"Do you have kids?" - "Thankfully, no."

by @edent | # # | Read ~187 times.

One of the hardest things to do is shut up someone who is well-meaning. I have a lovely colleague who, almost every time I see him, asks if I have kids. He's not malicious, just forgetful. If I say "no", I get "Well, plenty of time yet!" or "When you do..." or "Why not?" or…

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Why doesn't everything charge via USB?

by @edent | # # | 2 comments | Read ~173 times.
Hue Power supply.

This isn't entirely a rhetorical question. I'm genuinely interested. A few weeks ago, I bought an electric screwdriver. One of the key selling points, for me, was that it charged via micro-USB. My last electric screwdriver had some weird proprietary connector which broke. I've hundreds of USB cables - of various lengths - and dozens…

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How much should it cost to charge a car?

by @edent | # # # # # | 2 comments | Read ~139 times.
A large electrc charger with the Shell logo on it.

Back when nuclear power stations were first proposed, we were promised "energy which is too cheap to meter". That is, the cost of electricity would be so low, invoicing for its use would be prohibitively expensive. Well, that didn't exactly turn out that way! But as our electronics have become more efficient, the cost of…

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Gadget Review - Boyue Likebook Ares

by @edent | # # # # # # # # | 2 comments | Read ~195 times.
An eReader with a pen.

I'll be upfront, I mostly got this eReader because it's the only one on the market with a USB-C connection. OK! OK! That's not the main reason. It has pretty good support from the manufacturer and a vibrant community around it. Masses of memory, warm lighting, and oodles of space. And, I think, pretty hackable.…

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"Alexa? Which bins do I need to take out?" - Reverse engineering the Bexley Council bin collection API

by @edent | # # # | 2 comments | Read ~158 times.
A row of recycling bins.

A few years ago I wrote an Alexa skill to see what bin day it was. The skill only worked with my local council - Oxford. I've since moved house and wanted to recreate the service for my new council - Bexley. Demo Brilliant, eh? The API Bexley Council don't publish an API. I initially…

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Mixing Hue and Innr Smart Lights

by @edent | # # # # # # | 2 comments | Read ~103 times.
A lot of boxes.

I really wanted to write a rant about how incompatible smart lights are ruining the world. But... errr... Everything just works. Previously on my smarthome adventures, I kitted my house out with LIFX Bulbs and some WisQo Switches. I've moved home and none of my bulbs are compatible with the existing sockets! What else am…

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Responsible Disclosure: SVG injection in Three.co.uk

by @edent | # # # # # # | 4 comments | Read ~367 times.
The website has a circle drawn on it.

Here's a quick write-up of a minor XSS (Cross Site Scripting) vulnerability on the website of Three.co.uk - one of the UK's mobile providers. A brief recap... Most websites have a search function. If you search for something which cannot be found, the site will often say "No results found for XYZ." If we can…

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Review: Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch

by @edent | # #
The book cover.

The internet isn't the first technology to alter how we communicate, but it is making our language change faster and in more interesting ways than ever before. Linguistically inventive niche online communities spread slang and jargon exponentially faster than in the days when new dialects were constrained by physical space. What's more, social media provides a fascinating laboratory for watching language evolve in real time.

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Can you trust CloudFlare with your personal data?

by @edent | # # # | 1 comment | Read ~135 times.
Email with CloudFlare's new privacy policy.

I'm increasingly concerned with the power that CDNs wield - and CloudFlare in particular. So I decided to delete my CloudFlare account. While they claim to have removed my account, they still seem to count me as an active customer. I wonder how many people bought shares in their IPO based on inaccurate customer numbers?…

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Creating an "Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality" map with OpenStreetMap

by @edent | # # # # | 1 comment | Read ~254 times.
Map of the world, south up, stretched.

If you've seen that episode of The West Wing, you'll remember this scene: I'm not a paying member of the OCSE, but I fully support their aims. Because messing around with maps is fun. So, can I build a web-first maps which is South-up, Pacific-centred, and Peters-projected? Here's what I managed to do using OpenLayers…

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