23 August 2018

On trusting Signal

An article has been doing the rounds suggesting that Signal is closed for selfish reasons and suggesting that it can’t be trusted. The article carefully omits any mention of the reasons why Signal is the way it is, so here are those reasons. Signal is a closed system because of its focus on (a) user experience and (b) security for ordinary users. First, user experience. If you want people to use your secure messaging app rather than whatever comes with their phone, it has to use push messaging in order to receive messages without the app running and without draining the user’s phone battery. ... Read more

16 August 2018


A momentous occasion this week: I finally finished my photo processing project, for now. I have scanned every negative and slide, processed every RAW file, and put all of the results into Apple Photos, arranged into albums. I’ve set up Photos to sync to the cloud, to my Mac, to my phone and to my tablet. I can carry all 9,000+ of my photos around with me, search them, share them, and so on. ... Read more

15 July 2018

'Kingdom Come' by J.G. Ballard

J.G. Ballard was one of the UK’s most acclaimed Science Fiction writers. I once thought that his early 1970s stories of sexualized car crashes and mass hysteria were too far out to be realistic, but then the death of Princess Diana happened and suddenly we were living in Ballard’s world. “Kingdom Come” was his last novel, first published in 2006. Reviews at the time noted that it was structured like a report on contemporary Britain, but dismissed it as more of a report on the strange imaginings of Ballard’s mind. ... Read more

8 July 2018


The whole Hawai‘i trip started as a joke. Some years back, Bobby commented to Elizabeth that they should go to Hawaii on his 50th birthday, because Hawaii Five-O. Over the years they would remind each other of the idea. Eventually, with Bobby’s 50th coming up, they decided to do it. Having arranged to meet various family members from New Zealand there, they also invited us. Without giving it very much thought at all, I said yes. ... Read more

28 May 2018

NECCO wafers

How to explain NECCO wafers to a European? Back in the 1800s, Union soldiers fighting in the Civil War used to carry “hub wafers”, a cheap and durable candy substitute manufactured in Boston, a city which Oliver Wendell Holmes had nicknamed “The Hub of the Universe”. In 1901, the company making hub wafers became the New England Confectionery Company — NECCO® — and the wafers were rebranded accordingly. During the Great Depression, NECCO Wafers were one of the candies cheap enough that pretty much anyone could afford to buy them as a treat. ... Read more

© mathew 2017