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

Reconstructing 3D Models from The Last Jedi


Different depth maps of various accuracy

A quick tutorial in how to recover 3D information from your favourite 3D movies. In this example, we'll be using Star Wars - The Last Jedi. tl;dr? Here's the end result (this video is silent): Grab the code on GitHub. Let's go! Take a screenshot of your favourite scene. Something with a clearly defined foreground […] Read More

Outsourcing


I promise you this is a true tale. Only the names have been changed... Many moons ago, when I was very young - and you were even younger... I was working for a Very Large Company. Our team needed some help building an app and a back-end service. We could have built this ourselves - […] Read More

What do we do about people who don't get the joke?


Screenshot from Facebook. The shared story headline is "Jared Kushner Calls Kim Jong-un “Totally Unqualified Person” Who Got Job Only Through Nepotism". There are comments from people who think this is a genuine news story.

If you've been online for any length of time, you'll have come across this phenomenon. A story is shared which is obviously humorous. Inevitably, some people treat it seriously. I remember being a child and reading the satirical magazine "Private Eye" - I was young and couldn't easily differentiate between the news reporting and the […] Read More

Obsolete Technology in Unicode


Screenshot of the Unicode standard. The page shows symbols for Telephone Receivers, Pagers, and Fax Machines.

A short meander through some of the more obscure miscellany within Unicode. Languages hang around far longer than there are native speakers, and symbols get reused and repurposed (🍆). Here are some of the delightfully old-fashioned symbols hidden in your thoroughly modern smartphone. Tapes Long before solid-state drives, we used to record data on long […] Read More

How to avoid JPG compression on Twitter


Screenshot of a graphics editor. One pixel has been removed from the image.

Let's talk image compression! Services like Twitter will often apply aggressive levels of compression in order to reduce their storage space and decrease download times. This can have negative consequences for usability and image quality. Here's an example - this detail of a logo from my former employers, Vodafone. Solid red - with some fine […] Read More

Usability of Key Distribution in BlockChain Backed Electronic Voting


Photo of a polling station sight. Taken by "Descrier" with URL descrier.co.uk

I went to an event a few weeks ago where some leading BlockChain organisations were showing off the power of Distributed Ledgers and how they will transform society. Not one of them mentioned users. There was talk of investors, stakeholders, corporations, smart-contract-backed entities. But no users. No real people who have to interact with their […] Read More

The "Make Everything Better" Button


A hand-drawn iPhone. In the middle is a single button which says "Make Everything Better".

Back when I used to help people design mobile phone apps, I would talk about the platonic ideal of an app. It's quite simple and effective. You press the button in the middle of your screen - and it makes everything better! You push that button and a taxi arrives, or a pizza is delivered, […] Read More