Archives for February 2012

February 2012 (16)
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Exile: a review

Over the weekend, I finished Exile , a three-part drama series from the BBC. I’d ordered the DVD from Amazon.co.uk never having heard of the production, but since it starred John Simm (I hugely enjoyed his performances in both Life on Mars and State of Play ) and Jim Broadbent (think any number of TV productions or movies, he’s one of the top actors of his generation) I felt that I couldn’t go wrong. The basic plot goes like this: Tom Ronstadt (Simm) is fired as reporter/editor at a glossy news magazine...

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Adventures in creating an ebook

As I mentioned a week or so ago , I discovered that my book, The Tomes of Delphi: Algorithms and Data Structures , was out as an ebook. And that, since the ebook was mostly created from a mechanical process converting my PDF for the physical book, it was pretty grim formatting-wise. So, over the past 10 days (not continuously, I hasten to add), I’ve been recreating it. Having tried to use Scrivener (for Windows, not the Mac version), I abandoned it for Jutoh, based on a recommendation from Jeff Duntemann...

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Programming the Extras tab

A reader asked me how the Extras tab on my blog was made. It’s a bit of CSS and a bit of JavaScript, so let’s describe it all. The first thing to note is that I wanted to clean up the way my blog looks so that – first – it’s simpler, and – second – to make the blog look good on a mobile device. To that end, as I mentioned before , I converted the CSS to LESS so that the whole experience of writing the styling was made easier. With regard to the tab, it’s still hard to get CSS to display text vertically...

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My first HP calculator: HP-27S

It’s about time I introduced the first Hewlett-Packard calculator I ever bought. Unlike the previous calculators I’ve shown ( Litton Royal 5T , Casio SL-800 , Casio ML-81 ) which were replacements obtained long after the originals had been lost or thrown away, this is the actual calculator I purchased and used back in 1988. I can’t remember the cost, but it must have been enough that I also splashed out on the deluxe leather case to protect it. These days they go for about $150 on eBay for one in...

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Tomes of Delphi: Algorithms and Data Structures is available as ebook

I learned today that my book Tomes of Delphi: Algorithms and Data Structures is available as an ebook for both the Nook and for iOS devices like the iPad . It is not available on the Kindle . The thing is, I didn’t put it there and it was a complete surprise to me. In fact, it was a result of a “feature” of my account with Lulu : they automatically converted it from the PDF they use to print a physical book to the EPUB format. From that point it’s easy to create a Nook ( here...

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Tilt-shift on the cheap

You’ve probably seen those photos which look as if they are images of miniature landscapes. In general, they’re taken with special (hence, expensive) tilt-shift lenses. Normally when you take a photo, the plane of the lens is parallel to the plane of the CCD sensor in the camera (or film, if you’re that old). This means that the focused object (which we also assume to be in a plane parallel to the other two planes) is in focus across the whole sensor. The portions of the field of view that are closer...

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PCPlus 304: A day in the life of an email

A quick synopsis of the history of email, plus a discussion of how email actually works (in other words, what POP3 and STMP servers do). I even touch on MX records. I can’t remember how the topic came up at this remove (it doesn’t sound like something I’d think of), but I’ll admit it was a quick write. Probably the most fun I had with it was drawing the figure. Let’s call the article workmanlike without showing any particular craftsmanship. This article first appeared in issue 304, February 2011...

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Thinking LESS of this blog

Over the weekend, I spent some time updating the CSS (cascading stylesheet) of this blog. There were two main purposes for this: Less and @media queries. First of all, LESS . This is an open source compiler that imposes some much needed structure and programming ability to CSS. For example, it gives you variables, mixins, nested rules, arithmetic expressions, and so on. The compiler will compile code written as LESS into a standard CSS file, which the browser then uses as normal. There are a couple...

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Taking the Volvo 1800S out in snow

Overnight, it wasn’t exactly snow falling so much as fog freezing. There was snow left over from the past couple of days, but the roads were clear and the freezing fog had covered the trees with a sugar dusting of white. It was also very cold overnight: around –12C or 10F. After breakfast, I decided to take the Volvo out for a spin with my camera in hand to see if I couldn’t take some wintry Swedish car pictures. I drove to Black Forest Regional Park, which is north of where we live, to see if I...

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Google web fonts

If you have a presence on the web that’s not just Facebook, you ought to go check out the 444-and-counting free font families available at Google Web Fonts . They’re a great way to spruce up the look of your web site for very little work. For example, on this blog I’m now using Oswald for the headers, Droid Serif for the main text, and Inconsolata for the code blocks. (I’ve been using the former two for a few months now, and Mehul prompted me about trying the latter this evening). The headers are...

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