A week in the life..

I haven’t been very vocal lately, because I have been busy…


I have been working on Ian Addisons new project now called Satpin (something to do with phonics according to Miss Pitkethly).  My Javascript skills have improved massively doing this project which I have enjoyed thoroughly.  Javascript is awesome.  I need a decent tutor though, I am cobbling my way through stuff using “John” logic which isn’t good enough.  Once the project is complete/stable I will be releasing it open source (it will require a LAMP stack).  I am spending masses of attention to detail on this project, more than I have ever done.  I’m focusing 99% of my efforts on UI.  I decided to make it writeable by anyone which will upset some people but oh well..

Wind power

I have been finishing the electrics on my wind turbine, which is now up and running (hopefully okay).  It’s been a while since I did any component level work and Sparky helped me which was good.

Apache load balancing

We spent a few hours working on how to improve load balancing on our main apache cluster.  We are considering casandra if we grow any quicker than our current projections.

Shib constipation

Mid week I struggled and I’m still struggling massively with a Shib SP deployment.  I’m running the same config as another deployment but I am getting errors.  Think this is a job for team john and tom to get sorted properly.  We are doing it so we can work with the Swedish equivalent of JISC for their Etherpad deployment.


We got classdroid working properly, well, sort of.  Turns out Android isn’t as cool as I first thought.  Well, android is..  Turns out motorola/lg etc. are idiots and install custom software including custom camera intents that breaks a lot of the phones functionality.  Thankfully google will fix this with any v2+ updates.  The LG Optimus is due V2.1 this month so I am willing to wait a few weeks instead of trying to squash a documented/fixed bug.


I helped Challenge CLC with a touch of PHP this week, super easy stuff.  It is always good to collaborate with people, especially when I am so comfortable helping out in PHP.


I did a few more edu installs of Etherpad, nothing exciting here.  Wrote a new way to integrate with the scribblar API.  Stefan has the code if anyone wants it.   Important thing to note, why the Hell are so many Americans and now Africans getting me in to do Etherpad deployments yet there are so few EU deployments going on?  Is their something about Europeans and our lack of encouraging collaboration in the work/edu place?

Finally.  Happy Pirates day!  Now gimme your loot.

One social web could make school social networking a reality

Ever wished you could have a school social network that has the the privacy settings to protect pupils yet the power to connect pupils and teachers globally?

One Social Web may make this a reality.  The purpose of One Social Web is to enable free, open, and decentralized social applications on the web. *Like Facebook but not owned by Facebook, owned by, well um, everyone!

Usually your school data exists only on your school server.  If your school server was integrated with One Social Web school pupils or teachers could easily be “transfered” to another school without losing any information, files etc. and/or be able to access their old school work whilst being access to connect their new file storage.

The One Social Web platform is based in London, UK and has developers all around the world.  The platform is completely open so anyone can contribute and privacy settings are managed on a per user basis.

It would be interesting to see the first school deployment of this, I certainly hope I will get the opportunity to tie Primary School Teaching into the platform!  It would also be interesting to debate how One Social Web can work with Shibboleth providing not only single level accessibility but accessibility at an organizational level.

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Etherpad with Shibboleth Authentication (Technical document)

I want to login to Etherpad with my UK federation/Shibboleth login.

Firstly I need to get my SP working.
Configure SP & Apache initially..
I need to configure Tomcat to use Shibboleth for Authentication configure Jetty to use Shibboleth Authentication.
Once this is done I will have the users attributes as environment variables.

Now I have the variables I need to create a script to check the variables and create an account if required.  All sounds pretty simple right?  Let’s hope so, as I make progress I will document my changes.

I’m referring to the LDAP plugin patch code for how to handle “talking to etherpad”.

ETA is 3/4 weeks.  Sucks that I need to use Apache but oh well!!

Note:  Etherpad runs on Jetty, not Tomcat and doesn’t require Apache.  It is the shibboleth element of this that requires Apache to operate.

Note:  Thanks to nuba for reminding me about Jetty.

Etherpad with Active Directory (LDAP/AD)

So you want to host your own Etherpad deployment and you want to tie it into your schools AD/LDAP/Active directory? Below are the basic instructions for how to accomplish this. Alternatively you can pay us to do it.
Get the patch
lynx https://gist.github.com/10061b4b213619816db5
Get the etherpad source (warning- may take some time- go make a cuppa tea)
hg clone https://etherpad.googlecode.com/hg/ etherpad
Go to the etherpad folder
cd etherpad
Extract the patch
tar –xvz –strip-components=1 -f ../gist10061b4b213619816db5-e60df95e16c09700b4cf07cd87b9732dd7b15ace.tar.gz
Apply the patch

patch -p1 < ldap_support.patch

Set your superdomain
nano trunk/etherpad/src/etherpad/globals.js
add yourdomain.whatever to the SUPERDOMAINS
Edit pro_accounts.js
nano trunk/etherpad/src/etherpad/pro/pro_accounts.js
Change directory
cd trunk/etherpad
Add the useLdapconf to the config
echo “etherpad.useLdapConfiguration = ./etc/json.config” >> etc/etherpad.localdev-default.properties
Edit json.config
nano etc/json.config
Paste in (you need the {}’s):

url” : “ldap://localhost:10389”,
“principal” : “uid=admin,ou=system”,
“password” : “secret”,
rootPath” : “ou=users,ou=system”,
userClass” : “person”,
nameAttribute” : “displayname“,
ldapSuffix” : “@ldap
Replacing the above with your settings.
Build your etherpad
Test your etherpad
Browse to http://yourdomain.com:9000/ep/pro-account/sign-in
Type in your email address (of the user in ldap) and password
Fin! Credit to Elliot Kroo and Marcio Starke – discussed further in this google group.
Shibboleth integration coming mid 2010 (if anyone wants to fund this please get in touch!)