Category Archives: Coding

Attack Magazine 10 Best Digital Synths 2015

A Teenage Instruments Pocket Operator
One of the beautiful Pocket Operators and thumbs from Attack Magazine

It looks like Maker culture took off big-style this year, with a set of great digital synth kits out, and the new Roland Aira/System series looking lush. Take a look at a nice rundown of the top 10 digital units over at Attack Magazine :).

Playing with an Arduino

An Arduino and LCD
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

Many moons ago, a young technologist would have perhaps seen the odd sci-fi movie, stared in wonder at a robot of some kind and pondered, “how can I make that?” A short conversation with an elder later, they might have found themselves entrusted with a copy of the Maplin’s catalogue, marvelled at the future hinted at on the cover and leafed through it to be assailed by myriad arcane serial numbers to byzantine artefacts whose purpose could only be guessed. If that young person were very lucky they would have someone to show them at least the first steps on a path towards creating an electronic automaton. The vast majority would however have none of this, as shown by the dearth of Engineers Britain is creating, electronic or otherwise. Fast forward twenty or so years, and the conversation becomes:

Here is an Arduino, contained in this box is everything that you need to know to start creating electronics which could help you understand the world.

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Artists Who Get Paid Don’t Truly Care About The Project

Strange thoughts courtesy of Jeremy Holt a while ago that started a conversation centred on whether paying comic artists upfront for a project would actually reduce their commitment to said project.

Seems slightly wrong-headed to me, and smacks of the mentality peddled by some in the games industry that devs should makes games for the love of the art, whilst those same pedlars were bathing in the lucre wrung from the hard work of the possibly naive but technically gifted developers…

Many cogent comments and thoughts can be found here.

Kids, Computers and a Worrisome Trend

It has been an enlightening experience growing up in Britain during the Information Revolution. Rather than welcome the new paradigm, even the best schools were functionally Luddite and had the odd idea that computers were a fad that would crumble in the light of some pastoral age seeing a return to learning by rote and hockey sticks at dawn. The fruit of this broken attitude resulted in the destruction of Computer Programming as a school course and the move towards I.C.T. which trained children to use a set of applications rather than gift them the skills to roll their own.

There is some truth to be found in expecting that the average consumer experience with computers should enable them to be wielded as smooth functioning tools and not rusty implements that need coaxing to life like some of the original Windows 3.1.1 or Windows 95 installs. Even so, we do need to educate people to the point that they have the curiousity to fix their own technology problems when they occur by providing them with the drive to investigate the information world that they are born into. The flip side of this will see our children left behind by the knowledge workers that other countries have already started producing.

An inability to understand the machines that surround us surfaces in many ways, some of which have been enumerated in a new blog post here.

Procrastinating With Objective-C

One of my TaskFactory procrastination tasks over the last few years involved digitising my small pool of CDs and vinyl and pulling the resulting tracks into iTunes. To reduce the total time cost, part of this involved knocking up a quick and dirty tool to convert tracks with metadata based on naming conventions and directory structure, originally written in C# using the iTunes COM API available from the Apple Developer site. In another burst of procrastination I thought I’d try and craft a version using Objective-C… the original took a couple of hours to research and put together… should be easier with Objective-C right?

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How I Discovered A Love For Test Driven Development… Part 2

In a previous post we covered an introduction to Test Driven Development. In brief it is a process by which a programmer can create simple, automated tests which capture application logic and allow for sections of the code to be continually validated. You can have a read here.

This post aims to give a boot-strap introduction to NUnit and shows how some simple principles could be used to ensure decent coverage for a chosen problem.

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Et Temptationis Bonum… or How I Discovered a Love for Test Driven Development

…so after many days of furious coding the final feature is completed. The quality assurance team have okay’d the change and a gold release candidate is ready to hit the shops. In the meantime some team members tidy up the code, the final master disk is burnt and sent to fabrication plants in some far off land. A few days later, all is good in the world, you’re sitting on a beach somewhere hot with a Cuban cigar and a mojito when a mustachio’d waiter trots up to your sun lounger carrying an inordinately shiny silver platter with a strangely out of place bakelite phone gently ringing. “For you sir…”

There is a problem, we’ve pressed 100,000 DVDs and all of the characters in the game can no longer rotate to the left…

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Parallel Programming with Parallels

I’ve been a Microsoft Windows user for a while, and after some mishaps with traditional Windows laptops ended up migrating to running Windows on a Macbook using Bootcamp. Recently some of my hardware was obsoleted on Windows 7 so I decided to go the whole hog and try OSX for my daily needs with Windows running as a virtual machine through Parallels for any programming tasks needing Visual Studio. After using this setup for a few months, I was surprised by how quickly it ran my compiled programs, I wasn’t noticing the difference in responsiveness that I was expecting so I thought I’d benchmark a known problem so I could get a sense of how fast virtualisation actually was…

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