Most recent posts


There’s a pretty good easy-listening guitar-based album from Dominic Miller called Shapes. He’s been working with Sting for a long time, and one of the tracks on the album is an extremely good re-recording of Sting’s Shape of my Heart song. All well and good as a recommendation, but what’s this got to do with anything? Bear with me…

Three or four years ago, I bought a third-party add-on for the stereo in my car to allow it to play music from my iPhone. It’s not just a audio link, but using it you can pause and skip tracks. In essence, the add-on fools the stereo into thinking that the iPhone is a CD. Personally, I use it most of all for Pandora to use it as a radio station lookalike, but without the ads. Playing music I like.

All well and good,  but when I plug the phone in and start the car, the stereo immediately starts playing the last “CD” it knew about, which is of course, the add-on/iPhone fakery. The problem for me is the iPhone defaults to the Music app, not Pandora. It also so happens that the Music app starts playing – ready for this? – the first track in alphabetical order of all the tracks on my phone. I have to change the app playing music to Pandora again.

So what does this have to do with Dominic Miller’s Shapes album? Well, I bought it through iTunes. It’s in the Music app, along with a few playlists. The first alphabetical track on my phone is the second track on that album: Adagio in G minor, by Albinoni, as interpreted on the guitar. Let me tell you I am now thoroughly and heartily sick of this friggin’ tune. I’ve tried removing it from the iPhone; because it’s an iTunes purchase, it creeps back in. The intro to this track is now enough to make me scream, and I do.

It got to the point where I went online to try and find an answer. Let me put it like this: there’s a whole bunch of people out there who have the same problem. I am vindicated in my anger; I am not alone. All without a real solution, until I came across a hint on Reddit: record or (better) download a track that is just silence, rename it to AAAAAAAAA to make sure it appears first in the Music app’s alphabetical list and then worry no more. You’ll have plenty of time (and silence) to unlock the phone, switch apps to Pandora (or whatever you listen to) and get on with your drive and your life.

Yep, a first-world problem, but the solution is absolutely magic.

Now playing:
Alexander Volosnikov - Days That Passed
(from The Best of Chillout Producer: Alexander Volosnikov)

Thankful for something - banner

Scam HTTP_REFERER problem

My wife has a small blog for her hobby. I am, for my sins, her IT guy for it. She posts to it about once a week, maybe twice, and of course, after every post there’s a small uptick in views. All nice and normal. About a couple of months ago, I began to notice something weird happening. There was one post in particular that was getting 50-75% of all the views per day. There was nothing too striking about the post itself, but we laughed it off, imagining that it was obviously remarkable enough that...


Beware standards: a JSON story

Actually it’s more like a couple of little cautionary tales in one. If you’re a developer, I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept of JSON, a very simple data format used for transferring data from computer to computer, from application to application. So simple in fact, it’s pretty much replaced XML as the way to transfer some data over the internet. It was first invented by Douglas Crockford as a natural extension of his work with JavaScript, with the name standing for “JavaScript Object Notation...


404 reporting

Scripted hacks One of the widget plug-ins I use in this blog is one that gathers the URLs people use to access content here and that result in a 404 Not Found error. Those erroneous URLs get logged and, as admin, I can view them through the widget’s UI. The widget was written by an old mate, Scott Cate, for the GriffitiCMS blog engine (sorry, “CMS” engine), which is what I use here. He gave me the code a couple of years back and I’ve extended it a little to be able to clear the logs of the 404 errors...


Updating to Macbook Air to macOS Sierra

Despite being, essentially, a Windows developer, I do own a Mac, specifically a mid-2013 MacBook Air. I use it … occasionally, let us say, mostly for iOS development. One day, there may be more to it, but that relaxed rationale is about it for now. Anyway, Apple just released macOS Sierra , the latest operating system for Macs (they’ve moved from the OS X name to macOS to match their taxonomy for iOS and watchOS). For my own purposes I wanted to quickly note how I did it, since every time I try this...


Making a stack persistent or immutable

A while ago I wrote a book on algorithms and data structures, in my case for Delphi. It’s still on sale , but regrettably somewhat out of date, given the changes to the language in the last 15 years (I’m thinking of the new support for generics in particular). While on my vacation over the last couple of weeks I started thinking about writing a new series of blog posts on data structures, and what easier than updating the book into a new generics-capable one? There was one drawback: I haven’t done...


Free open source comes with a cost

In my blog post “ Thoughts on open source ” I ended cryptically with But be aware that just because they’re “free” doesn’t mean that the cost to use them is zero. Let me expand a little on this with especial regard to JavaScript libraries. What exactly is a cost associated with an open source library? When is it not free? I’ll compare this with buying a library from a component vendor, such as DevExpress , the company I work for. For a kick-off, an open source library certainly...


It lasted just over a year

Back in June 2015, I got my (replacement) CST-01, “the world’s thinnest watch”. I wrote about it at the time , mainly because of the stupendous crash-and-burn that the Kickstarter for it turned out to be. The watch is a lovely thing, to be sure. Well, I am sorry to report that, this weekend, after just 14 months of ownership, recharging every five to six weeks or so, the battery has now completely died. The watch only works if it’s plugged into the power charger. Unplug it, and the watch just shows...


Thoughts on open source

Waaaay back when (yes, it was eight years ago, an eternity in software development), I wrote a post on my old blog about using “ Code from the Internet ”. In those days, for me and my readers that meant finding some C# code from some blog post somewhere out there written by some Joe Blow and using it in your own app. These days however, if you’re doing any kind of web development, you’re going to be pretty well using a whole bunch of code from the internet, and in general from that internet outpost...


New theme for old blog

A while back, well after I’d purchased the current theme for this blog , I ran across another great responsive theme on someone else’s blog (unfortunately I never made a note of whose it was, so can’t credit them). The theme is called Selfy and I’d have to say it’s pretty clean and simple. So I bought it in order that I could change the admittedly awful self-designed theme on my old blog. I’m no designer is all I will say. OK, fine, the old theme was rank, and I don’t want to talk about it. Really...