Sunday, February 27, 2005

Pointless Video Clips

I have never been a fan of video photography. I have always felt that it is a lazy approach to capturing visual information. Really good still photographs require a great deal of thought to be given to composition, lighting, depth of field etc. Admittedly, digital photography has made this sort of thing much less complicated, because you can "suck it and see" so much more easily. Unless I'm missing something, video photography consists of pointing your camera in the vague direction of the subject, and hoping that at least some of the random images look reasonable.

Photosharing websites such as Flickr admittedly don't just carry high quality pictures, but each image uploaded has a particular significance for the sender, and many of them give great pleasure to dozens of other people. I've just come across a website called Vimeo that obviously aims to be to video clips what Flickr is to photos. The site is not fully operational yet, but I've looked at a few of the clips and those I've viewed seem totally pointless to me! Who wants to watch a brief clip of someone walking their dog and the said dog deciding to eat some other dog's poo, for example?

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but the best a video clip can do is to give a five second blurred version of a rather puerile joke.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

In My Element

When Sog was a boy he wasn't interested in rugby and football, like the "normal" kids. Instead he was interested in chemistry and biology. Sog's Dad knew he he didn't need to give him a Jim's Dad Talk (as in "American Pie"), because Sog put up a chart of the human reproductive system on his bedroom wall. This demonstrated significantly more detailed knowledge of the subject than The Old Man would have been able to impart! Hours were spent dissecting frogs and examining pond life under the microscope.

On the chemistry front, Sog and his friends spent their time concocting explosive mixtures from their "chemistry set". They also produced various poisonous gases with which to inflict a rather unpleasant death on some of the local insects. While still at primary school, Sog prided himself on being able to name all the Chemical Elements and he also had a Periodic Table on his wall.

I now consider myself a fairly normal, if somewhat neurotic, individual, but I'm still not interested in football, rugby or indeed any other sort of sport. Being a geeky sort of kid didn't do me any major harm as I was fortunate enough to have friends who were interested in the same things. I wouldn't change my childhood, even if I could. But, from Wosog's experience of modern children, I don't think there are many kids out there that are like I was as a child.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Them Robots

There's more in the news about Robots this week. Apparently boffins in the USA and Holland have made great strides (pardon the pun) in the development of robots that walk like humans. Please note that "while the Cornell robot is powered by batteries in its arms, the Delft robot uses gas canisters in an attempt to mimic human muscles. It has an empty bucket for a head, to emphasise that it uses no intelligence." You might think that the American robot would have an empty head too as a gesture of solidarity with the country's President!

A third robot, from the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been nicknamed the Toddler because of its walking style. It uses neural networks to learn how to walk better - adapting its movement according to the surface it is on.

This leads naturally onto an article in the Sunday Times about the use of robot soldiers. The US Army has revealed that it plans to deploy 18 armed robots in Iraq in April. They will be controlled remotely by human troops, and will probably be used to enter buildings to flush out insurgents and to inspect vehicles suspected of carrying bombs.

The article suggests that much more sophisticated robots are not far off, and points out that the Pentagon has earmarked £70 billion towards the development of robots and other high tech devices.

Robot fighting machines may "kill without pity or remorse". They won't ask for a salary or a pension, and the folks back home won't mind too much if they come back in body bags. There is no space here to summarise the rest of the piece, but it does conjure up some frightening possibilities.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Walking Would Have Been Safer!

Guess what? You may remember my post about Gdog finally passing her driving test? Wosog and I were wakened by her at 05.00 on Sunday morning to receive the glad tidings that she had been in a wee accident in Wosog's car (see above). Some dickhead taxi driver had decided to join a roundabout before poor little Gdog had quite left it. The damage sustained by our car was not too bad, but I understand his car was more badly damaged, and he was incensed that Gdog was going to deprive him of his livelyhood. How she could be held responsible for him going into the side of her car I couldn't quite understand.

Gdog was quite upset when she finally crawled the rest of the journey home at 30 mph. We were told this by the not very sensible friends who were in the car with her. They, of course, were "under the affluence of incohol" (as they say in these parts), so they were not very useful as witnesses to the accident.

Now we've just to contact the insurance company, but you can't reach them by phone on a Sunday. Instead you've to use their website, which seems incapable of accepting even basic demographic details without error messages. Isn't technology wonderful?

Thankfully, the experience doesn't seem to have scared Gdog off driving altogether, and I reluctantly admitted that I too had an accident when I was a very inexperienced driver. However, as Wosog delighted in reminding me, that accident was my fault. These bloody women never let you away with anything do they?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Message From The Wizard Of Oz

There's something quintessentially Australian about this piece of graffiti from outside a sauna in Sydney.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

An unlikely alliance....

The Difference...
Originally uploaded by Michigan Blog.

Spotted this picture by Michigan Blog on Flickr. It may be an inspirational message to all those ugly fat blokes out there. On the other hand, maybe the girl's got a face like Cherie Blair!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Valentine Bouquet

Valentine Bouquet
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.

Being a old romantic, I decided to send Wosog flowers on Valentine's Day. We actually exchanged cards on Sunday 13/2/05 , and Wosog gave me the book "Saturday" by Ian McEwan, which I'd read about and thought sounded good.

I said I couldn't remember us giving each other gifts on Valentine's Day (which is true), but fortunately I'd already ordered the roses the Saturday.

They were delivered to the school, and Wosog thought the girls in the office were winding her up when they told her she'd had flowers delivered. Hopefully that should keep me in the Good Books for a while!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Happy Birthday Flickr!!!

Happy Birthday Flickr!!!
Originally uploaded by caterina.

Despite being only 1 year old Flickr has already received it's 4 millionth photograph.

I hope it continues to go from strength to strength.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Walking Is So Much Safer!

I just thought the World should know that Gdog has passed her driving test: at the fourth attempt. Although, to Wosog's disgust, I passed my test first time, Gdog has been a better driver than I was at that stage for quite a while. There was obviously just something about the test itself that made her a little nervous.

Wosog now has the prospect of regular requests for the use of her car, but I don't think she minds too much. She and I are just so relieved that Gdog has passed at last, and she won't have to shell out any more cash for lessons and test fees.

Well done Gdog!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Is This A Wind-up?

On the endlessly fascinating topic of mobile phones, I was interested yesterday to discover that a German has invented a phone that allows you to talk to your dead relative for up to a year! Fortunately or unfortunately, the phone doesn't allow them to talk back (I think this is in order to preserve the battery).

This device would have many uses including totally removing the need for long-term spouses to talk to each other while alive. If the worst happened, and you still had one or two topics to cover you would then have a whole year to speak your mind without the fear of interruption (I'm joking, honest, Wosog)!

I wonder what you do if you phone up after a couple of weeks to get the message: "The vodafone you have dialled is switched off."?

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Just A Cold....

Wosog was complaining the other day that she felt as if she had had a cold for 2 months. Gsog has had a prolonged cold as well, and recently asked the profound question "Where is it [the gunk emanating from his nose] all coming from?".

I, on Thursday last, was congratulating myself that the possession of a medical degree obviously carried with it a superior set of antibodies, since I had remained cold-free. On Friday the bastard struck! Having limped through a seemingly endless day at work on Friday, I have spent most of my precious weekend so far fighting off whichever virus is responsible.

It appears to me, from totally unscientific observation, that colds have got worse in recent years. Certainly, I seem to see more and more people who claim to have had very debilitating symptoms for very prolonged periods. I'm not sure (a) if this is a genuine phenomenon, or (b) if it is genuine what the explanation is. Rhinoviruses traditionally produce a mild illness with little constitutional upset: have they become nastier little beasts? Perhaps other viruses are becoming commoner causes of the (all too) common cold?

Fortunately I appear to be recovering, but just as the bloody weekend runs out! At least I know I'm not alone.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Double Take

Hope the Pope doesn't see this...
Originally uploaded by The Rocketeer.

This was uploaded to Flickr by The Rocketeer, although he admits he didn't take the picture.

Nice to meet some nuns with a sense of humour!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Coming Or Going?

Here's another joke from the Doctors' Calendar:

"A patient saw an old friend at his psychiatrist's office.

'Hey Harry,' he asked, 'are you coming or going?'

Harry replied, 'If I knew if I was coming or going, I wouldn't be here.'"

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

For These Are My Mountains....

Remember the man who was selling advertising space on his forehead? Well, not to be outdone, a lass from Greenock has taken the idea to its next logical step.

Any ideas about what product might be advertised on this prime site?