2009-03-15 20:00:00 -0400

I’m still keeping an eye on the development of Papernet-like things, and my friend Warren posted a link to an interesting article this morning about the shrinking newspaper/print business and “nichepapers”, which includes this neat little quote:

“When a 14 year old kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you got a problem.”

Quite a different perspective that people have these days.

Using SoS for blog comments/discussion

2009-03-11 20:00:00 -0400

I like Zed’s idea of using Son of Sam for blog comments/e-mail discussion, it’s a really great idea. It’s perfect for sites with high comment rates that need to filter down noise in a discussion and foster some real thought churning. It may give the impetus for actual discussion instead of the common sounding off of anonymous trolls.

Zed’s really into rules (is this blog post even 500 words?), which makes perfect sense for high traffic sites, but a little less restriction on the length of time that a discussion can last and that a user can stay subscribed, it’d be really useful for folks like us who have a blog that does get comments but doesn’t have quite such a need for policing them and keeping the discussion on track.

An interesting marriage between the forum and the mailing list! Too bad the Son of Sam code isn’t up anymore, I’d be looking at it right now (despite my utter and complete aversion to Python). I even checked, I’m so curious.

It's TV Time

2009-03-11 20:00:00 -0400

Hampton has a TV show, apparently! Looking forward to it.

Hack the planet! Someone should totally do Hack the Planet. In face paint. Gotta be authentic.

Some bug fixes for Tempo

2009-03-10 20:00:00 -0400

We haven’t forgotten about our time tracker in the midst of all this excitement about Strip! We just pushed a small update to fix a couple of outstanding issues.

The Prototype-based Autocompleter we were using on text entry and tag entry had to go, we’re giving the jQuery version a shot now. The old one was driving us crazy, and it really bothered a few users who took us to task. The fix is a bit over-due, but it’s quite snappy now. If you find the new version to be buggy or have any suggested tweaks, do let us know.

Canceled accounts can no longer log in! (doh) Account cancellations happen some times, and we provide a self-cancel service in Tempo. It really does terminate your account, inactivating your projects and making sure that you no longer get billed. However, a small bug was still allowing users with canceled accounts to log back in to the system. This has been fixed. As always, if you want to reactivate your account with us, let us know, we’ll always be glad to have you back!

Looks like in the process we ended up with a small bug in the bookmarklet that whacks the layout just a bit due to a javascript error. I’ve got a fix ready and we’re hoping to move that out shortly!

Thanks for being patient and for using Tempo.

Update: We will be briefly interrupting service on Tempo today at Noon, EDT to get that bug fix out.

NSDate (Helper)

2009-03-10 20:00:00 -0400

codebook datelabels

I saw Matt Drake’s post with tips about using NSDate over on Mobile Orchard’s iPhoneFlow today and figured I’d give the drummer some more.

When setting up Codebook (a secure notebook iPhone app we hope to release soon) I needed to do some fancy-pants date formatting all over the place because I wanted to mimic what Apple had pulled off in the Notes application for iPhone. Now, there are many ways to do this, I’m sure I’ve overlooked some useful tricks that Cocoa provides (it has a number of default date format “styles” you can use), but I think what’s important is to always avoid repeating yourself. And to do it in such a way that if, say, I realize that I really should have used the Cocoa candies, I could change the implementation in one place and the rest of my code would be none the wiser. DRY, as it were.

Now date calculations in Cocoa can be nasty. I don’t know if they have to be, but you can end up with a real mess of code involving NSCalendar, NSDateFormatter objects, or calculating offsets by seconds. Totally ugly.

Objective-C’s categories are a really nice way to bottle up some of this code and re-use it. In Codebook I used categories to implement helper methods on built-in objects and classes, like NSDate. So in the aforementioned example of Codebook, I implemented a series of methods for doing date calculations, and convenient methods for getting calculation-based formatted dates. Wrapping them up in NSDate (Helper) allows me to do things in the app like:

- (void)viewWillAppear:(BOOL)animated {
[super viewWillAppear:animated];

// figure out date display data at top of view
NSDate *relativeTime = (!targetObject.timestamp) ? [NSDate date] : [targetObject date];
dateLabel.text = [NSDate stringFromDate:relativeTime withFormat:@"MMM d"];
timeLabel.text = [NSDate stringFromDate:relativeTime withFormat:@"h:mm a"];
daysAgoLabel.text = [relativeTime stringDaysAgo];


The really tricky part on the notes listing was getting the conditional display like ‘11:59pm’ for an entry updated today, ‘Friday’ for a date within the last 7 days, ‘Jan 23’ for a date in the current calendar year, and ‘Nov 16, 2008’ for dates not in the current calendar year. And how simple is it now?

self.dateLabel.text = [NSDate stringForDisplayFromDate:date];

This gives us:

Codbook Minutemen

I have posted NSDate+Helper on Github, anybody is welcome to use it, fork it, add things, send pull requests. I bet we could build up a nice library of these guys for use in our applications.

Zetetic is the creator of the encrypted iPhone data vault and password manager Strip and the open source encryption-enhanced database engine SQLCipher.