Blog Archive for 2015

  • Fun with Parental Controls

    Now that our son is getting older, it’s inevitable that his computer use is no longer closely scrutinised — we no longer need to be hanging over his shoulder, showing him what to click on.

  • All-Terrain Raspberry Pi!

    Another year, another childrens’ toy with a Raspberry Pi needlessly attached to it.

  • IKEA Navigational Cheats

    It was suggested on IRC last night that the sad, cautionary tale of Sultan Hamnvik may have its roots in my simple lack of knowledge — particularly of the “cheats” that allow for easier navigation around IKEA’s torturous, non-Euclidean shop floors.

  • Fun with Playbulb

    Playbulbs are colour LED lights sold by a company called Mipow. They come with an iOS and Android app that can set their colour and various patterns via Bluetooth. There’s no security on them whatsoever, so any nearby device can connect and change their colour. That seems pretty bad — especially when you consider that as well as the small “candle” style lights we have, they also sell room lighting versions that play music and can probably flash fast enough to trigger photosensitive epilepsy. Controlled by your neighbours!

  • The End of the Road for SuccessWhale's Facebook Support?

    My SuccessWhale application has long supported both Twitter and Facebook social networks, despite both networks’ relatively developer-hostile stances. The worst offender by far was Twitter, with it’s 100,000 user limit that has deliberately crippled many third-party clients in order to drive users to the official website and app, which make money for Twitter through adverts. While I was never under any delusion that SuccessWhale would be popular enough to reach 100,000 users, it’s not a nice thing to have hanging over your head as a developer.

  • A Case of Stolen Identity

    London is a strange place.

  • Another Decade Older

    Time flies when you’re having fun. And somehow, without really realising it, I turned thirty years old.

  • "Archive by Year" Aside for Octopress

    (Note: This code is designed for Octopress 2. My website now uses Octopress 3— the Jekyll plugin works just the same, but Octopress 3 sites can use the jekyll-archives gem to generate proper archive-by-year pages so should not need the bookmark ‘hack’ shown in the first code block.)

  • Preparing to Leave Heroku

    An email today announced a beta test of some new features that Heroku are “excited” to introduce. New service levels are available that include a “hobby” tier that does… exactly what the old “free” tier used to do. For $7 per month per app!

  • The Case Against Academies

    Our son’s school is consulting parents on its proposed transformation into an “Academy”. Since ranting about online this earlier today, I’ve been asked what my reasons are for opposing the change from a Local Authority funded school to an Academy.

  • Vivarium Automation: Requirements and Component Spec

    It’s a little over a month until we are getting our first pet - a crested gecko. Joseph has decided that if it’s female it will be called “Scarlet”, and Eric has decided that if it’s male it will be called “Rimbaud” after the surrealist poet, partially because it is also a homonym of “Rambo”. I almost hope we get a female as it will be easier to explain.

  • A Middle-Class Malaise

    It occurs to me, as I sit and mope about the fact that I still don’t own a little slate-roofed cottage by the sea, that I’m suffering from what must be the most terribly middle-class malaise.

  • Blackberries on Lammas

    Today is the first of August, the traditional date of the Gaelic festival of Lughnasadh, in honour of the god Lugh. Although worshipping gods isn’t something I particularly go in for, if a particularly threatening Theist were to hold a gun to my head and demand I pick one, I think it would be Lugh. There’s something about spear-wielding sun gods that, if you’ve known me for a while, you won’t be surprised to know appeals to me.

  • Migrating to Octopress 3

    Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen me dither about whether to re-style my website after the very appealing (to me) Tufte CSS. The sidenotes with their wide bar didn’t work particularly well with my blog format, but I’ve taken on some of the major style elements, and unless you’re reading this via RSS, you can see the results in front of you right now.

  • Summer in the City

    My body tingles all over, droplets of water slowly shrinking and evaporating into the thick night air. I’ve repeated this process half a dozen times in the last hour, hoping and praying that one of the attempts will cool me down enough that the sweet embrace of sleep will take me. It’s summer in the city, and air conditioning is a luxury we have not been blessed with.

  • Last Flight of the Vulcan

    The morning dawned slowly, dark and damp. The roaring of the coffee machine echoed the roaring of the rain driving at the windows outside, and we assumed that would be that for the air festival this year. Looking at the forecast, it seemed like summer itself was over too. The next week will be overcast and wet, and then it will be September, and the long autumn season will draw in.

  • Android Without Google

    For several years, I’ve been considering whether I could—and should—dispose of my Google account. Since I wrote the linked post back in 2011, my use of Google services has declined anyway, and I no longer use GMail, Google+ or Google Calendar. At the same time, it has become apparent that users are at the whim of Google’s decision to close unprofitable services (even beloved ones like Reader), and to force us into using others against our will. “Don’t Be Evil” is starting to look hilariously naïve.

  • Optimising for Download Size

    If, by some vanishing small probability, you are a regular visitor to this website, you may have noticed a few subtle changes over the past few weeks. In part due to trying to access it from a slow mobile connection, and also in part due to a series of tweets courtesy of @baconmeteor which got me wondering how much data is required to load a simple page on my own website.

  • Exploiting Conde Nast Magazine Subscriptions (for fun and profit)

    I have a pile of unopened subscription copies of Wired UK piling up in the hallway, so this evening I decided to try cancelling my subscription. It looks like you can only do that by email or over the phone, but for other subscription changes, such as change of address, the Condé Nast parent company offer a very helpful website. Rather too helpful.

  • Blast From the Past: Dragon's Claw's Chromatic Skill System

    Back in the dim and distant past of my school days, Dreaming Awake was called “Dragon’s Claw” and was going to be a video game rather than a book. As far as I can tell from trawling the Internet Archive, not much was posted about it online, but for some reason today I remembered the design work we did on its skill system.

  • A Comfortable Year

    Looking back on previous posts from New Years’ Eve, 2015 almost feels like a disappointment. There’s no pictures of far-flung deserts and mountains this year—I haven’t been abroad with work for so long that British Airways sent me a nice letter, telling me I’d been demoted to a mere peasant in their eyes and could no longer abuse the facilities of the business class lounge.