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Chris Lynch: Technologist

Chris Lynch has worked in technology for over 20 years as a developer, system architect, project manager, digital marketer, CTO, and now IT Director for InsureTech business Source Insurance.

Chris considers himself a bit of an old war horse now and says he's seen a few things.

"I remember a time when Google wasn’t the biggest search engine on the planet, people still believed that fax machines wouldn’t be replaced by email, having a smart-phone meant you’d bought a leather case for your Nokia 3210, and a “Face Book” was something serial killers kept under their beds. Although the landscape around me has changed almost constantly, my love for technology has never waned."

Since Chris' early days working for the NHS, he has been a huge advocate of open source technologies. Chris is currently fascinated by containers, nodeJS and the npm ecosystem, and building microservices. Chris is also still enjoying working with the LAMP stack and recently converted this website from Wordpress to Kirby (running in a container, of course!).

Chris Lynch has created several open-source projects of his own, including:

  • Bubble: A web based editor for comic book scripts
  • Return: An SEO auditing utility

and a range of technology demonstrations/shared scripts.


We take Open Source software for-granted today. Statistically, there's a good chance that you are reading this article in a web browser based on Chromium, the open source browser that Google markets as Chrome, or that uses Webkit, connected to this website using security powered by SSL, transported over HTTPS and TCP/IP, using DNS to translate a domain name into an IP Address. The page is written in HTML and uses CSS and Javascript, all open standards.

Cyber-criminals are increasingly using Web Assembly (WASM) to deploy malicious code, raising serious questions about the security model around Web Assembly and its future.

Throughout my career in digital marketing, there were a few rules that I always held to be immutable. One of them was this - If you can automate it, it's probably SPAM. This rule steered me the right way on many occasions when tempting shortcuts were offered to me. I'd lived through the dark times of SEO, you see, times when Google was more easily fooled than it is today and SEO forums were awash with hacks, grifts, and ways to "trick" Google.

If you haven't discovered WebAssembly yet, it's a pretty exciting technology that allows you to code in a range of languages (C++, Rust, and Typescript most notably) then compile your code into a WASM file that can run in all popular web browsers. Because the code is compiled it runs quickly and consistently across all devices. WebAssembly can't render directly and has to rely on being called by and emitting Javascript to manipulate the DOM, but it still opens up some exciting options and introduces the potential to do things in the browser that we just can't do right now like 3D games, heavy image manipulation, cryptography, etc.

Facebook Technologies, AKA Meta, AKA Those Guys Who Use Your Data to Sell Advertising, AKA Those Guys Who Just Lost a Huge Load of Money, have a new patent and things may be about to get interesting in the wearables space yet again.

Facebook isn't cool any more and users are leaving in droves. Ad revenue is down and shares are plummeting just at the point when Marky Mark Zuckerberg needs every penny he can scrape together to build "the metaverse"; a virtual world in which people can work, play, and live out a fantasy existence where Facebook remains implausibly relevant for anyone under 25.

I'm a pretty loyal Google user. Although I'm always ready to point out the more questionable aspects of their strategy to dominate the search engine space, I remain a big fan of a lot of their technology. I love my Chromebook and truly think web-based applications and a thin client-side OS are here to stay. I've always preferred cloud computing (or "client-server" as we used to call it) to thick client stuff. Computing should be cheap and accessible and Chromebooks, and free services from the likes of Google, go a long way to making that possible. It's possible to like the hammer but not the man holding it, if that makes any sense?

When running on Windows, PHP's timezones don't always play nicely with the Windows implementation of daylight savings time (DST). The code below is an easy workaround to this; simple use date("I") to work out if it is summer or not and combine this with date() and strtotime() to get the spot-on time including your GMT offset.

I'll confess, I stole this from somewhere on Stack Overflow and I'm posting it here just because it's so flipping useful I know I will need it again some day.

I've got a confession to make - I'm a log file addict. I love a good log file and I'll hold on to those bad boys for way longer than I should sometimes. Even I need to clear down the odd /logs directory every now and then though, and that's where this handy little piece of command-line-fu comes into play.

code-server is nothing short of amazing. A fully-fledged VSCode environment running in a browser means I can jump from one machine to another, including my beloved Pixelbook, with full access to my development environment and toolset. After months of subscribing to services like Codeanywhere, CodeTasty, replacing this with something under my control (and costing me not a red cent) is pretty cool.

If you're writing code to connect to a Linux server over SSH or SFTP, you may need to get the MD5 "fingerprint" of the server. It's that funny little string of numbers that appears, just once, when you connect to a server and you never see again unless it changes...

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