Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Adding Analytics to your Blogspot blog

So being a bit of a statistics junky I realised I needed to be able to get more stats off my web page. Obviously the best bet, considering this blog etc is all hosted on Google based servers etc, would be Google Analytics. So after a bit of poking around (I was going to say googling but then I don't want to be accused of trying to cram 'google' into my post too many times) I stumbled across this post on the Analytics Blog.

Obviously, this looks awesome but alas, as the post suggest it is still only in Private Beta even though this post is almost exactly a year old.

So, it was back to getting Analytics to work on the blog. Despite the misgivings induced in me by this post it was actually really really easy.

Firstly setup your Analytics account simply by going to, everything is pretty straight forward, when it asks for the URL simply put in (in this case and fill in the rest of the details. 

During the setup process you'll be presented with some code to copy and paste into your blog. Grab a copy of this and head back into your blog. Go into the layout tab and add a new HTML/Javascript gadget. Paste the copied code in and save the new gadget.

You're now setup, to confirm that you'll be getting data head into your Analytics account and select "Edit" for the account you setup for this blog. Click on "Check Status" and if you get a message "Waiting for Data" all is good.

Of course if your blog is as totally awesome as mine you'll be presented with loads of data on usage like this..

I guess I'd better get to work getting some good content onto this blog so I can get some more interesting stats.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Setting Up Wireless Distribution System

So, having moved from the trusty ridiculously slow and overpriced 3G internet connection to a super speedy ADSL2+ connection at home I ran into an unexpected problem.

Wireless signals and modern reinforced concrete buildings don't mix very well!

While I was sharing the 3G connection with a wireless router this was situated on the middle floor of the house, very centrally located and there where no issues with the signal strength any where in the house. Obviously with the new internet connection I needed to connect to a phone line, for some reason in this brand spanker of a house that I know reside there is no phone outlet on the middle floor of the house. So I had to either plug the new router in the living room, or in the bedroom. Given that the new connection came with a bonus SIP account and I'd purchased a voip enabled router it seemed to make sense to have this 'living' in the living room.

The Problem!

This however created a terrible, terrible problem not enough WiFi signal strength in the bedroom to use the iPhone in bed. I know this may not seem like a pressing problem but my partner seems to adore doing this (and it's growing on me a bit as well I must admit). So this, obviously, HAD to be fixed.

The Failed Ghetto Fix!

I attempted a ghetto reflector to boost the range of the router that I had picked up. I got the details off which updated instructions from freeantennas. And I must admit that mine didn't look as good as the one pictured here because I have the craft skills of a clumsy 3 year old.

The Solution: WDS

So it was back to the web to search for solutions, WDS seemed to be the answer. I had toyed with Wireless distribution systems in the past, but only fancy commercial systems that used multiple radios etc etc to pull together different access points. In my various net wanderings I had read about WDS but never looked into it.  There is a good background on WDS on Wikipedia if you want some more information.

Having discovered the possibility of WDS I was then resigned to the fact that neither the cheap ADSL/VoIP/WiFi router (Billion 7401R3) nor the 3G/Wifi router ('3' branded Huawei D100) I'd been using for the old connection would support it. I scoured the net for the manuals (oddly both were only available as RAR downloads...). Much to my delight I discovered that they both supported WDS.

The Setup
WDS required one major change to the current wireless setup. First of all it will only work with preshared keys in WEP or WPA and not the newer more secure WPA forms of encryption. FYI this is because there is no ratified standard for mesh network encryption although it looks like draft 802.11s will soon be ratified. Furthermore the 7401 doesn't even support it with WPA-PSK. So I had a downgrade the security from WPA2 to WEP, to give me some glimmer of security I enabled MAC filtering for the wireless devices we have in the house. So this will block a determined hacker for about 1/10th of a second.

The setup is pretty straight forward basically set the two APs to the same SSID, channel and key, then get the MAC of one router and copy it to the other and vice versa. Now as usual I didn't quite read the manuals properly and after having a quick skim decided that I could stumble my way through and it would be all good. This led to me stupidly setting the D100 to "bridge" instead of AP mode, a couple of days later trying to figure out why the signal kept dropping out it occurred to me as I re-read the manual while waiting for a site to load at work that I may have this wrong and once I fixed it all was good. So a friendly warning to all to set both routers to AP mode, not Bridge!

The Payoff
Happily laying in bed surfing on facePhone. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Another win for the Enterprise Config Utility

The fiddling with my iPhone continues. Up until Sunday I was on a prepaid plan that I've used pretty much since I first got a mobile ten years ago. Hmm thats a little disturbing, but it wouldn't be far off almost exactly ten years ago. I feel a little older now. Anyway....

So for some reason, their is no Cellular Data Network tab (shown below) on my inherited iPhone.

So after poking around for a while.. it hit me, duh! Surely the Enterprise Config Utility can setup the APN etc as well. Sure enough there it is under the Advanced and it was as easy to get going as sticking in the Vodaphone APN which I pulled off there website and applying the profile.

Now I've got data on the run (Albeit at 2G speeds).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stupid Wifi Key too hard to type in your iPhone? Use Enterprise Configuration Utility

So I've finally joined the Jobian masses and switched over to an iPhone. I'll start by going out there and saying I haven't become a massive fan boi or anything, its just that my phone was on its last legs and my better half wasn't using her Old School iPhone anymore. So now I have upgraded from my crappy N73 complete with non-functioning volume control requiring use of loudspeaker to hear a normal conversation, thus ensuring the entire room at work knows whatever I'm talking about, to an old school, original release iPhone. This does bring some disadvantages, OS 4 won't be supported when it comes out for example.

Anyway, the point of this post wasn't to inform you all that I've changed phones it was to introduce a handy tool that Apple has put together for enterprise iPhone configuration, that tool is the iPhone Configuration Utility, available from the Apple iPhone Enterprise Support page.

This tool was a life saver for me at work. I haven't gotten around to switching to a better mobile data plan so I'm avoiding data usage at all costs, so I need to be on a Wifi Connection to checkout anything. This is all well and good at home where I have a simple Wifi key but here at work its a pain in the arse because the Wifi key is in 64 bit HEX form. After a couple of failed attempts at entering the key manually I googled around for a better option and stumbled across this awesome tool. It lets you configure pretty much every setting item. You simply go through the menus in the app and then connect iPhone via USB cable and apply the config.

In fact I think downloading, installing and figuring out how to use the app was quicker than attempting to manually enter the key again.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ice Ice Baby

After spending the long weekend camping down at Wilsons Prom in Victoria the southern most point on the Australian mainland. I obviously had quite a few photos that I'd taken, so when the girlfriend was home during the week she started putting together an album of the last six months, capped off by some photos from the weekend.

A couple of years ago when shewe decided to put together our first photobook I searched around for ages, we tried BigW but their software was crap and I played around with a couple of others until I settled on Blurb, a US based company that prints to order and delivers pretty quick. The main reason for choosing these guys was that it was well priced, but mainly because their software worked well on our aging laptop and it only required an internet connection when uploading the completed book.

Anyway, back to the whole point of this post. Panoramic shots! More specifically stitching them together from a collection of other photos. As I've often done in the past I'd taken a few collections with the intention of getting them back home and stitching them together. The only thing holding me back (besides chronic procrastination that is) was that I had no idea of which software I should be using. To me the term post processing refers to downloading the photos to the computer. At most I might resize the odd photo so it makes it easier to email. I do intend to rectify this in the future, but it could take a while.

Anyway, I put my feelers out in the usual spot (that is I googled around for a bit, got confused by all the options, then posted on my favourite forum. There was a couple of quick responses but being lazy the single program solution that someone offered seemed like the best (easiest) way to go. The suggestion was for a product from the Microsoft research labs (which if I am not mistaken are also responsible for most of the XP Power tools and such things as ProcessExplorer) The program is called ICE for Image Composite Editor.

So I downloaded it with a little skepticism (it was my fourth pano program of the afternoon) and I was pleasantly surprised. I simply selected the photos I wanted and let it go to work. There where plenty of settings and other things to play with but I just let the program have at it. Even choosing the autocrop option, here are the results.

Pretty damn good I'd say, this is the result of stitching 8 photos taken in portrait with about a 50% overlap between each photo.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share this, if you're looking for a stitching program then I can safely say that ICE is worth a look.

Off to the comedy festival for me now. :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Curses of the Web App Tester


If there are other are web testers out there they can probably feel my pain. Since I started in the roll 6 months ago I've lost count of the times I've gone to other websites and been greeted with errors like below. This one is from this very blog.

Now I know the first thing you're thinking is, why are you using IE8. Well that's because I have to for the product that I test. That and I was struck by the need to check out the blog in other browsers, you know to see if there was anything funky going on. This is probably the first curse of the Web App Tester.

The second is that debugging is always cranked up to the max, thus at least half of the pages that you view spew forth errors like the one here.

The third would have to be the wrong browser curse, you know, you're looking at a site and it doesn't work properly, some widget is missing didgets or its just downright manked. So you are forced to cycle through all your browsers till you find one that the site works properly on. Following this, the next time you go to the site, you will of course not remember any of this and go through the whole cycle again.

I do a few things to avoid these curses, all of my non-testing browsing is in Chrome, which for the most part works pretty well, except for booking flights (Virgin pay with Poli I'm looking at you) and internet banking (Ubank your interest rate is great, your website isn't) the main reason for this success is that as I test corporate website software I don't need to test in Chrome (although I still do a bit) and so I don't catch the stupid JS errors that abound through out the land.

The Friday Effect

It's probably not just me, or my office, but there is some serious Friday Effect going on around here today.

You know what I mean, Friday afternoon, next weeks deadlines are to far away for you to really care, your task list is getting kind of low, suddenly throwing a rubber spider at a coworker (or writing your opening blog post) seems better than anything else you could possibly be doing.

This week it is compounded in my office by the fact that the development manager is somewhere schlepping through mud in the middle of South America (and will be for a few more weeks yet). Thus leaving the office devoid of pressing commitments from above.

To be really honest as I've been sitting around waiting for other people to get stuff sorted the whole week has taken on a Friday afternoon type feel. Which is always awesome in my book anyway. It has meant that I've been able to catch up on some stuff that I have been putting off for a while (such as starting this blog).

Anyway, I'd like to welcome you to my blog. I am sure heaps and heaps of people will read this first post. This blog will be a collection of my random thoughts and opinions on a wide range of subjects. I'll be posting about topics from office bludging to web application testing and development, from camping to share market and property speculation.

For now I hope everyone makes it through the final hours of Friday afternoon and into an awesome weekend.