Rodney Gedda's piece of the Web

October 31, 2015
by Rodney Gedda

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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

April 30, 2015
by Rodney Gedda

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.

March 29, 2015
by Rodney Gedda

TablePress for easy tables in WordPress

Looking to add GUI-editable tables to your WordPress site? Take a look at TablePress.

TablePress for easy tables in WordPress

TablePress for easy tables in WordPress

It supports a number of JavaScript controls and can even import tables from Excel.

I’ve used it on a few sites and the great thing about it is you can hand over table updating to anyone who can log in and edit a Web form.


February 28, 2015
by Rodney Gedda
1 Comment

What to do when the NBN comes to town: Copper cable cut

Being at one of the early release sites, it’s now been over a year since I moved to the NBN. In truth, I did have to keep my copper connection active in order to keep my POTS phone number, but that’s another story.

As of this month NBN Co started dropping letters on everyone indicating the 18 month window of dual copper-fibre service in the area had come to a natural end. From March copper phone and internet services will cease and we’ll all be on fibre. I hope there isn’t too much disruption among those homes and businesses that could get the NBN but haven’t moved yet. Get your mobile handsets ready!

Interestingly, there was an article this week about the prospect of supporting two types of fixed-line access methods like copper and HFC/Cable or FTTP. That might have made sense 20 years ago when the first cable networks were rolled out in this country, but nowadays fibre does voice and data very well and we have more expansive and faster mobile networks.

I’m all for a multi-technology mix – where it makes sense! In an expansive suburban area like mine, where it’s not uncommon for premises to be several hundred metres from a node, let alone an exchange, fibre is the best option and the natural successor to copper. If you can push 100Mbps down existing copper lines in an high-density apartment building using FTTN then sure, go ahead and do it and save yourself the cost of retrofitting fibre. But there is not much point in “investing” in FTTN technology in suburban areas using the old copper network only for people any distance from the node to end up with DSL speeds. We’ll just have to see where the MTM approach ends up.

One of the things I’m happy to report is my home phone number was easily ported from the copper to the fibre connection by my ISP. I’m using the UNI-V port on the NBN router, not a VoIP service and the call quality is just as good, if not better, than what the copper network delivered.

One happy NBN and Ubuntu user from Gosford, NSW

One happy NBN and Ubuntu user from Gosford, NSW

NBN Co has received some favourable press from our local newspaper, the Central Coast Express Advocate. A local law firm has moved off copper completely and is enjoying the benefits of the NBN. The photo in the article also shows the business is using Ubuntu Linux on at least one desktop – go Ubuntu!

What to do when the NBN comes to town blog series:

January 29, 2015
by Rodney Gedda

Notification to nowhere

Most operation systems have notification services that attempt to notify, if not inform, the user when a significant even has occurred. Such as? Hmm…

  • Battery is low
  • Your mother called
  • You have a system update available
  • You have a reminder set to check the eggs

Unfortunately there are some notifications which are a little less useful that others. Take this one that Kubuntu spits out every now and then. It has been niggling at me for some time.

Kubuntu's anti-notification notification

Kubuntu’s anti-notification notification

“An application has crashed on your system (now or in the past)”. In other news:

  • Why?
  • What?
  • Which?
  • Who?
  • When?
  • Where?

It even says it is a “Helper”. Helping what? The user to become more confused?

A notification system should do something, like notify…