been a bit distracted recently

Yes, I admit it, I’ve been a bit distracted recently. Not posting, and not even tweeting much. I can now explain why. I haven’t been able to say anything, as most of my time, energy, and planning was focussed on a certain question (and I needed to keep this planning secret too). Last Thursday (25th November) I managed to become a very lucky man – and in the words of my lovely lady “find the only way to turn a U2 concert into an anticlimax”.

After a lovely brunch and walk along the beach in the sun, I got myself down on one knee and proposed…..and luckily for me, Naomi said yes to being my wife. It was a total surprise for her, as I had managed to keep anyone (but especially her) from being aware of meetings I’d had with her parents, or any of my preparations. Even the friends that were meeting at mine later thought that was just to be as a wind-down from the U2 concert – they soon discovered otherwise.

The days since then have been a bit of a mission of phone calls, texts, and driving around the countryside visiting family to let them know the news. I’m back to work today, and now the next stage of planning begins ready for engagement party, and then figuring out wedding plans too.

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C# stacks without libraries

Been having a bit of fun last night. A job I’ve applied for needs a code sample – fine. What they’ve asked for is the implementation of a Stack class in C# – fine. Two of the conditions though are:

  • Important: Do not use or reference the namespaces “System.Collections” and “System.Collections.Generic” or any element contained in them.
  • Consider making your implementation as versatile as possible while staying typesafe.

You know, System.Collections, is that namespace that contains and implements Stacks. And, to be typesafe, generics would be the obvious use-case solution. I’ve had a bit of fun, and that’s all sorted now. Kinda cool actually, having to get right back to nothing and build something that we take for granted in daily coding.

I will post the code here as an edit in a few weeks time. Just going to wait until the process is over; a) so I don’t give it away to other applicants, and b) so I don’t get in any trouble with whoever the company is. Especially as some people have tried to get it answered for them online (here and here).

The next Angry Birds update – Mighty Eagle!

After a long wait, the Mighty Eagle is almost here! This legendary and mysterious bird will be included in the next Angry Birds update, due to be released in the next few days. The update includes 15 levels in a hot new desert themed episode, Ham ‘Em High, with a brand new shiny golden egg, and all the usual goodies we love to see from Angry Birds.

The Mighty Eagle is downloadable content. If you get stuck in the game, you have the opportunity to purchase a can of sardines, which you use to lure out the elusive Mighty Eagle. This phenomenal creature will the soar from the skies to wreak havoc and smash the pesky pigs into oblivion!

Mighty Eagle will help you skip the toughest obstacles, but there’s a limit: you can only use the aid of Mighty Eagle to pass a level once per hour. In other words, when you pass a level with Mighty Eagle, you need to wait an hour to use him again to pass another level.

Is that all? Far from it! Mighty Eagle includes all new gameplay goals and achievements! In each level that you already cleared using the regular birds, you can smash away freely and try to fill up the destruction gauge! If you want to smash your way through every level leaving nothing behind, you have every incentive to do so!

Mighty Eagle is an in-app purchase in Angry Birds and costs $0.99/£0.59/€0.79NZ$1.29 to download.

Here’s a sneak peek

[text from Angry Birds press release]

Brilliance

Sheer brilliance. Every beat and step synched perfectly.

checking out the new tweet-embed plugin for WordPress

Just to try out this new tweet-embed plugin for WordPress, I’ll post the tweet of my this blog post just to be self-referential [this meant I edited the post after completion and it being automatically tweeted].

It pulls the tweet from Twitter with all the same styling as the Tweeter’s own Twitter page, but this also means it keeps the tweet live for each visitor to your blog (ie the time stamp displayed is relative to your page viewer’s time of visit to your blog).

my iPad app round-up

So, I’ve had my iPad for over a month now, and I felt it was time to review the apps I have on it now. I figure a month is enough time to settle into my usage patterns and have discarded apps that just didn’t do it for me afterall.

1: Social Networking –

I don’t run one app for all my social networking, some people prefer to but I have found it better to have apps that focus on one thing, and do what they do do well. For Twitter, I was originally using Twitterific, and had just upgraded to the paid version the day before Twitter released their own app. Since then I have been devoted to the official Twitter app which is clean, intuitive, and just pretty much perfect in my book.

For Facebook, I am still floating between two apps; Friendly and the official Facebook iPhone app. Both are pretty good, Friendly is more aesthetically pleasing due to being designed for the iPad form-factor, while the official FB app seems a little more intuitive and “like” Facebook itself (as you would expect).

I’m also running FourSquare on my iPad, as I don’t have an iPhone (still!!).

2: Utilities / Lifestyle –

I have quite a few utilities set up on my iPad, for news I am running the fantastic NYTimes app, the TVNZ News app, and the NZ Herald app. I also use GeekNews to pull all my geeky tech blogs together into one streamlined place. The Mashable! app is great for a quick check up on what is trending or popping up online currently.
I am currently using PrinterShare for printing directly from the iPad on my home network. This will hopefully change when iOS4 is released for iPad (rumors indicate late November 2010 maybe).
I also have Google Earth, the IMDb app, and a great tracking app – Parcel – which allows you to just put in your tracking code allocated to the delivery you are expecting. Saves having to visit different websites and remember your tracking numbers for different companies. Some other little gems are:
Epicurious
Wikipanion
Evernote
– The WordPress app for blogging on the go
Shazam
Then for a bit of creative fun, I have GrooveMaker and Drums! GrooveMaker lets you mix tracks, and even create your own tracks on the fly. Drums! is just that, a complete drum set on your iPad – in fact, it’s actually three complete drum sets, as you can choose between Standard, Groove, and Acoustic kits. The sound is true to life, so go get it.

3: Web Dev –

A few free web-dev helpers tucked on the iPad too. I’ve got JsAnywhere and three great apps from Interactive Blasphemy. JavaScript Anywhere is a JavaScript tool which enables you to edit your JS script, adjust the CSS, and then view the results in an HTML page. You can email the results to yourself. From Interactive Blasphemy I have robots.txt, which is just that, a robots.txt generator; Password, which generates passwords of random characters of length and complexity specified; and RGB/HSB/Hex, which enables you to create that perfect shade for you web job, and also then suggests good matching and contrasting colors.

4: Games –

Yep, the main reason most people have an iPad. I am personally a big fan of the logic/strategy games. I’ll list them all, then comment on a few of them, with more in-depth reviews being added, along with links to the iTunes store, later on:
– iFighter – essentially the classic fighter game 1945 remade for the iPad
– Harbor Master
– FlightControl HD
– Canabalt
– Gravity Hook
– Angry Birds
– Angry Birds (Halloween Special)
– Cut the Rope
– Pocket Frogs
– Plants vs Zombies
– Fruit Ninja HD
– Steve Young Football
– Build-A-Lot 2
– Blue Block
– Crazy Traffic: Crashed XL
– Train Conductor 2: U.S.A.
– No, Human
– Trainyard
– UFO On Tape
– Railway
– Chicktionary
– NOM
– Fish Eat Fish
– Dismount
– GearedHD
– Air Hockey
– TicTacDojo
– Little Metal Ball
– Soosiz HD
– Physics HD
– Gravity HD
– Tilt to Live HD
– NinJump
– Red Bull RC
– Asymmetry
– 8Bit Rebellion (the Linkin Park game)

Surprisingly enough, I have found my usage of the iPad to be alot different than I planned for. I have found the games an easy way to take a 5 minute break when I need to, but have found that I actually now tend to jump on Twitter or a news site when I want a 5 minute chill out. I am still just working with iBooks as my book-reader and PDF-reader of choice. Primarily because I have no need of the flasher features of the other readers out there. Overall, I have to say that the iPad is proving itself to be very worthwhile as a tool; and I keep finding new ways for it to excel and prove it’s worth.

easy links to iTunes content

Just a quick post to highlight the funky little tool on the iTunes website for automajickally [sic] generating links to specific apps with the iTunes store. The appropriately named iTunes Link Maker is able to be targeted by Country, Media Type, or Genre/Category; as well as being able to be searched by name.

It has been out for a while, and is not guaranteed by Apple at all. In fact, they go so far as to state

The Link Maker tool is provided by Apple as an accommodation only. Apple assumes no responsibility for your use of any links, and makes no representation regarding their accuracy or performance.

amongst other parts of the disclaimer. But, hey, it’s easier than trying to figure it out and do it yourself. Right??