Simon’s Backup Weblog

London: the 360 degree movie

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 31, 2003

I have now completed a Quicktime VR panorama of London, made from a selection of the pictures I took this afternoon in the rotating restaurant of the BT Tower. The weather was excellent, some of the best visibilty I’ve seen after yesterday’s blizzards. There’s plenty of snow still lying on the hills around the city…

Just to get your bearings, you can find a map of where the Tower is here, and an aerial photograph, here.

The panorama will open facing roughly south west, looking towards Battersea Park and Battersea Power Station.

Click here to download the 360 degree panorama of London… Remember folks, it is a 5MB .MOV file!

You can scroll around the image using a mouse, pressing “shift” to zoom in, and “ctrl” to zoom out. You may even see your intrepid phtographer reflected in one or two panes.

Now, for the IMAX release…

(Updated to make the QTVR movie a download link instead of an embedded image behind a cut tag, as LiveJournal strips the tags needed to manage QuickTime movies)


Up above the world so high…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 31, 2003

One of the perks of doing freelance IT journalism is the opportunity to go to places that aren’t normally open to the public. One such place is the BT Tower, one of the tallest buildings in London – and the only tall structure for miles around. Closed to the public in the 1970s, BT began to use the Tower’s viewing areas for corporate hospitality, including its private revolving restaurant. It’s where a BT spin out company chose to hold their launch party.

After fighting London’s frost-defeated public transport system to reach the tower in time for this morning’s briefing, the prospect of a sunny, snowy London spread out below me was a tanatalising treat. I set myself a task: one image from each of the restaurant’s windows, with the intention of stitching them together to make a panorama – and possibly a full 360 degree view. I’ve taken all the pictures, but it’ll be a while before they’re stitched and web-readied.

As a teaser, here’s a zoom shot of the West End, specifically the area around Marble Arch. The red circle? It’s 101 Wigmore Street, where I spend the days I’m not out on client site or working from home.

The West End

The open space is Hyde Park, and the big conglomeration of buildings next to where I work is Selfridges. Marble Arch itself is unfortunately hidden by the buildings.

A fuller panorama of the whole city will follow shortly!


Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 30, 2003

(I tell you, it’s an old picture!)

Java fun with Friends

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 29, 2003

Just pop along here and try out the Java Friends Browser, which uses the cool TouchGraph tools.

(Java 1.3 or better required!)

Is it camera, is it a phone, is it…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 29, 2003


Now this could make an interesting feed device for MMS-LJ. Just SMS it, and “bing”, an entry in your blog showing you just what’s going on where you’ve fitted the camera…

Virus on The Archers mailing list

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 29, 2003

Looks like BBC’s official The Archers mailing list has been hit by an email worm. I know a few of you out there read it too, so make sure you don’t open any mail with attachements sent to the list.

(The Inquirer indicates that it’s W32.sobiq.A@mm – which comes as an attached file with a .PIF extension in a mail headed “Re: Here is that sample” – so now you know what to avoid!)

As Ruth would say: “Oh! No!”


Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 29, 2003

This will be arriving tomorrow…

A Wednesday Lunchtime “It’s Rather Cold Today” Review: Alexander At The World’s End

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 29, 2003

and I have a long running philosophical discussion, over the possibility of the perfectability of mankind. Influenced at an early age by the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, I argue for it, while she, backed by all the weight of Athenian philosophy, aragues against. It’s a fun discussion, and one I’m sure we’ll be having for many years.

But what does that have to do with Tom Holt’s Ancient Grecian historical novel explorating the relationship between Athens and the Macedonians? It’s because this is an argument that runs through the heart of Alexander At The World’s End. Euxenus, our narrator and anti-hero, is a Yapping Dog philosopher from Athens, a disciple of Diogenes and a part time prophet. Living an unexamined life, pushed from pillar to post by the buffeting of others, Euxenus is an unwitting catalyst for change and disaster. He is failed humanity personified, hubris and denial combined, bumbling across the world tasked with building perfect societies, and seeing everything fall apart in flames as a result of inadvertant actions and deliberate inactions.

Told by a man near the end of his life, and many, many miles from home, the story begins with the matter of an inheritance. At the begining of his journey across the ancient world, Euxenus is a younger son in a large family, and a deal to save the family land from dilution forces him onto the streets of Athens, and into a career as a philosopher. Unloved, and unloving, he drifts across Athens, before finding himself drafted onto a diplomatic mission to Macedon, and the drunken court of the ambitious King Philip. By dint of a few smart words at dinner, and an imaginary snake in a jar, Euxenus becomes one of Alexander’s tutors (alongside his old rival and enemy Aristotle) – and accidently inspires his march of conquest.

But that is the only time the two men will ever meet. Instead, Euxenus is sent by Philip to found a colony in our present day Crimea. Planned and designed to the nth degree, this is to be a gleaming example of Grecian power and might. In the end it’s reduced subsistence farming and armed neutrality with untrusting neighbours – and everyone seems much happier. Until relations with nearby villages deteriorate completely…

Holt’s writing mixes dry wit and historical accuracy. The impact of Alexander on the world is seen in ripples out from Persia, and in tales told by those who spent time with him. We see what it was like to live in Athens, and in a Greek colony. There’s plenty resarch here, mixed with excellent story-telling, and a writer’s grasp on the emotions of the reader – even when it appears that Euxenus feels nothing…

There’s an big question here: who is more important? Euxenus who accidently inspired Alexander, and who spent his life building villages, or Alexander, who moved across Asia and left behind a myriad towns baring his name? Did Euxenus’ words change the world, and in his uncaring, unexamined life, did he affect more lives than he could ever know? And why does every attempt at reaching for greatness (however small) end in disaster?

Excellent stuff, and highly recommended.

More uses for RSS: monitoring software company download sites

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 29, 2003

Want to keep up to date with Microsoft updates? Then point your RSS client to this feed of the latest files available on the Microsoft download site.

I’ve already found it points to a release of a version of SQL Server service pack 3.0 for MSDE 2000 (the development and desktop version which ships with Visual Studio .NET) – which includes the patch for SQL Slammer. So if you’re using MSDE for desktop database development, you probably should install this now

Now, I wonder if there’s something similar for Apple’s OS X software catalogue?


Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on January 28, 2003

Via an IM from : this short animation.

Please note – blame him, not me.

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