únicode is hard

Receipts with a missing pound sign

In the last couple of months, I've been seeing the ú symbol on British receipts. Why? 1963 - ASCII In the beginning* was ASCII. A standard way for computers to exchange text. ASCII was originally designed with 7 bits - that means 128 possible symbols. That ought to be enough for everyone, right? Wrong! ASCII […] Read More

Review: Sonoff S20 WiFi Plug

A schematic diagram of a smart plug

The good folks at Sonoff have sent me a bunch of kit to review. First up, the S20 WiFi Plug - an easy way to retrofit IoT smarts to your existing appliances. This fills the same niche as the Belkin WeMo but with one crucial difference - it's about half the price. Direct from Sonoff […] Read More

Fixing Broken Zip Files from Bandcamp - File name too long

Amy Pond, from the TV show Doctor Who, is strapped into a chair. She is saying "OK, kid, This is where where it gets complicated"

I recently downloaded an album from Bandcamp. On trying to extract the zip file using Ubuntu, I got the error "File name too long." This is a known problem with Bandcamp. If you have a problem with long filenames in zip files, here's how to fix it. Quick Solution unzip -p -c whatever.zip "filename.ogg" > […] Read More

A Turing Test For Self-Driving Cars

The robotic taxi driver from the film Total Recall

Imagine that you are sat, blindfolded, in the back of a taxi. How could you tell if you were being driven by a human or an autonomous vehicle? If you've not read Alan Turing's The Imitation Game, I can highly recommend it. The paper is short, well written, and contains a whole world of ideas. […] Read More

The Twitter Logo As SVG Circles

The Twitter logo represented by a series of overlapping circles

Five years ago, Twitter updated its logo and demonstrated that it could be made entirely of circles. Interestingly, the official Twitter logo doesn't use circles directly. So, here is an SVG I've made which is only circles: Or, without the edges, and no transparency: And the raw code: <svg height="100" viewBox="0 0 100 100" width="100" […] Read More

A Vegetarian in Beijing

A weird knobbly thing made out of generic food

I was incredibly fortunate that my new employer sent me to a conference in China recently. I can't discuss what I did out there - but I can report on all the delicious food I ate! (NB - I paid for all meals myself!) Being veggie in Beijing was relatively easy. I had a stock […] Read More

Amazon Alexa and Solar Panels

A listing of every possible subject object verb combination

I can now query my solar panels via my Alexa Amazon Dot Echo thingie (why so many names?). I flatter myself as a reasonably competent techie and programmer, but fuck me AWS Lambdas and Alexa skills are a right pile of shite! Sorry if that sounds a bit harsh, but they're a pain in the […] Read More

Internet Connected Lightswitches - Redux!

The light assembly is put back together. The WisQo is sticking out of the ceiling.

Regular readers will remember that I have had a disastrous experience with WiFi light switches. I've had pretty good results with LIFX bulbs - but I really wanted something which can control my lights' switches. Enter the new WisQo smart lightswitches. The company claims that they'll work with the UK's "unique" wiring designs. They've kindly […] Read More