Thursday, February 28, 2008

Try on them Shoes

Shoes is a tiny toolkit for doing graphics and windowing. I'm getting familiar with it and plan on using it to teach programming to my kids. It's written in Ruby, my favorite programming language.

Shoes is one of the wacky and wonderful things brought to you by _why the lucky stiff.

For the most unusual guide to programming in Ruby, see _why's Poignant Guide to Ruby.

BTW, if you want a copy of the fun Nobody Knows Shoes book you can order it from Lulu.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Double click iPhone Home Button

Did you know that if you double click the iPhone home button, it will take you where you want to go? I have mine set to go to the iPod music controls. This makes it easy to pause, play, or skip a song even when the iPhone is locked.

You can change this setting under the Settings/Home Button menu. My wife's phone is set to go to the phone favorites. She almost never uses her phone to listen to music, so going to the favorites menu makes more sense.

NPR does GTD

I've been a fan of GTD (Getting Things Done) for a while now. NPR has a story on GTD and why it's attractive to geeks. If you feel you're getting overwhelmed with all the stuff you have to do, give it a try.

My favorite GTD tip is how do deal with email. Keep your inbox empty. I have two main folders, Action and Archive. Action is the stuff that I need to deal with. This is where I go when I'm ready to get some stuff done. Archive is anything I feel like keeping but don't need to deal with actively anymore. The idea is to process your inbox to empty anytime you decide to do email. First, if a message takes less than 2 minutes to deal with, do it right then. Don't go to the next email message, don't skip down to that Dilbert cartoon. Either deal with it straight away or file it. File it in your Action folder so you can act on it later, delete it, or file it in the Archive folder in case it contains information you might look at later, probably using your email's search feature.

BTW, the NPR media player works pretty well, even here in remote Vietnam.

Monday, February 18, 2008

iPhone Edge for Mobifone

If you feel like using your iPhone with Mobifone SIM card and you want to access the Internet using Mobifone and not just WiFi networks, you'll have to activate GPRS data access with Mobifone and change the Edge settings on your iPhone.

First, send the SMS message GPRS to +994. You should get a response that says:

Thong tin them: Neu Sim cua ban chua duoc mo dich vu GPRS hay soan tin han voi noi dung DK GPRS va gui den 994de mo dich vu.
Then send another SMS message, this time DK GPRS, to +994. I received two follow up messages, both in Vietnamese of course, which I won't transcribe here. Basically you just need to wait a while. For me it started working the next day.

Now to change the settings on the iPhone. Go to the Settings/General/Network/Edge menu. You need to change APN, Username, and Password to the following settings.
APN: m-wap
Username: mms
Password: mms

Also make sure that Data Roaming is ON. This is under the Settings/General/Network menu.
After that, you should be good to go. I have found the Mobifone network to be pretty reliable. It's great to be able to use the Internet when I'm away from WiFi hotspots.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Heroku Does Rails

I just got my beta access to Heroku. These guys have a really nice web interface for building Ruby on Rails applications. The backend is built on top of Amazon's EC2 and S3 infrastructure. I love the fact that they handle all of the mucking around that you need to do to get EC apps up and running. I have a feeling I'm going to be using Heroku a lot more in the coming months, assuming I can put up with the poor access times to EC2 from Vietnam.

Stay tuned for more details.

(If you want access, I seem to have a few invites along with my beta account. Just leave a comment and I'll see what I can do.)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Adding Inline Comments with Blogger

I've been a bit annoyed with the fact that Blogger doesn't support inline comments. I ran across this great site, Blogger Buster, that has all kinds of tips for using Blogger.

First I tried the hack for adding a favicon. Which you should see now on my blog.

I've also enabled inline comments using this tip from Bloger Buster.

I've added inline comments using this on both Hacker Class and Saigon Files. Being a bit anal, I took the original template code and checked it into my SVN repository before making the changes. It also makes it simple to see the differences in the code. It's not a lot, as you can see in the diff above.

So give it a go, try commenting on my blog and see how it works.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Airport Lounge WiFi

On our recent trip back from the US our flight was delayed for quite a while due to high winds in San Francisco. As a result, we spent a few hours chilling in the United Red Carpet Club. My daughter is becoming well versed in these things and is always bummed when we're stuck in a T-Mobile hotspot. She knows that we're not going to be able to get on the Internet when it's T-Mobile. It just irks me to pay for wifi service, especially at the Red Carpet Club since I've already paid for membership. It seems like an insult that they don't have free WiFi. Even the $10 a night hotels in Vietnam include free wifi!

While in the lounge I overheard the guy behind me saying that he got a prepaid card for Internet access. I decided to give it a try. I went back up to the desk and asked for complimentary wifi access. The United employee manning the desk was happy to give me a one day prepaid card. He even gave me one for my daughter. She decided to keep hers for next time. I was about to use mine when, after a three hour delay, they called our flight. Luckily I hadn't activated my prepaid card.