Giving the finger to MFA - a review of the Z1 Encrypter Ring from Cybernetic


A plain black ring. What secrets does it contain within?

I have mixed feelings about Multi-Factor Authentication. I get why it is necessary to rely on something which isn't a password but - let's be honest here - it is a pain juggling between SMS, TOTP apps, proprietary apps, and magic links. I'm also not a fan of PassKeys1. It feels weird to me that […]

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Book Review: We Are Bellingcat - Eliot Higgins


Book cover with an inverted question mark.

The problem with autobiographies is that every anecdote ends with "needless to say, I had the last laugh!" This corporate-autobiography is no different - as it details the rise and impact of Bellingcat - a team of investigators and journalists. I am in awe of Bellingcat - and have seen them give talks on a […]

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It's a process; not a product


A pet cat typing on a computer keyboard.

Sometimes a client asks me a question and I'm a little stunned by their mental model of the world. A few weeks ago, we were discussing the need for better cybersecurity in their architecture. We spoke about several aspects of security, then they asked an outstanding question. "What should I buy to be secure?" It […]

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Minority Governments and the Boundary Commission


Map of the UK covered in coloured shapes.

The UK is almost certain to have a General Election this year1. The Boundary Commission for England2 has reworked the existing Parliamentary constituencies to make them more fair3. As such, constituencies are generally more equal in terms of electorate. But, of course, geography trumps geometry. So the Isle of Wight now has two constituencies of […]

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Drinking Champagne with the Secretary of State


Selfie by Matt Hancock, featuring some of the team behind NHSX. I am in the background.

This is a retropost. Written contemporaneously in February 2019, but published much later. My life is weird. Again. Looking out over London from the top floor. The Eye is glittering and the Palace of Westminster is glowing. Someone pours me a glass of (very expensive1) champagne, as the Secretary of State laughs at my witty […]

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ActivityPub Server in a Single PHP File


Logo for ActivityPub.

Any computer program can be designed to run from a single file if you architect it wrong enough! I wanted to create the simplest possible Fediverse server which can be used as an educational tool to show how ActivityPub / Mastodon works. The design goals were: Upload a single PHP file to the server. No […]

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Internationalise The Fediverse


Translation icon. By Linh Nguyen.

We live in the future now. It is OK to use Unicode everywhere. It seems bizarre to me that modern Internet services sometimes "forget" that there's a world outside the Anglosphere. Some people have the temerity to speak foreign languages! And some of those languages have accents on their letters!! Even worse, some don't use […]

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Are we 'appy about change?


Advert which says "Fancy working with us on the first GOV.UK mobile app? These Android developer roles are exciting..."

Shortly before I left the Civil Service in 2023, I made a complete fool of myself. Someone on Slack was discussing their department's app and I (rather snidely) asked why it was an app rather than a website. After all, one of the seminal blog posts of GDS was about not building apps. In response, […]

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"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid that computation is too carbon intensive."


Binary code displayed on a screen.

An interesting snippet about the future of computation: Starting with this build, we are introducing the Power Grid Forecast API. This API empowers app developers to optimize app behavior, minimizing environmental impact by shifting background tasks to times when more renewable energy is available in the local electrical grid. Announcing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build […]

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HOWTO: Sort BitWarden Passwords by Date


Screenshot of the BitWarden export page.

I highly recommend BitWarden as a password manager. It is free, open source, and has a great range of apps and APIs. The one thing it doesn't have is a way to sort your accounts by creation date. I now have over a thousand accounts that I've added - so I wanted to prune away […]

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