WebMentions, Privacy, and DDoS - Oh My!


Crappy line drawing explaining the above.

Mastodon - the distributed social network - has two interesting challenges when it comes to how users share links. I'd like to discuss those issues and suggest a possible way forward. When you click on a link on my website which takes you to another website, your browser sends a Referer1. This says to the […]

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Illegal Hashes


A padlock engraved into a circuit board.

To understand this blog post, you need to know two things. There exists a class of numbers which are illegal in some jurisdictions. For example, a number may be copyrighted content, a decryption key, or other text considered illegal. There exists a class of algorithms which will take any arbitrary data and produce a fixed […]

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A small bug in Canada's eTA emails


Screenshot of an email showing a broken image. Alt text is visible.

There's no way that I could find to report this to the Canadian Government - and I didn't fancy trying to raise a bug report with the first Mountie I met - so here's a blog post. As part of Canada's Electronic Travel Authorisation system, prospective visitors to the country get sent emails. The email […]

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Starting Up Vs Staying On


A few years ago, I had a chance to work with an exciting tech startup. They had just become 5 years old. The day I went for an interview, about a dozen of the founding members announced they were quitting. Including the CEO. Was this a good sign or a bad sign? Over beers, my […]

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Is it cheating to use spell check?


Clippy - an anthropomorphic paperclip is asking if I want help writing a letter.

When I was a kid, our school had one computer per classroom. Luxury! Teachers had long-since given up on the state of my handwriting. So I got special dispensation to write up some of my work on whatever primitive word processor was installed on the PC. With one caveat: no spell check! Which, even as […]

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The BBC's 15 Web Principles - 15 years later


Powerpoint slide announcing BBC 2.0.

Back in 2007 - an eternity in web years - the BBC published a document showing their 15 Web Principles. I thought I'd take a look at how they stack up today. And investigate whether the BBC is still living up to them. Here are the slides if you want to play along at home: […]

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Zotero citations in Markdown - publishing to ePub or PDF


Zotero logo.

Mostly notes to myself - I hope you find them useful. So, you want to write your dissertation or thesis in Markdown. But how do you manage all your citations? Install Zotero Install the Better BibTex plugin Restart Zotero. The BBT plugin will launch a configuration screen - use it to set your preferences Install […]

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What is the user need for cryptocurrency?


A tiny lego Storm Trooper eats a chocolate coin.

I was at an event a few months ago, where someone from the Bank of England was talking about understanding the user needs for cryptocurrency. One of the things people do when trying to create a new product or service is to write little user stories to illustrate the problem they're solving. You've probably seen […]

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Someone turned my game into a comic!


A rendering of a comic with the text in English.

Hello readers! Way back in 2015, I wrote a "Choose Your Own Adventure" game using Twitter. I think it is fair to say that it is the best computer game I've ever published. And probably the only time I'll ever be reviewed in The Guardian and Kotaku! Anyway, a year ago I was contacted by […]

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Experiments with domestic load shedding in the UK


Screenshot of an email. It says "Hi Terence, You'll earn 1800 OctoPoints – that's £2.25 worth – for every unit of electricity you cut down between 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM on 15th November. Opt in now to save power and earn rewards in this Session. You'll go into a draw to win an extra 400,000 OctoPoints – that's £500 worth! – just for opting in. Important: you need to opt in before the Session starts if you want to earn rewards."

Electricity demand varies throughout the day. When demand is higher, electricity prices go up. Most UK consumers are insulated from this variability - we pay a fixed price per kWh no matter what the actual wholesale cost. But it doesn't need to be this way. Exposing users to the immense variability in pricing is probably […]

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