Synthetic Poetry

A robot taxi driver.

I've been experimenting with Amazon's Polly service. It's their fancy text-to-sort-of-human-style-speech system. Think "Alexa" but with a variety of voices, genders, and accents. Here's "Brian" - their English, male, received pronunciation voice - reading John Betjeman's poem "Slough": The pronunciation of all the words is incredibly lifelike. If you heard it on the radio, it […]

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Movie Review: Gunpowder Milkshake

ULTRAVIOLENCE: THE MOVIE!!!! This is a complete splatter-fest with an unremitting obsession with cartoon gore. The paper-thin plot is contrived to give maximum gunshots and throat-punches per minute. Which is fine, if you like that sort of thing. Some of the action sequences are brilliant. For once, we get some fight scenes which don't rapid-cut […]

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Book Review: Sinopticon

Spaceships flying over a Chinese city.

A stunning collection of the best in Chinese Science Fiction, from Award-Winning legends to up-and-coming talent, all translated here into English for the first time. This celebration of Chinese Science Fiction — thirteen stories, all translated for the first time into English — represents a unique exploration of the nation’s speculative fiction from the late […]

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Movie Review: Mr Roosevelt

Movie poster.

Here's a movie about objectively terrible people making bad choices! I love a quirky little indie-comedy. The problem is, there aren't too many laughs to be had here. Part of the issue is that I'm an old-fart. Celeste, the antagonist, seems like a lovely person! It's not her fault that Emily, the protagonist, abandoned her […]

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Is this a banking scam SMS?

Screenshot of text message from Lloyds bank. It addresses me by name and gives me the name of someone who is going to call me - plus their phone number.

Earlier this week, my holiday was interrupted by a sophisticated SMS scam. Rude! Let's take a look at it. Let's take a look at all the ways we can tell it is a scam. Firstly, and most obviously, I am not a customer of Lloyds Bank! But these scammers send out to multiple people hoping […]

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Book Review: How to Make the World Add Up - Tim Harford

A goldfish, with a shark find stuck to its back.

In How to Make the World Add Up, Tim Harford draws on his experience as both an economist and presenter of the BBC’s radio show ‘More or Less’ to take us deep into the world of disinformation and obfuscation, bad research and misplaced motivation to find those priceless jewels of data and analysis that make […]

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Movie Review: Black Widow

Black Widow movie poster.

This is a slightly unfair review as I fell asleep about 30 minutes from the end. I'll attempt to avoid spoilers - but I guarantee you've seen this movie before. I felt like I was watching a supercut of a dozen different movies and TV shows. Loving American parents secretly spies? The Americans! Tank driving […]

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How much money I've spent on mobile calls / text / data in the last year

The Doctor holding Ryan's phone.

A couple of months into the pandemic, I realised that I was vastly overpaying for my mobile usage. I was paying £10/month for unlimited calls, texts, and 8GB data. That's a pretty reasonable price, but I was sat at home all day on WiFi - so I had no need for data. I don't send […]

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Gadget Review: USB-C powered Semiconductor Neck Cooler

Neck cooler with curved metal plates.

Are you too hot? Can't run an air-conditioner? Stuck on a sweaty tube train? You need a USB-C powered personal cooling device! There are loads of personal electric fans available - but I've gone for something slightly more high-tech. A neck-wearable Peltier cooler. It looks like this: And fits round your neck like this: And […]

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Review: Sennheiser EPOS ADAPT 560 Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headset - plus Linux info

Diagram showing which buttons are which.

Back to the office! The only thing which makes other people bearable is being able to block out their chatter (sorry colleagues, I love you all dearly!). So I picked up this pair of on-ear Bluetooth headphones with active noise cancelation. They're pricey (a bit under £200) but are they any good? First impressions Not […]

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