Thumbnails for a Remainer demo

I have been struggling with posting “thumbnails” here. Thumbnails are small photos, which if clicked on, result in us viewing a different and bigger photo, of which the thumbnail was only a smaller bit.

Finally, I have had a little success:

Each of the above squares that you see are thumbnails. Click on any one of them, and you get to the bigger picture from which that thumbnail was cropped. Also, click on any one of them, and right or left click on that, and you get the rest of the big original photos, just as you would with any other gallery here.

So, progress. Trouble is, if I tell WordPress to have only four thumblnails to a row, instead of the rows of five that you see above, big gaps of white start appearing between the thumbnails. So, a way to go before I’m on top of this, but it’s a start. Until today, I couldn’t do any of this, despite several tries. Now, I can do a bit of it.

This is what our century is like. Disentangling little conundrums like this. There are plenty of people who could probably have helped with this particular concundrum, but I am not sorry to have done this little bit of sorting myself. How else do you learn?

The photos above were of a Pro-Remain demo, which I chanced upon in Parliament Square in February 2019, one of the many too-much too-late eruptions of Remainer political sentiment that followed the Referendum that the Remainers had lost. The thumbnail thing, where you crop out one of the messages being waved by demonstrators, works rather well for showing galleries of such photos.

Note in particular the one that says “No-one voted for this mess”. I must admit that once Leave won the Referendum, I though leaving would be easier than it has been. But the more of a mess leaving turned out to be, the more I favoured leaving, on the grounds of EUrope being the sort of arrangement it was so very messy to get out of, even though we’d voted to do this.

Switching from here to Samizdata

Inspired by this Daniel Hannan tweet, I just did a piece for Samizdata entitled It was the New Deal which put the Great in the Great Depression.

I began it as a piece for here, but I then reckoned it should go to there. Making that switch was helped a lot by the fact that Samizdata is a blog powered by WordPress, and so, now, is mine.

Robot dog progress

Researchers publish open-source, lower cost design for 3D printed robot dog.

What are the future applications of of such a “dog”? Some rather unconvincing tasks are mentioned in the above report, like hanging about in a forest “monitoring” animals. But that sounds like green-friendly make-work to me.

Warfare in complicated terrain does seem like an obvious application. Exploring Mars, in other words, and then fighting other robots for the control of Mars. And meanwhile filming it all, for entertainment purposes?

Airplanes flew for quite a long time before they found a major use for them, which was to spy on opposing armies and to make big guns cleverer, and then to fight and kill other airplanes. Then came high tech sport, in the form of air races, which was really just research and development for better and faster war planes.

Around then, also, very tentatively, airplanes began to deliver letters. And then, airplanes began to deliver people, which was to say very rich people. Eventually, half a century after they first flew, airplanes became part of the good life for regular humans.

Robot dogs look like they might follow a similar path. As of now, robot dogs are the robot equivalent of the useless and clumsy contraptions that airplanes were in the nineteen-noughts, good only for lunatics in goggles to play with.

Comments of how these weird creatures might actually make themselves useful, more quickly and less destructively than my grumpy pessimism just said, would be most welcome.

For starters, if these things are ever going to be liked by humans, they’re going to need heads, heads that are more than merely decorative which gather and transmit information. Then, maybe (and I seem to recall speculating along these lines at my long-lost Education Blog): child minding? A combination of such robot-human interaction and transport? Like a sort of super-intelligent horse?

The Screen of the Red Death has gone away

For the time being, anyway. Earlier in the month, I reported that any attempt to access the Old Blog would get you to The Screen of the Red Death. Well, the good news is that The Screen of the Red Death has now retreated. Google still describes the Old Blog as “Not secure”, but now, when I try to go there, I get there. And I’m guessing the same applies to you.

I promise nothing, and if you still get the dreaded Red Screen, do please comment accordingly. In general, any comments educating me about what is going on with all this would also be most welcome.

Maintenance issues should now be sorted

Any person who have had anything to do with IT (aka everybody) knows, when IT work is being done (even something as humble as doing some rearranging of a little blog like this one), that the word “should” can cover a multitude of unforeseen disruptions. So, maybe the little round of maintenance issues that Michael was dealing with over the weekend and then again this morning (he refers to them in comment 4 here) have, in reality, not yet been entirely sorted. But Michael and I both believe we have good reason to hope that, now, they have been.

One thing that you may have suffered from is that if you clicked on a link from a posting here to another posting here you may, depending on when you did this, have been told “about: blank”, instead of getting to the linked posting. This was caused by the fact that this blog was being migrated (to somewhere cheaper) but migrated before its name had been migrated. It changed its name from “brianmicklethwaitsnewblog” to “3.8.5.22”, and helpfully changed all the links from here to somewhere else here accordingly. It had then to be persuaded that its name was still brianmicklethwaitsnewblog. Which it now has been. As in: should have been.

Other strange things happened this morning, but they too have stopped, and so, touch wood and hope to die, all should now be well. If all from where you sit seems not to be well, please comment to that effect. (That’s assuming the comments system is itself working. Follow the above link and you’ll learn of three lost comments from last night.)

What I’m basically saying is: Sorry if you’ve been mucked about, but with any luck it should have stopped now.

Will AI become intelligent enough to figure out how to perfectly organise our economies?

Alex Tabarrok:

No …

The main reason is that AIs will themselves be part of the economy. …

One of the things I’m doing today is getting rid of lots of interesting links that have hung about on my computer since I don’t know when, without actually getting rid of them, in other words by putting them here. The idea was I’d have clever things to say, somewhere, about each of them, but all I really have to say about all of them is: Hmmm interesting.

Face masks in London – but not because of Coronoavirus

Remember that Hong Kong demo I photoed in January and belatedly mentioned here at the end of last month? Well, to remind you about that, and about what a nasty government they were demonstrating against, here are some more photos I took of that demo:

In Hong Kong, there was widespread use of face masks long before the Wuhan Flu, to resist another sort of threat, namely government surveillance.

I am pessimistic about Hong Kong, in any run but the longest. But it is possible to hope that the huge burst of negative feeling about China’s government may draw more attention to all the other nasty things they are doing, in China and in Hong Kong, and that this may get in the way of them swallowing up Hong Kong. I hope so.

I have long been noticing face masks, on those rare occasions when I saw one in use in London. Assuming I manage to deploy my camera quickly enough, they allow me to photo people, and show the photos on the Internet in a way that keeps faces unrecognisable. This demo was a target rich environment for such photoing, my wishes concerning unrecognisability being in line with the wishes of those I was photoing.

Sadly, face recognition is starting to see past face masks.

Taxis with adverts – July to December 2019

I know I know. There’s only one person in the whole world who likes clicking through huge collections of photos of London taxis with adverts on them. Me. But such galleries of persuasive transport are now easy for me to put up here, and have always been easy for you to ignore, so here’s another, consisting of fifty-four taxis-with-adverts photoed by me in the latter half of last year:

Photo 49, bottom row, number four, features Ms Calzedonia, a shapely lady with writing on her legs. But even my original 4000×3000 photo did not enable me to discern what this writing says and my googling also proved insufficient. Anyone?

Also puzzling, merely from my photo number 40, is “Duolingo”, but this was easy to learn about, and pretty easy to guess. It’s for learning a new language.

Zoom out

I just tried, for the first time, to make Zoom work. I wanted to hear what was said in a virtual meeting I had been invited to “attend”. But, I could hear nothing. I have no microphone, but I just wanted to hear what the others were saying. I could see various familiar faces yapping away, but could hear nothing. My speakers are working fine. (I now have music playing.)

Like all computer programmes, and there are no exceptions whatsoever to this rule – none, Zoom is trivially easy to make work if you know how to work it, and impossible if you do not.

Fucking computers. Trouble is, they know how to do a million things, so you have to be able tell them exactly which of those million things you want. If you fail to do this, which you often do because computers have zero common sense, you’re screwed.

There must a lot of this sort of crap going on just now.

LATER: There must be a lot of this sort of crap going on now because the time-honoured way to solve a problem like this is for a Zoom-savvy person to drop by and show me how to work it. Clunky, but the way to sort it. Except, that can’t now happen. The very problem Zoom was going to solve, not being able to have a proper meeting, is undeployable by me, because I can’t have a proper meeting to make Zoom work.

See what I said yesterday about how cities will never go away. Physical proximity is never going to stop being useful. Never.

The Merlin and the man who made it fly

Sadly, Patrick and I were unable to record our intended WW2 bombing conversation this afternoon. Patrick has done his bit, but it turns out that my mere phone won’t suffice and I need to get Skype working at my end too, which is the sort of thing I am not good at and which will take me time.

But, the delay does mean I can do a bit more homework. Homework like pondering this question: What was the most impressive air war machine of WW2? The Spitfire, maybe? The Avro Lancaster? How about the de Havilland Mosquito? The North American P-51 Mustang, mentioned in yesterday’s posting?

Well, maybe none of the above. But, how about the aero-engine, also mentioned in passing yesterday, which powered all of the above? (Also the Halifax and the Hurricane.) Wikipedia has this resplendent photo, “Taken by JAW 19th November 2005 Pearce Air Force Base Western Australia”, of the engine in question:

Yes, it’s the Rolls-Royce Merlin. I doubt many of them looked like that, when they were fighting WW2. The one in this photo looks more like something we’d now see in Tate Modern. Well, we wouldn’t. But we should.

The Merlin was named, not after the noted wizard, but, like all the Rolls-Royce engines of the WW2 era, after a bird of prey.

I have long possessed and am now reading a book about the man (his name was Hives) who, more than anyone else, ensured the Merlin’s development and mass production in sufficiently war-winning numbers. The number in question being, according to Wikipedia: 149,659.

The Wikipedia entry on Hives is also worth a read, especially the bit about how Hives met, and won over, the “highly irascible but utterly pivotal” Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the USA’s nuclear submarine boss during the Cold War, and got him to cooperate with the British nuclear submarine programme.