Jan 11th 2016
We Be Derpin'

A lot can happen in a little over 2 years...

In my last post, I had proposed an attempt to tackle the FizzBuzz problem. PowerShell was done, PHP was barely started but I never pointed to it in a subsequent post or finished what I wanted. The project url has completed and checked solutions for PHP and Node.js. I had mentioned b. F#, Objective-C, CoffeeScript, C/C++, Go, Dart, and Haskell are the planned languages I've mostly touched in passing or know about., as well as C#, Pascal, and Ruby but I may never get to them.

Shortly after that last post, I switched jobs from .NET to web development focusing on PHP with HTML, CSS, and Javascript. That one action shifted much of my focus from most of the languages in that list. With ES6 coming and recently finishing a CodeSchool course in CoffeeScript, the Javascript landscape is looking pretty awesome. Elixir and the Phoenix Framework have recently stood out as upcoming contenders for my mindshare as well.

My last post taught me that while I may know of a language, it doesn't mean I'll have a genuine desire to pursue it. It can also easily become difficult to want to pursue development outside of your day job. Staying current, however, is always worth pursuing. Tooling and efficiency around web development seems to have come a very long way.

To keep this post brief, I plan on making more updates as I feel a lot has changed for me in the past 2 years that I'd still love to share.

Nov 6th 2013
JazzHands: Tackling the FizzBuzz Problem

Due to a comment on Hacker News (original post here), I thought I would put my money where my mouth was, so to speak, and tackle this problem in a public repository.

My comment could likely be seen as dismissive or arrogant. I get that. My biggest problem is that because people still fail, this is the interview equivalent of patty cake: awkward, childish, and unrewarding (unless you're a 2 year old).
To be quite honest, I don't quite understand my disdain for the problem. It's simple enough that it can be solved a number of ways quickly and gets you to express at least the fundamentals of development in a particular language.

This exercise is an excellent opportunity for a number of things:

  1. It'll be a form of code kata and I need practice, even on something I dislike greatly.
  2. Much of my work isn't public, as I often rarely see the benefit of my specific ideas being shared. I don't need to prove anything by doing this but I don't see this hurting anything.
  3. If you believe my time tracking is accurate, it should demonstrate at least some proficiency in languages I know and how quickly I can at least have a basic understanding of the ones I don't. a. My proficiency in order is C#, PowerShell, Javascript, PHP, Pascal, then Ruby. The latter 3 don't rattle around in my brain as much as the former. b. F#, Objective-C, CoffeeScript, C/C++, Go, Dart, and Haskell are the planned languages I've mostly touched in passing or know about.
  4. This would be a good opportunity to write tests to check the work. A neutral 3rd party would be ideal as the tests could influence the experiment.
  5. It'll also give insight into my habits regarding structure and clean, concise code. I prefer readable code with very little comments because I feel the code itself should be the comment. This largely isn't possible in most code bases but it shouldn't really be a problem here.
  6. To prove to myself that I don't just take examples from Google and make them my own, that I can start from scratch when I need to.

Note: I'm using http://rosettacode.org/wiki/FizzBuzz as a language guide only. If you see me follow a specific example, punch me in the nuts.

The best description of the problem can be found here, specifically (altered for this example):

Write a program that prints the numbers from 1 to 100. But for multiples of three print "Jazz" instead of the number and for the multiples of five print "Hands". For numbers which are multiples of both three and five print "JazzHands".

This brings up some excellent points. I'm definitely not above FizzBuzz or live coding but I still can't pinpoint why I have beef with this particular problem.

I honestly can't remember the last time I've actually tackled this problem so the potential to look really foolish, at least at the beginning, is pretty high.

Oct 28th 2013
Notable Octopress Tweaks: Copyright, Tags, & Feed Excerpts

This is almost pointless to mention but the standard templates give you a very specific copyright with respect to atom feeds (Copyright (c) x-y). The file source_includes\custom\footer.html includes a way of gathering the system time in the form:

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Copyright © {{ site.time | date: "%Y" }}
I simply replaced the current hard-coded year with the ruby code above so that when the site is generated, it always gives the current year.

In case any of you are wondering how to insert codeblocks with liquid syntax, see this post.

Tags

This is more involved but luckily gist makes it stupid simple to include here. Everything is pretty much a rip off of the category_generator plugin and includes with just minor tweaks to use the tag object.

_config.yml:

plugins/tag_generator.rb (an almost complete copy of category_generator.rb)

source/_includes/archive_post_tags.html

source/_includes/custom/tag_feed.xml

source/_includes/post/tags.html

source/_layouts/tag_index.html

Feed excerpts

The following goes on line 23 in my atom.xml file, or right before the content tag. A better alternative would be to detect an excerpt and only display that or the content, not both.

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{% if post.has_excerpt %}<summary type="html">{{ post.excerpt | xml_escape }}</summary>{% endif %}

Oct 28th 2013
Derpirc: WP7 IRC Client Take #2

Back in February of 2011, I posted a very rough alpha release of my first WP7 IRC app called dIRCa. I abandoned the project primarily due to the heavy reliance on Homebrew sockets and rewrote it from scratch using the wonderful IrcDotNet library. Not having to handle the core IRC quirks is a godsend and luckily it works rather flawlessly with 7.5+ (Mango and above).

I originally wrote a post back in 2011 to gather emails for the beta submission process but it never got published. I was also working diligently to release a competent v1.0 but my perfectionism got the best of me.

I've since release it as open source on Github. The project is abandoned so far as my HD7 phone is no longer consistently in use now that I've switched to the HTC 8x and Windows Phone 8.

The barriers to make it a Windows Phone 8/WinRT version are pretty high:

  1. SQL CE was a terrible choice as a message store. They ditched it in favor of SQLite which had extremely sketchy WP7 support (this means a complete break from WP7)
  2. IrcDotNet is very much a traditional .NET library where the developer focuses on Mono. You could say this project is abandoned as well, so no official WinRT port is expected.

The original project received quite a bit of downloads for my first open source project (around 700 by this time) with the reason primarily being that a XAP was already built. On Github there are no releases but I look to remedy that very shortly.

The application is pretty functional but it is rather rough around the edges. For instance, when you first start it you're required to go to the settings screen as exiting initializes and starts the connections to the various networks. I intended this to be covered in a tutorial of sorts but that was something I was going to cover off last.

Oct 25th 2013
Octopress Site Generation on Windows 8.1

Install RailsInstaller from here. I use the version with Rails 3.2.

libcurl

  • Download the latest "Win32 - Generic" libcurl with SSL development release from here (this is the last entry as of 10/23/2013).
  • Unpack the zip file.
  • Copy curl.exe, libcurl.dll and libidn-11.dll to C:\RailsInstaller\bin.
    The reason I copy curl to test the program. It verifies the files are in the expected path and has an added bonus of making sure all the dll dependencies are present. This is how I figured out libidn-11.dll was necessary to include.

SSL certificate setup

  • Download cacert.pem.
  • Place file in C:\RailsInstaller\cacert.pem.
  • Set an Environment Variable in Control Panel with the Variable name: SSL_CERT_FILE and Variable value: C:\RailsInstaller\cacert.pem.
  • To temporarily set the variable for this command prompt session, use set SSL_CERT_FILE=C:\RailsInstaller\cacert.pem.