Archive for Technology

20 Aug 2013

Using a Pebble to Lock/Unlock Your MacBook

No Comments Technology

The guy who sits across the desk from me has a doorbell which he presses every morning on his way in. Having just received my Pebble, I thought it would be nifty to lock/unlock my MacBook automatically when I’m not around.

There are a few thing’s you’ll need:

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09 Jul 2012

OSX Finder Replacement

No Comments Technology

Since I started iOS development in my spare time, I’ve found myself spending more and more time in OSX and missing very few apps from Windows. One of the huge caveats in OSX Lion, however, is the awful file explorer – Finder.

Finder doesn’t support tabs, uses an awkward grouping system and offers very little in the way of the seamless seen elsewhere in Apple’s products. This is where I found Binary Age’s TotalFinder a salvation. It offers a whole slew of features and tweaks, not to mention tabbed browsing.

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07 May 2009

Guide: Subversion with Visual Studio

No Comments Technology

I’ve just published a guide to source control with Visual Studio, AnkhSVN and TortoiseMerge.

24 Jan 2008

Idiots Guide to Installing PHP

1 Comment Programming and Technology

If you have hosting with Dreamhost or any other host which gives you a shell account, you can install your own custom version of PHP. I needed to compile PHP with GMP support for the OpenID login plugin for WordPress, so I spent the whole day tweaking trying to get everything working. There's a page on Dreamhost's Wiki which has a script, but it still took me hours to get right. I've written a quick guide to help avoid the mistakes which slowed me down.

  1. The first thing you need to do is download Putty and set it up to connect to your host.
  2. We're going to create a few shell scripts to install PHP and all the other packages it requires. It's probably easiest to make your edits in notepad or another text editor, then copy and paste them into Putty by right-clicking. If you just create the files then upload them, there tend to be problems with line breaks and the script doesn't work.
  3. Start by downloading the preparation script and the installation script. Open them with a text edtitor and change the line export DOMAIN="" to match the domain you're installing the CGI script on. This should be the directory the domain is served from. Eg: If your site serves files from /home/someone/, use The version information may need updating, because I won't be updating this script.
  4. The first script we need to set up will download the different packages and extract them. Once you're done editing, hit CTRL+A in your text editor, then copy everything to your clipboard. Create a new file by typing nano at the command prompt.
  5. Paste the contents of your clipboard into the new file by right clicking in Putty, then hit CTRL+O to save the file, then CTRL+X to exit nano.
  6. In *nix you need to make files excutable before you can run them. Do this by typing chmod +x
  7. Now we need to set up the script which does the installing. Create a new file by typing nano at the prompt, then copy and paste the contents of your edited file by right clicking the terminal. Hit CTRL+O, Return, then CTRL+X to save and exit.
  8. Make the file executable by typing chmod +x
  9. Now that everything's set up, we can run the first script by typing ./ at the prompt. It might take a while but if there are no errors you should eventually see "Done downloading and unpacking prerequisites".
  10. Run the installation script using ./ . This might take a while to complete, so start solitaire or something.
  11. When everything's finished, you should see "INSTALL COMPLETE!" and have a shiny new custom version of PHP installed.
  12. If you don't already have one, create a .htaccess file at the root of your domain. You can do this by typing nano .htaccess. Add the following lines:
    Options +ExecCGI
    AddHandler php-cgi .php
    Action php-cgi /cgi-bin/php.cgi
  13. That should be it. If there were no errors, you can test your installation by viewing a PHP file on your site. Hopefully you'll either see no change, but it's possible you'll see a load of errors.

If you have problems installing, the Dreamhost forums might be a good place to ask for help.

20 Dec 2007

in_array() and implode() for Java

8 Comments Programming and Technology

I'm still getting to grips with Java, but there a few functions I miss coming from PHP. in_array lacks a Java equivalent, as does the implode function. Here are the equvalent methods in Java:


public static String implode(String[] ary, String delim) {
    String out = "";
    for(int i=0; i<ary.length; i++) {
        if(i!=0) { out += delim; }
        out += ary[i];
    return out;


public static boolean in_array(DefaultListModel haystack, String needle) {
    for(int i=0;i<haystack.size();i++) {
        if(haystack.get(i).toString().equals(needle)) {
            return true;
    return false;
09 Dec 2007

Limit and Offset clauses in MSSQL

No Comments Programming and Technology

Until SQL server 2008's released, there’s no easy way to page reults or only show the first n results. I searched around for a while until I found this on MSDN.

SELECT TOP limitnumber
    FROM (
        SELECT TOP (limitnumber/ offset) * limitnumber) * 
        FROM tablename 
            AS T1 
            WHERE clauses 
            ORDER BY sortfield DESC) 
        AS T2 
        ORDER BY sortfield ASC;

The LIMIT and OFFSET values are the same as in PostgreSQL or MySQL. limitnumber is the number to show per page, and offset is the starting row.

MSDN Article

27 Nov 2007

More Space on Your iPod Touch

3 Comments Technology

I bought a shiny new iPod touch, and after unlocking it to install custom applications, I soon filled the 300Mb applications partition. If you need more than 300Mb for apps (which you more than likely will if you install more than a couple), you can create a sym link to the music partition.

  1. SSH into your iPod using a client such as Putty with the iPod's IP address, user: root, password: alpine.
  2. Move the applications folder to /private/var/Applications by typing mv /Applications /private/var/Applications
  3. Change directory to / by typing cd /
  4. Create a link to the new applications directory: ln -s /private/var/Applications Applications
  5. Now when you list the directory using ls -la, you should see something like lrwxr-xr-x 1 root admin 25 Oct 12 22:31 Applications -> /private/var/Applications
  6. Reboot your iPhone and fill up yet more space with useless applications!

[Via: MacRumours]

14 Nov 2007

Inserting Multiple Rows with MSSQL

No Comments Programming and Technology

I've been working on adding support for Microsoft SQL Server to iZeit, and there are a few things I've noticed. Firstly, whereas you can addin multiple rows in MySQL or Postgres by using

INSERT INTO tablename (field1,field2,field3) VALUES (r1c1, r1c2, r1c3), (r2c1,r2c2,r2c3)

MSSQL fails and throws an error. Instead, you have to use UNION ALL, which I always thought was more resource intensive.

INSERT INTO tablename (field1,field2,field3) SELECT (r1c1, r1c2, r1c3) UNION ALL SELECT (r2c1,r2c2,r2c3)

The second major annoyance is that MSSQL doesn't like ORDER BY clauses with text fields. Understandably you can't sort a field containing an image, but why can't it sort a text field alphabetically? One thing I still haven't found a workaround for is the LIMIT and OFFSET clauses, which MSSQL doesn't support.

08 Sep 2007

Visualise site popularity with TouchGraph

No Comments Technology

TouchGraph lets you see a visual spider diagram for any keyword or site. Interesting to see who’s linked to you and from where, and which of your pages are most popular.



07 Sep 2007

Creating a Bootable USB Flash Drive

1 Comment Technology

I spent hours yesterday trying to get my laptop to boot from a USB key. I could probably have burnt 100 bootable CDs with the files on, but I wanted a USB key. So here's how to create one.

  1. Download and extract these files. Included are files for a bootable floppy and a copy of the HP USB disk format utility.
  2. Using the HP format utility (HPUSBFW.exe), check "Create a DOS boot disk" and browse to where you extracted the "DOS files" directory.
  3. That's it!. Automated commands can be run using autoexec.bat