Gig Review: The Leo Green Orchestra perform The Rolling Stones at the London Palladium

Poster for the gig.

For the first time in its illustrious 114 year history, the historic London Palladium will host a monthly orchestral residency beginning in February 2024, which will see iconic artists’ music celebrated. This was an entertaining, but curious, gig. It isn't a tribute act - no sequinned sound-alikes strutting the stage here - it's a a […]

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FILE/DINK/DWZ/3+1 - a personal financial quadrumvirate

A complex line graph.

Brits hate talking about money. But this benefits no-one. This is my situation - it's probably different to yours. I'm acutely aware I'm in a better financial position than most. This isn't financial advice - but I'd sure appreciate anyone's thoughts. I've recently moved down to a 4-day-a-week job. Taking a 20% hit to my […]

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A simple(ish) guide to verifying HTTP Message Signatures in PHP

Screenshot of JSON. As described in text.

Mastodon makes heavy use of HTTP Message Signatures. They're a newish almost-standard which allows a server to verify that a request made to it came from the person who sent it. This is a quick example to show how to verify these signatures using PHP. I don't claim that it covers every use-case, and it […]

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HTTP Signature Infinite Loop?

A padlock engraved into a circuit board.

I'm trying to get my head round HTTP Signatures as they're used extensively in the Fediverse. Conceptually, they're relatively straightforward. You send me a normal HTTP request. For example, you want to POST something to You send me these headers: POST /data Host: Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2024 14:43:48 GMT Accept-Encoding: gzip Digest: […]

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Review: Matter-enabled Energy Monitoring Smart Plugs - Meross 315

Two plugs side by side.

Matter is coming to fix all your smarthome woes! A single IoT standard, working across multiple radio protocols, bringing together different products from many different manufacturers. And… it works! Mostly These are the Meross 315 Smart Plugs. They are small(ish), cheap(ish), and easy(ish) to use. As soon as I plugged them in, before even configuring […]

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Review: An NFC reader/writer with USB-C - ACR1252U-MF

Box with a drawing of the NFC reader.

I needed to read and write NFC cards on Linux. I only buy USB-C peripherals now, so I found the brilliantly named "ACR1252U-MF" which appears to be the only USB-C reader on the market. Total cost was about £35 on eBay. It's a cheap and light plastic box with a short USB cord. When you […]

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Giving the finger to MFA - a review of the Z1 Encrypter Ring from Cybernetic

A plain black ring. What secrets does it contain within?

I have mixed feelings about Multi-Factor Authentication. I get why it is necessary to rely on something which isn't a password but - let's be honest here - it is a pain juggling between SMS, TOTP apps, proprietary apps, and magic links. I'm also not a fan of PassKeys1. It feels weird to me that […]

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Book Review: We Are Bellingcat - Eliot Higgins

Book cover with an inverted question mark.

The problem with autobiographies is that every anecdote ends with "needless to say, I had the last laugh!" This corporate-autobiography is no different - as it details the rise and impact of Bellingcat - a team of investigators and journalists. I am in awe of Bellingcat - and have seen them give talks on a […]

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It's a process; not a product

A pet cat typing on a computer keyboard.

Sometimes a client asks me a question and I'm a little stunned by their mental model of the world. A few weeks ago, we were discussing the need for better cybersecurity in their architecture. We spoke about several aspects of security, then they asked an outstanding question. "What should I buy to be secure?" It […]

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Minority Governments and the Boundary Commission

Map of the UK covered in coloured shapes.

The UK is almost certain to have a General Election this year1. The Boundary Commission for England2 has reworked the existing Parliamentary constituencies to make them more fair3. As such, constituencies are generally more equal in terms of electorate. But, of course, geography trumps geometry. So the Isle of Wight now has two constituencies of […]

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