Category Archives : Technology

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Remembering Terry Pratchett

“Tech-savvy admirers of the late Terry Pratchett have hit upon an idea for a particularly appropriate memorial. It will be everywhere and nowhere, hiding in the code of the internet.

Pratchett’s 33rd Discworld novel, Going Postal, tells of the creation of an internet-like system of communication towers called “the clacks”. When John Dearheart, the son of its inventor, is murdered, a piece of code is written called “GNU John Dearheart” to echo his name up and down the lines. “G” means that the message must be passed on, “N” means “not logged”, and “U” means the message should be turned around at the end of a line. (This was also a realworld tech joke: GNU is a free operating system, and its name stands, with recursive geek humour, for “GNU’s not Unix”.) The code causes Dearheart’s name to be repeated indefinitely throughout the system, because: “A man is not dead while his name is still spoken.”

What better way to remember the beloved inventor of this fictional system, then, than “GNU Terry Pratchett”?”

Source: The Guardian

This, of course, means simply adding a HEADER value for HTTP responses in your favourite Web Server.  The header name = “X-Clacks-Overhead”, value = “GNU Terry Pratchett”.


IIS 8.5 Dynamic Compression Issue 1

Windows Server 2012 R2 comes with IIS 8.5, and in this release an issue has been found in relation to the Dynamic Compression module.  The module sets the “Vary” header which is used to specify caching properties that the browser uses to determine whether the response should be cached or not. 

In IIS 8.0 and earlier, the Dynamic Compression module was overwriting the Vary header with the value “Accept-Encoding”, and as it happens this is the correct value to ensure that dynamic content is correctly cached – but – according to IIS it should be appending this value to the existing value and not overwriting it.

As it happens, this was supposed to be fixed in IIS 8.5 but the fix appears to be broken.   In IIS 8.5 (which ships with Windows Server 2012 R2) the Vary header is being set to “*” and the “Accept-Encoding” from the Dynamic Compression module is not appended.  The result of this is that no dynamic content is being cached by the browser.


Thankfully there is an easy workaround in IIS 8.5 for this:

1. Select an IIS site, and go to Configuration Editor.


2. Select system.web/caching/outputCache section, then set the omitVaryStar property to true



Setting this value results in the Vary header being returned with a value of “Accept-Encoding” and the browser then caches the dynamic content.

Review: LifeProof Fre iPhone 6 Waterproof Case

Product IMG_0384
Introducing the LifeProof Fre iPhone Waterproof case

Earlier last month I happened to be in the market for a new mobile phone after I managed to destroy my old phone whilst on holidays in New Zealand.  As it turned out, I elected to update to the latest iPhone (the iPhone 6) which has only been released for a few months.

New phone, new case?

Within an hour of buying my new handset, it slipped from my hand and landed awkwardly on the cement floor of my garage.  Luckily, no harm done, however this immediately led to my first iPhone 6 accessory purchase – a cheap but sturdy case to protect the thin but large handset.

A better alternative

However, a better option is always welcome.  My previous handset met its demise due to being momentarily dipped in water, a journey which proved to be deadly.  Enter the LifeProof Fre waterproof case which is incidentally  available from a great local retailer MobileZap.

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Opening the box, in preparation for installing the iPhone

With this case, the risk of damage due to water is very limited as the LifeProof case promises to be waterproof and to exceed US military shock standards.  A bold claim!  Is this *the* case for 24/7 action?  We shall see.

What’s in the box?

The packaging is simple but effective – it contains the aforementioned waterproof case, an instruction booklet, a cleaning cloth and a waterproof audio jack cable plus a card informing the user to program biometrics before installing their phone into the case.

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Waterproofness extends to even the audio jack (supplied cable)


The first thing you tend to notice when using an iPhone case is that the device gets noticeably more bulky.  This is common sense – the added heft provides protection for the phone.  However, in this case the LifeProof really doesn’t overly inflate the phone’s dimensions.

left: standard case vs. LifeProof Fre, right: the box contents

Here’s a photo (above) comparing the cheap plastic case first purchased, compared against the thin profile of the LifeProof case.  It’s snug, but secure.


Being a waterproof case, the phone is obviously fully encased, which means no direct contact with any of the iPhone’s buttons or the screen.  For a touch based interface this can be problematic, however gestures and even biometrics are no problem inside the LifeProof case.

My main concern was the impact of the protective layer over the crystal clear phone display – as you can see from the photos, there’s really no down side – the display is still crisp and clear.

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The iPhone’s display is not diminished by the added protection

The case integrates intelligent switches to allow the user to, for example, toggle the silent mode switch with the flick of a button.  The power button is a little more stiff than when used directly, but this has a benefit of it being harder to accidentally power on the device when unintended.

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Sleek look, sensible grip and access to all the phone’s key features and controls


To be perfectly honest with you, I’m once bitten twice shy after the loss of my last handset.  I really want to conduct a waterproof test on the case, but I also want to give it a “road test”.  I’ve decided to conduct the latter first, and return to waterproofness a little bit later.

The case is constructed with a very long O-ring perimeter inside the case which, when properly sealed makes the case waterproof.  It even appears to cater for the iPhone’s speaker, with a valve allowing sound to emit, but keeping water and liquid out

Minimal impact on the iPhone’s slim figure

Finally, as if it can’t get any more appealing, the case provides just the right amount of grip, so you don’t risk the accidental drop which I had the first time I had it with me!

Initial Conclusion

Initial verdict: winning

A brilliant upgrade, a sturdy and practical case for 24/7 use.  It has survived the initial “child test”, having been dropped, licked and used with sticky hands – and with a quick wash and clean, it’s brand new again.  I’m looking forward to carrying it around, with it’s smaller profile.

Stay tuned, I’ll update this article once I’ve had a chance to “field test” it in the wild.

While you’re reading, why not check out this case and more from MobileZap’s comprehensive range of mobile phone accessories over at MobileZap.

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