Category Archives: Uncategorized

Building a Static Website using IBM Bluemix

Update: I have upgraded my project to be a new IBM Bluemix Continuous Delivery toolchain and updated the Deploy to Bluemix button below to point at my new repository. Learn more.

Somebody asked me the other day if it was possible to build a simple, static website using Bluemix. With a bit of thought, I managed to get one going that used the nginx buildpack, but it turns out there’s an even simpler solution. On the CloudFoundry community site on GitHub there’s a “static file” buildpack that is just what you’re looking for. Given this, it’s just a handful of steps to get a static website going:

  1. Create a toolchain at IBM Bluemix Continuous Delivery, with a repo and a pipeline.
  2. Create a manifest file with the buildpack: set to the static file buildpack
  3. Pour in some html content
  4. Configure the pipeline to deploy the app
  5. Commit your source to the repo

Ok, even though that’s pretty easy, it might be a bit hard to get right if you’ve never done it before. So here’s an even simpler solution…

Just click this button:
Bluemix button


That will take you through all the steps above, setting you up with a toolchain and all the tools you need to work with at Bluemix, along with example starting content for your website. It also takes care of deploying the site so you can see it running right away. All you have to do is edit the html files to be what you want, commit them to the repo, and you’re done.

It even works if you don’t have a Bluemix account yet (although you’ll be asked to sign up for one).

Now that’s simple!

*** Site stability warning *** (updated)

Just letting you know that the various sites we host may be unstable for the next few days.

We’ve just upgraded our network connection, which should significantly improve performance, but it’s going to take a while to get all the kinks worked out.

Wish me luck :-),

Update: The most important sites are all working again. If you have any problems, please let me know.

SlingPlayer for iPad — don’t buy it.

I have to say, when I finally got a chance to get the SlingPlayer Mobile app for my iPhone, I was quite upset to find that they were charging $30 for it — more than 5x the price of any other app I have purchased for that platform.

On top of that, after using it for a while, I can honestly say that it was not worth the price. The control scheme is unwieldy (to say the last); the actual interactions with the PVR are unresponsive to the point of being nearly useless; and the picture quality is poor (even with the latest 2.0 version).

Essentially, it’s a tech demo: I have never used it for anything other than explaining to people what is possible on the iPhone.

I’m an optimist though, so when the iPad version of SlingPlayer came out, I thought maybe they will have made use of the improved screen real estate and horsepower to provide a better experience, so I’ll just go to the App Store and… WHAT?!?!?! Another 30 dollars!!!!

Um… In a word, no.

Even for an iPad app, that price is off by (at least) a factor of two, and they simply haven’t demonstrated that they can deliver an experience that justifies that cost. Hey, SlingMedia, take a look at StreamToMe it’s one tenth the price and offers a streaming media experience (albeit a simpler one) that is significantly better than SlingPlayer.

Happy Anniversary…

… to us! Yes, today is the 25’th anniversary of the day Deb and I got married. Wow, it hasn’t been that long has it? Let’s see, there was the time we bought a house, and then Dennis was born, and then suddenliy he was old enough to be left at home while we went to Halifax for a week. 25 years. Really?

Speaking of Halifax, we’ve been having tons of fun so far. Yesterday we managed to see a mix of sights we had seen last time we were here and a couple of new ones: the Public Gardens and the Natural History museum.

I will try to post more pictures when I get home, but it’s quite difficult to get them from the iPad (I’m using to write this) to my home server. Just to prove that it is possible, here’s a photo I took at the Citadel yesterday:

A picture of the Halifax Citedal grounds

Today we’re off to see “Pier 21” the immigration museum and hopefully a Mac store, then maybe some time by the pool and dinner at a fancy restaurant. Ah the life of the idle rich. 😉


I continue to be thankful that we are lucky enough, as Canadians, to have access to the best-of-breed, thought provoking, genuinely compelling content from CBC Radio One. I have talked about their shows both positively (e.g. Ideas) and negatively (e.g. Wiretap) before, and now I’d like to draw another excellent program to your attention: Afghanada.

Afghanada is a radio drama series about the day-to-day life of a small group of Canadian soldiers stationed in Kandahar Province. The writing is strong, with a cast of characters that truly feel like living, breathing individuals put in frequently hellish situations. Having never been a soldier, I cannot say whether the portrayal of these people’s lives is accurate, but I can say that the power of this show has made me feel more compassion for the individuals in our armed forces than all of the traditional news reporting put together.

I am particularly pleased that you can now get all three seasons worth of Episodes of Afghanada via iTunes. Season one is an awesome deal, at $12 for 22(!) half hour episodes.

I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys well acted, radio programming.

(and say “Hi” to Coach for me)

Fly Fusion Pentop

So there I was, wandering through the local Zeller’s at Bayshore, when I saw a rack of those Fly Fusion Pentop computers that came out a while back. Given that I hadn’t actually heard anything about them for quite a while, I had assumed they had simply gone bankrupt, and the fact that the pens had stickers that said $20 on them, did nothing to convince me otherwise.

But I figured that for $20, it might be an interesting toy, so I grabbed one, along with a couple of pads of paper and a new memory card, for a total (according to the sticker prices) of about $40. Of course, I had to by the extra stuff too, because it wasn’t clear that I’d be able to get it later (if the company was gone).

Anyway, I took it all to the cash, and low and behold, it was being offered at a further 50% discount, so I ended up walking away with the whole load for $20. Cool.

Now, unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse.

I brought it all home, took out the install CD and stuck it in my Mac… Nope, no mac version of the software… Ugh.

“Ok”, I think, “I’ve got my Vista gaming PC, I’ll try it in there.”… Stick the CD in, try to install, CD decides it needs to get a newer version off the net… Download fails. But I’m a stubborn cuss, so I try it again… Nope, download fails again. Ok, one more time… Yes! Everything downloads and installs correctly.

Starting the software showed it to be one of those crappy, fixed size UIs built with Flash or VisualBasic or whatever, with no apparent way to proceed. Wait! It says it will only recognize the pen if it’s plugged in and turned on. Alrighty! Plug the pen into a USB port, turn it on and…

Get the driver search dialog. Nope, no Vista drivers available from Windows Download. Offers to look on the CD… Nope, no drivers on CD. (Which clown thought it meant it made sense to ship a Windows device without drivers. Ugh.)

Check their support site, which is singularly unhelpful…

Ok, now I’m getting frustrated. Then it comes to me: I’ve got a netbook that runs XP, maybe it will work with XP. Hook up an external USB CD drive to the netbook, stick the CD in, download the new version of the software (again), start it up and… Nope, the bloody fixed size UI is too big for the netbook screen!

God, talk about ways to suck the enthusiasm right out of ya.

One. more. try… Hook the external monitor out from the netbook to another display, and sure enough, I can finally run the software. Now, just 15 more minutes of randomly filling in stuff and connecting to a website, and creating both an admin and a user account(!), and leaving personal data that I really should not have to, and…

I get a page that shows I haven’t done anything with the pen yet.

Now, all I have to do is charge it up, and I can actually try it.