UK Flood Forecast on Amazon Alexa


You can now get the UK's flood forecast as part of your Flash Briefing on Amazon's Alexa. I've tried previously to create an interactive Alexa skill - it did not go well. This time, I thought I'd create an easier skill - a Flash Briefing. You ask Alexa for your daily news report and it […]

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Watching The Detectives


The British State's desire for its citizens' private data is becoming unquenchable. As part of a minor act of disobedience, I decided to send two Freedom of Information requests. The first to the Home Secretary asking for her email metadata. The second to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey asking for her web browsing […]

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A Tale of Two Open Data Sets


It was the best of FoI requests, it was the worst of FoI requests. While some data holders are wise, others are foolish. Some strengthen our belief in the promise of open data, while others leave us reeling with incredulity. I hereby present a tale of light and darkness, which will bring you equal measures […]

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Crafting A Perfect FOI Request


One of the sessions I lead at Open Data Camp was "Open Data Horror Stories" - we talked about some of the disasters we've had when requesting or using Open Data. This lead on to a session ran by Gaia Marcus on how to create the "perfect" FOI request. This is not an exhaustive guide […]

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*Almost* Open Data


(Inspired by a session at Open Data Camp called "Open Data Horror Stories") I was having an argument spirited discussion with my friend John the other day. He was sympathising with Tony Blair's regrets over the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act. Apparently, FOI requests put too great a strain on departments and government […]

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A Year Of Solar Panels - Open Data


It's been a full year since we had solar panels installed on our semi-detached house in Oxford, UK. By coincidence, the panels were switched on during the Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year. So, how have they performed? Tracking Solar Performance - The Easy Way The solar panels have a generation meter. […]

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Why do we continue to pay for open location data?


Two men are confused by a paper map

I don't understand how our Government works. I understand that tough decisions often need to be made - but sometimes those decisions are so utterly without reason that you have to wonder if politicians spend most of their days "painting their noses". The UK used to have a public sector postal service - the Royal […]

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iOS Only Kills - Open Data Saves Lives


A slightly tongue-in-cheek title for quite a serious subject. The South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust have a list of emergency defibrillators available for public use. To help raise awareness, they've released an app... Our new app, which locates over 600 AEDs, could help you save the life of a person suffering sudden cardiac […]

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OpenTech 2013


Another year - another OpenTech! See blog posts from 2010 and 2011. It feels like every year the event gets bigger and better. It's still the same crowd of politically aware techies, and it still costs a ridiculously cheap fiver to come along, and the talks were of an abnormally high quality. Here are my […]

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When is it better to ask permission than forgiveness?


When I was a child, I prayed to God to send me a bicycle. The Priest told me God doesn't work like that; so I stole a bicycle and prayed for forgiveness. Emo Philips (probably) There's a noble tradition in hackerdom of finding creative ways around obstacles. My personal favourite expression of this desire to […]

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