Apophenia Evolved

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

In honor of Gary Gygax, or how Dungeons and Dragons changed my life

I have an early memory of getting my first Dungeons and Dragons game. It was a second edition box which contained everything you needed to play the game, included a scenario. I remember that the box looked so cool and I couldn't wait to play it. However I had no idea what I was getting into.
At that time I didn't have a group of friends who would play this strange game with me so I had to resort to getting my family to play with me. I remember being disappointed when I wasn't able to convince them to play.
Eventually I managed to get my father and my younger brother to play with me. I functioned as the DM and I soon entered the world of campaign building. The Dungeon Master's guide brought me to a strange new world of creativity. However it was my dad who introduced me into real storytelling when he told me that my games were episodic. It took me a while to understand what he meant but it opened my eyes to something new.

Years later toward the end of middle school I finally got a group of friends who were also interested in D&D. We would go over to each other's house and play strange games full of plot holes. I usually functioned as the Dungeon Master, however I always have the desire to be one of the players. I kept the friends I made through D&D and even now that I am in college they are some of my closest friends.

When I learned that Gary Gygax had died I began to think about how Dungeons and Dragons has changed me. I can only thank him for all the adventures I have gone on and the ones I will go on in in the future. Thank you Gary Gygax, we will miss you.

Friday, March 14, 2008

D&D, Programming and the wonders of Core Data

Yesterday I downloaded D&D Manager. I played around with it and immediately began to find places where it could be improved. Instead of pestering the designer about my issues I decided to try and improve it myself. Being the programmer I am I went back to the site and downloaded the source code because it was licensed under GPL. I opened up the project and began trying to figure out what was happening. I quickly learned that it relied heavily on Core Data and that I knew next to nothing about Core Data.

Several hours later I was working on my own implementation and busy enjoying the wonders of core data. I'm still working on my project and learning new and interesting ways of using core data. My implementation is no where near complete but I have already figure out all sorts of cool things I can do with it

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cocoa NSToolbar Tutorial

When I learn things about Cocoa I wish there had been some easy tutorial out there that explained in a simple way what I had just learned.

So yesterday I wanted to figure out how to add custom toolbar item to a toolbar. I dug around and the best tutorial I found was at www.macdevcenter.com. I read it and after a while figured out how it was creating toolbars items.

Yet I felt it was more complex then it could be. It build off old tutorials and had a lot of extra code which wasn't relevant to problem I was trying to solve.

So I decided to use what I had learned and make my own tutorial.
Creating Cocoa Toolbars

You can find the Xcode Project here

Saturday, March 1, 2008

ExpanDrive is Magic

ExpanDrive for Mac is the way I always wanted to do FTP but never knew about. Before I mainly used the free FTP program Fugu. However FTP programs like Fugu and Transmit aren’t as simple as accessing your iDisk.

ExpanDrive uses magic to make FTP that simple. Now ExpanDrive starts when I start my computer and it connects to the remote server as if were an external hard drive. Sure a program like Transmit has more features then ExpanDrive but since I never use them the simplicity of ExpanDrive makes it much more useful to me.

However one problem I have with FTP programs and that iDisk is that since I use a laptop I repeatedly connect and disconnect to the internet. Whenever that happens ExpanDrive simply shows that the server could not be reached without any long delays or intrusive error messages.

There is also and equivalent product for Windows called SftpDrive, though I haven’t tried it.