Synthetarianism


Synthetic meat is coming soon! Actually, it has been coming soon for a long long long long long time. There are many interesting social aspects to this future. Is lab-grown meat kosher or halal? Would eating human-meat be cannibalism? Is it vegetarian? But, most importantly, what do we call people with a dietary preference for […] Read More

Would you trust this ATM?


A sign is taped haphazardly to an ATM. It warns people that the ATM is slow and may take a while to return their card. There is no branding on the sign.

Fake cash-machines are an increasing problem around the UK. Criminals attach all sorts of machinery - including fake fronts - to ATMs with the aim of stealing cash or card details. Wandering around Oxford yesterday, I noticed this sign attached to a bank's ATM: "This ATM is running slow and may take a while to […] Read More

What is a signature?


Neil Gaiman's autograph, scrawled on orange paper.

This is one of my favourite anecdotes from wordsmith Neil Gaiman: Somebody needed my signature on an e-document. So I did a google image search, found one, and dropped it in. Not sure what it proved. — Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) October 11, 2011 I'm not quite famous enough to have my autograph plastered all over […] Read More

How to detect 3D video?


Still from the moview Finding Nemo. The image is split side by side.

Here's an interesting conundrum. My TV can automatically detect when 3D video is being played and offers to switch into 3D mode - but how does the detection work? This post will give you a few strategies for detecting 3D images using Python. Firstly, some terminology. 3D videos are usually saved either as Side-By-Side images, […] Read More

Hundreds of thousands of spam listings on Google "My Maps"


Google My Maps page with spam content.

Blogging - because Google don't offer a bug bounty for spam reports... Back in 2007, Google introduced "My Maps": Easily create custom maps with the places that matter to you. Allow friends to see and edit your maps, or publish them to the whole world. Like most Google products, it was effectively abandoned after launch […] Read More

Everything Is Too Complicated


In the book "Mostly Harmless" an Earthman finds himself stranded on a distant planet with a primitive level of technology. He had been extremely chastened to realise that although he originally came from a world which had cars and computers and ballet and Armagnac he didn't, by himself, know how any of it worked. He […] Read More

Tools to defeat fake news - Reverse Image Search


Screenshot of Facebook. A photo appears to show a giant whale in the ocean.

One of the most important tools in the war for your attention is the ability to critically examine media and discover its provenance.  Take this example - a friend of a friend was tagged in this Facebook post, and so it appeared on my feed: WOW! Right! Nature is Coooooool!  Or is it?  If "The […] Read More

Interesting Failures - Visual IVRs


Another in an occasional series of blog posts where I discuss products I've worked on which failed. It was the early 2000s and the large mobile telco I worked for had just spent billions of pounds on a 3G license. 3G was the future! Sure, faster data would be nice, but the real money was […] Read More

Ad Blocking As A Radical Political Act


An advert on Facebook - you can click on the screen to block everything from that news source.

It was back in the late 1990s when I first got started with ad blocking. I don't remember if it was the "punch the monkey" adverts, or the pop-unders for weird security systems that tipped me over the edge. All I knew was my computer was slowing down and I thought animated ads were the […] Read More