code prole

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coding for the proletariat since 1977

Electronic Text Books

My employer has a Safari Books online account, and I am using that to access Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X, Third Edition, to jump start my understanding of Mac programming in general and Cocoa in particular.

I have a love/hate relationship with online books. For reading novels the format is great. I have several hundred fiction titles in my electronic collection and make good use of an aging Palm m515 to read them. Reading non-fiction, particularly text books is a less enjoyable experience. With the book open (either in a PDF reader or the browser or eBook reader) ¬†you have to continually “flip” back and forth between the text and your working example in the IDE of your choice. Often times you’ll find yourself positioning the text as far to one side of the screen so that you can position the editor as far as possible to the other side of the screen so you can transcribe the example code.

The ideal situation is multiple monitors, which I have at work. Put the IDE on one screen and the tutorial or book on another screen and have a ball. My personal machine is a laptop and I don’t have an external monitor, so no multiple screen goodness to the rescue. However, I have more than one laptop, so I have on occasion emulated multiple monitors with multiple computers.

Safari Book Shelf is nice enough, especially since I’m not paying for it. I think, at least for books, I prefer buying the actual hardcopy and having it as a reference. Pragmatic Programmers publish most (if not all) of their titles as either PDF or paper book. I usually buy both; that way I have the book for reference and a PDF copy on my machine for times when the book is where I’m not.

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Filed under: eBooks, Pragmatic Bookshelf, Safari Books

Old Dog, New Tricks

In an effort to dust of my long languishing programming skills I’ve decided to learn Cocoa programming on the Mac. Sure, my job uses Java primarily but I mostly understand it, even if I don’t regularly code Java. Ultimately I’d like to contribute to an open source project, Adium for example. Contributing to a widely used open source project would be acceptance on a grand scale.

The Adium project uses Mercurial for source control, and I’ve already started learning it. What I really need is an update XCode / Cocoa tutorial or book. I’ve got a copy of Vermont Recipes, but it was written for the inital XCode release and too many of the underlying tools have dramatically changed for it to be an effective resource. Fortunately my employer has a Safari account and I can access several Cocoa programming resources there.

In addition to learning Mercurial and XCode / Cocoa, I’ll need to reintroduce myself to programming. It’s a discipline I’ve always enjoyed but one I’ve lost. The concepts are still here, I just need to brush them off and reapply them.

Ideally I’ll track my progress here. Hopefully this posting won’t be the only one on this subject.

Filed under: Cocoa, Mac OS X, Source Control