“Is now the moment that using video has become the default thing that people do when they just want to talk to someone?”

Michael Jennings (he who got the pictures back (thank you Michael)) writes this on Facebook. It’s not personal, so I’m pretty sure he won’t mind me recycling it here, even if I don’t believe a link is in order:

Video calling has been technically possible for 50 years, and telephone companies made various attempts in the first 40 of those years to get people to buy it, but nobody was interested. A sizeable portion of people have had video calling available to them as an option (for free) for about ten years. However, it was still only used in niche cases.

Is now the moment that using video has become the default thing that people do when they just want to talk to someone?

I do not now do this, nor even know how to do it. What’s the betting I do get to do it, some time during the next month or so? I’m pretty sure I will, if you-know-what drags on longer than we all now are hoping.

It would mean me getting a computer with a camera on it, which I do not now have. But I’ve been thinking about getting a new laptop for a while now, for photoing and blogging when out and about. Will video-phoning be the killer app that pushes me over that line? Or, maybe I should do as Michael says, and get a new phone.

A twenty-first century moment

Central to understanding it is that I still don’t understand it.

Okay, so earlier this evening my phone rang. I picked it up, and said, to some suspiciously silent silence, “Hello”. No answer. “Hello”. No answer. Down goes the phone. Who was that? Oh well.

If this had been the twentieth century, this would have been a “crossed line”. But, I thought, this is not the twentieth century. This is the twenty-first century. Do we still have crossed lines? I rather think not. Oh well.

A bit later, the phone rings again, and it’s GodDaughter 2. I know this because I recognise her voice. (My phone has no idea who’s ringing.) I asked: Did you ring earlier? No.
Well, I said “Hello” and “Hello” to somebody, but heard nothing back. She said, in an “OMG” voice: Oh My God. I was just talking to my Dad, she said. And he said he heard you talking, she said. While we were talking, she said, on some twenty first century computer programme the name of which I (as in: not GD2 – as in: I) forget, but which I (ditto) surmise enables third parties to join in the conversation, so you can have a group chat. In among the talk between GD2 and GD2’s Dad, the phrase “ring Brian” was used, for some reason I didn’t catch and still don’t understand (see above). So, the programme promptly rang Brian, aka me. But I don’t have the programme on my twentieth century telephone, so I could hear nothing. But GD2’s Dad heard me saying “Hello” “Hello”.

Later, GD2’s Dad’s phone rang me again, and I answered, “Hello” “Hello” etc, and a strange young man’s voice came on saying what must have been “Who are you?”, while I was busy saying “Who are you?” GDs’s Dad’s phone had rung GD2’s Dad too, helpfully putting us in touch, given that it had failed last time. GD2’s brother aka GD2’s Dad’s son answered at that end, which make the whole situation really clear, to both of us. Not. Oh well. GD2’s Dad and I had a chat, because we are both polite and could neither of us just say: But I wasn’t trying to talk to you.

This must be what they call Artificial Intelligence.

Please understand (see above about how I don’t actually understand) that the above description is only my guess about what was really happening.

Silencing the many voices

I am in the habit of opening windows, each window with lots of open tabs, and of leaving them all open. Pocket (thank you again 6k) has been a life saver, because I can now close a tab and still have a record of it. But even then, I still tend to have a lot of tabs open, so much so that every now and again, Google seizes up and has to be restarted. At which point I get the magic option, if I’m lucky, to “restore” all the windows and tabs I had open when the seizure struck. Well, I want these tabs open, or why would they all be open? So, I duly restore.

At which point, if my loudspeakers have not been silenced, there begins a babble of voices, caused by several tabs immediately starting to talk. I’d paused them, but when they get restored, they forget about being paused. Or something. (If I perfectly understood all this, I probably wouldn’t have a problem.) The problem being, there are so many tabs open that I find it very hard to track down all these babbling voices. Recently, I have been switching my discretionary attention from television to things like YouTube and podcasts of various sorts. That has made all this far worse.

Now, as I type this into BMNBdotcom, I have managed to find and to silence all but one of these voices, but that one voice is persisting. I can’t find it. Until I do, the only way to silence it will be to silence everything. So I can’t listen to any other sound my computer is capable of producing, without this voice talking over the top of it.

My search continues. I’m not expecting any answers, but I would love it if some passing commenter could solve this for me.

The artistic retreat from beauty

Like many people, I like photos like this:

Not photoed by me. I wish it had been photoed by me. But, not.

It makes me think of David Hockney, who also likes leafless trees.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (ISIBAISIA): Artistic fashion often goes where it goes not because it is leading us all into some new and exciting artistic domain, but because it is retreating from an area where it can no longer make any sort of living. Example: beauty. Of the sort you see in the above photo.

Googling is good for things describable with a single word. But something like the idea that artists now hate doing beauty is a bit harder to track down. Google tends to fixate on one of the words you use and ignore all the others until it has told you everything it has on, you know, “artists”. Then, keep scrolling, and soon you will be learning of everything there is that you can read about “hate”. The closest I could get to what I wanted was a piece at the Tate Gallery website, entitled JJ CHARLESWORTH FINDS BEAUTY, ALONG WITH A SUNNY VIEW OF THE FUTURE, TO BE SOMETHING OF THE PAST.

I agree with JJ CHARLESWORTH that artists who reject beauty do this partly because they have a gloomy view of the future. But, ISIBAISIA, there’s surely also the fact that all of us now have machines on our persons which can crank out beauty on a daily basis, immortalising everything beautiful that we encounter that we wish to immortalise. Click. And if we can’t even be bothered to do that, plenty can be so bothered, and now pile their efforts into the great global photo-gallery that is the internet, that of course being where I got the photo that adorns this posting. What chance does the average artist have when up against all that? No wonder they prefer ugliness, ugliness so ugly that the Daily Mail will supply free publicity for it, “conceptual” art, painting with shit and piss, and such like. Oh, an artist can add beauty of the sort that a regular photo won’t add, but they can’t add enough extra beauty to justify all the extra bother. And especially not in the age of photo-processing software, which can add beauty. Now, picture-making software can enable you to create beauty.

Hockney, of course, is not an average artist. He is exceptional. He is in the top one per cent. He can paint whatever he likes, and people will still pay him lavishly for it. He can even sell his photos. But for his pains, all the official art people now agree that he is very passé for still doing beauty.

So, the artists have retreated out of beauty. They call it an advance, but they’re not fooling me. And now that I’ve explained this to you, they aren’t fooling you either.

FaceID

Back in my Alternative Bookshop days, I and my libertarian pals used to joke about things that were both compulsory and illegal. It would appear that face masks in China are pretty close to being that, because of the conflicting demands of plague protection and facial recognition.

But at least, according to this report (at the top of which appears the above photo), I have (when displaying photos like these ones here) been getting how “FaceID” does and does not work approximately right:

Most complaints are about unlocking mobile devices. Apple confirmed to Quartz that an unobstructed view of a user’s eyes, nose, and mouth is needed for FaceID to work properly. Similarly, Huawei says that its efforts to develop a feature that recognizes partially-covered faces has fallen short. “There are too few feature points for the eyes and the head so it’s impossible to ensure security,” explains Huawei vice president Bruce Lee, in a Jan 21 post on Weibo.”We gave up on facial unlock for mask or scarf wearing [users].”

Or have I? The software used by mere people, for unlocking their mobile phones, may not now work if you are wearing a face mask. But what if the governments of the world have graciously permitted themselves to use far better software, which can easily see past a face mask?

Bird keeping its head still

Indeed:

I challenge you to think of a better way to use the next fourteen seconds of your life.

Tardy tardigrade posting

Friday is my day for Other creatures postings, and you could hardly get more othery than this:

So, I did a posting about this very othery creature, which is called a “tardigrade”, and I thought I had posted it. On August 16th. But unfortunately, I had only got to the stage of finishing the posting. I neglected to push that vital final button, the one that says “Publish”. With the result that on August 16th there was nothing here. And I only just realised this. This is the one thing I don’t entirely like about this new blog software of mine. It can be hard to see the difference between a posting that’s all ready to go, and a posting that has, so to speak, gone; between a mere “draft” and an actual published posting.

I have now corrected this dreadful circumstance, and have inserted the completed but hitherto unposted tardigrade posting where it should have been all along. Read what I originally said, and quoted someone else saying, about this bizarre creature here, along with a couple of links to further information about it.

Pause over

I am happy to report that the transmigration referred to earlier has now, it would seem, happened. Because, I am now allowed to put stuff up here again.

The pause lasted longer (longer enough to break my rule here about something-every-day-however-insignificant) than had been hoped. Such pauses usually do, in my experience. But it would appear that Civilisation managed to stagger along yesterday in its usual imperfect manner, despite having had no input into into it from BMNB. Now, normal service resumes.

Hope for more stuff here today, if only to make up for yesterday’s silence. But do not assume it.

The other good news is that there was recently a comment here, from “Fred Z” about his preference for watching dogs trying to get big sticks through smaller gaps over the process described in this video, and this comment did not disappear. Comments here are welcome, but rare, so I am glad about this. Fred Z says that such video-caninery is the same but better. I think Fred Z is wrong on both counts, but that’s not the point. I rejoice that Fred Z’s mistaken opinions are still here, for all here to read and to correct.

Video of straight line going through curved gap

If I add all that href https blah blah stuff to the link, then I can put the link to this cute video here.

But if I just shove the address without any hrefery, I get the video right here:

Blog and learn. I just shoved up the link, and there it was! Here!

This is also fun. Although, it feels so fun it could be fake.