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Gadget Review: USB-C powered Semiconductor Neck Cooler

Are you too hot? Can't run an air-conditioner? Stuck on a sweaty tube train? You need a USB-C powered personal cooling device!

There are loads of personal electric fans available - but I've gone for something slightly more high-tech. A neck-wearable Peltier cooler. It looks like this:

And fits round your ne

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Review: Sennheiser EPOS ADAPT 560 Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headset - plus Linux info

Back to the office! The only thing which makes other people bearable is being able to block out their chatter (sorry colleagues, I love you all dearly!). So I picked up this pair of on-ear Bluetooth headphones with a

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"Why do we use R rather than Excel?"

I recently had cause to take a beginners course in R - a language I'm fairly familiar with.

One of the other students had never used it before, so we were buddied up in order for me to show them the ropes.

The first lesson of R is always the same. Read a CSV, manipulate it a bit, draw a graph. We did it all without much fuss - and a graph appeared on


Drones 🆚 Censorship

A John Gilmore (probably) said, "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."

Let it be so with drones.

About a decade ago, I wrote about Smuggling USB Sticks. You can load an incredible amount of data onto flash memory and carry it just about anywhere.

Nowadays, drones mean that people don't need to physically carry drives themselves. And drones c


NDA Expired - let's spill the beans on a weird startup

Many moons ago, when I was very young and you were even younger...

London was in full bloom of tech-startups. I was running my own consultancy. Dashing from business to business, trying to pick up work as an expert in this new-fangled "Mobile Internet" thing. Some of the companies I worked with were great. S


Linux Clipboard History for Ubuntu / Pop OS

Mobile phones have been one of the greatest drivers of functional enhancements for computing interfaces. I use the clipboard history feature on Android multiple times per day. Rather than copy one item, then paste it, then switch back, then copy another, then switch back etc - I just copy two items, switch app, and paste them where I want.


Easy Emoji in Ubuntu / Pop OS

All the Cool Kids™ use emoji. On Android, they're usually built right in to the keyboard. But that's not the case on desktops and laptops. Well, unless you build a dedicated emoji keyboard.

So I was delighted to find this brilliant little Gnome Extension called Emoji Selector.

It sits in your dash, until you click it or press 💠+e. Then you get this pop up.

The se


Book Review: The City We Became - N. K. Jemisin

Five New Yorkers must band together to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and New York Times bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She's got five.

But every

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Why spam calls come from similar numbers to your phone number

In the last few months, I've received dozens of spam calls which appear to come from a similar phone number to mine.

If my number is 07700 900 123 I get calls from 07700 900 124 or 07700 900 456

Here's my working theory on why spammers do this. Americans.

In the UK, there's a separate "area code" for m


Was Alan Turing "Controversial"?

A Lithuanian company has created a for-profit training company called Turing College. The word "College" isn't a protected term in most of Europe. Unlike, for example, "University", anyone can call themselves a college.

It is also unaffiliated with Alan Turing. I asked them about this - because it seems a bit weird to me to name yourself after someone without their


Why I have intro music on my video calls

I've been experimenting on my colleagues (sorry gang!) and I've found that video meetings go a little better when they start with a bit of mood music.

This is, of course, highly unscientific and just a little bit silly, but it is fun.

I log in to Google Meet a minute before the meeting start time and immediately share a YouTube video. Meet has this nifty


My theory on why advertising is so terrible

I accidentally watched a TV advert the other day.

A woman was on a Zoom call with friends. Her blurred background failed and revealed her ugly kitchen. Her friends all laughed at her. So she went along to AMAZING KITCHENS DIRECT 2 U and got a brand new kitchen. Now her friends are embarrassed about their kitchens!

What kind of


South Up, NZ Centric, Equal Earth Map

(Yes, I'm back on my bullshit!)

Regular readers may remember that I'm trying to create an "Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality" map. That is, a map with a Gall-Peters Projection and with South up. Oh, and Aoteroa centred. For reasons.

I've got one step closer! I wasn't able to find and decent Peters projection map tiles, but I did find the next best thing. T


The First Hacker

It's hard to ascribe "firsts" in history. Did Ada Lovelace write the first computer program? Does it count if it is a mechanical computer? Are Bombe and Tunny really computers in the modern sense? Was Pong the first home video game? Who was the first hacker?

What is a hacker? Someone who (maliciously or otherwise) convinces a computer to do something that it isn't supposed to do. Sometimes for fun and som


Game Review: Day of the Tentacle - Remastered

The past is another country to which you can never return.

It is a million years ago, and my brother and I have just spent all of our pocket money (and a good deal of next year's) on a state-of-the-art PENTIUM 75 desktop. With 200MB of hard drive space, and more RAM than we'd ever seen (8MB), it was a beast. We chose it because it came w


Check your battery stats with the OnePlus Diagnostic Tool

My OnePlus 5T is 3.5 years old and, after daily abuse, its battery life is starting to fade. But how bad is it?

OnePlus have a diagnostic tool which, annoyingly, isn't available in the Google Play store. And is a bit of a pain to run. So here's a quick tutorial.

Download the app

APK Mirror have a cop


Where is the original "Overview of SHARD" paper?

One thing I'm finding extremely frustrating in academia is the number of people citing papers which don't seem to actually exist.

As part of a data analytics class, I'm learning about "database sharding". That is, the process of splitting data between multiple machines. But where does the term come from?

Wikipedia - the


Whatever Happened to UI Affordances?

I am grumpy. As my very clever wife summarised, I hate when designers prioritise their æsthetic preferences over my usability needs.

I tried sharing a website using Google Chrome for Android. I hit the share button, and a panel popped-up from the bottom of the screen.

Hmmm. It didn't have the share destination that I wanted. It was early in the morni


Gadget Review: SMT1500i UPS + Linux Instructions

I never get power cuts. But, we've had two in the last week. They've both been fixed quickly, but it takes an age for my cable modem to reboot - and then an age for my smarthome to reconnect to the WiFi. So it was time to invest in an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).

My friend Paul Curry recommended the APC


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