Category Archives: Uncategorized

The security of a system is as strong as it’s weakest component

The pad lock that had seized shut on my back gate was proving hard to remove, the hardened steel U was not yielding to my hacksaw. I noticed some rivets underneath that turned out to be soft steel. 10 minutes of sawing and I was in.


Hardened steel U


Soft steel rivets on the bottom


After removing the rivets, hammering off the bottom plate


Bottom plate revealed, lock mechanism removed


Lock open!

Random graph

Random graph, from playing around with RGL in Ruby.
Random graph

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Please, please stop asking, I’ll give you anything!

Me: My order was returned without ever having got to me.
Amazon: I can see that it got sent to the wrong distributor who must have realise this and just returned it.
Me: I see, this has happened twice in the last few weeks, is it going to happen again?
Amazon: I’m sorry to hear that, I’ve extended your Prime by a month free of charge.
Me: Thanks for that, but it seems odd that this never happened before, but has happened twice in a few weeks now. Is this likely to happen again?
Amazon: I’ve upgraded the delivery on your new order to Express, you’ll receive it tomorrow before 1:00PM.
Me: …

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Testing Github commit hook one liners

A couple of ruby one-liners for dumping out the content of a github commit hook payload:

For hooks that use type application/json:

$ ruby -rpp -rjson -rsinatra -e 'set :port, 8000; post "/*" do; pp JSON(; end'

For hooks that use type application/x-www-form-urlencoded:

$ ruby -rpp -rjson -rsinatra -e 'set :port, 8000; post "/*" do; pp JSON(params[:payload]); end'
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New Pi mount, and testing the power requirements

Testing the robot power requirements

Before I pick a battery I need to know what power requirements my robot is going to have so I took it into the hackspace to test. I hooked it up to one of the power supplies then ran all the systems, so Streaming video off the Raspberry Pi over wireless whilst running the motors. I weight it down with a large motor (the big black thing) and then provided resistance, it peaks at about 1.6 amps.

In the video you can also see the new side mounted Raspberry Pi and the base of the ping-pong ball hopper.

Detail view of the side mounted Raspberry Pi and the base of the ping-pong ball hopper:

Raspberry Pi mount and ping-pong ball hopper base

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Downloadable plot hole filler

A response I got from Apple:

Dear Will,

I understand that you have questions about downloading filler for the plot-holes in [the movie] Battleship. My name is Pauline and I will be more than happy to help you resolve this.

I am very glad that you have been able to view the rental “Battleship”, I hope you enjoyed this film and had fun watching it. While I cannot comment or assist with filter for the content of the movie, I would be more than happy to look in to any other account issues you may be experiencing.

It has been a pleasure assisting you today. Should you have any other concerns you wish to raise, please let me know. Have a nice day!



Creating animated gifs with imagemagick

In my last post I linked to some animated gifs I made on my mac. It’s pretty easy if you have imagemagick installed.

Simply get a bunch of images together and use the convert command:

convert -resize 900x -loop 0 -delay 10 DSC_8264.JPG DSC_8265.JPG DSC_8266.JPG DSC_8267.JPG DSC_8268.JPG DSC_8269.JPG DSC_8270.JPG jon_walk.gif

The last argument is the output filename. The options should be self explanatory, but you can check them up in the man page if you want to tweak the values.

Paula Deen riding things

I made some Paula Deen riding… pictures. Because I can. Find more here.

Cloud email service price comparison

Larger interactive versions of all the graphs on this page are available here.

Update: Added Mailgun to the graphs.

Earlier this year I posted a price comparison between Sendgrid, and the then newly available Amazon SES.

Tim Falls commented on the post saying that Sendgrid had updated their pricing:

Since this post was published, we have released a new pricing structure *and* a new service tier that offers more email for less + a feature set and pricing model that you will find very competitive with SES.

That was back in June, so it’s about time I produced an updated comparison. First, lets look at the difference between the old and new Sendgrid prices:

Comparison of old and new Sendgrid prices, click for a larger version

Overall the up-front plan prices, and prices for email over allowance have remained the same, but email allowance within each plan has increased. The exception is the Silver plan where email over allowance has increased by $0.0001/email. New to the lineup is the Lite plan.

More interesting is how these new prices compare to the competitors. I’ve added in Amazon SES, and Postmark too:

Sendgrid, Postmark and Amazon SES price comparison, click for a larger version

The most notable differences here are the inclusion of Postmark, and the the Sendgrid Lite plan that shadows Amazon SES. I’d guess this was added purely to compete with Amazon. As in my last post it is hard to see what is going on with smaller numbers of emails being sent, here’s a zoom on the origin:

Price comparison for small numbers of emails sent, click for a larger version

Here you can see the Sendgrid Lite plan shadowing Amazon and the Postmark costs heading up rapidly.


It seems Sendgrid have just added an ‘Amazon SES’ plan to pull back any customers that would have chosen SES based on price. It’s probably a good move, and it will allow easy transition into their more ‘premium’ plans if you sign up and later decide to change plan.

Given the advertised features of Postmark compared to the price it seems hard to consider using them. They seem to have some fairly well known customers though, so if anyone has used Postmark leave a comment with how that is working out for you.

So which email cloud provider should you use? Use the graphs I made, but price is only going to be one factor, so check what each provider offers. I’ve linked to all the pricing pages below.

Price sources

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What is the correct order to watch the Star Wars films in?

A friend of mine recently announced on Twitter that he was introducing his wife to Star Wars, however to my shock and horror he said he would be starting off with Episode 1 which just seemed so wrong…

What is the correct order to watch the Star Wars films in?

I’ll be starting my eldest daughter off on the first Star Wars film (Episode 4) soon too, it just seems like the natural order. When I had calmed down and stopped frothing at the mouth I explained my worries to him and he asked for references.

Every conversation I have ever had on the subject of the correct order to watch the Star Wars movies in has resulted in an agreement that 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3 is the correct order, but I never got it in writing so I decided it was time to get evidence, from Twitter!

The first response was direct to me in IRC:

17:01 Caius: 4,5,6,1,2,3
17:01 Caius: *IF* you let them watch 1,2,3

That’s fairly standard, it’s often debated wether bothering with Episodes 1, 2 and 3 is worth it, though I think I will show 4, 5 and 6 to my daughters eventually. The rest of the responses came quickly on Twitter:

Well that was the sort of response I was expecting, except the one person who suggested Episodes 4, 5 then 6 followed by the Christmas Special@mibly, you’re sick! Here is the response as a pie-chart to better illustrate the responses:

Not a single person out of my highly representative sample group voted for Episode 1, 2 then 3 first. I kind of agree with @prettierpixels that the in-jokes will be missed if Episodes 1, 2 and 3 are watched first, but I just have a sort of deep-down intuitive feeling that Star Wars will be spoiled if Episodes 4, 5 then 6 aren’t watched first.

Got an opinion? Post it in the comments!

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