Renewing a link

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:20 pm by Toby

I stumbled upon this and found this and found a link to [http://www.stsc.hill.af.mil/CrossTalk/2008/01/0801DewarSchonberg.html] which no longer exists but found a copy of it as a pdf here


Coffee Art

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:24 pm by Toby

Enjoy my Coffee Art

Bug Eyes in my Coffee

Bug Eyes in my Coffee


Magento Links

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:04 pm by Toby

Magento is great, but it takes quite a bit of setting up, I’ve found some good resources in my digging so I’ll record them here so I dont forget.

Setting Up Magento: So you want a REAL store and not a demo?

jsdifflib – A Javascript Visual Diff Tool & Library


Learning Objective-C

Posted in Programming, Uncategorized at 2:38 pm by Toby

Like many many people who have decided to jump (maybe a bit too late) onto the IPhone development bandwagon, I have had to do two things I never thought I would do!

  1. Buy a Mac (a lovely little mac-mini)
  2. Learn how to write code in Objective-C (the bastard unwanted love-child of C, C++ and Small-talk)

Its been great fun, and I’ve learnt a few things on the way.  While I have a long way to go, I’ve already run foul of Apples policy of silence – buying my mac-mini 3 weeks before they released a new beefier version with double the memory of the one I purchased.

I eventually purchased an IPhone about 5 months ago after starting off with a loathing of them when they were initially released and slowly gaining a gruding respect for them as more and more of my friends turned up in the pub with them, before it turning into a burning ‘I MUST HAVE ONE’.  This got so bad that I bought myself out of the last 9 months of my 3 contract to change to O2 so I could get an Iphone.

Saffron Pears

I havent been disappointed.  I like many others find that the IPhone is what I have been looking for for the last 3 or 4 years since phones began to get ‘smart’ but not quite smart enough.

[NSString init]

I then moved on as a developer to needing to write apps for it.  I swallowed my pride and after several false starts where I went into the apple store stared for a while and walked out, I finally one day came out with a Mac-mini under my arm.  After two solid days of downloading (upgrade os, critical updates, xcode, sdk) I finally sat down to see what I could do.  That is when I came face to face with Objective-C.  I spend most of my programming career writing Delphi code and never managed to learn either C or C++ infact the only { language I have any knowledge of is php but I think thats where the similarity ends.

I took a look at the rather interesting Stanford IPhone course which is available for download via ITunes University, but after a couple of failed attempts at connecting things in Interface Builder I abandoned ship went Old-fashioned and bought a book on Amazon:  Beginning iPhone 3 Development: Exploring the iPhone SDK This book has been well worth it and I am slowing working my way through it.  Objective-C is slowly begining to make sense.  I am begining to understand it in terms of other languages which makes it a bit easier.  I will write here as I work my way along.


Stackoverflow Wiki Transciption

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:37 pm by Toby

I just translated my first 3 minutes of a stack overflow podcast.  Minutes 3 – 6 of podcast #34. 

At the end of each podcast joel and jeff ask for volunteers to transcribe their podcasts to make it easier for search engines to index and people with hearing difficulties to enjoy.  Today I thought I’d take a look.  Its kind of addictive, and it also takes quite a bit of time.  It took me longer than I thought to get through my 3 minutes.  YOu have to concentrate hard on the random gibberish that comes out of there mouths, but I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.  Pop over and do your 3 minutes.



Posted in Uncategorized at 1:59 pm by Toby

Stackoverflow.com was recently launched after a long (well quite short actually) and very public incubation.  I greatly enjoyed listening to the podcasts and have sort of enjoyed using Stackoverflow.com.  It has some issues still to be sorted out, but I think is working quite well and will evolve over time.


Why is Visual Basic bad?

Posted in Programming, Uncategorized at 5:52 am by Toby

In a series of posts starting with Stiff asking a few programmers a series of open-ended questions about programming and being commented on by a few people including Jeff Atwood on Coding Horror. One of the comments was on how Linus Torvalds had made a small comment about how Visual Basic was quite instrumental in moving forward the cause of programming (moreso than more object-oriented languages).

For example, I personally believe that Visual Basic did more for programming than Object-Oriented Languages did. Yet people laugh at VB and say it’s a bad language, and they’ve been talking about OO languages for decades.

And no, Visual Basic wasn’t a great language, but I think the easy database interfaces in VB were fundamentally more important than object orientation is, for example.

I am opening myself up to be flamed badly here, but I think most of us would give a grudging respect to visual basic – even while burning Visual Basic books and chanting incantations of exercism on those still aflicted with the ill. Visual Basic was easy to pick up, it really put the rapid into rapid application design (though I think the phrase was introduced by Borland). It allowed very fast proto-typing, it allowed the creation of COM objects and ActiveX controls faster than anyone had previously though possible and it is was so much faster to generate code in than C++ that any company that wasnt writing device drivers in the mid 90’s to late 90’s would have been very foolish not to at least investigate its use in their development departments. It was also from Microsoft so “had to be good!”.

So what went wrong?

I can’t abide Visual Basic. I started learning a newly released product that I had saved up my pocked money to buy back when I was in university in 1995. It was called Delphi (I was one of the few people who didnt learn Pascal in university – instead I did POP11 – I studied Artificial Intelligence). Delphi had it all it. It had everything Visual Basic had, it made making Windows applications a breeze, it came out of the box with about 120 different components (Visual Basic at the time came with about 30), it was easy to create and on top of all this it gave you the control that Visual Basic did not when you wanted to dig a little bit deeper. I thought myself Delphi, as many people did and have remained a huge fan of this great system from then till now (although one must wonder how much longer it will last), I believe it was superior to Visual Basic from the day it was released to the day Visual Basic was axed (I dont count VB.NET), but history has shown that these emotional responses have little to do with the reality of the sucess of a product. As the 90s passed Delphi held it own while Visual Basic exploded out of all control possibly becoming the most utilised business software language in the entire world*1.

I inserted the previous paragraph by way of saying I am not a Visual Basic fan, but yet I am going to defend it after a fashion. The problem with Visual Basic is again as with so much that touches our lives – Microsoft.

Microsoft are responsible for the dirth of rubbish, unmaintainable, badly written, memory leaking utilities, business applications, enterprise applications and help us Lord mission critical applications running on almost every machine in the world that runs windows. They know this and that is the reason they created VB.NET and ensured it was not backward compatible and would require often an entire rewrite to get a VB6 application working on VB.NET. You see Visual Basic was victim of its own sucess.

I may be naive but I don’t think Microsoft actually ever expected Visual Basic to become quite the monster it did. I think they had a nifty idea to release a RAD application development environment for people to play around with. Maybe it would help some students to learn programming, write that little app for their parents business and then they’d move on to a ‘proper’ programming language like C++, but it didnt work like that. Sure the students learnt it, they wrote that application for their parents business, maybe they even sold a few copies of it to their parents friends who ran businesses, but then they went out and tendered for work against software houses writing in C and C++. The VB guys could do it in a third the time and at a third the cost. The people buying the time didnt know or care whether the language it was going to be written in was up to the job.

Further details to follow.

*1 – I made this statistic up, I dont know if it was but it certainly seemed like it.


Strange things people do with their time

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:26 am by Toby

Strange things people do with their time # 1

Watermelon Art.

Strange things people do with their time # 2

“The idea of someone picking their teeth with a screwdriver may sound amusing for a moment but it is actually a big worry that so many people are happy to use whatever is closest to hand to remove food from between their teeth.”



A missing forward slash.

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:34 am by Toby

I’ve been having some trouble again recently with a website I did for a client. This problem had reared its head before, and I could never pin down what was causing it until recently.

The problem is when at a certain point visitors to a site start viewing the non ‘www’ version of your site so

visitor goes to www.mycoolsite.com/shop/buysomething.php

and then later they arrive at


This isnt a huge issue except that it messes up cookies and lots of shopping carts are based on cookies. So the user gets to the check out and finds that there is no longer anything in their cart. Now I noticed this early on and tried to take steps to prevent it, but it has reared its head, and for reasons I wont go into, this time I had to track down the cause. And I finally did. A missing forward slash!

If you make a link to a directory (relative or absolute) without a trailing / it will redirect to the www less version of the url, so

www.mydomain.com/shop will load mydomain.com/shop/index.php
www.mydomain.com/shop/ will load www.mydomain.com/shop/index.php

now usually there is no difference, but in certain circumstances this can mess up things like cookies. So dont let it catch you out.

The origional answer I found is here.


I admit a weather-watch website is rather an obscure place


New Blog

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:29 pm by Toby

I’ve started writing a new blog – Working with finalbuilder
with tips and tricks for this great tool for automating the build process. Check it out.

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