Category Archives: General

The GX1 is a veritable bargain

Just picked one of these up at the airport on the way through. They have been going for around £350 for the GX1 body and 14-42mm Vario lens, or £330 with the standard 14-42mm lens. Originally an £800 kit, the discount is because Panasonic is clearing inventory to make way for the GX7, which looks amazing by the way. Far from 2.5x the price amazing however.

GX1

The Sony RX100 and Fuji X100S were also on my radar. The RX100 is a great camera and much more compact than the GX1, but it has a much smaller sensor and is still twice the price at around £600. The only snag is that I’m going to have to spend another £200 on a prime to exceed the low-light performance of the RX100, but the result is a more capable kit, and it’s still £100 cheaper!

I also made the mistake of handling the Fuji X100S. It was a mistake because it almost cost me £900, but I quickly realised this and put it down before I could get more attached! That is one sexy piece of kit, and is in a different league IQ and interface wise. I would LOVE one, but at nearly £1000 (!), it’s hard to justify with the GX1 being such a bargain.

The GX1 won’t replace my SLR (no affordable wide angle lens), or my old Canon S90 (not quite pocketable). But it is much much less of a burden to carry than an SLR, will go many places the SLR wouldn’t. I shall be putting it to good use while in Amsterdam!

Site move

Just moved this site to a larger VPS. If you can see this message you’re visiting the new host so the migration was clearly a success!

It should also be accessible over IPv6, although this has yet to be tested.

Google’s new app policy seems a little… hypocritical

Google updated its Play Store policy recently, and the changes appear to be designed to reign in spam on its app store. One of the policies reads “Product descriptions should not be misleading or loaded with keywords in an attempt to manipulate ranking or relevancy in the Store’s search results.”

Amusingly, the description for Google’s own Maps app contains a block of text which would do just that:

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Q: How does well does adsense perform on a site like this?

A: Haha:

Not quitting my day job.

Despite increasing revenue by 50% over the previous month I still need to increase revenue a further 500% to cover the costs of running this site. And at the moment it’s a tiny 256MB instance on Rackspace Cloud which, traffic depending, costs me a bit under £10 a month. To run WordPress properly however you really need 512MB minimum, even with the meagre traffic this site receives… so the cost should be closer to £20.

What I’d like to do is be able to justify running a cloud load balancer with two front-end web nodes and a separate DB node at the backend. Assuming all 256mb instances the cost of that setup would be about £1 per day, which should be too hard to deliver on an affiliate site, even if it isn’t this one. Hmm. Project time. :D

While this site does reasonably well on a few Ubuntu-related terms, it’s not hard to see why this site has such a poor click-through rate. For one thing the articles are mostly tech-focused, and I know myself when I’m Googling for a solution I literally skim the article for the code blocks, maybe think “that looks right”, and I’m gone in 10 seconds.

If it was a particularly tricky problem or the solution was a good one I might hang around long enough to leave a comment but most of the time I don’t, even though I like receiving comments myself.

The other reason it does badly is that I don’t really want the ad banner to get in the way, you’ll notice there’s only one banner, and its to the right and not even at the top.

Plus I’m using a stock theme and update once in a blue moon.

This site needs some love.

Or for more people to click the following link and spend lots of money with Rackspace. ;)

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Changes

I made a small change recently – I’ve moved from WordPress.com hosting to a self-hosted server.

The main reason for this is education – I want to learn more about e-commerce and running my own site, which is a bit difficult when WordPress.com places adsense ads on your site (and not on your behalf!). This way I get to keep any adsense revenue, although to be honest if it covers even the small costs of running this site I will eat my hat, shorts and tshirt.

An unfortunate side effect of this is that WordPress.com accounts can no longer comment and you need to manually enter details each time, so I expect comments will drop. But for those that do I appreciate the feedback!
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Quick analysis of a phishing attack

Twice in three days I have received emails purporting to be from ASB and ANZ Bank. Both are New Zealand banks, and the fact that I’ve received two of them clearly indicates that my email address is on a spam database somewhere and geographically tagged New Zealand. Easy enough – my .co.nz domain uses it as the registration address, and it has a New Zealand residential address on it.

I see these all the time, but the execution of this particular attack struck me as unusually slick however, hence the blog post.

The email

The ANZ email subject was “Please remove your Online Banking Limitation! Last warning!”, whereas the ASB email was titled “Online banking suspension warning!”. Both are clearly designed to panic the user into clicking the link and entering their banking details. The ANZ subject has a hint of ESOL and the grammar in the emails is sub-standard, I suspect the origin is a country where English is not the first language.
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The Search for an Android News Reader

Seriously you’d think this would be easy. FeedingIt on the N900 wasn’t amazing but it did the job and was totally free. I don’t think my requirements are unreasonable here:

  • RSS support – not just via Google Reader
  • Ethical developer – i.e. supports the app and doesn’t demand excessive permissions for advertising purposes
  • White text on black background (for better battery life on AMOLED)
  • A decent user interface (NewsRob is great)
  • Offline cache, configurable sync schedule – I don’t want it to update constantly during the day and chew my battery, just download articles twice daily before I jump on the tube.
  • A reasonable price (yes I am prepared to pay)

Seriously if anyone can find one that fits these criteria please enlighten me, because I sure can’t. The ones I’ve considered so far:

  • NewsRob
    • The current frontrunner. Ad-supported and paid versions, user interface is nice and clean. I’m currently using the ad-supported version (gasp), until I find another. The problems? No black background (discovered the pro version actually does have a night theme), sync is partially configurable but can’t set specific times, based on Google Reader.
  • Feedr
    • Looked perfect and was apparently one of the better ones, but is no longer updated. Rumour has it that the developer is also behind RssDemon…
  • RssDemon
    • From what I can gather from the reviews on the marketplace, the developer of this app prefers to release a new app so everyone has to buy it again rather than improve the original. The app demands location permissions which is totally unnecessary for a news reader, and according to one reviewer purchasing the elite license does not properly remove the ad components. Strike.
  • BlueRSS GR
    • Developer seemed to have a good thing going with BlueRSS then inexplicably threw all that away by removing the old version and starting again with a new “GR” version that is not getting good reviews. There is no option for a black interface, but I didn’t like it anyway – 3D icons very 1998. Absolutely zero reasons to use this over NewsRob.
  • eSobi
    • Poor reviews, expensive (free is only trial), bloated, too many permissions. Again, zero reasons to use this over NewsRob.

Yes I’m picky but this seriously should not be that hard. News reading on Android – fail.