Thursday, July 23, 2015

Flickr authorisation URL doesn't work on certain browser components

Writing a Flickr app for Windows Phone I was confused as to why the authorisation URL was forwarding the user to instead of the authorisation page after they logged in and I had to detect that and forward them to the authentication URL again. After a while even this stopped working, despite the fact that copying the URL into IE worked as expected, ie, after the user logged in they were forwarded to the authorisation page. For a while I was convinced Flickr must be discriminating by user agent string. The answer was staring me in the face, which was pointed to by an SO answer. Scripts weren't running on the browser in the app, they are disabled by default, you have to enable scripts in the Windows Phone WebBrowser component with IsScriptEnabld.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Manually Fixing Multiple Screens with Different DPIs in Linux

Step 1:

Set the system wide DPI to a comfortable level for your highest resolution screen, using X Resources. There is a DPI calculator here.

Step 2:

With the DPI set in step 1, work out what scaling is comfortable on your secondary screen. You can do this by adjusting the layout.css.devPixelsPerPx Firefox setting or with xrandr, eg:

xrandr --output HDMI1 --scale 1.3x1.3

Step 3:

Calculate the total screen size for the xrandr --fb parameter. To do this multiply the x and y resolution values of your secondary screen by the scaling factor, and then add the primary value, depending on whether you have your screens left/right or above/below. In my case both my monitors are 1920x1080, my secondary monitor is scaled at 1.3 and I have my primary monitor below my secondary monitor, so my total screen size is 1920 * 1.3 x 1080 * 1.3 + 1080, or 2496x2484.

Step 4:

Calculate the position of your two monitors. My primary monitor is centred below my secondary monitor. So my secondary monitor is at 0x0 and my primary monitor is at (1920 * 1.3 - 1920) / 2 x 1080 * 1.3 or 285x1404.

Step 5:

Put the above values into xrandr:

xrandr --output HDMI1 --scale 1.3x1.3 --mode 1920x1080 --fb 2496x2484 --pos 0x0
xrandr --output eDP1 --scale 1x1 --pos 285x1404

With thanks to this SE post.

Monday, September 29, 2014

How not to Transfer Your Domains Between Registrars

TL;DR: i) Before transferring your domains to a new registrar make sure every single piece of contact information on them is EXACTLY the same. ii) I can't recommend

I own several domains, one of which I use for my primary email address. A while ago I read Naoki Hiroshima's account of being held to ransom due to someone taking over the domain he used for his primary email address. At the time I contacted my registrars to ask what security measures they had in place to make sure this wouldn't happen to me (not that I think I have much of value to steal). Their replies didn't fill me with confidence. More recently I read of a registrar that can enforce two step authentication on accounts, I decided to take the plunge and initiated the transfer of my two domains (free), three .com domains (£8.63 each) and one .it domain (£9.20) to

The domains transferred very quickly, apparently without issue, however I noticed that the "owners" of the two domains were two different accounts to the one I was currently logged in as. Upon contacting Gandi they told me that because my details were slightly different for each of the two domains and for the administrative/technical contacts three accounts had been created. I could have used the two owner accounts and ditched the admin/tech account, but that was the account that I had also requested the .it and .com domains be transferred to. Gandi told me that to transfer the domains between accounts I would effectively be changing the owner of the domain. So I initiated the process to transfer the two domains to my main account, which would apparently cost me £4.60 per domain, not too expensive, and hopefully they'd be renewed in the process. But after following their instructions I was further notified that I would need to initiate the transfer with Nominet and pay them a further fee of £12 per domain. Considering I wasn't even transferring the domains between people I felt this was getting a bit ridiculous and gave up.

After three days I was notified that there had been an error transferring the .it domain. Gandi's wiki said that the error message meant that my previous registrar had blocked the transfer, so I contacted Livetodot. Livetodot said that the domain had been successfully transferred away from them and pointed out that the whois record even specifically said so. So I went back to Gandi. Another day later I got an email confirmation from Gandi saying that the domain transfer was complete, but gave no explanation as to what had gone wrong. During this period DNS had been failing on my domain for at least three days. It was at this point that I realised how stupid it was to use my primary email address on the domain that my primary email address uses, and I started to get nervous. While the .it transfer had now been successful, the domain owner apparently didn't exactly match any of my three Gandi accounts and so a fourth account had been created and marked as owner.

Luckily my three .com domains, including my primary email domain, eventually transferred without incident, and with the original Gandi account as the owner. I can now use this account as a central account to administer all of my domains as it is at least the technical contact for all my accounts. However I now have another issue besides the four accounts. As I said above I think it's stupid to have the contact email address of a domain using that same domain, so I would like to change the email address on just that domain. However Gandi's system doesn't seem to allow for that, only allowing one account to have one email address, so to change the email address for one of my .com domains I have to change it for all the domains owned by that account.

All in all I don't think I can recommend Their system seems to be based on the incorrect assumption that each account is a different entity and each entity will only have one email address. I also wonder if other registrars (and why Gandi doesn't) just recognise an email address as a unique identifier and not worry if other details are slightly different.

Having done a bit more research there are other registrars that can do two step authentication, including Hover and EuroDNS. Reading Naoki Hiroshima's post again I notice that the hacker actually recommended NameCheap and eNom as secure registrars, although that information is a bit dated now and besides, I'm not sure if we should trust a hacker.

UPDATE: When I was initially thinking of going through with transferring the domains to a single account I created an account with Nominet and I seem to remember being able to see both of my domains, but now I can only see one. Nominet and Gandi both say that this is because the two domains have different email addresses on the owner contact, but in the Gandi control panel they both look the same to me.

UPDATE II: After getting pretty much nowhere with their support I emailed their batline, nobullshit(at) Coincidentally or not the very same day their support agreed to transfer my domains to my central account, if I were to change my email address at Nominet. Nominet let you change your email address without any sort of confirmation with the old email address or the new email address, something that I pointed out to them was likely to get domains lost or stolen. A week later my domains still haven't been transferred. I also got a direct reply from Gandi's COO and "Chief Evangelist". Unfortunately this email confirms that their "no bullshit" tag line is just that, bullshit.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Recommended Apps for Windows Phone 8

True Calendar 8

The native WP8 calendar sucks, it defaults to viewing one day, but doesn't fit it onto one screen, it doesn't have a week view at all, the month view is pretty much useless because you can't read the appointments and if you try to click on them or click on a day it switches to the crappy day view.

I can't recommend True Calendar 8 highly enough, it possibly has too many configuration options, and you can only have a maximum of one account each of Google, MS and Facebook, but apart from that it's pretty much perfect and is what the native calendar should have been.

Ocell (Twitter)

Ocell is buggy, crashing and refusing to load tweets relatively often, however in my experience, and given my demands, it is still by far the best WP8 Twitter app that I've seen. My demands mainly being configurable, swipeable columns, mainly consisting of my lists, just like Tweetdeck and then Hootsuite let me do.

Flickr Central / Flickr Booth

Flickr Central and Flickr Booth are both very good apps. They both allow you to automatically upload images, periodically update the lock screen image from particular pools of Flickr photos and view activity on your photos and your contacts' latest uploads. They also both improve on the manual uploading of images.

Flickr Central has a better photo page and a better page for showing you activity on your own photos, however it doesn't show replies to your comments on other people's photos.

UPDATE Aug 2014: I don't know if it's WP8.1 or what but recently I've been finding FC's auto-upload buggy and I can no longer share photo URLs and the developer is no longer responding to emails.

Flickr Booth has a nice tile for the start screen that can show you recent uploads from your contacts or activity on your photos. It also allows you to specify what album to auto upload from and what date to start uploading them from. However the lock screen image rotates too often IMHO and only uses your 10 most recent favourites.

The official Flickr app sucks, mostly because the logo and title always cover half the screen. Yes, really. It's also missing auto uploading and uploading multiple images from the share context menu.

Phone Tracker

I don't expect this will be on everyone's essentials list, but I really like having a record of my location, mostly so that I can geo-tag my photos. Phone Tracker is just the ticket, very simple and straightforward, it can upload kml files nightly to SkyOneDrive. My only complaint is that it puts the files in the root, cluttering them up, it would be much better if it used its own subdirectory.

SMS to Speech

Not an app, but the other day I found a setting which covered an app that I used to find very useful on Android, Settings -> Speech -> Read incoming text messages aloud. Unfortunately it's crippled somewhat by the fact that it asks you whether you want it to read the text message or not. Somehow I don't think that's going to be very practical when I'm riding through London :-/


Authenticator for accounts that use such two step authentication like Google and MS. Has a handy copy feature. TV Guide for UK TV schedules.


Facebook, Instagram, eBay and Whatsapp. Although I wish Whatsapp would use different colours for different people in group chats.


Firefox. I'd also really like a decent IMAP client. The native mail client is fine for basic stuff, but I'd really like something that handled folders with more finesse. Note that Mail Plus is not an email client, it's for sending emails with attachments.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Script to set Firefox zoom/dpi/devPixelsPerPx on the command line




grep -v $SETTING $BAK > $PREF
echo "user_pref(\"$SETTING\", \"$1\");" >> $PREF


grep -v $SETTING $BAK > $PREF
echo $CURR >> $PREF

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sexism at

I think it's fair to say that The Register has always been the red top of tech publishing, I haven't minded in the past, I'm partial to a bit of puerile humour myself, but their sexist and sexualised headlines seem to have been particularly bad over the last few months. It also seems to have been a very bad year for women in tech, as they say, although maybe every year is a bad year for women in tech.
There sometimes comes a point where you have to vote with your feet, I've tried to give up Google, and now I'm giving up The Register. It's a shame, I mostly like the content, it's only the headlines and the odd Andrew Orlowski polemic that I object to.
The examples below are a few stories I've noticed, ranging from genuine IT stories with arguably offensive innuendo crowbarred into their headlines (the first one is a good example), through vaguely IT-y stories with a sexual element (see the Oracle story for example) to non-IT non-stories that allow a titillating headline and/or picture (take Pamela Anderson, please). There's a bit of everyday sexism too.
Incidentally Bridget Christie Minds the Gap has been excellent.
UPDATE: Ok, they're just trying to rile me now.
UPDATE 22-Jan-2014 : I've been keeping an eye on it and they really seem to have cleaned up their act, both in respects of the images and the headlines.

Monday, September 30, 2013

(Almost) Passive Cooling an Acer Aspire Revo R3600 Intel Atom 330

(Almost) Passive Cooling an Acer Aspire Revo R3600 Intel Atom 330 After I removed the fan of my Revo R3600 in order to change the hard drive it became incredibly noisy, sounding a bit like a motorbike. Given that it was in the lounge I needed to do something about it. At work one evening I realised there might be a nice big heat sink in a recently deceased Dell Optiplex 380 (I think) desktop. There was, and it was an amazingly good fit, though it's not properly attached (yet). I use fancontrol to switch the fan on at 60C, and it doesn't come on often. The piece of paper is blocking a hole in the fan, forcing all the air to pass through the heat sink.

Ideally I'd get rid of the fan and stand the case up to let the air flow naturally through the heat sink.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Truth About Film and Airport X-Ray Machines

When I went to Africa recently on honeymoon, I took with me my new bride, and a load of film. I was a bit concerned about the effects of X-ray machines at airports, but apart from keeping it in my had luggage I didn't have much choice but to put them through (I did speak to a photography shop about lead lined bags, but was advised that they didn't work, and may just result in technicians requesting that the film canisters go through again). In total they went through thirteen, yes, thirteen, X-ray machines, at places as big as Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle right down to Inhamebane, one of the smallest airports I have ever used in my life.

The set below is a film which I took with me, but didn't use at the time. I mention this particular film because it is particularly fast, at ISO 1600, and as far as I can see shows no ill effects of all those X-rays.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Giving up Google

For a while now I've been mulling over quitting Google. I started to think about trying out Yahoo Mail for its tabbed interface, which I quite like; Gmail is starting to look dated. But more than that I felt like a bit of a hypocrite, I don't like Google (especially now they've killed off the Location History API), I often bitch about them, and yet I was using many of their products virtually every hour of every day.

Products and services of Googles that I use include search, email, maps, location recording, mobile OS, calendar, blogging (oh the irony), price finding, Keep (their mobile notes app), YouTube, I even use Google for my SMTP server from home, although in practice that's only data from RSS feeds. The only one of their big products that I don't use is their browser, Chrome, I've always thought giving them that extra bit of control over my life a step too far.

Switching email providers was easy for me as I've always used my domain registrar to forward my mail to Google, so switching to a Yahoo address was easy. If you don't want to lose your Gmail address you can use their pop/imap service with any other email service/client of your choice. While this won't stop Google from reading scanning your mail, or sharing it with the NSA, it will remove one of their ad revenue streams and can allow you to gradually migrate, slowly changing your address with third parties. Of course, moving to Yahoo won't completely stop the NSA, but it might help a bit, and I feel happier spreading my eggs between many different baskets.

I used Yahoo Mail for a bit, but was then pointed in the direction of FastMail.FM, and haven't looked back since. It feels a lot more professional than Yahoo Mail and offers threading, but doesn't offer the same inbox configuration options. But that's about the only configuration option that FastMail.FM doesn't offer, the configuration pages are labyrinthine, the Alternative Login options being a particular gem. The domain options are good too, similar to Google Apps I suppose. I've left what I originally wrote about Yahoo Mail at the bottom of this post, in case you're interested.

FastMail's privacy policy is written in plain English and is worth a read.

There are a few options for search, I've been using DuckDuckGo and StartPage. StartPage feels like cheating a bit as it uses Google's results, but using DuckDuckGo I became paranoid that I was missing the best results. DuckDuckGo does seem to return decent results, but I do feel that you need to craft your queries slightly differently, adding a subject or context which you might not have had to do with Google search, and I do occasionally check Google results if DDG hasn't returned the solution I was looking for.

I am still using an Android mobile phone currently (my cursed HTC One), but I plan to get a Lumia 1020, just as soon as they are out in the UK. And become affordable. And Three pay out, which they have promised to do.

Maps and calendar are two things that I am not only not too bothered about, but will also probably be forced to migrate once I switch to Windows Mobile.

Google+... only joking.

Google products that I am left using fall onto a scale of so important, frequently used and/or apparently irreplaceable that I can't move away from them, such as Google Talk for chatting to my friends who I can't force to move to another medium (at home I use the third party client Pidgin, but at work I seem to have to use the Google app to get past the firewall), image search and location history, which is invaluable to me for geo-tagging photos, to not really that bothered about and don't use very often, but easily replaceable, such as Blogger, Drive and Docs and YouTube.

Of course the elephant in the room is Facebook. I've tried to minimise the amount of stuff that Facebook knows about me, lying about my date of birth, removing all my employment and educational details. Although none of that will help when the tabloids want to find an incriminating picture of me.

UPDATE: I have just received my Nokia Lumia 1020 and can report that Windows Phone 8 is definitely usable. My only complaint so far being that the keyboard takes up half the screen, doesn't do any numbers/symbols as long presses and doesn't support Swyping.

Yahoo have updated their mail interface making the following even more redundant. I haven't looked in detail but the update seems to include threading, and making the preview setting sync between settings.

Having used Yahoo Mail for a few weeks I can report that it is definitely usable, though it does lack many features (threading's a biggie*, I now understand why people top-quote) and many options (you can't configure your inbox** or sending format for example). However the Android app is fine, and I got used to the niggles quickly. One issue that concerned me, spam filtering, turned out not to be an issue. A couple of spam messages have got through, but hopefully with training they will trail off. Yahoo Mail even has some advantages over Gmail, including the fact that the orientation of the preview pane is specific to each local machine, so my work PC with its portrait monitor can remain different to my home PC in landscape, with Gmail I stopped using the preview pane due to having to constantly switch.

* If you're missing threading, I might point out Yahoo Mail has a feature to mitigate this. When you hover over the subject of a message in the inbox a magnifying glass appears next to it. Click this and Yahoo Mail will show you all messages with the same subject line. The same can be done with senders too.

** Not being able to configure my inbox to default to showing unread messages first has made me rethink how I manage my emails, which in the long run might be a good thing.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It’s Great When You’re Straight… Yeah

[This article was originally published by Oliver Hotham at (Google Cache) but was taken down after a DMCA take down request from Straight Pride. See his update here.]
There has never been a better time to be gay in this country. LGBTI people will soon enjoy full marriage equality, public acceptance of homosexuality is at an all time high, and generally a consensus has developed that it’s really not that big of a deal what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms. The debate on Gay Marriage in the House of Commons was marred by a few old reactionaries, true, but generally it’s become accepted that full rights for LGBTI people is inevitable and desirable. Thank God.
But some are deeply troubled by this unfaltering march toward common decency, and they call themselves the Straight Pride movement.
Determined to raise awareness of the “heterosexual part of our society”, Straight Pride believe that a militant gay lobby has hijacked the debate on sexuality in this country, and encourage their members, among other things, to “come out” as straight, posting on their Facebook page that:
“Coming out as straight or heterosexual in today’s politically correct world is an extremely challenging experience. It is often distressing and evokes emotions of fear, relief, pride and embarrassment.”
I asked them some questions.
First of all, what prompted you to set up Straight Pride UK?
Straight Pride is a small group of heterosexual individuals who joined together after seeing the rights of people who have opposing views to homosexuality trampled over and, quite frankly, oppressed.
With the current political situation in the United Kingdom with gay marriage passing, everyone is being forced to accept homosexuals, and other chosen lifestyles and behaviours, no matter their opposing views. Straight Pride has seen people sued, and businesses affected, all because the homosexual community do not like people having a view or opinion that differs from theirs.
Are your beliefs linked to religion? How many of you derive your views from scripture?
Straight Pride aims are neutral and we do not follow religion, but we do support people who are oppressed for being religious. Only today, Straight Pride see that two homosexual parents are planning to sue the Church because they ‘cannot get what they want’. This is aggressive behaviour and this is the reason why people have strong objections to homosexuals.
You say that one of your goals is “to raise awareness of the heterosexual part of society”. Why do you feel this is necessary?
The Straight Pride mission is to make sure that the default setting for humanity is not forgotten and that heterosexuals are allowed to have a voice and speak out against being oppressed because of the politically correct government.
Straight Pride feel the need to raise awareness of heterosexuality, family values, morals, and traditional lifestyles and relationships.
Your website states that “Homosexuals have more rights than others”. What rights specifically do LGBTI people have that straight people are denied?
Homosexuals do currently have more rights than heterosexuals, their rights can trump those of others, religious or not. Heterosexuals cannot speak out against homosexuals, but homosexuals are free to call people bigots who don’t agree with homosexuality, heterosexuals, religious or not, cannot refuse to serve or accommodate homosexuals, if they do, they face being sued, this has already happened.
Straight Pride believe anyone should be able to refuse service and speak out against something they do not like or support.
There is a hotel in the south of England, called Hamilton Hall which only accepts homosexuals – if this is allowed, then hotels should have the choice and right to who they accommodate.
What has been the response to your campaign?
The response to Straight Pride’s formation has been as expected; hostile, threatening, and aggressive. Homosexuals do not like anyone challenging them or their behaviour.
We have had support from many people saying that if homosexuals can have a Pride March, and then equality should allow Heterosexuals to have one too. After all, the homosexual movement want everyone to have equality.
Why would you say that heterosexuality is the “natural orientation”?
Heterosexuality is the default setting for the human race, this is what creates life, if everyone made the decision to be homosexual, life would stop. People are radicalised to become homosexual, it is promoted to be ‘okay’ and right by the many groups that have sprung up.
Marriage is a man and a woman, homosexuals had Civil Partnerships, which was identical to Marriage with all the same rights, they wanted to destroy Marriage and have successfully done so.
If you could pick one historical figure to be the symbol of straight pride (just as figures like Alan Turing, Judith Butler or Peter Tatchell would be for Gay Pride) which would you choose?
Straight Pride would praise Margaret Thatcher for her stance on Section 28, which meant that children were not taught about homosexuality, as this should not on the curriculum.
More recently, Straight Pride admire President Vladimir Putin of Russia for his stance and support of his country’s traditional values.
How do you react to anti-gay attacks and movements in Russia and parts of Africa?
Straight Pride support what Russia and Africa is doing, these country have morals and are listening to their majorities. These countries are not ‘anti-gay’ – that is a term always used by the Homosexual Agenda to play the victim and suppress opinions and views of those against it.
These countries have passed laws, these laws are to be respected and no other country should interfere with another country’s laws or legislation.
We have country wide events which our members attend, and ask people their opinions and views, on such event at Glastonbury this year was very positive with the majority of people we asked, replied they were happily heterosexual.
For the record, Straight Pride did not respond to these questions:
“Pride” movements such as Gay Pride and Black Pride were making the argument that the stigma against them meant that proclaiming their “pride” was an act of liberation from oppression. Can being heterosexually really compare?
A problem that Gay rights activists cite is the issue of bullying, and the effect this can have on young LGBT people. Do you think a similar problem exists with straight children being bullied by gay children?
I will obviously add to this if they do respond.
You can follow Straight Pride on Twitter here and see their Facebook page here.