Here's everything I've written throughout July 2018.


Rubbish font PP


I don’t quite know why, but I’m really happy this exists. It’s made me laugh, as so many bins do look like this with their identifications scrawled onto the side. (Maybe I could get some free advertising on the side of my bin for this site?)

PP in the Rubbish Font

31 July, 2018

Using iOS Airport Utility to obtain WiFi channels ​ PP

Last weekend I found myself setting up our home network from scratch, after my ISP router died and the replacement point blank refused to load my configuration backup. Nevertheless, I used this as an opportunity to try and improve the coverage and speeds throughout our home. A common quick win is to set the channels of the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands as far away from neighbouring routers as possible, as this lowers both interference and noise.

There’s a breadth of tools available for desktop platforms, but not so on iOS. Restrictions put in place by Apple make it nigh impossible for developers to publish apps that can scan and display the network channels from broadcast SSID’s.

But it’s not impossible to get this information.

AirPort Utility Wi-Fi Scanner option

From the iOS App Store go and grab Apple’s AirPort Utility, but before you fire it up for the first time you’ll need to make a trip into the iOS Settings app. Go to Settings > AirPort Utility and enable the Wi-Fi Scanner option. Now when you open the Airport Utility app, an additional Wi-Fi Scan option will appear in the top right. Give this a tap and kick off a scan. This won’t take long.

For every network it can discover it’ll display the SSID, router MAC address, noise and, most importantly here, the channel. Better still, tapping the little information icon in the bottom right will summarise all of the channels in use, so you can quickly make a decision as to the best channel for your networks. Here are my results from a scan I ran just last night:

AirPort Utility Wi-Fi Scanner - Channel Usage

I honestly didn’t think this feature of AirPort Utility was well documented, so I’m hoping this write up will help other people to discover it.

30 July, 2018

Adobe is to bring Photoshop to the iPad PP

In this article from Bloomberg, Mark Gurman and Nico Grant talk about Adobe’s plan to bring their premier Photoshop product to Apple’s iPad on iOS. Adobe already have a SaaS model with desktop applications in their Creative Cloud, but this re-write is targeting the tablet specifically.

Here’s a quote from the article by Scott Belsky, Adobe’s Chief Product Officer of Creative Cloud:

“My aspiration is to get these on the market as soon as possible,” Belsky said in an interview. “There’s a lot required to take a product as sophisticated and powerful as Photoshop and make that work on a modern device like the iPad. We need to bring our products into this cloud-first collaborative era.”

Here’s how I interpret that. Adobe originally took the view that mobile devices like iPad’s weren’t needed by the vast majority of their customers, who’d rather use their desktop counterparts and perhaps some stripped down mobile apps. Products like Serif’s Affinity Designer has shown this to be absolutely wrong and they’re scared about losing their foothold in the mobile space.

30 July, 2018

Chrome 68 flagging non HTTPS sites more vividly PP

Starting with Google Chrome 68, the browser will be flagging up every HTTP website you visit as Not Secure. This is an excellent move and one I hope other browser developers will add to their software in the near future, as in the industry makes forward strides towards the encryption of the open internet. I think letting end users know the site their visiting isn’t secure will be a positive experience as a whole, as it’s bringing to light the sites and services they’re visiting to be entirely unencrypted and visible. (Think Man in the Middle attacks for one). You’re a whole lot less likely to enter personal information about yourself if there’s a Not Secure banner visible.

Here’s an example of what my personal website looks like in Chrome 68:

Chrome 68 - Not Secure

When you switch to HTTPS over SSL, here’s the visual change:

Chrome 68 - Secure

If you have your own website and it’s not yet running with an SSL certificate, the barrier to entry is very low nowadays. Most commonly, the cost of getting and renewing a certificate is all but gone, thanks to Let’s Encrypt.

Your web host should be able to assist in the loading of certificates, but if not I recommend you look for an alternative provider. In 2018, a web host who cannot – or won’t – help is not worth paying for.

27 July, 2018

Everything is Alive podcast PP

From the Everything is Alive webpage:

Everything is Alive is an unscripted interview show in which all the subjects are inanimate objects. But aside from the fact that things can talk, it’s nonfiction: everything the objects tell us is true.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable and refreshing podcast that you should lend your ears to this weekend.

27 July, 2018

Killer T PP

Killer T by Robert Muchamore

Killer T is the first novel I’ve read by Robert Muchamore, but after finishing his latest piece I will need to read another before making my mind up about how much I like him as a writer. Set in the not too distant future, the story closely follows Harry and Charlie and their interleaving lives following a bomb explosion in high school. Muchamore uses an interesting narrative structure of breaking up segments of their story across multiple parts; each part separated by years of their time together. Whilst this lets us, the readers, see into much more of their lives it did leave me wondering what happened during the gaps in-between. It’s a lot going on, this happened every time I turned the page and was dropped into a new part.

The tale starts slowly but picks up speed by the middle of part two. It’s a shame, because not a lot happens at the beginning but we’re juggling different viruses, infections, threats, situations and lots of character deaths throughout the rest of the story. If the pace had been as quick from the start, more time could have been spent in the middle, going into some of the characters backstories and perhaps exploring some of the untold. Too quickly I come across someone, only to find them never spoken of again or they’re killed off.

Writing this review, I find myself torn. On the one hand, I did enjoy the novel and the ending was a joy. It’s the pacing of the story and the handling of its supporting characters that let it down for me. If you enjoy distopian novels then you should give Killer T a go but I reckon some might find it a tad frustrating.

22 July, 2018 → PP

There’s a good chance you’re using your ISP’s DNS at home, which is usually far worse than other offerings like Google’s DNS and OpenDNS. There is however, a new player in town;

We’ve built to be the Internet’s fastest DNS directory. […] Since nearly everything you do on the Internet starts with a DNS request, choosing the fastest DNS directory across all your devices will accelerate almost everything you do online

I’ve been using on my devices for a few days and it’s certainly improved things around here. If you can update the DNS servers on your router then that saves you having to update every device one by one. Virgin Media, sadly, do not let me make this central alteration but hey-ho.

DNSPerf gives some statistics on response time, if you’re interested. Give it a go.

17 July, 2018

The Survival Game PP

Book cover for The Survival Game by Nicky Singer.

Whilst The Survival Game is pitched as a Young Adult book, the story is certainly enjoyable for adults too, as I found out after spending a few days with Nicky Singer’s latest work. The main character Mhairi is on a multi-thousand kilometre trek back to Scotland, but this isn’t 2018. Mhairi is in our future, a dystopian future, where over population has driven cities to erect borders and strict checks for everyone.

Right from the beginning Mhairi stumbles across a young boy, who we later know as ‘Mo’. He doesn’t utter a single word but through Singer’s expert hand we still get to know him well. This is a tale of two young people, utterly determined to reach their endgame, but with all the dangers that both Mother Nature and mankind have in store.

Whilst I won’t spoil the ending here, the final chapters were somewhat of a surprise but I do wish Singer had taken it further before drawing the book to a close. Also, the references to a place called CASTLE comes earl on but it’s not clear as to what this actually is. (My guess is it’s part of Mhairi’s mind where she tries to block out bad memories).

All in all, The Survival Game is a great read and certainly worth a look when it comes out on July 26th later this year.

Thank you to NetGalley and Hachette for the free early access copy.

14 July, 2018

Augment for iOS PP

Augment is an amazing way to listen to the world. It harmonizes your listening experience which helps you to be less distracted and stressed. The Augment app filters your acoustic environment, takes out harsh sounds and turns stressful noise into harmonic sound environments

This might sound like a gimmick, but it’s pretty impressive. Lying in bed with my headphones on, every sound is amplified but not by a simple volume boost, oh no. The Super Hearing mode for example made every breath I took thunder through my ears with such clarity and brevity. The Relax mode on the other hand, distorted the sound into alternating tones. It’s quite tricky to explain so I urge you to try it for yourself. It’s free on the app store with a few optional in app purchases.

12 July, 2018