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January 17, 2016
by Rodney Gedda
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Messing with Markdown

A few forums I’m on – most notably Github – support Markdown so I thought I’d take a look at how i can work with it.

There’s a great little how to on maketecheasier.com that shows how to generate the HTML output right from the Kate text editor. Kate supports build profiles (which can just be a shell command) to make the code-to-build process seamless.

First, install Pandoc to convert the Markdown markup to HTML and create a build profile to run a command to convert the working text file into a HTML one.

pandoc -r markdown -w html -o %f.html %f

Then hit your keybinding (in my case Ctrl+Alt+B) and voilà the html file will be generated. You can also go a step further and spawn Firefox (or any other browser) to open the file so you can check the HTML output immediately.

pandoc -r markdown -w html -o %f.html %f && /usr/bin/firefox -new-window %f.html

Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that Kate supports Markdown syntax highlighting too.

kate_markdown_highlighting

December 29, 2015
by Rodney Gedda
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New notebook

So I finally get around to purchasing a new notebook as a functional alternative to the one I’ve been relying on for the past four years.

Nothing fancy – 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, 2G GPU – which makes it a definite step up, but not a 2-in-1 if you know what I mean. It shipped with Windows 8.1 and the upgrade to Windows 10 went smooth enough. Yet to install Linux on it, but looks like a good opportunity to try something new.

Now I’m left with an old-old notebook that’s well past it for me, but could be useful to someone else. It’s free to a good home if anyone wants it.

What’s a “good home”?

  • Charity
  • Student
  • Open source project
  • Etc…

Ping me if you want to suggest something.

November 29, 2015
by Rodney Gedda
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Bridging the desktop-mobile development gap

It seems Google’s Chrome browser is making waves in write-once, run on all desktops development environments. Projects like NW.js and Electron (renamed from Atom Shell earlier this year) provide an environment to use Web technologies for native apps on Windows, Mac and Linux desktops. And in the mobile space there is no shortage of cross platform frameworks like Apache Cordova and NativeScript that connect the code between Android, iOS and Windows Phone-based devices.

Apache Cordova for open source mobile development

Apache Cordova for open source mobile development

Is there a need for a toolkit that targets the six main desktop and mobile platforms? There is the Haxe project, but that’s its own environment and not “Web technologies” as the others are big on promoting.

This could be a focal point for 2016, including support for larger screens like smart TVs, etc.

October 31, 2015
by Rodney Gedda
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AsteroidOS: An open smartwatch platform

Last week I came across an interesting open source project in AsteriodOS. It’s a free and open-source smartwatch platform based on OpenEmbedded, libhybris and Qt5.

AsteroidOS: A free smartwatch platform.

AsteroidOS: A free smartwatch platform.

I have a Samsung Tizen-based smartwatch so it’s great to see a community project in this space.

Hack your wrist!

 

September 30, 2015
by Rodney Gedda
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The IoT value chain

I had a chat with a journalist this morning about IoT and the opportunities for IT service providers. The whole concept of the “Internet of Things” seems to be quite nebulous. We know that the potential for real-time information gathering is there, but how we apply that to process optimisation and new product and service development still depends on the individual business case.

Where do suppliers fit in? Well there is an entire value chain consisting of:

  • Sensors
  • Wireless networks
  • Gateways and routers
  • Wired network infrastructure
  • Device monitoring & management
  • Data collection (storage)
  • Data processing (big data)
  • Actionable information (analytics)

Oh, and what is the definition of IoT? I like to think it is Internet-enabling devices which traditionally haven’ t been networked. Devices have been connected to the Internet for decades, but “things” could be anything from fuel gauges to fertiliser dispensers.

See Stuart Corner’s IoT Australia publication for news and views on the emerging trend.

August 31, 2015
by Rodney Gedda
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The film every project manager should watch, over and over and over…

The Bridge on the River Kwai poster

The Bridge on the River Kwai poster

Faced with the irrepressible Imperial Japanese Army, to which his own doom appears certain, and ordered to construct a bridge to aid enemy combatants what does Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) in the 1957 film The Bridge on the River Kwai do? Build the best possible bridge he can.

Nicholson is a lover of engineering and quality standards, something sorely lacking in today’s “built so it can be thrown away and replaced” world.

Not satisfied with the quality of the first bridge Nicholson orders a second to be built downstream since to him starting a new project is better than a living with a poor quality project.

IMDB has a page with quotes from the movie, like:

One day the war will be over. And I hope that the people that use this bridge in years to come will remember how it was built and who built it – Colonel Nicholson

The film is an excellent reminder of how project managers, even in the face of adversity, should care about the quality of the final product – be it a bridge, building or business improvement.

 

July 26, 2015
by Rodney Gedda
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KDE announces Plasma Mobile

In another development for independent mobile environments, the KDE project has announced Plasma Mobile.

Plasma Mobile portrait

Plasma Mobile in action

Announced during Akademy, KDE’s yearly worldwide conference, the Plasma Mobile project aims to create a completely free and openly developed software stack for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

There is a video on YouTube showcasing Plasma Mobile.

June 30, 2015
by Rodney Gedda
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Alternative mobile OS redux

A while back I blogged about the possibilities for alternative mobile platforms. Unfortunately the pace of development has been slow since, but the good news is products like the new Meizu Ubuntu-based device are coming to market.

The new Meizu Ubuntu-powered smartphone

The new Meizu Ubuntu-powered smartphone

 

Since then FirefoxOS is focusing on higher-end devices, Sailfish has strong interest in a tablet and Tizen is now available on smart watches and TVs from Samsung,

Locally, Telstra was looking at FirefoxOS, but not much happened there. The Big T is also on Canonical’s Carrier Advisory Group (CAG) for Ubuntu Phone so we’ll just have to wait and see what (if any) outcome there is.

It must seem like an insurmountable task to break into the global smartphone market, but there are a few reasons to give it shot. First, the two dominant platforms can’t be everything to everyone; second, the refresh rate of handsets is quite high so there is a large window of opportunity; and third, with more standard apps and dev toolkits the hassle of supporting multiple platforms should diminish over time, even if you ignore the growing apk support for non-Android OSs.

I noticed the other day in the large tech retailers’ catalogues the arrival of Microsoft (not Nokia) branded smartphones in Australia. It would be great to see a few others options available as well.

May 31, 2015
by Rodney Gedda
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WordPress child themes with Child Themify

If you want to reduce some of the pain of managing theme changes in WordPress take a look at the Child Themify plugin which will create a child theme from an existing one with the click of a button. The “child” theme can then be styled to suit your needs and when there is a main theme update your changes won’t be overwritten.

child_themify_button

That said, I updated one of my sites yesterday and the header template was overwritten to which I had to add in the custom code – my fault but the limit of child themes are you want to avoid too many template changes as they will conflict with updates in the parent theme.

You can browse the latest free themes on WordPress.org

April 30, 2015
by Rodney Gedda
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The desktop virtualization dearth

I can’t believe how few options there are for desktop virtualisation (or virtualization) on Windows. I’m using VirtualBox to host Linux on Windows but I have a BIG problem with a BIG snapshot file that seems to keep growing to 20GB+ making the available space on my Windows partition shrink and shrink away.

It seems even the big virtualisation vendors like Microsoft, Parallels and Citrix have lost interest in a personal desktop virtualization product. VMWare and VirtualBox look like the only viable options.

I have downloaded the latest Bochs and will give that a go. There’s certainly a market opportunity here.