Category Archives: development

A few items of note today..

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RSS feeds for specific shows. Well, really feeds for search strings, which means “house” also gets “bleak house”. Oh well. Btw, Pirate Bay has RSS feeds too.

Apple’s Rails page
Wow, Apple digs Rails. Cool. I hope their tutorial is as useful as Curt Hibbs’ amazing two-part Rails tutorial [part 1] [part 2] or his followup Ajax on Rails. Slashdot comments point to a that compares Rails, Zope (Plone), TurboGears, Django and J2EE. I should post a comment about this Rails demo, which is what got *me* hooked on Rails. There are others on this page of screencasts.

Dell Linux machines
Oooh, finally someone other than Walmart sells Linux desktops. Although apparently they are loathe to admit it!


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Democracry TV Viewer

is an open-source app for subscribing to TV shows via RSS and downloading them via BitTorrent.
It’s written in Python and uses PyObjC and Boost (a cool C++ library, which supplements STL).

A blurb from
the current
readme for the OS X build

You’ll need Pyrex, PyObjC and Boost to compile DTV. We use these for
linking to C, Objective C, and C++ code. And you’ll need Python 2.4 or

At least as of 1.3.7, the prebuilt PyObjC binaries do not have proper
Quicktime support, so you’ll have to build from source. Download and untar:

I find it quite funny that I find out this way that Mitch Kapor is involved.
Mitch is also behind the project I’m working on,

One thing the Democracy guys are doing that I wish we were doing is
using Trac for everything.
I mean, Bugzilla is nice and all, but it’s very 1990’s in a lot of ways, and will probably never make up for that.

Rails book

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Ok, I lied.
One more post.
I bought the “early beta package” of
Agile Web Development with Rails,
which gets me the beta PDF of the book and the final PDF later when it’s done, along with a paper version when it ships.
I figured it would make for good reading on the plane.

On the way here I found out that even with a full charge, the Powerbook’s battery cannot handle playing AVI’s for more than a couple of hours, and the flight is longer than that.
Actually, Thomas (my friend from Alias who was here) told me that there are seats that have plugs in the backs of them.
On the way here the seat in front of me had a phone instead. I will have to try to get a different row.
I was in row 15. Maybe I’ll try for 16 or 14.

Of course, I can always play solitaire!

End-of-week tired

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A lot of people have left WWDC by this point.
The tablecloths have coffee stains, and everyone is looking a bit bleak and weary.
Wired ethernet access in “the nooks” on the 2nd floor are not handing out IP addresses; the DHCP server is down.
So we all sit at the same tables and just use AirPort instead.

Last night’s “Apple Beer Bash” was a bit disappointing.
Mostly because of the cold weahter I think.
It wasn’t as much fun to sit on the grass listening to the Wallflowers live about 20 feet away.
It was kinda funny when the Wallflowers’ lead singer asked the audience for tech support to get his Bl;ackberry to talk to his Mac.
One guy in front offered to help — I’ll bet it’s one of the guys who worked on Blackebrry code or something.

The lineups were horrendous.
They said at the keynote that there were 3,800 people here and that it was the biggest WWDC in the last 10 years.
Maybe they just didn’t plan well enough for that many people.
I was lucky enough to miss the lineups for the busses to Apple (Ted and I hitched a ride with Mike, Thomas and Matthew, who had rented a car), but the lineup to get into the store, the even longer one to pay for stuff and get OUT of the store (I skipped that one, not buying anything), and then the huge lineup for food (which people were wangling their way into near the front a lot), all served to put a damper on things.

Today is definitely a “day-after” kind of day.
Most of the remaining sessions are feedback sessions.
Like I told Luisa, I don’t have much feed to give back.
I’m excited about things like Core Image and its Image Units, and yes, I am looking forward to powerful, Intel-based laptops.

Poor Ted has to leave in a taxi tomorrow morning at 5am.
Fortunately for me, my flight isn’t until 3pm.
Unfortunately for Luisa, it gets in to Toronto around 11pm!
I suspect Michael and Ronnie will stay at home, which will make things easier on Luisa.

I think I’ll head downstairs to check out the gaming area.
They’re featuring Doom 3 today.
But I think everyone is going to quit and run Star Wars Battlefront instead. 🙂

Chinese food last night

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Last night a bunch of us went out for dinner after the last WWDC session.
It turned out to be fortuitous, because the two evening events — the Apple Design Awards and “Stump the Experts” — were postponed one day to Wednesday night instead.
However, on our way out of Moscone West, we saw WWDC employees carrying in literal armfuls of Chinese food.
Hah, oh well.

We met up at the Apple store, which is only a couple of blocks away from Moscone West.
There were Florian and Stuart from El Gato, Mike and Thomas from Alias, Ted and myself.

The food was good and we recounted some interesting tidbits form WWDC’s past as well as interesting company histories.
Ted took some pics which I’ll try to scarf and put up later.

Today’s schedule includes:

  • Using Bindings to Help Sync Your Data and UI
  • Advanced Document-Based Application Techniques
  • MySQL and SQLite: It’s in There
  • Cocoa “Tiger Makeover”
  • Essential Ingredients for Mac OS X Imaging Solutions
  • either Introduction to Core Data
  • or Threading on Mac OS X

After all that it’s off to the Apple campus for the Thursday night beer bash, where we get to see Andrew’s office again (Ooooh, ahhh).
It’s pretty much cold and rainy right now (19 C), so if that continues it might put a bit of a damper on things.
Hope it clears up and gets warmer.
It’s no fair — back in Toronto there’s a heatwave on!

Tuesday morning

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Session on “Advanced UI Design” was a wash.
I was hoping for more of a hands-on deal, showing how to enabled various drag-and-drop stuff or integrating with the Finder better.

I’m going to check out the “Core Image” session at 10:30.
After lunch it’s either “Cocoa Today” or “Utilizing Quartz Composer in Your Application”.
There’s nothing in the 3:30 to 5pm slot — maybe I’ll check out
“3D Environmental Audio with OpenAL”. From 5 to 6:30 I think it will be
“Uniform Type Identifiers and Launch Services”.
I am particularly keen on Launch Services as they are replacing a whole swath of Unix technologies which are indeed getting crufty and difficult to manage.

After the session are over (6:30) I’m trying to get people from El Gato and Alias together for dinner, meeting at the Apple Store at 7pm. Probably Chinese food, yum.

Photo “tags”

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I really like flickr, but it has the flaw of being a paid service.
Can’t fault them for it, but when it comes to long-term archival of photos, obviously Flickr is not a viable solution.

However, I do so love those Flickr tags.
Pre-Flickr they were usually referred to as “keywords”.
PhotoSuite had them, and they were a really nice feature.
However, in that app and others (e.g. iPhoto), the feature is locked up by a propreitary means of storing the tags.

Thus my quest — to find an open way to save tags.
Some sort of XML schema would be an obvious method.
Of course, this need only be used for import/export/archival.
But that’s what I’m all about here: archival.

An app would likely keep this data ina a database for quick access and search.
When you archive the photos to cassette/floppy/Magtape/CD/DVD/BD/HD-DVD/whatever, the tags would be saved with them.
Otherwise, tags are a waste of previous time and energy.

So, if you know of a standard, open means by which tags can be saved/restored, please let me know!
My Googling revealed nothing.

Learning ASP and VBScript

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So I started a web job recently that I was told involved Perl and PHP.
That’s cool, I’m up on both of those and it would be extra fun because there might be database work involved.

Well, it turns out that it isn’t so.
In fact, it’s a server that only has ASP and VBScript.
They may have JScript too.
But i figure that writing stuff in ages-old BASIC that I leanred in the late 1970’s is safer than learning a new language and implementing an app with it in the space of a couple of weeks.

Man, what a letdown.
I had forgotten just how brain-damaged BASIC really is.
I was HOPING that VBScript, being a huge subset of Microsoft’s cornerstone, Visual Basic, would have maybe, hopefully evolved nicely.

But no, I discover that it has idiotic things like different keywords for functions that return a value versus ones that don’t.
I mean, come on!
It’s not like the funcion declares its return type or anything.
And how ass-backwards is it that you return a value by assigning it to the name of the function?
Geez! Grow up a couple of decades, why don’t you?
They had BASICs with “return” statements back in the 1980’s.

Sorry, it’s just so sad to work with such a big pile of stinking poo.
Not that Perl is a panacea by any stretch of the imagination.
Nor PHP, which is really just a castrated Perl.
If you’ve been reading you know that I loooove
that darling of scripting languages.


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While we’re on the topic of conferences, is anyone going to
(formerly MacHack)?

It’s convenient because (a) it’s in Detroit, a drivable distance from Toronto, and (b) it only costs $500.
As a bonus,
is one of the two
keynote speakers,
the other being Jordan Hubbard, of FreeBSD fame and now an employee at Apple.