Tip and tricks for learning a new code base

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As a consultant, approaching new code bases is something that happens every day. As exciting as it sounds however, working on many different projects can be really tough. This is because in many occasions we are not provided with all the details that we need, but we just requested to fix something that is broken.

What makes these tasks difficult is that the data and code structures can be very large and not very intuitive. Also, it might not be clear who holds the knowledge on them, or in some cases the knowledge can be even lost; for example being held by people who left the company.

Is iOS Dying?

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ios7 logo

Apple and Steve Jobs started the smart phone revolution. Just 7 short years ago we had the first iPhone, a technical marvel in its day. The craftsmanship of not only the device but also the iOS operating system was a thing to behold. Apple continued with its excellence in both hardware and software design for years. Unfortunately, the wild ride has ended, at least for the moment. While the hardware has kept up relatively well (although there is not a heck of a lot of innovation), the iOS operating system has, sadly, regressed.

Filedart 1.0 Released

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Filedart

Today we launched a new productivity app for Mac OS called Filedart (filedart.com). Filedart allows users to share files and screenshots in seconds. Drag a file or take a screenshot and your file is on the cloud. A URL is instantly in your clipboard, ready to be pasted into chat windows, emails, or sharing tools. On the receiving end, users click on the URL link to access the file or image in their browser. No sign in or registration is required.

This isn’t a new concept, but we think we’ve done it better. We intentionally kept the feature set minimal, focusing on design and usability. As we developed the tool, we made frequent use of Filedart for collaboration. We darted screenshots of the product page, various iterations, of the logo, nightly builds, and marketing strategies. It quickly became apparent that we were settling into a new way of working. After a few tosses, using Filedart becomes as intuitive and natural as Copy/Paste. While you don’t need Copy/Paste to work on a Mac, most of us would hate to go without. Filedart starts to feel the same way.

In terms of privacy, we don’t request user data and promise not to peek at your files. We don’t know who you are, and we are not interested in snooping. Ultimately we hope that the tool we created is useful, reliable, and secure.

We would love to hear your feedback on how to make Filedart better – just email us at feedback@filedart.com. Happy darting!

Brad

In search of a better Image Optimizer

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Web users never like to wait for a website to load. As a software company, a long wait time can result in losing potential clients. One of the tricks that can speed up the loading of your website is the optimization of your images. There are several free tools that you can use for this. Here are five that I recommend.

Of Darts and Buckets

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Web Services

Recently, I had the opportunity to work on an exciting in-house project for Grio called Filedart.  This service, which will launch in the near future, affords the denizens of the web the ability to effortlessly upload content to the cloud by dragging photos or files to a small icon in their taskbar.  After the file is uploaded by the client, the service automatically copies a mini-fied URL to the client’s clipboard.  This URL leads to a brand-new, public web hosting wrapper for that file that they can easily distribute to their friends of colleagues to share.  The service is free, and users don’t even have to log-in to use it.

Defining Software Quality

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Here at Grio we strive to constantly improve the quality of our software. But what exactly does that mean?  Is there a way to measure software quality?  What are the metrics?  What are the tools needed for this endeavor?

We ☠ Eclipse

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Over the years, I’ve used a variety of editions of Eclipse with a variety of plugins. These days I try and minimize all of that and ask Eclipse to do as little as possible as infrequently as plausible. The below is a diary of sorts of the events that led to that choice.

A selection of ways Eclipse has failed me:

  • It lies about custom key bindings being set, doesn’t actually set them despite indicating it has, and stores the bindings in the robust and never problematic Java-properties+XML standard format resulting in configuration files that look like this:


    eclipse.preferences.version=1
    org.eclipse.ui.commands=<?xml version\="1.0" encoding\="UTF-8"?>\n<org.eclipse.ui.commands>\n<activeKeyConfiguration keyConfigurationId\="org.eclipse.ui.emacsAcceleratorConfiguration"/>\n<keyBinding commandId\="org.eclipse.jdt.ui.edit.text.java.search.references.in.project" contextId\="org.eclipse.ui.contexts.window" keyConfigurationId\="org.eclipse.ui.emacsAcceleratorConfiguration" keySequence\="COMMAND+SHIFT+V"/>\n<keyBinding commandId\="org.eclipse.ui.window.previousPerspective" contextId\="org.eclipse.ui.contexts.window" keyConfigurationId\="org.eclipse.ui.emacsAcceleratorConfiguration" keySequence\="ALT+COMMAND+CTRL+ARROW_LEFT"/>\n</org.eclipse.ui.commands>
    overridepresentation=true

    Normally I could care less what format software stores its config files in, but despite the braindead format I’ve still had better luck editing this file by hand than trying to get Eclipse to handle it correctly. If your config file format is too error-prone for your software to handle, maybe it’s time for a change.

The basics of Cocos2d

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Recently I started work on an iOS game. I decided not to use the Core Animations framework provided by Apple and instead experiment with some third party game engines. I chose Cocos2D as it is an all in one package. It gives you the ability to add and control sprites, add cool graphics and animations, access to a sound engine and also 2 physics libraries.

Create an HTML Signature Including Image Links in Mac Mail (OS10.8)

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You might imagine that this subject would be rather straight forward and hardly worthy of an article of any sort.  Unfortunately, you would indeed be imagining.  Adding an HTML signature to Mac Mail is not as simple as pasting the html directly into the signature field of the client like in Gmail or Outlook.  With Apple Mail pasting HTML or images directly into the signature field just doesn’t work very well. In fact, the process for setting an html signature with images in mac Mail is remarkably un-Mac-like.

Facebook Photo Picker for Android

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Select Album Screen

On a recent project, we needed a widget that would allow users to select a photo from their Facebook albums. “Surely the new Facebook Android SDK must support this.” I thought. Alas, my hopes were unfulfilled. “Well, I bet there is a third-party solution for this!”, I surmised, but again, my search was for naught. At this point I decided to roll up my sleeves and do it myself.