Coding Posts Have Moved

NebyooBlog has been fun to maintain and style, mainly due to the easiness of WordPress. However, the cycle of coding has swung around back to “I need to learn how to code in my free time” again. Thus, I’ve gotten more serious about personal development in many fashions, and created a new site to focus on that. If you’d like to continue reading about my own journey through codin’, be it Ruby or Xcode or C#, then check out Codana.me.

If I get ambitious enough, I may move any and all development-related posts to this new site. For now, there’s a few entries to read already, with more to come soon.

New coding interest (for now): Lita handlers

My friend Jimothy L. Quadratic made something pretty neat a while ago: Lita (a chat bot). He surpassed me in coding ability and interest a long time ago, and has been progressively making a name for himself on the Internet with all sorts of projects besides Lita, too, but his chat bottery seems to have garnered the most attention thus far.

Lita is written in Ruby, something I’ve tinkered with in the past (like many programming languages). I tried to get a working Ruby on Rails personal project beyond the simple boilerplate, but never followed completely through (Railsbridge, notwithstanding). I’ve written test scripts in Ruby, and I’ve played around in IRB for a while. But until now, I’ve never really made something in Ruby. It’s a small something, but it’s not nothing.

What am I talking about? First of all, check out lita-crazycaps. It’s a handler for Lita, which is basically a plugin that extends its behavior, giving it a new “command”, per se. Mine just takes a string of text and randomly alternates the capitalization of it, turning it into an illegible mess. Not super useful, but something to use as a foundation for any other ideas I come up with.

Thankfully for me, Lita has a great built-in template for new handlers that creates all the files you need to make it work (and test it). Even someone like me, who is not particularly experienced in Ruby, can make one that does some simple string manipulation. And so I did. And now I kinda want to make more :-D

New coding project: Utter

I’ve used say.app off and on for many years to play around with the OSX say command, and grab the occasional text-as-audio file for various projects. It’s the quickest and easiest way to get speech in digital audio form via a GUI on a Mac that I know of (awfully specific, but still useful!).

Unfortunately, say.app never got beyond beta status (still works fine) and hasn’t been maintained since 2006(!). Furthermore, I’ve wanted a coding project to tinker with and Xcode was looking lonely, so I thought to myself “I should make a better say.app!”.

Since there’s no source code available, I just dug into the Speech Synthesis API and built (most of) it from scratch. I call it Utter because it’s a synonym for “say”, it’s short, it’s memorable, and it’s kind of silly (and I couldn’t find anyone else using it in my short Google search). There is some functionality from the original application I haven’t sussed out yet, but the guts are there and functional. I even made a minor adjustment so that when you choose to save the audio to a file, it will still play through the speakers at the same time (say.app is silent when saving to a file). I plan to add additional functionality as I figure out how to harness the speech synthesis system better.

Furthermore, now there will be a modern, public repository for such an application that anyone can see and build upon. I’m still a pretty novice Objective-C programmer, so I’m sure my code can be improved, and putting it on Github seems to be the way you put yourself out there and get better nowadays.

A Short Story About a Piano

 

Piano

Steinberg & Sons upright piano, inherited from the in-laws

Due to the unexpected relocation of my wife’s parents from a house they’ve lived in for more than 38 years, a piano’s fate left hanging in the balance. Moving a piano is a pain, and they didn’t really play it much anymore, especially since my brother-in-law, the prime pianist of the household, was moving out into a small apartment where there was little space for such a large piece of playable furniture. I’d tinkered with it here and there on visits and knew it to be a nice little musical instrument, the kind I’d longed to have in my musical collection for over a decade, but didn’t want to spend the money or get into the hassle of getting one into our house.

However, this was a unique opportunity to get one for free (plus non-free moving costs), and keep a cherished artifact in the family. Thus, a deal was made: we figure out how to get it to our place, and it would be ours. A few phone calls later and another arrangement was cast with a local piano moving company who said they’d do the job. One fateful Saturday morning that very same company did just as they said they’d do. It only took a few hours, and the source and destination locations were pretty easy to maneuver around in (our place required tipping the piano vertically for a short period of time, though). And now we have an upright piano in our downstairs bedroom amongst the guitars and basses and violins.

I still can’t quite believe it when I look over from my desk. We have a piano! Now to actually learn to play it better than a novice.

State of the Michael v.2.0.1.4.0.4.0.2

AT THE TOP OF THE HOUR

Maybe I missed them, but were there any good April Fool’s Day jokes this year? Whether you call them pranks or practical jokes or whatever, I’m a fan of the ones that are not actually harmful or annoying towards people, but more like a slight tweak on satire. Regardless, I remember years past having some good ones on the Internet, but none come to mind this time.

DOMESTICITY

My wife and I and her parents took a trip recently up to Mammoth Mountain, land of tall hills, slippery slopes, and bruised egos. Before this recent trip, I had only skied a few times before, so I was a little nervous about whether I could still do it. Like riding a bike, the ability returned to me, but not without falling a few times on the hard, cold incline of an intermediate run. Soreness aside, I went down a few dozen runs the few days we were there and it was basically a blast. It even snowed the night before (and day of) our exit, which was nice to watch.

Magnets may be difficult to explain, but their effectiveness is easy to see. We added three of them to our house via two new door stops and one new front screen door. Now, when we need to hold a door open to the garage when bringing in groceries, we don’t have to kick down the old-timey doorstop (that ceased to stay up a few months ago, resulting in the use of another great invention: duct tape). Our front door can now also be open during the warmer times, letting a cool breeze waft in without also allowing nature’s creatures to join us inside.

GAMING

Shadowrun Returns came out with a new expansion called Dragonfall and it was pretty cool. More of the same kind of thing, really, but it was lengthy and had an interesting core set of characters to learn about as the fighting and terrible inventory system went on. Seriously, though: I love the game and the world-building, but the inventory is just weird and doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why can’t I just have access to all my items at any time and transfer them between characters when I want to? This needs to be fixed.

While I mainly play games that are done and released, I tried out game testing for a local game company for the first time with my wife. Obviously I can’t discuss what went on or what we tested, but the experience was very novel, from the place where it happened to the way we tested. I’d love to do it again!

MUSICKING

Sometimes games in development don’t actually get made, and the soundtrack you wrote for them many, many months ago don’t actually end up in the game that doesn’t get made. To be more specific, a game I wrote music for is looking like it won’t actually come out, but I’m not mad. It’s tough to make a project work, especially when you’re short-staffed. The learning process and experience gained is still worthwhile. That, and the music I made is still pretty dear to my heart, and I think I’m going to release it on the intarwebs for anyone else who might be interested in listening. Look for that soon.

Oh, and I got a new MIDI controller to replace the used one I bought a while ago that went on the fritz. It has double the keys (plus one!) and was a pretty cheap deal, but reviews say I didn’t get swindled. We’ll see when I finally get it set up.

And, yeah…I’m still working on Dumeh.

READING

Amazon apparently lost some class-action lawsuit about price fixing, so I got some scratch back from them. In the email, there was a link to a book by James Dashner called “The Maze Runner“. I had seen an article about the movie version just before seeing the link, so it made sense to spend some of this “free” money on the book version. Turns out it was a good choice, because I’m hooked. Immediately bought the sequel once I finished it, and then the sequel to the second one when I finished it. It’s pretty squarely in the Ender’s Game/Hunger Games/YA-ish fiction realm (the URL for the book above puts it into the /teens subdirectory, so there ya go), but it’s fun and quick and engaging. Also, I’m reading novels.

CODING

Puppy Bongos, the ad-hoc development team I’m on, has been working on a standing desk app for a while, and it’s basically done, but still needs some more polish. I’m really ready to finish it up and start on something new.

MEDIA

How I Met Your Mother ended this week. The finale, after 9 long years, was a doozy. The cleverness of it undercut the emotional resonance, largely due to how long it had been on. It’s gotta be tough for a show to write something so long form when they don’t if they’ll even make it past a couple seasons. Regardless, there are some really angry people on the Internet right now. I don’t know if it was the ending I wanted, but it was the ending they thought we deserved.

MISCELLANEOUS

Speaking of which, I just listened to Josh Radnor on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. He seems like a nice, down-to-earth guy, kind of like his character on HIMYM, but less obsessively romantic and douchey. There was a neat moment when I was driving, listening to the episode, when a rainbow appeared in the sky. It happened at the same time that they were discussing spirituality, and it seemed poignant enough to tweet about. I’d never followed Josh, nor ever tweeted about him, and yet it still got favorited by Mr. Radnor not long after posting it! It’s a weird world we live in, folks.

Also, speaking of podcasts, I love Game Grumps/Steam Train. They are my favorite video podcast that I can just as easily enjoy by listening to in the background. Whatever game they’re playing is never as entertaining as the commentary amongst the Grumps.