Hull Blogs

Aggregated posts from University of Hull students

Joining SIS at Hull

In December I interviewed and was a successful applicant to become a member of the SIS (Student Information System) Transition Software Tester Team at the University. I joined the SIS team at Hull to gain industry experience working with delivering a large project which is evolving. I also wanted experience working in both testing and live environments and prepare me for working in the future, as well as adding to my studies with real world experience (as life doesn’t follow the textbook!) Although software testing isn’t the field I want to go into after University, the agile methodology with everybody gaining an understanding of and the ability to do every role I find really useful, and think it gives team members a better understanding of their colleagues’ abilities. In addition to this getting a perspective from what a tester sees will allow me to become a better developer. Last Monday to Wednesday the team went on the BCS ISTQB Foundation Testing course which was really interesting and covered the fundamentals of testing asking why should we test, how do we define the objectives of testing and the types of test we can do. I also achieved the qualification after passing the end exam. We also discussed how every project is different and agile does not suit every project so each project needs an individual analysis and looking at how we can manage testing in a team. Although the course was aimed to assist us in our overview of testing, I’ve found it really insightful overall in understanding how large a process creating or updating software is, which has widened my understanding of the software lifecycle. This also has assisted with my Software Engineering and HCI module as we’re now going over in lectures some of the content we discussed in detail in the training. You can see more about what I did here (including a quote from yours truly) …
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Banking on future technologies

Time for one last post of 2017! Happy New Year I joined Monzo, a challenger bank in September as a better way to manage my money when moving to University and to allow me to be able to track my spending to see where and when my money was going. My initial money management plan for the first week was keeping a pile of receipts and just paying for everything using my Santander Student Account; this was foiled by the fact that as with all conventional banks, it takes 1-5 days for spending to actually appear in my account by which time I’ve already gone over-budget, as well as Sainsbury’s Locals not providing itemised receipts for my shopping (saving the planet but meaning I don’t know what I’ve bought when I look back). At the start I was only really interested for the instant push notifications, and ability to make notes and add receipts for purchases on the prepaid MasterCard allowing me to see in a timeline where and when I’m spending money. In the last month they’ve moved me over to a real Current Account with a MasterCard Debit; as a bank it’s almost perfect for me (it just needs Apple Pay, which is believed to the in the works). Where the real interest comes though is in the technology that sits behind the bank Where legacy banks really fail is their underlying architecture, with RBS’ outdated infrastructure causing their Santander deal to fall through and an outage over Christmas in 2012, and Lloyds HBOS implementation costing around £1.3bn to join their two legacy systems, which are too expensive to replace. Although these banks are trying to keep up with nice looking customer facing apps and revamped web interfaces, however the systems sat behind these interfaces date from the 90’s and earlier and struggle to keep up with the modern way banks are used with contactless and card for almost all payments which can be seen as less than half of consumer payments were cash in 2015. What attracted me to Monzo is their use of AWS and building their scalable platform on modern cloud-computing technologies, the same provider used by Netflix, Spotify, AirBnB and thousands of other tech companies use. If your social media apps can update in an instant, why shouldn’t your bank balance be able to? They’re also ahead of the curve on an API for banking too, where under the European Payment Service Directive (PSD2) all banks are required to share data with the user and other companies if the user allows which is in the works and should be released for all legacy banks in 2019. API access will revolutionise the way that we bank, with me challenging myself yesterday to write an app to access Monzo’s (Beta API) getting my JSON feeds of accounts transactions, and individual transaction information to give me an amazing amount of detail. My code is now on GitHub, it has a Flask web interface and fetches all my transactions, sorting whether they’re purchases, incoming and outgoing payments and changing their colour depending on this as well as fetching the merchant’s icon if they have one and display it to the user. There’s so many other things I can and want to implement on this though, like using MapBox to plot all transactions on a map, and using something like ChartJS track what types of shops money is being spent at. Overall, it’s a really interesting technology (for me anyway) to have my hands on my own data and allow me to process it and use it as I want, instead of just having a list and a statement as I do with my other banks and will let me plan and work out my money so I’m not spending the next 3 years eating just pasta! …
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Clearing Video

A while back I was asked by the digital marketing team whether I would feature in a promotional video for Computer Science and here it is! It speaks to the quality of the answers that I gave to their questions that what you see here is a subset of the whole of my ramblings.…
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Hello, again

It’s been a while, 88 days to be exact (that’s scary). A lot has changed; namely the fact I’m now living across the country, after a stressful few August weeks I’m now studying Computer Science at the University of Hull, in the UK’s City of Culture 2017. It’s been a big move, and pretty weird to be honest, but exciting to discover somewhere new. The course is pretty interesting, in semester one we’re studying Computer Systems (essentially how computers work), Quantitative Methods for Computing (Maths around computing) and Programming 1 (basic programming in C#). Everything is just happening so fast on the course at the moment though; as every day blurs together and I’ve completed almost 40% of some of my modules already through assessments, scary! I dived right in with WelcomeFest at Hull and had some pretty cool opportunities including seeing Scouting for Girls, the historic side of Hull and getting videoed writhing in a giant tube (0.30). Registration was a bit of an odd experience, with three identical lectures that didn’t really say much, and it took over a week to get my ID card so I could get in places, but after that it was more interesting! I’ve also tried to take part in as many things beyond the course as I could, like meeting with the BCS on my second week for an informal review, joining BCS, becoming a Course Rep, going to two talks on power stations (one of which was accidental) and becoming one of the founding members of our new BCS Student Chapter/Computer Science Society. I’ve also got my first software development related job, becoming a Student Tester for Hull University on their new student information system, which I’m very excited for. There are some more blog posts planned for here soon, but at the moment I’m always busy with something to do. I’m excited for what I’ve got to come. We also have loads of rabbits around our accommodation, which is nice (see right) – we also have 2 cats, 3 squirrels and a fox, it’s like a (slightly underwhelming) nature reserve. …
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How does online location work?

What is geolocation Locating devices online can be done in a variety of ways, one of the most popular ways for this is by using IP address. You can check your own IP here and get quite sinisterly close in some instances to your home address. IP geolocation works by somebody looking up what your IP address is and comparing it to an official database of who holds which IPs, service providers who hold these IPs may give more accurate data of the physical location (or exchange that you’re linked to), at least for BT customers being as accurate as town. You’ve probably seen something similar to the image to the left, as with online media rights they’re often sold on a per-country basis (why most new films on Netflix aren’t available in the UK whereas they may be in the US, as they’re sold off otherwise - often to Sky). Enforcing different versions of websites or blocking them altogether is done by your IP - through geolocation, which is how some people are able to circumvent it by using a VPN or proxy in another country (although this is usually against the terms and conditions). What is triangulation Triangulation is something you’ve probably seen in an action film, when trying to track someone down but it isn’t really as complicated as it seems. When phones are located using masts triangulation is used as it only requires a powered SIM, as opposed to the phone actively sending location. Triangulation was succeded by triliteration which is more accurate as it brings modelling into 3D and allows location to be narrowed down, but for this purpose triangulation is easier to explain. Looking for the central point between the three masts a central area can be found in which the device is located, however if a provider’s masts are spread apart greatly it can mean that the potential area in which the phone is in is hundreds of metres, and not very useful. How can greater accuracy be reached? WiFi Geolocation adds an extra layer to location information as by crowdsourcing or collecting the location of WiFi antennae, your location can be accurately worked out based off the names of the SSIDs and base stations around you, this means that location is improved indoor where GPS isn’t very useful due to being blocked by walls. Collecting local wireless location information is done in a number of ways, by Google for example either by Google StreetView car which travels around both photographing the area and collecting hotspot names and by the Google Maps Android app storing the names of nearby base station names and reporting their location to Google, so they can be used in future for location. Apple does the same with iPhones, collecting the names of nearby hotspots in the background and reporting their location to Apple. I remember in 2011 taking a photo on an iPod Touch away from home and wondering how it was tagged with location when I had no WiFi and later realising it was by through this location. It’s an extremely convenient way to get more detailed location as there are far more WiFi base stations to triangulate against than mobile masts. How does my phone do it? The table below compares the advantages and disadvantages of each method of locating   IP GPS Triangulation WiFi Hybrid + Works if ISPs provide locations Can be accurate to 30cm Good for accuracy if masts Useful if in urban area Best of all - Dynamic IPs make pointless Can be blocked by buildings Virtually useless if few masts Network names need to be re-recorded Still not 100% accurate iOS and Android use hybrid systems to locate users through GPS, Triangulation or WiFi to work out where a user is, as each system has significant advantages. Without WiFi location, tracking within buildings would be next to useless. This combination allows for location to be quickly established, like Google’s emergency GPS service which allows for the emergency services to receive the most accurate location in an emergency. …
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What happens to old phone numbers?

An interesting question of logistics, is that of phone numbers and how they’re handled in the UK, how’re they managed and what problems does increased connectivity bring? Context In the UK SIM cards are not per region, all mobile numbers are in the form 07XXX XXXXXX, whereas in North America they are per-area, in the UK whether you’re in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Island your phone number will be of the same form. When you get a new SIM card from a new phone company, either pay as you go or pay monthly, you’ll be allocated a new phone number or you’ll have the option to bring your old number if you have one. But if you choose a new number, what happens to the old one? The Number Shortage Smart Meters, soon to be commonplace in the UK require a SIM card to connect over the Internet (a big problem with the Internet of Things (but that’s been discussed in a previous post), meaning that 27 million [ONS] additional phone numbers will be needed just for Electricity and a further 27 million for Gas, meaning that 54 million additional phone numbers would be needed for these devices to connect to the internet. As a result, Ofcom are considering adding additional digits for these devices numbers to potentially free billions of additional numbers. The shortage of phone numbers is added on to by the hoarding of inactive numbers by providers, where only 15.4% of O2’s 152.3 million numbers active and EE with only 20.6% of 133.6 million SIMs active. (Source) Phone Number Deletion The actual management of numbers isn’t managed by Ofcom (the UK’s phone regulator, networks are only told to use numbers ‘effectively and efficiently’. As a result, how long until your phone number is deleted depends on your service provider, but your number being deleted only happens if you haven’t made a call, text or accessed the internet on your device within the following amounts of time: This point are when your number is deleted, your credit is usually deleted and SIM card cancelled before this point. Source EE O2 Three Vodafone 180 days 6 months 6 months 6 months Number Reallocation There are no real rules on reallocation of numbers either, the only law is that they are quarantined for 6 months, but variation from this can be seen in that my own old Vodafone number from 5 years ago is still disconnected and not reallocated.\ When the phone number stops being yours however, it waits in quarantine and then returns to the reallocation pool where it will either be returned to an inactivate SIM (as can be seen by tills in supermarkets) or a new person’s contract. There are problems with reassigning numbers if people have had them previously even if they have been left disused for a year. Repeated nuisance calls or texts from people looking for the previous owner will only ring once but spam callers or even debt collectors could try to contact for years to come. Fringe Cases Phone numbers are provided in blocks of 100,000 to providers when they start to run out of numbers. You can be see the blocks each provider owns here or you can reverse lookup your own here. But if you have phone number with EE and then port it to O2, the number returns back to the original provider (O2) to be reallocated. Overall Ofcom expects providers to responsibly manage their numbers responsibly and reallocate their existing numbers before asking for new ones. The rise of the Internet of Things devices through devices such as smart meters or even 4G equipped CCTV cameras are going to require a rethink of the number allocation system, and potentially giving these devices longer numbers or a different type of identifier. …
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Telematics - good or bad?

Telemetry car insurance is on the rise in the UK, it’s the only way for a teen to get policyholder insurance without paying an insane amount of money. These policies can really work in your favour by rewarding non-extreme driving habits with reductions in future premiums or money back quarterly. These policies can really work in your favour by rewarding non-extreme driving habits with reductions in future premiums or money back quarterly. However these policies can limits you to the time of day you can actually drive at and penalise driving at antisocial hours with increased premium, bringing your daily score to 0/10 if you drive past 10pm. Telematics is not just there for judging your driving ability though, the data it collects is stored by the insurance companies and processed as big data. In the long term, this could cost more as learns your driving habits and could potentially compare your speedy cornering to another driver who was involved in collisions and deem you a higher risk – and give you a higher premium. For anti-theft, the tracking of location can be useful but as another internet connected device with a SIM card in, it’s just another connected device waiting for vulnerabilities in it to be found. Driver’s histories will be handed over by most providers to the Police in the event of an incident and nobody is sure who actually owns the data (whether the individual or the insurer. If all driving data was shared with law enforcement there is potential risk that millions of drivers would start to receive penalty points for minor crimes. At the moment data is stored in different formats between providers so it isn’t exchangeable, but an insurance industry who shares driver data and behavioural analysis per person could result in far higher premiums as insurers will know exactly how you drive and think before they quote you. The black box is also usually attached to the car’s internally under the dashboard and will continue logging and building profiles even if your insurance provider changes, potentially affecting your future quotes. The danger of networked OBD2 installed telematics devices is highlighted here. This diagnostic port connects devices to the CAN bus (Controller Area Network) and all areas of the vehicles operation. As shown in the example, if a Man in the Middle attack was performed on the devices, cars could be hacked and remotely controlled; any hacker would essentially have superuser access to anything electronic on the car, in some cases even steering and brakes, something you really do not want. Overall telematics can make driving affordable, however depending on your provider your driving could become more costly in the future. Once again there is also the threat of another network connected device turning against you, and insurers should look at what devices they’re fitting in customer’s cars and whether they have inherent vulnerabilities. …
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How 'smart' are smart meters?

Smart Meters are proposed to be offered or installed in every UK home and business by 2020. This post is based towards the technical challenges and consequences of smart meters as opposed to the generic advantages the providers give, looking at how they network and what happens to their data. Generally with Smart Meters Advantages Disadvantages No manual readings needed Have security vulnerabilities Can get cheaper prices off peak Personal data safety Informs you of energy habits Readings have to be verified You know exactly what energy you use when Real world savings UK estimated 2% Data collection British Smart Meters communicate back to the Data Communications Company (DCC - a Capita subsidiary) through SIM cards, the data is then transferred to individual energy companies. I originally thought they would connect via a powerline networking back to the substation and network from there which would limit the potential for external interference as the attack vector is limited to either physical access to the smart meter or interception between the home and substation, but instead smart meters are opened up to an internet of things and a lot of potential vulnerabilities. Is it actually secure? Diagram from ncsc.gov.uk The point in this network I would be most concerned about is the communications service which is exposed to the wider internet and at risk as a result. However the NCSC have put in some pretty neat failsafes into their network with the following: All smartmeters have unique authentication keys for each meter and message, reducing vulnerability at the smart meter’s side and making it very hard to reverse engineer Per role permissions, restricting who can do disconnects to only your supplier All meters have to be introduced and set up with a public/private key pair certified by the DCC’s own CA The active checking for a anomaly’s, i.e. if many service disconnect commands are send from an infiltrated supplier the commands will be ignored and the alarm raised Limiting the number of simultaneous connections, so not every household is connected at once Obviously, these don’t make the system impenetrable by any means, but an attacker would have to infiltrate both a provider and the DCC to be able to shut off even a few households. Who owns the data Onzo is one of the first companies to move in on this field of Big Data in the smartmeter industry, using customer data to create a personal profile and tailor ad or sales campaigns to customers. You have the right to opt-in or out of data sharing however with third parties by your energy supplier, likely by ringing the up or visiting their website. For the moment data usage is very restricted, likely as an attempt to reduce the large stigma and backlash that they’ve received. You can choose how often daily to send readings, if your supply details can be used for marketing and if third parties can see them. Where they don’t work Smart meters dependency on the mobile network, most mobile providers promise service covering 99% of the country on a coverage map, but travelling around you can see this really isn’t the case. Fitting smart meters in a semi-rural settlement or a home in a valley with no service will have no impact, as the meter will be unable to communicate with the service provider so manual readings will need to be taken. The smart meter network was designed to accommodate provider changes, however at least for now there are incompatibility issues within the smart meter network, as some of the first 8 million smart meters are incompatible with other providers, meaning that potentially you would need a new meter or having to take manual readings to move to a new provider, to simply reprogramme all of these smart meters it will cost at least £500m. …
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Do our cars know too much?

In the era of the Internet of Things, where even fidget spinners can connect to the internet, cars are obviously of huge potential to go online to improve driving ability, avoid congestion, share traffic data and deal with mechanical faults. There are different ways your car could be connected to the internet; BMW, Audi/VW Group and most other car manufacturers now ship cars with so called smart features. iDrive (BMW) for instance can control comfort features (even remotely by preheating cars), alert emergency services in the event of a crash (by using onboard sensors), communicate with BMW if there’s a vehicle fault. There have also apparently been cases where BMW have repaired mechanical failures remotely such as a broken sunroof by remotely operating their motors. Basic features of the vehicle can be features through an app like as preheating and flashing lights. In addition to the things people have come to expect from cars, through map and media input and getting live traffic (usually from from Google). Tesla cars essentially have the display as the only way to interact with the car, potentially signalling the way all cars will turn when vehicle autonomy becomes commonplace, Tesla cars can also interact with smart home appliances too, in ways such as turning on the lights when you get home. The convenience potential for smart cars are huge However in the other hand, this means cars are essentially just devices with SIM cards which interact with the internet and so are exposed if they have vulnerabilities. With smart printers turning on you after being infiltrated by their default credentials and due to most items running embedded Linux (usually through busybox) a botnet can be created pretty quickly. The stakes are much higher however for security in your car over your toaster however, with car manufacturers support being able to control, start, stop or change any aspect of the vehicle through backdoors, so can potential hackers. Whether you’re comfortable with this kind of access depends on if you trust every feature inside a car being overridable from outside. This video well demonstrates just how scary the potential is: The Internet of Things for cars brings huge potential for the future, but as to whether security will keep up with this as time passes is a different matter. As to whether manufacturers will patch vulnerabilities in their cars into the future is something I really doubt, as many cars from 20 and even 30+ year old cars are still on the roads today. Will planned obsolescence be forced upon car drivers too, or will people have to choose between getting to work safely in a new car, or risking a journey in a hacked car that could be used to extort or injure them? …
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Why 'Fully Loaded' Kodi Sticks are a horrible idea

Since last year, there has been a vast rise in the number of people buying ‘fully loaded’ sticks allowing them to access premium services including Netflix’s Original Series’, films still in cinemas and live Sky Sports streams. How does it work Kodi itself is not the system that provides pirated content, these are provided by the plugins which are installed atop of it. There are different types of plugins that serve content in different ways, from research the content is provided by: Either scraping the web for film uploads and serving these or using specially uploaded videos hosted on unlisted sites (apparently this is how popular plugins Genesis and Mobdro’s content is provided) Receiving a service (then using PVR and live streaming to the web) such as appears to be done with Sky Sport and other Sky services, the Kodi box then buffers a stream through a protocol (such as an RTSP) and displays it. Downloading a torrent in real-time and playing it, while seeding it silently in the background; this would result in better quality with lower latency as you have all the advantages of P2P (but is most likely to send you to prison as you’re technically distributing copyright materials). Are these a scam? In terms of price paid for these devices, they’re a pretty clear scam with a quick search on eBay for ‘Loaded Kodi Stick’ bringing up around 750 results. The devices sold are just normal smart TV sticks with a few apps sideloaded onto them (which are free off the internet anyway) and resold at a significant margin. The image of the stick shown right was just the top result with an Amazon Firestick (RRP: £35) with Kodi sideloaded and plugins ‘Mobdro’, ‘Exodus’ and other repositories promising free HD TV and films as well as live sports from both BT and Sky. So along with the content, the markup charged on these devices is also criminal! Honeypots and logs Chances are that the web server that you’re connecting to stream your theoretical films is logging the connection source IP and content accessed (and unless you’re using a VPN, that’s going to be your home IP they have). In the event of a file sharing website being seized by the authorities there will be around a days worth of logs (depending on the host’s retention policy) detailing IP addresses. On the other hand, connecting to a honeypot is also a possibility which would serve you a copy of the media you want while recording your IP, in this instance it’s a matter of not if, but when your ISP contacts you about copyright activity. Streaming such files is likely not worth the potential trouble. Am I going to prison? As to whether you’re going to end up in a cell for watching The Crown from your Kodi stick is a different matter. It’s really dependant on the plugins you’re using, with those that silently seed programmes in the background being far more likely to get you a warning letter from your ISP. The police have so far come after several people in the UK for the distribution of these Kodi devices but are aiming to shut down the distribution at the source as opposed to stopping individual users; obviously it’s still inadvisable to stream in such ways though. Conclusion Kodi is not enjoying this recent influx of users with their identity being tarnished by association with these brands, and support forums filled with questions about non-functional plugins and broken links. As to the ethics of piracy, it’s an interesting problem and not an issue with the demand for media. An overwhelming majority of people are willing to pay for content but just can’t access it at a reasonable price. I wouldn’t advise going out and buying one of these streaming boxes as support from these ‘vendors’ is pretty lacking, you’re living your life in a legal grey area and chances are your ISP won’t hesitate to give up your information to a copyright owner who comes calling about piracy from your IP address. …
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'MIS'ery, education IT should be open

MIS’ (or Management Information Systems) are arguably the most important part of any school (whether primary or secondary) or colleges. In both my primary and secondary school/college Capita’s SIMS (School Information Management System) has been the MIS of choice and is used in 83% of schools in the UK. This is, plain and simple a monopoly. The 2010 Report by the IoE said that the marketplace was uncompetitive, dominated by a lone supplier that’s increasing in cost, violating both EU and UK laws on procurement and without an open and using a platform without an open or shared data format. Capita SIMS became a monopoly when local authorities purchased it all the schools they ran, acting as their initial MIS and have stuck with the system since then as it’s easier to remain with the same platform. I’ve only had real experiences with the Lancashire Education Authority, who run SIMS although I believe there are also similar problems in other LEAs. Over the years, SIMS has expanded its tentacles from just core utilities like pupil management to everything from parent online access to dinner money management, all at pretty hefty additional costs. Inside the walled garden there is little space for third-party developers and plugin makers, with official API access requiring you to be a Capita Partner, something that costs several thousand pounds. The rather descriptive phrasing of an EduGeek user calling SIMS a “massive sea anchor of a product” due to its low initial cost for LA schools to be drawn in but with high priced plug-ins on top. It stalls advancement of technology in education too by locking teachers to Windows due to the programme’s codebase being written in Micrsoft’s .NET framework and using Microsoft SQL server for a backend. There are obviously some hacks to make this work on other platforms such as macOS and Linux, including delivering them as Citrix hosted apps for staff or wrapping them with Wine (however this would cause nightmares for support); but platforms aren’t the core problem, the problem is the software in the first place. SIMS has some problems in itself, being an unreliable beast with all sorts of issues being had with its database having to be mapped as a network drive in Windows and Microsoft SQL server sitting beneath it, at the very least the whole programme needs a bottom up rewrite. The question is, is now the time for some government intervention? If private companies such as Capita have shown that they can’t write a functional programme or keep up with the times, surely GDS or the DfE could build up something: That has a nice GUI, doesn’t need to be something fancy but just functional Easy accessible reporting strategies and statistics clearly available to staff Free for all (or very cheap) and open source Make all key parts of a modern education system core parts of the system, handling student info, timetabling, achievement, behaviour management, dinner money and parent tracking Build for the future, build a web based frontend system (wrap it in Electron maybe) Don’t lock out the developers, publish an API and add plugin functionality for the system meaning if people have great ideas for expandability they can use them. A system like this with core functionality baked in, made open source and developed by the Government could easily save schools thousands of pounds with SIMS Learning Gateway (web access for parents) alone costing ≈£9k for installation and another £1k a year in maintenance. This new system wouldn’t lock out the vendors like Capita either, as they could make additional functionalities through plugins or provide support services for the system. A serious reform is needed of MIS’ post the 2010 Becta report, and not much seems to have changed yet. Another issue with just creating a new system though is that itself could become a monopoly, maybe an open standard for education would be better and allow schools to move between different MIS’. …
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My Software Toolkit

Here is a list of the more uncommon Mac Apps that I like, and are an important part of my everyday lives. Beyond the obvious ones like browser (I use Chrome, by the way), I thought that it would be interesting to share what my software choices are and why. This page now lives at /toolkit and I’ll update it over time. Take a look If you have any nifty apps or utilities to recommend, feel free to tweet or email them to me. …
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Why I run this blog on Jekyll

I launched this blog after buying the domain na.thaniel.uk to replace my social media site, and decided that I needed a blog to discuss my projects and ideas for technology. I shopped around the different blogging platforms, looking at the usual free offerings in Wordpress.com, Blogger, Medium and Ghost (the new platform on the street, at the time). Initially I launched the site in early January 2016 hosted on Tumblr, as it allowed me the different theming options I wanted, however returning posts in certain taxonomies was limited and I soon learnt that the platform wasn’t flexible enough to build the site that I really wanted. Then I discovered GitHub pages, after seeing repositories using it for their own websites I decided that it could be perfect for the use case that I have. After downloading Jekyll and getting it running; I realised it was awesome. Taking the default theme and heavily modifying it, I ended up with my first version of this blog. All my posts were already written in Markdown, on Tumblr already, after I read about it being the choice of markup used for GOV.UK, Daring Fireball and other sites, as more convenient way to write, writing in one way using markings like **Hello** for bold and then defining the CSS for this everywhere, saving the overhead of having to do <span class="head-post-bold">Hello</span> each time. All my posts ported across fine to the new platform with only some minor tweaks being needed. I discovered many other benefits to using Jekyll on GitHub Pages though that have kept me using it, including No more having to mess around configuring a database, maintaining a database or restoring a database when it inevitably breaks More interesting as there are few GitHub compatible to fall back on, challenging me to be more creating when making things work and learning how to use Jinja2 for querying posts The workflow is easy, just open a new markdown document, fill in some front matter, write the post and push to GitHub, job done. None of the bloat or worrying about hacking I would have with a free-standing Wordpress instance, at the end this whole site is just a set of HTML, CSS and MD files sat behind 2FA through GitHub. It’s free, and free to use with a custom domain too which is awesome SSL is easy to set up with CloudFlare which is really handy too.s I’d recommend GitHub pages as a blogging platform replacement for those who like to keep control of their site’s design and functionality and are technically inclined; it’s also a lot of fun to work with. …
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