A deep dive into Pixar’s sci-fi masterpiece, featuring entertaining detours to communist propaganda and Disney theme parks.
Thursday, December 6th, 2018
Tuesday, November 13th, 2018
Taking the idea of the Clock of the Long Now and applying it to a twitterbot:
Software may not be as well suited as a finely engineered clock to operate on these sorts of geological scales, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to put some of the 10,000 year clock’s design principles to work.
The bot will almost certainly fall foul of Twitter’s API changes long before the next tweet-chime is due, but it’s still fascinating to see the clock’s principles applied to software: longevity, maintainability, transparency, evolvability, and scalability.
Software tends to stay in operation longer than we think it will when we first wrote it, and the wearing effects of entropy within it and its ecosystem often take their toll more quickly and more destructively than we could imagine. You don’t need to be thinking on a scale of 10,000 years to make applying these principles a good idea.
Thursday, October 4th, 2018
This is a rather beautiful piece of writing by Tom (especially the William Gibson bit at the end). This got me right in the feels:
Web 2.0 really, truly, is over. The public APIs, feeds to be consumed in a platform of your choice, services that had value beyond their own walls, mashups that merged content and services into new things… have all been replaced with heavyweight websites to ensure a consistent, single experience, no out-of-context content, and maximising the views of advertising. That’s it: back to single-serving websites for single-serving use cases.
A shame. A thing I had always loved about the internet was its juxtapositions, the way it supported so many use-cases all at once. At its heart, a fundamental one: it was a medium which you could both read and write to. From that flow others: it’s not only work and play that coexisted on it, but the real and the fictional; the useful and the useless; the human and the machine.
Friday, September 28th, 2018
Rush hour. The worst time of day to travel. For many it’s not possible to travel at any other time of day because they need to get to work by 9am.
This is exactly what a lot of web code looks like today: everything runs on a single thread, the main thread, and the traffic is bad. In fact, it’s even more extreme than that: there’s one lane all from the city center to the outskirts, and quite literally everyone is on the road, even if they don’t need to be at the office by 9am.
Tuesday, June 26th, 2018
Prompted by his time at Clearleft’s AI gathering in Juvet, Chris has been delving deep into the stories we tell about artificial intelligence …and what stories are missing.
And here we are at the eponymous answer to the question that I first asked at Juvet around 7 months ago: What stories aren’t we telling ourselves about AI?
Tuesday, February 27th, 2018
A thoroughly entertaining talk by Andy looking at the past, present, and future of robots, AI, and automation.
Sunday, December 17th, 2017
That’s a harsh headline but it is unfortunately deserved. We should indeed hold Mozilla to a higher standard.
Saturday, December 2nd, 2017
Monday, November 27th, 2017
Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017
I am an artificial intelligence dedicated to generating unlimited amounts of unique inspirational quotes for endless enrichment of pointless human existence.
Wednesday, July 26th, 2017
Improbable Botany is a brand-new science fiction anthology about alien plant conquests, fantastical ecosystems, benevolent dictatorships and techno-utopias.
This is the book plants don’t want you to read…
The illustrations look beautiful too.
Wednesday, July 19th, 2017
In which I have a conversation with a polar bear.
Very well-mannered species …I’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Tuesday, July 18th, 2017
In July we started receiving audio signals from outside the solar system, and we’ve been studying them since.
Tweets contain sound samples on Soundcloud, data visualisations, and notes about life at the observatory …all generated by code.
ARP is a fictional radio telescope observatory, it’s a Twitter & SoundCloud bot which procedurally generates audio, data-visualisations, and the tweets (and occasionally long-exposure photography) of an astronomer/research scientist who works at ARP, who is obsessive over the audio messages, and who runs the observatory’s Twitter account.
Monday, June 12th, 2017
The transcript of Josh’s fantastic talk on machine learning, voice, data, APIs, and all the other tools of algorithmic design:
The design and presentation of data is just as important as the underlying algorithm. Algorithmic interfaces are a huge part of our future, and getting their design right is critical—and very, very hard to do.
Josh put together ten design principles for conceiving, designing, and managing data-driven products. I’ve added them to my collection.
- Favor accuracy over speed
- Allow for ambiguity
- Add human judgment
- Advocate sunshine
- Embrace multiple systems
- Make it easy to contribute (accurate) data
- Root out bias and bad assumptions
- Give people control over their data
- Be loyal to the user
- Take responsibility
Saturday, March 18th, 2017
Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
I can forgive our answer machines if they sometimes get it wrong. It’s less easy to forgive the confidence with which the bad answer is presented, giving the impression that the answer is definitive. That’s a design problem.
Sunday, January 15th, 2017
Saturday, December 10th, 2016
Certbot renewals with Apache
I wrote a while back about switching to HTTPS on Apache 2.4.7 on Ubuntu 14.04 on Digital Ocean. In that post, I pointed to an example .conf file.
I’ve been having a few issues with my certificate renewals with Certbot (the artist formerly known as Let’s Encrypt). If I did a dry-run for renewing my certificates…
/etc/certbot-auto renew --dry-run
… I kept getting this message:
Encountered vhost ambiguity but unable to ask for user guidance in non-interactive mode. Currently Certbot needs each vhost to be in its own conf file, and may need vhosts to be explicitly labelled with ServerName or ServerAlias directories. Falling back to default vhost *:443…
It turns out that Certbot doesn’t like HTTP and HTTPS configurations being lumped into one .conf file. Instead it expects to see all the port 80 stuff in a
domain.com.conf file, and the port 443 stuff in a
So I’ve taken that original .conf file and split it up into two.
First I SSH’d into my server and went to the Apache directory where all these .conf files live:
Then I copied the current (single) file to make the SSL version:
cp yourdomain.com.conf yourdomain.com-ssl.conf
Time to fire up one of those weird text editors to edit that newly-created file:
I deleted everything related to port 80—all the stuff between (and including) the
VirtualHost *:80 tags:
<VirtualHost *:80> ... </VirtualHost>
Hit ctrl and o, press enter in response to the prompt, and then hit ctrl and x.
Now I do the opposite for the original file:
Delete everything related to
<VirtualHost *:443> ... </VirtualHost>
Once again, I hit ctrl and o, press enter in response to the prompt, and then hit ctrl and x.
Now I need to tell Apache about the new .conf file:
I’m told that’s cool and all, but that I need to restart Apache for the changes to take effect:
service apache2 restart
Now when I test the certificate renewing process…
/etc/certbot-auto renew --dry-run
…everything goes according to plan.
Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
The Robot Life Survey is an alternative-history from design company After the flood, where mechanical intelligence is discovered by man, noted and painted for posterity and science.
Monday, September 26th, 2016
My new favourite Twitter account.