Road Rants - Overtaking

I could probably put together an entire 'Road Rants' series, but this one is inspired by some comments I saw today on a facebook post about overtaking "Why should we have to brake in our cars with our children to let them in" Firstly, pet hate, people like to invoke the whole "think of the children" mentality, as if because your car has children in it someone is less likely to want to crash into it. I don't care whether the occupant is 7 or 70, I don't want to hit another vehicle with a person in it (or, for that matter, a pet... which I'd probably get along with more than…

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G-BNHG, thank you.

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Today was my last flight in G-BNHG, the aircraft I flew my first ever solo flight in. Unfortunately, it's likely had one too many hard landings at the hands of students like myself – the front oleo collapsed and, since it's spent almost 12,000 hours in the air, it's not economical to repair. G-BNHG won't fly again (and it was never the favourite aircrafrt of most students) but for me, and for many other students, she will always be the plane who enabled me to take to the skies alone for the first time.…

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3G/4G Router Stores

I recently had reason to purchase a few different 3G/4G routers and antennae and, as you'd expect, there's a number of online stores and sites dedicated to such things; 3grouterstore.co.uk 4grouter.co.uk 5grouterstore.com teltonika-router.co.uk fixedipsimcard.co.uk fullband.co.uk westlakeconnect.com westlakecommunications.co.uk But, actually, these are all owned by Westlake Communications (although not one of the websites is compliant with the provisions of the Companies Act) Westlake have a clear notice on (most) of their websites that states PLEASE NOTE WE DO NOT SELL TO RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMER…

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First Solo

Firstly, I hate selfies... and photos of me in general, but this is a moment I don't want to forget... Sitting on the taxiway for the first time, in a plane by myself this whole "being a pilot" things suddenly feels quite real, particularly since I'm lined up behind BA's dove. The day started off as any other lesson in the circuit, just a few normal touch and go's and we taxied back to the apron when my instructor hops out, engine still running, and suggests I do and do it again by myself. Procedurally, it's exactly what I've just been doing, the only difference is my first radio cal…

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A Revolut-ionary way to pay abroad

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I recently went to the USA for the first time and, in common with my travel anywhere else, didn't take any foreign currency. I took the following; A Revolut Card A Curve Card My American Express Card My UK Debit Card I was impressed with the simplicity (and reliability) of the Revolut app, and how much it saved on the trip and put together this quick overview / review for anyone else considering it, or travelling in the future The Card The Revolut card is a prepaid Mastercard issued by Paysafe, nothing new there. Where it differs is it allows you to hold balances in multiple currencies; GBP, U…

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SMS 2FA and the Modern Smartphone

SMS has been around for over 20 years now and yet this basic 160 character instant messaging service is still widely used for marketing, transactional messages and two-factor authentication ("2FA") This was just a random thought when trying to log into something for the third time today that requires an SMS OTP. When I'm staring at a form input box and my phone receives a message at that exact moment the chances are it's to fill that box in, it'd be nice if this was more streamlined! Imagine if, for example, an HTML form could listen for the message.. perhaps with something like the…

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Alarm Monitoring (With Raspberry Pi)

I'm responsible for a commercial buildings that, as you would expect, have monitored alarms, access control and such like. However, commercial alarm monitoring is horrendously expensive, and most of them are stuck in the dark ages; I want to be able to monitor the condition of my alarm remotely, and get notifications in a useful way. Piece of cake pi My usual solution to these sorts of problems - Raspberry Pi. I've found use for this £30 mini Linux box in lighting control, information displays, presentations, video servers, phone systems and more... Connecting to the alarm Most alarms have a c…

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iMessage Preview

So, iMessage has a handy new feature - both on iOS and MacOS - where if you send someone a URL it will extract some metadata from this URL and display it as a clickable link; You'll be used to this behaviour if you use Facebook or Slack, as it provides useful meaningful content for a link. However, there's a big difference between their implementation and iMessage. When you use Facebook or Slack, the website you've linked to will see a request from Facebook or Slack's servers. Information Leakage iMessage makes a request from the device itself which reveals some significant information; The ta…

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What a difference a 0 makes

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Or, why it's really important to dial the correct phone number. Or, alternatively, how to have people willingly hand over personal details to scammers. Nuances of the UK phone system Two thing conspire to make this possible in the UK; Overdialling The UK phone network supports 'over-dialling', that is if you were calling 07700900123 and you dial 077009001234 the additional digit, 4, is ignored and the call is connected as you expect Local Dialling If you are in a local area (e.g. 01632) you can dial the local number without the leading area code. e.g. for 01632 9601234 you would simply dial 9…

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I'd like an Invoice please (Avis)

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As someone who reasonably regularly has to claim expenses for business travel it never ceases to amaze me quite how inept some companies (for whom people like me make up a large percentage of their business) are at the simplest of things. I regularly book cars with Avis. This is done through their website directly, and paid in advance. I can't, however, claim this payment at the time as it's a "pre-paid voucher" rather than "car hire" Later, this "pre-paid voucher" settles the car hire account and, in theory, I should get an Invoice (which they can't give me at th…

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