Letter to a young person: justice in plain language

Old legal parchmentAnyone who has been unfortunate enough to have dealings in the Family Court knows that ready access to justice is critically important when matters of marital property and child welfare are at stake. Access to justice is often talked about in terms of cost, and this is a serious obstacle to many especially since cuts to Legal Aid have started to bite the most vulnerable. However, access is also about accessibility: given a judgment from a court, can the average person understand it? Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under law

ksh deliberately segfaults if the last command in a script crashes

I recently found that ksh will deliberately crash if the last command in a script crashes. Other shells just set the appropriate exit code, but ksh sends itself the same signal that its child received. This can confuse the unwary (i.e. me) when trying to track down what crashed with abrt logs.
Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Selectively blocking Samsung TVs’ network access

Old television

This TV probably wasn’t spying on you.

You may have read in the recent Wikileaks exposé that the CIA developed the capability of making Samsung TVs spy on their unsuspecting users. While this hack requires physical access (a specially crafted USB stick must be plugged into the telly), it got me thinking about the network traffic generated by smart TVs. I’ve already blocked a few domains that my unit connects to, and this seems like a good time to share my work.
Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under networking, security

Unattended WSPR in the UK: is it legal?

Antenna in a fieldWSPR is a way of sending a tiny amount of data over huge distances using very little power. It’s used by radio enthusiasts to see what propagation conditions are like: receivers all over the world report what they hear to WSPRnet which serves as a real-time map of the radio world. The protocol itself is amazing: it takes nearly two minutes to send just 50 bits of data, and has such clever error-correction that only a tiny amount of received signal is needed to get a clean decode. Seriously, if you’re at all interested in information theory, then read the spec (at Appendix B of that link).
Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under law, radio

Yes, you can take notes in court without permission

Person taking notesTo observers in some foreign lands, the ban on audio and video recordings being made in British courts must seem like an affront to open justice. What is undoubtedly more bizarre is the position on note-taking by people in the public gallery. Although there is no statutory provision on this, there has long been a belief that members of the public are either banned from taking notes, or have to ask the judge’s permission before doing so. People have been castigated or even threatened with ‘contempt in the face of the court’ (a particularly serious form of contempt) for daring to take notes during a trial. Bona fide journalists seem to get better treatment.
Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under law

Emotional disconnection and ‘shields down’

Empty officeWhen you last resigned from a job, when did you decide to leave? Can you identify a point in time, whether it was a flash of realisation or a slow dawning, when your relationship with your employer shifted from ‘attached’ to ‘it’s complicated’?

Shields Down‘, an excellent piece from Michael Lopp’s blog Rands in Repose, suggests that this often happens when an unexpected opportunity presents itself: you agree to go and have a chat at another outfit, and in that instant your shields are down. In the moments that follow, you weigh your current job with an envisioned alternative future, and ultimately make a calculated decision: should I stay or should I go?
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under random

Forcing poor parents to vaccinate isn’t the answer

Hypodermic needleVaccinating children against horrible diseases is as self-evidently beneficial—both to individuals and to society—as it’s possible to be. It is one of the greatest achievements of humankind that we can spare entire generations from disfigurement, paralysis, and horrific death due to illnesses which sound medieval to modern ears. So let me be clear before I go any further:

Please have your child vaccinated unless your family doctor advises otherwise.
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under law