Category Archives: howto

My client’s hate me

I’ve been using mdb-tools, a open source package for extracting Access MDB files, and entering whole new depths of
conceptual joy. Application two and three were written in ASP by a college student, they were stop gap measures meant to live for a year or so… Fast forward 9 years and my client’s hired me to “fix” this problem among others.

In 2004 I replaced a USAF MS Access program used by my squadron with a PHP5 app, now 2011 I feel like I’ve stepped into a time machine and back in the hell that is MS Access and legacy ASP.

   CREATE TABLE CredentialLog
	LogID			Integer, 
	StudentID			Text (100), 
	Cycle			Text (100), 
	AppTo			Text (100), 
	AppFor			Text (100), 
	DayPhone			Text (100), 
	Letter1			Text (100), 
	Letter2			Text (100), 
	Letter3			Text (100), 
	Letter4			Text (100), 
	Letter5			Text (100), 
	Letter6			Text (100), 
	Letter7			Text (100), 
	Letter8			Text (100), 
	Letter9			Text (100), 
	Letter10			Text (100), 
	Letter11			Text (100), 
	Letter12			Text (100), 
	Letter13			Text (100), 
	Letter14			Text (100), 
	Letter15			Text (100), 
	DateRec1			DATETIME, 
	DateRec2			DATETIME, 
	DateRec3			DATETIME, 
	DateRec4			DATETIME, 
	DateRec5			DATETIME, 
	DateRec6			DATETIME, 
	DateRec7			DATETIME, 
	DateRec8			DATETIME, 
	DateRec9			DATETIME, 
	DateRec10			DATETIME, 
	DateRec11			DATETIME, 
	DateRec12			DATETIME, 
	DateRec13			DATETIME, 
	DateRec14			DATETIME, 
	DateRec15			DATETIME, 
	DateSent1			DATETIME, 
	DateSent2			DATETIME, 
	DateSent3			DATETIME, 
	DateSent4			DATETIME, 
	DateSent5			DATETIME, 
	DateSent6			DATETIME, 
	DateSent7			DATETIME, 
	DateSent8			DATETIME, 
	DateSent9			DATETIME, 
	DateSent10			DATETIME, 
	DateSent11			DATETIME, 
	DateSent12			DATETIME, 
	DateSent13			DATETIME, 
	DateSent14			DATETIME, 
	DateSent15			DATETIME, 
	Initial1			Text (8), 
	Initial2			Text (8), 
	Initial3			Text (8), 
	Initial4			Text (8), 
	Initial5			Text (8), 
	Initial6			Text (8), 
	Initial7			Text (8), 
	Initial8			Text (8), 
	Initial9			Text (8), 
	Initial10			Text (8), 
	Initial11			Text (8), 
	Initial12			Text (8), 
	Initial13			Text (8), 
	Initial14			Text (8), 
	Initial15			Text (8)

A web-console implemented in nodeJS

Reading over this ( ) , I felt this was a pretty good and relatively real world example of nodeJS’s capabilities. I did find one line near the end very poignant and reflective of my own opinions at the end of the show & tell post

I don’t know if node.js is the future or is just another hype, but it’s easy. And cool. Really cool.

New language to the toolset: NodeJS

I’ve started self-teaching myself NodeJS and not surprisingly there was a recent popular reddit link pointing to a not very short introduction to nodejs here ( ) . At this point I haven’t found any good books for reference lookup… but hopefully in a week or so I’ll have gotten spooled up enough to be able to report back.

In the meantime as I use Ubuntu for everything but games, this short article here ( ) was enough to get a working environment running though I recommend using a pristine virtual machine instance to keep things simple.

Last point, a reliable friend & peer of mine recommended I check out this MVC like framework for NodeJS ( ). Preliminary it feels like a hybrid between Twistd and CherryPy in Python or Limonade PHP as far as style… aiming more for simplicity over feature/complexity.

JQuery dataTable plugin quick notes

Server-side processing

To return the names of the columns you want, you need to use aoColumndefs and provided individual objects with the property sName.

Below is most of the implementation for a jeditable Ajax driven dataTables, this is the Alpha version and still needs a lot of love in places, but the gist of it is here

var semesterTable = $("#semesterViewTable").dataTable({
                "bProcessing"   : true
            ,   "bServerSide"   : true
            ,   "sAjaxSource"   : "<?php echo url_for("roster/ajax/{$semester_id}"); ?>"
            ,   "fnRowCallback" : function( nRow, aData, iDisplayIndex, iDisplayIndexFull ) {
                                    //console.log(nRow, aData, iDisplayIndex, iDisplayIndexFull);
                                    var recordId = aData[0];
                                    $("td", nRow).data("recordId", recordId);
                                    return nRow;
            , "fnDrawCallback"  : function(){
                                        .editable("<?php echo url_for("roster/edit_record");?>",
                                                          loadurl: "<?php echo url_for("roster/distinct/major/{$semester_id}") ?>"
                                                        , type: "select"
                                                        , submit: "OK"
                                                        , method: "post"
                                                        , submitdata: function(){
                                                            console.log(this, arguments);
                                                            var $this = $(this);
                                                            return {
                                                                    recordId: $"recordId")
                                                                    , classes: $this.attr("class")
            /* Seriously a meta-generator for this would be nice */
            ,"aoColumnDefs": [
                ,{ sName:"record_id",          aTargets:[00], bSearchable:false, bVisible:false }
                ,{ sName:"roster_date",         aTargets:[01], sClass:"roster_date"}
                ,{ sName:"roster_name_both",    aTargets:[02], sClass:"roster_name_both"}
                ,{ sName:"roster_student_id",   aTargets:[03], sClass:"roster_student_id"}
                ,{ sName:"roster_major1",       aTargets:[04], sClass:"roster_major1 editableMajor"}
                ,{ sName:"roster_major2",       aTargets:[05], sClass:"roster_major2 editableMajor"}
                ,{ sName:"roster_major3",       aTargets:[06], sClass:"roster_major3 editableMajor"}
                ,{ sName:"roster_major4",       aTargets:[07], sClass:"roster_major4 editableMajor"}
                ,{ sName:"roster_minor1",       aTargets:[08], sClass:"roster_minor1 editableMajor"}
                ,{ sName:"roster_minor2",       aTargets:[09], sClass:"roster_minor2 editableMajor"}

For the tbody, just put something like

        <tbody><tr><td>Chill the fuck out, it's loading</td></tr></tbody>

Server side data contract

dataTables expects a JSON’ified construct like this

$responseBody = array(
		"sEcho" => intval($input['sEcho']),
		"iTotalRecords" => (int) $count,
		"iTotalDisplayRecords" => count($data),
		"aaData" => $data
  • sEcho is a security variable used by dataTables, basically just send it back and don’t worry about it
  • iTotalRecords – is the MAXIMUM # of records in the data set without any filtering
  • iTotalDisplayRecords – is the MAXIMUM # of records in the data set WITH filtering
  • An array of numerically indexed arrays, dataTables doesn’t like associative arrays

Total and Display total records

If the blink tag still worked reliably, I’d put a neon sign here. Basically you need to do 3 queries per Ajax call… call 1 is to get a

   SELECT count(1) FROM sourceTABLE

call 2 is

 SELECT count(1) FROM sourceTable WHERE someCriteria 

and finally call 3 is

 SELECT yourColumnList FROM sourceTable WHERE someCriteria

With memcache or such, I’d advise caching the total count but no matter what you unfortunately need to make these three SQL calls :(.

Advanced collision detection

Unfortunately I haven’t gotten the chance to completely read this ( ) but what I’ve read has been very educational and potentially useful for future game development.

A quick synopsis is that the linked article provides a very well documented approach for dealing with collisions in time. Say you have an object that should have collided with another, but it’s velocity or translation across the drawing surface is so high that in the time between frames it completely skips over another entity without colliding. In physical reality there would be a collision, but in computer terms there isn’t easy logic to detect and resolve these false-negative near misses.

Python helping PHP development

Just a quick little utility script I wrote to make watching PHP error logs a tad easier:

Usage is

#tail -F /var/log/php/php_error.log | ~/bin/

Thanks to this Stackoverflow question, it even colorizes!

import sys
import os
import re
input = os.fdopen(sys.stdin.fileno(),'r',100)
regex = re.compile("(.*?PHP (Warning|Error|Notice|):.*)")
line = input.readline()
class bcolors:
    HEADER = '\033[95m'
    OKBLUE = '\033[94m'
    OKGREEN = '\033[92m'    
    WARNING = '\033[93m'
    FAIL = '\033[91m'
    ENDC = '\033[0m'
myColor = bcolors.OKGREEN
while line:
    if regex.match(line) or line.find("TODO") > -1:
        isCorrect = True
        if line.find("Fatal error") > -1:
            myColor = bcolors.FAIL
        elif line.find("Error")  > -1:
            myColor = bcolors.FAIL
            #todo get console color code
        elif line.find("Warning")  > -1:
            myColor = bcolors.WARNING
        elif line.find("Notice")  > -1:
            myColor = bcolors.OKBLUE
        elif line.find("TODO") > -1:
            myColor = bcolors.OKBLUE
        if isCorrect:            
            print "#"*25, "@"*25, "#"*25
        #myColor = bcolors.OKGREEN
    print myColor, line.strip(), bcolors.ENDC
    line = input.readline()

Output looks like:

######################### @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ #########################

[28-Mar-2011 11:14:10] PHP Notice:  Undefined variable: sql in

basically breaking up individual error messages into visually easy to spot blocks

Canvas pixel collision detection

So… a fair number of people arrive here looking for how to detect when a pixel/object/thing has collided with something else.

I’ll add more information in the future but in the interim, the quick and dirty advice I can provide:

Given p = x, y where this is the point your trying to determine if it intersects another… the best place is to start with bounding box logic.  Regardless of what shape your object is, if wrap it in an invisible box boundry, it’s relatively trivial to do:

box upper left origin is bX, bY off size sizeX, sizeY.   If p.x greater then bX and p.x less then bX + sizeX AND p.y greater then bY and p.y less then bY + sizeY   you’re inside the bounding box and it’s highly likely your point has or will soon be colliding with an object.

That’s pretty much it and is perfect if you don’t mine lagging the crap out of whatever is running this logic.    To make these collision checks performant, you need to make the computer do less work.   For two dimensional space, my personnel research has led me to the Quad tree structure ( wikipedia article ).  I’ve got a brute force / naive implementation prototyped  @ here & here but as of 2011 March 9th it is not finished and needs some more work.

Basically Quad tree’s provides a super quick way for you to determine if there is any other objects in relative space to an entity.  Doing a quick lookup, if there’s nothing nearby then you can skip the bounding box checks and then the stupidly expensive perimeter intersection checks.

Full library is here and like most of my pet projects is heavily undocumented and completely absent of unit-testing.

Stellar simulator thingy

Inspired by this

Source code @ Github here

So… this basically covers elliptical paths ( which I want to play with more ), a rendering chain I’m happy with, and a few others things. What isn’t exactly right: speed, planetary/stellar surface animation is missing, and I’d like to have a fly by mechanism that shifts the Y ratio progressively over time.