Thursday, 30 January 2014

Boiling an Egg; As taught by your Calculus lecturer...

"y = C*E+(½E)
a = π(x/2)^2 v = ( ∫(C+E+(½E))dy)x OR ay
t = 60*3
T = t+1/10t
b=s*v*z (z = equation for boiling one unit of water)

b+T = |Yummy|

OK, that is the technique for boilination, now you try with examples 1-50!!"

While this is probably innacurate, some of it estimated and some of it is undoubtedly incorrect. It serves to demonstrate the point.

If at some point in the lesson the teacher would actually say the words; "this is applied to the real world and is not just an abstract set of numbers and letters and long words..." mathematical studies would probably be more populated at higher levels.

Now I know WHAT integration, differentiation, limits etc are defined as, (discoveries I made independent of my lectures) I feel like I've lost a lot of time for something that could just have been explained a little differently.

Any way.. back to studying.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Day 5 - Sweary Phone Finder

This one goes out to stretch!

I give you, 'The Sweary Phone Finder'. You've been warned... It's very sweary!

Whether or not it is a practical solution remains to be seen.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Day 4 - Mardy Magic

Congratulations and thanks to @bobobex for their list of ideas that today I finally honoured by writing a tiny python magic 8 ball thing..

It was interesting putting this together. Playing around with ways of presenting it and possibly getting the python to run on a webpage. In the end I just zipped it up for download here:

The main reason for this is just time. I discovered some really cool stuff while researching ways to go about presenting it in browser, which I hope will be useful in the future. Check out and they're both awesome.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Day 3 - Regular Impressions

"... and the award for most pointless program ever written goes to (dramatic pause) Med of" Med approaches the mic and starts to speak emotionally; " I'd like to thank my brother Chris for giving me this opportunity!".

When I asked for ideas for things to build this week, my brother jumped in with a tongue in cheek "translation app" because apparently he has no idea what I'm saying on the internet most of the time. Well Chris, here it is:

and Here is a list of terms that it checks for so you can have a play:

"pc", "computer", "IDE", "coding", "app", "binomial", "algebra", "calculus", "plus", "equals", "aikido", "training", "throw", "ukemi", "falling", "he-man", "transformers", "cartoon", "defenders", "visionaries" 

So type any of those within a sentence and it should give you a rough idea of what's being said.

Again, totally pointless but a nice little play with reg ex and passing variables.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Day 2 - mealsBytheway()

Today I went for a really simple but useful little tool. A meal spinner. take a look here:

The winner being my girlfriends mother, she asked for a meal spinner that didn't repeat meats or sides consecutively from a given menu.

If this had been just a case of randomising meals it'd have been simple. As it is it took a little over 2 hours to throw together.

If I had more than a day (as laid out by the challenge) I would probably include uploadable/editable menus with options etc. Thinking I could do with one of these so I may come back to it next week...

Monday, 20 January 2014

Day 1 - The Estimator

The first winner was @nicmods who needed something she could easily use on her mobile device to estimate how much silicone she needed for a mould..

So here's todays project:

It's supposed to be viewed from a mobile device.

I started at about 0925 and finished at about 1130.

I will put a long round up of the weeks shenanigans at the end of the week. For now go and see on your mobile.
the initial page as viewed from my phone

the results page

Sunday, 19 January 2014

5 Days 5 Apps

As a budding programmer, I have ideas all the time. But that generally means I'm restricted by my own imagination. I want to practice this week as part of my studies, so how about this:

Think of a simple, achievable app idea. It could be something that you have wanted, or it could just be for fun. Now comment here, post it on my facebook tweet at me or IM me. 

I will then pick the 5 best (and do-able) ideas, build them, name them after you, host them at and blog the entire process. I will do one per day for the next five days. The likely winners will be those which I can conceivably achieve in a couple of hours, so no MMORPGs I'm afraid (this time), but a simple game isn't out of the question.

First one is tomorrow. Go!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

IDE or not to IDE - Pitfalls for would be coders (like me) to avoid (unlike me)

That is the question? If you are starting out, what do you use to write your code in and how do you compile it or check its working (if its interpreted)?

In the last year I've been struggling forth trying to level up my coding ability on multiple fronts. I started, luckily by finding (starring the hyper-generous Derek Banas) and attempting his Java Tutorials. All of this in an effort to prepare for the start of my degree.

In the past of course I had taught myself HTML, CSS and a little javascript. But this endeavour really kickstart my journey into the code.

Back in the early 00s I tried building websites with macromedia (sickface). This experience put me off for a long time. Until, during my time running my own dojo business it fell upon me to write the website.

After 3 days locked in a dark room with just me, my PC and I emerged bleary eyed to a new world. A world where, armed with nothing but a browser and a simple text editor you can create websites without wanting to eat your own fist or headbutt the PC (who is an innocent bystander in all this).

Returning to my more recent excursion into OOP and Java, I discovered Netbeans. Overall my experience with netbeans was very good, and I still use it occasionally. But it is quite 'heavyweight'. Especially after developing in notepad..

So spin on through the summer and I delve back into web scripting. I ventured deep into the murky depths of HTML5, Javascript, CSS, JQuery and PHP. My steed on this journey: Akelpad (google it ;) ), a fantastically simple and light-weight text editor that is totally free (as is netbeans). Akelpad is feature rich and with a little tweaking and some plugins becomes a viable IDE like experience. Especially when using chrome as a pack mule (to preview I mean). Here's something I made with it while learning about HTML5 Canvas.

Then I began formal education and discovered that on all the comp science machines they encourage you to use notepad++. At first I was put off by its microsoftiness. Then I gave it a whirl and now I'm hooked.

Especially after a little confidence in your code is built up you really don't need to be in an IDE with its preloaded library recognition stuff. It doesn't eat your memory and it DOES NOT MESS WITH YOUR ENCODING!

So my advice to anyone getting into programming is look up notepad++. The best way is to head over to and get it from there. Or just get their platform because that's ace too. Loads of free and legal software that you can move around on a chip with you. I don't leave home without it.

If you want an IDE for Java there is a portable version of eclipse knocking around the ether, but you can just get the full version for free any way. I do prefer netbeans however. I find it more intuitive for some reason but many programmers seem to blow the eclipse trumpet.

Avoid windows 8 apps or coding software in general unless you have looked up peoples experience with it. Especially if you are starting out like me. It really is a minefield and there's a lot that can go wrong that you may not yet understand that will make you chew through your desk in frustration.

Here's some great sources of info:

Once you've got going and think you are getting the idea of OOP, program architecture etc; find a book on a proper language, like C or C++, Java or similar and read. Read like your eyes will die tomorrow.

One last note on the programming community. Ask them questions. They love it and there are only a few complete nobs in a sea of nice and helpful people. They do appreciate it if you have done your homework so before you go cap in hand to make sure you've at least tried to get your head around the source code/documentation in question.

I hope that's all helpful and... this is me

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The first iteration

Until recently I was a full time martial arts teacher. Martial arts still live at the core of my being, but my life has gone a different way.

Making money doing what you love is the dream, right? Well, I did that and I was successful at times, unsuccessful at others. But it was astoundingly rewarding in many ways besides financially.

So at 32, with a partner, step-son and rent to pay me and said partner brought up the subject of university. It's one of those things that I never got around to. There are lots of reasons why and I'd like to share a couple with you here.

Reason One:

When I was 14 my mother passed away due to cancer. Looking back I can see many events in my life that would have turned out rather differently with her at my back, watching over me or checking up on me...

That's not to say that I regret my life. Sometimes I look at situations that friends of mine are in, and into that factor in the support/berating/kick up the arse from a maternal figure and it confuses me. The role of a mother to a young adult is something that I understand intellectually but not intrinsically. But when I compare these events to similar happenings in my own life and try to overlay the 'mum' factor I can see that occasionally I would have taken starkly different paths.

Of note; I can say with confidence that I would certainly have gone to university at 18 or 19.

Reason two:

I have been let down by systems that I thought would support me or help me take the step up.

Seven or eight years ago, I held a supporting role in Exeter College. During this role I was placed in the music department where they made use of my college experience and musical ability. I attended course aimed at delivering learning to adults and it was arranged that I would teach provisionally on the lower level courses, whilst studying for a foundation degree in music.

Quite suddenly, the department pulled the funding and with one stone killed the two birds named 'hope' and 'confidence'.


I could go on with this rant about how I've been disappointed, but lets face it... boo effing hoo; right?

For anybody that does not know me, these situations are things that I have never considered before in this light. This is not cathartic, I write the accounts down in a purely ponderous way to give some insight into my motivation(?!). They are objective musings to set the scene.

So then, the seed was planted and inevitably grew into a real life event. Now I find myself falling down the rabbit hole of study. After 16 years out of formal education (at least in maths and English), I find myself on an engineering foundation year at the University of Nottingham preparing to undertake my undergrad computer science degree.

The moral of this story is; what-ever your new years resolution is, don't just write it down. Get up off your arse and do two things. Today, make a plan with a timeline on how its going to happen. Straight after you've done that do the first step, whatever it is. Make the first step towards that thing you want, that place you want to go or that person you want to be with (I'm all about motivating stalkers...).

So I thought I would blog about a few of the trials and tribulations that come along the way. This blog has many facets. On the one hand I'm a full-time student who is completely out of his depth (most of the time at least) juggling the roles of father, house-husband and studious learner. On the other hand I'm a mature student returning to higher maths, physics and computer science at 33. Let's not forget that I'm also learning teh Codez and blundering my way blindly through formal and informal education in all of the above.

So this blog will have stories of difficulties, successes and failures. It will have advice for coders who are starting out and probably an extensive library of 'what not to dos' in that area. It will occasionally feature my work which, until I get employed by someone or make something amazing, will be free or open source. There will be some news on the projects that are always available at There will be some journalistic accounts of parenthood and my continuing education and efforts/adventures with the wee Webb (my step-son) and more besides.

So prepare yourselves travellers, for my brain().