The Blog of Ed Ross


How your social media posts are exploited for profit

Over the past couple of weeks, these two interviews have been released, showing how your social media postings are used, analysed and exploited by organisations willing to pay the price to get at that data.

First, Giles Palmer - Founder & CEO of Brandwatch was featured by Silicon Real:

and then DataSift CEO Rob Bailey appeared on This Week in Startups:

So, what do you think about such activities? Let me know, um, on Twitter!

Mar 4

Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt and the NSA

Remember when Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt met for coffee, and Steve Jobs was overheard saying:

They’re going to see it all eventually so who cares how they get it.


Let’s go discuss this somewhere more private

Well, I’ve had a thought: what if they were talking about the governmental spying tools, such as Prism and XKeyscore? Do you think that could be true? If so, how does it affect your view of the situation? Let me know on Twitter.

Using custom fonts on SquareSpace (with MyFonts)

I talked last time about the business my wife has started, tutoring in Gosport and surrounding area, Maths, English and Music.

We wanted to use the same font we have used in the new logo (thanks go to Olwen Ringrose for the logo) directly on the web site too. The font was purchased through the MyFonts service.

It took a bit of trying to get the font working in all browsers, but I eventually worked it out, so thought it would be handy to share what appears to be the correct way to use MyFonts fonts on a SquareSpace site.

  1. Log in to your SquareSpace account and go to the Custom CSS section.
  2. Drag the font files from the folder sent by MyFonts to the Custom CSS window to upload them there (I’d previously tried uploading them via the standard link tool in SquareSpace: this got the font working in Chrome, but not FireFox or IE).
  3. Enter the standard copyright text from MyFonts, and then:
    @import url("//");
    Where FONTNUMBER is the number supplied by MyFonts
  4. Enter the
    line. Go to a new line and click on the eot font in the uploaded files section. This will add the URL to the font to the CSS file. Cut and paste it in to the @font-face line in the URL section for the eot font, and do the same for the woff and tff files, so each font URL is showing as the full “……” URL for the particular font type.
  5. Enter the CSS to apply the font to the page. In our case, we are starting with just the top navigation links:
    nav li {
      font-family: 'JoshHandwriting';
  6. Then save the Custom CSS and test. You should find after re-loading your page, the custom font will be showing up.


Hopefully this will help you if you are trying to add a MyFonts font to your SquareSpace site too, and if you need a Maths, English or Music tutor in Gosport, Fareham, Portsmouth or surrounding area, please consider Hampshire Home Learning.

(update: I should also add thanks to this post about MyFonts on SquareSpace too!)

Hampshire Home Learning

Hampshire Home Learning is a Hampshire based tutoring company for Primary School aged pupils (though we already have adult learners too), focusing on English, Maths and Music tutoring. It was founded by my wife, Anne Ross in 2014, after 13 years of teaching in schools in the UK.

Anne’s main activities are one-to-one tutoring with individual pupils, though we are also working on Home Education packages too, which will provide Home Educators with a ready made curriculum to work though with their children. They will be multimedia presentations so there will be plenty to read, hear and watch. I’m converting Anne’s MS Word documents to web pages so they will be usable on pretty much any device. I’m looking forward to getting to grips with the digital sales component of SquareSpace when we have these ready.

We are also planning other activities that will help parents teach their own children, especially those with special educational needs (one of Anne’s specialisms), so if you are interested in keeping up to date with anything Hampshire Home Learning is doing, or will be doing in the future, please feel free to contact us or sign up to our mailing list.

The podcasts I listen to - end of 2013 edition

Here is another look at what podcasts I’m currently listening to, in the order they were extracted from my iTunes list:

Notes: I only subscribe to audio podcasts (so I can listen at double speed on my iPod), but there are video versions of many of these podcasts, which you can find via the “More info” links if you want to.

Think there is one more podcast I should listen to? Let me know what it is via Twitter - I am: edaross there too.

Jul 8

21st Century Vicar!

Yesterday’s sermon left me more excited than I can remember being about any sermon recently.

Our new vicar demonstrating the Street View inside our church, inside our church, during the sermon!

Our new vicar surprised me somewhat by having a projector set up before the service. This, in itself, is quite a rare occurrence at my church. When it came to his sermon though, he added to the surprise when instead of opening the lid of a laptop to run a powerpoint presentation, he connected the projector to his iPhone!

The sermon itself highlighted the need to change and stay relevant in today’s world. He made the point that a lot of what we associate with in our church could quite easily be what was done 100 years ago, and if we didn’t “get with it”, there might not be a church here in 20 years.

From his phone, he demonstrated Google Street View inside the church (such an amazing thing to have by itself), QR codes, taking a photo of the congregation, viewing websites and YouTube videos, and even sharing a small (one slide) presentation. It really brought home the point that you can do a lot with one little device, and that our new vicar knew how to do those things!

It is going to be an exciting few years seeing what the new vicar can bring to this community. I’m glad to know they are tech-literate and willing to give the congregation a shove in that direction too. Not that we should use technology for the sake of it, but it can really help with the communications and relationship building work in the Church.

May 4

A chat with myself

  • Me: What's up?
  • Me: Well, it has been around a year since my last blog post. It has been a busy time! Also, the blogging service I used to use shut down, so I've had to move the blog on to another service. I went for Tumblr. I might start doing some more updates now - though I'm still quite busy.
  • Me: What sort of things have you been busy with?
  • Me: There is the youth group I mentioned in my last post, which has been going quite well. They even want to start a band and raise money for cancer research! Also there has been sad family things to deal with - a miscarriage. And just working and commuting takes it out of me so I don't have the motivation to blog! Though maybe I'll start doing some more Tumblr style blogging now, so we will see.

My past few months

Hello! You may have noticed I’ve not posted much recently. Life has gotten quite busy recently. My wife and I have been spending a lot of time planning a new youth group in the village we now live in:

Additionally, it now takes me longer to get to work than it used to when I lived in Portsmouth. We are also trying to make our new back garden in to something more than just a pile of mud, which has been especially hard for the past few weeks when it has been raining so much.

What have you been up to? Please let me know in the comments.

A Boring Report

On Saturday 19th November 2011, I got out of bed at about 5:50am and started getting ready for my day. This included making some coffee, and eating an apple. The apple was mostly red, with hints of green.
Once I was dressed and ready to get out of the house, a taxi driver knocked on my door. Actually, he knocked moments before I was ready, but they were kind enough to wait for me. By 6:30am, I was in the taxi, being driving me to Gosport Ferry Terminal. The taxi was quite large for one passenger: in fact it was almost a minibus (at least it seemed that way from the outside. Inside it only had a few seats). My wife was also supposed to be travelling with me, but she couldn’t make it in the end. I guess when she booked the taxi she might have said it would be for more than one passenger, so that might have accounted for the extra space - or perhaps taxis are just bigger than I remember them being.

The Gosport Ferry Webcam is quite good, if you like to see the sea - and ferrys.
I waited at the Gosport Ferry Terminal for a few minutes, and then the ferry arrived. I queued and then gave the ticket collector my ticket. He clipped it, and then gave it back to me. I say “my” ticket, but really it was a ticket my wife lent to me for the day.

Once the ferry had arrived in Portsmouth, I made my way to Portsmouth Harbour railway station. This journey took about 90 seconds by foot. A few minutes later, I was sitting on the train to London Victoria, waiting for it to set off.
At about 7:12 am, the train set off.

Time passed.

We arrived in London Victoria station at about 9:16am.
I got to the ticket barrier and slid my ticket in to the slot. It was rejected. I tried again. It wasrejected again. I guessed the problem was probably that my tickets were bought from an online vendor, rather than offline at a station or on the train. I walked over to the ticketinspector, and showed them my ticket. They let me though. I then realised I had been holding the ticket upside down. I’m still not sure how much attention theinspectorpaid to the ticket.

As I made my way to the Underground station, I realised I had my Oyster Card in my coat pocket from the last time I went to London. (On that occasion, I met @98rosjonfor the first time offline. It was a good meeting. You should meet him too if you have the chance). It was pleasing to find my Oyster Card, but my wife had lent me hers already, so it wouldn’t have been too much of a hardship if I hadn’t found mine at that time. But it was good that I did anyway, I thought.
I got out of my bag a sheet of paper I had prepared a few daysearlierwith theinstructionsfor myjourney on the underground system printed on it and looked for the entrance to the right set of tubes, so I would end up going the right way. Having had a bit of a false start (I started queueing in a queue designed for those with luggage, when I had none), I eventually found myself on what Ibelievedto be the right platform to catch a tube to Embankment.

I was right.
Getting out at Embankment, I walked to Bank. The walk required having more faith in the Transport For London guide, taking me down a road with very few signs pointing the way to Bank station.

I thought of “The Weakest Link”.
Idescended the steps to Bank. Bank is an oddly constructed station, with multiple entrancesspirallingout from a central circle, and you must remember which location number you entered from so you can make your way out from the same location on your return journey. I checked with the member of staff if I was at the correct location to get a tube to Bethnal Green. They grunted somethingunintelligibleback at me. I decided to take the risk, swipe my Oyster Card along the entrance to the escalators, and descend even deeper into the London underground tube system.

At the bottom of theescalators, I found two archways. One to the left, and one to the right. in front of me were two tube maps. One next to thearchwayon the left, one next to thearchwayon the right. One of the maps contained the words “Bethnal Green”. I walked through the archway next to the sign (the one on the left).
Once I found I was at Bethnal Green, I remembered I had forgotten to make a map from the station to my intended destination. I started writing a tweet along the lines of: “I’ve forgotten to make a map - how do I get from Bethnal Green to York Hall?”. Just before I was going to send it, I noticed there was a map on the wall, so I walked over to the map and first started trying toidentifymy current location. Having identified my currentlocationon the map, I then turned my attention to locating York Hall on the map. Soon after I had completed that mission, someone walked past me, turned round, and said my name. That someone was @adamcreen, who somehow had managed to identify me on our first offline meeting from the back of my head. I was impressed, and pleased to see him.

We walked to York Hall together, and talked while we did so.
We arrived at York Hall.

We attended Boring 2011.
After the conference,@adamcreen, his wife,@inRedPenand I walked to a pub in the Bethnal Green area, and @adamcreenwas kind enough to buy a round of drinks. I had a Diet Coke. We talked about various subjects. I worried about the time, knowing I would have to get to London Victoria by 8:00pm to get on the train my ticket was for. We talked some more. Then I left, and made my way back to Bethnal Green Underground station. The three others remained in the pub. I don’t know how long for, as I had left.

From Bethnal Green Underground station, I travelled to Bank. I discoveredBank is an oddly constructed station, with multiple entrancesspirallingout from a central circle, and you must remember which location number you entered from so you can make your way out from the same location on your return journey. Having made at least one complete circuit of the exits, I made my way back out to the street, and walked to Embankment.
From Embankment I moved on to London Victoria. I was pleased to find that I hadn’t got on an incorrect tube for the entire journey, there and back.

At London Victoria I bought some dinner, and walked down to the train station entrance once I saw which platform my train would be departing from. In front of me stood a man asking for entrance in to the platform area of the station. The ticket inspector checked their ticket, and told the man he had to buy a new one as that ticket had been for a train that had already departed. The man looked sad, and walked away, allowing me to show the inspector my ticket. I showed the inspector my ticket, and they let me through to the train.
The train was long. Actually, it was two trains joined together to make one longer train. I heard the instructions bellowing from the speakers: passengers travelling to Portsmouth Harbour must travel in the front four coaches.

I got in to coach 1, and consumed my dinner. After that, seeing as I had to travel in the first four coaches, I decided to produce a review of the four coaches. This actually took quite some time, and once complete, I was back in Portsmouth.(By the way, I saw the man with the bad ticket on the train, so they must have been able to get a correct ticket at London Victoria).
But I was only at Fratton Station.

After Fratton Station, the train moved on to Portsmouth and Southsea station, and from there completed its journey at Portsmouth Harbour station, at around 10:06pm. I got off the train and decided to use the stars and bridge over to the exit side of the station. I saw a woman running. I thought they might be running towards a ferry, so I started running too. Well, I walked more quickly anyway. She ran out of thestation and headed towards the ferry terminal, but then slowed down and then stopped. The ferry was not there yet. I slowed down too, and walked to the ferry terminal.
There were around 6 or 8 people ahead of me at the ferry terminal, and at first no one behind me. Then several people arrived after me, and then some more. By the time the ferry arrived, there was quite a crowd waiting to board.

I headed back to Gosport on the ferry, and decided to walk home rather than take a taxi.
I walked home.
Nov 9

A post about other religions

I belong to a group that is interested in studying a few different religions. I’ve recently heard some talks about different religions, so thought it would be good to send them the links so they could hear them too. Also I know of some other resources, so I thought I’d add them all to one blog post to save having to send out a big email of links.
"Truth Between Us" was aseriesof talks released in late 2011 by Mosaic, which covered the religions below. Best to right-click and Save As:

Islam:Audio/ Video
Hinduism: Audio / Video
Scientology: Audio / Video
Catholicism: Audio/ Video
Mormonism: Audio / Video
Judaism: Audio / Video
The Lifespring! Podcast also ran aseriesabout other religions back in 2006/2007. Use the player or download links on the pages:

If reading is more your thing, then check outThe Christian Apologetics & Research Ministrywhich has articles about many different religions.

That is all for now.
Please don’t turn the comments section of this post in to a flame-war!