numbers. It all sounds quite saddo, were it not for the 'number of friends/followers' being used to create indices of social weighting. Of course, Google and similar systems are wise to it all and eliminate most of the spurious counts from their calculations.

It's all quite topical with the discussions of government-based spyware at the moment, but I can't help wondering how they'd have the horsepower to make it all work for more than a group of targeted individuals. There must be a lot of Chloe O'Brians around to save the day.
Chloe O'Brian
And of course, judging by the person attempting to fiddle with one of my web-sites, the perpetrators try to hide behind various masking technologies.

Annoyingly, it means we are all encouraged to spend time adding those defensive layers like complicated frequently changing passwords, Captcha codes, moderation for comments, firewalls, firetraps, sandboxes and so on.

So no wonder we need ever bigger computers to write our documents. It's all the edge activity.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

approved for release

Gambit
It looks as if I'll have a couple of weeks gap in my schedule ahead. This will be useful to help me round out a few partially completed projects.

I've also been on a couple of courses recently and it should give me a chance to put some of it into action. One was linked to side project screenplay activities, which I don't think have received much blogging coverage.

I met some excellent and experienced folk who gave great pointers about commercial storytelling.

We also picked through interesting modern material and it's given further avenues to explore. For example, changes based around modern audience sophistication and the storytelling shorthand used. Like text messages. I happen to think SMS based story progressions are overused. Check out any soap. Although, I suppose ideas travel fast and today's connectedness only accelerates that process.

As an example, yesterday there was that egg-throwing incident on a tacky television show. I idly looked at the perpetrator's twitter feed a few minutes after it occurred. She had about 350 followers. By the end of the show it was 10 times that number and by this morning it was around 10,000. She hadn't posted since Christmas Eve, so we may need to hold our breath for anything interesting.

Similar with the great spy interception PRISM expose. Guess what? Email is being monitored by government agencies. The charts (Victoria Nece redesign here) showed monitoring actions from around 2007 through to nowadays.

We've all watched some of the movies Enemy of the State, Bourne, Body of Lies, or episodes of Spooks or 24. That's where the screenplays exhibit a slickness around these technologies that I'm less convinced work so well in practice. All that on-demand repositioning of satellites in realtime and remote accessing of security pin numbers in a warehouse depot. Maybe it wouldn't work so well in practice. The wrong plug? the wrong software driver? System re-boot?

I'm not saying there isn't stuff out there. They've been launching surveillance satellites since the Gambit project in the 1960s. Back then the satellites had a short mission life, sometimes fuzzy corduroy striping cameras and a little better than 50% success rate.

The technology improved by the simple expedient of 'I think we'd better get a bigger dish' and then 'I think we'd better get a bigger rocket'.
NROL-32 on Delta IV-Heavy
A quick hint when trying to spot big stuff being fired into surveillance orbit is to look for the biggest rockets. Some of the next size down ones didn't quite make it.

The biggest currently seems to be the Delta IV-Heavy which is one rocket, with two more strapped onto it. There is a brilliant new design in discussion which is fundamentally the same, but with four extra rockets strapped on.
Delta IV-Heavy with NROL surveillance satellite
The biggest surveillance satellite on the biggest rocket so far is NROL-32 on the Delta IV-Heavy. It's still classified, so we can only guess that it's an astromesh construction, like a 100 metre wide TV satellite dish pointing back to earth. It was only obliquely referenced when it was launched back in November 2010.

I wonder how it is getting on? What it's looking at? And what else is planned?

skyplans

Maybe after tidying up my current projects, there's an opportunity to practice some screenplay here? Spies and rockets instead of genre versions of folk tales? Hansel and Gretel's already been done. Goldilocks and the Three Bears, anyone?
Hansel and Gretel, Witch hunters

Saturday, 8 June 2013

rolling fog paint decisions

paint chart
Now we've got the new sofa upstairs to go into the 'music room' we can start to work out the accompanying paint scheme.

Some might think that we'd have decorated the room before the sofa arrived, but it proved better to cross check the colour in-situ.

I didn't realise there were so many versions of a single paint colour, like "Rolling Fog", which has four variants.

That's before we add on the matt, silk, gloss and not forgetting the "Intelligent Matt", "Traditional Oil Gloss" and Floor Paint. Actually, there's 11 finishes for this colour in total, and 4 different shades.

Decision, decisions.

art everywhere

art everywhere
I like the idea of the Art Everywhere plans for Great Britain this summer.

It's along the lines of making the whole country into an art gallery by buying space on poster sites during August.

VVS vertical video syndrome


I saw this at Lady Banana's and it made me laugh.

Friday, 7 June 2013

blippar in the cupboards

Blippar
A small post-twitter experiment for the weekend.

I decided to try that Blippar application by pointing it into a kitchen cupboard.

Blippar is one of those augmented reality applications that pings up extra information when it recognises the right content. You sometimes see Blippar enabled adverts for cars, on platform hoardings.

My casual iPhone scan of the cupboard struck Blippar gold straight away, when it's camera identified a bottle of barbecue sauce and pinged up a series of recipes. Okay, the recipes were along the lines of 'make something and squirt Heinz product into it', but it proved the point.

Then it spotted Marmite, which asked for a vote about Like or Hate (Like, obv). And a packet of crisps which seemed to offer a mini weather forecast. The iPhone knew where in the world the crisp packet was located and whether the conditions were suitable for outdoor consumption.

Companies are tentatively experimenting with this at the moment, but I suppose it won't be long before we start to see more; there's already AR bus stop advertisements for pizza and a certain charity.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

derivative antifragility?

antifragileI've just been reading that newish AntiFragile book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It's about how adaptive behaviour can strengthen systems, although ex-derivatives trader Taleb's pompous style requires a reader's mental machete to hack to the main points.

The book's core message takes a kind of Nietsche theme of 'what does not kill me makes me stronger' and expands it out to several hundred pages. When you think you've finished reading an idea, another whole section of the same theme appears, like the doubling regrowth of a severed Hydra's head.

I'll summarise it. We know if we shake a box marked 'Fragile' we break the contents. People don't mark boxes 'Robust' and if we were to shake them then nothing inside changes. A box marked 'Antifragile', when shaken, could reconfigure its components into something better. A bit like evolution. Yes, that's the main riff of the book. Things that gain from disorder.

The Mr Bombastic style insults as many people as possible on the way to this conclusion, whilst hinting that the self-aggrandising author dead lifts 330lbs, so we'd better not insult him. As a burly ranter fond of Malbec in Michelin restarants, his good lines are flashes spread across oft-times repetitive and self-justifying pages. "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," as Taleb would surely state it. Several times. Cross referenced. And maybe in Latin.

Taleb previously wrote the Black Swan book about 'one off' events that can't be predicted but have big effects. If that book identified the randomness of some key events, this one tries to turn the events and interconnectedness to advantage.

There's some good ideas in the book, which I found only started to lock in after 15% read and by treaing his asides as humorous. There's plenty of other people quoting Taleb's brilliance, although I wonder how they have suppressed their irritation of his style to get to the end of the book?

Instead I'll be reminded of Kanye West, whose oft-played stadium lyrics sampling Daft Punk and quoting Twilight of the False Gods, make a similar point to the book.

(Work it, make it, do it,
Makes us harder, better, faster, stronger!)

(Work it harder make it better,
do it faster makes us stronger,
more than ever, never over,
Our work here is never over)

N-now th-th-that that don't kill me
Can only make me stronger
I need you to hurry up now
'Cause I can't wait much longer
I know I got to be right now


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

rocking to the rhythm in the ice cream van

South Bank Sunshine
Two Polish guys with a big box arrived today.

I asked them to carry it upstairs, half expecting that it wouldn't go around the bend in the stairs.

It didn't.

That's not the first time this has happened and previously I've had to make a hole in the wall to get the offending item upstairs.

These guys were on a schedule and after the five minutes they'd budgeted for drop-off they were on their way to the next place. "Call customer services," they explained as they ran back to their truck.

Something like a reverse robbery really.

I then had a three dimensional geometry puzzle to get the large item upstairs. Unpack it from the cardboard, measure it and work out that I'd got about 2 cm of clearance if I jigged it at various tortuous angles.

It was also deceptively heavy and a very warm afternoon. I think it took about half an hour, at the end of which at least a replacement tee-shirt would be a good idea.

Maybe after a celebratory an ice-cream.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

power trip

charge
I've been out on the road again for the last couple of days, although not as a part of my day job. This has been more of a foray into media-world a part of one of my side projects.

The short term pit-stop back home was enough time to jettison one set of luggage and move to a carry bag for my subsequent stopover.

For the shorter trip I don't need all the power chargers in the illustration above, which is from last week. Eagle eyed may spot the UK power strip which I take on longer trips and which serves two purposes. 1) It provides more sockets than the average hotel room 2) It means I don't carry a whole set of those country adapters. Just one for the power strip.

Some may notice that the above could be rationalised for USB charging, but as soon as there's cameras, the various little chargers appear.

So the power strip only goes on longer journeys with checked luggage. Not exactly power trips, but you know what I mean.

Monday, 3 June 2013

sun along the south bank

Untitled
The blue sky and sunshine seems to be working here in London too. The grassed areas are beginning to fill up, although around this area it is the tourists taking the space at the moment, ahead of the office workers.

The South Bank also has its miniature beach re-instated, without any bathing huts this year. Instead there's a kind of neighbourhood exhibition along with some ecological looking structures that I haven't had time to investigate.

Although I did find time for a coffee alone the Thames, early enough to miss the crowds and before the power drills in the mysterious construction site under the bridge had started up for the day.
Waterloo Bridge

Sunday, 2 June 2013

dawn

cloud and sand
I think it was the blackbirds that woke me this morning. They started before the yappy dog in the distance. I didn't mind either sound effect, whilst morning crept in and early cloud gave way to clear blue skies.
Untitled
We'll make today's plans over breakfast, before zig-zagging our way back across the island.
Untitled