iPhone signals the death of SLR photography

The iPhone has single handedly transformed how easy it is to take and share photos. So good is the quality, so easy is it to take and edit photos, that for many photographers it has replaced the point-and-shoot pocket camera they keep as backups.

It’s remarkable how quickly this has happened. When the iPhone first came out its camera was a nice addition to a transformative device. It took poor quality stills with lots of noise and artefacts; the fact you could quickly email them to friends, though, showed its future potential. But with the latest iPhones, the quality is now so high, and the software available to tweak/improve/modify photos so advanced, that many professional photographers are using them as part of their workflow or, in some cases, their main device entirely.

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Anyway. All this came to me while sitting in Starbucks, of all places, escaping the humdrum of the office and playing with SlowShutter, an app which makes low light and slow-shutter photography ridiculously easy. For 69p. Has the iPhone signalled the death of photography or the generation of something new?

Bill Murray makes the internet good again

Occasionally you hear of people who claim to love their jobs. “I am so lucky because my job is my hobby!” they gush, rosey-cheeked, nauseatingly energetic and somehow managing to pull off that unkempt look which doesn’t damage their reputation among their peers.

I may not be quite so enthusiastic as these cherubic imbeciles but I do enjoy my industry  -  for the most part. The internet is still morphing at a rate of knots, and it’s that unrelenting pace and change which can exhaust your enthusiasm. It’s easy to loathe, sometimes, for the simple reason that it has woven itself inextricably into our lives. Sometimes we need to peel off the internet jumper and sacrifice it to the god of MS DOS.

But then Bill Murray appears on Reddit and answers any question thrown at him, completely unmoderated, and we genuflect to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and wonder how this ridiculous thing came into being, for a life without Bill Murray talking crap is a life not worth living at all.

Portugal, the world’s first superpower

Vasco de Gama, the great explorer

Vasco de Gama, the great explorer

My girlfriend is Portuguese. One of the terrifying parts of relationships is not knowing how you’ll get on with the extended family you are afforded. In my case, it’s great; I like them hugely, they’re warm, interesting and quite similar to me, except for being Portuguese of course. All is well.

Because of that, they give me things I like. C’s father bought me this book above by Martin Page, First Global Village: How Portugal Changed the World. For a microsecond I thought this was a brainwashing experiment by him; is he trying to convert me to an Iberian? Because he should know that I’m not easily converted, and that I hold strong views on things you know. Can’t think what, but I do. Oh yes! But despite knowing him for two years and beginning to understand the travails of Portugal in the 21st century, I realised I knew embarrassingly little about the country’s history, so the book has been a total revelation.

And I really mean that. I had no idea their influence on navigation, exploration or shipping; on India; on the influence the Romans have on the entire country (bacalhau, salted cod, was eaten and prepared by Roman soldiers in an identical fashion today; there was no other way of preserving fish back then, or now, apparently…). They brought tempura, guns and “arigatou” (“thank you”) to Japanese culture as well as building Nagasaki. They commanded power from Brazil to Africa to India to Japan, all the while never having more than 1.5m people in the country. At the time (1500s), the United Kingdom boasted many more, and Italy roughly four times that number. Their history is unique, and it maddens me that the rest of the world doesn’t know more about them. Such is the Portuguese’s deference and humility…

It wasn’t all good though. Some Portuguese are quick to claim that they were the first to outlaw slavery, they were also the first to adopt it as part of business, law and society.

I am well aware Britain has had a pretty shocking past – overall, we must be front-runners for the Most Barbaric Country In History award, surely – but it was only after watching 12 Years A Slave (incidentally, the best film I’ve seen in three years) that I realised how little I know about Britain’s slavery past. C, on the other hand, was educated in Portugal and their education system is a bit more open; she’s well aware of all the horrors her ancestors committed, and the book goes into full graphic detail. Hard to imagine a time when a goat’s value on the common market would be compared not to one human being’s life, but three.

Anyway. A great book, but it made me wonder what other countries (all of them!) I know little about, and which books would provide a brief-but-brilliant overview of their history. Recommendations welcome…

The importance of sleep

Delicious irony in posting this at midnight on Sunday, but so be it. A great Ted talk from Russell Foster on why we need sleep, and apparently so much. I need at least 10 hours to function at anywhere near my best.

If atoms are nothing…

My head hurts. I just heard something I’ve long known, that atoms are 99.9% nothing. Just space.

We are made up largely of atoms.

What we see, feel, touch, taste and smell is therefore only 0.01% of *stuff*. So what and where is all the other 99.9% of stuff? These are exactly the types of topics I should not be thinking about at 4pm on a wintery Sunday.

Topics like these have always slightly bothered me, which has been a challenge since I’m absolutely fascinated by them. One of my earliest memories is of being shown a picture of the cosmos, and our planet and its position within the milky way. Various statistics were vomited into my brain: the sun, which to me always felt so close and unbelievably hot in August, even preventing me from riding my bike in the Thames Valley of the UK (not exactly Death Valley in terms of temperature), was about 145million miles away.

I then asked my dad how far away Grandpa lived, a journey we did most weekends and which took 45 adult minutes, or roughly 12 child years (or so it felt). “About 30 miles,” he said. I couldn’t get my head around the distances in space, and at 31 I still cannot. Many of the stars we see at night are dead or dying. The light from their death just hasn’t reached us yet.

Anyway. My response to being told this for the first time was almost to give up on life’s rules and set plans. I remember being told off for drawing on a wall, and my reaction was “Who cares? Nothing matters. It’s just a small mark on a wall. We are nothing!” I probably didn’t use those words exactly, but the sentiment is right. What does anything matter when we are all so insignificant?!

But, regardless, I still absolutely adore tea, even if it’s 99.9% “nothing”.

The first post

onceuponeatime

Hello.

I used to blog a huge amount. I started ten years ago writing about cricket, forming a cricket blog called The Corridor at www.cricket.mailliw.com, and a year later bashed down the doors of Cricinfo.com in Shepherds Bush, who to my immense surprise employed me as a journalist/writer. The blog was very popular and had good traffic, but I couldn’t spend as much time on it as I liked and after mistakenly losing two years of content, I decided to kill it off (the stuff from 2004-2007 is still in the cricket category though).

I’ve been at Cricinfo ever since, though now work for the parent company, ESPN. My relationship with cricket has soured since, but all commitments go through a rocky patch at some point or another and we’ll be reunited again, much as I hope to reunite me and writing through this blog.

When I first began writing about cricket I did so as a personal document. It was for me, and its being online was coincidental. That’s the purpose of this blog; I want to look back in ten years at the thoughts and experiences I had and see what changes. It’s only recently that I’ve realised just how long ten years actually is and how much we change. It would be nice to have a physical document charting this, so we’ll see how we get on.

There will be a lot of cricket, technology, media industry crap, philosophy, and other things written about – basically, all things which make me tick . Let’s see where it goes.