The Modern World


This is a little story about standards, technology, civilisation, and the modern world. I know it is tempting to only talk about the various ways technology disappoints us, but sometimes it can be quite magical living in the future. A few week ago, I took a trip to a foreign country... I waved a rectangle…

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Book Review: Always On - Hope and Fear in the Social Smartphone Era by Rory Cellan-Jones


Book cover.

We live at a time when billions have access to unbelievably powerful technology. The most extraordinary tool that has been invented in the last century, the smartphone, is forcing radical changes in the way we live and work - and unlike previous technologies it is in the hands of just about everyone. Coupled with the…

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Should ₹ be part of the Latin font subset?


Some background reading. Skip if you're familiar with fonts. A font file contains a list of characters (usually letters, numbers, and punctuation) and glyphs (the drawn representation of that character). It is, of course, a lot more complicated than that. Each character has a codepoint which is represented in hexadecimal. For example, U+0057 is the…

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How many marriages have been saved by GPS?


Long list of GPS satellites.

I have a distinct and unpleasant memory of my parents not-arguing-in-front-of-the-children. It was the early 1990s and my parents had decided to take us on a road trip across America. My dad's experience of driving the sleepy high-streets of the UK suburbs had not prepared him for the terror of the Los Angeles freeway at…

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Discolouration of Boyue eInk screens


Discoloured corner.

A little under a year ago, I got a Boyue Likebook Ares eReader. I use it most days. Recently, I noticed a yellowing discolouration around the edge of the screen. I've boosted the contrast of those images. It's the sort of thing the human eye can detect under decent light, but cameras struggle with. At…

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Technology, Interrupted


A woman wearing headphones.

Here's a brilliant idea I had. And it would work if humans weren't garbage. I was sat on a stationary train. It had stopped for some unfathomable reason. I say "unfathomable" - the driver made an announcement over the speaker system, but I didn't hear it because I had my Bluetooth headphones on. Imagine if…

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Book Review: Alone Together


People staring at their phones.

Technology has become the architect of our intimacies. Online, we fall prey to the illusion of companionship, gathering thousands of Twitter and Facebook friends, and confusing tweets and wall posts with authentic communication. But this relentless connection leads to a deep solitude. MIT professor Sherry Turkle argues that as technology ramps up, our emotional lives ramp down.

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Book Review: The Entrepreneurial State


Book cover with a lion on it.

This book debunks the myth of the State as a large bureaucratic organization that can at best facilitate the creative innovation which happens in the dynamic private sector. It argues that in the history of modern capitalism the State has not only fixed market failures but also shaped and created markets, actively investing in new technologies and sectors that private investors only later find the courage to move into.

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How I became Leonardo da Vinci on the Blockchain


Yesterday at the CogX conference, I sat in a room listening to companies pitch their blockchain based startups. Because I hate myself. One in particular caught my attention. On the surface it seems to solve an important economic problem - art forgery and provenance. By putting your artwork on the "BitCoin Blockchain", Verisart will ✨hand…

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How long should you continue a boycott?


In 2005, Sony put malware on their music CDs and then illegally infected customers' machines. I've not purchased a Sony product since. Their new TVs look amazing, but I've decided I don't want to reward a company which behaved so despicably. Is that sensible? 13 years later and I'm still holding a grudge. Is that…

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