Gadget update

22 11 2011

With the recent and sudden demise of, the Microsoft site that hosted the various sidebar gadgets I had written, it has not been possible to download these excellent additions for your Windows Vista and Windows 7 machines.

As such, I am pleased to announce these gadgets are now available for download once again from my Skydrive account by clicking on the following links:

Countdown Gadget v1.2.0 –

Melbourne Freeway Times –

Of course, if you wish to know more, please click on the Gadget link of the blog for more details.



10 05 2009

In the spirit of thirteen23 and their teaser concept apps, here are some screenshots of my first and working iPhone web app, iFreewayTimes.

The web app uses the same logic as the existing FreewayTimes gadget and parses data directly from the VicRoads Traffic status site.  The flow and logic is pretty simple, you choose a direction, inbound or outbound, and the app then shows you the traffic times for all freeways in that direction and a traffic light based on flow.

The web app itself makes use of the excellent iUi framework for iPhone web app development that provides everything you need to create a fully functional web app that resembles the normal iPhone look and feel.

I intend to give this a bit of a workout over the next few weeks when I return to driving to work and back and will no doubt come up with a few enhancements. Once I am happy with it, I will release it properly.

Another new gadget – BeagleQuota

28 02 2009

About a month ago, I churned ISP’s due to a number of things. I decided to go with Beagle Internet, who provide ADSL2+ over the Telstra Wholesale network which is about all I can get where I live.  Beagle is a pretty good company, very responsive to support questions, active on Whirlpool and provide a great service. Some people don’t rate them because they prioritise P2P traffic, but to be honest I haven’t really noticed any issues with it.

Anyway, enough Beagle marketing. Of course if I am going to have a new ISP, I need a new way of viewing my usage, so I developed a new gadget… introducing Beagle Gadget v.1.0


I have to admit it looks pretty similar to the Optus gadget, but it has a couple of noticeable exceptions… TWO GRAPHS!!  Thanks to the excellent jQuery + jQuery progress bar I have been able to make the bars into dynamic graphs. The top bar shows your downloaded MB’s, if it’s green you are below your daily quota limit, if it’s red, your over.  The bottom bar shows the number of days remaining for the period. 

The gadget will also tell you if your shaped and will give you a countdown until you get your quota back.

There are a couple of other scenarios that certain beagle users can run into, depending on the accounts they use, but I haven’t coded them up as I don’t have specific test data to cover those accounts.

I am still not convinced as to whether I like the colour scheme of the graphs, but it’s fairly trivial to change them.

If your a beagle user and you would like to try the gadget out, it’s available for download from my Skydrive:


Updated FreewayTimes – Version 1.4

15 02 2009

Some people may have noticed that my FreewayTimes gadget has been freaking out for the Monash Freeway for the last week or so. The reason is that the times are not available at the moment due to the never ending Monash roadworks.

Anyway, I have fixed the gadget so when there is no time available it will show ‘—‘ in the time.  I also took the opportunity to add a new News link which links through to Twitter for up to date news and communication and update the gadget to support Windows 7 a bit better.

The gadget will be up on the Live Gallery as soon as MS approve it. In the mean time you can get it from my SkyDrive.

Update : Gadget has been approved to the gallery and can be got from here.

OptusQuota – an update

22 01 2009

Since Optus pulled their feed of Usage info and the OptusQuota gadget stopped working. I have spent a fair amount of time to get the gadget up and running again, but have gotten to the point where I am unable to invest any more time. On the whole the gadget works fine, but there a  number of niggly situations where it will error, mainly due to the way the data has to be collected.

After pulling the feed, there is no common interface to call so it is necessary to code up a number of special cases to get the data, which has become to painful to implement using my knowledge of Javascript and the sidebar gadget platform. 

Now it’s not all doom and gloom, I have managed to get the gadget going for some people:

  • At the risk of sounding like a developer, the gadget works fine for me and my Optus account. I can also confirm it works ok for other users;
  • Thanks to some of the guys on Whirlpool, I have also tested and confirmed the gadget returns and parses data from a static Fusion account usage page;

What you should be aware of is that there is some complexity around certain users where a number of http redirects occur to authenticate. It appears some users have account details stored in different machines within Optus, so when you try to logon, your credentials are handed around with hidden forms and session strings to other machines before coming back. The gadget hates this and returns the redirects. During debugging with the Grumpywookie I found four different redirects happening and decided that this was too damn hard to implement. If you account falls into this I am sorry. 

Anyway, the gadget is up on my Skydrive account for downloading. I won’t be releasing it to as I don’t feel it is of sufficient quality to be up there. Once Optus release a stable feed to query I hope that the gadget will once again return to it’s previous stable and working for everyone state. 

Download the gadget


The most important point I need to highlight is that the gadget effectively implements screen scraping to get the data it needs for calculations and is at the mercy of Optus. If they change the source of the usage pages it may stop working again.

The best approach IMO would be for Optus to publish a secure API that we could query against.  Given usage info is of no use to anyone really except the user, maybe allow the user to activate an API key, that provided anonymous usage info at It should be relatively simple to query against and would remove any of Optus’s security concerns. Given the comments recieved on this blog and on WhirlPool, I think the users would like it too.  How about going on the front foot for once Optus? 😉

As for the future, well, I guess the removal of the feed without any warning (how many usage meter authors are out there you would have to alert Optus?), the price of the connection and need to bundle, two absolutely woeful technical support calls to call centres and lack of speed in my area has finally caused me to churn to a different provider. As of Friday I will be with another provider giving me ADSL2+ , a sanctioned stable usage feed and customer support from within Australia.  I will still continue to develop sidebar gadgets,  and provide limited support for this one, but if you are interested in taking it to the next level, drop me a line. 


For those of you that are interested the release notes (as they stand) are after the break… 

Read the rest of this entry »

OptusQuota Gadget – Error

15 01 2009

For all of those users out there that are getting this error:


Optus have pulled the usage data text feed that the gadget, and many other third party tools used today with no real warning (certainly no email fyi). 

I will endeavour to find a workaround over the weekend and release an update.

More info can be seen over on this Whirlpool thread.

Freeway Times : Rest in Peace

1 10 2008

As some of you may have noticed, the Freeway Time gadget stopped working on Monday. Unfortunately VicRoads do not provide a feed of times information for public consumption, so the gadget relied on scraping the information it needed from the Vicroads traffic site. On Monday VicRoads rolled out a new swish version of the Traffic times website that broke the screen scraping.

Unfortunately the new version seems to have taken the complexity to a new level calling SQL via JQuery and using Ajax to update the screen. Why am I telling you this? Well it’s going to take a bit of time to see if its possible to consume the new data source (my gut feeling is no).

Luckily I am on a couple of weeks leave, whilst waiting to start my new job on the 15th October, so I’ll see what I can do. 🙂

OptusQuota – V1.2.0

6 07 2008

Since Optus changed their broadband plans a couple of months ago to include uploads in the quota, the OptusQuota gadget has given dodgy information. Unfortunately Optus decided in their ultimate wisdom not to include data about the uploads in the data feed this and many other quota showing software uses.

Anyway, in the last few weeks Optus changed the feed to include the so called ‘Fusion’ data.  I have now finally had a chance to update the gadget to include functionality for the Fusion plans.

This release contains the following changes:

Full support for Fusion plans including:

  • Uploads are added to the total usage
  • Display of both MB and % on the gadget
  • Change the flyout for Fusion users to only display relevant Fusion information

In addition, the following changes have been made:

  • Checks every 15 minutes now, instead of 30
  • Timeout handling has been improved
  • Better offline network handling / detection
  • Improved update functionality

As always, the gadget is available from the Live Gallery, or existing users keep an eye out for a update message in the flyout.

Finally, the gadget now includes a Donation button on the settings page. I don’t get paid to write gadgets, I already have a very demanding job and loving family to sink my time into. If you use the gadget and like it, please consider donating.

Freeway Times : Updated Version

1 06 2008

Back in August, I wrote about a new gadget I had written called Freeway Times. It seems in my haste to get it out I didn’t test it too well and blamed it’s flaky-ness on the data source.  Well it’s nearly a year later, and I am nearly a year wise and have tracked down the flaky-ness to my code.

So, without any further ado, I give you, Freeway Times Version 1.2.

default view

So what’s new you may be asking, well:

  • Better network error handling
  • Smaller GUI
  • Ability to refresh by clicking on the time
  • Ability to change the direction by clicking on the direction
  • Improved CSS ( I understand it now I think)
  • General stability improvements
  • Improved Settings configuration

Initially, the gadget it available via my SkyDrive account, whilst my trusted testers let me know of any issues (Grumpywookie, CodeJedi *cough* *cough*). Once they give me the all clear, I will stick it up on for all to love.

The gadget is now up on for download. Enjoy.

Countdown Gadget Update – v1.2.0

15 04 2008

A new version of the Countdown gadget has been released and is available from Live Gallery. What’s new you may be asking? Well, the gadget now supports several foreign (non English) languages and has had the CSS tidied up a fair bit. The languages supported in this release are:

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Norwegian
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • Portuguese

Countdown - French - Settings

Developing the internationalised version of the gadget was an experience to say the least, stay tuned for another blog post on the process later. In the mean time grab the updated gadget or ping me an email at if there is a language you would like supported.