Why Lying is Essential for Privacy Herd Immunity

by @edent | # | 6 comments | Read ~364 times.
Binary code displayed on a screen.

My date of birth is the 1st of January 1901. My phone number is 0000000000. My gender is decided on a coin flip. My country of residence is Afghanistan. And my Mother’s maiden name is a random mix of upper-case, lower-case, numbers, and symbols. Well, that’s what you would believe if you were any website…

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Localisation is too hard for Gmail

by @edent | # # # # | 10 comments | Read ~7,773 times.
Google email interface.

/ləʊk(ə)lʌɪˈzeɪʃ(ə)n/ The ability to adjust a user-interface to the user’s local language or dialect Because I live in the UK, I speak en_GB (English, Great Britain) rather than en_US (English, Simplified United States). Mostly, all dialects of English are mutually intelligible. Sure, the Brits love the letter U and the Americans stick a Z in…

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We’ve built a towering pile of shite

by @edent | # # | 21 comments | Read ~16,877 times.
A pet cat typing on a computer keyboard.

This a rant, written at midnight, after battling software errors. Set your profanity filters accordingly. I despair over the state of software engineering – specifically, stability. We seem to have lost the understanding that computers are there to do the hard work for us. And I don’t think we ever believed in a user-centred approach…

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Things I can’t do on MacOS which I can do on Ubuntu

by @edent | # # # # | 20 comments | Read ~3,244 times.
A MacBook running Linux.

I’ve never “got” the appeal of a Mac. But I have to use one for work. Here’s a partial list of everything I cannot do on a Mac, but I can do on Ubuntu. These are all objective facts. These are things which either are impossible, or require adding unsupported 3rd party software – sometimes…

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Zoom’s forced app is irresponsible

by @edent | # # # # | 6 comments | Read ~488 times.
Screenshot of the Zoom Website.

Due to COVID19, I’m using a wide range of video conferencing services. Those of us who have work-supplied laptops usually have locked-down hardware. No unauthorised apps can be installed. That’s not a problem for Google Hangouts – it just works in any browser. No need to install plugins or apps. Voice and video just work.…

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Chromebooks aren’t accessible – a five-year-old bug

by @edent | # # # # | 4 comments | Read ~3,094 times.

I was in need of a new laptop, so I bought a cheap ChromeBook – mostly because Amazon could deliver it the same day. Sadly, the trackpad was broken. Before I sent it back, I thought I’d try using a mouse with it. That’s when I discovered that accessibility is very much a second thought…

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Would you trust this ATM?

by @edent | # # | 3 comments | Read ~1,126 times.
A sign is taped haphazardly to an ATM. It warns people that the ATM is slow and may take a while to return their card. There is no branding on the sign.

Fake cash-machines are an increasing problem around the UK. Criminals attach all sorts of machinery – including fake fronts – to ATMs with the aim of stealing cash or card details. Wandering around Oxford yesterday, I noticed this sign attached to a bank’s ATM: “This ATM is running slow and may take a while to…

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Usability of Key Distribution in BlockChain Backed Electronic Voting

by @edent | # # # | Read ~590 times.
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…

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Replacing IFTTT – Part 1: RSS & Tumblr

by @edent | # # # # | 5 comments | Read ~516 times.

I’ve grown to loath IFTTT. What started out as a cool way to plug internet things together has being an opaque an uncommunicative company with no real interest in customer service. That’s not surprising, I suppose, its paying customers are the companies who can’t be bothered to develop a proper API and so just shove…

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Why I'm Boycotting Yodel

by @edent | # # # | 2 comments | Read ~2,546 times.

The British courier firm Yodel are one of the most disreputable delivery companies in the country. Owned by the same tax exiles who run The Telegraph newspaper, the company is frequently complained about and has an unenvious reputation for poor service. The rot seems to start firmly at the top, with CEO Dick Stead. A…

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