Thursday, April 21, 2016

Followup: Ubuntu persistent USB console boot, or why won't my car read this USB stick?

I finished my project using Ubuntu, and went to recycle one of those 32Gb USB stick for playing music in my car. The 2011 Honda Accord and 2014 Honda Odyssey both said nope "device incompatible" or "device unreadable" or something similar. Reformatting didn't help.

I discovered that the live-USB stick formatting program I used had increased the default offset of the partition from 1K to 4K, I think. I actually had to use "diskpart" to delete the partition and create a new one to reset the offset to the default value. I didn't see how to do that in Disk Manager's GUI.

Now I have my 32 Gb of music.

Review: Javascript, The Good Parts, by Douglas Crockford

I'm convinced  "JavaScript, The Good Parts" is one of the best JavaScript books for JavaScript doubters, especially those coming from a traditional object-oriented language like me. It really addresses whether JavaScript is just a mess (it definitely has messy parts) or whether there is something good in there. I'm convinced that by avoiding some problematic parts of the language, there is a very useful, functional language core that can express some interesting use-patterns.

One of the cool concepts emphasized is that JavaScript has object-inheritance, not class-inheritance. There are no classes. Instead, you can inherit from an object. Something that looks like a class is actually just an object that you essentially make copies of and use in a consistent way.

One of the implications is there are mixin/inheritance patterns that can't be expressed in Java/C++ that you can do in JavaScript. I haven't gotten my head around when they might be the best way to do things, though.

Highly recommended!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Review: Learning Javascript, by Shelley Powers

I read the 2nd edition, but it's been updated recently to the 3rd edition by a different author.

This is a basic programming book, that tries to be fairly complete in covering all the features and pieces of Javascript. It includes an intro to the DOM and AJAX. It's not a reference like "The Definitive Guide", but it's still quite easy to find specific information.

It's a bit boring, and feels encyclopedic. I was wondering about some of Javascript's quirks and corners, but I didn't get much help or explanation in this book. I'd say "eh, it's ok" for a recommendation.

Then I was pointed to  "Javascript, The Good Parts." Now there's the book I wanted to read. Review forthcoming...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Locking web-page screen orientation on Android

Basically, I can't. I've found several references to the old and new standards, and this is perhaps the best:
No matter which version I try, or even if I'm in fullscreen, the orientation of my page doesn't stay locked to 'landscape'. I'm not sure I've completely investigated 'promises', so I'll check that, but for now I'm going to resort to simply telling my tablet not to rotate, in Settings .. Display.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review: Build an HTML5 Game

Build and HTML5 Game, A Developer's Guild with CSS and Javascript, by Karl Bunyan. 2015.
On Amazon

This book walks through creating a 'bubble shooter' browser game, similar to Puzzle Bobble or Snood. It uses jQuery and Modernizr script libraries to avoid browser-specific concerns, and Modernizr for loading scripts. The first version uses the DOM to position and animate game elements (bubble), and shows custom animation in jQuery. It discusses which animations are possible in pure CSS3, as well.

I found it interesting that the book moves on to a second version, where the game board is completely contained in an HTML5 Canvas, and all animation is handled inside the canvas, using calls that are compatible with the DOM version - so the older version can run on old browsers that don't properly support Canvas. That structure seems useful to think about.

I would have liked to see a more complex game, like a platformer or side-scroller, but that would have swelled the book and I bet the complexity was too much for the goals of the author.

Overall, a good beginning game programming book - but definitely a starting place to jump off into more complex issues if you want to work on any sort of releasable, 'real' game.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Angular 2.0 and Typescript meetup

Attended the Getting started on Angular2 with TypeScript meetup last night. Good attendance - the room at MetLife was full. It was a beginner tutorial, but since Angular2 is quite different from AngularJS and not that old, it's definitely what was needed. The presentation by 
Kumanan Murugesan was pretty smooth, and there were lots of useful questions. 

I met someone (Jack?) on the way in lamenting that they couldn't convert an Angular 1 project to Angular 2 with just two months until release - but later Bryan Patrick Coleman, one of the organizers, told me that there are actually migration tools that will translate from Angular 1 to 2. Might be worth a try! 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Cane Chronicles (audio) and Outlander

We listened to the second two books of the Cane Chronicles, from Rick Riordan, about Egyptian gods and their interactions with the Cane family on the drive to Florida for Thanksgiving. They are engrossing and entertaining. Interpreting the different gods in a modern context leads to fun characterizations, like Bast the cat god and Bas, the ugly dwarf who can scare things to death by yelling "boo".

Also read the first Outlander book. I've watched the TV show, so there weren't any real surprises, but the comparison was interesting. Overall pretty good.

Next: The Martian, by Andy Weir - I like it so far. The summary I heard of "magyver on mars" is pretty accurate - except he's just trying to survive.