Thoughts on website ideas, PHP and other tech topics, plus going car-free
Writing (page 1)
Categories: Security | 2 Comments
Security issues at OYB

I recently got in touch with On Your Bike, a cycle shop with stores in Birmingham and London, to alert them to a number of security issues in their website. I’d raised the matter with a very friendly chap at the shop, and he advised me to send an email to the manager. This I […]

Categories: Technical | Add a Comment
Ubuntu host and guest, both in workspaces mode

Introduction Last year I tried running Fedora on a MacBook Pro (Intel i5 processor) to see how much pain was involved in switching to Linux completely. I was also interested to see whether using virtual machines for day-to-day tasks was feasible, via Oracle’s VirtualBox. In the end I didn’t make the switch: an idle guest […]

Categories: Life | Add a Comment

There is a rule of street fundraising that surely has parallels in the physical sciences. You find a charity mugger, pop them in an excessively luminous T-shirt to match their personality, and stand them in a sea of shoppers on a Saturday high-street. Powered by some alien intuition lurking in the moving throng, the “chugger” […]

Categories: Tech misc | Add a Comment

Just recently, I came across a list of my NY resolutions from a year or two ago, and it was fun to see how many I’d accomplished (around half, not bad). So, this year I’ll make a couple of techie predictions, and add on some geek resolutions too. Here’s what I’d like to see in […]

Categories: PHP | Add a Comment

I’ve been writing a PHP course for beginners over for the past couple of weeks, and think it is now good enough to share. It’s a work in progress, but what I have at present is useful already, and I plan to add to it. I’d previously looked around the existing resources on the web, […]

Categories: Mac, Technical | Add a Comment

Today I tried to install texlive on Snow Leopard via Macports, in order to make use of pdflatex with pandoc. However I received this error: Python interpreter is too old This would exit Macports with an error, suggesting that a bug should be raised. It appeared to be looking for Python 2.6 specifically, which is […]

Categories: E-bikes | 7 Comments

Back in November last year I replaced my aging Juicy Bike with an Ave XH-3, and after some 1,600 miles of bedding in, I’m now reviewing it. I’ve added some hi-res pictures for potential buyers, or anyone wanting a closer look. Having now e-commuted daily for the last two and a half years, I write […]

Categories: E-bikes | Add a Comment
Left side view

Here are some pictures of my current electric bike, an Ave XH-3, after about five months of heavy usage. My recent review is here.

Categories: Life | Add a Comment

A number of years ago I signed up for a Paypal account. I’m not sure why I did this, since in most cases Paypal can be used as a card merchant without specifically having a web account with them. Anyway, I recently started receiving monthly marketing messages from Paypal, somewhat disguised as identity fraud emails: […]

Categories: Life | 8 Comments

Sadly I’m in a position to write quite a lot of posts like these. Having seen spam to unique email addresses for Amazon and, on 5th March I received one from a email used to register with, which I created in August 2011. Others have spotted this too: says one, “getting several e-mails […]

Categories: Life | 2 Comments
Leaflet front

The attached leaflet was received to a Birmingham address, and I thought it valuable to post it for the benefit of the search engines. Without doubt, it is the wordiest and most convoluted charitable proposition I’ve ever seen, and I am pretty sure it’s a fraud. It mentions that it is a company as well […]

Categories: Technical, XML | Add a Comment

Way back in March, I found that Inkscape contains some security vulnerabilities related to its processing of XML entities at the start of an SVG document. I’ve persisted privately since discovery to get a fix from Inkscape core developers, alongside the Ubuntu Security Team, to no avail. Following the generally accepted tenets of responsible reporting, […]

Software & ideas
Categories: Ideas, Outline | Add a Comment

I’m presently working on a project that handles the import of HTML from external sources, much of which will be fed through HTMLPurifier to ensure the HTML I render for the user is valid and safe. However, while pondering ways I can make this safe, I wondered how to find out quickly if some malicious […]

Categories: Ideas, Outline | Add a Comment

I’m currently working with the Ordnance Survey Code-Point Open data, which contains the 1.7M UK postcodes and their geo-coordinates. To import it into MySQL, I convert the Easting and Northing units into latitude and longitude, TRUNCATE the database table, and INSERT them in. This is rather slow, so I’m trying to speed it up by […]

Categories: Ideas, Outline | 4 Comments

I’ve a simple idea for a PHP information tool, very useful for beginners. If someone is asking about their PHP configuration on their system, they can just issue a command like this: > wget | php in the same manner as Composer (and adjusted suitably for Windows). This will then give them a PHP […]

Categories: Ideas, Outline | Add a Comment

One of the things I’m cautious about is logging onto my own blog, and other self-hosted sites that require authentication, over public wifi. Unless I use server certificates, my WordPress and other  passwords are in danger of being captured via a promiscuously-configured wifi adapter on the same subnet. Whilst I really ought to get a […]

Categories: Ideas, Outline | Add a Comment

I’ve been reading up on build processes for PHP recently, and comparing them with the good and bad deployment approaches I’ve been asked to use in the past. To do it properly, there are two approaches designed for a speedy changeover: Build the app in a new location and then change the docroot symlink to […]

Categories: Finished, Ideas | Add a Comment

This would make a nice weekend hack project! A website to report (PHP) tutorials that recommend insecure techniques, especially involving SQL injection (I just found another one, and have reported it via the comments). For novelty, render all the sites as labelled divs in a Masonry wall, and bonus points for a cheeky xkcd-style alt-text […]

Categories: Finished, Ideas | 19 Comments

I’ve been working since Christmas last year on an online PHP tutorial for beginners, which is now pretty much ready to try out. The working title during development has been “I ♥ PHP” and I still rather like that, so I’ll stick with that at least for the alpha period. The course is split over […]

Categories: Ideas, Outline | Add a Comment

Using HTTPS in the browser is a good security measure against data and session theft, especially on publicly available networks, such as internet cafes. A number of browser plugins now offer the ability to auto-switch to an encrypted connection, such as NoScript and SSL Everywhere. I thought a good counterpart to these would be a […]