Why I vertically align my code (and you should too!)


There was an interesting discussion on HackerNews last week about the Linux Kernel coding style. During the discussion, I kicked off a minor holy war about whether one should vertically align code. I'm all for it! Let me explain why. What Is Vertical Alignment? Take this trivial example: int robert_age = 32; int annalouise_age = […] Read More

Screenscraping Album Artwork From The Linux Command Line


A cute penguin - the official mascot of Linux

Like many people, I've collected a fair number of CDs over the years. As hard-drives and MicroSD cards have got larger and cheaper, I've gradually been ripping them to FLAC. Most CD rippers automatically tag the music files with the correct metadata and, nowadays, they will also download and embed album artwork as well. (As […] Read More

Aggressively Defensive Programming


How much checking do we perform that our code is running as intended? I found a curious bug this weekend, which made me think about some of the assumptions that we use when programming. Imagine sorting an array using JavaScript. var arr = [10, 5, 66, 8, 1, 3]; arr.sort(); So far, so normal. Create […] Read More

Use DRAKON to Generate Code from Flowcharts


It's 1986. You're working on the Russian's Buran space programme - trying to create a re-usable space vehicle which will exceed the capabilities of the American's "Space Shuttle". There's a problem. You have very complicated real-time algorithms which you need to review, improve, optimise, and then turn into code. How do you do it? Obviously, […] Read More

API Design is UI for Developers


A pet cat typing on a computer keyboard

I've been thinking a lot about APIs and their design recently. I stumbled on this fantastic quote from Greg Parker: A programming language is a user interface for developers. Language authors should learn from HCI principles. — Greg Parker (@gparker) February 22, 2012 When I first started learning C++ (back in the bad old days) […] Read More

Getting Images from a Foursquare Checkin


"Oi!" shouted Whatleydude, "Get Dabr to show images from foursquare checkins!" "Righty-ho sir!" I said. I started coding furiously. Of course, things are never quite as simple as I first thought.... So, how do we go from http://4sq.com/fgIWov to ? 1 Expand the URL Get your Bit.ly API Key. http://api.bitly.com/v3/expand ?shortUrl=http://4sq.com/fgIWov &login=YOUR_BIT_LY_USERNAME &apiKey=YOUR_BIT_LY_API_KEY &format=txt You […] Read More

Twitpic OAuth - I'm Stuck


The Twitter Logo

Twitpic has implemented an OAuth API. No more having to hand out passwords to all and sundy. Only I'm too much of a dunderhead to get it working. Perhaps it's a combination of heatstroke or this rotten head-cold, but I just can't see what I'm doing wrong. Any help much appreciated. The easy bit. It's […] Read More