The "Make Everything Better" Button

A hand-drawn iPhone. In the middle is a single button which says "Make Everything Better".

Back when I used to help people design mobile phone apps, I would talk about the platonic ideal of an app. It's quite simple and effective. You press the button in the middle of your screen - and it makes everything better! You push that button and a taxi arrives, or a pizza is delivered, […] Read More

Convert Surround Sound WAV albums to individual opus files

As ever, notes to myself. This is a method to take a .wav and .cue and transform it into individual files. In this case, .opus. Transform to .flac FLAC is a good intermediary file format, especially for surround sound files. avconv -i file.wav out.flac Transform to .opus An optional step if you want smaller files. […] Read More

Inclusivity Tips for Conference Speakers

Terence Eden speaking at a conference.

I'm lucky enough to get invited to speak at a variety of conferences around the world. After accepting a speaking invitation, and checking I'm not on an all-male line-up, I usually make one of the following requests to the organisers. Thanks for inviting me. Can you let me know if the venue is wheelchair accessible? […] Read More

This SVG always shows today's date

A graphic of a calendar showing the date "February 25 Sunday"

For my contact page, I wanted a generic calendar icon to let people view my diary. Calendar icons are almost always a skeuomorph of a paper calendar, but I wondered if I could make it slightly more useful by creating a dynamic icon. Here it is, an SVG calendar which always display's today's date: The […] Read More

A curious way to break Twitter's search results

Screenshot of a tweet. The HTML is malformed.

(This isn't really a security issue, although I've disclosed it to the Twitter team.) "Fuzzing" is a computer science term which means "sending weird data into a program and seeing what happens." It's a useful way to see how your code can break in new and unexpected ways. It's particularly good at showing what a […] Read More

Advertising Screens Hacked To Mine BitCoin

The display shows a windows desktop with a variety of icons. There is a window open

Spotted in London, yesterday. A large, Microsoft Windows-powered advertising hoarding has been hijacked. It's not uncommon to see broken-down Windows displays - I run - which is dedicated to pointing and laughing at such mistakes. But this is the first time I've seen a display repurposed for profit! It appears to be running NiceHash […] Read More

Updating all the examples in the HTML5 Spec

A screenshot showing the difference between two text files.

I'm currently helping to edit the HTML5 specification. As part of our preparations for HTML5.3 I've started going through the provided examples and improving them. This blog post explains the what, why, and when of the process. You can follow along on GitHub. (As part of my job, I'm lucky enough to be on the […] Read More

Artificial Intelligence is a Horseless Carriage

I've been thinking about words. The Chinese word for "train" - the mode of transport - is 火车. Which literally translates as "fire chariot". Long gone are the days when trains were pulled by a fire-breathing engine at the front, and yet this linguistic skeuomorph hangs around. English is not immune from this. The television […] Read More

Context-Aware Text Recognition?

A scanned document, the text is askew. Next to it is a computer-generated version of the text. A passage is highlighted.

I've been playing with Google's Cloud Vision API. It is OCR (Optical Character Recognition) - but in THE CLOUD and uses MACHINE LEARNING! When it works, it is indistinguishable from magic. When it fails, it reveals a very limited understanding of human text. Let's take a look at this quick example - a piece of […] Read More

The Policy Hack

Clip from the film "The Matrix" - a young bald boy is saying "There is no spoon."

I've found a delightfully exploitable social hack which I presented at UK GovCamp. It applies to any uncooperative bureaucracy. Here's how it works. You ask someone to do something and they reply with "I'm sorry sir, that's against our policy." You should say "I'm sorry to hear that. Please can you send me a copy […] Read More