How Blockbuster was superior to Netflix

A giant red letter N. The Netflix logo.

It's a Friday night in the late 1990s and my teenaged friend group are bored. We're not cool enough to hang about in the park drinking cider. And we're not nerdy enough to play D&D. We don't have enough money to go to the cinema. What we do have is a Blockbuster card and, between […]

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You can't screenshot or right click this image

A badly drawn cartoon of a monkey in a t-shirt.

People contact me with all sorts of weird opportunities. Some are fun. Some are not. I've lost count of the number of NFT grifters who've asked me to "revolutionise" the art space. I'm generally not a fan. But I had one chat with someone who wanted to do something intriguing. They were worried about people […]

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Liberating out-of-copyright photos from SmartFrame's DRM

Screenshot of a network inspection panel. Dozens of JPEG images are being downloaded.

During the middle of the 20th Century, the UK's Royal Air Force took thousands of photographs of the country from above. Think of it like a primitive Google Earth. Those photographs are "Crown Copyright". For photographs created before 1st June 1957, the copyright expires after 50 years. Recently, the organisation "Historic England" started sharing high-resolution […]

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Quick and dirty way to rip an eBook from Android

Unix is user-friendly — it's just choosy about who its friends are.

I recently purchased a book for my MSC which was only available via a crappy Android app. There was no obvious way to decrypt it to read on a more sensible device, so I resorted to the ancient art of screenscraping. This is a quick-and-dirty way to grab images of the pages and convert them […]

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Download 1080p streams from iPlayer

Screenshot of VLC reporting that the video is 1080p.

Way back in 2010, Paul Battley was blogging about device discrimination on the Internet. The new iPlayer service was using TLS certificates to ensure that only specific devices were able to stream media from the BBC's servers. That's a situation which continues over a decade later. If you watch iPlayer on your laptop, you're stuck […]

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Download ACSM files in Linux - without using Adobe Digital Editions!

A cute penguin.

After my rant the other day about Adobe Digital Editions, I discovered libgourou by Grégory Soutadé libgourou is a free implementation of Adobe's ADEPT protocol used to add DRM on ePub files. It overcome the lacks of Adobe support for Linux platforms. There are a few limitations, but nothing too serious: Only ePub is supported. […]

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A brief look at ACSM files

An eReader with a pen.

Adobe's accursed eBook DRM is just the worst. Not only does it lock up books that you have purchased - but it's impossible to use sensibly on Linux. Sure, you can futz around with Docker, WINE, and old versions of Python - and if you're lucky, you might get a book out of it. I […]

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You can't print this blog post

A hand-held pink cube with paper coming out of it.

Update! It's fair to say no one liked this idea - so I've reverted it. Thanks for all the feedback 🙂 Do you ever see those daft email footers which say "Please consider the environment before printing this email." Like, who the fuck is still printing out their emails? Anyway, a few years ago I […]

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HDCP is ridiculously annoying - DRM sucks for consumers

TV showing error message.

I decided to treat myself to an upgraded home cinema experience. But mandatory copy-protection has meant I've spend the weekend trying and failing to get things working, rather than watching glorious 4K HDR 10 bit movies. Here's the problem: Why am I getting the error "This content can not be displayed because your TV does […]

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Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Families

I've written before about Solipsist design - those services which have been designed to work only for a very specific type of family. I was taking a look at Google's "Family" proposition - which allows users to share their purchases with other family members. What I found didn't impress me. File under "Falsehoods Programmers Believe […]

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