Even More Quick Snippets

Published on Sunday, October 18, 2009 in , , , , , , , , ,

LinksIt's time once again for snippets! This edition is focused on updates.

• The bug in Verbatim has been fixed! The original problem was that the program couldn't read XML files on other servers due to the same origin policy. That has now been fixed, and files can be read from anywhere. As an example, here's Verbatim loading a poem file from freetzi.com.

The modification itself took only a few hours to program. Finding the approach was the hard part! It seemed like I was looking through an endless array of methods to allow Javascript to load programs from other domains. I'm really pleased with the solution I found, as it allowed me to keep the program working the same as far as the user was concerned. The same XML files that worked with it before still work with it now in the same way. Even better for me, I didn't have to rewrite the manual or reshoot any of the instructional videos!

I've also fixed a minor bug in the memorize text section. Originally, if the lines were hidden when you changed the chosen piece or number of lines, the poem wouldn't be displayed, and the only way to bring it back was to restart the program. Now, even if the lines are hidden when you change the piece or number of lines, the lines and title will display correctly.

Speaking of the programming itself, Verbatim uses several techniques that might be of interest to my fellow Javascript programmers. They're all detailed in the srouce code, but I also thought I'd include them here for those who are interested:

Centering an image that's wider than the screen
Detecting an iPhone or iPod Touch user on your site
Preventing a div from overlapping other elements
Reading variables from a URL
Trimming a url to get just a file name
Using CSS to autospace elements on a toolbar
Using Yahoo! Pipes, Jquery and JSON to read XML files from other domains
• Back in August, I reviewed the Stacked Deck iPhone Native App. For what it did, I liked it, but it was missing the ability to add non-standard stacks. I ended the above review by stating:
Due to mostly to the glaring inability to add a custom stack when it seems to be offered by the program, I'm afraid I can't recommend this program just yet. However, it does have so many good qualities, it is definitely worth keeping an eye on for updated versions.
The update for which I'd been hoping was just released this past Friday!

Stacked Deck 1.0.1 (iTunes Link) has been fixed so that it now saves custom stacks! Even more impressive, it saves plenty of work by notifying you anytime you enter a duplicate card.

I can now give Stacked Deck the recommendation I've been holding back.

• Thanks to what I learned while programming Verbatim, I've been able to give the iPhone/iPod Touch Mental Gym Menu a face-lift. Besides the new look, I've added links to Verbatim, the Grey Matters blog, and eliminated some games and replaced them with others. I also believe that it's more intuitive for iPhone and iPod Touch users, too.

• New videos have been added to the Grey Matters Miro Video Channel. The first is The Story of Pi, a segment of a Project MATHEMATICS! episode that help visualize concepts related to Pi.

The other videos I added are the three episodes of Dr. Frank's Math Minutes. Here you learn about fractions in a pizzeria, how to measure the height of a building while staying on the ground, and the principles behind Newton's Law of Cooling in a hamburger joint. The links to each episode's page is included in the channel, so you can download accompanying handouts and worksheets.

These episodes are hosted by Dr. Frank Wang. That name may sound familiar to long-time Grey Matters readers, as I featured other videos of his back in May of 2006 on my video blog.

That's all for this edition of snippets. I'll see you Thursday!

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