Author Archives: ochomer

June 27, 2008

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There’s so many things rattling around in my brain right now (as usual) and its hard to know what to pick out to talk about. And I want to write. Many times during these brain log-jams, I just throw in the towel and I don’t write a thing.

I think the best thing to do is start typing. Just start typing into the blog.

My attempts at programming the iPhone are kinda so so. I have fits of programming attempts. My main road-block seems to be learning how to use XCode properly.

I’ve talked to people who work in the Oakbrook Apple store and the big Michigan Avenue Apple store in downtown Chicago. Not suprisingly, beyond knowing how to use the iPhone, they don’t have any info/help on how to program the thing. Gosh, I wish I had gone to the developer conference Apple just had in San Fran!

I didfind out about a programmer’s group in the Chicagoland area that meets once a month at the Michigan Avenue Apple Store. The Cocoaheads. I saw some stuff out there about iPhone programming. I am planning on going to their July meeting. Wish me luck!

I finally took my first 1to1 course at the Apple store on Finalcut Express. Pretty good! Sadly, I’ve had the membership for a while now and have wasted several weeks. I am all signed up for another 1to1 though.

Are you an iPhone developer? Do you know XCode pretty well? Do you mind if I bother you with questions? Let me know.

“Cree cree creee creee…”   sound of crickets…

I got to come up with a written list of my current iPhone questions to:

  • Bring to that meeting in July.
  • To give via email addresses shown at the end of the Apple “how-to” videos.

Am I babbling? Probably.

My health (panic attack and anxiety issues) has been gradually improving as I have been:

  • Staying away from caffiene
  • Taking GABA (An amino acid)
  • Taking 5-HTP.
  • Taking B Vitamins & Magnesium.
  • Trying to eat right.
  • Taking a multiple vitamin.
  • Trying to recollect what I did right for the day not what I did wrong.
  • Trying to recollect what I completed, as opposed to what I didn’t complete.
  • Not only let my body rest, but my thoughts rest too.

One thing that has been therapeutic, has been gardening.  I’ve created this whole new garden bed in my back yard. It’s got this nice edging, cedar mulch, and I’ve planted 3 new bushes! I hope that they survive.

The bushes have some new holes in allot of the leaves. I looked on the underside of the leaves… no bugs were found. I’ve now added flowers and garden lights to my garden bed (some flowers have not been planted yet). Oh, and I have one tomato plant.

I still have dreams of living in Hawaii some day (on the beach). Okay, I don’t want much do I? 😛

Visited my dad at the nursing home. He was quite lucid. Haven’t seen him that lucid in quite some time. I know its not something I can expect regularly. If I had my druthers, I would live by the ocean in Hawaii and my dad would live with us and we would have in-home healthcare for him. I don’t know if my dad would live long enough for this to happen. I can dream.

The iPhone is Working Again

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My iPhone is working again. It has been several days since this momentous occasion has occured.

I called Apple tech support and was graciously helped above and beyond the call of duty. It seems that I was missing a step in upgrading my iPhone OS. Thankfully, I was given the remaining step, tried it, and it worked!

My iPhone has Wigged Out!

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Imagine that you are ready to go somewhere and want to bring your cell phone with you. I found myself in this spot at many of us do. I went to get it off the charger where it had been sitting 2 or 3 days. I’d been hanging around the house for that amount of time and had not needed it. —Is that possible?— 😀

I took my phone off the charger and was greeted with the purple screen of uselessness. –Well, not quite, if I needed to call 911 it would allow that!

Without me updating my phone, at all, my iPhone has become basically a brick. All it can do is make emergency calls (I will add a screen shot later).

It dawned on me that since I am part of the paid SDK beta, that maybe the version of the iPhone OS on my phone had expired, so, I went through the process of updating my phone/SDK/Mac to the latest version of everything. At least I think I did everything that I need to!

I was expecting it to work again. No dice! That is a bit disappointing to say the least. I’m planning on calling Apple tonight when I get home to try to resolve the problem. I’m glad I have a cordless bluetooth headset for my landline phone as I’m sure I can expect to be waiting in some tech support queue for some time.

Let’s see, for a reference the number I will need to call is:  

U.S. iPhone technical support: 1-800-MY-IPHONE (1-800-694-7466)

Got it from here.

Wish me luck!

How to Add Custom Menus in Excel 2003

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Introduction:
It never crossed my mind for the longest time that there might be the possibility of of adding custom menus to Excel. Either ones that are specific with a particular workbook, or menus that are available for use with any workbook.

When I found out you could have custom menus in Excel, I spent quite a bit of time searching for how to do it. Microsoft’s site wasn’t very clear. A site here and a site there explained parts of the puzzle. Eventually, with allot of experimentation, I got it working.

This tutorial explains how you can create your own custom menus in Excel. The version of Excel I’m using is Excel 2003 SP3.

Custom Menu Modes:
There are two ways you can have custom menus:

  1. Custom menus that appear only when opening a specific workbook. In this case, we put the VBA code in that specific workbook which is executed in the workbook_open event handler.
  2. Custom menus that are available in Excel regardless of what workbook is open. In fact, these menus can be available even if no workbook is open! Basically it works the same way as when doing it for a specific workbook. The difference is that we save the file as an Excel Add-In. Then, we go to Add-Ins in Excel, and check our new Add-In.  It will be available for use from that point forward.

A Little More Information about Excel Add-Ins:
They are basically Excel workbook files with some exceptions:

  • They have a different file extension (*.xla).
  • Even though this “workbook” can have one or more tabs, all the tabs are invisible.
  • The file must be saved in the directory where the Excel Add-Ins go. Normally, if you pick the add-on file extention type in the Save As dialog, it will point to the correct directory for you.
  • Once an Add-Ins has been saved, it still must be picked (checked) from Add-Ins (Tools / Add-Ins menu) in order for it to work.
  • You must not have Macros disabled for Add-Ins to work.
  • Whenever you check an Add-In in Excel, or if you open Excel and the Add-In is already checked, the workbook_open event code will be executed.
  • Whenever you uncheck an Add-In in Excel, or if you close Excel and the Add-In is already checked, the workbook_beforeclose event code will be executed.

Menu Code Overview
Now that we got discussing Add-Ins out of the way, I want to basically give an overview of our code, how it works, etc.:

  • Our code for either an Add-In or an individual workbook is basically the same.
  • In our workbook_open event handler, we put in code to create our menus.
  • In our workbook_beforeclose event handler, we put in code to remove our menus.
  • When a menu item in Excel is created, it doesn’t go away, even if you close Excel. This may sound good, but if your menu was workbook specific and the workbook was no longer open you could get an error trying to call a procedure no longer in memory.
  • Because of the above, if you aren’t careful, you could end up with multiple menus with the same captions, etc. Basically a mess!
  • Because of this, before we create any new menus, it is smart to check to see if there are any old versions of the menus and delete them first! Our sample code will do just that!
  • Menus can have keyboard shortcuts. We’ll show you how to do this.
  • And of course menu items will have code associated with them which executes when the user clicks on the item. We will show how to do this as well.
  • Finally, once you have your menu working nicely, you may want to password protect your module to prevent users from messing with it. We will show you how to do this.

Creating our Sample File
Open Excel, and create a new workbook. You may want to delete the last two tabs since they are not needed, but this is optional.

  • Open up the Visual Basic Editor (VBE)  from Excel. One way to do this is to select it from the Tools / Macro menu. You could add a VBE button on your tool bar from the View menu sometime too. This makes getting into the editor allot faster going forward.
  • From the VBE’s Insert menu, pick the “Module” option.
  • I would rename the module to something like: “modMenuTest”
  • Press Ctrl-S to save your changes. Do this often as you work on your project!
  • This new module will contain the routines we will call to do the following:
    • House our menu building and removal routines.
    • House our routines which will run when menu items are clicked on.

First Routine, DeleteAMenu:
Add the following code to the new module:
Read more

Thinking About a Redesign… Again

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I am getting thoroughly dissatisfied with the design of my web site again. I’m looking for that right balance of nice presentation, easy updating, good navigation, etc.

I’ve not found it yet.

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify!

More and more lately I’m out trolling the Net looking for some good site design examples that capture the essence of what I’m looking for. I’ve been tweeking around with some CSS and HTML locally on my computer trying to find that magic something or other.

It shouldn’t have to be this hard!

I’ve been pondering just making my whole site a blog. One thing is for sure, I’d really like it to be some sort of complete content management system (one that would run on my web host and not cost allot, and has the features I want).

Of course this has gotten me back to thinking about writing my own CMS. I’ve started and abandoned this idea several times! I have written simple CMSes before. I used to have a site: “vbmaster.net” It used a CMS I wrote in ASP/MS Access. It worked pretty well. I got sick of running it and so I stopped. I lost ownership of the domain due to letting it expire and some spammer has the domain now.

That CMS was primitive. Too primitive for what I want to do now.

And, naturally, that got me thinking about the Movieland Directory. This site has a CMS that I wrote. Well, I started working on a newer, better design for this site months ago. I left off working on it quite awhile back though. Well, allot of what I need is already done. So I started thinking about picking up work on this project again. The point though: thinking only! No actual work on it yet!

I think that I have software constipation right now! 😛

iPhone SDK Beta: Some Progress

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To all you bright programmers out there, getting the SDK working probably seemed to be cake. Not for me. Apple made things confusing. But I’m finally getting somewhere!

Getting the first app example working (which I downloaded off of Apple’s site) was an uphill struggle. I was trying to get the  Kalimba Finger Piano working on my iPhone. Downloading the right licence files, putting them in the right places. Not to mention the fact that when ordering the SDK it took me to the Apple store to purchase it and promised a delivery within 5 business days, and that I’d need to be at the ship address to sign for it… Buzzz! Wrong!

I have now downloaded and got running on my iPhone several of the examples that Apple provides. These examples look like they will help me understand how to do different things that I need to understand in order to accomplish my desired goal: A simple game that I have in mind.

Pete from Trails In The Sand: thankyou for your help.

I’ve got a binder set up where I’m keeping all my To-do lists, activity logs, and misc notes for my game. I’m trying to give structure to this thing. I dearly hope this won’t end up being another unfinished project. I’m hoping that the simplicity of the game I want to write will help me in this regards.

The next thing I’m planning to do is assemble one of Pete’s projects and get it working. I think this is the next natural step in progression. It’s one thing to get working a project where all the files have been pre-added, and everything is pre-configured and get it working, it’s another thing to take the piece-parts and do that yourself.

After that, I’m really going to start digging into the code. My to-do list is much more detailed but I think you get the idea.

Tip: When selecting an item in Provisioning, it means more than highlighting it. It means checking the checkbox on the item. This little issue had me wasting probably 2-3 hours of time trying different things.

Val’s Art Diary DVD Came

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POST UPDATED: Finally, I got my order. Val included some candies in the package as sort of a consolation prize for my order being so late. Hopefully my wife doesn’t get the wrong idea! 😛

I Ate All the Chocolates! img_0250.JPG img_0251.JPG
Box of chocolates (Decimated) The goodie bag spilled out The DVD and it’s box

Thanks Val!

Val’s Art Diary is a video blog where she creates a painting every week and explains it to her viewers.

She’s also on YouTube.

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I’m on the phone with Apple as we speak. I’m trying to find out what has happened to my iPhone Beta SDK. I logged into the Apple Store, checked my order status. The first thing I noticed gratefully is that it did show that I actually did order the SDK, and the my Visa card was charged for it.

What I did not see is any sort of shipping status information at all. The item says under Order Status that it is “Electronically Delivered,” but I saw no place under “Downloads” where I could download it.

Let me back up just a bit… when I ordered it, it seemed to imply that Apple would ship me a package containing the SDK and that I would need to be at the address when the delivery was made so that I could sign for the package. It was implied that the order would come as short as overnight but take up to 5 business days. Maybe I could get it today (6 business days)!

What is mysterious is that there is nothing under my order status to tell me that it shipped, or that it is pending approval before it’s shipped, etc. This is unclear. Hopefully on this call I will find out what’s up.

Right now, I’m on hold whilst the Apple rep tries to find out stuff.

Although I don’t like this, I’m not surprised really. All the things Apple has been doing lately, all the balls they’re trying to keep in the air, I think they’re doing pretty good considering it all… I still want my SDK though! 🙂

As I end this post, I am still on hold…

iPhone SDK Beta: Waiting For Delivery

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I got the go-ahead from Apple Development to be in the Beta program for developing for the iPhone. I clicked on the appropriate link, filled in the proper info, whipped out the old credit card, validated everything, read everything and am now waiting to receive my package!

I was pleased to see that I wasn’t just simply given a URL to download stuff from, but that they were going to send me a package containing the goodies I’m looking for. I will have to sign for the package.

I signed up I believe Sunday evening. So I am waiting expectantly for my delivery. I will be able to finally try stuff on my actual phone. How cool is that?

iPhone in China?

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No formal talks have happened yet between China Mobile and Apple, but there is a buzz on the internet about it. Wouldn’t it be cool? The iPhone in China? Not only for Apple, but for all the developers of apps for the iPhone!

Something developers would have to take into consideration is the usage of regional settings in their applications.
But this is a small problem compared to the potential.

One possible drawback here is the price of the phone. How many people in China could afford it?

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