Latest Posts


  • Your email is leaking - How much data you give away without ever realising.

    When you open an email, you'll see what the sender wanted you to see. An amusing picture of a cat, perhaps. There will probably be a written message, and maybe some attached files. That's all very nice, but most of what is sent over the email network was never meant to be seen by human eyes. That's not to say that it's hidden, it's just not prominently on display because, well, to most people it's irrelevant and confusing. From data unwittingly given away over the email network, I can infer who works from home, who is in charge, who makes decisions, and who gets copied in or consulted.

  • Seizing the means of production with an Anycubic Photon Mono Resin Printer.

    For the last 16 years, it's been possible, if you knew someone with a 3D printer, to print most of the parts of your own 3D printer and assemble it at home. It's utterly inexcusable that in 2021 there isn't one in every household.

  • This item has been flagged as inappropriate - What google reads in your private docs.

    With Google Docs there's a misplaced assumption from users that what they write is, apart from data mining for ads and tracking, to a certain extent, private. That assumption is very wrong. Because it works so very very well, it's easy to ignore that all Google products exist for the sole purpose of mining information.

  • Sun Worshipper - Off Grid With A Solar Kettle. Tried and tested

    One thing the box doesn't tell you is that the solar kettle takes around two to three hours to heat water to boiling point. If you're gagging for a brew right now, tough luck. Leave the Solar kettle outside overnight so there's hot water when you wake up, and use it to fill a thermos flask which will provide you with enough hot tea until the solar kettle has had enough time to heat up again.

  • Mealie - Probably the best self-hosted recipe manager... In the world.

    Mealie is a standalone self-hosted recipe manager developed by a mysterious Alaskan known only as Hay Kot. It's beautiful, it's functional, and it's fast. Mealie is not yet feature complete, and as and not everything works, but It's very usable even in its current state - and it will only get better

  • Spending the Pandemic Summer in Skyrim

    I sat above Dawnstar and watched a gloriously sunny day give way to a blizzards, and clear around dusk to reveal a perfectly clear night sky adorned with alien moons which slowly drifted across the sky. I stood watching mudcrabs going about their business on the banks of a river near the Karthspire. I followed butterflies and foxes.

  • Far from the Madding crowd - Geminispace and the smolweb

    The lack of visual clutter is shocking - in a good way. It's like being back in the 90s again. This means that the amount of bandwidth, storage and resources need to either run a server (They're called capsules) or to visit one is virtually zero. You could probably run a Gemini capsule on a pocket calculator and access it with a McDonalds toy freebie

  • He's justified, and he's ancient, and he (may have) burned a million quid - He plans to burn more. What Jimmy Cauty thinks of EFT

    Jimmy Cauty doesn't give a shit about Electronic Fungible Tokens (EFT for short) but then again, he doesn't really give a shit about money either. He cares about art. Also, that million quid? It was 'Gimpo Money'

  • Get My Ass to Mars - The Crow heads into space

    Even in the most polluted human cities on earth, it's still easier to breathe than on the surface of Mars. It's easier to stay warm in Antarctica than it is on Mars's less than balmy equator. It's less trouble finding something to drink in the middle of the Arabian desert than it is to pull a pint of water from Mars's polar caps. But it's a start, and the robots and rovers currently gathering dust on the Martian surface have provided invaluable data on what it means to survive on an alien world. Data we may one day need in a hurry.

  • Nostalgia, privacy, and family portraits

    Pro-tip: to avoid training AI to recognise your face, have every picture you intend to share to social media professionally painted by an artist. It looks great, people are recognisable, machines can't figure it out. Plus, if you're having to pay for it, you know it's actually worth sharing

  • A short post on Nibby, URL shorteners and the dangers of machine translation

    Twenty years ago, URL shorteners were a godsend. A complicated, hierarchical, 300 character address could be compressed down to a dozen characters - or fewer. So this is my new effort. nib.by. Nibby. Likened to the nib of a pen. Nibby. It kind of rolls of the tongue, and despite containing more letters than I originally sought, I'm pretty happy.

  • Does my face look odd in this? Staying anonymous with Fawkes cloaking tech

    Other people may have something to hide. Demonstrators in a crowd may have good reason to resent the fact that captured images of them can be run against the datasets, and their true identity revealed to relevant authorities. Fawkes poisons the data well. It runs locally on your computer, and doesn't need to connect to the Chicago servers once you've installed it. I'm not going to attempt to explain how Fawkes works. I'm a man pretending to be a bird, writing humorous and mildly interesting articles for a general audience.

  • Fancy a flutter? Google to allow real money gambling worldwide...

    We’re updating our Real-Money Gambling, Games, and Contests policy so more developers around the world can build sustainable businesses, and in a way that helps keep consumers safe, - it reads, before going on to list all of the new countries where needy gamblers will soon be able to spend their cash - with a suitable commission to Google, of course

  • Don't Trust Auntie. The Beeb allows social networks to track you

    We've always felt secure that the BBC wouldn't be stalking us any more than their own analytics require, or allowing anyone else to stalk us either. So it's especially ironic that reading BBC stories about privacy results in us being further profiled.

  • The Teeniest Tiniest Laptop In The West

    Is the GPD P2 Max capable? Hell yes. It's a hyper-powered cross between a palm pilot and an ultrabook. I've been playing games through Steam. I've been playing Windows games using WINE. I've been productive and I've been having fun. And when I've finished, I can pick it up and put it in my pocket. It's a cyberdeck by any other name.

  • Gab to launch new phone - Likely a reskinned older Android

    We have a grainy, overexposed, low-res photograph, and that's it - aside from the news that Gab - the social network for, erm, people of non-conventional political and societal ways of thinking - is branching out into the cut-throat world of mobile technology with the upcoming launch of a spanky new phone.

  • Comments on a static site? It's simpler than you think!

    Static sites, are by their nature, static. You can’t interact with them really. They exist as a collection of HTML pages in a hierarchy on the root of your server. The attractions of a static site are many - not least security and speed. But as a writer or site owner, you crave interaction with your readers. How do you manage it wthout relying on an external service? Actually, it’s a piece of piss. A very hacky piece of piss.

  • Why does this site look like crap?

    WordPress is great open source software. It's free in both senses of the word, you can install it on pretty much anything, and it's incredibly easy to use. You could generate a username and password, pass both to your locked down, technologically illiterate nan, and she would have a blog running and live within minutes, proclaiming to the world how Covid isn't real, and grassing up her neighbours who had their grandson round for an illict slice of cake. And she can make it look however she wants with a ridiculously huge range of themes, layouts, widgets, tickers, and gizmos. Fab - so long as she keeps it updated and secure.

  • Google to limit free photo storage – deploy Photoprism and host your own

    Google is discontinuing its free unlimited photo storage tier from June 21st 2020. That blows - for you. For The Crow, it doesn't matter one bit. Here in the nest, we moved to an entirely self-hosted solution last year, and while it doesn't have quite nearly as many bells, whistles, and fancy tricks as Google's offering, it's better in almost every conceivable way.

  • Drones, stings, and whistleblowers – Where are the cyberpunk superheroes?

    What do Batman, Spiderman, and Superman all have in common? Don't answer - it's too easy. They all like to perch silently on top of tall buildings, watching the grim streets of the city below them, before swooping, swinging, or jumping down to interfere in the nefarious deeds of ne'er do wells. You know what else is really good at perching silently on top of tall buildings, watching the grim streets of the city below? Drones. And they can convey live video streams the entire time.Some can even be equipped with weapons or nets so that they can join the fight. A drone is the ideal superhero by proxy.

  • AntiSocial media – The Crow dives headlong into the Fediverse

    The Fediverse is not Twitter, and finding people is hard. There isn't a central database of users because there is no centralised server. Everyone exists on separate servers which are capable of interacting with each other (federating), and some allow you to search their members. Some don't, but will allow you to see who has been posting recently. Others are locked down entirely and not searchable.

  • Forget Net Nanny – PiHole will keep your kids’ late-night activity in check

    PiHole also comes with a rather nifty web interface, allowing admins (The Crow in this case) an overview of such trivia as traffic levels, domains blocked, machines on the network, and domains requested. Naturally, I was surprised to see repeated connections to Minecraft servers and Discord coming from devices belonging to my 13 year old at daft O'clock at night. I hit the blacklist button for both domains, blocking both servers instantly - and cutting off my own Discord connection too. Damn.

  • The First President of the Second Confederacy

    The second amendment is pretty unambiguous that it exists to protect against tyranny. If Mr Trump can manage to convince one or more states that by Joe Biden becoming president, they are subject to Tyranny from Washington simps, he's onto a winner. There are some armed individuals who have been waiting for this opportunity all their lives. Whether they truly believe that Mr Trump is the rightful president or not, they are absolutely not going to miss out on the chance to stand arm in arm against the forces of libtard tyranny.

  • Your data wants to be free – but only because you’re a terrible admin

    A middle-aged man named Tom has been watching your porn - the home movies you recorded, along with a woman he assumes is (or was) your wife, back in the mid 90s on a Sony Digital8 handycam. Tom is guessing it was the mid 1990s because of the decor - Laura Ashley furniture and full length mirrors. He pays attention to details. At some point, you've decided to digitise the videos and upload them, along with memories, documents, and music from the intervening decades.

  • FreshRSS – Stay safe and never visit another website again

    FreshRSS is a web-based RSS reader that you host on your own hardware (We use a Raspberry Pi 4B for a number of reasons). Used as a simple RSS reader it's quite nice. You point a web browser to your server, press a button and it will pull down RSS feeds exactly as you would expect - A title, maybe a picture, the stub of an article, or, if the original site allows it (they rarely do), the entire text of an article. You can also have the entire article pulled down to your server in advance - ready to read, and with all of the bullshit pop-ups, nags, adverts and trackers stripped from it.

  • Nextcloud Cookbook is the recipe manager you didn’t know you needed

    Paste the URL of the recipe you want into the URL field, and it will fetch the recipe for you, list all the ingredients in the ingredients section, and itemise the method. It will pull the prep time and cooking time and will even create a clock with the cooking time which will countdown to when you need to take your dish from the oven. Finally, it will also pull a relevant image and place it at the top of the recipe page. If the details are wrong, or you want to change them, you can easily edit individual recipes to your own taste, or create your own recipes from scratch. Neat.

  • G-lined by Undernet? Welcome to the world of 2020

    We've been accessing IRC through a variety of clients since back in 1995 when we were running aMIRC on our much-loved Amiga 1200, later moving onto mIRC on Windows, Icechat, and a few others. Currently we're running IRSSI - a terminal based client, on Linux. Banning a specific IP address from a service is weird and, like IRC itself, somewhat outdated. Most residential addresses have dynamic IPs assigned by their service provider, so for most individuals the ban would expire as soon as they were assigned a new IP by their ISP.

  • The Pandemic Playlist – survive lockdown with these viral classics

    Living through the coronavirus pandemic of 2019 /2020 is like living in a movie – watching the world change beyond recognition as everyday life grinds to a halt. t’s the perfect backdrop for an action film – although not one in which we’re planning on becoming protagonists. We’d be happy with a brief shot of us sipping on a cool beer, watching civilisation go to shit on TV. But every good movie needs a soundtrack, and we’ve compiled the perfect pandemic playlist to ride out the 2020 apocalypse. Here are some of the highlights.

  • What’s in a name? Planetearth.press will be changing

    Although we are concerned about planet Earth, we can’t say that we love writing about it exclusively. We want to write about… other stuff, and being tied to the planet earth theme is holding us back. So we’ve decided to move the site to another domain name and ditch the pictures of outstanding natural beauty. We’re also ditching the commitment to publish on a weekly schedule, and we’ll be pushing out articles on whatever interests us whenever we want to.

  • Neal Stephenson's Fall. How deep does the rabbit hole go?

    Facebook and Twitter each get a shoutout as sowers of chaos, sources of disinformation, and more dangerously, as crucial enablers of the inwardly turning far-right Christian echo chamber of the midwest. This is the world of the 21st century, set on the brink of a schism between the extreme high tech coastal elites and the increasingly isolated tribalists of just about everywhere else.

  • The problem with Pi – Extreme competence

    It’s flawless. It doesn’t even break a sweat even on those occasions when the WP sites are pulling a few hundred visitors per day (we’re not especially popular here, and a few hundred visitors in one day is quite an achievement) – and it’s not surprising.

  • Freelancing in a time of quarantine – and why RSS is the greatest

    Life is hard as freelance writer. Some weeks you’ll spend half of your time searching for writing gigs, a quarter of your time working out how you’re going to structure your articles, with the rest of your working day split evenly between procrastinating and actually getting stuff done.

  • The Outer Worlds – The game Fallout 4 should have been

    Imagine The Fallout series of games if the world had never fallen to nuclear apocalypse and was able to colonise the stars. Or Skyrim in Space. Or Bioshock Infinite if it was an open-world exploration game rather than a strictly limited, almost on-rails murder fest.

  • Mining the moon – pick and rocket required

    On December 19th 1972, mankind left the lunar surface for the last time. It was unspectacular – in a way that lofting 12,000 lb of men and materiel into orbit on a pillar of fire can be. Viewing figures for broadcasts from the Apollo 17 moon exploration mission were low, and as the New York Times put it, pictures, no matter how incredibly good their technical quality, of barren moonscapes and floating astronauts become ordinary and even tedious rather quickly.

  • Dumpster diving for tech – a real life study in the art of reduce, reuse, recycle

    Lawmakers argue about the best way to deal with electronic waste, and environmentalists wax wrathful on the costs associated with recycling 20 year old laptops which were never designed with recycling in mind, while humanitarians wail about the life-shortening conditions in which miners slave to extract the precious metals needed for their production.