Thursday Oct 2, 2014It’s National Poetry Day today! So I thought I’d publish a poem I knocked up a while ago. It tells the tale of a Shibboleth IdP when contacted by a fake SP, using the credentials of a long vanished real one. #The Shibboleth Sonnet I shall compare thee to a crypto key, that lives in darkest corner of a disk, unused it seems for aeons until thee have probed my single sign on with your kiss.
Sunday May 4, 2014This post is about creating your very own digital butler. You’re iButler if you like. Who will welcome you into your room with a butlerish pleasantry and wave you goodbye as you leave. Let me introduce you to Bluetooth the Butler and his sidekick, piBeacon. What I’ll be doing is getting a Raspberry Pi to act as an iBeacon (piBeacon), broadcasting some data and then getting an iPhone to pick it up.
Sunday Apr 27, 2014I’ve had a pile of electronics lying around for a while, waiting for me to tackle an interesting project. How to get an Arduino on the wifi network, broadcasting the temperature. Well, the parts list is fairly simple to get hold of: Arduino (I used a Mega 2560) WiFly shield Stackable headers BMP180 temperature/pressure sensor. I got one from eBay (I think!) A load of jumper wires and a wee breadboard (for the BMP180) Soldering iron and lead free solder Some AC/DC albums (optional) Now I haven’t soldered anything in a very long time but it turned out to be easy (once I’d worked round the tip on the brand new soldering iron not working after 5mins).
Sunday Apr 27, 2014As I work towards a remote Arduino weather station, sitting out in the garden, or even up a hill (with GPRS perhaps?), I started looking into hooking it up to the Raspberry Pi via the serial port, to investigate an initial hardware control API. Now before you go running off at the thought of RS232 and voltage conversions, the Arduino has an internal serial to usb converter, hoorah! What does this mean?
Friday Apr 18, 2014I’ve been hearing some good things about Node.js recently so I thought I’d give it a go. Not on something easy like a quickie server but on something much more gnarly. Getting it to talk to MSSQL via ODBC. First things first, you need to install the ODBC/FreeTDS infrastructure and I’ve already blogged about that here. Once that lot is set up, I’ll be using a DSN to define the connection so some things need to match.
Wednesday Feb 12, 2014I was recently having a blether with a colleague about testing and how we should thrash out a shared understanding of the different types. There are so many ways to test software, all with their own advocates, terminology and fluff that we just had to write down what we meant when we said ‘the software is tested’. The whiteboard is your friend in cases like this. So I thought I’d write all this down, picking out the different test types from our whiteboard session, refine them and come up with a nice diagram.
Saturday Jan 25, 2014Many years I used to work almost exclusively in two development environments. Visual Studio and SoftICE, the latter making me a bit of a digital hermit which I wrote about a few years ago. Back then I’d realised the eremitic connotations of software development and they’ve hovered like a presence in the background throughout my softare development career. Since leaving the driver days behind, that hermit’s cave of SoftICE has been replaced, in turn, by multiple Windows command prompt windows all crammed into a tiny monitor, fighting for space not only on the screen but in my brain’s limited short term memory banks.
Thursday Jan 23, 2014The latest integration project I’m working on is to wire up the Blackboard VLE to the SITS student records system, mainly to synchronise courses and users. The first version I did was a couple of years ago, using the Blackboard SIS framework but as it’s a sysadmin thingy, file based and incapable of reporting errors programmatically, for this new version I decided to develop a building block with a nice REST interface.
Saturday Jan 18, 2014To set the scene for this review, I must explain something. I’m a middleware developer in the main, although I like to code side projects for iOS and Android but for the most part, I work with backend data and systems. Plumbing applications together with COM, REST, SOAP and all that jazz. ERB templates in Rails are fine but the client side of things has largely been a ‘here be dragons’ type of thing.
Friday Nov 1, 2013I do lots of integration. I mean, lots, so I’ve seen a lot of different systems, APIs and integration methods and the one rule that always stands is, ‘Know Thy System’. In theory that’s what you should do. In practice it’s always appended with ‘to varying degrees!’. This is almost always down to API documentation or the level of (or lack of) system knowledge of the people who look after it.