Controlling the computer with words, how-to's and more.

Anyone who has created an app knows that one of the time-consuming and trivial tasks that you must do is resizing app icons.  I often spend around 20 minutes just doing this, and than realize some imperfection in the original design.  The process repeats.

Currently on Cult Of Mac Deals, they are offering a package of Mac apps for developers, “The Free Mac Developer Toolkit”.  While the code editor is mediocre, one application, DevBox, is a gem.

DevBox describes itself as an “All-in-one mobile development toolbox”.  It certainly simplifies many parts of app development.


DevBox’s main functions are graphic-centered.  It can generate placeholders, resize images, work with colors, and generate icon sizes (my favorite); but it can also validate .ipa files, display device capabilities, and create QR codes.

DevBox feels like it was created by someone who understood what an app developer has to do.  Its functions are intuitive and useful, and its interface is well laid-out.

So thanks to Untamed Interactive for your great product.  My one complaint is that the icon sizes are not updated for iOS 8, but that’s a minor detail.

Now, back to hotPotato development…

Only hours ago, SquaredTiki released Dringend, a fully-fledged development app for the iPad.  It is now on the App Store for 10 dollars.

What is Dringend?

Previously, we reviewed Codea, which represented a huge leap forward in mobile development.  Now once again, Dringend has pushed that farther.  

Dringend is a complete app for developing apps on an iPad.  It lets you build applications on your iPad, and even immediately test them, if you have a developer account.  Otherwise, they can be sent to XCode for testing.  

Dringend already supports many features for coding including syntax highlighting, find and replace, automatic highlighting, code structuring, and additional keys.  With Dropbox, you can sync projects from the app to XCode.  It even provides the same templates as XCode.

One thing Dringend does not yet support, though, is visually building interfaces with the storyboard.  This requires the user to know how to programmatically design the interface, or design the interface with XCode.  Obviously, XCode is required for compilation and publishing.  "The Constructor" is a Mac app that allows you to connect to the Mac from far away and compile, and then have the test sent to the device immediately.

So Dringend obviously has some downsides.  It's only hours old, though, and is improving rapidly.  Some features, especially storyboards, will come with time.  Others, such as publishing, may require a change on Apple's part, one that could take many years and software updates.  Yet right now, it is the most powerful tool for developers working on an iPad.  And with syncing and The Constructor, it is a practical and useful app.  And at only 10 dollars, it makes mobile development a real possibility.

The Problem

A new idea is quickly becoming widespread.  A group called Phonebloks wants to build a phone that would last.  The problem, they say, is that a new phone can only be used a short period, usually a couple of years, before it is obsolete or broken.

Their plan, then, is a phone made of detachable “bloks”, or components.  Each would do some function.  for example, a blok might be a screen, processor, or memory.  Therefore, when something broke or needed a repair, the user would only need to buy a new “blok”.  This would hopefully significantly cut down on electronic waste.

Even beyond repairs or upgrades, this has benefits.  Detachable components lead to customizability.  If, for example, you take lots of pictures and store them only in the cloud, you could replace memory with a bigger and better camera, therefore only having what you actually use.  Phonebloks even envisions a “Blokstore”, where any company could make components for the phone.  Camera companies could make a camera, processor companies could make a processor.  It would be open-source in the physical world.

The Plan

Phonebloks has partnered with three companies so far, and hopes to work with more.  So far CYSO, Solon Advocaten, and Motorola (from Google) have agreed to help.  Phonebloks still needs individuals, though.  On their site, they are asking for help in whatever field you are.  Sign up here.

This vision of companies working together to drastically reduce phone waste is an idea to last.  Phonebloks will have to overcome limitations like making companies to collaborate, and getting enough funding.  If everyone helps, though, it could change the world.

Please help!


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TI BASIC tips:

While programming on a TI 83 or 84 with TI BASIC, I have collected a few tips.calculator used for TI BASIC programming

  • Delete a program: 2nd→Mem→2→7→find program and press DEL.
  • Replacing “Done”: Simply write a value on a new line.  TI BASIC outputs this instead of “Done”, and it can even be manipulated by Ans.
  • Comments:  To add comments, simply write a string, surrounded with quotes, on a new line.  TI BASIC takes a value like this, or any variable, and “returns” it.  You can have as many of these as you want, and only the last value (put a 0 at the end) will be outputted.
  • Multiple commands on one line:  Sometimes, you may want to put multiple commands on one line, for space or formatting reasons.  To do this, write the first command, and then put a colon, “:”, and write the second command.  A good example looks like this: “:If condition:Then”.
  • Instructions in Lowercase: Outputted text with upper- and lowercase looks much more professional.  To use lowercase, simply install an Asm utility like mine.
  • “Functions” program: If a program uses several bits of code repeatedly, you may benefit from a “Functions” program.  Although functions are not supported by TI BASIC, there is a workaround.  In you functions file, put an If…Then statement checking one variable.  For each value, have the repeated code.  Then, pass the value to whatever code you need, and run the program from you main application.
  • Rename/Copy a program: Create new program with desired name.  In program, Recall whatever program you’re copying or renaming.  If renaming, delete old program afterwards.

Submit your own tips:

Please share any tips you have come across in the comments.  What do you find helpful?

This solver suite contains programs to solve linear and planar(3 variable) systems, and quadratic equations.  Format would be:

ax+by=c,  dx+ey=f

ax+by+cz=d,  ex+fy+gz=h


[wpdm_file id=5 title=”true” desc=”true” ]

[wpdm_file id=4 title=”true” desc=”true” ]

[wpdm_file id=7 title=”true” desc=”true” ]

[wpdm_file id=6 title=”true” desc=”true” ]

The code is in the included readmes

Type in lowercase on your TI 83 plus, 84, or 84+C. To use, run program. Then tap Alpha button twice to type lowercase.
83 plus family:
[wpdm_file id=2]
84 plus C:
[wpdm_file id=3]



84C code:


If you download this and use it, please comment!

Most of the time, you are trying to avoid an infinite loop, but sometimes you want one. Here’s how to do it in MS-DOS and C#.

MS-DOS (the label method):

goto loop

C# (the true condition method):



for(i=1; true; i++)

These two methods can easily be ported to any language. Use at your own risk.

A side note:
This MS-DOS infinite loop will open infinitely more of itself:
(A MS-DOS program called loop.bat)

goto label

This will open more and more windows until the computer crashes or you stop all running programs.

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Having used both a TI-84 and TI-n~spire, I will compare them:

The TI-84 is a solid, dependable calculator. It can do calculations, graph up to 10 equations, and work with basic variables.

Programming on the TI-84 is very open-you can directly manipulate the display screen and print different characters. It is very easy to figure out how to use. If you know assembly(asm) programming, you can literally control the whole calculator.

The calculator runs an abo(app-based OS), with the main calculator, and a wide selection of other apps to download.

The TI-n~spire is much fancier. It can do advanced feature such as different types of graphs at the same time and 3-D graphing. If you get the CAS(computational algebraic system) version, you can even do things such as using the solve() function.

Programming is much more restricted. You can output text, but only in a linear based format-that is, you can output, but not choose where. One good thing is that you can use message boxes for input and output. Also, you cannot manipulate the graph from a program.

The calculator runs a dbo(document-based OS); each time you need a calculator or graph, you make a document, or else use the Scratchpad, although that has less functions. There is a very limited selection of apps, in fact, you cannot download any.

Its interesting that the TI-84 is older, and runs a abo, while the TI-n~spire runs an dbo, and is newer. Computers are going the opposite direction.

All in all, it depends if you want more features or more control-for control get the 84, and for features get the n~spire.

There aren’t many true programming apps for iDevices, and even less of them are actually useful. Codea from Two Lives Left.

Using the Lua programming language, Codea automatically runs a function called Setup at the beginning and then loops a function called Draw. These functions lets users easily create animations. Other functions are also automatically defined such as Touch.

Codea applications are usually GUI and drawing centered, but there are some command line tools. Programmers have functions such as Ellipse and Rect, and a full range of variables types can be used.

The programming editor has many features such as symbols, automatic parenthesis closing, and a color picker. Codea also comes with many example projects to demonstrate concepts.

Codea has an easily accessible reference guide, but the Lua language documentation, which is commonly needed, is also available.
Recently, Codea added a way to export projects to Xcode, which is Apple‘s main programming suite. A complete game, Cargo Bot, is available on the App Store.

So, if you’re looking to program on a mobile device, Codea is an excellent purchase.