My Toolkit: A list of iOS apps

Posted on Oct 25, 2011

I have an iPod Touch, and probably end up owning an iPhone in the future, once my cheapy flip phone's battery finally dies off.  I've had my iPod Touch for a year now and I've loved it, and continue to do so.

Prior to the Touch, I was Palm fan for a few years and before that it was a Handspring.  Before *that* it was my *actual* palm, writing notes on my hand or on index cards.  I am and probably forever will be an incorrigible note taker, so I love electronics that help me in this regard.

But the Touch (and the Palm and the Handspring) all do so much more, from simple games to keeping me organized to capturing moments on the go, and I have become connected at the hip with these devices. (quite literally seeing as they have a permanent place on my jean pockets)

Single-movie Flash Preloading with AS3

Posted on Oct 18, 2011

Way back in the AS2 days, you could write Actionscript preloaders that could run inside the same *.fla/swf file as your main movie/site/app/animation.  Useing frames and checking the movie size vs the bytes loaded, you could figure out when the movie was completely in memory and readyfor use.  With AS3, with class files and proper object-oriented structures, it became less clear as to how you were supposed to do this.

Generally everything in your library was being exported on frame 1, so how could you put a preloader there?  Frame 1 would need to load first before it would execute, and by then its too late for the preloader to do anything.  So it seemed like the consensus amongst the people I talked to and worked with was that you needed to a build a separate pre-loader movie which would load the main movie.

Triple Town

Posted on Oct 13, 2011

Triple Town is an addictive, city-as-a-garden match three Facebook game designed by Danc of Lost Garden and Spry Fox.

The game was originally released on the Kindle as a kind of experiment to see if you could make a game on there. (you can, although there are some pretty extreme graphical limitations)  The Facebook iteration is pretty nifty.  The presentation is excellent and fun, but it's really the game mechanics that do it for me.

It's like pinball but with cars and explosions

Posted on Sep 25, 2011

Burnout 3 is still, in my opinion, one of the best arcade-y racing games out there.  It's a game series that realized that smashing your car - which happens more often than not in any racing - should be just as fun as the visceral rush of driving really fast and burning past your opponents.  The sound design was top notch and really added to the sense of speed and excitement.

Later games in the series didn't add much, except maybe frustrations: I found Revenge to be a bit frustrating in that rear-ending non-competitor cars caused a crashed instead of just shoving the card out of the way, and Burnout Paradise's open world, while cool, made replaying failed missions troublesome as you had to drive back to the mission's start point every time.

Four Indie games that I'm looking forward to

Posted on Sep 20, 2011

Really need to apoligize for the lack of posts.  The new job turned out to be a lot of work (what new job isn't), the weather was nice, and TIFF only just wrapped up last week.  But now it's September, time to put our heads down and get back to being productive, right?

Well, not with this post, not just yet. :) I'll do some development-related posts in the future (I have about 3-4 in draft mode, just need to clean 'em up) but today I just wanted to point you towards some indie games that I've been following the development on.  They're not out yet unfortunately, but most have a lot of juicy screen shots and videos for you to enjoy in the mean time. (And yes, I was inspired by Mashable's article)


Monaco screenshot

As the Monaco website says, this game promises to be an interesting mix of "Pac-Man meets Hitman", although given the "heist" background story in the game, I prefer Pac-Man meets Ocean's 11.  You run around each level, avoiding the security cameras, hacking computers, distracting guards and picking locks, with your team of up to 4 buddies, attempting to steal something of value.

Monaco has a lot of 8-bit charm obviously, but it has science smarts too: all of the level previews use steganography to encode the actual data for the level right into the image!  Read the blog post on Facebook, it can do a much better job of explaining it than I can, plus it has more pretty pictures.

My Utilities: Starting fresh with a new computer...

Posted on Aug 02, 2011

I recently had my desktop PC give up the ghost, thanks to a burned out mother board, hence my lack of posts for the last bit. Happening just 2 weeks before I started up my company and a new contract job with a new, unfamiliar technology, this added a stress meatball to my already very full plate of technology spaghetti.

However, if there was ever a good time for a computer to fail, it was probably now.  As a freelancing web developer I was going to need to get mobile, with my "office" being where ever I happen to be that day, so this was a perfect opportunity to pick up a laptop.

It's always both frustrating/refreshing to get a new computer. You've gotta reinstall all your apps, maybe find alternatives if they no longer run on the new OS, dig up serial keys, update drivers.  But you're also forced to take a good hard look at you document structure and the programs you've been hanging onto but not using.

Getting cron to run on Dreamhost w/ Drupal 7

Posted on Jul 16, 2011

One of the important steps you need to do when setting up a new Drupal site is creating a cronjob that hits up your Drupal install. Or at least it used to be an important step in the past.  Poormanscron is a module that simulates a crontab by keeping track of the time and then running Drupal's cron task whenever a page on your site is loaded around the right time, and it has been added to core in Drupal 7.  Finding this out explained where all these mysterious cron calls in my log were coming from!

Even still, I wanted to go through the crontab setup process anyways, as I was learning the ins and outs of my new hosting company's control panel.  (And as mentioned, Poormanscron will only run when a page is accessed, so if your site doesn't get a lot of hits, your cron won't run as often as you like)

My Toolkit: A list of Firefox add-ons

Posted on Jul 11, 2011

Here's my second post in this "toolkit/workflow" series, featuring my favourite Firefox add-ons.

Web Development

Firebug: The web's best javascript/DOM/css debugger and code explorer. I can't remember what life was like before Firebug.  Whatever it was, it was primitive, dark, full of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Firecookie: Handy add on to Firebug to help you manage site cookies, be it exploring, deleting or creating on the fly.

Drupal for Firebug: great tool that helps you tear apart what Drupal is doing under the hood with its content and themeing.  Some people prefer Devel, but I think the processing overhead for that module sometimes isn't worth it, and Drupal for Firebug gives me all I need.

My Toolkit: A list of professional apps

Posted on Jul 05, 2011

I thought I'd kick off this site with a post on my current toolkit.  This is something I had meant to do back in January, as a summary of all the tools, applications and websites from the past year that made my job and life easier.  Some of this stuff I discovered in 2010, but I kept the list updated with 2011 discoveries as time went on and this site got further delayed.

There's a few posts in this series, ranging from iPhone apps to Firefox Add-ons, but we'll start with web dev tools and text editors.