Monday, 14 September 2015

Weekly Digest: 7th September 2015

Minecraft adds cross-platform play so Windows 10 players can build with mobile friends

Almost a year to the day after it bought Minecraft makers Mojang, Microsoft is updating the Windows 10 and Pocket editions of the ultra-popular building game, adding the cross-platform support it previously promised, and inserting features that were previously missing from the mobile version.
Baidu launches Duer digital assistant to take on Siri, Cortana and Google Now

Chinese technology company Baidu, often labelled as China's Google has launched a digital assistant to take on rivals from Apple, Microsoft and Google.
I love the Victorian era. So I decided to live in it.

My husband and I study history, specifically the late Victorian era of the 1880s and '90s. Our methods are quite different from those of academics. Everything in our daily life is connected to our period of study, from the technologies we use to the ways we interact with the world.

Hands-On With the Huge New Apple iPad Pro and Pencil Stylus

Skip Article Header. Skip to: Start of Article. Related Galleries Let's get this out of the way: It's really big. See, the thing about Apple's new iPad Pro is that you're not supposed to leave it on a table all the time like a Surface begs you to. It's meant to be held, in your hand.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Home Made Protein Bars

A photo posted by James Stevens (@jeeves2001) on

I've been working my way through both Little Brother and Homeland and have decided to start putting together a series of posts on some of the real world versions of things M1k3y and his friends use / eat / make etc. 

A nice simple starting point is the protein bars scoffed down by one of Marcus' pals Jolu. I've put together my own simple recipe based on lots of Pinterest browsing! 

Melt 1/2 cup honey with 1/2 cup (smooth) peanut butter in a pan 
Add in a measure of vanilla protein powder and 1/2 cup berries (raisins and cranberries in the picture above 
Stir in 1.5 cups of oats 

Once it's all mixed together flatten the mixture out into a tray (I used a small tupperware) and put in the fridge overnight. 

That's it! With this amount I normally cut the block into four 'bars'. 


Sunday, 6 September 2015

Weekly Digest: 31st August 2015

Hello, and welcome to Tropes vs Anita Sarkeesian. Today, we're going to be looking at the representation of Anita Sarkeesian on the internet, as part of an examination of the wider issues affecting those women who appear online with opinions.

Amazon Underground aims to make Android apps and games 'actually free'

In-app purchases may have become the dominant way for developers to make money from charging for their apps, but Amazon's new app takes a sledgehammer to the model. Well, in a sense.
Secret Memos Reveal Details Of Julian Assange's Troubled Three-Year Stay In Ecuador's Embassy

Staff and security guards at the Ecuadorian embassy are keeping minute-by-minute records and filing daily official reports on the activities of their long-term guest Julian Assange.

Huawei Watch on sale in the UK in October from £294

Huawei has finally announced the release of its Android Wear watch at IFA in Berlin. The smartwatch will go on sale in the UK in October, with prices starting at $399 (£294).
Motorola Moto X Play review: a decent performer for a bit less

The Motorola Moto X Play aims to be the phone that gets the basics right and packs a few high-end features, and still costs under £300 – but does it succeed?

Monday, 31 August 2015


I've been playing around with various Raspberry Pi projects the last couple of weekends and I've successfully setup a web interface to my Heatmiser thermostat (delaying the inevitable purchase of a Nest..) and a motion detecting 'security camera'. This bank holiday I figured I'd go retro so I popped down to my local Maplin and picked up a Speedlink XEOX Pro wired controller (after discovering my xBox controllers where wireless and therefore not very useful for this project) and set about configuring RetroPie on my original Raspberry Pi. 

After a frustrating first attempt I managed to get the controller working, but only in the menu system. After watching this video guiding me through the installation of the basic config controller files I also installed Xbox contr. 360 drivers from the Retro Pi Config menu (RetroPie > RetroPie-Setup > 3. Setup / Configuration > 331. Install Xbox contr. 360 driver) which seemed to have helped. Then I set up the specific controller configuration in the same menu (RetroPie > RetroPie-Setup > 3. Setup / Configuration > 318. Configure input devices for RetroArch). 

For anyone else using this controller, you can download my confg file which may save you having to jump through the configuration 20 times (as I did) when you miss the very small window you get to press the right button! 

If you suffer from a little OCD then it will drive you nuts that (for some reason) the A B buttons are mapped B A. You could of course change this but it might leave you searching for the right buttons once the old muscle memory kicks back in. Also, I haven't quite memorised all the HotKeys, but this guide should help. 

I had hoped to get Goldeneye up and running but it seems the Pi just can't take it, at least the original Pi I have, maybe its time for an upgrade.... :) 

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!