How long should you continue a boycott?


In 2005, Sony put malware on their music CDs and then illegally infected customers' machines. I've not purchased a Sony product since. Their new TVs look amazing, but I've decided I don't want to reward a company which behaved so despicably. Is that sensible? 13 years later and I'm still holding a grudge. Is that […] Read More

Decentralised Food Safety Reviews


Two dogs sat at a computer. One says "On the blockchain, nobody knows if you're an authority."

In most civilised countries, there is a central authority which inspects restaurants for hygiene and safety. Their job is, broadly, to stop people getting poisoned, falling sick, or dying. That's a pretty good feature of civilisation, I'd say. We think that most restaurant owners are probably good people - but it seems sensible to have […] Read More

Things For Which Cryptographic Signing Would Be Useful


Every time someone mentions BlockChain, I have to down my drink. Those are the rules. You see, most uses of Distributed Ledger are really just a way to get people interested in cryptographic signing. There's lots of money and attention flowing to projects which have no need to publish to an energy-inefficient global database. They […] Read More

Privacy, Security, & Ethics - Computer Science's "Jüdische Physik"


A fist emerges from a computer screen and punches the user.

I'm going to tell you an anecdote which is a gross oversimplification of a complex topic. In the early half of the twentieth century, certain physicists made breakthroughs in relativity, quantum mechanics, and nuclear energy. Many of these scientists were Jewish. The Nazis called these heretical ideas "Jewish Science" and suppressed their teaching. Jewish physicists […] Read More

Review Evoluent Veritcal Mouse C


Evoluent Mouse Buttons

Can a mouse ever be worth £100? Yes. Let's get that out of the way. If you spend all day working with your hands, you owe it to yourself to give them the best possible equipment to protect them. For me, that's a vertical mouse with re-mappable buttons to help prevent RSI. Over the last […] Read More

No More Conference T-Shirts, Please!


A huge pile of old t-shirts, each covered in conference logos.

In an unexpected fit of spring-cleaning, I went through my wardrobe getting rid of all my old conference t-shirts. Hundreds of 'em! They're all covered in logos for companies which long-ago went bust, or for events which are no-longer running, and most have... errr... "shrunk" in the wash. I know I'm a grumpy old sod. […] Read More

Knowledge Illusions


Screenshot of the Alexa app. She thinks Tim Roth played Doctor Who.

Optical Illusions trick your brain into seeing something that isn't there. Whether it is spirals which don't exist, movements which don't occur, or faces in curved lines - our optic centres are trivially easy to fool. Humans are not alone in this cognitive deficiency. Other animals are also conned into believing something which isn't true. […] Read More

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