Tag Archives: iphone

Game Review: Dokobots

I’ve been playing with Dokobots on and off since being introduced to it at WhereCamp. I liked it off the bat, but I don’t think there’s much to keep the player coming back over time. I have a few thoughts on how that might be fixed.
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Developing a Calagator Client for the iPhone

iPhone Simulator
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

I’ve been working on an iPhone app to allow Calagator users to find out what events are happening, get details, and map the event location so they can figure out how to get there. It’s been a little slow going, as this is my first real iPhone development project, but the code is now to the point that the basic feature set is roughly covered.

If you’d like to try it out or contribute, I’ve pushed the code to GitHub, and you can check it out here.

Last week I ran into an issue where I wanted an easy way to strip HTML from a block of text, which is super-simple in Rails, and something I could code up pretty quickly in plain Ruby if needed. Figuring out how to do it in Objective-C was a bit more work, though. Learning a new language, there’s often a tension between how you’re used to approaching a problem, and the tools and preferences of this other language. I did finally come up with something that works and doesn’t feel excessively messy. I started with a snippet from another blog post, but it was crashing when I moved it into my Event model. Below is my solution.

- (NSString *) cleanDescription {
	NSScanner *scanner = [NSScanner scannerWithString:self.description];
	NSString *tag = @"";
	NSString *cleaned = self.description;

	while ([scanner isAtEnd] == NO) {
		[scanner scanUpToString:@"<" intoString:NULL];
		[scanner scanUpToString:@">" intoString:&tag];
		cleaned = [cleaned stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:[NSString stringWithFormat:@"%@>", tag] withString:@""];
	}
	return cleaned;
}

The Future Sounds Like This

Solaris
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Over the weekend, Lucas and I watched both Solaris and From Beyond, a combination that’s possibly as high/low style as one can get with SF. I love the interior of the Solaris station, the round walls, electrical panels, and piles of books shoved onto shelves. With From Beyond, I started wondering how to rewrite the whole thing as a police procedural—the original story is short enough you could do all sorts of things with it.

One of the enjoyable things about Solaris is that it combines a universe with space travel and alien intelligence with one that has paper books, tea, and long walks around the pond. It’s unevenly technological, past and present intermingling. Which is a good way to describe my music experiments the last week as well.

First, I should note that I’m using an iPhone app to tune my ukulele. It’s called Cleartune, and it’s a full chromatic tuner that can be used with any instrument. The graphics are beautifully designed, and downloading it was cheaper and more immediate than purchasing a hardware tuner.

I recorded myself playing Amazing Grace using AudioBoo, a handy little iPhone app and website for doing up to 5-minute recordings that other people can subscribe to in iTunes or a RSS reader. One of the interesting things about practicing ukulele is that since I like to sing as well, finding songs to practice is a balance between what has manageable chords, and what has a melody I already know (hopefully it fits my vocal range as well). This arrangement of Amazing Grace definitely hits that spot for me.

Then, on Thursday, I brought the UCreate mixer to the weekly hackathon at Lucky Lab. I still had one of the ukulele samples on there from earlier experiments, and Reid whipped up a little drum loop using TweakyBeat (yet another iPhone app, hmm?). Below is the result.

Reid had suggested that the 30 Hour Day recordings (from an awesome no-sleep fundraiser held in December) might produce some interesting clips for remixing, so I took the highlight video, split off some promising bits of music and conversation, and came up with something that makes me laugh (though I can’t speak for anyone else, and it probably helps if you know Rick and Cami, the hosts, personally).

So that’s what my week sounded like. And the future thing: I would’ve killed to be able to do this as a kid, you know? From as early as I knew I could use computers to make things, I wanted to be able to carry the pieces in my backpack, plug the parts together, and have it all just work. These kind of music experiments really highlight for me how we’re there, finally. I sat around at a pub on Thursday and plugged my friend’s phone into a toy mixer so we could manipulate the sound, and it was about as simple as it gets. That’s pretty neat.

We’re All Going to Freeze to Death

The current outside temperature is 26 degrees Fahrenheit. Twenty six. What city is this again?

Nice day in Long Beach

I actually spent most of last week in Long Beach, where it was 70ish and sunny. Not that I got outside much during the day, or even saw a proper beach, because I was busy cramming my head full of iPhone knowledge at a Pragmatic Studio class. I love that kind of intensive workshop format. What better way to learn something than to work on it for enough hours a day that it infects your dreams? (I don’t really know if dreaming about table views means I understand them better, but it was interesting…)

I started working on a Calagator app to show the current day’s events. It currently looks like this:

iPhone Simulator
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Pretty slick, huh? (Kidding, just kidding. It will have real data soon.)

I’m also working on a Life of Audrey 2009 retrospective magazine I’m going to publish through MagCloud. I’ve done a fair amount of writing and photography this year, so I thought it would be fun to compile the highlights into a print object. I’m trying to decide whether to include an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo project. It might be hard to find a section that makes sense on its own and doesn’t need massive amounts of rewriting. But maybe someone will find it entertaining anyhow? Hard to know.

Stay as warm as you can.

Learning iPhone Development

iPhone Simulator
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

I’ve been wanting to try it for a while, but the last few days I’ve actually had time and opportunity to work on iPhone app development. Picking up Objective C has been interesting. I did some C/C++ in college, but never got especially comfortable with it, and since then it’s all been scripting languages. On Reid‘s recommendation I’m working through the Stanford iPhone course materials, and I’m really happy with the pace and progression. I keep waiting for the massively painful moment when I have no idea why my code won’t compile, and it hasn’t happened. This probably has something to do with being a better programmer than I was 10 years ago, but a good curriculum helps too.

We have an iPhone app in progress for a work client, so I’m hoping to pick up some UI tricks I can contribute to that. I’d also like to do a Calagator app, something that tells you what events are happening today, and how to get there. After that? There ought to be a lot I can do with a computer in my pocket, that hasn’t been tried yet. It’ll be fun to explore.

The irony of working with something as closed off as the iPhone platform is not lost on me. Lucas just upgraded from his fairly low-tech Nokia phone to a G1, built on the open source Android system. But I love the iPhone interface, so I’ll be looking for ways I can contribute openness where possible. Maybe someone would like to collaborate on that Calagator phone app with me?

Mobile Magazines

Raaar

I had a series of thoughts that started like this:

Last week, impatient for the new Kindle release, I looked up eBook readers for the iPhone, and found Stanza. I then spent large pieces of my weekend reading the Rifters books (I’m now on the second half of Behemoth), which are available through the Feedbooks catalog under a Creative Commons license.

For a couple days I’ve been thinking about what I like about reading on the iPhone. Part of it is that I can hold the phone at a comfortable angle no matter how I’m sitting or standing, which is something books have over laptops. Stanza also makes it easy to adjust the font and colors to something your eyes find friendly. Plus it’s very portable, letting me read a couple pages here and there in between other things.

Today I started wondering whether anyone is making magazines targeted at mobile devices or ebook readers. It’s not as accessible a format as paper, but one copy costs the same as a thousand, which seems like it should appeal to someone given the current print media meltdown. So I made an iPhone-scale pdf to try it out. It’s sort of Zoobooks crossed with the video @reidab and I are making for Open Source Bridge’s IP5 sponsorship.

I’ve also been reading notes from PaperCamp. That’s why the document is 8 pages long. I think it would be neat to print and fold these like the single-page bookfolding trick used by PocketMod and leave them in random places, the paper artifact linking back to the digital with the QR code on the last page.

Now to figure out what the next one should be about.

Update: There’s now a printable version available. Fold according to the directions here.