Tag Archives: Technology

Protecting yourself from camera hacking

We sometimes hear about camera hacking – how big a problem is it and how do we prevent it?

This infographic on the issue shows some of the shocking examples of hacking going back a number of years and how we can protect ourselves from it. The link to the full article is:



Infographic credit to Kaylee White – thanks for contacting me.

Simon 🙂

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD – Amazing Value or Exuberant Con?

A little while ago my trusty Lenovo Yoga tablet was destoyed, as was my little LG. I was more than a little gutted. With not much budget to replace them with I bought a 7″ Kindle Fire HD.


When I first turned it on I have to say I was impressed. Great screen with  easy to access functions. There’s all the popular apps available like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and WordPress in the app store so things started out well. But then when I got to look a little closer, many of the applications I need and in a way would expect from a device like this were unavailable. Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Keep, Google maps, Google Chrome… Spotted a theme? Yup – no Google!

This wasn’t all – Firefox is not available which is a pin as I use this as my default web browser and all of my favourites an history is synced to it. Then I found out that while I can install Netflix – it doesn’t work! Semi popular apps like Pinterest and StumbleUpon are also not available. So within minutes of unwrapping my sleek new Kindle Fire I feeling a tinge of disappointment. At this point I can hear cries of ‘so what? It’s just Amazon’s operating system right?’

No – this is where we really get to the heart of the issue and here’s why:

Amazon’s Kindle is Android based. That’s right, Amazon has taken Google’s own Android OS, hacked and fettled it to make it their own and in the process have kicked Google off it at the same time. I have to ask myself why this is, does Amazon hate Google? Maybe, but it’s a bit hypocritical to take the stack OS from a company you hate and then use it while locking them out. Or have Amazon wanted to make it their own? I’m not sure on this, in a way this makes Amazon worse than Apple for being technically introverted. The only thing that saves it a bit from this is it’s use of standard USB and Bluetooth. This though is marred by the fact that I can’t see a way to use my Google Chromecast with my Fire HD, which is another disappointment.


For me a clue to what’s going on and in some ways eases the confusion is when the power button is pressed and the standby screen comes on. This is annoying, every time you turn on the Kindle there’s adverts for anything Amazon. Books, Films, special offers, every time there’s something different.


What this means though is that whatever else the Fire HD is, primarily it’s a selling platform for good, apps and services. This can also be seem with Amazon’s Fire TV stick where games, token and films come at a pretty heft cost. The touch screen is responsive and it feels like a quality Android 7″ tablet, there doesn’t seem to have been much penny pinching with the build quality over a device that costs twice the price.

When you turn it on for the first time you notice is that Amazon have kindly set up and linked the device to the Amazon account that it was bought from, all of the books, music and films you have bought are instantly available.

The Fire HD works just like any other 7″ tablet and while the different home screens set up by Amazon give it a custom feel you don’t have to dig deep to find the Android roots. The stock web browser that come with it is called Silk – however it’s fooling no one becasue when the user signs into any accounts you the annoying security email comes it clearly thinks that it’s being signed into by Chrome.


The whole thing is still confusing to me, it’s good at what it does, but there’s so much it doesn’t do and does a reduced price tag make up for it? It all depend on how a user looks at it I think – if you’re a cynic that thinks Amazon is trying to get of Google then it’s crap tablet. But if you’re after something to read your books on, browse the internet and get you’re emails, then it’s an incredible e-book reader!

Simon 🙂


Circuit Mechanix – March 2017

Welcome to the first issue of Circuit Mechanix this year! A little later than expected this issue focuses on flexi and flex rigid PCB design and manufacture. This issue also looks at the National Physics Laboratory soldering defects database and we get a new feature – The PCB Mechanic. Every issue will now […]

via Circuit Mechanix – March 2017 — circuitmechanix

Where my feet have been – A Radio Telescope Array


Having just moved to another work building (which is even more in the sticks) I took my usual walk about and I have to warn you now that the lifespan of my brain might be a bit reduced because I discovered that we’re surrounded by radio telescopes. In every direction!

For some reason I find these strangely fascinating and have taken just a few pics to share:


Simon 🙂

Humans on Mars – My view on the Logic and Insanity

The concept of human colonising Mars isn’t new – it’s decades old and has been talked about since space travel started in the 1950’s and 60’s. Since the Moon landings the science community has viewed that travelling to Mars as being the next logical step in manned space exploration. The science and engineering behind this effort is staggering and while no actual missions are definitely planned in, the discussions have not ended and will carry on until we finally achieve this.

the martian 8

The way in which we travel to Mars has modified over time, I can remember when then missions talked about would last for some months on the Red Planet in order to make it worth the effort. I recent years though this has slowly changed to the realisation that missions to Mars are going to be one way only. You go to live the rest of your days there. This ties in nicely with the ethics of the colonisation of Mars, the preservation and advancement of the human race seems to be important right now. While I get this and there are those that have volunteered for this which is amazing, but do they really know what it’s going to be like? I’m sure a few months will be brilliant fun, but let’s face it 10 years down the line you might well have gone completely insane – if you haven’t starved to death.

Starvation and human preservation is kind of what brings me to some of the insanity around this. I’ve seen people talking about Mars being the next place the hum races goes to once we’ve finished ruining the Earth.

Seriously… WTF?!?

Do you seriously think that it’s all going to be ok to plunder the Earth until it’s a wasteland and then park up on Mars? When was the last time you saw this place?

mars 4

This is it. It doesn’t change much. Nothing grows here, there is no atmosphere to breathe despite what science fiction movies tell us (it’s called fiction for a reason). If we reduce Earth to a wasteland we won’t find anything better on Mars. Colonising Mars is a huge step towards human living permanently off Earth but it’s not a second option to Earth. Earth must be preserved!

The other insane idea is that of Elon Musk’s to create a martian atmosphere by detonating nuclear warheads at the poles, melting them and creating an atmosphere. This is so flawed it’s not funny. Mars has a tiny magnetic field, so it cannot keep much of an atmosphere. But even if it could – everyone would be breathing radioactive air for the next 1000 years! There is also his vision to make travel to Mars accessible to all, costing around $200,000 a trip.

As in every huge project, there is insanity that rides with it. Travelling to Mars is going to be expensive. Living on Mars will be even more expensive and will be very hard! The rewards could be unimaginable and ultimately so will the costs.

Simon 🙂