Jamie's Notes

Photos from 18th October 2020

Rendering LIDAR Data

I spent a bit of time this weekend learning how to render LIDAR data into 3D dioramas with Aerialod.

Aerialod is not the most intuitive program, but you can get some nice images out of it with a bit of experimentation.

Time well spent? Probably not. But it was fun.

Lake District
Durham
York

World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day. Thanks go to Giles for letting me know, and for sharing his experiences.

‘Mental health’ was never a phrase that I’ve associated with myself. I’ve always thought myself to be quite resilient. I took a bizarre pride in being able to work myself through situations clinically, rationally and logically. I was, I thought, secure in my own serenity. My wife, by the way, does not feel that this is an admirable quality.

My friend, Steve, took his own life this year. I hadn’t spoken to him for a while, and I had no idea he was suffering. My mother took her own life when I was ten. Mental health, whether our own or that of others, touches us all. Poor mental health can affect anyone. It is not a weakness, and we must talk about it.

Earlier this year, I started experiencing symptoms of what I later discovered was probably burnout. I felt anxious and couldn’t sleep. Basic tasks at work felt overwhelming. I was exhausted, and I hated my job. I felt a pang of dread on waking, and by the end of the week I was an anxious wreck. It took me until Sunday to recover, and then I’d begin the cycle again on Monday. I started to resent work and stopped giving a shit about any of it. I reasoned that it would pass, but it was getting worse. I knew, or at least a rational bit of me knew, that if something didn’t change, I was heading to a bad place. It was an odd feeling and I have never been able to work out the why of it. But I guess that’s the nature of these things.

I gave up my job as a manager and took up a secondment elsewhere. I feel much better. I was lucky to have options, and the mental capacity to take them, but I am now much more sensitive to how I am feeling, and acknowledging those feelings as something real. This was a tough lesson to learn for me, because it means that I’m not as mentally hardcore as I thought.

To those that are well: Reach out to your friends. Let them know that they matter and that you are thinking about them.

To those that aren’t: Talking helps. If you don’t have anyone that you can talk to, try your GP, or consider contacting one of the charities below:

Springhead Pumping Station

I had to take my car for its annual safety check this morning, so enjoyed a walk home along a couple of miles of the former Hull to Barnsley railway track. It was a blissfully quiet, the only other person on my route being a harried dog walker, minus her dog who had decided it would be more fun to go on a solo walkabout.

The route winds past Springhead Pumping Station – constructed in 1864 to provide the growing city with clean drinking water and still providing us with 25 million litres a day from the aquifer deep below.

I find buildings interesting. They raise a lot of questions. Who built it, and why? Why did they choose those materials and build it in the way that they did? Well designed buildings have the power to make you feel good about the place you are in, poorly designed ones do the opposite.

This is a beautiful building, constructed in red and yellow brick with large arched windows and an octagonal lantern perched atop a square tower. It was once open as a museum but closed when Yorkshire Water became paranoid about poisoning of the water supply, and nowadays it’s surrounded by vast amounts of fencing and enormous security gates. It would once have been visible for miles around, but it’s impossible to get a good look at the building now.

This picture from Chris Pepper shows it from inside the grounds:

Credit to Chris Pepper

The Victorians didn’t mess around when designing municipal buildings.

Eddie Van Halen: 1955-2020

Letters from Nominet

Many moons ago, Nominet, the UK domain registrar, confirmed the registration or renewal of your domain with a physical letter. I remember being very pleased to receive mine:

I have a hazy memory of them sending me a certificate on first registration, but I can’t find it anywhere so I could be making that up.

They must have been sending out thousands of letters a day, and I assume it was an admin nightmare because it took them three months to send me this letter. Shortly after this they moved to an online system, and this was the last one that I ever received.

Blacklight

Feed Blacklight with a website and it’ll scan it and tell you what tracking technologies are being used.

I scanned a handful of the websites that I visit daily. One site had 16 trackers in operation and placed 30 third-party cookies! Almost all of them told Facebook and Google of my visit.

I was surprised to see that Google is setting third-party cookies via my site – probably as a result of me embedding Youtube videos.

Spacial audio on the AirPods Pro

Apple released a firmware upgrade today, enabling a new feature called ‘spacial audio’ on the AirPods Pro. It replicates Dolby Atmos, the fancy new sound system in use at Odeon Luxe cinemas.

I tried it out on the opening scene of Greyhound. It’s not how you expect sound from headphones to sound at all. I’d go as far as describing it as weird, at least on first listen. It’s like the sound is coming from the iPad, but then you get the surround sound thrown in reminding you that you are wearing headphones. And using the gyroscopes, the audio is augmented in real-time as your head moves. It’s incredibly immersive.

E is completely ambivalent about technology, so a good tester. I asked her what she thought of it. After struggling for a moment to get the AirPods to fit in her ears, she said “it’s like being at the cinema,” and that pretty much sums the experience up.

Nice update.

More in the archives.