Tag Archives: Computer

Stuff from my Old Hard Drive

I don’t usually keep a lot of files around. When I get a new computer I don’t tend to copy all my documents across – anything I haven’t looked at for a couple of months is probably not worth the fraction of a millimetre it takes up on the platter. On the other hand, some things I can never bring myself to delete. Here is something I rediscovered the other day:

This is one of the first MODs I wrote back on the Amiga. I never had a sampler or a very large collection of instruments, but I loved mucking around with MED trying to get a pleasant sound out of the 4 channel 8-bit sound. It is often said that there is a lot of crossover between programming and music, and the soundtracker clones of the 90s made that explicit which is possibly why I enjoyed it so much. Now days I can fire up GarageBand any time I want with any number of sampled instruments. I could say that I regret not having the time to produce music as an adult but the truth is that the inspiration isn’t there any more – my interests have moved in other directions.

Although none of my MODs ever sounded anything like as good as the music from the games and demos of the time, I am still pretty pleased with this one. It must date from form 6 (I was 16) which makes it vintage 1991. Listen to the sound of 20 years ago…

Jungle Drums MP3
Jungle Drums OGG

A Better Boost Book

Boost is a excellent resource for C++ programming, but suffers from inconsistent documentation and a daunting array of sub-projects. Trying to make sense of it all is a fairly serious undertaking. I tried to get my head around it by writing my occasional series of boost blog posts, but now I see that somebody has done a much better job.

The Boost C++ Libraries is a free book that clearly explains some of the more generally useful boost libraries, with lots of useful examples. It even covers advanced libraries like ASIO in an approachable way. I highly recommended bookmarking it if you do any C++ programming.

UIButton.titleLabel is not as useful as it looks

I have been doing some iPhone development lately. Nothing too amazing, just some test apps to get a feel for the system. Now, some people will tell you that Cocoa Touch is an API sent from God and frankly it is pretty good (especially given what passes for UI on other embedded devices), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some annoyances.

Here is something that tripped me up for a while. The UIButton class has a property called titleLabel which (obviously) returns the UILabel that is used to display the text of the button. You can use this property to modify the parameters of the label, like so:

m_addButton.titleLabel.font = [UIFont systemFontOfSize: 7];
m_addButton.titleLabel.textColor = [UIColor blackColor];		 
m_addButton.titleLabel.textAlignment = UITextAlignmentRight;

What you can’t do is this:

m_addButton.titleLabel.text = @"Add Stuff";

Although nothing I have found in the documentation says so, the text of the button cannot be set from the titleLabel property. What you have to do is this:

[m_addButton setTitle:@"Add Stuff" forState: UIControlStateNormal];

Setting the title this way works, and has the advantage that you can specify different text for different states:

[m_addButton setTitle:@"Add Stuff" forState: UIControlStateNormal];
[m_addButton setTitle:@"Add Stuff (not now)" forState: UIControlStateDisabled];

This is perhaps not that interesting for text titles, but is an excellent way to control the image the button shows based on whether the button is enabled, highlighted, and/or selected.

How to change the dictionary in MacOSX

I love MacOSX, and one of the best features is the almost ubiquitous built-in dictionary. So it is surprising that I after 3 years I have only just now discovered how to switch the dictionary from the default American English to British spellings. For some reason this is not part of the normal System Preferences pane, nor does setting your region or system language have any effect on spelling. I knew there had to be a way, but could never find the trick until today.

In case anyone else is having the same problem, here is what you have to do:

  1. Open an application that supports the in-built dictionary (pretty much anything except for Firefox). If in doubt use TextEdit.
  2. Right click on a text input area and select Spelling and Grammar -> Show Spelling and Grammar from the menu. Alternatively, the same menu option is available from the Edit menu.
  3. Select the dictionary you want from panel that pops up. Although the panel looks like part of the application you are using changes to the settings here apply across the entire OS.
  4. Enjoy the sensation of spelling words with lots of silent letters just like Queen Elizabeth II and God.


A game rated arrrr! Monkey Island Returns (updated)

The Secret of Monkey Island consumed a lot of my time back in the day, it is one of the best (and funniest) games ever produced. I have wondered for a while now why some of the old adventure games haven’t been dusted off and republished for the new consoles – the Wii in particular seems well suited to the genre. It seems somebody has had the same idea:

That’s the second biggest monkey head I’ve ever seen!

Update: Ron Gilbert, the author of Monkey Island, has posted a very interesting “director’s commentary” for the original Monkey Island.