Monday, 24 August 2015

Weekly Digest: 17th August 2015

Why I'm finally going to boycott Amazon

Few things in life are as universally satisfying as a boycott. To the left, a boycott is the ultimate display of society in action; to the right, it confirms the market's all-consuming power. To me, it's just fun.

Broadband - are we really in the slow lane?

Britain is in the broadband slow lane. That at least is the message from many listeners to the BBC's Today Programme.
Burning Man 2015: fire Tetris and a hacked Boeing 747

A five-storey mesh dancer, a giant game of fire Tetris and -- if rumours are to be believed -- a hacked Boeing 747 are just a few of the oversized artworks on show at Burning Man (August 30 to September 7). But here, such awe-inspiring projects are the norm -- the Nevada desert festival has a reputation as an alt-art showcase.

Tumblr revolutionises app release notes with David Karp's rippling muscles

Blogging social network Tumblr had a problem. When you release an update to a mobile app on Apple's app store, you have to include release notes: a short update of what has changed since the last version. But release notes are boring.
Bitcoin could split in debate over currency's future

Bitcoin XT, a new version, is currently being recommended by the currency's chief scientist, Gavin Andresen. And its developer, Mike Hearn, says its adoption is essential to ensure the currency can cope with growing demand.
Ashley Madison data published -- and it's worse than anyone thought

The compressed 10GB file was posted to the dark web late on Tuesday and has since been shared widely across the dark web. The data dump contains the usernames, first names, last names, street addresses and more of some 33 million users.
This zero-waste grocery store has no packaging, plastic or big-name brands

Forget Whole Foods. The Germans have created a store with eco-conscious customers in mind. Well, at least in Berlin—the newest home of Original Unverpackt (Original Unpackaged). You won't find any paper or plastic bags here—or any kind of bags for that matter.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Weekly Digest: 31st July 2015

Twitch starts dumping Flash for HTML5

Twitch is ditching Flash. The first step is a redesign of its video player controls, swapping out the old Flash model for shiny, new HTML5 and Javascript controls. Twitch videos are still Flash-based for now, but this is all in preparation for a full HTML5 player.

Sony takes flight with drone joint venture

Sony is ready to take off with a new drone company that will offer services to business customers. Sony's mobile-devices division, Sony Mobile, plans to launch a drone company called Aerosense with Japan-based robotics company ZMP, the companies announced Wednesday.

Les Pounder offers an introduction to the Raspberry Pi camera and the Pi NoIR…

+Les Pounder offers an introduction to the Raspberry Pi camera and the Pi NoIR over at +element14, with three projects to get new users up and running.

Google Overfills Linux Chief's Spam Folder

Spam has dropped to its lowest level since 2003, but don't mention that to Linus Torvalds. He's the guy who created Linux and right now he's not very happy with Gmail's spam filtering.

Remote working has become the staple for the new generation of employees, especially those who work in digital or social media. Companies save costs by either not hosting a workplace or occasionally occupying of a co-working space, and employees get the freedom to focus and work from any location.

'Stagefright' Android bug is the 'worst ever discovered'

The bug was reported by Joshua Drake, from Zimperium zLabs, in April in order to give Google enough time to fix the problem and send patches out to its partners.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture: writing a score for the end of the world

Silence is rare in Everybody's Gone to the Rapture – which is strange because everybody is dead. This elegiac adventure game, set in a rural area of Shropshire, imagines the end of humanity coming, not as a nuclear bang, but as a soft, almost seductive whimper.
Uber faces legal action in UK over drivers' rights

Uber, the taxi-app firm, is facing legal action over whether it affords its drivers basic rights and treats them as employees rather than "partners" or "contractors". The suit is being brought by employment law firm, Leigh Day, on behalf of the union for professional drivers, GMB.
Open Source Is Going Even More Open—Because It Has To

Google often gives its software away for free. It has long believed in open source software. But last week, the company took this idea to the next level.

The New Moto X Could Change How We Buy Phones

At Motorola, everything changes all the time. The company gets sold to Google; it moves into a new, huge office space in Chicago; it's sold to Lenovo; it gets new leadership. And yet the sun keeps rising, and the Moto X keeps on coming.
For the Record: The Relationship Between WIRED and Reddit

Reddit comes up in the news a lot these days. Ellen Pao, the company's former interim CEO, faced off against Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in a highly publicized trial on gender discrimination.
No Brainer.

For decades now, I have been haunted by the grainy, black-and-white x-ray of a human skull. It is alive but empty, with a cavernous fluid-filled space where the brain should be. A thin layer of brain tissue lines that cavity like an amniotic sac.
Man Doesn't Like Working, Is Well, Has Swagger

There's something fairly epic about the life of Benedict, aka Ultra Romance, a tattooed, muscle-bound, bushy-beard-wearing, bike-touring, not-so-fond-of-working, foraged-food-eating, $10-a-day-living nomad.
German spy leaks website being investigated

Germany's federal prosecutors are investigating whether a website has committed treason. reported on plans to expand the country's domestic surveillance of online communications earlier in the year.
Everything Great About Edge, Windows' Killer New Browser

Windows 10 is Microsoft's excuse to unleash a powerful new Internet browser. Microsoft Edge is secure, fast, and clean, and has become the new default browser for Windows 10.

Friday, 31 July 2015


I've been re-reading Cory Doctorow's Little Brother and it has got me thinking about privacy and encryption again. When I first read this book (and the sequel Homeland) I started considering my online profiles and what the said about me. Horrified with the amount of information I was giving away I stopped using Facebook and invested some serious time in setting up Tor (in a VM, as the Mac browser bundle and even on my Android phone). But as time went by I was often drawn back to the 'easy option' of not using Tor. 

Steaming through those pages again I have been reinvigorated and discovered that Tor is now a sinch to set up and get running, no more messing about with VM's just download and install the browser bundle. Inspired I thought I'd put together a few How To's here on getting things up and running (if your interested in that sort of thing). 

To start with, by far the simplest option is to download the Tor browser bundle which will take care of most of your safe browsing needs. Be sure to read the information on changing your habits as Tor isn't always the answer. If you're using Tor to log into Facebook, then your doing it wrong. 

Tor on an Android phone is equally simple, just head to the play store and grab Orbot. This is your gateway to Tor. If your rocking a rooted device thats about as far as you need to go. Using the options in Orbot you can transparently proxy a selection of apps via Tor. I have installed DuckDuckGo which integrates well with Orbot for simple web browsing. This allows me to do 'normal' stuff on my phone with Chrome (un-proxied) and then just hop over to DuckDuckGo for any clandestine activities. 

Orbot has a links to plenty of other apps to help you maintain your privacy some from Tor and others via The Guardian Project

Many of these go one step further and start you on the road to encrypting not just your web sessions but you messages and email. This is a huge topic for another day, but it all starts with setting up your encryption keys! 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Weekly Digest: 24th July 2015

British man accused of hacking into US government networks arrested

Lauri Love, 30, from Stradishall in Suffolk, has been charged with hacking into various agencies, including the US army, Nasa, the Federal Reserve and the Environmental Protection Agency.

UK mass surveillance laws are unlawful, it's official

Emergency mass surveillance laws rushed through Parliament last year have been ruled unlawful by the High Court.

Indie game 'The Flock' will kill itself when enough players die

Death is a tricky concept to address in games, when another 'go' and a new life is only a restart away. It's even trickier in multiplayer games, where respawning is built into the architecture of play.

The world's first hack: the telegraph and the invention of privacy

John Tawell had money worries. The £1 weekly child allowance he had to give his mistress Sarah Hart was the last straw, and on New Year's Day 1845 he travelled to her house in Slough, poisoning her beer with a potion for varicose veins that contained prussic acid.

Mexico: Making the Dogs Dance

Within a few hours of his relaxed escape from Mexico's highest security prison early Saturday evening, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, better known as "el Chapo" for his stocky build, was back on Twitter, hopping about the ether, crowing and taunting like some sort of manic cartoon character.

If it becomes possible to safely genetically increase babies' IQ, it will become inevitable

Would you say that changing a baby's genetic characteristics to make the baby more intelligent is making appropriate use of medical advances OR is it taking medical advances too far? The result: 83 percent of Americans said it's not appropriate, and only 15 percent said it was appropriate.

Top Gawker Editors Resign After Controversial Story Pulled

Two top Gawker editors have resigned today in the latest fallout from a controversial post the site pulled on Friday.

Keep your job and travel the world

Luka Kacil, a tech entrepreneur from Slovenia, works remotely at a rooftop lounge during a Hacker Paradise trip in Da Nang, Vietnam.

How to Survive Being a Digital Nomad

Nomadism is no longer just an ancient tribal way of life.

You can now play Doom inside Doom

Among the various standard tests in tech -- will it blend? Is Taylor Swift on board? -- perhaps the most enduring is will it run Doom?

This is Microsoft's Cortana app for Android

Microsoft is planning to release a version of its Cortana digital assistant for Android this month, but a copy has leaked early onto the internet today. If you're familiar with the Windows Phone or Windows 10 versions of Cortana, then there's not many surprises in the Android version.

SkyWest airlines hit with restrictions and fines after 12,000-foot descent

The Federal Aviation Administration is cracking down on SkyWest airlines — hard. Last April, one of the carrier's planes stalled on a flight from Denver to Oklahoma City, descending from 39,000 to 27,000 feet, according to the FAA.

Google Glass 2 coming in 2016, but not for you

The second big release for Google Glass is on its way, but not in the way the remaining "Glass for Fun" enthusiasts might've hoped. Instead it would seem that those pushing for an enterprise angle for the headset have gotten their wish.

Plymouth recreated in Minecraft

The whole of Plymouth has been recreated in Minecraft in a painstaking project by the British Geological Survey. BGS has reproduced a Minecraft world of the whole of the UK, including Plymouth.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Weekly Digest - 17th July 2015

As alluded to in my previous post I am going to start putting together a (semi) weekly digest post covering all the techie news of the past week that has caught my eye. This is not necessarily the biggest, or most interesting selection of stories, just those I found interesting.

I will keep publishing my newsletter as well if you'd like to check that out.

This might be what the new Google Glass looks like: 

The first version of Google’s wearable computer was taken off the market in January, and while the company has hinted that another version is in the works, details have been scant. But a design patent awarded to Google today shows what the next version could look like.

Exclusive: BlackBerry may put Android system on new device

TORONTO BlackBerry (BB.TO) is considering equipping an upcoming smartphone with Google Inc.'s (GOOGL.O) Android software for the first time, an acknowledgement that its revamped line of devices has failed to win mass appeal, according to four sources familiar with the matter.

Litenin Is a Lightweight RSS Reader Perfect for Slow Connections

You have a ton of great options for RSS feed readers, but if you’re looking for something without a lot of overhead, Litenin is a great place to start. Litenin turns your RSS feed into a text list that’s incredibly easy to browse. It loads quickly and doesn’t take a lot of data to do so.

YouTube might never be dethroned as the king of online video, but Microsoft has just made a compelling case for visiting Bing before you watch anything on YouTube. Microsoft gave a much-needed makeover to its Bing video search feature this week, and the final product is pretty good.

The E3 video games conference has a reputation for defining the future in interactive entertainment. WIRED reported live from this year's show to find out if that is still the case. Read the rest of our coverage at our E3 2015 hub.
Meet Microsoft HoloLens' killer app: Minecraft

LOS ANGELES -- Tumble some bricks on a table, and start playing. This isn't Lego: it's augmented-reality Minecraft. Microsoft's new augmented-reality HoloLens head-mounted display is fascinating, but still a mystery. What games it will play -- or even, how much it will cost -- are still unknown.

As if there weren’t enough social networks out there, here's another new social network. But this one hopes to attract the likes of online freedom activists, and it even wrangled the attention of Anonymous. Minds.

It’s an early and sunny Saturday after the week-long RSA, perhaps the largest computer security conference in the world.

Volunteers who have spent 8 months inside a dome on a Hawaii volcano to simulate life on Mars have completed their mission Six scientists who were living under a dome on the slopes of a dormant Hawaii volcano for eight months to simulate life on Mars have emerged from isolation.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Re-Booting the Blog!

It's about time to sort this out. I haven't written a proper blog post in almost a year, that's not to say I haven't been active on my other social media accounts, it's just that blogging seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Since getting back from my fantastic round the world trip I have basically been settling back into 'normal' life, finding somewhere to live and trying to get back on top of the incredible amount of change going on at work. 

The house situation is almost resolved and we may soon find ourselves on the property ladder so that's all very exciting, expect some posts about interior design in the near future. I also hope this will give me a chance to get back into some DIY projects. I've already got a list going which includes sorting out a Sonos type multi room audio setup built of the Raspbery Pi, building a Magic Mirror (link) and putting together a home security systems, again built off a Raspberry Pi (spot a theme here?). 

I *hope* through the magic of IFTTT (link) I'll be posting all my relevant Tweets and Instagram posts right here to keep things fresh in between longer actual blog posts, and I'll be trying out a kind is Weekly News roundup post which should be on an (almost) weekly basis. I have also considered trying some sort of link blog integration but I don't think I can pull it off as well as The Tao of Mac (link) so, should I even try? 

Anyway, that's basically it, I'm back and I'll be posting more often, I hope. If your interested you can still access my old blog from the links at the top, as well as an enhanced 'About Me' and a continually evolving bucket list.