Coding week - Day 1

Today started off with rolling out of bed at 8:10am, out the house for 8:50, I had left it a tad late to make it up the hill in time, though my phone helped, playing a crap, compressed version of 99 Luftballons.

I got into the computer room to find some of the group huddled around our computers. Me a Steve got stuck in with looking at how to parse XML using Java and query it using XPath. By 10am we had cracked the parsing; the files we had been given declared they were UTF-8 encoded, however, every time we tried to parse the file we got an error stating something about 1 od 1-byte not UTF-8 or some such nonsense…After looking around, we changed the declaration to ISO-8859-1, this seems to work :D Our data was parsed, or at least displayed no errors! We battled on with trying to look at XPath, searching various sites, looking at tutorials, but it was useless. We even tried the TV-Anytime API, but our files wouldn’t work correctly, the Genre’s weren’t being recognised…After talking to one of our Project Managers, Rhys Parry, we retreated down into town for lunch.

After lunch we received an email stating that Nigel Hardy (a.k.a. Beardy Nigel) was putting on a Q&A on XML. Steve and myself attending this meeting and asked about XML namespaces and asked questions relating to out XPath problems. We returned to work feeling very informed, but not overly sure on where to go next. I had already contacted Andrew McParland from the BBC who had worked on the TV-Anytime project, with a stroke of luck he replied just after lunch! He suggested editing the API to recognise the new Genres. The class that needed editing was created in 2002 according to the declaration at the top, the files we were using were time-stamped 2007…

So, two plans formed, look more into XPath, or edit the TVAT API…We chose to persist with XPath. At 4:45 we had got nowhere :( We decided to go for changing the API. First of all I tried to parse the XML file with the TVAT API, reciving close to 5000 lines of errors about genres…I copy and pasted around 1500 lines into a text editor (it appeared that the list was repeated several times) and reduced these down to 24 genres in the space of about 30 minutes…After changing the API, compiling and running, we were not just receiving errors concerning that genres weren’t recognised, but also some of them weren’t formatted correctly! After looking at an example, I noticed that it was not only formatted the same as all the others, it was the first in the list of genres in the edited class! This at 6pm this evening, after this day…Almost nine straight hours of work, we decided to retire for the day and come back to it in the morning…

So, tomorrow is another day…We are open to all suggestions :D Comments welcome :P But for now…BED!

Incremental volume

A good friend of mine, Aled Hughes, spoke to me today on msn and was talking to me about a feature he found on Leopard. If you press shift+option+volume (option being ‘alt’), then you can increment/decrement the volume by a quarter of a volume block:

Another of those little features Apple like to hide :D

OS Woes

Since my last post I eventually got around to trying to install Debian and Fedora onto my spare box…But it would appear that neither would run on it…I spent today jiggling my main box around to fit not only Windows and Solaris, but also Debian and Fedora…Alas, Debian still won’t run (doesn’t install GRUB so can’t boot to it). Fedora would go, but Solaris was stubborn. Just about to reinstall Solaris now to see if I can rectify the problem…Ahhh, the wonders of technology…

I need a floppy disk!?

OK, exams finished on Thursday…I let myself recoup on Friday and today I decided have a play with my spare tower…Up until recently I have had OpenSuse 10.2 on there running GNOME (the CPU is an old AMD Athlon and it has an ancient GPU and goodness knows how much RAM).

Anyway, I decided to look around and decided on reinstalling the tower with Fedora 8 and Debian 4. Fedora asked for a single DVD to install the OS, which was great, I’ve got two DVD’s left in my supply and about five CD’s. Fedora is downloading now though uTorrent on Windows (slowly through my internet connection :-( ). I went to the Debian site and looked at downloaded the DVD, surely it’s only a DVD? Fedora was, Suse was, I’m sure Ubuntu is too…But nope, Debian is three DVD’s big! So I looked around the site and found just what I wanted: a network install. All I needed was 1.44MB worth of files that would go and connect to the Debian servers and install the OS for me. I hunted high and low in my room and found that I have no floppy disks…Then, looking in the tower, I realised that I had taken out my floppy drive from the tower…Brilliant stuff eh!? So, instead I had to download a disk image (all of 44MB I think) and shove it in the machine, it would link to the other images online and install the OS from there! “Great!” I thought, “Simple, may take a while, but only one CD!”, thinking this after looking at the nine or ten CD images Debian asked for…I downloaded this small image, burnt it to a CD and whacked it in the machine, booted it up and tapped ‘enter’ when asked to install. I came to a menu, looking down I asked it to detect my network configuration, but it couldn’t work my network card!!! Grrrr, I’m now downloading the three DVD images via bittorrent :-( I’m not a happy bunny…

Off out for a grump with some friends, and they will be hearing about this you can be sure!

MacWorld Expo

Held between the 14th and the 18th of January, Apple today released two new exciting products and two enhancements to two of their already awesome product range.

The first enhancement was a major software upgrade to the iPod touch. Some of the software includes: Mail, Maps, Stocks, Weather and Notes, as well as a couple of other upgrades! UK users can get the update through iTunes for £12.99

The next enhancement was another software update to the iPhone. The new update offers a new improved Maps software, the ability to text multiple people with one message and a few other updates. The update will be available to current users through iTunes for the grand price of £0.00!

The next announcement was for the first new product: Time Capsule. This new piece of hardware is a wireless hard drive which you can use to wirelessly backup multiple Macs using Time Machine. The new bit of kit uses 802.11n and comes in two models: 500G, UK price: £199 1TB! UK price: £329

The final announcement was almost what we had been waiting for…It gave the answer to the question ‘What does Apple mean by these banners saying “There’s something in the air” ‘. The answer? The MacBook Air. The MBA is the world’s thinnest notebook, measuring a tiny 19mm! This tiny laptop has a nice 13.3” LCD screen with back-lit keyboard, built in iSight and a MULTI-TOUCH trackpad for all those pinch, rotate and swipe gestures that the iPhone has! Running on purpose-built Intel C2D’s, with speeds of 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz. With the former speed you get a nice 80GB hard drive and with the latter a whopping 64GB of solid-state hard drive space! It also boasts the new 802.11n wireless technology! This machine has been built with the environment in mind, Apple has cut down on much of the packaging… I am very jealous of it’s multi-touch technology. However, it’s other specs I think are rather disappointing (given that I use my Mac as my main machine), as an ‘on the road’ machine it is pretty ace.

All this found at:

All images © Copyright Apple Inc.

That January feeling

It’s a new year and time to get up and go after the Christmas break, however, for us students at Aber uni (as well as other students I’m sure), we look forward to a bunch of exams in stuff we can’t quite remember (perhaps we drank too much or ate too much turkey or something).

As I write this I’m one exam down with two to go. Yesterday I had Architecture, C and UNIX, not that there was much UNIX stuff in there :( This exam centred around the Motorolla 68HC11 microcontroller, it’s assembly language and the like, how CPU’s work, broadly, and a bunch of stuff on the C language. I am sitting here awaiting 9am when I’ll be heading up to campus to undergo my second exam: Hardware. This too is centred around the Motorolla 68HC11, but it covers more hardware features such as the workings of flip-flops, memory address decoders and the like. I must admit, I’m really not looking forward to it.

Roll on Thursday! Last exam in the afternoon then I’m free for a whole week! Then I’ll be having coding week…

Christmas update...

Merry Christmas to you all!

Over the last few weeks I have been updating my site #! - A place of geekery. I’ve written some new tutorials for people who want to learn some common UNIX tools. All the usuals are there, cd/ls/pwd/etc but I have also detailed some other looks such as SSH/SCP/RSYNC

I haven’t really been doing much else on the site, I need to continue the Java tutorial at some point…But I’m also planning on learning Pythn, bought the book and everything, just need to properly sit down and read it…

Oh yes! Just remembered, the site has moved! We are now <>

2D Dock in Leopard

Have you upgraded to Leopard and decided you really don’t like the new 3D ‘shelf’? Never fear! Apple have given us two options…

First option Our first option is to open System Preferences, open the Dock preferences then place our Dock on the left or right of the screen:

Second option We have another option for you if you want your 2D Dock at the bottom of the screen. We have three steps, first step is to open your Terminal, next type in: defaults write no-glass -boolean YES Next type: killall Dock This should look like this in your Terminal screen:

Once you have done this you Dock should look like this: If you want to revert back to the 3D Dock simply type the following into the Terminal: defaults write no-glass -boolean NO killall Dock

There you go, your 2D Dock in Leopard.

Here's to the crazy ones...

A fellow Mac User has pointed me to look at with Coverflow. Blown up it looks like this:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.

_You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.** Because they change things.**_ -

The poem seems to be created by Apple for use as an advert: Clicky for YouTube - Thanks to CC on the MacUser forums.

As for John Appleseed, there is a Wiki on him here, I’ve linked you down to the place where he concerns Apple Inc.

I wonder who Kate might be…


The 26th October: about 11am, I received a small box from a man who travelled in an Orange lorry. With great eagerness I signed the form and ripped open the packaging to find a shiny box containing a DVD on it. On the DVD was Apple’s latest edition of OS X: Leopard, Mac OS 10.5.

Thirty minutes it took me to install Leopard, while it was installing I perused the net looking for all the applications I used to have. With a restart I was launched into the Leopard Welcome sequence, swirling through space (like the background in Time Machine). After this I was taken to the set-up screens where I chose my language, set up user accounts etc…

Leopard launched me into my desktop environment where I sat for a while in awe. I quickly installed all of my previous applications and copied over some library folders, I was really surprised that when copying the Adium folder I just re-launched Adium and it recognised all my previous settings, down to how big the contacts window was!

With my applications installed I made my way familiarising myself with the new Finder and System Preferences interface…

Finder Finder has had a nice remake, with various useful bits down the left hand side, I think I prefer the old Finder window, but the bits across the top are useful.

Coverflow is good, can’t see it being hugely useful, but it shows how the technology has been developed and can be used around the system.

All the menus have also had a make-over, it now has roundy corners<img src="" width="128" height="100" />

Dock The Dock has, of course, had it’s re-modeling, the new 3D shelf has been long awaited by some Mac users, and has already been condemned by others. Looking at a hack which allows the user to bring back a 2D Dock, I really think I prefer the 3D shelf…

Stacks Stacks are brilliant! I develop Java and C applications for university and I use two versions of the Eclipse IDE, I now have these in a folder somewhere on my system, the folder was plonked onto the Dock and it turned into a Stack, I now have easy access to my IDE’s and it only takes up one space on my Dock! I also create the odd website here and there, having a Stack with all of my browsers in is great! They splay out and I have easy access to the apps with only one space in the Dock taken up!

So, things that don’t work…There has been news of BSOD’s on Leopard, if you read this, the lesson to learn is to NOT do an upgrade! Do a archive and install, or a fresh install. Other than that, all my Apps work, I have had trouble installing Fink, and such things that Fink installs for you, such as Lynx browser…

Other than that, I have had a very enjoyable experience to date with Leopard, I look forward to Apple releasing the incremental updates to add new features.