Knowledge Illusions

by @edent | # # # | 2 comments | Read ~284 times.
Screenshot of the Alexa app. She thinks Tim Roth played Doctor Who.

Optical Illusions trick your brain into seeing something that isn't there. Whether it is spirals which don't exist, movements which don't occur, or faces in curved lines - our optic centres are trivially easy to fool. Humans are not alone in this cognitive deficiency. Other animals are also conned into believing something which isn't true.… Continue reading →

Synthetarianism

by @edent | # # | 1 comment

Synthetic meat is coming soon! Actually, it has been coming soon for a long long long long long time. There are many interesting social aspects to this future. Is lab-grown meat kosher or halal? Would eating human-meat be cannibalism? Is it vegetarian? But, most importantly, what do we call people with a dietary preference for… Continue reading →

Would you trust this ATM?

by @edent | # # | 3 comments | Read ~280 times.
A sign is taped haphazardly to an ATM. It warns people that the ATM is slow and may take a while to return their card. There is no branding on the sign.

Fake cash-machines are an increasing problem around the UK. Criminals attach all sorts of machinery - including fake fronts - to ATMs with the aim of stealing cash or card details. Wandering around Oxford yesterday, I noticed this sign attached to a bank's ATM: "This ATM is running slow and may take a while to… Continue reading →

What is a signature?

by @edent | 1 comment | Read ~327 times.
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… Continue reading →

How to detect 3D video?

by @edent | # # # # | Read ~110 times.
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,… Continue reading →

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

by @edent | # # | 1 comment | Read ~307 times.
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… Continue reading →

Everything Is Too Complicated

by @edent | # | 2 comments | Read ~122 times.

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… Continue reading →

Tools to defeat fake news - Reverse Image Search

by @edent | # # # | Read ~664 times.
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… Continue reading →

Udacity Bug Bounty - or, please stop tracking every link in your emails

by @edent | # # # | 2 comments | Read ~418 times.
Clicking on the button shows an insecure web address.

Look, I know your company wants metrics. I know your boss wants to see the exact percentages of people who click on links in your emails. Your sales team are desperate to track conversions. Someone wants to optimise your funnel for reasons which are unclear to you, a lowly engineer. So you make the mistake… Continue reading →

Interesting Failures - Visual IVRs

by @edent | # # | 2 comments

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… Continue reading →