Tag: San Francisco

Barcelona for the AIR

Saturday, 7 October, 2017 0 Comments

Vincent Laforet is a French-American director and photographer and one of the most influential people working in contemporary photography and film today. His AIR project is a collection of high-altitude aerial photographs taken over 10 of the world’s most iconic cities: Barcelona, Berlin, Chicago, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Sydney. This is Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, with its arrays of perfectly honeycomb-like blocks.


Playground: The next Big Thing, again

Friday, 15 April, 2016 0 Comments

The history of computing over the past four decades shows that a new platform emerges roughly every 12 years or so:

So, what’s next? Artificial intelligence as a service. Andy Rubin has created Playground, which aims to create a manufacturing and development platform for AI-equipped devices. Playground will build a common infrastructure for these, just as Windows did for PCs and Android did for smartphones. It’s all about the device, not the network:

“At this point, that big, big idea may sound familiar. For the past several years, technol­ogists have heralded the dawn of the Internet of Things — networked thermostats, lightbulbs, refrigerators, and other gizmos that talk to one another. Companies like Google, Apple, and Samsung have all built proprietary ecosystems to enable that communication and are racing to convince manufacturers to build products for them. But Rubin says they have it backward; ecosystems arise to support popular products, not the other way around. Play­ground’s first step is to provide startups with the tech­nology to build new devices; the network will emerge later.”

That’s a quote from “Andy Rubin Unleashed Android on the World. Now Watch Him Do The Same With AI,” which appeared in the March issue of Wired. Earlier this week, John Battelle expanded on Jason Tanz’s article in a NewCo piece titled “Android’s Founder Wants To Give The Internet A Body.” Now that house prices in San Francisco have fallen for the first time in four years, one gets the feeling that the search for the Next Big Thing is taking on a new urgency around the Bay Area.


The iPhone: On this day in 2007

Saturday, 9 January, 2016 0 Comments

Apple reinvented the telephone on 9 January 2007. “iPhone is a revolutionary new mobile phone that allows users to make calls by simply pointing at a name or number,” claimed the company press release. Steve Jobs was at his entertainingly visionary best during the Macworld convention in San Francisco when he made that legendary presentation. From that day on, for better or worse, a person became known by the company of the phone they kept. (Grammar note for 2015: singular “they”).

“We’re gonna use the best pointing device in the world. We’re gonna use a pointing device that we’re all born with — we’re born with ten of them. We’re gonna use our fingers.
We’re gonna touch this with our fingers. And we have invented a new technology called multi-touch, which is phenomenal.
It works like magic.
You don’t need a stylus. It’s far more accurate than any touch display that’s ever been shipped.
It ignores unintended touches, it’s super-smart.
You can do multi-finger gestures on it.
And boy, have we patented it.”

Steve Jobs (24 February 1955 – 5 October 2011)

There will be a drone for that

Monday, 19 October, 2015 0 Comments

Imagine you’re a well-off citizen of the United Arab Emirates and you’re planning a shopping trip to London. You may be looking for a bargain apartment in the “golden postcodes” of Belgravia or Knightsbridge or just some hummus at Fortnum and Mason, grocer to the Queen. There’s a problem, though. The UAE has advised its citizens to stay away from “hazardous” parts of London, including Oxford Street, after two incidents in which Arab visitors were robbed by thugs brandishing guns, knives and hammers.

Solution? A personal drone that could follow a tourist through the city’s “unsafe” neighbourhoods and alert private minders or the police about an impending threat. And there’s a startup for that. Gofor was founded in San Francisco by Alex Cornell and Phil Mills and they envisage a future where drones are affordable and abundant. The sky’s pretty much the limit they believe when it comes to what personal drones that can do: “location scouting, HD documentation, personal security, telepresence, internet range extension.”

The optimistic Gofor vision is based on human kindness, but evil does exist and bad people might be thinking about the usefulness of drones for their purposes, too. Would it possible to equip a drone with a high-powered rifle, shoot a target and then crash the perp into the Thames Estuary? No sign of killer or weapon; the perfect crime. Sounds like pulp fiction but drones do have a history when it comes to negative headlines.

Inevitably, there will be calls to ban personal drones. First, however, comes the registration. The US Transportation Department is announcing today that it will soon require registration for all unmanned aircraft. Will drone sellers be required to collect customer information? This is a developing story.


Thursday, 9 July, 2015 0 Comments

“The film almost completely falls apart in a second half in which Reese and Sarah have to run through 2017 San Francisco to stop the launch of Genisys, an operating system designed to link everyone’s information and devices to a single, powerful system. (In a line that typifies Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier’s clunker-filled script, one character refers to it as “the ultimate killer app.” Heh.)”

A snippet there from a review of Terminator Genisys by Keith Phipps that appeared in The Dissolve on 30 June. Yesterday, it fell to the lot of Phipps to announce, out of the blue, the dissolve of The Dissolve: “For the past two years — well, two years this Friday — it’s been our pleasure to put up this site, a site founded on and driven by a love for movies, alongside a company with passion and talent for creating thoughtful, important work. Sadly, because of the various challenges inherent in launching a freestanding website in a crowded publishing environment, financial and otherwise, today is the last day we will be doing that.”

This is dispiriting as the critiques were superb. The list of Dissolve reviews is lengthy and each showcases fine writing and informed opinion so let’s hope that the archive will be preserved. The Terminator trundles on and on into an embarrassing future, but The Dissolve, unhappily, is no more:

“Terminator Genisys then becomes as loud as it is tedious, and cutesy touches like J.K. Simmons’ essentially pointless appearance as a drunk cop who believes in time travel don’t help. A montage in which Sarah, Reese, and Pops get arrested, set to Inner Circle’s ‘Bad Boys,’ made famous as the theme to Cops, plays like the series finding its nadir. Or, more accurately, the nadir of the nadir. Unavoidably, Genisys has Schwarzenegger’s T-800 promise ‘I’ll be back.’ Fine. But it’s probably time to shut down the lurching, brainless machine this franchise has become.”

The End

Bartosz Kosowski illustrates

Wednesday, 21 January, 2015 0 Comments

“I am an illustrator working in Lodz, Poland” is the very simple “About” statement of Bartosz Kosowski. Such modesty. The the Society of Illustrators in Los Angeles has just awarded him its Gold Medal for his “Lolita” poster, which was created for September’s Spoke Art Stanley Kubrick exhibition in San Francisco.

Talking of last September, on the 24th of that month, Bartosz Kosowski posted the following entry in his blog: “Yesterday I learned that my portrait of Putin was used without my knowledge and permission by a Russian nationalist website Sputnik & Pogrom. First, it is a blatant copyright infringement and there is no excuse for that. Second, I would never allow any nationalist media to use my illustration!” When he positioned their website graphic beside his mock-up of a TIME cover, Kosowski added, “Actually they did award him this title a few years back (sic!).”

Person of the Year

Note: The TIME Magazine Person of the Year 2007 was Vladimir Putin: “His final year as Russia’s President has been his most successful yet. At home, he secured his political future. Abroad, he expanded his outsize — if not always benign — influence on global affairs.” Bartosz Kosowski’s mock-up captures perfectly the man behind the mask, at home and abroad.

Robots rising

Thursday, 15 January, 2015 0 Comments

The title of Martin Ford’s new book, due out in April, is Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. Snippet:

Rise of the Robots “Artificial intelligence is already well on its way to making ‘good jobs’ obsolete: many paralegals, physicians, and even — ironically — computer programmers are poised to be replaced by robots. As technology continues to accelerate and machines begin taking care of themselves, fewer jobs will be necessary. Unless we radically reassess the fundamentals of how our economy and politics work, this transition could create massive unemployment and inequality as well as the implosion of the economy itself.”

No industry will be spared. In “precision farming,” for example, a “nurse” robot will tend to individual plants, injecting water, pesticide or fertilizer in the exact amounts required — instead of spraying an entire field. And “picking” robots are going to take over back-breaking jobs that would otherwise go to migrant workers.

Meanwhile, San Francisco startup Modbot is designing industrial and hobby robots that will piece together like Lego. Typically robots like this might cost $25,000, but the modular nature of the Modbot could reduce the price tag to $2,500. The picture is completed with a simple smartphone app that would control your robot.

The Long Tail of music

Wednesday, 26 November, 2014 0 Comments

In the early days of 1993, Elton John was forced to end a concert in Melbourne half an hour early when a swarm of grasshoppers invaded the stage. During that same year, Steve Albini exposed the rottenness at the core of the popular music industry in an angry, derisive article titled The Problem With Music. The same Steve Albini delivered a 10,000-word address to the Face the Music conference in Melbourne last weekend and it’s a significant update on where the business is going. Unlike many in the music trade, he regards the internet as a force for good and he’s very enthusiastic about its Long Tail potential for small bands and obscure artists.

Speaking of that Long Tail, it can be seen at work in the current popularity of Gymnosphere: Song of the Rose, a pre-New Age masterpiece by Jordan De La Sierra. No one bothered much about it when it was first released in 1977, but now it’s all the rage. De La Sierra’s two-hour recording took place in a small studio in Berkeley, and he then recorded that recording while it was played in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, to capture the building’s spiritual reverberations. It’s a long tail that has no ending.

Frank Castorf stole Ken Russell’s crocodile for his Götterdämmerung

Wednesday, 7 August, 2013 0 Comments

Before we come to Frank Castorf, a spoiled-brat German “avant-garde” theatre director, let’s journey back in time to San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury district. It was there that the Rainy Day team had a truly surreal experience, but we’re not talking here about the Haight of the 1960s when the LSD was dropping, but the Haight of the late 1980s, before gentrification began to take its toll.

The scene was the legendary Red Vic Movie House, at the corner of Haight and Belvedere. Typical of the post-1960s vibe that still resonated, the cinema was run by a “collective” and, this was truly memorable, movie goers sat together on lumpy couches. Lenin would have loved it, no doubt. The film on this particular evening was a 1971 classic from the repertoire of a true avant-garde director, the great Ken Russell, and it was the none other than the scandalous and lurid The Devils. As Father Urbain Grandier, Oliver Reed, was outstanding: charismatic, seductive, heretical. In this disquieting/hilarious scene, he attacks the quacks who are treating plague victims with horrible “cures”, including “dried vipers” and “a crocodile”, which beast Father Grandier duly flings into the fire. The same crocodile turned up recently in Bayreuth in Frank Castorf’s incoherent Ring cycle. More on that here tomorrow.

From the Golden Gate to the Gaelic Grounds

Saturday, 13 July, 2013 0 Comments

Today’s post is dedicated to Barry O’Brien, home for a short break in Limerick from San Francisco. He left the temperate comfort of the Bay Area for an extraordinarily torrid Ireland, where temperatures have been touching the 30 C mark. Tomorrow, he’ll be in the Gaelic Grounds for the Munster Hurling Final between Cork and Limerick, which promises to be an epic encounter. Go Limerick!

“‘Adrift’ is a love letter to the fog of the San Francisco Bay Area. I chased it for over two years to capture the magical interaction between the soft mist, the ridges of the California coast and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. This is where ‘Adrift’ was born,” says filmmaker Simon Christen.

Now: crowdsourcing crowds

Monday, 28 May, 2012

Launched last week, the Now iPhone app detects hot events taking place in four major cities: New York, Paris, London and San Francisco. Other metropolises will follow, no doubt. Berlin, Sydney and Vancouver are three on the Rainy Day list. The nifty thing is that the app rates “hotness” by analyzing the number of photos […]

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