Ansca Corona + Lua = iPhone Application

January 7th, 2010

ansca corona analog clock iphone application

Today I built a nice looking iPhone application (an analog clock) and managed to build it in a language that I had never seen before in just an hour or so. This feat was entirely because of how simple the folks at Ansca have made programming for the iPhone.
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Fun, Web Code, Work

Using Sprites with XUL

January 6th, 2010

LCD Clock Image Sprite

CSS Sprites are a growing trend, and they can save a lot of time in certain situations. The term sprite when used for video games is slightly different, but in the context of Web graphics, the term refers to a single image file that is cropped onscreen and used for different images that are seen on a page. One sprite, for example, may contain the mouseoff and mouseover states for all tabs and buttons on a site. With CSS, the correct tab or button can be displayed by simply cropping the desired section of the larger image. Amazon is doing it, is doing it,, and others are starting to take the hint. Last night I sat down and tried to apply this technique to a Firefox XUL application.
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Browsers, Web Code, Work

JSON + Zip Code + $0 = How Much Info?

December 8th, 2009

JSON zipcode data
Armed with a budget of $0, I decided to spend an hour or two last night trying to accumulate as much data as possible using only a zip code, a static HTML page, and some javascript. Not a single dollar was spent, nor a single image created. The page is up here.

I’m sure I’ll add to this project as I find more free data sources, but so far I have:

  • Location Name
  • Lat/Lng of Zip Center
  • Weather Info
  • Forecast Data (4 day)
  • Recent Earthquakes within 100 miles
  • Local Wiki Entries (5)

If you have any XML or JSON data source suggestions that take LAT/LNG or Zip Code as parameters, email me at christopher[ at ] and I’ll add them to the page.

Web Code, Work

New Ant Script for Firefox Add Ons

December 2nd, 2009

apache ant firefox add on
After trying a half dozen different methods for building Firefox add-ons, I have settled on a single ant script I put together. The following ant script (build.xml file) will create a directory, copy all files into it, delete irrelevant files, zip up the file, name it with an .xpi extension, and delete the temporary folder it made to do all of this. Read more…

Browsers, Web Code

AnalogClock now available on the Firefox add on site

November 18th, 2009

AnalogClock Display Styles

At long last, my new open source Firefox add on, AnalogClock, is available for download from the Mozilla site. The clock uses the canvas tag to display an analog clock (with hands) in your browser status bar.

More info on my AnalogClock page.

Fun, Web Code

Scroll Clock

November 18th, 2009

Scroll Clock
Just when I thought I had seen the gamut of interesting clocks on the Internet… a new one pops up. Thomas Sturm just sent me the link to Scroll Clock. It really needs to be seen to be understood, though it helps to be a Web development geek to fully grok its significance.

Web Code

FlipClock Officially Approved by Firefox

October 7th, 2009

Three things have happened in the last week with my FlipClock Firefox add-on:

  1. FlipClock is now listed in Softpedia
  2. FlipClock has been approved as an official Firefox add-on.
  3. FlipClock is on par to have 3,500 downloads this week, and that number should continue to increase for the next few weeks.


Perch CMS

October 7th, 2009

Perch CMS

I stumbled on a fantastic, very simple CMS concept recently. Just £35

Imagine building a CMS driven site using the following steps:

  1. Build a static Web site
  2. Install the CMS software on the same server
  3. Enter the filepath to your content into the CMS
  4. Add some simple tags around the editable HTML in your static Web site
  5. Log into the CMS and edit your site

It is commercial, but very very cheap. Perfect, in my opinion, for very small sites requiring a content management system.


Firefox FlipClock in Six Languages

August 25th, 2009

FlipClock in Russian
My new FlipClock add on for Firefox has now been translated into Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Russian and is in queue at Mozilla to graduate out of the developer sandbox, which means the install warnings should go away soon. w00t.

Web Code, Work

Kryptonite Lock versus a Bic Ball Point Pen

August 24th, 2009

Kryptonite Lock

More chore list this weekend included taking care of a bicycle in my garage that was locked up with a Kryptonite lock with no key (lost over several moves).

First thing I did was to text message a hard-core cycling friend, who suggested I YouTube search Bic Pen and Kryptonite. Turns out, opening an older cylinder-lock Kryptonite product is, with a bit of luck, actually pretty easy.

This lock picking technique revelation was made public a few years back, and Kryptonite quickly offered to fix the locks (a good percent of them could be opened) but only a small percent of owners took advantage of the offer.

  1. Step one was to find a ball point pen, and reduce it down to a single hollow plastic cylinder.
  2. The next step was to jam the plastic cylinder into the lock (not too hard) and rotate it around fruitlessly for about 9 minutes.
  3. Step three was to give the plastic cylinder a medium-strength tap with a hammer.
  4. With a few more twists back and forth, voila, the lock opened and the bicycle was saved.

My attempt to open my lock took about ten minutes, but I could probably do it again in just a few minutes by fast forwarding to the hammer step.

PS: If any bike thieves are reading this, I hate you. You and your kind have taken two of my favorite possessions from me at a time in my life when I couldn’t afford to replace them.

Fun, Trivia