Friday, August 27, 2010

A Nice Video Podcast on Objective-C by Robert Van Slooten

Last night I found a nice podcast on Objective-C from my iTunes. The podcast is called as Cocoa Touch Netcast (CTN), hosted by Robert Van Slooten. The first show was published on February 2(Tuesday), 2010. Up till now, it is the 2nd episode of part 3.

What I Like

I really enjoyed the shows. First I like the structure and design he created those shows. He uses slides, screen captures(by using Quicktime recorder?), and pictures. All those are easily available or to do on iMac. In most cases, one or more slide shows outline clear and important points or a block of codes first. After that, a screen capture with an animation transition is smoothly connected to a live show of XCode and an example project with codes. He also uses related pictures during the show or at the end. This is nice change or tone on the screen. He must make some efforts to search for those pictures.

The second feature I like is that each show is very short, from 5 minutes to over 20 minutes(but less than 30 minutes). That's really cool to cover so much information or complicated concepts in such short period of time. His voice is clam, slow and clear, and his words or sentences are effectively terse. For some complicated concepts, he uses very brief key words to get the point related to the context. I always try to consider too much when I try to explain something. Cocoa and ObjC are very comprehensive and rich frameworks. In stead of throwing out extensive and unrelated information, he starts from a simple and clear path to the point. Sometimes, he jumps to thousand feed high to give an overall view, without any fear to confuse viewers with new and unknown terms or concepts. If there are some example codes, there is just one project per show. I admire his knowledge and teaching skills. As a viewer or learner, I had great time to enjoy his shows!

What I Hope

One thing I feel not comfortable sometimes when I hear music with pictures when I have my headset on. The sound are little bit too loud, comparing to the previous clam and slow speech, especially at the end of show. The volume can be adjusted to the same level of speech.

Another thing I think he could improve is to add English subtitles on his show and also make it as an option to show or hide, just like WWDC10 shows. Apple uses podcast producer to generate podcasts. Not sure if the application has any tool to generate scripts or not. If it is possible, that would be great.


By googling "cocoa touch netcast", I found Robert's podcast web page. I think that he uses MobileMe to host his shows. During the loading time in my browser I saw the loading status showing data from Robert also includes his show codes on the web.

I think Robert is a Canadian. The show of P2-E6 on Properties shows a picture of his boat(?) with a Canadian flag.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

App Installation as Admin in Windows Server 2008

Today at work, I tried to get help from Capstone on their application work in Windows Server 2008. The application is a 32-based application as a VBS script host with ability to communicate with their ParcView suite. The application has a configuration setting for data connection, by using UDL connection string.

The issue I encountered was that the UDL is a connection to an Oracle database, and it seems that the UDL string cannot be accepted by the application. To cut the story short, Captone's tech support guru finally identified that the issue was caused by Oracle drive installed on this Windows box. The network team at work installed 64-bit oracle driver (Oracle g10), while the application requires the 32-bit driver. Unfortunately, the person who is responsible for the installation is on vacation this week. Therefore, Capstone person helped me to install the Oracle g11 client, 64-version first and then 32-version next.

The 64-version installation went OK. However, we had trouble to install the 32-version. There were several failures during the preparing stage. He finally figured out that he has to run the installation oui as administrator. I saw it so simple to run installer as administrator. Since my log-in name is a member of Administrators group, in Windows Server 2008 (VISA-like Windows), just right click on oui and run it as administrator:

to my surprise, no password was requested. I think it might be Windows Server 2008 and my log-in is in Administrators. Anyway, that reminded me a case I did before: to configure PowerShell Execution settings.

By default, the execution policy for PS is Restricted. I needed to change it to RemoteSigned. However, I could not do it even my log-in name is in Administrators. It seems Windows Server 2008 has strong security. What I did was to make a request to the network team to log in as administrator to run Set-ExecutionPolicy command with RemoteSigned.

When I realized that it was so simple to run installation as admin, I tried PS right afterward.

Now, after I run the PS as admin and I can set policy. That's pretty cool!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

HTML5 and Web Browsers

I just finished watching several WWDC10 videos on HTML5. I am very impressed by the new features in HTML5, with CSS3 and JavaScript, to support interactions, animations, and offline data store. Apple claims that Safari is 100% compatible with HTML5, and provided some examples on the web. My understanding is that all those new features are just API gateways, and it will be up to the browser to provide support in its back-end engine.

Based on Wikipedia's List of Browsers, Safari and Chrome are based in Webkit, an open source project. Apple's Safari on Mac, Windows, iPhone, iTouch and iPad are based on Webkit. As a result, HTML5 is fully supported by Apple products. Here I say Apple products do not include Safari for Windows, see my comments later on.

It is very interesting to read the history section of W3C web document on HTML5. HTML was originally used as a standard web site design language in 1990. Then it was almost stopped its evolution to HTML4 in 1998, with the new direction towards an equivalent XHTML as replacement.

Mozila and Opera proposed form based features, later as HTML5, in 2004. Soon Apple joined the force to the effort to move to HTML5. Now it becomes the draft of W3C standard.

To verify if a browser supports HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, there are some web based test sites available. Acid3 and HTML5 tests are two well known ones. The following is the result I run on Aug 12, 2010 in my Windows XP box at work):

IE612/10012 (scores)
Safari (Windows)100/100207
Safari (Mac)100/100208

It seems that Safari has the best support. However, when I tried a well-known HTML video site (dart moor). Safari for Windows fails to play the video, while Both Chrome and FireFox for Windows play the video beautifully. I tried Safari for Mac at home, it plays the video without any issues.

Then, I created a simplified html file to test. The following is a simplified html file with the HTML5 video tag:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<title> Dartmoor - 1 </title>
<meta name="viewport" content="width-1400"/>
<video id="myVideo" width = "1280" height="544" controls
<source type="video/mp4" src=""></source>
<source type="video/mp4" src=""></source>
<source type="video/webm" src=""></source>
<source type="video/ogg" src=""></source>
HTML5 videos support is required to play this video.

It is interesting to find out that the tests do not really guaranty browser's capability or supportability. The real site or html file says it all, at least for this test case. Not sure why Apple's Windows version of Safari is so behind to its Mac and other browsers. Does Apple intentionally do that or is there something else missing in my Windows XP?

I recall that one of Howcast podcasts (Tech & Gagdets) on iTunes: How to transfer contacts from your computer to your iPhone. It mentioned that PC users can only sync from one application at a time, while Mac users can sync from multiple applications. That may explain why many Apple applications for Windows, including Safari, are not as same as the Mac original ones.


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Update on my iPhone Development

In my past month, the progress of my iPhone application development has been very slow, almost on hold. There have been too many things happening during the time. A family of my relatives came to my house for visit. That's the main reason I cannot concentrate on my project. My evenings and weekends have been taken for meals, talks, and sight seeing (we went to Banff for the last weekend, three days).

Another reason is that I encountered an issue that I don't have clear idea how to integrate Apple's contact information into my app. I need to provide an UI for user to add and edit contact information. Apple's AddressBook framework provides APIs to access to contact database. For adding a new contact, what I need is to either to select one from address book or add new contact. The UIs AddressBook provides do not have one with a list of contact and add button. I could not find examples for my case. Therefore, I have to figure out how to reuse Apple's framework UIs instead of creating my own one.

In the past months, I have been watching WWDC10's videos as well. Now I have about only 20 left. All those videos have the most recent changes and introductions to new features/framework for iOS4. I enjoy watch most of them very much. Some of them are too far away beyond my reach, but it is good to get some sense about them. I'll continue to finish all of them.

The family has left this morning. Now I am back to normal and have time to think about my app.