Panic to make a gaming console called Playdate

499 words. Less than 2 minutes reading time.

I've always like Panic's software and I was amazed to fine out that they plan to break into the hardware market too. They're making a handheld games console called Playdate and I quite like what I see.

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Safari inspect element CSS problem

441 words. Less than 2 minutes reading time.

I've had a strange problem with Safari's 'Inspect Element' for a while now and noticed it would be accompanied by a "This webpage is using significant energy" message at the top of the Safari screen.. I finally got around to fixing it today.

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Galactic currency proposed

230 words. Less than 1 minute reading time.
Comments by me and a link to the article cited.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have proposed a theoretical form of virtual money that, they claim, would be highly secure, fast to transfer, and could also enable financial transactions on galactic scale.

The article I link to is somewhat opaque but make of it what you will.

It’s proposing a new concept of money that …

… may also be thought of as something needed to get to a specific point in space-time, in response to data coming from multiple points (in space-time).

Altarian dollar symbol.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The interesting bit for me is that it uses a quantum encryption protocol (called BB84) to secure the transactions. What this basically means is that whilst it’s still possible to eavesdrop on the transaction, it’s impossible to do so and remain undetected. This is due to a property of quantum states called no-cloning and this cannot be cracked — ever — because it’s a physical law rather than an algorithm.

So if I want to transmit a secure key to you, we’d use BB84 and we’d know for definite if someone had eavesdropped on the transaction. If that happened we’d discard the keys, invalidate the transaction and try again.

But what I’d like to know is the exchange rate this currency is going to have with the Altairian Dollar. I’m led to believe a competent hitchhiker should be able to see the galaxy on less than thirty Altairian dollars a day.

Why would anyone post a good blog on Facebook?

217 words. Less than 1 minute reading time.
Comments by me and a link to the article cited.

Or at least if they do, they should give it Public visibility so it can be linked to from outside of Facebook.

What rattled my cage was a post by Dave Winer on his Scripting News site, which always worth a read, incidentally.

Dave Winer says:

You know what pisses me off. A guy writing the best political blog out there, on Facebook. So after I read his piece and think “everyone should see this” I can't send the link outside of Facebook.

We have this incredible thing called the web and we don't use it.

Quite so.

Yes, I admit I’m not the biggest fan of Zuckerberg and his privacy-busting, pseudo-narcotic corporate silo, but I don’t understand why anyone with anything interesting to say would run their blog on Facebook.

Newspapers don’t just post on Facebook. The BBC doesn’t. Shops don’t. Even Facebook doesn’t (see their Newsroom and Media Blog). Why then should an individual do themselves such a disservice?

Facebook is meant for people who don’t have anything interesting to say to the rest of the world. That’s why it’s shielded behind a virtual barbed-wire fence away from the real web, so that we can keep all those photographs of people’s lunches out of sight.

I could rant on for some considerable time about this subject, but I won’t, just this once.

Bird Box (2018) film review - worth watching

463 words. Less than 2 minutes reading time.
Rating: 4 Rating: 4 Rating: 4 Rating: 4 Rating: 4

Having watched a few underwhelming horror movies recently, I was pleasantly surprised by Bird Box. This sort of thing is more to my taste when it comes to horror. This review contains some minor spoilers but nothing that's likely to ruin your viewing.

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Have the fundamental physical constants changed?

189 words. Less than 1 minute reading time.
Comments by me and a link to the article cited.

There exist a bunch of fundamental physical constants that define (or at least describe) important characteristics of our universe. Traditionally these are dimensionless numbers, which means they have no units like kph or grams, although they often describe relationships between dimensioned constants.

Alpha (also know as the fine structure constant), for example, describes the strength of the attraction between the electron and proton. It combines the speed of light, the elementary charge, Planck’s constant and something called the ‘permittivity of free space’ to arrive at its value. The value itself is approximately 1/137.

I think these constants are extremely sexy.

If these constants were different, the universe could be a very different place. Your trousers might fall apart or maybe the universe would have blinked out of existence shortly after (or even before) the big bang.

Scientists have often wondered if these constants are, in fact, constant. Maybe they were different in the past. It has however been difficult to measure what these constants were in the distant past.

The article I link to on ArsTechnica describes a new approach to measuring what a couple of these constants were in the past.

Title case v sentence case

584 words. 2 minutes reading time.

I've been thinking about whether I prefer title case or sentence case for titles on my blog. I find the decision difficult.

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Schema markup for a blog (Part 2)

1006 words. 4 minutes reading time.

Armed with more knowledge about how it works I've recently revised the way I use schema on this blog. In this article I explain how I reflect both the physical and logical structure of my website via schema.

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Using schema @IDs

323 words. Less than 2 minutes reading time.

I've recently got a grip of how to use schema IDs and I thought I'd write a quick blog about it in case anyone else is struggling with them.

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The UK’s Online Harms white paper - summary

525 words. 2 minutes reading time.

The UK government has written a white paper that suggests how it plans to go about regulating internet companies to prevent 'online harm'. I summarise the white paper in this article.

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The Girl in the Spider’s Web film (2018) review

588 words. 2 minutes reading time.
Rating: 3.5 Rating: 3.5 Rating: 3.5 Rating: 3.5 Rating: 3.5

I love the Stieg Larsson 'Millennium' books. Following Larsson's death, David Lagercrantz took over the storytelling and 'The Girl in the Spider's Web' is the first Millennium book of his to be made into a film. I review that film in this article.

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Cats know their own names, study reports

154 words. Less than 1 minute reading time.
Comments by me and a link to the article cited.

Via the article I link to on Gizmodo:

For the most part, the experiments showed that the cats were able to distinguish their own name, even when the name was said by a complete stranger. All cats were equally good at distinguishing their names from general nouns.

However, if you read the article you’ll see the study does come in for some criticism and it may not be as clear cut as the scientists who organised this study claim.

I can see some difficulties in interpreting a cat’s responses. Cats do not see themselves as in any way inferior to humans. Quite the opposite in fact — they rule most households they live in.

It’s perfectly feasible that a cat would recognise it’s name just fine but simply cannot be bothered to grace the idiot human with any sort of response. It's a case of "Hey, you’re wasting your breath. I'll call you if I want something."

Ironmaster IM2000 v Powertec LeverGym v Body-Solid Series 7

1132 words. 5 minutes reading time.

After restarting weight-training about eight years ago (after a 20 year layoff) I've used three main bits of kit - the Ironmaster IM2000, the Powertec Workbench LeverGym and the Body-Solid Series 7 Smith Master System. In this article I compare those three bits of weight training kit.

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Brexit demystified

619 words. 2 minutes reading time.

Brexit seems to have been a monumental mess from the start and parliament has been singularly useless in finding a way forward. Anyway, these are my views on the situation.

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Cloth nappy influencers — the world has gone bonkers

215 words. Less than 1 minute reading time.
Comments by me and a link to the article cited.

I think the world went mad in 1989 but sometimes I read something that makes me wonder if it has breached the ‘crazy’ barrier and now resides in some category of lunacy that’s so extreme it doesn’t even have a word to describe it yet.

This particular section of the article I link to was what did it:

Mother-of-four Cecilia Leslie has built up a stash of about 500 nappies.

The full-time midwife is now a cloth nappy "influencer" with more than 22,000 Instagram followers.

A cloth nappy influencer? Really? I had to check to make sure it wasn’t April 1st.

Now I’ll forgive anyone who has a strange hobby and when she says:

"I paid £60 for a limited edition print that TotsBots brought out when Prince George was born. And I once paid £160 for a pair of limited edition Bumgenius nappies - there were only 100 made."

It makes me cringe but, well, each to their own.

It’s the fact that we have ‘influencers’ that astonishes me; that 22,000 people are ‘influenced’ to purchase something ludicrously expensive just for a baby to crap into.

When she says:

… she's chatted to her husband about how he feels about her nappy habit. "He agreed the money could be better spent … “

I can’t help but sympathise with the guy.

Proof that measurements are relative

98 words. Less than 1 minute reading time.
Comments by me and a link to the article cited.

If you measure something and then I measure what you measured, we could disagree about the measurement yet both be correct.

Eugene Wigner proposed this in 1961 as part of a thought experiment called Wigner’s Friend and it has now been proven to be true.

So does this mean you could be eating a bag of cheese and onion crisps yet I could 'measure' that you're eating a bag of smokey bacon crisps and we'd both be correct? Well, not really. This all takes place at the quantum level and your choice of crisp flavours remains safely agreeable.

Mind-bending stuff though.

Apple’s March 2019 event uninspiring

518 words. 2 minutes reading time.

Nothing in Apple's March 2019 announcement excited or inspired me. I'll remain open-minded but, as it stands, I can't see me signing up for any of Apple's new subscription services.

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Equalizer 2 (2018) film review

450 words. Less than 2 minutes reading time.
Rating: 3.5 Rating: 3.5 Rating: 3.5 Rating: 3.5 Rating: 3.5

Having enjoyed watching Equalizer 1 a few years ago, I watched the sequel, Equalizer 2, during the weekend just gone. I present my review of that film here for what it's worth.

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AI tricks reCAPTCHA, but why do we have these things anyway?

166 words. Less than 1 minute reading time.
Comments by me and a link to the article cited.

Wired reports on how reCAPTCHA tests — which aim to determine whether a website visitor is human or a bot — can be fooled by AI.

But the question I ask is why do we have to see these things in the first place?

I hate having to decipher some barely legible text to prove I’m human, and I positively despise those tests that ask me to highlight any buses or crosswalks in a set of small, unclear images, often numerous times.

In all likelihood I’ll just give up with the website. Few websites are worth the bother.

I know I’m human and if a computer doesn’t believe me then that’s its problem. If it needs to do any checks, they should be invisible to me and not involve me fighting with crappy text or images.

Don’t bother me with “there’s no other way”, find one. The visitor’s experience should be untarnished. I don’t care if bots are visiting your site, that’s your problem. Please don’t make it mine.

Mandy (2018) film review - psychotic psychedelia

447 words. Less than 2 minutes reading time.
Rating: 2 Rating: 2 Rating: 2Rating: 2Rating: 2

'Mandy' is a 2018 psychedelic horror film that was generally praised by critics and the public. I review that film here after watching it the other day and I have to say I largely disagree with the praise it has received.

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