• A Bad Boss Can Ruin Your Job

    We've all, almost certainly, had a boss we didn't necessarily get on with at some point, but that doesn't necessarily make them a bad boss.

    People are different, and sometimes view points collide, it's an inavoidable risk of putting distinct personalities into a group and asking them to spend their days together.

    What makes a true bad boss is when the power/influence they exert is mis-used. 

    In my career, I've had one particularly bad boss (I hasten to add - I'm not working there anymore!), not only did their behaviour ruin my enjoyment of my role, but they (in my opinion) deliberately went out of their way in an (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to severely tarnish my reputation and my name. Their attempt could also have had a devastating effect upon my quality of life.

    In this post, I'll be taking a broad overview of what happened, and examining what I learnt from the experience, and (with the benefit of hindsight) what the early warning signs were.

    The events I'm going to discuss occurred a number of years ago and I always planned to write about it, but wanted to leave it long enough that I could be truly objective. As a result, I never quite got around to writing about my experiences.

    Being a denizen of a number of internet forums, I've seen others post about experiences they're currently going through, and some of them really ring alarm bells for me - so it seems like the right time to get around to writing about it.

    I'm not going to name names, as that isn't the point in this piece. I've tried to keep it as brief as possible, but being quite complex it's not as short as I had originally hoped.

  • An argument in favour of application level name resolution

    Recently I published some documentation detailing how to build and run your own DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) server.

    As I mentioned at the beginning of that documentation, there's been a certain amount of controversy about DoH vs DNS over TLS (DoT).

    One thread of that argument is along the lines that name resolution should be handled at the OS level (so that all applications get the same result for a given name - improving troubleshooting - as well as giving some caching benefit, versus applications resolving names themselves).

    Generally I've found that argument fairly persuasive, but also taken the view that DoH being implemented at the application level is the result of a general lack of availability/uptake of DoT at the OS level.

    In other words, whilst it's not ideal for applications to be resolving names themselves, it makes an (arguable flawed) privacy-enhancing solution available now, rather than continuing to wait for an (arguably) better solution to actually get adopted (and ignoring whatever reasons led to that lack of adoption).

    But, I've begun to change my mind on whether applications doing resolution themselves really is a problem, or whether it's actually more beneficial when considered alongside some of the aims of DoH

  • Breaking the Google Addiction one step at a time

    Google isn't your friend. Google isn't my friend. Google is, and always has been, a data-whore.

    But, still we use them and allow them to slurp up more and more data about us.

    They're a bit like Amazon in that respect - you know they're an increasingly terrible company, but they're just so convenient and you keep on using them whilst ignoring the power they're amassing over the market.

    But, it is something that's been concerning me more and more over the years.

    We install adblockers, no-script and other extensions to add a fig-leaf to our privacy, or to try and avoid Google's user-hostile changes, yet we keep on using the same services. Even when they completely change the UI around on us, for no good reason, we still keep using their services.

    I decided, quite a while ago, it was time I made a change, but then did very little, at least until recently.

    As great as a "clean-break" might sound, going cold turkey off Google's services is never going to work - no model of user behaviour supports making massive jarring changes.

    So I decided to start with the most obvious interaction with Google - their search engine. I don't have Google Home or similar, so my most frequent interaction with Google is search.

  • Falling Out Of Love With Siteground

    In the past, I've really rated Siteground Hosting very highly, and recommended them to anyone asking about US Based dedicated servers (Heart would be my first choice for UK Based Dedicated Servers or VPS). Unfortunately experience has worn me down.

    To be clear, I'm not, and never have been, a Siteground customer. However, some of the people I do some work for are, so I occasionally have to escalate things to Siteground, or step in when Siteground have asked their customer to take some action.

    I've been quietly sitting on some of these frustrations for a little while, but in the last week some have been added, tipping the balance in my mind.

  • It's funny how times change

    Over the past few days, I've been going over the old Benscomputer.no-ip.org archives and have republished some of the content.

    What's struck me as funny though, is how times change, but a lot of the issues remain exactly the same.

  • Modern Feminism is Dangerous

    I'll start by clarifying what I mean by feminism - I don't mean the right to equality, equal pay etc - at this point those should really be considered common sense, even if we're not quite there yet. To me modern feminism appears to be far more fundamentalist than that and it's an incredibly dangerous path to follow.

    The campaign 'Lose the lads mags' (backed by UK Feminista) is an ideal example of this. I can completely understand the sentiments being expressed, and yet the focus seems to be solely on magazines aimed at blokes. 

    In this post, we'll be looking at what the campaign group seems to be missing, and why it's so dangerous for them to be attempting to force their views onto others. Although we'll be using this as an example, the aim is to try and ensure that all points raised are applicable to most of the current 'feminist' topics.

  • Protecting Identity and Copyright Online

    At times, it really feels like the world is completely fucked. We've got a US president who somehow manages to be enough of an arse to fall out with Canadians flying off to meet a nuclear armed mad-man. We seem to be witnessing the increasing rise of a foaming mouthed racist alt-right, and have long since mourned the death of quality journalism in the media. Israeli defence forces are so focused on justifying murder of unarmed civillians that they now tweet about executing people for throwing a stone.

    Yes, at times, it seems like the entire world is off to hell in a hand-cart.

    Underneath it all, though, politics doesn't seem to be that different behind the scenes. Politician are still trying to implement many of the same stupid things that we've seen raised again and again throughout our lives. 

    As fucked as the world may seem, it's important that it not act as a distraction from the issues we can do something about. Trump, for better or worse, is here to stay (at least until his KFC infested diet catches up with him).

    But we can do something about fuckwits in Government once again suggesting that implementing the ability to control and track what everyone does online is in any way a positive. We also can do something about fuckwits from many Government's who think it's beneficial for humanity for them to take a bended knee before Copyright cartels and screw the lot of us in the process (otherwise known as Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive).

    This post isn't about the things that have become big, but about the things that will become massive infringements on our lives if allowed to pass unchallenged.

  • Screenshot Social Media, Don't embed

    Ever since the web was born, there have been concerns about preserving what's published on there for future generations. That's why things like the Wayback machine exist. Things like our approach, and concerns, around online privacy have also evolved with time.

    But, the way we communicate on the web has changed pretty dramatically. Personal blogs are still a thing, but humanity has increasingly leaned towards communicating via social media - Twitter, Facebook etc. 

    Now, we increasingly see news reports with embedded posts containing expert commentary about the topic of the news, and even reports about something someone has posted.

    Those expert commentators are even occasionally being asked to change the way they tweet to make it easier for news sites to embed those tweets into their own stories (that request turned out to be from Sky News btw).

    For all their many, many faults, the social media networks are a big part of how we communicate now, and posts on them are embedded all over the place.

    This brings with it a number of avoidable, but major issues.

    The aim of this post is to discuss those, and explain why you should instead be posting a screenshot of the tweet/post.

    I'm going to refer to "Twitter" and "Tweets" a lot, purely because it's shorter than "Facebook" or "Social Media", but the concerns here apply across the board.

  • Thoughts on Mailpile

    I was quite excited when Mailpile was released as a beta, and it made it onto my list of 'must have a play with'. Life being life though, I didn't get chance to give it a proper go until recently.

    Sadly, it was somewhat anti-climactic and I've been left feeling more than a little underwhelmed. Mailpile shows a lot of potential, but it's definitely not ready for production yet. 

    I ran my testing on a CentOS 6 VM, and in this post will summarise the good and the bad.

  • Twitter Jail: My Memoirs

    Sometimes life throws you an opportunity. A quick search on the net suggests that whilst many celebrities have written about their time inside bricks and bars prison, no-one's had the foresight to document their time in something more modern.

    I've been thrown in Twitter Jail, with all privileges withdrawn pending appeal. In physical jail, you can still watch the other inmates, but in Twitter jail if you have the temerity to appeal they blind you until the appeal is concluded.

    This is a tongue-in-cheek record of my time in Twittertraz - with some very strong language within

  • Why I won't have an Amazon Echo

    I was recently asked to explain in a bit more depth why I'm not willing to have an Amazon Echo (or, more specifically - Alexa), so I thought I'd write an answer down too.

    Although the question was specifically about Alexa (being the best-known), the answer applies to alternatives like Google Home and Sonos One.