Who ya gonna call?

November 29 2014

Just got back from Geekfest, and as ever amazed at the number of people who turned up in cosplay. For me, though, the star was a car this time round. By far the best dressed at the show.

More pics over here.

geek fest 2014_7_1

Lying is the best way to protect your privacy

October 16 2014

So today a data firm I was scheduled to interview  tried to surprise with a personal profile pulled from their internal dataset, which is a combination of publically available information and paid-for data from credit agencies and the like. Happily the plan to shock me backfired. Aside from my name and phone number Рwhich were used to trigger the search Рonly my passport number was correct. Although incorrectly displayed as a South African ID number.

To be fair, I’ve not lived in South Africa long enough to be on all the databases yet, and many of the fields were close enough to make me uncomfortable – age within a year, address in the right area, salary not a million rand off what I actually earn.

Also, I am unusual in that I habitually lie about things like my address, passport number, date of birth and cell number on non-legal forms which are ridiculously intrusive, and I don’t carry cards of any kind not issued by my bank, so no in-store rewards for me. I also opt out of things like Discovery’s keep fit spyware.

Sadly I can’t be too smug. I read this post about de-deanonymising data from New York taxis after I got home and got all depressed again at the apparent ease with which commuters’ identities were reverse engineered. I’m a passionate advocate of open data, but sometimes it is easy to forget the dangers…

Why wasn’t I there?

August 27 2014

 

Kate Bush live comeback – the no spoiler Q&A – Channel 4 News.

Slightly unsettling

July 19 2014

Like most journalists, I’ve always had an idea in the back of my head that one day I’d start writing creatively. And like most who are still journalists by my age I’ve started a couple of projects then left them to fester when I discovered how the amount of free time I have is almost entirely too little to actually finish something.

A few years ago I got a bit further than usual and had a rough plan and a few draft chapters of a novel which was crudely premised around the idea of what might happen if Tesco moved into the housing market and started renting flats.

So it was a bit disturbing to read this in the news today. Clearly I need to go back to that manuscript and actually do something about it…

Apparently, I’m an idiot…

July 12 2014

…because I just spent two weeks, R250 replacing, rewiring and testing a motor on my RepRap which didn’t appear to be working. I almost managed to blow the rest of the electronics fiddling and getting frustrated with it.

Turns out there was nothing wrong with the motor at all. The plastic cog attached to it had worn out just enough that it wasn’t turning with the spindle. A 10 minute, virtually cost free job to fix.

Tabby’s sports day

April 6 2014

Last year, Tabby was very nervous at her school sports day. She was shy about running in front of people and had to be gently cajouled into competing (although this being a Montessori school, the competition element isn’t really the biggest part). This year was a different story – except for the wheelbarrow race, which she wouldn’t do, she loved it and couldn’t have been happier.

We assume the wheelbarrow tantrum was to do with being tired as we’ only just got back from holiday.

On a separate note – what happened to being able to share to WordPress directly from Flickr?

All about Tshimologong

November 20 2013

It’s not my headline, but this is the third or fourth time I’ve written about the Tshimologong Precint in Joburg, and definitely the best: The grand vision for a homegrown Silicon Valley in one of Joburg’s most notorious neighbourhoods | ZDNet.

The problem with road building in Johannesburg

October 22 2013

20131022_074506

I’m currently involved in a campaign to try and stop a road being built through a local nature reserve, and one of my concerns is that whatever gets put in the plans won’t matter once building commences. Because roads are really badly made in Johannesburg. When I lived in Shoreham, a 100 yard pedestrianised area took nearly a year to finish because of the incredible layers of engineering and planning that went in to it. That was ridiculous. But so is the picture above. It’s the new intersection between Maxwell Drive and Old Pretoria Road – finished about three months ago.

This weekend it rained. Quite heavily. It’s the first rain this road has seen. And already it’s too flooded to drive on, causing traffic to back up and – eventually – the lights will fail.It hasn’t rained for 12 hours, and the pool of water is still there.

Quite how that happens is beyond me. It rains heavily for six months of the year here. You’d think someone would have remembered to put the storm drain in?

My first 3D prints

September 25 2013

3d Print number 1So yesterday was a bit of a breakthrough. After only a year of trying, I made some things with my 3D printer. The first (above) is a mount for the electronics. I found out that the reason I was only getting half-prints like this:

failed octopusWas because the connections on the RAMPs shield were moving around too much.

Then I made this:

3d print 2It’s a waving octopus from Thingiverse. With his head caved in because I didn’t use enough infill, I think. Also, I think the extruder temperature is a bit too high, and the extruder itself was set a little low and melted some of the layers at the top.

I guess this means it’s going to rain soon…

rainspiderDiscovered lurking above the towel rail the other night. Looking me straight in the eye as I looked up from drying my hands.