What is a signature?


Neil Gaiman's autograph, scrawled on orange paper.

This is one of my favourite anecdotes from wordsmith Neil Gaiman: Somebody needed my signature on an e-document. So I did a google image search, found one, and dropped it in. Not sure what it proved. — Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) October 11, 2011 I'm not quite famous enough to have my autograph plastered all over […] Read More

How to detect 3D video?


Still from the moview Finding Nemo. The image is split side by side.

Here's an interesting conundrum. My TV can automatically detect when 3D video is being played and offers to switch into 3D mode - but how does the detection work? This post will give you a few strategies for detecting 3D images using Python. Firstly, some terminology. 3D videos are usually saved either as Side-By-Side images, […] Read More

Hundreds of thousands of spam listings on Google "My Maps"


Google My Maps page with spam content.

Blogging - because Google don't offer a bug bounty for spam reports... Back in 2007, Google introduced "My Maps": Easily create custom maps with the places that matter to you. Allow friends to see and edit your maps, or publish them to the whole world. Like most Google products, it was effectively abandoned after launch […] Read More

Everything Is Too Complicated


In the book "Mostly Harmless" an Earthman finds himself stranded on a distant planet with a primitive level of technology. He had been extremely chastened to realise that although he originally came from a world which had cars and computers and ballet and Armagnac he didn't, by himself, know how any of it worked. He […] Read More

Tools to defeat fake news - Reverse Image Search


Screenshot of Facebook. A photo appears to show a giant whale in the ocean.

One of the most important tools in the war for your attention is the ability to critically examine media and discover its provenance.  Take this example - a friend of a friend was tagged in this Facebook post, and so it appeared on my feed: WOW! Right! Nature is Coooooool!  Or is it?  If "The […] Read More

Interesting Failures - Visual IVRs


Another in an occasional series of blog posts where I discuss products I've worked on which failed. It was the early 2000s and the large mobile telco I worked for had just spent billions of pounds on a 3G license. 3G was the future! Sure, faster data would be nice, but the real money was […] Read More

Ad Blocking As A Radical Political Act


An advert on Facebook - you can click on the screen to block everything from that news source.

It was back in the late 1990s when I first got started with ad blocking. I don't remember if it was the "punch the monkey" adverts, or the pop-unders for weird security systems that tipped me over the edge. All I knew was my computer was slowing down and I thought animated ads were the […] Read More

Reconstructing 3D Models from The Last Jedi


Different depth maps of various accuracy

A quick tutorial in how to recover 3D information from your favourite 3D movies. In this example, we'll be using Star Wars - The Last Jedi. tl;dr? Here's the end result (this video is silent): Grab the code on GitHub. Let's go! Take a screenshot of your favourite scene. Something with a clearly defined foreground […] Read More

Outsourcing


I promise you this is a true tale. Only the names have been changed... Many moons ago, when I was very young - and you were even younger... I was working for a Very Large Company. Our team needed some help building an app and a back-end service. We could have built this ourselves - […] Read More