The First Hacker

Black and white photo of a man wearing glasses and a bow tie.

It's hard to ascribe "firsts" in history. Did Ada Lovelace write the first computer program? Does it count if it is a mechanical computer? Are Bombe and Tunny really computers in the modern sense? Was Pong the first home video game? Who was the first hacker? What is a hacker? Someone who (maliciously or otherwise) […]

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Game Review: Day of the Tentacle - Remastered

Game cover for Day of the Tentacle.

The past is another country to which you can never return. It is a million years ago, and my brother and I have just spent all of our pocket money (and a good deal of next year's) on a state-of-the-art PENTIUM 75 desktop. With 200MB of hard drive space, and more RAM than we'd ever […]

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Check your battery stats with the OnePlus Diagnostic Tool

App showing healthcheck app.

My OnePlus 5T is 3.5 years old and, after daily abuse, its battery life is starting to fade. But how bad is it? OnePlus have a diagnostic tool which, annoyingly, isn't available in the Google Play store. And is a bit of a pain to run. So here's a quick tutorial. Download the app APK […]

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Where is the original "Overview of SHARD" paper?

A citation in a modern paper.

One thing I'm finding extremely frustrating in academia is the number of people citing papers which don't seem to actually exist. As part of a data analytics class, I'm learning about "database sharding". That is, the process of splitting data between multiple machines. But where does the term come from? Wikipedia - the source of […]

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Whatever Happened to UI Affordances?

Default share panel with only a few options visible.

I am grumpy. As my very clever wife summarised, I hate when designers prioritise their æsthetic preferences over my usability needs. I tried sharing a website using Google Chrome for Android. I hit the share button, and a panel popped-up from the bottom of the screen. Hmmm. It didn't have the share destination that I […]

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Gadget Review: SMT1500i UPS + Linux Instructions

Back of UPS with lots of ports.

I never get power cuts. But, we've had two in the last week. They've both been fixed quickly, but it takes an age for my cable modem to reboot - and then an age for my smarthome to reconnect to the WiFi. So it was time to invest in an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). My […]

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Book Review: Sundiver - David Brin

A multicoloured doughnut spaceship approaches the sun.

In all the universe, no species has ever reached for the stars without the guidance of a patron — except perhaps mankind. Did some mysterious race begin the uplift of humanity aeons ago? And if so, why did they abandon us? Under the caverns of Mercury, Expedition Sundiver prepares for the most momentous voyage in […]

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Book Review: The Happiness Revolution

Book cover.

Maybe I'm an old grump. But this book did not make me happy. It starts off bad - then gets worse. We begin with a series of incorrect assumptions. Apparently, there's no antonym for Doomsday (Errr, how about "Rapture"?) and apparently no one ever investigates why a hospital is performing well (ummm... Yes they do!) […]

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What do you call open source software that just works?

Binary code displayed on a screen.

The fashion industry has the concept of "prêt-à-porter" - ready to wear. You pick a thing off the rack and off you go. No tailoring needed. Similarly, the food industry has "prêt-à-manger" - ready to eat. No telling l'artiste du pain how much mayo you want, just grab a boxed sandwich and start munching. What's […]

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You can't print this blog post

A hand-held pink cube with paper coming out of it.

Update! It's fair to say no one liked this idea - so I've reverted it. Thanks for all the feedback 🙂 Do you ever see those daft email footers which say "Please consider the environment before printing this email." Like, who the fuck is still printing out their emails? Anyway, a few years ago I […]

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