Sunday, 24 May 2015

Review: Ex Machina (2015)


Ex Machina movie posterShy, awkward programmer Caleb wins the company lottery; a week with his reclusive boss Nathan, the brilliant, billionaire founder of the world's largest search engine, at Nathan's isolated private estate in the wilds of Alaska.

On arriving, Caleb finds his prize is in fact to run the Turing Test on Nathan's ground breaking artificial intelligence, to discover if it is truly a sentient being. Not an easy task; the AI is the alluring android-shaped Ava; former programming prodigy Nathan, the Mozart of the Internet, is a manipulative sociopath; and Caleb himself may not be quite the innocent he appears.

Screen writer Alex Garland's directorial d├ębut is a chilly, tense, claustrophobic sci-fi drama of subtle performances concerning the moral and ethical questions of creation, conciousness and free-will. From the very first power-cut in Nathan's total-surveillance bunker, you know that this is not going to end well...

Monday, 18 May 2015

Full Circle issue 95 out now


The creators of Full Circle Magazine are pleased to announce the release of Issue 95.

This month:
  • Command & Conquer
  • How-To : Program in Python, LibreOffice, and Using LaTeX
  • Graphics : Inkscape
  • Linux Labs: Syncthing
  • Review: BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Phone & Able2Extract Pro 9
  • Competition: WIN a copy of Able2Extract Pro 9
  • Ubuntu Games: Penumbra Necrologue & Perfect Golf
  • My Story special on handling molecules in Linux
plus: News, Arduino, Q&A, and much more.

Friday, 15 May 2015

How-to: Generate Good Passwords Part II



For those of you on the front-line dealing with user accounts and password resets in large organisations, we return to the thorny issue of passwords.

We will soon be implementing a tougher security standard for encrypting passwords within the our events database. It should occur invisibly behind the scenes and I won’t bore you with the technical stuff, but if we do have any glitches, I'm going to honestly advise this is going on and quietly iron those out. Everybody loves a bit of improved security.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Review: Blackhat (2015)


Blackhat movie posterThe question is, can master of style over substance Michael Mann (Heat, Miami Vice) overcome the worst movie title this decade as well as make computer hacking gripping and exciting? The answer is - no. So instead he churns out a third-rate Bond movie in his his favourite cop-show format.

Redoubtable Chris Hemsworth (Rush, Thor) makes the least convincing hacker since Angelina Jolie (Hackers) and is acted off-screen by Chinese leading lady Tang Wei.

Friday, 24 April 2015

How-to: Make a drop-down list in Excel


If you're wanting data validation in spreadsheet forms and template documents, a drop-down list remains the most common way to achieve it.

Skipping over the question why am I covering a Microsoft product when there's a perfectly good LibreOffice alternative, let me just say; 'because someone asked me.'

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

How-to: Protect your web downloads. Not.


Portcullis by Kevin King on imgbuddy I started this under the banner “Web-accessible e-publications NOT as PDF's” in light of the membership products discussion that happened this morning. Thinking about the delivery of web-accessible e-publications (our bread-and-butter) which are NOT downloadable and NOT printable for certain classes of registered web users, this is as much of a minefield today as fifteen years ago in a previous life.

This is all about balancing ease of access and customer service against the admin/IT cost of providing material via a robust delivery mechanism. Before you ask, I have no recommendation at this point.

Monday, 20 April 2015

How-to: Use Dashes and Hyphens on the web


A note for the  punctuationally-challenged.

There's a brilliant article on A List Apart: The Trouble With EM ’n EN (and Other Shady Characters) by This article, while brilliant for its time, is now obsolete."

However the topic doesn't go away and we're still struggling, not only with the style guide but how to render these shady characters for the web when there are all sorts of technical issues.

First of all, what’s the Difference Between an Em Dash, En Dash & Hyphen? And what has happened to them online?