On-Line Angst

On-Line Angst

This week it is reported that most of us
check our smart phones within 10 minutes of waking
and thereafter about every 12 minutes

Indeed, one of the last things we do at night
is tweak our devices before attempting to slip into unconsciousness

It occurs to me that we have perhaps allowed ourselves to
fall into an unhealthy relationship the cyber world

I am calling this On-Line Angst

In days gone by the phone would ring
As tidings it was wont to bring
Messages from friends and colleagues
Inducing cheer or melancholy

Our phone line linked to the exchange
Communications thus arranged
Connected to the world outside
Poles and cables far and wide

But only sound was then conveyed
No images could be portrayed
Nonetheless the network served us well
Exclusive GPO clientele

But in due time came privatization
Welcome thrusting competition
As technical change then coincided
The former framework just exploded

Fibre optics were invented
Old assumptions thus fragmented
Suddenly ‘on-line’ world-wide
No sanctuary, no place to hide

Eventually our phones turned smart
Displaying menus a la carte
Voice and text and pictures too
My selfie winging straight to you

When once the phone lived just at home
Nowadays GPS tracks us as we roam
The office too transformed by change
As smart devices widely range

So now we find phones everywhere
Just like our clothes, our phone we wear
Its beeps, and throbs gives low vibrations
Indicative of our close relation

So throughout the day from morn till eve
The smart phone we refuse to leave
Constant companion, demanding friend
Like a romance we dare not end

Because if of our phone we are deprived
We see no way we could survive
On-line angst now dominates
Our contract we must n’er forsake

Ken Fisher

The Swiss Army Knife – Even More Useful

The Swiss Army Knife – Even More Useful

[This is a sequel to my previous poem – The Swiss Army Knife-
Published Jan 24, 2017]

The Swiss Army Knife is quite cutting edge
No limit to the uses to which it can stretch
This latest model has pen and shining flashlight
Features which surely will bring much delight

I crossed the boundaries of this innovative nation
Whose mechanical products deserve admiration
Their fame is well known for watches and clocks
But my joy is the penknives of Victorinox

Imagine my delight when I discovered a store
Whose shelves were laden with penknives galore
Some were enormous with unlimited functions
To deal with every problem or tricky malfunction

But my preference is for the smaller device
Not only because of its more reasonable price
So the one that I chose to add to my collection
A multi-tool, a pen, and a light, all which act with perfection

Ken Fisher

Cactus

Cactus

I don’t know what you think of these prickly plants
Their spines or spikes are seen at first glance
Their stems have chambers to help them conserve
The water they need, their life to preserve

Originally most cacti grew in dry habitats
Where all other plant life would simply collapse
And their thorny exterior would soon scare away
Any desert snake that might chance come their way

Cactus plants come in every shape and size
The number of species is quite a surprise
They don’t have conventional leaves as such
But some do have flowers, but you better not touch

Some cacti are tall, pointing up to the sky
Others quite low and shaped like a pie
Some are multi-coloured, some monochrome
Some, like a temple complete with a dome

There are tiny cactus plants ever so small
And others whose height is really quite tall
Some seem to have large internal tanks
Holding water like our saved money in banks

Anyway whatever you think of these succulents
Many  aficionados appraise their excellence
As decorations arranged in a classic display
Which can easily compete with a floral bouquet

Ken Fisher

Camera Complications

Camera Complications

I don’t know about you but I certainly find
The digital camera can blow your mind
There are so many features to complicate life
That taking a picture produces great strife

The problem is there is too much choice
Something in which we should really rejoice
But no longer can we simply point and snap
As the wrong settings might cause some mishap

You would think the modern camera knows it all
But that’s only if you follow the protocol
To set the aperture, the white balance and shutter speed
Then the correct focal length before you proceed

This is all very well if you have lots of time
But no doubt your subject will begin to whine
And the picture that you thought would bring them delight
Results in an image that gives them a fright

Mind you these marvels of science and technology
Have lenses that stretch the limits of ophthalmology
By offering in-built features to encompass all scenes
From panorama to close-ups magnified on our screens

No longer the ritual of developing and printing
While in dark rooms at our dim images squinting
All those old processes the DSLR can demystify
Transmitting fresh pictures direct by WiFi

But despite the marvels of these cunning devices
If you want to avoid a technological crisis
Why not revert to the snapper we used to think of as heaven?
That black bakelite body of the Brownie 127!

Ken Fisher

Atoms Who Think About Atoms

Atoms Who Think About Atoms

How do humans differ from all else there is?
A rather tricky question if presented in a quiz
For in so many ways this two-legged animal
Is to all created things really quite compatible

Apparently everything there is is made of tiny particles
Things like rocks and trees and every kind of article
Metals and gases, fluids, cloth and chocolate bars
Packed tight with minute atoms no matter what they are

Everything in the world that we can recognize
Things in the depth of oceans or high up in the skies
Are neatly ordered atoms that we call molecules
That interact together following set rules

So objects inanimate like plastic and also things that live
Are all comprised of atoms extremely dominutive
But despite their throbbing nucleus they do not seem to think
And you won’t find a bright idea in cold custard or in zink

If we are looking for atoms which are capable of thought
It has to be homo sapiens who has risen to the top
Embedded in their cranium pulsates their wondrous brain
Inside this organ we find the realm of thought’s domain

And what do these human creatures think on most of all?
They wrestle with life’s mysteries in issues great and small
An endless quest to understand what other atoms do
Standing on giants’ shoulders to discover something new

Ken Fisher

At Last the Sun

At Last the Sun

Can it be true?
Those shafts of radiated light
Beaming their way through the loft window
Renegade sun returns after long defection
Eyes blink in gratitude and wonder

Had we lost faith?
Surely winter would doff its cap
The gentle kiss felt on our cheek once more
Tiny shoots stretch ever upwards
Penetrating the slowly thawing soil

Do we have hope?
Our planet’s steady turning
The tilt of our northern hemisphere
Angling us to catch those solar rays
Brings longer hours of light and warmth

Why do we fear?
This magical dance twixt sun and earth
Might cease its endless paired gyration
Not in billions of years has the globe ceased spinning
Nor halted our planet’s orbital progression
Thus the succession of each season in its time

Ken Fisher

 

SKIN

SKIN

That delicate membrane between ourself and the world
This outer coating formed in our Mother’s womb
Smooth when a baby, in old age quite gnarled
Its has to serve us well from cradle to tomb

Skin is the subject of much speculation
Its colour from others can rarely be hidden
A primary indicator of our race or nation
So often prompting some pointless division

And yet under our skin we are all kith and kin
Our bones, muscles, organs, those obscure glands
Our blood vessels, tendons, and all else within
The same brain controlling our limbs and hands

Perhaps our most visible skin is the face we display
Here the world notices our outward expression
It’s what others encounter of us each new day
Registering moods ranging from joy to depression

Of course the skin sometimes has the power to excite
Especially when we decide to give greater exposure
On a shimmering beach or by soft candle light
Between consenting adults who lose their composure!

Adults are often concerned about their complexion
And spend collective millions to enhance their appearance
Others resort to surgery or weird cosmetic injections
For major reconstruction or minor ‘slum clearance’

Of course we all must remain sensibly vigilant
On the well-known dangers of the sun’s pervasive rays
Avoiding the temptation of the tanning lamp
Being unashamed of pale skin on our holidays

An aspect of skin treatment is the modern tattoo
Of which many men and even women seem proud
Words of endearment and designs like voodoo
A personal statement shouted out loud

Of course the cosmetic industry relies on our vanity
A business which seeks to enhance the world’s face
Some even claim it promotes health and sanity
Perhaps the skin we might all wish to embrace

Ken Fisher

 

 

 

Algorithm

Algorithm

 

An algorithm is a concept of which we should take heed
A kind of diagram which shows us how to proceed
To solve a problem by breaking it down to small steps
Making decisions unambiguous is the main object

Primarily used to solve conundrums mathematical
It can be employed to cope with tasks quite practical
By considering the flow of information in a process
And the choices at each stage throughout its progress

Algorithms are the heart of most computer programs
Compiled as binary choices shown as in a diagram
A question is asked for which the answer is yes or no
And the response determines just how to go

Algorithms can be defined as a set of rules
Within a sequence of operations they form the tools
Whereby a computer can make ‘decisions’
According to a defined set of conditions

Thus by the use of algorithms joined together
Decisions are made on ‘greater or lesser’
Or the scale of a value or magnitude
And the measures such as latitude

The whole approach assumes that there is nothing
That cannot be defined as zero or one thing
Thus the binary system employed in its glory
The very heart of every algorithmic story

All these processes are performed at the speed of light
On huge chunks of data held by the megabyte
And computers do their work with such composure
The inner workings never revealed to external exposure

There is no doubt that the algorithm deserves our praise
As the performance of machines it continues to raise
But prophets of doom fear for our future employment
As robots will doubtless enforce our replacement

Because algorithms bring artificial intelligence
Clever machines designed with great elegance
To take over from humans the work that we do
An advance that in time we may well  rue

We can only hope that the mighty algorithm
Will nonetheless improve the human condition
And perhaps at some glorious future date
From drudgery it might all of us liberate

Ken Fisher

Photoshop Identity

Photoshop Identity

 

It has been claimed ‘the camera never lies’
And you simply must believe your eyes
But in this modern world, oh so high tech
That final image you should surely check

Because it’s now easy to manipulate
Thus unwanted features we obliterate
From those raw images once original
Captured by our lens then made digital

Snappers are happy with their efforts
Slight imperfections bring no discomfort
But experts feel the need to titivate
Thus post-processing simply cannot wait

So as soon as their images are downloaded
And the pixels have all been decoded
Photoshop software is called into service
Ready to work its transforming marvels

With a battery of tools ever so extensive
Its capability is most comprehensive
It can adjust exposure and colour saturation
Even straighten out chromatic aberration

It can zoom in and out and remove every blemish
Wipe out mysterious shadows which seem to menace
Pick out highlights and make minor corrections
And break up the image into multiple sections

By setting up layers it tackles each issue
Overlaying the problem with a distinct tissue
Making eyes sparkle ever so bright
Turning dark patches into clear light

It is even possible to switch someone’s head
And make people appear when you thought they were dead
Thus bodies and faces we can interchange
A practice that many will consider quite strange

This magic software uses a number of tools
Each one has to be used according to rules
You can paint bits of the screen with special brushes
Causing pallor or if needed, even hot flushes!

You can crop the photo or make it expand
A tiny image made really quite grand
There is an adjustment brush and a graduated filter
Help you sort things out if they all go out of kilter

You can apparently even decide to dehaze
And reorder items that get out of phase
Indeed there nothing impossible for this mighty edit
And we really ought to give the inventors credit

But there is one thing that concerns me and perhaps you
How do we know that the final image is true?
And while we may have claimed the camera never lies
Of the final production – can we believe our eyes?

Ken Fisher

Blue Moon

Blue Moon

On the thirty-first of January in 2018
Observe the moon tinged with a strange blue sheen
The cause is due to the intervening atmosphere
But the unusual colour is nothing we should fear

A blue moon is a second surprising appearance
After an earlier quite regular occurrence
Thus in the month we see two successive moons
One is a New Moon followed now by the Blue

Of course there is only one moon which pops up twice
As if in this month only one won’t suffice
A calendar year has a surfeit of days
So with the 12 lunar cycles timings get out of phase

To keep the annual pattern duly uniform
Scientists had to devise  a quite clever reform
Thus on occasions which really are quite rare
A blue moon was scheduled quite reasonable and fair

But because this event is rather infrequent
A new name was given some time subsequent
Blue moons are events that make you stand and stare
Thus here on earth a ‘blue moon’ marks something very rare

Ken Fisher

See also: September Moon  Summer Moon   Moon

 

Password Perplexity

Password Perplexity

Most of us are aware of the daily frustration
Which often leads to exasperation
When our computers refuse to allow us access
Unless the entry codes we clearly possess

However hard you try to breach the protection
False numbers will always result in rejection
You must know the password and username
Or you wont get past that very first frame

So it seems incumbent on all computer users
To ensure they’re prepared for such maneuvers
By retaining their passwords in some secure cache
And thus seek to avoid an access impasse

If you’ve forgotten the data and just try to wing it
You will be trying to get past the system’s pickets
After several attempts to breach the defences
They will consider you have committed offences

Thus your computer system may well shut down
And it is you who might suffer a complete meltdown
So it is better to take a more measured approach
Let’s you keep using other apps while maintaining hope

So that in due time you might find the right combination
To lift the cause of data deprivation
Get the passwords reset, identity renewed
Bringing an end to this digital feud

Of course we are reminded of the everyday fact
That our machines are in danger of being easily hacked
And the existence of these barriers give vital protection
From cyber thieves acting with evil intention

Ken Fisher

See Also: Cyber Safe

Light

Light

 

Mysterious alchemy
In its absence
All is darkness
Sight rendered impotent
Unless this radiation
Stimulates our eyes

Sunlight brings
Warmth and illumination
The nurturing of all life

Artificial light
Chases away the darkness
Defying its terrors
Allaying our fears

From guttering candle
To light gantries on stadia
Searchlights and dazzling TV studios

Spot lights, tube lights, headlights, side lights
Torch lights, lamp lights, street lights
Incandescent and fluorescent
Up-lighters, down-lighters
Fairy lights on Christmas trees
All conspire to dominate the gloom

Ancient light
A right to light
not to be obstructed

The speed of light
No matter can exceed

Light

Both wave and particle
The photon a quantum of
The unknowable phenomenon

Ken Fisher