All posts tagged Work

Silicon Milkroundabout

Today I went to a very interesting event with a very silly name… Silicon Milkroundabout, held in the Bar Music Hall in Shoreditch.

I’d only heard about the event a couple of days before from a post to the London Android mailing list, and wasn’t really sure what to expect, but as I didn’t have anything much else on I thought I’d pop along and take a look around.

What I found was quite an exciting mix of startups and well established names all pitching to a packed bar, full of developers of all types and skill levels, in the hope of filling a wide range of vacancies. Everyone from Last.fm to MindCandy were there, along with a whole bunch of smaller teams still in stealth mode and there was a really good buzz going around. Everyone was very friendly, and I talked to several others who had just popped along to check it out like me and everyone agreed it was far more exciting than they had expected.

I think it was a great event overall, and I don’t think I’ve been to one quite like it before. It had a real feeling that, after the last few crappy years, things are starting to pick up in the UK tech world and the money and funding (and therefore jobs and interesting work) are starting to appear again.

And possibly the best thing about it… they’d gone to great pains to ensure there were no spiky haired recruitment consultants there, only companies with positions to fill and people with the skills to fill them.

Well done to the guys at Songkick for organising it, and lets hope it’s the start of something regular.

Native Android OGL Game Libraries : 3 of the best

I’ve spent the last few weeks scouting out Android libraries to help write native games in OpenGL, and I’ve come up with what I think are 3 of the best, all aimed at different levels or types of developers…
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Change vs Click in the Flex 3 DataGrid

(related to a tip I found, but for Flex 3 and my own memory…)

In Flex3 you can be notified of changes to selections in your datagrid from using listeners to either the ‘click’ or ‘change’ events, the difference being that if you only listen for click events you won’t be notified when the user navigates or selects with the keyboard (obvious, but confused me for a bit). This seems a shame given Flex’s pretty good handling of keyboard navigation, so unless you only want mouse click events use a ‘change’ handler as standard.

Using a Click Handler:

<mx:DataGrid id="DG1" click="clickHandler(event)"/>
<mx:Script>
  public function clickHandler(event:MouseEvent):void
  {
      someControl.text = event.currentTarget.selectedItem.someDataField;
  } 
</mx:Script>

Using a Change Handler:

<mx:DataGrid id="DG2" change="changeHandler(event)"/>
<mx:Script>
  public function changeHandler(event:Event):void
  {
      someControl.text = event.target.selectedItem.someDataField;
  } 
</mx:Script>

The joys of regex

So a couple of days ago someone (forgotten who though, sorry!) put up an interesting post about using Regex (Regular Expressions) in Eclipse to save you loads of repetative typing. As a follow up I thought I’d show a real life example of using regex that just saved me a whole heap of laborious grunt work.

The problem

A client asked me to update the images on a site I’m building for them. The image details are all in a simple xml file with some details and a link to the image file, e.g…

<images>
<image file="img1.jpg"><client>Foobar</client><by>Someone</by></image>
<image file="img2.jpg"><client>Barfoo</client><by>Somebody Else</by></image>
...
</images>

The client however supplied me with a text doucument that looked something like…

1. Foobar/Someone
2. Barfoo/Somebody Else
....

…and a bunch of jpeg files that had been named to match the document, so they were actually called ’1. Foobar_Someone.jpg’ etc and needed to be renamed for safe use on the web (I never like having mixed case and spaces in web filenames).

Now as there were around 80 of these files it could have been a long and boring ‘rename & save’ job, then a whole bunch of cutting and pasting, so instead I used Eclipse and Perl’s regex powers.

Eclipse solution

The first thing I did was load the text file in Eclipse, then hit CTRL + F for the find & replace dialogue and checked the ‘Regular Expressions’ box. In the ‘find’ box I put

^(\d*)\. (.*)/(.*)$

This is a fairly simple pattern match using the braces to capture matching ‘groups’ that we can use later. Taking it from the begining…

  • the ^ character matches the start of a line, the (\d*) matches the first numbers
  • the \. matches a litteral dot (the slash is an escape character as the dot normally means match anything)
  • It may be hard to see here, but there’s then a space which we ignore
  • the (.*)/(.*) matches the two groups of words around the slash
  • and the $ matches the end of the line

Then in the replace box I put

<image file="img$1.jpg"><client>$2</client><by>$3</by></image>

The dollar+number means use the contents of capture group n, so you can see I’m simply ‘pasting’ the captured bits in the correct places.

Then just hit ‘replace all’ and job done!
(Hint: You can also use CTRL+SPACE in the find & replace input boxes to remind you of the regex syntax)

Perl solution

Of course I still needed to rename all the files, so next I used the ‘rename’ command. I’m working on Linux, but I believe ‘rename’ comes as part of Perl, so it should be somewhere on your system and work the same no matter what platform.

The syntax for the rename command is…

rename perlexpr [ files ]

…and basically runs the regular expression ‘perlexpr’ on the filename of all files matching [files]. The expression I used here is…

rename -v 's/(d*)\..*/img$1.jpg/' *.jpg

The regular expression is the messy looking bit inside the inverted commas, and it’s matching all the .jpg’s in the folder. Again taking the regex from the top…

  • The “s” means substitute. The syntax is s/old/new/ — substitute the old with the new
  • The (d*) captures the intial number in the filename
  • The \. matches a litteral dot
  • The .* matches anything else after it
  • We then discard all the other crap apart from the captured number, and use it in the substituted filename.

(Hint: more info : http://tips.webdesign10.com/how-to-bulk-rename-files-in-linux-in-the-terminal)

Conclusion

Well it’s taken me a hell of a lot longer to write this post than it did to rename all those files, I wouldn’t like to guess how long it would have taken by hand but I’m sure it was much easier this way.

Try bit of regex yourself, you just might like it! :)

Will it blend…?

So, intrigued by some of the stuff I saw @ FOTB I’ve been playing a little with the latest beta of Microsoft’s Expression Blend and trying to get my head around what exactly it does and how.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of info or tutorials around at the moment (other than the few that come with it and a couple of handy ones @ ExpressionBlend.com), so I’ve been pretty much making it up as I go along. The result of my first little expriments is this simple analog clock app…

blend_clock.jpg

As I don’t really know if I’m doing this the right way, and to perhaps help others just starting, I’ve made a video walkthough of the creation of the clock and put the source code up for you to have a look at, if anyone knows a ‘better’ way of making this please comment (sorry about the bored cockney voiceover, it’s scary hearing myself speak! :) )

(Edit – just noticed the right click pop-ups don’t show up in the video, sorry about that, must be a Camtasia issue. I’ll try to fix it if I do another video)

UPDATE – 31/01/07 -
Due to popular demand (well, errr, Roger anyway :) ) the video is now available as a downloadable WMV also. Enjoy.

expressionblend.com for expression blend tutorials, xaml demo, wpf info