Hull – City Of Culture 2017

You may have heard of a city in the North of England in the UK, or, more than likely, you will have not, that is called Hull, or to be precise, and probably upper class about it, Kingston Upon Hull. No really that is its true name, confimed upon it by a King of long ago but very rarely used by its inhabitants as Hull seem’s sufficient. Or ‘Ull’ as it sounds from the locals as for some obscure reason we don’t pronounce the ‘H’ very well, but it is usually some perverse reason, amongst others, that Hull has had a bad press for many a year. This range from some toff from London visiting for about a week and declaring it the worst place to live, or crap town of the year something banal like that, and it has been going on for years. But 20 17 is here and 3 years ago, against multiple odds, Hull was chosen as the UK City Of Culture, (laugh, laugh, snigger, snigger, from those cretins of the press who have done their worst to pull anything to do with Hull down the gutter level.)

Well the story goes that Hull was the second most bombed city, after London, during WW 2, and Hull City Council did their best to carry on the destruction after the war, some beautiful buildings disappeared needlessly. But what is done is done so no good harping on about it now we have to work with what we have, and believe it or not we still have some culture left. Much of it is in the hands of the local authorities but wherever it is it now being put on show for the world to see during 2017. Hull have a year to change the preception of the city as a whole and it has got off to a great start with firework displays, light shows, and now a giant wind turbine blade on show in the city centre as a ‘work of art’. Now this is subjective, art always is, but this is no doubt a talking point amongst the many thousands who are turning up feeling proud that the city is, at last, coming out of the shadow of more famous, and more comprehensively financed by central government, better known cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and of course London.

So what is this work of art that is causing wonder, awe, and mirth in equal doses, its a blade from one of those giant wind farms that are springing up both on land and sea. But the thing is this particular blade is made in Hull by Siemens the giant international German firm that has imvested over £300 million in the area to make these colosal structures. To get an idea of what I mean here is a picture of mine:

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A wind turbine blade made by Siemens in Hull on display for the City Of Culture 2017 celebrations.

A different angle to give an idea of the mass of the subject.

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People are taking pictures in the way people do at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, they stand back and raise their hands to give the impression of holding this thing up instead of a leaning tower.

There are various historical documents on display in the History Museum

A brave new world?

Over the years I have read many hundreds if not thousands of pages on the internet ranging from sport, current affairs, travel, music, photography, and one of my favourites, technology. Now that last subject covers many areas, by that I mean the whole area as to where technology invades, TV, video, computers of course, any area of life where the silicon chip is resident. Now some amazing stuff has come about through this minute invention, and has got small and more powerful over the years. Remember the bricks that were mobile phones in the 80’s? Boom Boxes? Sony Walkman’s, VHS and Betamax video recorders being huge boxes, video cameras you had to lug on your shoulder? The list is endless and now compare todays gadgets where a mobile phone can do just about anything those gadgets mentioned above can do, I welcomed each new innovation, I couldn’t afford to buy many of them but I used to wait, sometimes a couple of years, to buy something that had been superseded yet again in the interim.

I will give you an example, I was buying top end Sony Betamax machines when 90% of the world had switched to VHS, but the Betamax tapes were cheap. I had TV’s the size of a chest of draws when TV’s bigger, thinner and cleverer were now taking over, I’ve caught up by the way. But you get the point of what I am saying, well I hope you do, but now I have read something about technology that makes me wary of the future for our young people but seems to be welcomed with open arms by enthusiast. Well two things actually, A.I. (artificial intelligence), and robots, both make me shudder at the implications of their uses. Of course games enthusiasts are all ready drooling over virtual reality headsets that will be appearing in ever increasing numbers in the not so distant future and I actually know someone who has bought one of these robotic room sweepers. It’s circular I believe and has built in sensors so that it misses the furniture while is sweeps your floors, not sure about corners though.

And this area of technology has barely got started, I think a lot of us will have seen videos or news clips or lines of robots assembling anything from cars to washing machines with a few humans at the end to make the final touches. And if your car goes wrong well plug it into another robot and it will tell you what is wrong although some humans might have to do the fixing, at the moment. And now I read that a bar in Japan will be staffed completely by robots, lady orientated I believe, and Iike I say we are only at the beginning of this new area of technology. I have read about robot doctors doing delicate surgery, better than humans it seems, and Amazon have whole warehouses run by automation more or less and are now experimenting with a new technology gadget for delivering your order, drones. And not only that but the pace is quickening as the rush to cut out the human element with none tiring, none striking, none moody, I suppose until they develop A.I. that makes them act like humans, robotic alternatives. But where does this leave the future for our children, my grandchildren in fact? I have read and read again and I don’t like what I read for I don’t know about the other side of the coin where robots could be used in future conflicts. Futuristic maybe but not something like I used to look forward to with awe, now its more like fear.

There is one area that I forgot to mention and I’m not sure if it’s scary or not, self drive cars, well not just cars but trucks and taxis have been mentioned. Ford and Tesla, and I don’t doubt many others testing the technology but I also read that a truck company, not sure which one, is also testing self drive vehicles, coupled with the news that Uber, the taxi app people, are also supposed to be testing self drive taxis. There is surely no end to this, what next no pilots in the cockpit they already have autopilots so why have pilots at all?

 

Oldies.

I am of the older generation, that is, in my 60’s the age group that are thought of as being a bit, shall we say, computer illiterate in today’s world. Well in my case that is not the point, although for many, including my wife that is so in fact she won’t even contemplate touching a keyboard believe me I had tried to coax her. But a lot of this phobia of computers in older people is that they are used to old ways, old ways that worked that is, we have one friend who makes a cheque out regularly to herself to put money from one bank account to another, her mobile, the flip up kind, is more often turned off than on and she is fine with this. But she is not alone in fact when I think about it none of my older friends contemplate today’s computer centric world and the likes of Facebook are just something youngsters play with. But not all older people fall into that category but the older the person the more resistant to computer technology they seem to be.

My own experience stems from my love of gadgets, anything electrical that was new to the market, the early 386 computers with dot matrix printers, the Philip G7000 (Odyssey in the US I believe) games console when everyone else was buying Atari. Digital watches where you had to push a button just to see the display time I was fascinated by the silicon chip in whatever gadget it was placed in. I read stuff in libraries, I didn’t have to pay out a fortune for magazines for a start, and learned about Zilog and Intel not that understood a lot of it, the diagrams of semiconductors were for people with university degrees not someone who built houses for a living but it still fascinated me. And so it continued through the late 80’s, into the 1990’s until this present day and I still read a lot of technical stuff that is over my head but even I have a problem now. Technology is moving so fast it is getting too complicated for me to understand some of the basics of computer technology and I’m not sure I like the direction it is going in.

Sure I used the fruits of the technology, for a start my internet connection is broadband and I have nearly, only nearly, forgotten the nightmares of the dial up modem I used to have where if I was downloading an update for some software or other it only took a telephone call from one of my wife’s friends, which was on the same phone line, to cut me off and a whole download was just about useless, so any serious stuff had to be done after midnight, and You Tube, gimme a break, I couldn’t watch any music video’s without buffering but hey ho. But still the fascination and it still continues to this day but it’s gone in odd direction, gaming is huge but after the initial Philps games machine it never caught on with me, photography has and I saved up for a decent camera after buying at the cheaper end of the spectrum. I tried Fuji the Canon and I can’t fault them the last camera I bought, from E-Bay, was a Canon 350d and now look, you can carry a mobile phone, take a rain check here, your very own phone box in your pocket?

Yes today you can do practically everything, and possibly even more than on my old 386 computer and do it better. You can take better pictures than on my early Fuji camera and not only that send them to anyone on the planet more or less. What you can’t do on your phone these days isn’t worth mentioning and that includes shopping online, banking online, paying with stuff just by waving your phone in front of yet another gadget (a payment terminal usually). But along with this new way of doing things there is a new way for criminal to carry on doing their deeds only these days it all electronic and sometimes you don’t even know it’s been done to you until you look at your bank statements. And now electronics are moving into the home in a big way, seen todays modern TV’s for instance? Amazon have a gadget like a loudspeaker only it has ears, you talk to it and it does your bidding, like phones you talk to them as well and lets not forget robots, they are coming.

Well in fact they have been here for years you only have to look at car assembly plants to see that many repetitive jobs formerly done by humans are now down effortlessly by robots. But robots of another kind, although the don’t move, have been a fact of life for a long long time and even older people have come to accept them, cash machines. At one time the only way to get your money out of the bank was during their opening hours where you queued to see a cashier behind a screen and handed over your passbook. Now if you run short of money you simply slip in your bank card, debit card or whatever and get what you want, with a printed receipt and at any time of day or night. What no one really bothers about anymore is all this stuff is all handled behind the scene’s by computers, albeit clever computers. So what else? Well that’s for another day.

A throwaway type of life.

I read a lot of technical stuff about computers, mobile (cell) phones and other gadgets, no I’m not a nerd or technical buff but I do like to read what is happening in these worlds. I read a lot of forums for these gadgets and like a lot of forums what starts off as a genial exchange of thoughts and ideas soon turns into a slanging match free for all. Peoples preferences for a certain type of manufacturer be it Microsoft, Apple, Google, Samsung whatever, starts to exert itself and so any meaningful chat becomes a hopeless  cause. Then you get those who are technically more advanced, or appear to be so, than us ‘common’ folk telling us in great details why this phone is better than that phone and how this software is better than another one, and so it goes on.

But one of the overiding factors for me on these forums is how many people buy the latest, phone, tablet, and other stuff from whatever manufacturer when there is obviously nothing wrong with their previous gadget. And I don’t mean stuff costing very little, it is usually the high end stuff costing hundreds of pounds, dollars, euros ect which people pay out everytime a new version of their favourite toy comes along. On one occasion one person had boasted that he had 4 phones from a particular manufacture only to say that he had ordered yet another phone because it was the latest version coming out soon and this version cost around £600, what ??? I can’t help but think that the world has gone a bit haywire, or should I say some inhabitants of this planet have gone haywire as this scenario of buying the latest toy when there is nothing wrong with the previous toy is very common and widespread.

But it is not only high cost gadgets that get discarded with ease it seems, on a slightly different take on this throwaway life it seems that tons of perfectly good food is thrown away every year because it is rejected by our supermarkets in the UK stating that it is the wrong size or shape. The mere thought of all this food that has been planted and grown then harvested only to be thrown away is appalling, I’m not sure if it happends in other countries but for it to happen anywhere is a travesty. And I also read that people now buy clothes after they have worn a certain garment a few times then throw it away, again like phones, not stuff from the cheaper end of the market but classy stuff. Is there no end to this madness?

 

Another thought whilst I have it in my mind.

I have been sporadic in my post of late and that’s because I don’t think I have much to say well I have but I just don’t know how to say it. Which is odd as I can usually write down my thoughts but I had to admit, and I don’t know if this is a good thing or bad, but a little helping of red vino makes me think better and gets the words out onto print so to speak. And what have I to say this time, well the obvious, time moves on but what concerns me is the way in which technology is being used all around us. There has been stories of governmental snooping on our internet pastimes, Google et al are all harvesting what we say, like what I’m writing now and it is going on with everything connected with the internet, and no one, well a few people, seemed concerned.

In fact people seem to embrace the fact that whatever they write they want the world to know about it and yes I am talking about the biggest talking shop in the world Facebook. But it is not alone and there must be a great part of the worlds population whose lives are there for all to see, good and bad, and they want it that way. I see it with my grandchildren, and even my children, I am left out, I’m not on Facebook so anything that happens in my family I am the last to know. And phones, they are not phones they are mini computers and no one looks up any more they are glued to the ground, well they are looking downwards. My granddaughter can talk to me whilst still sending texts, good job she has unlimited texts on her particular payment model.

At work, in the quest to cut down on paper everything has to be done on computer and only printed out if necessary, which is fine and very noble, save trees and all that but it doesn’t work as most people need a hard copy of what they are doing on the computer, e-mail just doesn’t do hack it. Oh sorry that’s the wrong choice of word as hacking has been big news for a while, none more so than a certain British tabloid being closed down because of alleged hacking of people’s phones, even one young lady who had actually died. But is anyone being held responsible for this act? That’s for the courts to decide and of course plenty of clever lawyers will be employed to, shall we say, their clients are not to blame, no one ever is, look at bankers.

(This post has been lurking in my draft folder and I didn’t realise as I actually wrote it a couple of years ago hence the subject matter may seem a little dated.)

 

 

 

I’m a sadist there I’ve said it :)

Ah but not what you are thinking, not THAT kind of sadist but a blog sadist in the sense of all the techie stuff I read from The Register, The Inquirer, and The Verge plus CNet and other stuff and its the continuous fanboys sniping at each other in the Microsoft v Apple v Google episode. I love reading the stuff, hence the sadist thing, boy do they go for each other and when they get all technical it really does get abusive lol. I’m not techie myself but I’m not totally dumb (some may question that assertion) but with Microsoft rolling out Windows 8.1 (or Windoze 8 to some people) and the seemingly impregnable Apple software being attacked by hackers and succeeding things are really hotting up with these geeks.

I am loathed to say guys in the sense of the male of the species as I am sure there are many a female participant in this arena but it don’t make any difference to the bile that is being thrown about. Likewise the Apple, Android, Windows 8 phone stuff it is, well to me, all fascinating stuff as I do actually learn a thing or two about these devices through these clued up people. I’m not sure what the next stage is for all this set up as Windows 8.1 has only just been released for download and a replacement for Steve Balmer hasn’t been announced yet, but that should be interesting reading whoever it may be, Steven Sinofski? oh my LOL.

So carry on guys, and gals, your info is invaluable but not always agreeable as Windows ME is considered a disaster, not to me it wasn’t I found it a good transition at the time but hey I’m joining the debate now so I’ll be braced for those in the know to better. I will head over to more discussions and disagreements and of course the inevitable bile its better than TV LOL.

Pictures and videos

Now you can see some videos at the top of the blog, they are mine on You Tube, various stuff from our holidays/vacations now I’m going to post some pictures.
The first batch are from our recent trip the Spanish Costas, Costa Del Sol, and the resort of Torremolinos. Now usually the weather, although not hot, is pleasant, that’s why many people go for a few weeks to escape the winters of Britain.

But we got it wrong this year, after the first day of pleasant, weak sunshine, the storms hit, and stayed for most of the rest of our trip. Just picked the wrong time, nothing wrong with place or the hotel, but we were more likely to get frostbite than a tan.





As you can see not bad for January, but all that was to change the next day. But it was still an opportunity to take pictures, this is the sea front at Torremolinos.
 




Over time I hope to post more pictures just a matter of trying to make this reasonably interesting without getting bogged down with dialogue. But there still needs to be some info about the pictures. Click on the pictures to get a bigger view.

Things and Things

 I take photographs, not sure if you can call me a photographer, not in the sense of being professional or anything. I have taken pictures at weddings and such like, more of a favour than a business, but I do enjoy what I do and I will leave the results for others to judge the merits for and against.
I have no particular subjects, I have taken portraits, landscapes, wildlife, from many countries and I do like looking back, and if I’m honest, quietly pleased with some of them.

But they are digital, I don’t print them out, I wouldn’t have the space to keep them anyway, but of course being stored on a computer has its hazards, so backing up is a must, I do try to keep it all up to date.

As they say the proof is in the pudding, so I will have to post some and let you decided whether they are good or not. But not now, its late, its 1:05am here in England, and I’m ready for bed, and I have to decide what to post anyway, so stayed tuned!

Is the Internet just another tool of life now?

They say the internet has been around since the 1950’s then it was just between universities and their geek guys, then a back up for the military communications, but whatever, its all over the place now. Which brings me to think the because of this it’s not the amazing thing it once was to us all when dial up was the norm and streaming films, video and music was way in the future.

Bulletin board were about, a kind of early chat room, but there wasn’t the rich content that is just so normal today. Youngsters, by that I mean from 5 years old upwards have the internet from the start and so its always been there for them, like mobile/cell phones and computers in general. So I think its lost is ‘wow’ factor if you like as it is now, or seems to be, a tool of everyday life, just like the TV.

And now we are being told both of these are being brought together in a kind of IPTV, the internet on your TV, not sure how this one will work out. We have seen just lately that governments, if they so wish, can shut the internet down which demonstrates how fragile the system still is, but so much is done on the internet these days its inconceivable that democratic governments would do the same, but you never know.

I like reading geeky stuff, and see where things are heading, and I can see a time where phone like devices will be the hub of communications in the future for everything. From maps to payments, from video calls all round I can’t do without tool, and being incredibly small even like those wrist watch type gadgets that use to be portrayed on futuristic comics of years gone by, yes maybe Star Trek is not all that fanciful these days.

I can see the good points about all this but I’m not sure of some of the bad points about always being connected. It use to be you wanted to meet your friend you made arrangements at school, work, or wherever then met up later on, whatever the weather, face to face contact was the norm, not today it isn’t.

But I console myself with the thought that the younger people will sort this out by themselves their way, not the ways of the grandparent generation, that belongs in the past, like so much other stuff, which is more the shame really.