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Topics - mouser [ switch to compact view ]

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Here's an example of one of those things that illustrates the incredibly amazing age we live in, and an example of exactly the kind of humor that makes me smile to the core of my being.
It's a multiplayer flight simulator (Flight Simulator X) where people can take on different roles, including as pilots and air traffic controllers, without rules and governed only by their own love of the protocols of the real world jobs they are performing.
They play around with the real lingo and rules, and put their own psychotic little twists on things. LOVE IT.

from https://www.metafilt...n-Flight-Simulator-X

Android Apps / Mouser Android Apps Updated 11/14/18
« on: November 14, 2018, 06:41 AM »
I've updated most of my Android apps to allow for custom independent font scaling in portrait and landscape mode.  This can make a real difference in terms of readability on phones.
You can see all (10) of my android apps on the google play store here:

3 featured us on "The 9 Safest Free Software Download Sites for Windows"  :Thmbsup:

Free software download sites can be dangerous. Visiting a bad site could end up with you smothered in fake download buttons and fake virus and malware warnings, which are usually malware in disguise... Donation Coder prides itself on providing free and clean software in exchange for nothing but donations.

N.A.N.Y. 2019 / NANY 2019 - Windows App - Process Watcher
« on: November 06, 2018, 01:34 PM »
A little app in the same vein as my Process Tamer, Process Piglet apps... Not super useful but might be interesting for some..
I'm far enough along to know that it will get finished in time.  Details will follow.

Not anything to get super worked up about but interesting..

The way that major browsers store history and structure links leaves them vulnerable to old school ‘sniffing’ attacks...Most modern browsers—such as Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, and even browsers such as FuzzyFox and DeterFox (different, security-focused versions of Firefox)—have vulnerabilities that allow hosts of malicious websites to extract hundreds to thousands of URLs in a user’s web history..What’s worse, the vulnerabilities are built into the way they structure links, meaning that major structural changes will have to take place in these browsers in order to protect user privacy...By embedding a special script in a web page, the actor can test how long it takes for a web page to load and infer whether you’ve visited it or not. Actors can probe 3,000 URLs per second with this method.

Screenshot - 11_5_2018 , 6_12_43 AM.png

N.A.N.Y. 2019 / NANY 2019 Rewards
« on: November 04, 2018, 04:59 AM »
This thread is to insure I don't forget some items we have to give away to NANY participants this year.

App103 has arranged a great collection of programming ebooks that we will give away.

Just making a note here in case anyone else runs into this problem.
Yesterday (Nov 1, 2018), I noticed that I could not properly log into our web server (joomla) CMS.  The problem was that some redirects in an htaccess file had stopped working.  I assumed the problem was due to a new joomla update, and ended up spending many HOURS trying to add new mod_rewrite rules in htaccess to work around the problem.  It took hours because I could not convince myself that mod_rewrite was not working correctly.  I just assumed I was making mistakes in the mod_rewrite htaccess rules, which has happened so many times since it's so finicky and obtuse.

Long story short, after about 10 hours of banging my head against the wall trying to understand why some htaccess rules were not behaving as I thought they should, and experimenting with different rules (and breaking the site continuously as I did), I tested the rules that weren't working on another web server, and they worked just fine.  That's when I realized that something was wrong with mod_rewrite.  Checking our server control panel (cpanel) I saw that apache had recently been updated to v2.4.37 only a day or so ago.  There was no more recent version and no reported bugs of the nature I was encountering, but I did notice that there were some related apache helper files that the cpanel EasyApache setup was willing to update.  After doing that everything was working again.

So this is just a heads up, and maybe especially relevant for others who have cpanel and apache -- if you are seeing misbehavior with your htaccess rewrite rules, check into whether a recent apache update (or EasyApache on cpanel) isn't the cause.

Developer's Corner / A little about the Lua scripting language
« on: October 30, 2018, 02:07 PM »
I've been experimenting a little lately with embedding Lua and Python in an app to provide better scripting features..  OSNews points today to a nice intro to what the Lua language is all about:

Lua is a scripting language developed at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) that has come to be the leading scripting language for video games worldwide.3,7 It is also used extensively in embedded devices like set-top boxes and TVs and in other applications like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Wikipedia.14 Its first version was released in 1993. The current version, Lua 5.3, was released in 2015.
The lack of built-in complex constructions and minimalist standard libraries (for portability and small size) make Lua a language that is not as good as other scripting languages for writing "quick-and-dirty" programs. Many programs in Lua need an initial phase for programmers to set up the language, as a minimal infrastructure for object-oriented programming. More often than not, Lua is embedded in a host application. Embedding demands planning and the set-up of the language is typically integrated with its embedding. Lua's economy of concepts demands from programmers a deeper understanding of what they are doing, as most constructions are explicit in the code. This explicitness also allows such deeper understanding. We trust this is a blessing, not a curse.


Living Room / Nice round up of recent new essays on computer gaming
« on: October 28, 2018, 07:22 AM »
Rock Paper Shotgun's weekly roundup of computer gaming reading is filled with some particularly interesting reading this week:


Of note is the link to a very long and  review of Red Dead Redemption 2:

N.A.N.Y. 2019 / NANY 2019 - Android App - Rating List DC
« on: October 28, 2018, 07:13 AM »
Rating List DC for Android is a simple app that lets you keep track of a list of items and your ratings of them.


N.A.N.Y. 2019 / NANY 2019 - Android App - Streak Tracker
« on: October 28, 2018, 06:58 AM »
Streak Tracker for Android is a productivity utility meant to help motivate you.  It's a simple app that lets you create a list of activities and specify for each a time window in terms of hours/days/weeks/months that you must regularly perform the activity in order to keep your streak going.  The idea is to motivate you to perform activities regularly by keeping your streaks going.


N.A.N.Y. 2019 / NANY 2019 - Android App - Point Motivator
« on: October 28, 2018, 06:41 AM »
Point Motivator for Android is a productivity utility meant to help motivate you.  It's a simple app that lets you create a list of activities that are worth different amounts of points (possibly negative), and keeps track of your "score" when you engage in the activities.

It's based on my old windows application of the same name, which you can find here.

pointmotivator1.png pointmotivator2.png

N.A.N.Y. 2019 / NANY 2019 - Idea for an app synchronizing web service
« on: October 09, 2018, 12:42 PM »
I had an idea for a web service that would be useful to my android apps and could be quite useful in general.
It's something I would be willing to collaborate on, though I'm not sure I have the time to focus on it unless I make it my nany 2019 item.

Background: Right now I offer synchronization in my android apps by using the dropbox API, which has an api that can assist in reading/writing files from multiple devices in a shared account.
This works but can be less than ideal for synchronizing data because it means its only appropriate when you yourself want to sync data from different devices of your own.
It's not useable by an app where you wanted to sync data with a friend because you they need to be using your same dropbox account and credentials.

So if you had an app, say an app where you might allow multiple people (say only 2 or maybe 100) to form adhoc sharing of data, what you need is an online "service" where it's easy to create a new "group" account where you could simply tell your friends the password and account id and they could all put that into their app to sync data through it.

So my idea is for a simple service that makes it easy to create such group sharing/synchronization accounts and save/load data through it.

As I was imagining it, the web service would have a back end and a front end.  In the back end an administrator could create different application profiles.  An application profile would have an ID, and some configuration settings describing the maximum size of groups and data files.  And would show some statistics about how many groups were created for it, bandwidth, etc.

The front end would be for users to create new groups for a specific application.  Each group would be tied to a specific application and have a unique password.  Alternatively you could have user accounts and let users create and manage groups so that they could identify different roles/permission levels for a given group, with different passwords for each role.

So here's how the system would be used:

As the developer of some apps, I would install this web service on the donationcoder server and only I would have access to the back end.  I would add each of my android apps to the back end.
Then in each app, the app would offer a synchronization mode that used this web service.  If a user chose to use the web service as the synchronization method, they would be asked for an id and password.
They key is that this id and password is not specific to a person, it's specific to the GROUP of users they want to have shared sync access to the data in that app.  They would then share that id+password info with the friends that they want to share/sync data with, etc.  You could simply make up a new id/password if you wanted to share/sync with a different group of people, etc.  Knowing the id+password is akin to joining the synchronization group for that app.

Just think of the web service as having a folder for each combination of APPID+GROUPID+PASSWORD, which it uses for synchronization.

The web service would limit the possibilities of being exploited for other uses by having a very limited api and strong restrictions on the number and size and format of files that it would store.  Perhaps each app would just allow one xml file, under 100k, etc.
The api would just provide a few functions for uploading and downloading files.

Living Room / I'm getting married, wish me luck!
« on: October 05, 2018, 03:41 PM »
In the 13 years of DonationCoder, I've been pretty reticent about talking about my own personal life.
It's not that I don't view everyone here as family -- it's just a general shyness and reluctance to talk about personal details.

But I wanted to share with my donationcoder family that I am getting married next week.

 :-* :-*

It's definitely not something I expected to be doing a year ago, but we found ourselves in a rather unusual situation after a couple years of dating where we were either going to be separated on different continents or try to make it work as a married couple, and we've finally decided on the latter.  After almost 50 years it's a very different kind of adventure we're embarking on, and I'm excited about it and wanted to share it with all of you...

(I hope this explains why I may not have been on the forum as much as usual over the last couple of months -- but I hope to be back to my normal activity later this month).

It's just a court wedding so don't expect any fancy photos, and there's no reception to attend, but here is a photo of us during a recent hiking trip (I'm on the left!):


Bonus points: Can anyone identify where the photo was taken?

Nice long cool article: "The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies"

In 2015, Inc. began quietly evaluating a startup called Elemental Technologies, a potential acquisition to help with a major expansion of its streaming video service, known today as Amazon Prime Video...
Nested on the servers’ motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn’t part of the boards’ original design. Amazon reported the discovery to U.S. authorities, sending a shudder through the intelligence community. Elemental’s servers could be found in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA’s drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships. And Elemental was just one of hundreds of Supermicro customers... During the ensuing top-secret probe, which remains open more than three years later, investigators determined that the chips allowed the attackers to create a stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines. Multiple people familiar with the matter say investigators found that the chips had been inserted at factories run by manufacturing subcontractors in China.

Nice long video discussing all the different ways speed-runners worked to improve how fast they could complete a tiny level in the video game Super Mario Brothers, over the course of more than a decade.

A nice long picture-heavy version of a talk given recently on the past and future of the text adventure game engines that set the standard for text adventure games, and powered such classics as Zork.

Inform is a domain-specific language, and its domain is the creation of interactive fiction. When it began in 1993, Inform was simply a new hacker tool for making what we used to call adventure games: that is, textual games with a turn cycle in which the player typed commands and the game then revealed an appropriate piece of story — a story partly generated dynamically, but partly following a narrative already laid out by the author. This is a genre of writing which began with recreational computing in the 1970s, then passed through a commercial phase in the 1980s. Inform is called Inform in part because of the classic works of a company called Infocom:


Android Apps / New Android App: Rating List DC
« on: August 28, 2018, 11:55 AM »
Just a small free app built using my list-management framework: Rating List DC

Screenshot - 8_28_2018 , 11_53_51 AM.png

Page on Google Play store:

You can manage a list of items that you assign 1-5 star ratings for.

A nice long article on the history of a very inflential first-person shooter game for the nintendo 64, called "Goldeneye 007".

This is a game I played and finished, and it was the best first person shooter I had played up until that point.

The Nintendo 64’s GoldenEye 007 — or GoldenEye 64, as it’s often known — is seen as one of the system’s all-time classics. Aug. 25, 2018, will be the game’s 21st birthday (allowing Bond to finally taste one of his revered cocktails), so we reached out to the people who played, reviewed and created the game to see how it all came together, way back in 1997. From the multiplayer being added as an afterthought to the game almost having every Bond actor ever, the game you and your buddies logged hours on — paintballing in the Stack or shooting Boris in the balls — was almost something very, very different...


Android Apps / Checklist DC (Android app) - v1.23 Aug 20, 2018
« on: August 21, 2018, 12:01 PM »
Checklist DC is my simple checklist app for android.

You can visit the original thread and discussion here: http://www.donationc...ndex.php?topic=43046
Visit DC web page for the app here: http://www.donationc...-for-android-devices
Or download from the google play store here:


Android Apps / ScoreTracker DC (Android app) - v1.32 - Aug 20, 2018
« on: August 16, 2018, 07:09 AM »
A little plug for my (100% free) Android app called ScoreTracker DC.

It's a simple app that lets you track scores or counts for different items -- for example if you wanted to keep track of the scores for each player in a board game.

It's built on the same codebase I have used for my other Android apps, which means it has multi-device synchronization options, tabs for grouping items, etc.
Each item has a quick +1 and -1 buttons but you can also click any score to get a nice calculator dialog to make bigger changes.

I've recently added a custom font scaling option which makes it particularly useful for displaying names and scores in very big clear lettering.

You can download it from the Google Play store here:

Or see the DC page on it here: http://www.donationc...-for-android-devices

Or view the original DC thread announcement and discussion: http://www.donationc...ndex.php?topic=42999

scoretrackerscreenshot.png bigscore.png horzcalc.png vertcalc.png pefs.png groups.png

v1.32 - Aug 20, 2018
  • Improved font size control, better menus

Developer's Corner / OSNews on the Mobile App Store Model
« on: August 15, 2018, 02:19 AM »
I just want to quote this small blog entry on OsNews because it is concise and insightful.

The application store model is a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing since it made it very easy for developers to get their code to users, but that ease also caused the supply side of applications to grow exponentially. The end result is something we are all aware of - application stores are littered with garbage, prices of software have plummeted to unsustainable levels, which in turn has all but killed off the independent application developer. The top application lists are now dominated by either high-profile applications such as Facebook or Twitter, or predatory pay-to-win gambling "games". Doing any search in a modern application store reveals piles of useless junk.

The next step is obvious: Apple (and perhaps Google) will attempt an almost Netflix-like app subscription service, where you pay Apple a monthly fee for unlimited use of applications available in the store. It's the next step in milking the last possible drop out of third party developers, and while it will surely allow application store proponents to continue to claim the model is working, it's just a stay of execution.

Developing quality software is a time-consuming and expensive task, and the current application store model - with or without subscriptions - is simply incompatible with it. Either software delivery on modern computing devices gets rethought completely, or even the last remaining bits of quality software will simply disappear from application stores.

Living Room / Do Not Buy a Smartwatch Right Now
« on: August 14, 2018, 11:08 AM »
On September 10, Qualcomm is hosting an event in San Francisco where they will announce a new wearable chipset that will more than likely be in all future Wear OS watches. This new chipset is said to be built from the ground up, will allow watches to look pretty when you aren’t using them (like a normal watch sitting idly by your side), and extend battery life.” More importantly, Qualcomm is betting that this Snapdragon Wear chip will “significantly change the Wear OS ecosystem, what you expect from a smartwatch.”

If you buy a smartwatch today, before Qualcomm announces this chip, you will be stuck with a 2+ year old Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip. All of the new Wear OS watches that have been announced recently, use that chip. It’s old. It’s never been great. And it’s about to be replaced by something potentially game-changing for smartwatches...

While there is no sure bet when it comes to a Wear OS revival, this is the most exciting watch-related happening we’ve had on Android in years. Do not buy a smartwatch today or next week or the following week. Wait until we see what Qualcomm has in store.

from https://hardware.sla...smartwatch-right-now

Android Apps / Updating my Android Apps
« on: August 08, 2018, 12:58 PM »
It's been a while since I worked on my Android Apps.. I'm just updating them now to work with the latest version of Android Studio, and I think what I'd like to do next is add an option where you can scale the font text easily.
For some of my apps (I'm thinking ScoreTracker in particular), being able to go easily into a large font mode would make all the difference.

You can find all of my apps here:

My apps will now show you where they are saving their settings files in the about box of the program.
This will normally be in a C:/Users/USERNAME/MyDocuments/DonationCoder/APPNAME/
But it can be different based on configdir.ini setting, portable use, etc.

This will help in some troubleshooting.

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