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When I was moving beyond self-written AJAX calls and picking up the Prototype and Scriptaculous libraries, one of the best resources I could find was Amy Hoy’s Scriptaculous cheat sheet. It was hard not to find it — or her: Google searches on the things I was dealing with at the time just kept leading back to Slash7.

I was already advanced enough not to need her “What’s AJAX?” cheatsheet, but it was cool that she’d done such a thing. In fact, she had — and still has — a strong streak of “help teach others, so they can get to where I’m at” about her. That’s something I’ve always striven for in myself, but where I haven’t (yet) gotten around to some of the tutorial posts I want to do, Amy’s been nailing that category for over 5 years. And she’s been taking it seriously.

Later on, when I was getting into Ruby On Rails, Amy’s Secrets of the Rails Console Ninjas was an eye-opener… and then there was her other article that assured me that it was okay to ditch WEBrick for Mongrel, and so many others.

But Amy doesn’t just know loads about developing in AJAX, JavaScript, and Rails. She goes beyond the ephemera of coding, delving deeper into the things that make programming matter. She asks (and answers) some of the hard questions about usability, including a pair of my own favorite points on the topic. She knows that software is also political.

And she writes damned well. Her style is clear, crisp, and readable — unlike my own tendency to ramble on and use overly-complicated sentences. (For what it’s worth, I talk much the same way. At least I don’t code the way I talk — honest, I don’t!)

If I can learn from Amy, maybe one day I’ll be as good a blogger as she is. In the meantime, she inspires me to keep improving.

Originally published at Coyote Tracks. You can comment here or there.

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A while back, when I was writing Hummingbird, I needed to look for Twitter usernames in various strings. More recently, I’m doing some work that involves Twitter at my new job. Once again, I need to find and match on Twitter usernames.

Luckily, this time, Twitter seems to have updated its signup page with some nice AJAX that constrains the user’s options, and provides helpful feedback. So, for anyone else who needs this information in the future, here’s the scoop:

  1. Letters, numbers, and underscores only. It’s case-blind, so you can enter hi_there, Hi_There, or HI_THERE and they’ll all work the same (and be treated as a single account).
  2. There is apparently no minimum-length requirement; the user a exists on Twitter. Maximum length is 15 characters.
  3. There is also no requirement that the name contain letters at all; the user 69 exists, as does a user whose name I can’t pronounce.

If you want a regex to match on this, /[a-zA-Z0-9_]{1,15}/ would be nice and safe for use in both POSIX and Perl-style regex syntax. (If you’ve got Perl-compatible regexes, /\w{1,15}/ is quick and easy.)

Originally published at Coyote Tracks. You can comment here or there.

kai_mactane: (Default)

I’ve actually made some progress on coding projects this weekend. My Palm Prē “Magic 8 Ball” application now responds to the Prē’s accelerometer: if you rotate the Prē, the app stays right-side up (including readjusting the position of the backdrop image). Even cooler, you no longer have to tap a button to trigger the fortune; now you shake the phone instead. (Last Saturday night, a friend expected to be able to shake the phone and have it “shake the magic 8-Ball”. But that wasn’t actually possible for third-party devs like me at the time; the accelerometer support only arrived in the webOS 1.1.0 update, which came out on Thursday.)

I’ve also got a reasonably good script for installing, updating, and uninstalling homebrew apps for the Prē. Instead of the annoying, six-step process for installing homebrew apps on a rooted Prē, I just shell in and type ./homebrew.sh my 8ball, and the homebrew.sh script does it all for me. I need to publish that thing, now that I’ve got it working fairly well.

Additionally, my Japanese sentence generator, called “J-Babble”, now does proper plain past tenses (the -ta and -nakatta forms), which will make it more useful for me as a tool to keep me from backsliding when I’m busy. I’d link to that, but it’s not really a general-use tool yet. It’s more just for me. Maybe some day, I’ll give it the option for people to customize what vocabulary and grammatical forms they know, so it can just generate stuff they have a chance of understanding. For now, though, its use is just for me: when my life gets too busy for me to read my Japanese textbook and try to make new progress, I can at least bring up J-Babble once a day and get 25 randomly-generated, but grammatically correct and semantically sensible, sentences in Japanese. It’s just enough to keep the neural pathways from atrophying; it allows me to hold my place instead of losing ground.

(I’ve gotten some housework done, too, but this isn’t the place to talk about that.)

Originally published at Coyote Tracks. You can comment here or there.

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