Psychology Social Networks

Social networks and their impacts on personal psychology & society

I’ve been using social networks for many years. My original masters thesis revolved around the then emerging technologies of social networks. I coupled the ideas of early day twitter & Facebook & combined them with a virtual learning environment for universities.  Back then, I thought that social media, the semantic web & Web 2.0 as we called it, was the future.

Through the years I’ve adopted more of these platforms and integrated them into my life. I’ve continued to study them from both a personal & a societal point of view, and in the last few years my view has shifted radically. Read More....

Cory Doctrow Webstock 15

Cory Doctrow sets out the future of the internet & ‘smart’ devices – recommended watch from Webstock 15

I’ve been a huge fan of Cory Doctrow for a while now. With regular appearences on 2600’s Off The Hook radio show, not to mention his work for the EFF, he is well known in internet circles.

This video is over an hour long, but goes a long way to explain the direction in which our technology (and the companies who run them) are going. If we leave it to the quasi-monopoly companies we have already, we are in for a rough ride. Recommended for any internet user, especially those with a penchant for smart home devices (he outlines some good real world hacks, including hacking a pacemaker). A great advocation for ignoring all of the apps & walled gardens & returning to the open internet. Read More....

Twitter For Web - Full of noise

Slaves to the Algorithm – Social Media Algorithms

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about algorithms and their brute force introduction in to our everyday lives. I think there is a time & place for an algorithm but in many ways, they are failing us as users & failing us as a society.

There are times algorithms are of great use, such as those used by search engines to gather up millions of documents, sort them & hopefully present the one closest to your search term. I take issue with the algorithms developed by the likes of Google, but more with respect to how they censor results & control information flows. Their information retrieval techniques have always been astonishing & their ability to sort & serve data with algorithms is commendable, however, they are now straying into the murky territory of policing the information we see which is disconcerting. I very much recommned switching to https://www.startpage.com/Start Page for your search. Google results without google & their creepy data mining. Read More....

Apple Remote not working in High Sierra

Aluminium Apple remote not working on Mac OS High Sierra with Kodi

Since upgrading my main iMac to High Sierra I’ve noticed that the Aluminium Apple remote I use to control iTunes and Kodi is no longer working as expected. I tend to use the Candelair alternative driver for my remote as it’s better at making the remote play nicely with Kodi, but I’ve found even using the Candelair driver is causing issues. The remote works for left and right but the up & down function isn’t working. This seems to be connected with the core High Sierra driver which is now using the up and down functions for volume control even when using Candelair. Read More....

SoundPEATS P4 Volume Crown

SoundPEATS P4 Portable Bluetooth Speaker review

I’ve been looking at buying a bluetooth speaker for a while now. I tend to keep visiting retail stores & trying technology long before I commit to buying. I had been trying the bose soundlink mini II for months but I was always put off by the price. The Bose speaker is excellent but the price just seems too high for me. After playing with various speakers in airport electronics shops and high street stores I decided to head over to Amazon to take a look.

A speaker that caught my eye right away was the SoundPEATS P4 speaker. The speaker itself is a cylindrical speaker, much like the amazon echo. The product itself looks amazing but the most surprising thing for me was the price. At under £34 delivered it seems too good to be true. SoundPEATS wasn’t a brand I had heard of before browsing Amazon but the reviews seemed to be overwhelmingly good and the speaker itself looked pretty solid. A few days later I took delivery of the SoundPEATS P4. Read More....

Reeder - My RSS feeds on the left and article pane on the right

Best RSS feed reader for the Mac OSX & OS Sierra – Reeder

I’ve always been a fan of RSS readers. Right back when XML was starting out and RSS feeds became the norm on blogs & websites, I would use an RSS reader to aggregate the posts from my favourite sites & blogs. Back then I’d access them for offline viewing on my palm pilot or O2 XDA (well before smart phones we had palm tops such as the XDA and companies like Palm who provided me with the Palm IIIc where huge). The advantage of RSS was the fact that posts could be pulled in from loads of different sources, without the need to go checking each individual site. For people like me, who are obsessed with the latest information, this was a game changer. Also, back then, most RSS feeds consisted off the full text of the article, including pictures, making it easy to aggregate blog posts and news posts for viewing offline. This was the days of extremely limited GPRS access which was extremely slow & costly. So syncing for offline viewing was the norm. Read More....

U2 iPod Video 5th Generation

iPod 5th Generation logic board replacement

As regular readers will know, I love my 5th Generation iPod video. I bought this iPod back in 2006 while on holiday in San Francisco & it has seen heavy usage daily since. The iPod has always been kept inside a protective hard case, a Belkin case, and generally well looked after. Over the years it has required a new Battery to be fitted which I did myself & also I’ve replaced the original 30GB hard drive with an iFlash Quad unit. The iFlash Quad allows the use of cheap Micro SD cards for storage & mine currently has 256GB worth. Read More....

Fix Blank Cloudflare Settings in Wordpress

WordPress Cloudflare 3.0.3 plugin blank settings page – fixed

I’ve been having a nightmare trying to get the Cloudflare plugin for wordpress to play nicely. After installing it I found that I had a blank settings page when I tried to enter my API details. I tried setting Cloudflare into development mode & also pausing Cloudflare but still the settings page wouldn’t load.

I started searching online for a solution and there seemed to be solutions for loads of older versions, but nothing about the current 3.0.3 plugin. After successfully getting the plugin to run on various other copies of wordpress on the same server I started to look at the config of the problematic blog. The only thing that differs on this site, compared to my others, is the level of security I have set. I quickly discovered that the All In One security plugin (also known as WP security) was stopping the Cloudflare settings page from loading. Simply disabling the WP All In One Security plugin allowed me to load the cloudflare wordpress plugin and get around the blank grey settings screen. Read More....

Net Neutrality is dying – but not in the way you might think

Net Neutrality is defined as “the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication”. While many attacks have been made on Net Neutrality by large corporations, including trying to create a two tier internet & ISP’s slowing the traffic of competing streaming services, on the whole the basic definition of Net Neutrality has remained unscathed. However the definition of net neutrality may just be out of date. Read More....

Whatsapp end to end encryption

End to End encryption – The reasons we can’t just outlaw encryption for all.

Over the past few days in the UK there has been a renewed sense of urgency within government to address & ban/circumvent end to end encryption in communications apps. On Wednesday of last week in the UK an attack was launched on Westminster. During the subsequent investigation it has come to light that the attacker used the WhatsApp messaging app to message a friend or accomplice minutes before the attack. The government’s response to this, perhaps with the best of intentions, is to outlaw or circumvent encryption for the purposes of law enforcement. The reasoning, to stop criminals using platforms to co-ordinate is commendable, however it is totally unworkable. encryption’s raison d’etre is to make interception by a third-party as difficult as possible, if not impossible. Read More....

openPGP decrypted email

PGP encrypted emails on Mac OS X/Sierra using GPGtools GPGsuite

As part of my cybersecurity posts I’ve decided to write briefly about PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption of email. We will use GPG which stands for GNU Privacy Guard and is a compatible free software equivalent of Symantec’s proprietary encryption algorithm. Both PGP and GPG are interchangeable so you can use either protocol. These keys use a high level of encryption. I Use RSA 4096 for my keys which is possibly a little overkill, but I like to future proof when learning.

GPG is important for emails as it means that an email remains encrypted between the sender & the receiver. It works on the principle of key pairs. Each user generates a pair of keys, one private key remains secret and on the user’s computer, the other, known as a public key is free to distribute on the internet and allows you to pass it on to those you wish to communicate with. Read More....

Anker Power Core 20100 charging ports

Anker PowerCore 20100 4.8 amp Mobile Power Bank

Modern smart phones aren’t great when it comes to battery life. This can be blamed on the user as much as the device itself. We tend to use smart phones for everything nowadays. From MP3 playback to calls, texts, social media & maps. The usage is endless. Unfortunately the power life is not.

I often find myself in cities & on trips without access to an outlet & I can be down to 50% before 10AM. I use my iPhone to conduct my business, manage my life, listen to music & take photos. I use it to pay for coffee, to organise meeting friends & reply to business emails on the go. I use it a lot. I don’t tend to kill time with the iPhone, I’m not a Facebook user and tend to limit my social media usage, but I still struggle to maintain battery life. Read More....

Configuring LibreELEC

Migrating from OpenELEC to LibreELEC kodi

I’ve been using OpenELEC for a few years now, having it installed on an older Apple TV 1 (ATV1) and more recently on my Raspberry Pi 2 for use as a media centre. OpenELEC drastically simplified a kodi installation on any supported hardware & by aiming OpenELEC at being an appliance they managed to make a lightweight & rock solid kodi OS.

It would seem over the past 6 months or so, development of OpenELEC and support for OpenELEC has wound down. Maybe the developers have other projects to focus on, but I found that it wasn’t being updated as often as I would like. I then spotted LibreELEC which is operated by a small board of developers focused on creating a system with just enough OS for Kodi. This is excellent news for anyone running Kodi on a Raspberry Pi as the filesystem requirements are small & only enough processes & services run in order to support Kodi, meaning precious resources are freed up on slower hardware. Read More....

Lenovo Thinkpad X200 laptop battery woes

Regular readers will know that I now use a Lenovo X200 for most of my computing needs. It has Libreboot installed and I run Trisquel 7 GNU linux on the laptop. This laptop is perfect for linux, all of the hardware including the updated Atheros wifi adaptor have open source & free drivers available & the machine is truly 100% my own.

The laptop itself is still fairly powerful for an older laptop with an Intel® Core™2 Duo CPU P8600 @ 2.40GHz dual core processor and upgraded ram to 4GB it really is a good mobile workhorse. I only paid £50 for the laptop in September & I installed 4GB of ram I had in my desk drawer from an old Macbook upgrade. I also updated the Intel wifi board to an Atheros to allow me to run Trisquel. Read More....