Gerard Condon's Blog

Journal of a software developer.

My son is starting to learn Irish at school and I’m keeping track of the phrases he learns each week here

Final Fantasy Speedruns

Got hooked on this Final Fantasy 7 speedrun. The strats are incredible. How they manage the step count is beyond me.

And here’s a run for FF8 which looks good. Again this step counter stuff takes incredible skill.

Loved those two Final Fantasy games in particular. Series high point for me - apart from 12 they never hit those heights again.

  posted on   •   Gaming

Apple and Gaming

This was an excellent post by Dan Masters on how Apple messed up gaming on iOS. At the time the App Store came out, I remember that pundits were questioning if Nintendo had a future and not only that, if even dedicated portable consoles had a future.

The success of the Switch has put that to bed, but it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Apple had really shown an interest in gaming. They had huge advantages e.g. hardware, iOS, account system but threw it away by not executing on those advantages.

The App Store for games has devolved into a two-bit fremium store which seems really strange compared to the high quality which they pride themselves on in their hardware. I understand that this is a strategy - commoditize your complements but that seems shortsighted. Their brand is a premium one and they are happy for it to be associated with junk apps. Nintendo has a high quality brand in software and will be able to sell Mario and other games for 50-60 euro each for some time to come.

  posted on   •   Gaming

Sublime Text Vintage Mode

I started learning Vim recently and it works fantastically well on Linux. Windows is a bit of a mess though and I’m not confident of getting plugins working correctly. Maybe the new Linux subsystem for Windows will help this.

In the meantime I’ve enabled vintage mode on Sublime Text and it seems to be working well. The main thing it gives me is the keyboard navigation keys. Not having to use the mouse or arrow keys is a big win. I never realised how good it would be until I tried it.

References: Sublime Text Docs, King Luddite Blog Post

Converting Yaml to JSON in JavaScript

I use the Middleman data files feature for my chess site. These files are written in yaml. I could have used json directly for these which would have removed the need for this post but I find yaml is easier for manual editing - with json you constantly have to worry about matching up brackets. From the Middleman erb files, when I build locally I am able to access things like data.fide.ratings. However I would like to be able to load this data remotely and process it from my javascript code.

To load the remote file I just use the JQuery Ajax get function and pass it the url of the file that I want. Then I use the js-yaml library to parse the result and create a data json object from this. Now from my JavaScript code I am able to access the same data using the same notation.

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function loadYamlFromUrl() {
    $.get( "https://raw.githubusercontent.com/gerardcondon/chess/master/website/data/ratings.yaml", function( data ) {
        var data = jsyaml.load(data);
        // can now access data.fide etc
    });
}

This has worked well for me and for any data file that I was able to access via Middleman, I can now access the same data from JavaScript in the same format.

Adding Sidebar Links to Local Gitbooks

I’ve started keeping track of various notes in markdown format and I wanted to use Gitbook to group them together. I’m using the npm module to build it locally. It’s a useful tool and theThe completed book looks nice. However I would like to add some customisations e.g. links back to my main page.

It’s not easy to add simple customisations. Or more like it probably is but it’s not well documented how to do so. Editing the header is a bit awkward as you have to modify the theme yourself. I’ll probably end up just adding a header above it using an iframe.

One thing I did find out how to do was to add links to the sidebar. You edit the book.json to add a links section like this

book.json
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  {
    "links": {
      "sidebar": {
        "Gerard Condon": "http://www.gerardcondon.com",
        "Github": "https://github.com/gerardcondon/tools-docs"
      }
    }
  }

State of Apple ⇒

This is a really good round up of Apple links from Michael Tsai. I just found Steve Blank’s post on Tim Cook as Steve Ballmer a couple of weeks ago and since then there’s been a few more posts on where Apple is going.

I’ve bought a fair few Apple products over the last 10 years but I’m not sure when I’ll buy one again. The phones are admittedly excellent but I get 80% of the experience on my cheap Android phablet for a quarter of the price. Also it’s really the hardware and local software experience with the phones that are good. Any Apple service has tended to be terrible e.g. iCloud - especially compared to Google’s services on Android.

Also iTunes has always been a disaster. And now their laptops seem to be becoming glorified toys - any port I used has been removed. They have a fascination with thinness but I’d trade a few mm for battery life. I’m not sure what I’d do with one now over a Chromebook - especially given that Chromebooks are about a quarter of the price and soon you’ll be able to use Android apps on them.

They never really did much with the Apple TV. I have an older model and it sits unused under the tv now. The remote for that was terrible - looks over usability. Given the way the app store took off on iOS, I thought they had an opportunity to push it as a gaming box. However that never happened. I think gaming seems to be a real blind spot at Apple and it never got the attention that music or movies got. It’s a shame really.

My first iBook got me into the Mac ecosystem and the halo effect lead to more purchases but recent hardware updates (or lack of it on the desktop) are pushing me out again. It’s more likely that Google has the halo effect now and that I’ll be switching to their ecosystem completely.

  posted on   •   Apple