Vague memories, nothing but memories

A technology blog by Mícheál Ó Foghlú, CTO FeedHenry, learner, researcher, teacher, thinker, tinkerer, and gadget lover.

MWC2013 Odd Stand

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At Mobile World Congress 2013 last month in Barcelona I came across this odd stand in Hall 8 (App Planet): Motorheadphones

Now, I know there is an interesting trend in the branding of audio products, where the brand of an artist can become the selling point.
Beats by Dr. Dre are probably the best example of this, and have had a huge market penetration.

However, I was still surpised to see a product whose main appeal seemed to be a good pun.

Anyways, it reminded me of my teenage youth going to see Motorhead and other heavy metal bands (including AC/DC) in venues such as the Ulster Hall in Belfast. In the Northern Ireland of the troubles, this was a comparatively safe non-sectarian way to be a teenager. Later I got more into the more subltle blends of Hawkwind, where Lemmy of Motorhead originally came from, and indeed their signature tune was originally a Hawkwind track.

On a side note I recommend watching Jon Udell’s screencast on the evolution of the “Heavy Metal Umlaut” as an analysis of the culture of Wikipedia. For a more complete discussion try the excellent article by Bruce Cambell Do you want umlauts with that?.

Anyway, back to the day job.

WIT Graduation 2013

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I was very happy to be on the podium for the Waterford Institute of Technology graduation ceremony this morning, Fri 4th January 2013. One of the TSSG MSc research students, Biao Xu, was graduating. His thesis was titled “Distributed Algorithms for Computing Closed Itemsets Based on an Iterative Map-Reduce Framework”. His external examiner was Dr Brian Mac Namee (Dublin Institute of Technology). His internal examiner was Dr Ruairi de Frein (TSSG, Waterford Institute of Technology).

Interestingly, this was the first time since we founded the TSSG in 1996 that I’d shared the podium with Dr Willie Donnelly and Eamonn de Leastar. They were presenting two PhD graduates from the TSSG at the ceremony: Dr Ray Carroll and Dr Leigh Griffin.

Two FeedHenry staff were also graduating at this ceremony: Alan Moran and Eoin Crosbie.

Congratulations to all the graduates and their families and loved ones!

Linode Gave Me Extra Disk Space

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My hosting provider, Linode, gave me an additional 20% disk space for free.

What was even more impressive was it took me just 5 minutes to figure out how to implement this. Basically I had to shut down the machine, resize the disk within my new limit, and then reboot. All this via the web management console.

So I remain very impressed.

Love the native IPv6 as well.

Happy New Year to all!

Mountain Lion Java Woes

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Like a few others, I got bitten by a Mountain Lion upgrade recently.

When installing this update from Apple About Java for OS X 2012-006 — HT5495 that was released on 16 Oct 2012, the information provided did clearly state the following:

“This release updates the Apple-provided system Java SE 6 to version 1.6.0_37 and is for OS X versions 10.7 or later. This update uninstalls the Apple-provided Java applet plug-in from all web browsers. To use applets on a web page, click on the region labeled “Missing plug-in” to go download the latest version of the Java applet plug-in from Oracle. This update also removes the Java Preferences application, which is no longer required to configure applet settings.”

But what it didn’t say was that when you try and upgrade the plug-in, as advised, in Google Chrome you cannot, as it isn’t a 64-bit application in Mountain Lion:

“Chrome does not support Java 7. Java 7 runs only on 64-bit browsers and Chrome is a 32-bit browser. If you download Java 7, you will not be able to run Java content in Chrome and will need to use a 64-bit browser (such as Safari or Firefox) to run Java content within a browser. Additionally, installing Java 7 will disable the ability to use Apple Java 6 on your system.”

So, you have to use Safari or Firefox to handle web pages using applets.

For a very good discussion of the security issues with Java and Apple’s rationale for their approach see: Using Java in Mac OS X, Thomas’ Tech Corner

To test if the Java Applet is working in your browser try this link: Test Java Applet — Verify Java Version

Node Conf Dublin

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Feedhenry were happy to sponsor the Node Conference in Dublin that was on last week, 18th-19th October 2012, in the Guinness Storehouse.

I attended the second day enjoyed the set of talks, especially the detailed discussion of how V8 optimizes JavaScript from Michael Starzinger of Google.

From the sounds of it, the additional highlight was the excellent social events the guys organized. I’d expect no less from Cian Ó Maidín!
So it was a shame I did not get to join it, my schedule was just too hectic.

Maire Geoghegan-Quinn

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Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research Innovation and Science, visited ArcLabs in Waterford on Monday 08th Oct 2012.
She was speaking at an event in Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), and then met with spinout companies from WIT, including FeedHenry. The photo shows me with the commissioner demonstrating the Guinness Storehouse app.
FeedHenry’s key strategic partnership in Europe is with Telefonica (O2 UK and O2 Ireland), and our key strategic partnership in the US is with VMware. Telefonica offer a white label version of our platform to their enterpise customers. VMware have used our platform to build apps distributed internally via their own enterpise app store, and externally via public app stores. In addition Feedhenry have a special version of their platform,, that targets Public Cloud Foundry.

Developing and Managing Mobile Enterprise Apps Using Cloud Foundry and FeedHenry

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Dr Mícheál Ó Foghlú (CTO, FeedHenry) and Anthony Rizk (Lead Mobile Developer, VMware)


Mobile apps are the way that users interact with services on their smartphones. The main challenges with enterprise mobile apps are:

  • the fragmented nature of the smartphone market – there are several significant and mutually incompatible platforms: iOS, Android, RIM, WP7, …
  • access to enterprise back-end systems from mobile devices securely in a way that is appropriate for mobile data.

HTML5/CSS/JavaScript hybrid apps provide a good solution for the platform fragmentation problem, and a cloud-based MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform) running Node.js is a good solution for back-end access. Using the FeedHenry enterprise mobility solution and Cloud Foundry, VMware was able to successfully deliver the My VMware mobile app to both Android and iOS phones and tablets.

Key Takeaways

  1. HTML5/CSS/JavaScript hybrid apps are a good way to address the need for enterprise mobile apps across multiple smartphone and tablet platforms; libraries and packaging tools exist and are rapidly maturing that make it possible to deliver native quality apps with these technologies
  2. A MEAP (mobile enterprise application platform) is a necessary component of an enterprise mobility strategy, to enable secure back-end connectivity; using a cloud based Node.js solution works very well, especially paired with HTML5/CSS/JavaScript hybrid apps.
  3. Cloud Foundry and FeedHenry provide a secure, easy to set up solution for developing and managing enterprise mobile apps; VMware has successfully developed and released a widely used mobile app – My VMware for iOS and Android – on this technology stack Outline

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction – the Mobile App market, challenges and opportunities for enterprises.
  2. Solving Mobile Platform fragmentation with HTML5 hybrid apps.
  3. Mobilizing enterprise data systems with a MEAP.
  4. Cloud Foundry and FeedHenry – cloud-based, cross-platform mobile apps.
  5. Case Study: My VMware mobile app
  6. Conclusion

New Node.js Features in Cloud Foundry

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This article CF Blog Article documents the new auto-configure feature for Node.js being deployed to Cloud Foundry. The system can now figure auto-magically which services to link up to on which ports, rather than requiring them to be manually configured via environment variables, as previously. This is particularly useful for interfacing to Redis and MongoDB more easily.

As FeedHenry supports CloudFoundry (c.f. FeedHenry’s CF Cluster, this is good news for Feedhenry too.

Mountain Lion Clean Install Gotcha

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I recently had a problem with my OS X Lion MacBook Pro, and for one reason and another decided to address it by upgrading to Mountain Lion and installing from scratch, recovering any essentials from backups.

However, I ran into a real gotcha where my existing encrypted volume could not be erased, and so I could not proceed with the installation.

Luckily this blog post helped me resolve the issue by safely removing the encrypted partition, using a command version of diskutil in a terminal window, so I could reformat and then it could play nicely with the clean Mountain Lion installation Martyn Drake’s Blog

Improve Octopress Timestamp

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In order to preserve the timestamp of the HTML (Static Site Generator) SSG files from Octopress/Jekyll I have switched from the use of a direct link for the “public” folder to the live directory on the web site, to the use of a git push. This means if the files are the same, they will not be uploaded, and the original timestamp will be preserved (even though Octopress has in fact regenerated them, as it does by default). I have seen some better ways to fix this, but this keeps me with vanilla Octopress, and so will be easier for me to maintain.

My Blogging History

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I used NROFF and TROFF in the mid-1980s in university, so I was familiar with markup early on. I then used TeX and LaTeX in the late 1980s, and ever since, for academic papers. I even persuaded Computer Services (with the help of Paul Doyle) to use a LaTeX workflow for user documentation. This did not last long, as the learning curve was too steep for non techies to engage as authors. Anyway, I was a big fan of structured markup to manage content and produce various formats of output.

New Octopress Blog

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After much deliberation I’ve decided to start a clean new blog, using Octopress. This wraps Jekyll, a Ruby based blogging framework that uses markdown for entries. The idea is that I want to do more blogging with code, and this is a good platform for this.