Category Archives: Uncategorized

C for Programmers

There are programmers who have never used C before! This is a shocking fact to me, as C is where I started programming. And there are many programmers who want to learn to use C, but already know how to program. C for Beginners is easy to find with a Google search. They need an introduction to pointers and a bit of malloc. Hopefully without mentioning things like functions, types, and how to write a conditional which would surely put a ruby, python, or java programmer to sleep.

So here it is. A few code examples with pointers. I mention tools like gcc and some flags and gdb. And there is some assembly code, as really writing C requires some computer architecture understanding.


Or here’s a document with the same goals from Stanford: Stanford CS Education Library: 102

Ad test

I’m working on a advertising deliverable for a client. I need to show the differences between something like Google’s AdSense and statically delivering image content. Because of this, here is an Ad.

It’s a 250x250px ad, with backup of Jake the dog,

This took me 3 days to get approval to get working. First day is submitting the site and Google crawls it to verify you have enough content. My first domain didn’t pass (but it’s basically just a business card). This one did. Then I placed the ad code using wordpress plugin “Easy Plugin for AdSense”. It was blank (with no way to get anything other than blank) for about 48 hours.

I’ll get rid of this later. I have no aspirations about making some glorious $0.05 or whatever small personal blogs can make.

update: Removed! It shows that I made $0.00. I thought it would make a couple more cents. It was easy to do though, and if you have a specialized enough userbase I’m sure Google is a good partner today for ads.

10 Good Books

This week’s viral facebook post asks people to share 10 favorite or influential books with their friends. It’s a bit biased to the small sample of books I’ve actually read. And really, rather than targeted at the original goal, when I finished the list it’s just a list of books that are good and worth reading.

1. People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
The history books (and textbooks) I’ve seen before I ran into this one were all about the rulers. The nobility, the clergy, the philosophers, the scientists, the artists were all there. Zinn writes about the struggles of the common man that fought and worked.

2. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
Because adventure is FUN.

3. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
It’s an enjoyable read. The characters are interesting and their interactions are great. Though as far as plot is concerned almost nothing happens. That’s great.

4. Confederacy of Dunces
A fun and generally dislikable main character has escapades and interacts with many other interesting characters. Then you can visit the statue of the character in New Orleans.

5. Dune by Frank Herbert
Sci-fi thriller about politics and trade and sand worms. A bit of the coming-of-age challenge story thrown in too. “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer” is great to repeat as a narrative choice and in your normal life.

6. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson
I saw the movie before reading the book. But hearing the lines delivered I remembered it was a book and knew it was one I wanted to read. It’s like the best parts of the movie, but goes on for page after page.

7. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
What’s a way to make Buddhism palatable to Americans? A metaphor to tuning and gasoline burning and steel of course. An academic with a shadowy antagonist and internal struggle.

8. Grapes of Wrath
A bit fiction a bit history. It’s a story about getting by in America. And not the American Dream, but the uncaring one that’ll crush you if you have no money.

9. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
I always heard this was a story about Ice-9 that could destroy the planet. It’s not. It’s about Bokononism, which is the coolest religion I’ve heard of. Its holy book begins, “All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies.” And it only gets better and makes more sense from there.

10. Refactoring by Martin Fowler
I wanted to put one professional oriented book here. Object oriented programming isn’t in fashion as much as a few years ago, but this is the best book on the topic. He doesn’t explain much. The book is pages of actual example after example. Each technique uses object oriented methods to alter one idea into another form. And then another technique alters it back! The idea is that figuring out which is better in your situation is up to you and your analysis of the details.

Raspberry Pi Apple Airplay

At home I have an audio receiver that has trouble with some of the local FM stations. This is important as I frequently prefer NPR to whatever reality show is on the TV airwaves. I’ve looked at buying digital FM device to get the signal, but that technology never really took off and I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t made for a vehicle. And then it hit me that rather than broadcast, all the audio I want (including podcasts and other non-live audio) is available on a unicast network as well. I just need my audio receiver to connect to the internet.

I followed this tutorial. It is an impressive tutorial in that your grandmother could follow the steps and not get lost. If you’ve used linux before you’ll scroll through a lot of introduction to reach the package names to apt-get.

So now I get my audio: NPR -> Internet -> iPhone (app) -> Raspberry Pi -> HDMI -> Receiver -> speakers. The digital signal is much clearer than the FM I was using.

Note that I’m using HDMI. The analog audio out on the Raspberry Pi isn’t recommended. I’ve tried using it before, and it just isn’t that good. They saved on the design by not including a real analog output but simulating one, which is good for alert noises or some other applications, but for music or even news leaves a lot to be desired. Options include either using HDMI so the digital to analog happens on your TV or receiver that has better electronics or a USB audio output can achieve similar results.

Used Videogames And Why Publishers Make Money

I posted this response on Slashdot to argue against the following reader comment:

…I understand that publishers don’t make any money off used games sales…I get that.

Publishers do make money off used game sales. Not directly, but easy to see if you analyze the system.

Person A buys a game new (ex. $50), plays it, sells it to a used game broker, let’s say GameStop (ex. $20).
Person B buys the used game from GameStop (ex. $40), part of this purchase goes to the broker for facilitating the transaction, part goes to subsidize the original purchase price (the $20 Person A received when selling the game comes from this purchase).

So Person A effectively purchased the game for less money. The lower price for Person A either allows him to purchase the game in the first place (was his perceived utility of the game between $30 and $50?), or leaves leftover money for the purchase of another game (this is his hobby, so more money may end up with game publishers).

So through the secondary market, Persons A and B share the cost. If, as the your hypothetical publisher who doesn’t “make any money off used game sales” argues, Persons A and B would both have bought the game for $50 each, giving them earnings of $100, then the game could have been priced closer to that $100 knowing the secondary market would allow for the cost sharing (let’s say MSRP of $80, giving the broker a $20 piece of the $100 pie). If it wouldn’t have sold for $80 to $100, then both A and B weren’t interested enough to each pay $50, were they?

To put cost sharing another way, my brothers and I would buy a bunch of video games when we were young. The money came from allowance and mowing lawns. To get a $50 game we’d all throw in money and we’d all play the game. If we all had to pay $50 we’d have bought a lot less games, because there wasn’t enough allowance and lawns to mow to get that kind of cash and some games just weren’t worth that much. So is the game studio and publisher losing money? Or are they making even more money? Does it just change the way the industry must operate and market their product?

Here’s the fun question: If cost sharing and a used market didn’t exist, what would the MSRP of a game be? I’d wager less than it is today.

Prefix commands with pseudo

So walking to work this morning I figured what the name “otherroute” is about. It’s about going a different way than normal, to be sure, but now there’s more.

The “route” is pronounced like “root”. As in the user root. And since I’m using homophones (some might use the more derogatory word puns) already, I figure the way you act as “otherroute” is to use the “pseudo” command (see “sudo“). Fun, no? It made me laugh.

Back Online!

I moved recently and had all my computers off for quite a while. Now they’re back, and I intend to write about my new MythTV setup. I’ve got the backend running, and need to get a frontend on an AppleTV for my TV screen.