Elliott Kember

Drone developer, software pilot.

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The Journeyman

I was drifting through Wikipedia the other day and I came upon a fascinating article about journeymen. In medieval times, the process for becoming a master craftsman was well-established, and the process for becoming a guild-certified tradesman turns out to be quite an ingenious way of ensuring competence.


The first step toward mastery was to become an apprentice. An unpaid position, this involved becoming a member of your master’s household, and being paid in food and lodging. You were not allowed to sell your work, charge for your time, or change masters. From there, an aspiring worker could choose to become employed, or to train to become a master craftsman himself. Training as a master craftsmen is where it gets interesting - because to become a master, you would first have to be a journeyman.


The German word for the next stage of your career is Wanderjahre, or “wandering...

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Amazon vs The Drone Industry

There’s been a lot of talk about Amazon Air. Of course there has - they demoed it on Cyber Monday. It looks great and all, but the key takeaway was this:

“Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations.” You see what they did there? They announced something before it was ready.

There have been a few great examples of rushed-to-market products recently. Google Glass is a great example - if you’ve used one, you’ll know what I mean. It’s interesting and all, but it’s not good enough for regularly everyday people to use - yet.

In fact, anything Microsoft have announced in the past few years suffers from this, including this absolute masterpiece of drivel - which, if you’ll pardon my language, is just straight-up bullshit.

So there’s been a lot of this, but Amazon Air is the most...

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I have a hobby.

A few friends and I once found ourselves gripped by radio-control fever. Our particular flavour was slope soaring - where, after painstakingly assembling a foam aeroplane, and taping it up in a beautiful colour-scheme (mine was red and blue), you hurl the thing off the side of a mountain. Flying into an oncoming breeze means there’s a headwind, and the slope of the mountain generates lift. In this way, you can fly the thing for hours and hours, as the batteries on board only have to move the control flaps around.

This is a great hobby to have in Auckland, where the place is dotted with volcanoes - huge, smooth conical giants jutting hundreds of metres up in the air. This one, Mount Mangere, has a 180-degree face - marked with lines where the Māori tribe dug kumara pits and built fences to protect their mountain fortress.

This is pretty much the perfect slope. The...

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Chrome’s insane password security strategy

Chrome does something interesting when you first run it.

Image 2013-07-31 at 12.28.00 PM.png

The other day, I was using Chrome in development for an Ember.js app. I use Safari for day-to-day browsing, but it has a habit of aggressively caching files when I least expect it, so from time to time I switch to Chrome.

I decided to hit Chrome’s “Import bookmarks now” link and see whether I could import my bookmarklets from Safari, so things would be nice and consistent between the two browsers. I didn’t expect this:

Chrome asking me to import my content from Safari

This struck me as particularly odd. Why is “Saved passwords” greyed out, and mandatory? Why have a check-box? This is the illusion of choice. I think it’s deeply misleading, and this is why:

This is a page in Chrome’s settings panel:

Passwords in Chrome

See that “show” button? It does what you think it does.

Passwords in Chrome, in plain-text

There’s no master password, no security, not even a prompt that “these passwords are visible”. Visit...

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I was reading about PSD.rb the other day. For me, this is one of those really ground-breaking, big big projects. I haven’t had a play yet, but already I’m itching to get stuck into messing with PSDs. I’ve been super-impressed with Slicy, which is constantly in use here at Riot.

I’ve always found it interesting that Photoshop, a photo editing application, is used so heavily in application design. The lack of quality export tools has cemented my opinion of it as a mis-used but useful application. It also saves out to that most awful of formats - the .psd file, which is probably the reason there are so few decent helper applications available. The difficulties of dealing with this format are legendary. So this is actually a really big deal, for a lot of people.

For whatever reason, I decided to read the Hacker News comments.

Hacker News, for me, has reached Eternal September status. My...

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