This photo was taken well after sundown. The light on the ridgeline is reflected from snow off the Olympic Mountains, bouncing back into the sky and reflected again off the clouds. It looks as if it could be from city lights, but there is no city in this direction, just mountains for a hundred miles or so.
The photo is also an excellent demonstration of the low-light capabilities of the iPhone X. The human eye can distinguish many subtle variations in light and color, and cameras are not yet even close to such sophistication. But they are making astonishing strides, especially when backed up with the computer power of a sophisticated phone.
Kathleen packed tea and a banana in my briefcase this morning. I’m at work, eating the banana, drinking tea, waiting for a security scan of a website to finish, wondering how I will coordinate fixing what I find, when there is a thump at the window.
I have two windows, and I’m 190 feet above the street. Thumps are odd, so I turn around and —
There is a large, ruffled, and agitated turkey vulture struggling to perch on the ledge outside the window. It is a granite ledge, six inches wide. It isn’t designed for perching, except maybe the occasional pigeon or sparrow, and a turkey vulture doesn’t really fit.
I start to get up from my desk for a closer look and — the turkey vulture falls backward off the ledge. Not without a lot of fuss and feathers, but still a fall.
Then I notice a peregrine falcon, lazily spiraling through the neighborhood, make a very sharp turn and — dive.
Because of the angle, I can’t see what happened next, but it had to have been spectacular. While a peregrine is far too small to attack a turkey vulture in a fair fight, a turkey vulture is no match in aerial combat, especially when it is desperately and awkwardly preoccupied with avoiding a fall.
My banana, having suffered from too much excitement, broke in half and fell to the floor.
Yes, this excessively long message is to tell you my banana committed seppuku.
A quick comparison of the iPhone 6 Plus and the iPhone 7 Plus following a casual stroll around a lake after Thanksgiving dinner.
The original iPhone had a 960 x 720 pixel camera, which means the iPhone 6 Plus camera, at 3264 x 2448 pixels, and iPhone 7 Plus camera, at 4032 x 3024 pixels, are essentially either 11.6 or 17.6 original iPhone cameras at once. As carrying around 17.6 cameras seemed inconvenient, we (me) took a couple of photos with my iPhone 6 Plus, then snatched someone else’s iPhone 7 Plus to take more photos.
The iPhone 6 Plus photo:
The iPhone 7 Plus photo:
These are not exactly the same photo because I moved around, didn’t think of using the iPhone 7 for several minutes, etc. But then it also occurred to me to stand in the same place as the second photo and use the second lens on the iPhone 7 Plus to take a 2X view:
As it got darker, it became much harder to see, much less take photographs. But the iPhone 7 Plus seemed up to the challenge:
I also took a photo of some ducks, but it was quite dark, and the photo was poor. And yet — I discovered later, looking at the photo on a large computer monitor, that the “ducks” were clearly Canadian geese. This wasn’t clear to the eye, but the iPhone 7 Plus had no problem showing the distinctive plumage.
The iPhone 7 Plus may be an incremental improvement of the iPhone 6 Plus, but the increments are collectively quite impressive. Oh, it also makes phone calls, and is a great GPS.
Third world problems usually center around a lack of food, clothing, water, or shelter, or possibly all of them. Compounding these lacks, you often have severe pollution and poverty.
First world problems, however, are more nuanced. For example, this sign in a hotel, alerting guests to the fact that the door does not lead to an entrance or an exit to anything interesting, just Employee Stuff:
Fire hydrants aren’t all that exciting in the first world, but this one is at least different. It is orange instead of red, and it has an Out Of Service sign. Of particular interest: this is a professionally crafted sign, not some temporary thing taped to the hydrant, suggesting that hydrants, much like buses during rush hour on busy routes, are routinely Out Of Service:
Finally, there is this park bench, near the Capitol in Washington, DC. This isn’t just any old park bench, but a solar-powered park bench. And why would a park bench need to be solar-powered? Because it is a park bench with two USB charging ports!
It was crafted by Changing Environments, an MIT Media Lab spin-off that took a look at how technology could improve urban living. The Soofa Bench comes in various versions, some of which also include environmental monitoring sensors, powered by the solar panels on the bench. Also available are a Soofa Core, which is essentially the central pillar without the bench, and a Soofa Sign, a solar-powered, stand-alone neighborhood electronic bulletin board.
Why the company uses the Colombia domain (.co) and why things are called “Soofa” are not readily apparent.
On December 2, Iceland’s President mandated that Pirate Party Member of Parliament Birgitta Jónsdóttir form a government. In the October 2016 general election, the Pirate Party came in third, but the two top vote-getting parties, the Independence Party and the Left-Green Movement, failed to build a coalition large enough to run the country. It is now time for the Pirates!
The UK established a Pirate Party in 2009, again patterned after the Swedish party. Founded in Manchester, it espouses civil liberties, privacy, direct democracy, and other very sensible things, constrained only by the somewhat strange name. It has never managed to get anyone elected to the UK parliament, but a quick read of the pamphlet distributed in Manchester for the 2015 election demonstrates a very workable set of policies:
Given the state of recent political rhetoric in the UK and the US, consider the Pirate Codex. It lays out a simple set of principles that, despite being political, are remarkably non-partisan.