Friday, December 07, 2012

Two Plus Years Away

It has been a long time since I posted here, mainly because I have been posting in our travel blog instead. Since then, I have changed my phone and changed my programming platform as well. HP bought out Palm and discontinued their line of phones and tablets, so I switched to Android. My current phone is a Pantech Breakout. I got it because it was free when we were able to upgrade, but now I kind of regret that decision. These phones are a little quirky, have limited on-board memory, and, although they work very well for what I need, are kinda cheap. Next time I will do a little more research and get something a bit more suitable to what we use them for.

 As it is, I have converted most of my Palm apps to Android, although I have not put any onto the Google Play Store, other than my free Nixie Tube Clock. Last I looked it had 500+ downloads but I am not getting any funds from it. I had gotten enough funds from Palm to buy an Android Table. I got the Vizio table back when it was one of the least expensive ones out there. Now, for less than I paid for it, I could get a Nexus 16G tablet. As it is, it works fine as well, although I dropped it on the power connector once and now the connector is loose enough that it is not easy to get a connection for charging or for connecting for USB debugging.

 So now we are spending most of our stationary time in Sarasota, FL, at the Sun'N'Fun RV Resort. We found this place back in 2010 and have increase our stay here ever since then. We will be here at least 6 months this season and may not head North until May. Here I play horseshoes, go bowling, play in a guitar jam, and teach beginning guitar. The pool is great, they have lots of entertainment, and we have met lots of people we now consider to be our friends here. Plus, Sarasota has some great beaches, the weather is pleasant (today we had dinner outside at a restaurant and it is December 7th), and there is a great Synagogue nearby we like to attend.

 In about 2 weeks, the Chai Chapter of FMCA is coming here for a rally. It should be a lot of fun, We did this last year and it was well attended. This year, there are even more Jewish RV couples coming. It is after Chanukah, but during Christmas week, so we will probably be going out for Chinese food on Christmas Day.

So, go check out my entries on our travel blog to see what we were up to this Summer. It was quite a trip.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Reborn Programmer

I am having so much fun with my new phone; not because it is a phone (I hardly make any phone calls), but because it is a computing platform opened up to me like no other since the original IBM PC. Right after I started using them at work, in about 1984, I took a course on C programming. Wow, was I hooked. I would wake up in the morning going over the code I had written the day before and debugging it.I could not wait to get my hands on that keyboard.

When I had a Palm Centro, and had written a program for the PC to calculate satellite "look angles" for aiming our DirectV dish, I dug into the Palm OS info just enough to be able to write and deploy one on the phone, and mainly because I wanted to be able to refer to it while out setting up the dish. I had thought about doing it for my Apple iPod Touch, but I needed access to a Mac or some PC emulators to do it and I couldn't be bothered to figure it out. The Palm OS was easy enough and it worked.

When we switched to the Palm Pre Plus, and I found out the OS was completely different, I was a bit dismayed that I would not be able to just port the code over easily. Now I had to learn a whole new programming language and figure out where to get the compiler and all that stuff. It made my head hurt. But I started looking around to see how hard it would be to get going. If nothing else, I would keep the Centro just to run my app.

Then I got started with the SDK and the PDK and Eclipse and worked with a couple of the sample programs to see what was possible. Before I knew it, I was hooked again. The look and feel of the device was similar to the ipod Touch, but with some differences, and it has a real keyboard. I also got into the graphics capabilities a bit and found an icon maker which allowed me to get really creative. They juices were flowing.

Before I knew it, I had not only written the look angles program, but also had ported over a Comic Reader I had on the PC (although the images are a little small for the phone, I can read them on the go as well as at my laptop), and a couple of new programs I had not conceived of on either the PC or the Centro. I was also looking into the Ares, web-based, WYSIWYG designer and coder that Palm had deployed online. It eliminated many of the "hunt and peck" methods of designing and debugging the scenes in webOS.

Now I was looking for more apps to write. I had run out of ideas for a while and spent some time going back and trying to make improvements to the ones I already had when I hit upon Logan's (my older son) beer database program for the Android platform, "Remembeer". I occurred to me to port his app over to webOS. I asked him about it and he said ok. They had already gotten people asking about doing an iPhone version as well.

So I got an android emulator installed and he gave he the installation package for Remembeer and I started duplicating the pages and the look and feel into a webOS app. I have had to learn a whole bunch of new (to me) stuff to duplicate some of the parts (notifications and Twitter postings for two) and am still working out a few of the more esoteric parts of the app. I figure about the time I get it all working, it will be time to implement some of the improvements he will be making to the Android app.

Any way, I love it. I have not had this much fun doing research on a program and working on getting it all right since I added scientific notation and higher math functions to my PC Calc program for DOS and the IBM PC, written in 8088 assembler. I had to pour over library books to find repeating fraction formulas to compute trig and logarithmic functions using the algebraic math available in the PC, pre-floating point calculation hardware. It was very satisfying.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Other victims of 9-11

Lest we forget in our rush to judgement.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Parasite Humor

A guy goes into the doctor's office to find out how to get rid of his tapeworm. The doctor tells him "Come back tomorrow with an apple and a cookie". So he does and the doctor shoves the apple into the patient's anus, waits five minutes and then follows it with the cookie. Then he tells him "Come back tomorrow with an apple and a cookie". So he does and again the doctor  gives him the apple enema and then the cookie enema. This goes on for a week and finally the doctor say "Ok, tomorrow bring in an apple and a hammer". He does and this time the doctor shoves in the apple and waits and when the tapeworm sticks his head out and says "Where's my cookie?", he whacks it with the hammer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

NASCAR Gets Something Right

Change is usually painful. When an institution (to some) like NASCAR (National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing) makes a big change after more than 50 years of doing things pretty much the same, it can really hurt for lots of people. A few years ago, they started working on, what they called at that time, the Car Of Tomorrow. It was done for several reasons: to standardize body templates across the different makes of autos represented by the racing cars (they had not really been “stock” cars since the 60s), to increase driver safety, to make the cars more aerodynamically stable at high speeds, and to try to make cars more affordable to small teams in the sport. Teams didn’t like it, because they had to scrap existing cars and start over with the new design. Fans didn’t like it because the cars looked less like the stock cars they represented and more like “matchbox” cars. But the ruling body did just that; they made the rules.

So, after tweaking stuff for a couple of years and working with some of the bigger teams to get cars built and tested, NASCAR made the new design mandatory last year and all the cars were the new design. I, for one was not happy and even stopped watching most of the races. Besides this change, I had found that watching all the races in a season was taking over my life, so I had decided this was a good reason to cut back.

This year, we were spending February in Florida so I decided it was my chance to finally experience the Daytona 500. I thought I should do it once and we were going to be staying at a campground within 45 minutes of the track. It was worth it. I loved the race, it was very close. No “big one” occurred, and the only real problem was that they had a problem with a section of the track, probably due to heavy rains this winter, which caused two lengthy red-flag periods and made the race go into the night time. It was still a lot of fun and I saw some awesome racing.

During the red-flag periods, they interviewed some of the drivers, as they also did right after the few wrecks which occurred. After having seen those interviews and been able to mull it over a bit, it suddenly occurred to me that there was something profoundly different about the tones of these interviews. There was something missing. The missing part was that none of the drivers complained about how bad it was to drive in a restrictor plate race. It used to be that they were down on how it was so hard to pass and it was just lap after lap of your foot to the floor and cars bouncing all over and everyone just waiting for the “big one” to happen. Jeff Gordon even went so far as to say he thought the racing was exciting, that you were able to pass and really jockey for position, and that the shock packages that NASCAR was making everyone use was part of the reason.

I also noticed that there were a lot of people running up front who normally would not be even close, and the winner was a driver who had not been competitive in a while and who was new to the team he was driving for. And he didn’t win on fuel strategy of the luck of staying out and then hitting a rain storm. He one it by racing hard, persistence, and being competitive at the end of the race. By golly, I think the changes that NASCAR made to the cars has actually helped the sport be more fun to watch. Wow, that is great.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Why I say "Two Thousand Ten"

Ok so which is it, "Two Thousand Ten" or "Twenty Ten"? If I look back at the previous century, I always said "Nineteen" something, mainly because I had always heard it that way. My theory for why that was done is because, at the turn of the 20th century, the natural thing to call 1900 was "Nineteen Hundred". Therefore, the natural thing to call 1901, etc. was "Nineteen One". However, when the 21st century arrived, 2000 was called "Two Thousand", not "Twenty Hundred". After calling the year "Two Thousand" for an entire year, it became natural to follow that up with "Two Thousand One". This makes it difficult to break this habit and start calling the years by another name. Perhaps somewhere down the line, maybe by the teens, it may become more natural to use "Twenty" something but I am continuing with "Two Thousand ...". So there.

Monday, January 04, 2010