What are "unusual characters"

Screenshot of a form validation error - Your first name must have at least two letters and no unusual characters.

The world is a complex place. It is tempting to enforce simplicity upon it to make things easier for computers. Gender is a boolean, no one is older than 99, all text flows left to right, and names are always in English. That makes it nice and easy for us to write computer systems - […]

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My solution to spam calls

The Amazon Polly config screen.

Like most of you, I'm inundated with spam calls. So I have a new solution. When an unknown number calls me, they get routed to this audio file. This was created with Amazon Polly which is free for casual use. I was pretty impressed with the voice quality. Although there are limits to how well […]

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MSc First Assignment - Technical and Digital Leadership

Multicoloured Grid.

I'm doing an apprenticeship MSc in Digital Technology. In the spirit of openness, I'm blogging my research and my assignments. This is my paper from the Technical and Digital Leadership module. I think it is fair to say I didn't get on too well with it. I found it very focused on American companies - […]

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A couple of book clocks

I was inspired by this delightful bookshop clock: Bookshop clock... pic.twitter.com/1tvwJiI4kn — David Coates (@OziasMidwinter) May 16, 2021 I wondered - if it was possible to create a similar clock using books from a single author? So here's my first attempt - using Agatha Christie's novels. I've tried to use first edition covers, where possible. […]

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Using SipGate to set up a BANANAPHONE!

A developer console.

Like many of you, I'm inundated with spam calls. I've suffered endless car accidents, my National Insurance Number has been suspended multiple times, and my broadband will be cut off imminently. Wouldn't be nice to screen out all the fraudsters? So I've set up a Bananaphone. When people ring me, they get 30 seconds of […]

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Responsible Disclosure: Content Injection flaw in Gett's Website

A basic form asking for users' credit card details.

Bit of a boring write-up, but here we go. Taxi app Gett had a content injection flaw in its search function. By searching for an HTML string, it was possible for an attacker to add links or images to a page. It was really hard to contact them - but the threat of media attention […]

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Yo! Stadia! How much do your games cost?

Stadia games with no prices

I got a student discount to buy a Google Stadia games system for £60. Seemed like pretty good value. But I didn't buy it - because Google refuses to tell me how much their ecosystem costs. Upfront Cost There's nothing on the main Stadia page which says that you need to pay £9/month to get […]

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Book Review: The 22 Murders Of Madison May - Max Barry

Yellow book cover.

Felicity Staples hates reporting on murders. As a journalist for a mid-size New York City paper, she knows she must take on the assignment to research Madison May's shocking murder, but the crime seems random and the suspect is in the wind. That is, until Felicity spots the killer on the subway, right before he […]

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Let's eat banana peel!

Bright yellow skins in a frying pan.

I'm an indifferent cook, and mostly-vegan. But I like to be adventurous in my eating habits, when I can. So I decided to follow and then adapt this intriguing recipe for "banana peel bacon". OK. But Why? Food waste is a big issue. People throw away lots of perfectly edible food. They also discard tonnes […]

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How much does it cost to call an 056 number in the UK?

Old BBC News website. Net calls get their own area code Blue police lamp, BBC Fixed phone firms must give access to emergency numbers In the UK, the telephone area code for cyberspace will be 056. Government regulator Ofcom has picked the prefix for customers who sign up to make calls via the internet. Users can also opt for geographic numbers. The decision on numbers comes as Ofcom reveals how it plans to regulate services that use the net rather than the old fashioned telephone network.

Here's a little telephony mystery for you - can you find out how much your phone provider charges for 056 calls? (Skip the background and jump to the survey) Background Way back in the mists of time - 2004 - Ofcom decreed that "Voice over Broadband" was going to be the next big thing. VoB […]

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