Book Review: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow - Gabrielle Zevin

Book cover showing a crashing wave.

This deserves all the accolades going. A perfectly rendered tale of childhood best-friends-forever growing up and trying to make video-games. It is funny, well observed, and grim. It's sort of like Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity" for the 21st century. There's a desperately sad trope about how some men believe that women are a video-game where, […]

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Dark Season - Russell T Davies' new show starring Kate Winslet

DVD cover featuring various baddies and Kate Winslet.

A dark and shadowy figure is using laptops to terrorise a school and convert its pupils into mindless automata. Only one person can stop this dastardly scheme - Kate Winslet! Who, for some reason, plays a 15 year old. Because she is 15. Because this is 1991 and Russell T Davies has written one of […]

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Envelopes and GDPR

A letter addressed to me. Just inside the plastic window you can see the word "colonoscopies".

Privacy is a funny concept, isn't it? Very few people want the whole world to know what medical complaints they have. But most hospitals are open-access buildings, where the waiting rooms have large monitors to tell patients that their doctor is running late. A few years ago I was sat in the proctology waiting room. […]

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VR Game Review: Get The Heck Out

A colourful loading screen showing upgrade stats for a game.

You don't need to pay £££ and download GB of files in order to have a good VR game. It turns out that the Web is perfectly capable of serving a decent VR experience. You can open up your VR rig's browser (I use Wolvic) and start playing instantly. I've just completed "Get The Heck […]

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Rebuilding FourSquare for ActivityPub using OpenStreetMap

Map of London with several bits highlighted.

I used to like the original FourSquare. The "mayor" stuff was a bit silly, and my friends never left that many reviews, but I loved being able to signal to my friends "I am at this cool museum" or "We're at this pub if you want to meet" or "Spending the day at the park". […]

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Book Review: Babel - R. F. Kuang

Book cover featuring the dreaming spires of Oxford. The page is ripped in two and the Tower of Babel is no longer there.

This is an astonishing book. On the one hand, it's the basic "Harry Potter" trope - a young orphan is gifted, gets sent to school to learn magic, becomes pals with the other weird kids, has adventures, and fights a monster. Except here, Harry is Chinese, is sent to Oxford University to learn magic, and […]

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What's the incentive to tell the truth on surveys?

Survey question asking about whether the programme was good value for money.

I recently received a survey from an event I'd attended. Look, I've read The Circle, so I know that I have to give individuals scores of 10 or they'll be fired. I also know Net Promoter Score is bullshit, but the people sending the survey have faith in it. So I filled it in as […]

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Book Review: Refuse to Choose! A Revolutionary Program for Doing Everything That You Love - Barbara Sher

Book cover of a spiral notebook.

I am decidedly unconvinced by this book. What do you do when you are too interested in the world? This is a problem I have; everything is interesting1! How do you pick? What if I spend time studying the wrong thing? What if I never complete any of my madcap projects? How do I pick […]

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The (theoretical) risks of open sourcing (imaginary) Government LLMs

A t-shirt with the slogan "Make things open it makes things better."

Last week I attended an unofficial discussion group about the future of AI in Government. As well as the crypto-bores who have suddenly pivoted their "expertise" into AI, there were lots of thoughtful suggestions about what AI could do well at a state level. Some of it is trivial - spell check is AI. Some […]

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A small text rendering bug in legal judgements

Screenshot of text. Highlighted are a couple of instances of a question mark followed by the letters "o", "u", "r".

OK, first off, you have to read this amazing judgement about whether Walker's Sensations Poppadoms count as a potato-based snack for VAT purposes. Like most judgements, it is written in fairly plain and accessible language. The arguments are easy to follow and it even manages to throw in a little humour. But if you read […]

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