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

Donald Trump's Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card


I don't often venture into American politics. It is hard to know whether Trump is a master strategist - as Dilbert seems to think - or merely a chaos monkey. But, somehow, he seems to have stumbled on genius tactic. Trump has repeatedly called for Clinton to be thrown in jail. This has provoked a […] Read More

PDFs are the Cheques of the 21st Century


Cheques (checks if you're American) are an amazing legacy technology. Invented in the 17th Century, they immediately transformed the financial landscape. They allowed anyone to transfer both vast and trivial sums of wealth with ease. Whole industries grew up around them - one of my first jobs was programming binary loadlifters repairing computerised cheque-readers - […] Read More

Lies, damned lies, and political billboards


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that any photograph which doesn't fit your political viewpoint must have been photoshopped. A few weeks ago, as I was driving down the M40, I saw a giant "Vote Leave" poster with a fairly repulsive message on it. Saw a disgusting "Leave" billboard by the motorway saying "Halt ze […] Read More

Brexit Lies


At this point, I think it is a certainty that the UK will vote to leave the EU. The people who are anti-EU are passionate about their cause - every single one of them will be out to vote. For the rest of us, the EU doesn't occupy our every waking thought, we're happy to […] Read More

Notes on Digital Surveillance


Earlier this year, I attended a lecture given by Alan Rusbridger - the outgoing editor of The Guardian - entitled "The World After Snowden." Held at Oxford University, and attended by journalists, technologists, and former spies - it was an exceptionally interesting talk and provoked a lively debate over dinner. In light of the publication […] Read More

Oxford East Hustings


The Labour candidate I wanted to vote for just lied straight to my face. So I'm backing his Green opponent. Last night I attended a local hustings for the General Election. The two candidates I was most interested to hear from were Andrew Smith (Labour) and Ann Duncan (Green). The Tory candidate pulled out due […] Read More

The Usability of Anti-Apartheid Encryption


(An adaptation of my earlier blog post on the same topic1.) This is a case study focusing on the usability of encryption systems as used by political dissidents in Apartheid era South Africa. Background - South Africa Between 1948 and 1994, the nation of South Africa was ruled by an ethnically white minority. They set […] Read More

Apartheid Boycotts


My father tells a story of when I was very young and helping him do the shopping in the local supermarket. As I started to lift apples into a bag, he told me to stop, "We don't buy fruit from South Africa," he explained. A woman near us in the aisle turned to him and […] Read More