Sunday, 28 June 2009

open mesh networks part 3


“Last month, we discovered an open source wireless mesh solution from Open-Mesh. In Part 1, we reviewed solution and configured the basic settings. In Part 2, we reviewed the captive portal options and set up the internal one. Now we’re going to experiment with the CoovaOM captive portal. Then we’ll touch on how to get Web filtering up on the mesh network. Finally, we’ll install and test the system.

figure 1: CoovaOM settings page

Setting up the CoovaOM Captive Portal

If you are wanting to better control and manage the hotspot, or charge for access, you can use the CoovaOM Captive Portal. Log into your Dashboard, select the SSID #1 tab and make sure CoovaOM is marked for the Captive Portal Option. Then before anything else, click the Update Network Settings button on the top to save the settings. Then before the new settings are pushed

to your mesh nodes, you should create a user account for yourself (discussed in next paragraph). Otherwise you’ll have to connect to the private network to access the Internet again, to configure the remaining settings.

To set up CoovaOM, click the Configure CoovaOM button on the bottom. This takes you to their site. As you’ll see, the control panel is already set up with your Open-Mesh account. First, click the My Network link on the left, click Users, and then click the new button to create an account for you to use.

There’s a few ways to set up your hotspot. You can manually create user accounts and give out the login credentials for free, or require a in-person payment. Alternatively, you can sign up for the Payment Membership to require credit card payments via the splash screen before users get access. If manually creating accounts, you don’t have to create one for each user; you can reuse them. Plus you can always offer a free service that has more limitations but doesn’t require an account or payment, in addition to offering full account- or payment-based access. To configure these types of settings, click My Network > Settings.

Figure 1 shows an example of the Settings page.

To create user accounts, click My Network > Users. However, before adding user accounts, you might want to create additional User Access Policies, if you want to offer different levels of service.

Finally, you need to edit the default splash page, which is extremely basic, as Figure 2 shows. Click My Content > Hotspot Page. Change the page Title as you wish and select a template and/or modify each of the splash page sections. The splash page editing scheme can be confusing at first, but it makes it more customizable. Just take your time to understand the big picture before you start making changes.”

Full post here!

Open mesh networks part 2


Last month, we discovered Open-Mesh, an organization offering open source Wi-Fi mesh hardware and services. We gathered the necessary hardware and configured the basic settings. Now we’ll discover the captive portal options offered by the Open-Mesh routers, so we can display a disclaimer or terms of service, or require a payment or account. In this part, we’ll also set up the built-in captive portal. It offers a basic solution that should work fine for many. Now let’s get started!


Captive Portal Options

You can simply throw out the mesh nodes and start offering wireless Internet, however, you’ll probably want to configure some type of captive portal if it’s a public network. A captive portal prevents users from accessing the Internet until they either agree to your usage terms or at least view the portal or splash screen. This lets you show a disclaimer, agreement, or advertisements. Captive portals can also work in hand with authentication and billing solutions. Then the captive portal could prompt users to login and/or provide payment before Internet access is given.

Bragging About, part 2

  • Setting up a Linux-based
    Open-Mesh Wireless Network, Part 1
  • PythonGTK Programming part 3:
    Screensaver, Objects, and User Input
  • You can either use a third-party service or use the captive portal and bandwidth limiting features provided by Open-Mesh. For third-party service, Open-Mesh can be manually configured for compatible RADIUS servers or you can use one of the pre-configured services. Two of the preconfigured choices is CoovaOM and They give out their services for free when you are offering free hotspot access. They charge a small fee when you’re offering paid hotspot access. CoovaOM is better integrated with Open-Mesh, however, offers a ticketing system.

    Open-Mesh also supports WiFi-CPA, WiFiGator, and Wifi-soft, which offer a variety of paid services and solutions.

    First we’ll fiddle with the captive portal built into Open-Mesh. Then we’ll experiment with CoovaOM since it’s provided by Coova, a premier provider of open-source and commercialHotspot solutions. (Remember Coova? We discovered their open source replacement firmware for routers in a previous tutorial.)

    Remember, any captive portal or limits you impose applies only to the public users (SSID #1). Your private network (SSID #2), fortunately, will always have unrestricted access.”

    Full post here!

    Tuesday, 23 June 2009

    open mesh networks

    Notes for The open mesh networks.


    “Mesh networks are a type of wireless network. As you’ll discover, mesh networking is great for blanketing Wi-Fi in larger areas. They are especially useful in places where the environment changes frequently, such as people and walls moving around in malls, trees and buildings growing around an apartment complex, boats moving around the docks, and trucks coming in and out of stops. Additionally, they are perfect for locations and applications where it’s hard to run network cabling.

    Instead of having to run Ethernet cables to each of the access points, mesh networks work wirelessly. Only one mesh node (or more for larger networks) must be grounded and plugged into an Internet connection. Other mesh nodes, acting as repeaters, can be placed throughout a building or outdoor area, only requiring power. When someone surfs the web from a repeater, the traffic hops from node-to-node, making it back to a gateway. The hops can vary depending upon the current signal levels among them all. Hence the common saying about mesh, “self configuring and healing”, and why they are perfect for busy areas.

    Where does Linux or open source come into play? Well, there’s Open-Mesh, a volunteer-based organization that provides hardware and services for mesh networks. The comparatively low-cost hardware, or nodes, are loaded with open-source firmware.

    The service or dashboard is provided for free by Open-Mesh and lets operators manage their mesh networks online. Then for user authentication (username and password-based access) or pay-for-use applications, there’s the free CoovaOM or CoovaAAA services in addition to other paid options.

    In this two-part tutorial series, we’ll set up a mesh network using the Open-Mesh gear and services. First we’ll gather the hardware, create a Dashboard account, and configure the network settings. Then in the next part, we’ll experiment with the internal splash page, third-party captive portal, set up web filtering with OpenDNS, and finally install the nodes and test coverage. Now lets get started!

    Gathering the Hardware

    First you need to estimate how many mesh nodes/routers you need to cover the desired area. Each node provides about the same coverage as a normal wireless router or access point. However keep in mind, each node needs to at least

    overlap in coverage with one other node. You can mount them anywhere with a power outlet, however, if the budget and time is limited you’ll probably want to stick with indoor locations.

    Don’t forget about pumping in the Internet. You must have at least one node hooked to an Internet connection. You’d then call it a gateway node; other nodes that aren’t directly connected to the Internet are called repeater nodes. For larger locations and networks, you’d use two or more gateways, thus multiple Internet connections would be required. This would provide users with better bandwidth, as each hop between nodes cuts the bandwidth in about half. It would also provide redundancy for the Internet access; one goes down you still have the other.

    You can refer to the guide from Open-Mesh for help on designing and deploying your mesh network.

    You can use the Open-Mesh line of hardware. Prices range from $29 for lower-grade nodes and $49 for professional-level–both very affordable. The professional node includes the hardware watchdog chip that auto restarts the node when errors or problems are detected. It also supports longer Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) runs. Additionally, it has both a 2dbi onboard chip diversity antenna and a removable external 2.5dbi antenna.

    The following features are on both the lower-cost and professional nodes:

    •Use of the Open-Mesh Dashboard to control and monitor your networks.
    •Dual ESSIDs (network names); one open for the public users and another one that’s firewalled and WPA-encrypted for secure private access.
    •Optional splash page feature for the public access that’s fully customizable with the HTML/WYSIWYG editor.
    •User authentication and billing options via third-party solutions from,,, or any RADIUS server.
    •Redirect users after they view the splash page or login.
    •Bandwidth (speed) limitation settings for the public access.
    •Wireless bridge mode on non-gateway nodes lets you plug in a computer for the public access.
    •Automatic firmware downloads and updates.
    •PoE support, with longer runs supported by the professional nodes.
    •SSH and Telnet redboot access.
    You could alternatively flash your own supported equipment with the Open-Mesh firmware. Remember, the node features can greatly impact the design and installation. So make sure you carefully compare the features between the vendors and nodes.

    Now when the postal worker drops off the equipment, don’t get ahead of yourself and start installing right off the bat.”

    Sunday, 21 June 2009

    open mesh

    I ordered two devices today, one of the professional devices and the other one of the cheaper, the part that scares me the most is the freight costs. Will comment more when they arrive, plus I have to look at the time they take to arrive to see if is a suitable project for a student to setup and manage

    Friday, 19 June 2009

    Open mesh networks

    Got told today that I have to look at open mesh networks, this might be the first wave of open wifi acces for students.

    Distance covered by one mesh pod is 150 feet = 45.72 meters

    Also solar panels may be needed
    A couple of years ago there was an offer to help get solar panels or solar cells in schools, I need to find some more information relating to this.

    There is school gen which sounds like a possible solution.

    So far I found a couple of schools in Auckland which have solar panel technology installed.

    One thing the students will have to sort out is best placement for this technology idea, locations of the mesh devices, and development of the secure system.

    Developing an open mesh network is described in detail

    Other ideas could include
    Copied from
    This situation just screams for more public wireless access, city wide mesh networks and the like. That way you are no longer dependent on a very small number of mobile phone providers.

    Here's a few pointers:
    * : Home Wireless Hotspot community. Basic idea is that if you share your connection, you can use anyone elses connection for free. Super easy to setup, they sell cheap plug & play hardware. Not available in Australia or New Zealand yet, but anyone can set up a local competitor.

    * : broadcast wifi signal over huge distances; so no excuses that this won't work in the country side.

    * : Cheap tools to set up a mesh network; that basically means a decentralized network. In other words, if enough people participate you can send data for free from one end of a city to the other at very high speeds.

    These are solutions that can be build bottom up by communities and if successful will wet Vodaphone's pants, because they will lose a lot of money on their useless unaffordable 3G network.


    More information on open mesh

    Open mesh networks in use, gained information off twitter

    Setup and configuration - Access Management for Open-mesh Networks - CoovaAAA is a free Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting service.

    Dashboard, a way to host this ourseleves and not through open mesh - OrangeMesh is way to central hold your information on your own servers, this means that I dont have to see the techs to open the network up to allow our system to talk to their system

    Wednesday, 17 June 2009

    unsure of what to call it yet system 1.2

    It has been a busy time with developing lately, I have managed to get all the formulas working for calculating to cost of producing a book. First try of it failed as it did not include the cost of designing a cover. Second time failed as I included the cost of GST at 12.5%, which I found out php doesn't like. Always go back to year 9 maths and GST = 1.125, its a lot easier.

    Test tried it on a few quotes and I came back with the approx quote that had been sent to the client. This one is pretty much dead on. Though we did find one flaw. It calculates the number of pages in a book on wordcount, what happens when you are given the number of pages in the book. I am thinking I might have to include a variable to multiply the number of pages, or state the number of pages so it can calculate.
    if $wordcount='' || $pages ='' then fail
    if $wordcount =xx { }
    else if $pages = xx { }
    else exit();

    Sunday, 14 June 2009

    When technology lets you down

    I have been using twitteriffic for a while now to connect to my twitter account and do updates. However this all stopped the other night when it would not connect. Thinking it was my fault and without really thinking I reset my touch back to the default settings, a bad move.

    Instead it is caused by a Twitpocalypse, a Twitpocalypse is is similar to the Y2K bug. The unique identifier associated to each tweet has now exceeded 2,147,483,647

    For some of your favorite third-party Twitter services not designed to handle such a case, the sequence will suddenly turn into negative numbers. At this point, they are very likely to malfunction or crash.

    Now waiting for this app to appear as a update in the apple app store, though this sounds like it may be a while before it comes out.

    Saturday, 13 June 2009

    Wordpress Multi User

    I am looking more and more at wordpress to do some work in term 3, and have come to conclusion that i dont want to install approx 23 wordpress sites. That is how many subjects/department that are at our school.

    Instead I want something nice and simple.

    I checked my blog roll this morning and found a post about a multiuser wordpress edition.

    Wordpress MU

    This year I got to work a lot with Wordpress MU as we installed it on a district server and used it as our blogging platform for or teachers. I learned quite a bit about how NOT to do things, and some neat tricks along the way!

    It is important to note that Wordpress MU is a derivative of the Wordpress software. Therefore, the coding, installation, themes, plugins, etc…are all very similar and many themes and plugins that work for Wordpress will work in Wordpress MU. Just FYI – my blog is a Wordpress blog installed on – my host.
    She has tons of great tips and resources--including a printable PDF (14 pages)--that you can view online.

    Checking this out is worthwhile, it will be a great way to keep tabs on what is happening through an entire site. Also they are looking at incorporating this into future wordpress editions.

    Also, this is what is needed for a website that I am running as a portal, think student intranet meets world wide web. This that we need available inside and outside of school that we normally wouldn't be able to do, either through technical, security or just someone doesn't want to do it. This would be great running the various ideas
    - Arts and Culture
    - House Competition
    - Talent Quest (The Student Vote)
    Things that we can't put up on the school internet webpage

    These should probably go on the school Learning Management System, but that had serious issues.

    Thursday, 11 June 2009

    unsure of what to call it yet system 1.2

    It has taken me a while to get my head around the next feature of this system, it the the quote of the books. I now have 5 pages of hand written notes that features printouts, screen designs and working out the structure of how the pages are going to load and display. So far I have three pages, entering information, either via filling out a form or pasting a csv string. This brings in a problem due to people fill in the form differently, either through words or including characters in number fields and numbers in text fields. the way I am getting around this is to have the information show and you fill in the box beside with correct variables.
    Next you calculate the cost of the book, this needs to be able to be updated all the time with the new calculations and variables. All of this information needs to be saved. So after three days I am ready to program this section. There goes my weekend.

    I have the table setup, though I will need to include the variable costs as well as the final calculation.

    Tuesday, 9 June 2009

    Google Apps desktop features

    One of the things I have been working on for the last year has been Google Apps education edition. This is the student mail solution that we are using at school. In the last couple of weeks I have been using the Google Apps desktop features to carry on doing work and communicating with my year 13 programming class.

    Google Apps desktop features

    Allow users to install Microsoft Windows desktop access points to Google Docs, Calendar and Gmail that are pre-configured to work with accounts on your domain. These apps launch in a streamlined Google Chrome browser window.

    This update also allows users to set Gmail as their default email program.

    Each domain has a unique download URL to enable the pre-configured settings for your domain.

    To get started with desktop features, visit the control panel Advanced settings page.

    from google website - updated 5/22/2009

    Next step will be looking at Active Directory /LDAP support, though this will require a huge amount of work tidying up user accounts within out Active Directory. In some cases this will also require the Student Management System to integrate into Active Directory as well so it is all managed from one spot.

    What a student in my class looks like

    We are busy looking at what a student looks like like. It all warm fuzzies and feel good things. However, I have another view of what a students looks like in my class,

    No, not the bald one, but the one under the glass. they are constantly given new information, that they have to process and store.

    A student in my class at the end of it should come out being able to Immerse themselves in technology and yet stay afloat, that is manage there technology usage.
    Connect, Being able to connect in a digital world, knowing how to use technology to connect themselves with others and show an understanding of digital and information literacy's.
    Understand, understand how the technology works and how it can be used in society, this also means know the social implications of the technologies and responsibilities that these bring.
    Excel, every students should aim for excellence and be able to provide the details and provide documentation as well as being able to discuss issues and how they were resolved.

    Working Hard

    I have been busy working on some extra bits and pieces for next year, planning and developing some projects that hopefully will interest the students. However, this has now come to a bit of a halt until I start reading what the new standards available are. This will probably require some adjustment to my courses. Considering the Unit Standard 2780 used to be a Level 2 standard worth 9 credits, now goes to a level 1 standard worth 3 credits. This is a huge drop in credits and level.
    Each unit standard will have equivalent credit value which equates to 1 credit = 10 hours of teaching, learning and assessment
    To give you some idea, 3 credits should equal 30 hours of classwork/homework.

    I am waiting for someone to download all the new standards and zip them into a nice package for me,

    Level 1
    187342 CreditsCreate a web page using a templateWord formatPDF format
    187432 CreditsProduce a spreadsheet from instructions using supplied dataWord formatPDF format
    187582 CreditsFind information using the InternetWord formatPDF format
    256592 CreditsCreate a web page using a mark-up language with a text editorWord formatPDF format
    27803 CreditsDemonstrate and apply knowledge of a personal computer systemWord formatPDF format
    27922 CreditsProduce simple desktop published documents using templatesWord formatPDF format
    59463 CreditsUse computer technology to create and deliver a presentation from given contentWord formatPDF format
    Level 2
    151672 CreditsCreate individual web pages as a basis of a website (this unit standard is expiringand no longer available)
    151684 CreditsEnhance pages on a website (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    151693 CreditsDevelop and publish an operational website (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    187353 CreditsCreate a simple website to meet the specifications of a given brief (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    187364 CreditsCreate a simple website using a text editor to meet the specifications of a given brief (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    203323 CreditsUse the Internet for information retrieval in an organisationWord formatPDF format
    256553 CreditsCreate a website using a dedicated web-authoring tool to meet a set briefWord formatPDF format
    256563 CreditsCreate a website using a mark-up language to meet a set briefWord formatPDF format
    256623 CreditsUse digital communications technologiesWord formatPDF format
    27813 CreditsManage and protect data in a personal computer systemWord formatPDF format
    27823 CreditsDescribe and use personal computer operating systems (this unit standard hasexpired and is no longer available)
    27833 CreditsDemonstrate knowledge of the components of personal computer systemsWord formatPDF format
    27843 CreditsCreate and use a computer spreadsheet to solve a problemWord formatPDF format
    27863 CreditsCreate and use a computer database to solve a problemWord formatPDF format
    27885 CreditsProduce desktop published documents to meet a set briefWord formatPDF format
    27903 CreditsUse and maintain personal computer peripheralsWord formatPDF format
    27913 CreditsIntegrate spreadsheet and database data into a word processed document to meet a set briefWord formatPDF format
    27982 CreditsDemonstrate knowledge of the application and impact of computer technology in an organisation (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    59382 CreditsAccess computer resources via a local area network (LAN) (this unit standard isexpiring and no longer available)
    59393 CreditsProduce computer graphics using base functions (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    59403 CreditsProduce a presentation using a desktop presentation computer applicationWord formatPDF format
    59412 CreditsExchange messages using electronic mail (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    59423 CreditsExchange information with an online computer service (this unit standard isexpiring and no longer available)
    59433 CreditsInvestigate and operate leisure-oriented computer applicationsWord formatPDF format
    59492 CreditsDescribe the management and use of computers in an organisation (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    59572 CreditsProduce schematic diagrams using a computer applicationWord formatPDF format
    59583 CreditsProduce a simple design illustration using a computer application (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    59622 CreditsDigitise text (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    59663 CreditsDescribe the computer control of mechanical systems (this unit standard is expiringand no longer available)
    67432 CreditsDemonstrate an understanding of ergonomic principles for computer workstationsWord formatPDF format
    Level 3
    187375 CreditsCreate a website for organisation use (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    187453 CreditsDemonstrate knowledge of ethical issues for computer users in New Zealand (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    187463 CreditsDemonstrate knowledge of contemporary information technologies (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    187564 CreditsUse and maintain a computer database for business reporting and decision makingWord formatPDF format
    248723 CreditsProduce documents for a workplace using a computerWord formatPDF format
    256576 CreditsCreate a website for a stakeholder using a mark-up languageWord formatPDF format
    256585 CreditsCreate a website for a stakeholder using a dedicated web-authoring toolWord formatPDF format
    256605 CreditsCreate a computer-controlled projectWord formatPDF format
    256613 CreditsDesign and assemble an interactive media product without scriptingWord formatPDF format
    257826 CreditsInvestigate the use of Information and Communications Technology in an organisationWord formatPDF format
    27855 CreditsCreate a computer spreadsheet to provide a solution for organisation useWord formatPDF format
    27876 CreditsCreate and use a computer database to provide a solution for organisation useWord formatPDF format
    27896 CreditsProduce desktop published documents for organisation useWord formatPDF format
    27974 CreditsDemonstrate knowledge of the principles of computer networksWord formatPDF format
    59473 CreditsUse computer technology to solve a specified problemWord formatPDF format
    59506 CreditsInvestigate the use of computer technology in an organisation (this unit standard isexpiring and no longer available)
    59513 CreditsDescribe the concepts of information systems deploymentWord formatPDF format
    59533 CreditsCreate and monitor a project plan using a computer applicationWord formatPDF format
    59545 CreditsAutomate processes in a computer application using a scripting languageWord formatPDF format
    59555 CreditsDemonstrate an understanding of documentation for computer applicationsWord formatPDF format
    59563 CreditsCreate images using a computer (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    59633 CreditsDesign and assemble a multimedia computer application without scripting (this unit standard is expiring and no longer available)
    59653 CreditsWork cooperatively using workgroup computer software (this unit standard isexpiring and no longer available)
    59675 CreditsCreate a computer controlled robot using a kit set (this unit standard is expiringand no longer available)
    59683 CreditsDiscuss the social implications of information technologyWord formatPDF format
    59696 CreditsInvestigate the use of telecommunications in an organisation (this unit standard isexpiring and no longer available)