Inconsistency is a feature, not a bug


Homescreen filled with multicoloured icons of various shapes.

Some of my best friends are designers. But I think we can all agree that - however well-meaning - they can be a little obsessive. Whether it is fretting over tiny details, or trying to align to a grid which doesn't exist, or spending time removing useful affordances in the name of æsthetics - they […]

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Notes on installing GrapheneOS on a Pixel 8 Pro - some bugs & oddities


Pop up saying it was unable to fetch a list of apps.

These are notes to myself - and anyone else who finds them useful. Before starting, I booted the Google OS to install the latest firmware and an eSIM. After a few days of enduring Google's naggy software, I was ready to commit to installing something better. I tried using the Web Installer. It managed to […]

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Google Books - search results confuse reviewers with authors


Google Books Search Results page.

Google Books is one of many projects that Google has forgotten about. There's no support available and, of course, it's impossible to send them a bug report. The best anyone can do is write a ranty blog post and hope it gets noticed. When I search for my name in Google Books, it returns books […]

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I don't think you need to be civil to puppy-smashers


AI generated image of a small industrial machine crushing a cute puppy.

My good friend Jess wrote this a little while ago: The function of a system is its output. If you have dog grooming machine that sometimes smashes puppies and you keep running it, you're in the dog smashing business. If you work for a mass surveillance company that keeps enabling genocide and undermining democracy... — […]

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The Future of the Web is VNC


The HTML5 Logo.

Many gallons of digital ink spilled at Google's plans for "Web Environment Integrity" which - depending on who you believe - is either an entirely reasonable proposal to protect users or a devious plan to add DRM to the entire web. (It's the latter, obviously.) We'll never know exactly whether users want this because Google […]

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A weird (trap?) artefact in Google Maps


Screenshot of Google maps. in the middle of Mayfair is an entry for an Ancient Metal Vault.

Cartographers occasionally sneak deliberate mistakes into their maps. Known as trap streets they are a simple "copyright trap". If someone copies their map without permission, the fake street shows evidence of the source of plagiarism. Google do this sometimes. They once proclaimed that Argleton was a real place - despite its non-existence. While I was […]

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Gardening & Time Travel with Google Earth


Row of photos going back a decade.

There's no one dafter than the previous owner of your property. Over the years we've found dodgy wiring, horrificly bodged plaster, and things plumbed in backwards. We've started re-doing our garden recently. The hideous decking was quickly rotting away and needed removing. But what would we find under there? Google's StreetView for the web lets […]

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The new .zip TLD is going to cause some problems


Many years ago, Google applied for the .zip Top Level Domain. ICANN, in its infinite wisdom, granted it. And now, I think, bad things are going to happen. You see computers try to be helpful. They see you wrote "visit example.com" and autolink the thing which looks like a domain name. That's handy - especially […]

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Reddit is Dropping AMP


Whoops - looks like some of the changes we were planning got out of the bag a bit early - yes, the change to compact and i.reddit.com is part of this project. We also intend to deprecate the amp platform this year. We are making these changes in an effort to streamline the experience and reduce the number of ways you can access Reddit on the web. This is part of our broader effort to simplify reddit talked about earlier this month. The changes that happened today to i.reddit.com and compact, and the ones coming to amp do not impact old.reddit.

As part of its continuing quest to alienate all its long-time users provide a better user experience to everyone, Reddit recently announced a slew of changes. Buried in amongst all the hullabaloo from whinging ungrateful brats thoughtful comments from people with justifiable concerns, was this snippet from a Reddit employee: An Improved Web Experience - […]

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Who is the author "JC Shakespeare"?


Screenshot of Google Scholar results. Shakespeare has, apparently, written about law, technology, wine, and an article in German.

Knowledge graphs are tricky beasts to create. Trying to extract semantic metadata from documents is a gargantuan task. Mix them together and you have a recipe for disaster. While yak-shaving for my MSc, I found an interesting looking research paper authored by one JC Shakespeare. As you can probably tell from that snippet, there is […]

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