is an attempt to kick-start the open data community within the Humberside area.

I use the word ‘Humberside’ with full knowledge of its recent history – but in this context it’s correct, for I plan to provide datasets from all four Humber authorities: East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Hull City Council, North Lincolnshire Council and North East Lincolnshire Council.

The Councils have a direct bearing on each other due to their geographic  proximity, like it or lump it they are partners.

Th site will try to replicate what all the other open data sites have done for their developer communities – have all started a small revolution in their districts.

I want some of that for here!

I will work with officials from each authority to try and get data released, especially if there is a demand for it – aka ‘you ask for it!

One other thing I’ll try to get right – the licence.  There’s no point getting data if you can’t use it for a project!

Over time I will be copying /linking to data from the ONS, and many other places that relate to the Humber region.

I want you – the developers, citizens and general public to be able to find data related to your area and I also want you to find it in the right format with a simple to use API.

I have in the past tried to use open data, such as the open send data for and paid the price, inconsistent date formats, different csv headers, data in pdf only, excel spreadsheets etc etc – all are barriers to the simple and continual use of open data.

The Humber region is missing out on the energy, creativity and general enthusiasm that the developer community has in abundance – the social value that open data can provide has been proven many times.  Lets release that data and get hacking!

As the site progresses I want companies to start providing data and I want to kick off an open data group – I can then hand over ownership of the site to the group for evermore.


If you’re interested, feel you can help, have a question etc  – then please contact me –

Cisco uccx wallboard

As always with personal blogs – life gets in the way.
In this case life == getting fit, I’ve spent a lot of time cycling and at the gym.
Cycling is, for me, the perfect companion to working at a PC all day, I get to switch off.  My brain has time to disengage from the problem solving and normal thought processes and by the time I’ve finished I feel so much better, both physically and mentally, but I digress..

This post is about a recent project I was asked to get involved in, creating a wallboard for the UCCX equipment we use on one of our service desks. The staff were used to having a wallboard so when we moved across to the UCCX system the costs/benefits of purchasing the official wallboard didn’t stack up (I was led to believe) .

I was asked to look at the problem and with a bit of help from some vbscript code from Stoke Council I set about creating a new front end.

The vbscript code does the database connection via an ODBC connector, this connects every 3 secs to the database and reads from a summary table.  It then creates an XML message which is served via a web server.

Getting the ODBC connector to actually connect was a pain…

Informix is not as easy as MySQL – I’d even say Oracle is easier than Informix!

Some of the gotcha’s that we learnt were that the protocol has to be ‘onsoctcp’.

The client locale (on this occasion) has to be ‘en_US.UTF8’ and we also found that sometimes when the connection failed we could bring it back up by un-checking the ‘use server database locale’ on the environment tab, clicking apply (it fails to connect) and then ticking it back again – click apply and it connects… strange but true.

We also had to set the buffer size to 4096.

All in all it was a serious pain to get a stable connection through to the box but in all fairness, since we figured out the exact requirements of the connection it’s just worked – we rarely have to touch it.

That’s the database side – now onto the front-end, which is on a separate server.

A Laravel based site consumes the XML and updates a dashboard that the service desk staff can read.

It’s a bit convoluted as we need to pass data from one bit of the network to the another but it works and so far has been reliable.

The Laravel front-end was built quickly and used constant feedback from the service desk staff. Getting the right information in the right place was harder than I realised, I think we went through 20 iterations before it settled down.

The front-end is built on top of boot-strap CSS.

It was a fun and simple application to build, the end users are really pleased and we saved the tax payer a bit of cash as we didn’t have to buy the official front end.

Win win..


UCCX bootstrap Laravel based wallboard


Alfresco and Project Management

I recently wrote on here about using Alfresco to hold HR records, this is still ongoing but has stalled while HR decide on how to change their processes. So in the meantime I’ve been playing..

Using a project management methodology is a  great way to bring some order out of chaos.

If used correctly and with the right elements it can be a brilliant way of keeping projects & programmes on track, allowing resources to diverted to potential problems early on.

I’ve been a PRINCE2 practitioner (Candidate number: P2R/803590) for 10 years and have used it in all projects I’ve been involved in, it’s worked really well in the formal setting of the Council.

But.. project reporting across a large organisation can be hit and miss.
As time passes standards can slip as document versions get out of sync and people start to develop variations to the original training, similar to bad habits we all form once we’ve passed our driving test, and don’t lie I know you don’t always indicate when passing a parked car..

Using Alfresco as our document management system is a way of addressing the problems of document versions, it’s an out of the box function that’s easy to implement.

As for standardisation I can create a ‘project’ folder template and put the newest version of any document into that.  Users can then create a folder that copies the template, so each new project will always use the newest documents – simples.

Now what about project and programme reporting, the bane of every project managers life, well this is where Alfresco can help too.

My proof of concept uses a project model built within Alfresco that can be applied to a project folder or preferably to a project site

The contains such attributes as project manager, project state, risks, etc, etc everything that is usually written on the report that the project manager has to routinely present to the project board.

The attributes are then exposed as an API via  the very easy to use Alfresco webservices.

I’ve built a Laravel webapp that consumes the API content and then presents dashboards for project/programme managers as well as the governance/audit teams.

I’ll post the process and files later – anyone got any questions?



The shower…

I’ve only myself to blame..
When we moved into our current house 6+ years ago the then shower cubicle that the previous owners had installed failed spectacularly on the very first operation.

It blew the lights in the kitchen and plunged the house into darkness, with a soundtrack of water cascading through light fittings onto the dog..

So one of my first jobs was to gut the bathroom and install a new bath, and as part of this I fitted an inset thermostatic bath/shower diverter valve.  It was nicely plumbed in and worked a treat.. until a few months ago..
Continue reading The shower…

Alfresco folder permissions

I’m currently working on a project to create Electronic Personal Folders (EPFs) within Alfresco on behalf of our HR partners.

Content will include things like contracts, leave requests etc

The brief is to automate the creation of the folders and make sure the permissions for the folder and sub-folders are correctly set.

A manager should be able to see all of their folder plus the folders of their staff, while an employee should be only able to see their folder.

The script processes a CSV that is created from one of our HR systems and calls a custom Alfresco web script, this creates a top level folder which has the Payroll number as the name and the job description/employee name as the title. Underneath this it creates the sub folders (Pay, leave, etc) and applies relevant permissions to all the folders, e.g. Leave is read/write by the manager but read-only by the employee.

This ‘creation’ script is part one, it will be called to initially create the (EPFs) for the current employees and there after on any new employees.
Continue reading Alfresco folder permissions

Back to work..

Today I’m mostly working through the emails that have built up while i’ve been on sick..



That’s how you deal with those, now onto fun times.. First day back to work is always a good one to deal with technical issues, and I’ve got some technical issues with Alfresco; one is the changing of returned elements from the OpenSearch API and the other is my fault..
Continue reading Back to work..

Narrative Clip – closer look

Well it arrived and I’ve been wearing it now and then, but being off work recovering from surgery there’s only so much ceiling you want capture..

I’ve not got around to uploading any photos and making any moments just yet as I run a linux household and Narrative haven’t released a Linux driver/uploader app yet.

They’ve released a Mac version so I can’t imagine there’s that much effort required to get a linux version up and running?

I’ve tried to install the uploader under Wine but got a lot of errors, I’ll take a closer look when my head is a little clearer (less drugs..)

I also installed it on a Windows XP VM running under VirtualBox but as the Narrative Clip wasn’t recognised under Ubuntu it couldn’t be shared via the USB to the VM… fail…

I’ll have to dig out the Windows only hard drive I’ve got somewhere to give the uploader a go..
Not a happy chappy  🙁

In the mean time I took a load of photos of the Narrative clip so I could remember it clean, it’ll soon get knocked around!

The debate around ‘security’, privacy & wearable tech is going to be an interesting one..


This week I’m mostly

recovering from gallbladder surgery.
I’m so grateful that I live in the UK and have the NHS.
We have to wait a little time for treatment for what could be deemed ‘routine’ operations but the alternative is not worth considering.

The current lot in power spend most of their time rubbishing the NHS using the overly aggressive right-wing press to dig out problem after problem.  This leads to a perception that the NHS is poor value for the taxpayer, when actually the reality is completely opposite.
Continue reading This week I’m mostly