Miscellany

A few things that aren’t really worthy of a blog post of their own, but which still need recording on the blog.

FirstlyJames‘ new song is rather good.

From the forthcoming EP Better Than That out 18 May.

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Then, this:
A Family Guy writer has turned Prince George into Stewie Griffin: his 26 bitchiest comments

Ouch.

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Changing subject slightly.
Dinosaur vomit: The physics.

from here.
I’ve been doing so rudimentary calculations and that’s the same force as a 1 tonne car hitting you at 12kph. That might not sound like a lot, but you wouldn’t want to give it a go, now would you?

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Still hungry?
Do you have any eating plans
for the weekend? I do.

I’ll spare you the photos and save your keyboard from drool.
(And hopefully dinosaur vomit too.)

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Finally.

Why I’m not about to become a photographer.

Professional wedding photography is dead. Change is afoot. I see it all around me. Photographers who once charged £2,000  for a wedding, now putting themselves forwards for jobs less than a grand. Award-winning photographers getting part-time jobs to supplement their income because they can no longer afford to shoot weddings full time. And it’s all a dirty little secret.

What follows is a rather distressing synopsis of the industry, lamenting the lack of change and innovation of experienced photographers, juxtaposed against the offerings of the “new breed” of wedding ‘togs.

Just stop. It’s time to change. Time to change how you look at your business. Time to introduce a new way of doing things. Because the old way isn’t working. It’s time to strip back to basics, take stock and figure out what the future holds. It’s time to embrace new tech, new ways to get your work out, new ways to appeal to the clients you want.

Lots of advice, but notably no specifics as to what exactly that change entails. And there are some rather scathing comments on what is essentially just an op-ed on an interesting subject (for me at least).

More tomorrow. Probably less disjointed. But perhaps not. Who knows?

Come back and find out.

Old drones

The recent explosion in consumer drones on the market is exactly that: recent.

If you wanted a decent quadcopter with a camera on it, say, a decade ago, you’d have been looking at spending tens, possibly even hundreds, of thousands of your given currency.

But just because consumer drones are a new thing doesn’t mean that there weren’t ways to take aerial photos back in the day. That day specifically being one of the 365 examples from 1907.

The helicopter wouldn’t make an appearance for another 30+ years, so this wasn’t rotary-engined – it was feathery.

Here’s the link (warning: may include pigeon).

Dr. Julius Neubronner, a German apothecary, submitted a patent application for a new invention: the pigeon camera. The device was precisely what it sounds like—a small camera fitted with straps and equipped with a timer so that pigeons could carry it and take photos in flight.

Yes, seriously:

And back then, this technology was every bit as revolutionary as the stuff the DJI is offering us now.

The images his pigeons captured…  are among the very early photos taken of Earth from above (the earliest were captured from balloons and kites) and are distinct for having the GoPro-like quality of channelling animal movement. That perspective that is so commonplace to us now, in which the rooftops stretch out before us as though they were made of a child’s blocks, and people crawl along like ants, was a rare sight when Neubronner took his pigeon pictures.

And they also had problems with propellor-shadow. Or the avian equivalent, at least:

It’s a good reminder that while we might like to think that we are pioneers in any given subject area, there’s actually every chance that it’s been done before.

You don’t have to be a warrior

I’ve taken the words of a five tweet thread from Alistair McAlpine’s twitter feed, because I want to share them here.

It was written as a response to a tweet referring to terminally ill, and now deceased, Alfie Evans as “a warrior”.

Alistair is a local paediatric palliative care physician.
Here’s what he had to say:

We need to discuss this idea that everyone has to ‘fight’ diseases, and be a ‘warrior’.
The truth is, Alfie’s disease didn’t care whether he ‘fought’ or not. It was terminal.

Similarly, if, for whatever reason, someone decides not to ‘fight’ and doesn’t want to soldier on in a meaningless struggle against a disease, that’s a legitimate call.

It doesn’t make them ‘cowardly’ or ‘weak’. It’s just a choice.

The final days/hours/years of someone’s life don’t have to be a perpetual ‘war’. If folk want to die peacefully and quietly, that doesn’t make them any less brave.

One of the tricks to dying is knowing when it’s time to let go. And that moment comes at different stages for different people. No one can make that call for anyone else.

So let’s celebrate Alfie’s life without resorting to language that is more appropriate for a battlefield than a hospital.

We’ll never know how hard Alfie fought, and it doesn’t matter.
His life isn’t defined by his final hours.

Terminal illness is a difficult and uncomfortable subject for most of us, but it’s something that Alistair has to deal with on a daily basis.

And, should you ever be in the unfortunate situation of having to deal with it too, then it might be worth remembering Alistair’s words above.

Windows 10 Norway Lock Screen Image

Most of the images that Windows 10 users get to see when logging in are fairly average, IMHO. Generic stock photos which are pretty, but nothing more. And then there’s that one of the alpine lake which is quite spectacular, but the ‘tog has left his or her rucksack in the foreground. Doh!

It’s the sort of rookie error I am brilliant at making. And that’s why I don’t get my shots selected for Windows 10 lock screens. It’s also why whomever took that alpine lake one should have been overlooked as well.

But I digress. Often.

I did like this one that popped up today though:

Yeah, it’s the Norway connection again.

I mean, we can all tell where this is, but I had to ask Google to find out exactly where it is. And that place are:

Flatanger, Nord-Trøndelag, Norway, Europe.

It is part of the Namdalen region. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Lauvsnes. Other villages include Jøssund, Hasvåg, and Vik.

There’s it.

If you want to steal save any of the images you find on your Windows 10 lock screen, there’s good news in that they are all already on your computer. They’re just very well hidden. There’s a good page here detailing the method to find and extract them.

Knock yourselves out.

Sun City Thoughts

We leave Sun City today, after a whistle-stop 4-day, 3-night stay.

Herewith a few (or more) thoughts on the last few days. In no particular order.

Sun City isn’t my kind of place. On arrival, the guy at the gate asked if I had reservations.

“Plenty,” I replied, “but the kids seem to be looking forward to it.”

Bdumtish.

Jokes aside, it is a ghastly, hideous place. Faux opulence, faux history and gaudy buildings are the order of the day. It’s repulsive… and it’s also completely incredible. It’s Grand West on South Joburg steroids. The scale of the place and the attention to detail is amazing. It’s other-worldly. And The Palace Hotel (where we’re not staying, see below) is an absolute work of art. You might not like it, but you have to admire the place.

And that’s the thing. If it’s not your thing, you need to get over it and just go with the flow and if you do, you’ll probably have a great time, like I did. Like we did.

This was a last minute, unplanned trip. One we wouldn’t even have considered were it not for the free air tickets that came with our new fridge. We’ve already spent a bomb on our Europe trip later in the year, so economy was key here. We chose the Cabanas to stay in, to save a bit of money. It’s been small and not very luxurious, but it’s been somewhere to sleep – we’ve been out and about the rest of the time.

The staff have been really helpful and are always smiling. That must take a lot of doing at the end of a long season. In fact, the only exception was a rude waitress at the posh hotel we had dinner at on Sunday night. She really did make an effort to be that exception though. Wow.

The breakfast buffet is cheap, cheerful and amazing value (included in the price of the budget accommodation). Two words for you:

Unlimited. Bacon.

Mmhmm. I know.

The Valley of the Waves is a lot of fun. There’s something weird about watching a hundred-odd people standing chest-deep in an outdoor swimming pool, facing a wall and waiting for a single artificial wave every 10 minutes or so. But again, you join in and it’s kinda enjoyable. The tubes were great fun. I didn’t die on the Boomeranga ride, despite a couple of attempts.

The bus service is either brilliant or disastrous. Possibly both simultaneously. We never really worked it out.
(Or you could walk the 550m to the main centre. It won’t kill you.)

Resort-wide free wifi actually works, and it’s literally everywhere: from our room to the beaches of the Valley to the Forest at the back of the fancy hotel. Incredible.

We did a Family Safari Walk on our first morning. It was excellent. Zebras, Wildebees, Kudu and Impala and a lot of stuff you’d never have seen from a truck. The kids learned a lot. 10/10 would recommend.

Sun City is massively incongruous in the North-West Province, which is like an Eastern Cape Lite. You pass Marikana on the way here. It’s a massive reminder of how unequal South Africa is.

There’s water! I have had several long showers. You don’t realise how much you miss them.

There was a bottle of wine for R130,000 on the wine list on Sunday evening.
We did not indulge.

I need to enjoy our last morning before we head back to Lanseria and Cape Town, so I’ll leave it there. Photos will follow. Normal blog service will be resumed tomorrow.