Joseph Hallenbeck

Anno Domini 2014

October 13, 2014


Filed under: Software Development

This summer, I plunged into the depths of my back up drives and came up with some old projects that were growing some dust. Like most old projects, I find them, get excited. Decide to do a major revolutionary revamp, and ultimately just end up touching up some things and kicking them out the door. The DropFramework is one such thing. For a long time, I wanted to make my own micro-framework to compete with the likes of Slim or Silex. In the end though, I really feel that those two have the space of micro-frameworks very well covered. No one needs yet another PHP micro-framework with half-done ideas floating around. Still, I did want to show it off, so I polished it up a little bit and through it up on github. Below are my thoughts on “Yet Another PHP Microframework”

Yet Another PHP Microframework

For all intensive purposes, you can consider this an abandoned project and I would not recommend anyone actually use this in production.

A few years ago when Code Igniter was still quite a hot thing and a lot of

servers were still running PHP 5.2, e.g. the “dark ages” before we got all the nice things that came along in PHP 5.3 it seemed to be quite the fashion for everyone to try their hand at writing their own framework.

This was my go at it.

You will find a lot of similarities with Code Igniter (since that is the framework I worked with at the time) and you might also find a lot of classes that look like they came straight out of PHP Objects, Patterns and Practice since that was my bible.

I wanted to do a few things in writing the DropFramework:

  1. I wanted to better understand the MVC pattern, the choices being made and how CI works.

  2. I wanted a framework that was small enough that I could read and understand every class in it.

  3. I wanted a framework with a very small footprint that worked by transforming HTTP requests into request objects / command objects. This allowed me to fire up multiple instances of the framework per HTTP request with the master application generating it’s own request objects that it would feed into it’s child instances and then construct a document out of the application responses from the children.

  4. I did not like at the time, and still do not like the major design patterns of a lot of ORM solutions which tend to treat the database as the authoritative model of the data. I rather turn this convention upside down: treat the database as just another form of user input. The model can then be constructed from any form of input – the database, an HTTP post, a file. The PHP object is then the authoritative source for how the data structure relates with other data. Any data coming into the model passes through a validation layer that translates it (or rejects it if it invalid).

Whether or not I succeeded at this items? I don’t think I would really know.

Version 0.4.0

The version of the framework that had been sitting on my hard disk for some time was 0.3.0. In deciding to release it I have done two major things:

  1. I created a simple example of the framework working. The code for this example is also up on github and a live version as well.

  2. I namespaced the entire framework and brought it into PSR-4 compliance allowing for installation via Composer and the use of the Composer autoloader. This defeats a lot of the purpose of the PHP 5.2 era frameworks which devoted a lot of their resources to locating and managing the loading of assets. This, of course, makes this no longer a PHP 5.2 compatible framework and probably even makes a lot of the framework look rather silly.

October 01, 2014

Centipede-RS Dev Log #2

Filed under: Software Development

Getting started with Piston can be a little daunted right now. Mostly this is because it’s a project that is still evolving and which has either little documentation or documentation that rapidly becomes wrong. A lot of games that I found made with Piston can no longer be compiled, a lot of example code needs various minor tweaks to get to compile, etc. That said, the two best items that I found where:

Getting Started

The first hurdle in getting Piston to work was getting the SDL2 and GLFW dependencies installed. Cargo does a great job of going out and grabbing everything else, but these two items require you to do it yourself. SDL2 was rather easy and the instructions for it can be found in the Getting Started tutorial (see above). GLFW was a bit more of a pain and I ended up going through a stack overflow question to get it working. If anything, I would just point to the Getting started tutorial to get the initial empty repository set up with cargo and all the dependencies in the Cargo.toml.

My Repository at this Point

At this point my repository looks like this I began by setting up a new Piston project as detailed in the Getting Started tutorial and from there I copied the code from the piston image example. This was just a nice starting point to ensure that everything is working and that the Rust logo would appear in the window designated.

From there, I began working through the Piston-Mov-Square project and the Getting Started tutorials and religiously commenting every line of the code with what it does. This is just something I picked up in college and a good way to puzzle out foreign code. Even if the comment turns out to be wrong (like it happened in many cases for myself), it at least is a step in manually dealing with the code.

I played around for a while and after I felt confident in the code that I had, I began abstracting it into various data objects and getting down to work. Hopefully my puzzling with help someone else to understand this faster than I.

An Explanation of the Code

Loading Crates

// Load external crates provided via cargo.
extern crate graphics;
extern crate piston;
extern crate sdl2_game_window;
extern crate opengl_graphics;

// Texture is used for images; Gl for accessing OpenGL
use opengl_graphics::{

// For creating a window
use sdl2_game_window::WindowSDL2;

// Stuff from piston.
use piston::{
    EventIterator,                  // Used for the game loop
    EventSettings,                  // Struct used for setting and updates
    WindowSettings,                 // Struct defines window config
    Render,                         // Render Evemt 

use piston::graphics::\*;
use piston::shader_version::opengl;

We begin by loading all of our various library provided to us by the Piston developers and which we will use for getting our game window to appear on the screen. I have yet to figure out what the #![feature(globs)] lint actually does and if someone does know, I would love to find out since removing it causes everything to break. The rest of the code is just giving us access to various libraries that we will use latter on. I have tried to comment those libraries as best I could since it wasn’t entirely clear what does what.

Config and Main Entry Point

    // Config options for the game.
    Struct GameConfig {
        title: String,
        window_height: u32,
        window_width: u32,
        updates_per_second: u64,
        max_frames_per_second: u64,
        tile_size: uint

    // Entry point for our game.
    fn main() {

        let config = GameConfig {
                title: "Centipede-RS".to_string(),
                window_height: 480,
                window_width: 800,
                updates_per_second: 120,
                max_frames_per_second: 60,
                tile_size: 32,

        // Create and run new game.
        let mut game = Game::new( config );;

If there is one thing that I know it’s to confine magic numbers. Let them sprout wherever you please and code maintenance becomes a mess. Hence, I have taken the various constants for our game and packaged them up into a GameConfig struct. Right now this struct defines the attributes of our window: title, height, width, frames per second, and tile size. I imagine that this structure will probably grow larger as we begin adding in actors, players, and assets. We will deal with that when the time comes.

I have also created a Game struct (more on it later). The game struct simple takes a GameConfig and returns an instance of itself. Calling run fires off our game loop which loops infinitely or until we kill the process. In essence the Game struct represents and handles the loop. We could leave this in main, but by turning it into a struct we have the option further down the line of moving it out into a module which would leave our file consisting only of loading Piston, setting the various config items and calling

The Game Struct

// Represents the Game Loop struct Game { config: GameConfig }
impl Game { ...  } 

I’ve seen this simply called App, but since we are making a game, I think it should be Game. The Game simply holds the game state and runs the game loop. Inside it, I have added several methods via impl: new, run, window, and render. New and run are our public methods which we have already seen. One takes a GameConfig and returns a Game. The other starts the game loop. The remaining methods are just there to run the internals of the loop itself. Let’s walk through each method:

// Returns a new game struct
pub fn new( config: GameConfig ) -> Game {                           

    // Return a new Game
    Game {
        config: config,



This one is rather simple. It is a public function (pub fn) named new. We can access it via Game::new(). It takes a GameConfig and returns a Game whose config property is config. I am sure I am mixing a lot of OOP language here, but after years of working in the realm of PHP that’s just how I end up thinking.

// Run the game loop pub fn run( &mut self ) {
let mut window = self.window(); ...  } 

Run is a little messier it fires off our game loop. It takes a mutable copy of itself which allows us to access it on an instance of Game e.g. The first line it calls is to a member function window():

// Returns a window.
fn window( &self ) -> WindowSDL2 {

    // Values for Window Creation
    let window_settings = WindowSettings {
            title: self.config.title.to_string(),
            size: [self.config.window_width, self.config.window_height],
            fullscreen: false,
            exit_on_esc: true,
            samples: 0,

    // Create SDL Window

This is not a public function, thus when we turn Game into a module it will not be accessible outside of the module file. We are using this essentially as a hidden or private method on Game. The window function is accessible from inside a game object via self, e.g. self.window(). We really only need one window, so this method is only called once at the start of the run method. Window returns a WindowSDL2 which is our back-end we loaded way above at the start for managing our windows. This window takes a WindowSettings struct whose values we pull out of the GameConfig stored in our Game. Either way, it makes a new WindowSDL2 and passes it back to the run method. Now back to our second line of the run method:

// Get Gl let ref mut gl = Gl::new( opengl::OpenGL_3_2 ); 

Now this took me a while to figure out. The call to Gl::new() must come after the creation of the WindowSDL2. In an earlier version of this I had the call to create GL after the call to create the Window. The code will compile fine if you create GL first and then the Window, but when you run it you will get a CreateShader error. I only solved this by stumbling upon an IRC log. Anyways, hold on to that gl variable since we’ll be passing it around a lot.

// Create Settings for Game loop
let event_settings = EventSettings {
    updates_per_second: self.config.updates_per_second,
    max_frames_per_second: self.config.max_frames_per_second,

Rather boring. We need to create and EventSettings object to pass into our game loop.

// For each e in Event Iterator (whose range is 0 to infinity) 
// e becomes a new Event by passing our window and event settings
for e in EventIterator::new(&mut window, &event_settings) {

    // If e is Render(args) do something, else return ()?
    match e {
        Render(args) => self.render( gl ),
        _ => {},

Here is the magic! The game loop. I really like how this works in Rust. Since iterators can go from 0 to infinite we take advantage of it. The EventIterator takes the window and event_settings variables we set up earlier and returns something (I don’t know what) which is put into e. We then do a match on e to see what was returned. Right now there are only two things that can match: a call to render the screen, or everything else. Looking at some of the example code, I do see that we can catch all different kinds of events – user input, calls to update the game state, etc. but for now we are just concerned with rendering the screen. So we get a render event (Render(args)) and we call our private method render via self.render and pass in our gl variable (I said we would be passing him around a lot).


// Render the game state to the screen.
fn render( &mut self, gl: &mut Gl ) { 
    let width = self.config.window_width;
    let height = self.config.window_height;

    // Get number of columns and rows.
    let tile_size = self.config.tile_size;        
    let num_cols = width as int / tile_size as int;
    let num_rows = height as int / tile_size as int;  

Render simply takes a mutable reference to Gl and paints to our screen. The first two lines just get the window_height and window_width out of our config since we will be using them a lot in this method. Since this is going to be a tiled game we need to know how many columns and rows of tiles we will be drawing. So I calculate that here by dividing the window’s height and width by the tile_size.

// Creates viewport at 0,0 with width and height of window.
gl.viewport(0, 0, width as i32, height as i32);

// graphics::context a new drawing context (think html5) 
let c = Context::abs(width as f64, height as f64);

The next two lines in our render call do two important things. First we set our view port to start at the cordinates 0,0 and to extend to the width and height of our window. Second, we get a Context which I like to think as our virtual pen for drawing on our canvas. In fact, the first thing we do is fill the entire canvas with white:

c.rgb(1.0, 1.0, 1.0).draw(gl); 

This takes an rgb (red, green, blue) value that sets each to a 100% (or white) and then draws this to our window by calling draw and passing in our old friend gl.

Now let’s have some fun. Just to show that we are indeed drawing on the window, let’s fill the window with 32x32 pixel tiles each one slightly reader than the last. The effect should look like this:

Screenshot of Centipede-RS at

We begin by setting our starting red value:

let mut red = 0.01

This needs to be mutable since we will be adding to it with each iteration of our rows.

Second, we loop through each row and each column drawing a red square the size of our tiles:

// Fill screen with red one 32x32 tile at a time.
for row in range(0i, num_rows ) {

    red = red + 0.02;    
    let row_shift: f64 = row as f64 * tile_size as f64;

    for col in range(0i, num_cols ) {

        let col_shift: f64 = col as f64 * tile_size as f64;

            tile_size as f64
        ).rgb( red, 0.0, 0.0).draw(gl);                                


What does this do? First we are looping through our rows from zero go num_rows (we calculated the number of rows earlier). On each row we adjust our redness slightly this should make each row more red than the last with the first row being fairly dark. Next we calculate row_shift this is simply done my multiplying what row we are on by the size of our tiles. This will be used to tell the context to move down 32 pixels when it gets to row 2, and down 64 pixels when it gets to row 3 and so forth. The inner loop does the same only for our columns. We loop through each column and calculate our col_shift or how far to shift to the right for each column. If I recall correctly this is the most efficient way to loop since the screen paints outwards from your upper-left corner. Finally, we draw our square. The context (c) knows how to draw squares so we pass into it the coordinates of the upper-left corner of our square (col_shift, row_shift), the width of our square as a float (tile_size), instruct the context to fill this square by calling rgb( red, 0.0, 0.0 ). Note, we passed in our red variable so the redness of the tiles should adjust as the red variable does. Last, we draw the square by calling draw and once again passing in gl.

Call cargo build and cargo run and enjoy!

September 26, 2014

Centipede-RS Dev Log #1

Filed under: Software Development

A rather rambling design document for my ideas for a Centipede clone that I’m releasing under the MIT license. Following all my reading in Rust it seems like a good idea to have some kind of project to complete. After scrounging about for ideas, I came up with the one of doing an open source centipede clone using Piston. This would be good practice for trying a Rust Ludum Dare next April.

The following is more or less a rambling stream of consciousness design doc for what I’m about to do. I’ll probably follow this up with a series of other entries about the steps and break down of the code as I go.


A Centipede clone done in Rust using Piston with perhaps some additional flavor.

The core idea of the game is to have a gridded window of size X and Y with a centipede that begins with one segment that grows as the game progresses. The centipede moves continuously in the last cardinal direction specified by the player. As the character moves it encounters various items randomly populated on the screen. Upon contact some effect occurs such as adding an additional segment. If the user comes into contact with itself (such as looping back around on it’s own tail). The game ends or some failure condition occurs.

Objects in the Game

The Game

Well of course it’s an object unto itself. The game represents the game loop.

The Board

The board is 800x480 and divided into 32 pixel squares. At start of the game and at a fixed interval actors are randomly assigned squares on the board.


The centipede has the following characteristics:

  • Collection of Segments
  • Who each have a position and sprite
  • Who each have a direction (Each moves in the direction of the segment before it except the head segment which moves in the last direction input by the player).
  • If a segment intercepts another segment it destroys it. The severed segment then becomes bombs.
  • Number of mushrooms eaten (Used as a score)


Actors specifies an indescriminate number of items placed on the board that the centipede interacts with when it comes into contact with them. The actors need to be able to expand to include new actors with new effects.

  • Sprite
  • Board position
  • An affect

Right now we have two actors: mushrooms and bombs. Mushrooms are placed randomly on the board at a fixed interval. Bombs are segments that have seperated from the centipede. They each have an affect. Mushrooms cause a new segment to be added to the centipede after X mushrooms have been consumed. Bombs cause the game to immediately end.

September 22, 2014

Resources for Learning Rust

Filed under: Software Development

I just started delving into Rust last week with the release of the Rust Guide. In Web Development, I really have moved away from the “bare level” languages of my schooling into the flighty realm of scripting languages. For the most part, I’ve been quite satisfied to leave behind the rigors of memory management and obtuse C linking errors for PHP, JavaScript and Python.

Yet, Rust is the first systems language that really has gotten me excited to sit down and try it out. Maybe get back into the indie game scene (which I have been saying forever).

This post is going to be updated semi-regularly as just a continuing list of Rust resources worth looking into:

Learning the Language



September 16, 2014

TimeKeeper v0.1.1 Released

Filed under: Software Development

TimeKeeper is a little utility tool that has become both a pet project for testing out new PHP and JavaScript tools as well as a very useful tool that I use every day to keep track of my billable hours, projects and tasks that are completed through out the day. An example of TimeKeeper in action can be found at

This week, after a year of dormacy, I updated TimeKeeper to v0.1.1 with a major internal refactoring and improvement in the interface’s “responsiveness.” Major improvements include:

  • The UI is now 100% responsive thanks to a rewrite of all templates to Bootstrap3
  • Libraries now install via bower and composer
  • Moved database configuration into a seperate config.php file, this along with the bower and composer updates makes installing TimeKeeper much easier
  • 100% Documentation of all interfaces and files used by TimeKeeper

Future Plans

TimeKeeper’s direction is still rather vague. This is a useful tool for a single user to keep track of their own time. I am not yet sure if I want to keep it focused on being a planning tool for a single user or to expand TimeKeeper into a team-based tool.

The single biggest issue with TimeKeeper is that it does not provide a password-protected user log in which means that it cannot be public-facing or at least ends up relying on apache for user-login.

v0.2.0 RoadMap

For v0.2.0, which will be released “whenever,” I plan on adding the following features to TimeKeeper:

  • Single-User Password Log In (so the site can be public-facing)
  • A Reports table that generates a variety of charts analyzing the filtered time frame including: break down of 100% time spent per project or billable hours; daily break down showing hours worked and whether they went over or under 40 hours; Perhaps a monthly report as well.
  • 100% Test coverage

The following sketches are from my field notebook. They were done while taking a native plants class with Klara Varga in Jackson Hole. In particular, these plants were all found growing along the roadway through the Elk Refuge.

Arrowleaf Balsam Root Aster Basin Wild Rye Choke Cherry Fireweed Fringed Sage Brush Goldenrod Lupin Lupin Rabbit Brush Rose Hips Smooth Brom Tri-Tipped Sage Brush

August 18, 2014

Weekly Round Up #2

Filed under: Journal

Tech News and Tutorials

Super Pi Boy

I have plans on creating what I call the “Raspberry Arcade” – a Raspberry PI with emulators to play all the old NES and Atari games of my youth that don’t work. This is just an amazing mod of a game boy and Rasberry PI into one.

The Internet’s Original Sin

Email Is Still the Best Thing on the Internet

I think a theme for myself this week is really inter-operable protocols. These two articles really belong together since they are both discussing the essentially same thing. A transition from an internet where we paid for our services – email, hosting, premium access – to an internet where we are spied upon and monetized. I don’t really know how we could get back to the “old” internet of desperate home pages, fan pages, and self-curated, self-hosted sources where the author pays to host not because they want ad revenue but because they want to share their particular passion with the world. What other medium allows such a broad audience with the only gateway being a $5/mo VPS?

Know How to Roll (Your SSLCertificates)

This is just a good read, not because installing SSL certificates is hard, but it that it is quite easy to forget to check in on them.

July 21, 2014

Weekly Round Up

Filed under: Journal

This is a new series I’m thinking of creating. It’s more for my use than it is for anyone else. A weekly list of all the blog posts, articles, videos, etc. that I uncover through the week that I found interesting or worthy of sharing.

Tech News & Tutorials

Using Bootstrap the Right (Semantic) Way

An excellent look at how bootstrap is in some ways a regression back to table-based html and away from semantic html. This is something that has always bothered me a little about bootstrap – just how much it looks like a recreation of tables.

Granted, I’ve solved the problem by breaking the page up into views and composing them using PHP. The un-semantic bootstrap goes into “layout” level view which in turn loads semantic views that are free from the bootstrap’s representational classes. The result is that I can change out the layout views, or remove them entirely to get a semantic html document or swap out the CSS framework without impacting the semantic views. This might be a good topic for a new article.

The Codeless Code

The Tao of Programming

I love how programming tends to inspire people towards reflecting on Eastern thinking. It is true that programming is a very meditative activity. The Tao of Programming, I just found this week, but I’m also adding the Codeless Code since that is a site that I do like to begin my work days.

Disruption? Not if you are making the same people rich…

Being in the Midwest, I stopped really paying attention to the West Coast’s tech environment. It simply didn’t feel like something that would involve me much. Now that I’m out in Jackson, I’ve really started to put my mind towards thinking more about the West Coast tech and what it would mean to get involved in it.

A Nationwide Gentrification Effect is Segregating Us by Education

I don’t think I really noticed this effect until I moved to Idaho. The Dakotas are such a vastly educated group for their rural upbringings. Sioux Falls is overflowing with degree holders. Something like 80% of my high school class went on to college. Going on to college was something that I just assumed everyone did and that the majority of people had at least some collegiate experience. Not so in Idaho, it was a complete inversion. Most people just finished high school, if they had any college experience is was for an associates not a Bachelors or graduate degree. Suddenly, my typical “ice breaker” small talk of where did you go for school, what as your degree in, etc. was completely useless.

Whatever Happened to Programming

This seems so true about web programming. I have met far too many people who think installing wordpress (or the CMS du jour), editing config files or xml is the height of development. I fear that I am just a marginal step above that with my frameworks, high-level scripting languages, and package list libraries. Over time, it seems like there is less and less of a distinction between the programmer as scientist and the programmer as technological bolt turner in the modern assembly line.


New Weird Al Video

Hey, what I can I say. I like Weird Al.

Sword Art Online: Aincrad Review

Kathryn Hemmann’s Contemporary Japanese Literature blog is a new addition to my RSS feed. I love her assessment of Sword Art Online, and I’m amazed that series has gone on to produce a second season. I could hardly stomach watching the first six episodes.

Tiki Hangover: Unearthing the False Idols of America’s South Seas Fantasy

I must be honest: I haven’t read through this entire article yet. But the first few paragraphs just seem like a wealth of information about architecture and Americana-tiki.

How tall can a Lego Tower Get?

Just a fun article examining how much pressure a lego brick can withstand and how that would add up to a theoretical lego tower of 375,000 bricks.

Massive Masaaki Yuasa Art Book Will Be Published Next Month

God, do I love the work of Massaaki Yuasa. Enough that I might even be tempted to order this from Japan. If you don’t recognize the name, you probably will recognize the anime: Tatami Galaxy, Kaiba, Cat Soup all three on my list of must haves for anime. I haven’t started watching Ping Ping (maybe next week), but from what I’ve heard, it should live up to the hype.

North of the open dunes is North Juniper Hill, the tallest of the St. Anthony Sand dunes at 6,625 ft and a rise of roughly 1,000 feet above the surrounding fields. It’s sandy all the way up to the top. We took two days backpacking, this photo is a cropping of a 360 degree panorama of 21 stitched images.

North Juniper Hill

North Juniper Hill

Model: Nikon D80 /w Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX

Shutter: 1/320 sec

F-Stop: f/9

ISO: 250

Focal Length: 35mm

Lighting: None

Stitches: 21

The St. Anthony Sand Dunes west of St. Anthony, Idaho are perhaps one of the hidden gems out here. It took us almost a year to bother checking them out due to all the talk of ATV use. It is true, the dunes are infested with ATV droning on, but by late evening it seems like they die down and leave a little peace and quite. The dunes themselves are quite impressive, we thought we would be seeing some small dunes or patches of sand, instead we found massive open dunes rising 300 feet above the nearby potato fields. The one on the right measures out at about 320 feet and took crawling on our hands and knees to ascend to the peak.

St. Anthony Sand Dunes

St. Anthony Sand Dunes

Model: Nikon D80 /w Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX

Shutter: 1/320 sec

F-Stop: f/9

ISO: 250

Focal Length: 35mm

Lighting: None

Stitches: 14

Were to begin? This post is a kind of smörgåsbord of random thoughts and musing regarding editing and creating documents. It all really began when I started contemplating learning LaTeX, which lead to a good deal of time spent thinking about what is a document and from there to extrapolating much of the best-practices for web development into a wider sense. Namely, that a web page is merely a marked-up document and that the principles of separating style from content ought be considered in our document processing.

I think that Allin Cottrell says it best: Word Processors are Stupid and Inefficient. This is something, that I think anyone who spends a good deal of time editing text begins to realize. I recall long hours in college editing work cited lists to carefully format them into their specified manners. Even more, I recall hours writing long form Dungeons and Dragons Adventures to submit to Dungeon Magazine and all the pedantic formatting that it required.

XKCD 1360

Not surprisingly, early on in my computing, I had turned to various forms of mark up for my writing – HTML, simple text files, anything at all to just get away from the mess that was the Word Processor. It seems that I was on to something, even though I was unaware that the problem of separating content from the issues of styling (or more properly: typesetting) had long been a solved problem.

If I were to paraphrase Cottrell’s points about the disadvantages of Word Processors and advantages of typesetting it would be:

  • Text editing allows us to focus on the content and leave stying for latter (Which is often a solved problem if your content is going on a website or submitting to a publication)

  • With separate concerns we can use software like Pandoc to export our text file into LaTeX, PDF, Doc files, HTML, whatever use we want in whatever style that pleases us without needing to go back and edit the content itself.

  • Text is pretty much ubiquitous, it works on nearly every computer and is resilient against file corruption.

Since Cottrell wrote his document we’ve also got an upsurge in easy-to-use and reader-friendly mark up languages like MarkDown and reStructured text which allows us to create text files that are readable as both a text file and exportable into a format that can be compiled into a beautiful print document via LaTex. In fact, this entire blog is done in MarkDown and as of late, I’ve turned to writing my articles as separate text files in VIM and just uploading them to WordPress after the fact.


Enter VIM, my text editor of choice. Sublime seems to be getting a lot of traction amongst my fellow developers, but as far as I know Sublime still lacks terminal support – so I stick it out with VIM. That said, I really only started to master VIM about a year ago. Before then, my interaction with VIM was limited to random encounters changing configuration files on production servers. At the time, I only really learned the bare minimum to get by – how to open a file, get into insert mode, and save.

A year ago, I decided I really needed to try to master VIM. So I sat down and did the various tutorials. Made cheat sheets. I got decent at it, but not perfect. Right now, I’m refreshing myself and I’m setting a goal of setting aside NetBeans for my next project to do it all in VIM as well as officially tossing the Word Processor for writing my prose in VIM as well.

For those who want to follow along, I’ve created a public git repository with my VIM configuration.

VIM for Code

vim in code mode

If I plan on developing an entire website with just VIM, then I really need to get VIM tweaked out to do exactly what I want for development. Now, I read a lot of tutorials, but I found Mir Nazim’s “List of VIM Plugins I Use with Mini Tutorials” to be a very good start.

I think the take aways from Nazim’s article are:

  • Install Pathogen. This is pretty much the go-to package manager for VIM plugins.
  • Put your ~/.vim directory into a git repository. Move your ~/.vimrc into your ~/.vim directory and then create a link to it. Get this set up on all the machines you work on and then you can easily sync any change to your configuration across all of your platforms.
  • Use git submodules to manage all of your VIM plugins.

The Plugins

For myself, I use the following plugins in my VIM install currently:

  • closetag Automatically closed open HTML tags
  • delimitmate Automatically closes quotes, parentheses, brackets
  • fugitive For GIT inside VIM (haven’t made much use of this one so far)
  • nerdtree The go-to for in VIM directory navigation and opening files.
  • pyflakes For Python Syntax checking
  • supertab For word completion
  • syntastic For advanced syntax highlighting and error checking code

I’ll leave you in Nazim’s exellent hands for how to install and configure these.

The .vimrc File

A few notes on my choices of settings in the .vimrc file:

set encoding=utf-8 
set number 
set ruler 
set autoindent 

This set sets our internal character encoding to utf-8, turns on line numbers and the rule by default. Also, autoindent, because it’s cool.

set tabstop=4 
set shiftwidth=4 
set expandtab 

These three defines our tabs as being four spaces and sets VIM to automatically expand any tab characters into being four spaces.

nnoremap <C-t> :tabnew<CR> 
map <C-n> :NERDTree<cr> 

This combination creates two new key bindings. First, we can now hit Ctrl+t to open a new tab in VIM. The second allows us to hit Ctrl+n to pop open NERDTree so we can navigate around the file system and select files to open. A quick note: in NERDTree pressing Shift+t opens a file in a new tab. An extremely useful shortcut to know.

syntax on
filetype on
filetype plugin indent on
let g:syntastic_check_on_open=1
let g:syntastic_enable_signs=1
let g:syntastic_mod_map = { 'mode': 'active '
  \ 'activeIfiletypes': ['python', 'php'],
  \ 'passive_filetypes': ['html'] }
let g:syntastic_python_checkers = ['pyflakes']
let g:syntastic_python_flake8_args = '--ignore="E501,E302,E261,E701,E241,E126,E128,W801"'
let g:syntastic_php_checkers=['php','phpcs','phpmd']

Supposedly all of this should enable syntax checking and highlighting for Python and PHP. Python seems to work quite well. PHP, unfoortunately, requires you to write out the file to see the errors.

Lastly, we want to make word-search a little looser so by default we adjust some of the search parameters:

set ignorecase 
set smartcase 
set gdefault 
set incsearch 
set hlsearch

I will skip the WordProcessorMode and CodeMode commands for latter, for now let’s skip to the last three lines:

if filereadable(".vim.custom") 
    so .vim.custom 

These three lines sets up VIM to look for a .vim.custom file in the directory that it is running from and then essentially append it to the end of our .vimrc. This allows us to create custom configurations for VIM on a project-by-project basis.

VIM for Prose

Vim in Prose Mode

I began this talk with a discussion on why we should use a text editor for editing our prose. VIM works extremely well for writing code. I am not yet entirely sold on it being the editor for prose, although I do think that any prose-text editor had better come with VIM bindings to be worth its salt.

Right now, I am using VIM to write this and will probably be using VIM to work on a lot of long-length prose. This gives us a number of great advantages:

  • Files are small
  • Files avoid corruption. Imagine this, if one byte of this file gets corrupted what happens? I have a misspelled word. If this happened in a binary file who knows if it could be recovered.
  • I can use my programming skills to do such things as incorporate tables via comma-separated-files, images, or break this out into separate files and compile them into a larger document.
  • I can write it using whatever mark up language I want (in this case MarkDown) and then use a converter like Pandoc to export into nearly any mark up language or file format.
  • I can take advantage of all of VIM’s keyboard functions to keep my hands on the keyboard and my mind in the flow of putting words on paper.

So what have I done to get VIM working for prose? I dug through a lot of tutorials and even used Vimroom for a while. At first, I loved Vimroom, but over the course of a week the bugs and poor user interface and the abandon-ware feel of Vimroom lead me to abandoning it.

There’s a number of bugs that simply annoyed me. For example, the some color scheme throws all kinds of errors when toggling Vimroom, and quiting out of Vimroom without toggling it off first requires repeated closing empty buffers to get back to the terminal. There also appears to break the drop-downs in SuperTab causing them to appear but only to allow you to select the first item in the drop down.

So after a week of Vimroom, I set out to roll my own solution. The solution was to add two commands to Vim – :Code and :Prose. These toggle between the settings I want when writing code and the settings I want for prose.

func! WordProcessorMode()
  set formatoptions=aw2tq
  set laststus=0
  set foldcolumn=12
  set nonumber
  higlight! link FoldColumn Normal
  setlocal spell spelllang=en_us
  nnoremap \s eas<C-X><C-S>
com! Prose call WordProcessorMode() 

This snippet creates a WordProcessorMode function and then on the last line, attaches to a command :Prose. Let’s take a look at each line in part.

set formatoptions turns on an umber of important features. With a we set our text to automatically wrap when it reaches our textwidth values. In this case, it is 80 characters. Next, w defines our paragraphs as being separated by a blank line. t sets our text to be automatically formatted to text width and q allows us to use the gq command to automatically reformat selected text.

Note: you can can use gGgq to select the entirety of a document and reformat it.

The foldcolumn and highlight lines sets a 12 column margin on the left side of our text and sets the color of that column to the same as our background.

With spell on misspelled words will appear highlighted, we can tab through the misspelling via [s and ]s to jump to the previous and next misspelling respectively. Once our cursor is on a misspelled word hitting z= brings up our corrections options and zg adds it to our personal dictionary. One addition makes correcting words so much easier:

nnoremap \s eas<C-X><C-S> 

This displayed the spelling correction options in an in place drop-down!

Before we forget. We need a function to turn all this back off again if we wanted to jump back into code mode:

func! CodeMode()
  set formatoptions=cql
  set number
  set ruler
  set laststatus=1
  set foldcolumn-0
  setlocal nospell
com! code call CodeMode()
call CodeMode()

This function resets our environment back into code mode, and of course we call the function on start up as well so we always begin VIM in code mode.

Last: If you, like me, plan on using MarkDown as your prose mark up language of choice, grab the vim-markdown plugin which gives me excellent highlighting of the MarkDown syntax.

Vim Color Scheme: Solarize

There is a bunch of color schemes available in VIM via the colorscheme command, but honestly nothing really beats out the simple, thought out beauty of the Solarize color scheme.

The problem is getting it to work in the console. You might notice that my repository does not include the popular vim-solarize plugin. The reason? In terminal mode the Solarize color scheme breaks horribly.

It took a while for me to discover the solution to this problem: change the terminal. Granted, this solution requires you to have a desire to have the Solarize color scheme throughout your terminal experience.

Sigurd Gartmann has a nice repository on git hub that, once installed allows for toggling the terminal into dark or light mode of the Solarized color scheme.

So there you go, a complete walk through for using VIM for both development (in this case web development) and prose writing. Enjoy.

I was just going through my photos from my return trip to the Southwest which included Arches, Canyonlands, Escalante, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon. For some odd reason, I was not in a big photography mood despite loading up all of my equipment. I left my camera behind on the backpacking portion and only stopped to quickly snap a few panoramas along the way. I’ve included those panoramas below. I find myself wishing that I had taken more time with them. Perhaps with a little more editing in post, I could bring them out.


Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

Model: Nikon D80 /w Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX

Shutter: 1/320 sec

F-Stop: f/9

ISO: 400

Focal Length: 35mm

Lighting: None

Isle of the Sky,

Isle of the Sky, Canyonlands

Model: Nikon D80 /w Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX

Shutter: 1/320 sec

F-Stop: f/9

ISO: 400

Focal Length: 35mm

Lighting: None

Jug Arch

Jug Arch Road, Moab

Model: Nikon D80 /w Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX

Shutter: 1/320 sec

F-Stop: f/9

ISO: 400

Focal Length: 35mm

Lighting: None

Outside Capitol

BLM Camping, Capitol Reef National Park

Model: Nikon D80 /w Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX

Shutter: 1/160 sec

F-Stop: f/7.1

ISO: 400

Focal Length: 35mm

Lighting: None


Hogback, Escalante National Monument

Model: Nikon D80 /w Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX

Shutter: 1/250 sec

F-Stop: f/8

ISO: 400

Focal Length: 35mm

Lighting: None

I decided to spend the last couple of weeks introducing myself to some of the big MVC Javascript Frameworks that have gotten so much traction over the last couple of years. I sadly, have found the field littered with frameworks that happily violate the principle of Unobtrusive Javascript and am wondering – is there any solid MVC Javascript Framework that is clean and unobtrusive, will I need to keep rolling my own, or am I just a Luddite?

Unobtrusive Javascript

Now first, I must admit that I feel as though I am a technological Luddite when it comes to the rise of Javascript. When I started making websites the standard advice was to keep as much of the document generation on the server-side as possible and to practice what is called “unobtrusive” Javascript.

The idea of unobtrusive Javascript has been a paramount item of good front-end design. Namely, that you clearly separate your concerns and avoid reliance on server-side scripts. HTML ought be semantically distinct from style or behavior and we do this by keeping our markup in one file, our style-sheets in another, and our Javascript in a third file. We do not inline our styles nor our Javascript and we try to keep them distinct so that even if the style-sheet or Javascript never loads the unstyled, un-scripted document is still in a usable state.

The earlier concept, simply keeping things separated decouples the reliance of our code on any one element. We can change the markup, the style, or the behavior of our application without necessarily impacting the other two elements.

The latter idea is a concept refereed to as failing gracefully. Namely, it is that we put fall backs into our application such that if the Javascript does not work, the user can still make use of the web application. There’s a lot of ways that we can do something like this:

  • Have an ajax form submit normally if the browser does not support ajax
  • Add form submit buttons that are hidden using Javascript on load.
  • Make sure client-side generated content has some kind of fall-back view that is generated server-side

The list goes on and on, but you begin to get the idea. Vasilis van Gemert has opened a great discussion about arguments against building Javascript based documents and his comments section is ripe with the reasons that unobtrusive Javascript is still very much relevant to the day-to-day development of websites.

Obtrusive Javascript is where you get page behaviors and views that are only accessibly if the client has Javascript support. The result of these websites is that they are completely un-usable without their supporting Javascript files. We can see this on websites that:

  • Only allow a form to be submitted via a Javascript call
  • Links whose destination is dynamically generated with Javascript
  • Views that are created by generating and appending DOM elements client-side rather than server-side

Now, I grant that unobtrusive Javascript can be hard. Sometimes there just isn’t a suitable fallback. Some times you are running late on a project and the fact that it runs fine on 99% of the browsers means it’s time to just shove it out the door and be on your way. However, I do believe it is a good idea to keep the principle of separating concerns and failing gracefully in mind whenever adding client-side behaviors to an application.

State of Affairs for Javascript MVC

I will address in some article my own personal solutions to structuring a Javascript application as well as the challenge of coming up with a solid framework for addressing UX and DOM manipulation without turning into spaghetti code or re-inventing the solution with each website. Yet, it is typically a good idea to go with a community framework in a team environment since it offers a familiar structure between projects and programmers on a team. For this reason, I embarked on working my way through some of the more popular Javascript MVC frameworks to see what they offer and decide which one, if any offers an unobtrusive solution. My concern is that on a cursory look (AngularJS and EmberJS) both seem to scatter Javascript snippets throughout the document and in the latter case invents a whole new template language that it injects into a script tag. Oh dear.

The only Javascript framework that I have come upon that makes any attempt at keeping any kind of unobtrusive fallback seems to be Knockout.js. That said, it is not the sexiest of new frameworks out there.




<p>First name: <input data-bind="value: firstName" /></p>
<p>Last name: <input data-bind="value: lastName" /></p>
<p>Full name: <strong data-bind="text: fullName"></strong></p>


// This is a simple *viewmodel*
function AppViewModel() {
  this.firstName = ko.observable("Bert");
  this.lastName = ko.observable("Bertington");
  this.fullName = ko.computed( function() {
    return this.firstName() + " " + this.lastName();
  }, this);
  this.capitalizeLastName = function() {
    var currentVal = this.lastName();
    this.lastName( currentVal.toUpperCase() );

// Activates knockout.js
ko.applyBindings(new AppViewModel()); 

Knockout works by using the data attribute to bind to DOM elements. This means that if the Javascript happens to fail we are still left with your typical document with typical document behaviors. Take the above example clip. If the data-bind attributes are ignored we would still get a form with a first and last name. Indeed, we could even fill that form in server side by assigning value="Bert" and value="Bertington" to the first name and last name inputs.

On top of this, there is something about Knockout that just makes sense. It isn’t as flashy as Angular or Ember. It doesn’t seem to incorporate any new trendy templating systems, massive API libraries, or require us to create half a dozen separate Java script files for controllers, models, and parts of views.

February 03, 2014

Fiddling with HTML5's Canvas

Filed under: Software Development

I had my first real exposure to the HTML5 Canvas element this week. It was a fairly fun transport back to Intro to Computer Graphics and my school days working in C.

Canvas provides a very simple bitmap surface for drawing, but it does so at the expense of loosing out on a lot of the built-in DOM. I suppose there is a good reason for not building an interface into canvas to treat drawings created with contexts as interactive objects, but sadly this leaves us with having to recreate a lot of that interactivity (has a user clicked on a polygon in the canvas? is the user hovering over a polygon on the canvas?) up to us to implement using javascript.

So let’s dive in and see what canvas is capable of doing!

This complete tutorial is available as a fiddle on Check it out.

Getting Started

Let’s begin with the absolute basics. First, we need the element itself which is simply a “canvas” element with a specified id that we’ll later use to interact with it. By putting some textual content inside the canvas element we give some fallback for older browsers that might not offer canvas support.

<canvas id="myCanvas">Your browser does not support canvas.</canvas> 

Now we need to interface with the element itself. This is done using javascript:

var canvas = document.getElementById("myCanvas"); var context = canvas.getContext("2d") 

We are doing two things here. First, we are getting the canvas element from the DOM, second we are getting a context from that element. In this case that context is the “2d” context which defines a simple drawing API that we can use to draw on our canvas.

Drawing a Polygon

The “2d” context API defines a number of methods for interacting with the canvas element. Let’s look at how we can use this to draw a blue triangle on our canvas:

context.moveTo(25, 25); 
context.lineTo(75, 100);
context.lineTo(125, 25); 
context.fillStyle = "#0000ff"; 

Recall that pixels on a computer screen are mapped as though the screen was in the fourth quadrant of a plane – that is they spread out with x values growing larger as the pixels are placed further to the right and y values growing larger as they move towards the bottom of the screen. This puts the value 0,0 at the upper left corner of your screen and 25,100 located twenty five pixels to the right and one hundred pixels from the top.

The first three lines of code can be thought of as moving an invisible (or very light) pencil around the canvas. The first moves our pencil to the position 25,25 which should start the drawing near the upper-left corner of the canvas. The second line draws a line down 75 pixels and over and additional 25 pixels. The third returns to 25 pixels from the top, but 125 pixels from the left-hand side of the canvas.

The forth and fifth lines simply define the color to fill our polygon with and to actually do the filling. In this case we passed a hex value for blue, but we could alternatively used and rgba (red, green, blue, alpha) value if we wanted transparency.

Adding Interactivity

One thing you will note about our blue triangle: we can not tie off DOM events to it. The context merely draws on the canvas, but the drawings themselves do not exist in the DOM. The closest we can do is capture events on the canvas itself (onClick, hover, etc.). It is up to us to then decide if those events were just interacting with the canvas or whether they should are interacting with something drawn on the canvas.

First, we must recognize that each position that we move or draw the context to is a vertices.

PNPOLY is our solution, and to be honest, I did not come up with this one but found the answer on Stack Overflow

function pnpoly( nvert, vertx, verty, testx, testy ) {
  var i, j, c = false;
  for( i = 0, j = nvert-1; i < nvert; j = i++ ) {
    if( ( ( verty[i] > testy ) != ( verty[j] > testy ) ) &&
      ( testx < ( vertx[j] - vertx[i] ) * ( testy - verty[i] ) / 
      ( verty[j] - verty[i] ) + vertx[i] ) )           
        c = !c;
  return c;
$('#myCanvas').click( function( e ) {
  var x = e.clientX;
  var y = e.clientY;
  alert( pnpoly( 3, [25,75,125], [25,100,25], x, y ) + ' x:' + x + ' y:'  + y );

PNPOLY takes five variables: the number of vertices (corners) on our polygon, an array of the X values, an array of the Y values, and the x/y cordinates where the user clicked on the canvas. Now if we add this to our code and run it we should see an alert saying either true or false as to whether we clicked inside or outside of our triangle.

Accounting for Global (Window) and Local Cordinate Systems

It is not easy to see on the jsFiddle website, but we can run into some issues with mapping between the local and global coordinate systems. e.clientX and e.clientY map to the document coordinate system not the canvas itself. We may, in some instances find ourselves needing to map between the local (canvas) coordinates which begins with 0,0 at the upper-left corner of the canvas element and the document coordinate system which begins with 0,0 at the upper-left most corner of the page.

This can occur when our canvas is absolutely positioned or positioned inside a fixed element. In these cases we must include the offset of the canvas from the document coordinate system to find where the click is actually occurring:

$('#myCanvas').click( function( e ) {
  var offset = $(this).offset();
  var x = e.clientX - offset.left;
  var y = e.clientY -;
  alert( pnpoly( 3, [25,75,125], [25,100,25], x, y ) + ' x:' + x + ' y:'  + y );

Note our additions to the first three lines in our function. The first line retrieves the offset for the position of our canvas from it’s global position. We then subtract that offset from e.clientX and e.clientY to get the coordinates of the click in the canvas’s coordinate system.

We might also need to add another variable to our offsets and that is to account for scrolling. If we have a canvas inside a fixed position element then we must also account for any potential scrolling that might have occurred. We do this via the scrollTop() and scrollLeft() jQuery functions:

$('#myCanvas').click( function( e ) {
  var offset = $(this).offset();
  var x = e.clientX - offset.left + $(window).scrollLeft();
  var y = e.clientY - + $(window).scrollTop();
  alert( pnpoly( 3, [25,75,125], [25,100,25], x, y ) + ' x:' + x + ' y:'  + y );

In fact, we can safely include the offset(), scrollLeft(), and scrollTop() calls even if we are neither using absolute nor fixed positioned elements since these values will simply be 0 in the case of a statically positioned canvas.

Gallatin National Forest

Perhaps one of the most scenic diversions from I-90 when driving across Montana. A turn off at Big Timber and head south arcing along W. Boulder Road to Livingston. In this instance, I caught a freak ranstorm that was coming down over the wilderness.


Model: Nikon D80 /w Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX

Shutter: 1/160 sec

Exposure Program: Manual

F-Stop: f/9

ISO: 400

Focal Length: 35mm

Lighting: None

No of Stitched Photos 4

January 02, 2014

2013 In Review

Filed under: Journal part of Annual Reviews

In the spirit of the season, I hope to do a little navel gazing. So, if reading through a pile of narcissistic schlock wherein I attempt to showcase just how amazing my life is, read on. Otherwise, it would be best to skip this. Honestly, I would not blame you at all.

Professionally this year has held quite a roller coaster of changes. I changed firms, moving over to 44 Interactive. This brought with it a much wider range of responsibilities and opened doors into expanding my skills into a avenues that I had not yet explored.


At the new firm, I switched to developing 100% on Linux (Ubuntu and CentOS). It was a rocky first month, but now I would never switch back to working in the Windows environment. I oversaw a major revision of production servers at the new firm, getting things PCI compliant and automating a lot of processes using Python and Bash – two languages that I picked up last spring.

I picked up a lot of new tools with the move as well. I started doing regular development in Code Igniter, expanded my knowledge of Lemonstand, and wrote an internal toolset using Silex. I modernized my front-end skills – working with LESS, HTML5, and building increasingly more complex ajax sites with a much more solid understanding of modular/pseudo-classical JavaScript.

I worked on our custom CMS, normalizing it’s database structures, introducing a number of design patterns to enhance re-usability, getting it into a repository, and wrangling out a lot of cruft as it became a leaner, more focused application.

As for personal projects, I rewrote the templates for my portfolio and “culture” blogs, moved them onto my own VPN, started hosting my own e-mail server, and got onto Linkedin and back into regularly blogging. I started to revise my old coursework in C and daydreaming of making some small game projects in C/Python.

2013 saw me move four times. I started with a move to a new house in Sioux Falls on the first of the year. I split my time at that house with traveling to a second rental in Hullet, Wyoming. In May, the rental in Hullet went away and I began dividing my time between Sioux Falls and Island Park, Idaho (and later on another move down the mountain to Ashton, Idaho where I began to telecommute 100% of the time).

All this moving gave me quite an incentive to cut down on my possessions. It is amazing what a couple years of sedentary life can do for property. When I moved to Sioux Falls a couple years past, all I owned fit in my trailer. This year, it took me six loads to haul it all out to Idaho.

Oak Table

The new house, in Sioux Falls, lacked counter space, so I took this as a challenge to take up carpentry. I built a fine Oak butcher-block style table that now resides in my home office as a standing desk.

In Sioux Falls, I made it to figure drawing nearly every week that I was in town, amassing quite a collection of drawings and sketches.

In Idaho, I explored Craters of the Moon, backpacked the Jedediah Smith Wilderness Area, dipped my toes in Bear Lake, explored half a dozen different day hikes throughout the area, and am now regularly snow shoeing along old rail road right of ways. All of this resulting in a pile of nature photographs that I am just now starting to compile and process.

I had a bit of a health scare in Idaho. A false appendicitis lead to all kinds of new experiences with the American medical system. A sciatica afterwards left me crippled for nearly a month. In the end, I found myself resolved to get back into shape by switching to a standing desk and waking early for a heavy dose of aerobics before work.

Through the year, I discovered Black Books, read Chomsky, the translated works of Yoshitiro Tatsumi, Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, re-visited Kerouac, and the poetry of Allen Ginsberg. I played Fez and Shelter. I began the Prince of Persia series and Zelda Twilight Princess.

I made it a point to try to put 30 minutes each day into reading a text about computer science, be it a volume on patterns for Python, pointer arithmetic in C, or artfully designing databases. I feel that I have reached the point where I just “get” it when it comes to development. I can sit and read across the field and generally understand the content and feel confident that I can apply the techniques in the texts without misinterpreting them or misapplying them.

2014 In Resolution

So, I suppose now that I have sat down and covered the many highlights of the last year I should address myself to the upcoming new year and the good things that I want to bring about.

I am going to keep reading. I am going to keep putting that 30 minutes of personal development in CS each day, but I also should set more time aside to just sit down and game. Two hours for two nights a week and maybe a couple binges – lets say 160 hours by the end of the year which would put me through four decently sized games. Now that we’re on the new console generation it is time to pick up a PS3 and the backlog of exclusive titles along with all the Wii titles that I let slip.

I hope to pick up a role playing group for one evening of the week, and challenging myself to finally break down and go to Friday-Night Magic.

I want to challenge myself to bike to Driggs and back this summer (80 Miles). I would also like to backpack Targhee Peak via Coffin lakes, challenge myself to complete the backpacking trip to Jedediah Smith Wilderness Area, snow shoe to Warm River Cabin, canoe Warm River to Snake River, and spend a week backpacking in Escalante.

The big thing is going to be the projects for this next year. Items, I really am excited to see. I just have been so busy the last couple of years to really focus any of my attention on some personal projects other than the occasional essay.


I’ve already addressed Pecunia in this blog. This is my open-source financial planner/budget maker built around Silex (although, I am now leaning towards Laraval4). I envision this as a multi-user website that will allow users to create budgets, log expenses, and keep track of their personal finances. Oh, and it will be completely open-source and available for review on my BitBucket account. (Personal Deadline: Spring 2014)


This is a much more vague idea, because I just have not sat down to flesh it out. I want to sit down and make a small collection of old-school arcade clones in Python, and slowly work my way up to creating a nicely polished 2D platformer. (Personal Deadline: 2015)

The Weird Tale

I have this short story that has been in the works for three years. In my day planner, it’s noted down as “the weird tale.” It’s a Lovecraftian tale of monsters and madness. I really need to finish it. (Personal Deadline: Rough Draft Summer 2014, Final Draft Fall 2014)


It’s nice to be blogging regularly again. This year, I aim for 12 solid articles.

Architectural Drawing

I have spent the last three years working on figure drawing. It’s time to return to architectural drawing. Once it gets nice outside, I aim to take the easel outside and start sketching out each of the buildings in this small town.

Photo Showcase

An annual addition to the list, since I still haven’t done it. I really need to get a gallery showing put together of my photos. The issue is always that by the time I have a good enough collection of photos for a given place, I move. (Personal Deadline: Fall 2014)


I’ve been off NaNoWriMo since somewhere around 2007. It’s time to get back in there and write a new one. So this year, let’s be serious and put it on the list.

Inevitably, more projects will probably arise in my mind through the year, and I will address them as they appear, but for now that’s the whole list.