Message for Father’s Day 2011!!!

(I started to write this on father’s day. However, I only finished it on the following Saturday, 25th.)

Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers out there!

I know the day is almost done, but this the first time for the day that I have been able to be on my blog! My daughter, wife, parents and other relatives and friends wished me a happy father’s day today! It was a good day… a busy day… but, a good day!

Today, I gave a short sermon at church today for Father’s Day. I wanted to share a summary of it with you all. I hope it would help to encourage all you fathers out there to strive to be the best dad you can be. My message was based on an acrostic of the word FATHER that I devised:

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Try Dreamhost!!

Hi Everyone! Recently, I have realized that a lot of persons are considering changing their web hosting company. I did that recently, when I changed from GoDaddy.com to Dreamhost.com. One of my main reasons for switching was that I needed secure online source code versioning. I wanted a web hosting that offered it as part of its package. I didn’t want to go to host it separate from my websites, and have to pay extra. Read More

Cocos2D: Using HD images for iPad in a Universal App

Introduction

This is my first tutorial, and I am proud to make it be about writing Objective C code for the iOS and Cocos2D. Since the debut of the iPad, there has been much talk on the Cocos2D forums about how to code one Universal app that will work on the iPhone/iPod touch (resolution: 320×480), the iPhone4 Retina Display (resolution: 640×960), and iPad (resolution: 1024×768). As it stands, Cocos2D 0.99.5 to 1.0-rc accommodates for iPhone and Retina display resolutions automatically by appending the filename with ‘-hd’. So, if you have a background file named, background.png that works for 320×480 resolutions, all you have to do is create a larger version of the file named, background-hd.png. See here. The second issue of how Cocos2D accommodates for iPhone and Retina display is in positioning. Since version 0.99.5, Cocos2D automatically does this using points instead of pixels. So, in the normal display, the normal display, setting the position to ccp(100, 100) is automatically translated to ccp(200, 200) in the Retina display. The issue remains regarding how to accommodate specifying the images and the correct positioning on the iPad. In my research on how to do this, I came across the following discussions on the Cocos2D forums: All of these discussions were excellent in helping me understand the problem, and presented various solutions, but none of them worked for me. Even when I got the HD images to work, the positioning was all off. So, I decided to come up with my own solution, and I wanted to share it with everyone. My goal was to reuse the HD images that I made for the Retina Display, and center my app in the screen, so that the entire app had a black border.

Code Setup

First I created a header file to maintain my constants, such as file names. This header file was called Constants.h. I also created another header file that contain macros to detect and handle the different device details. I called this file DeviceSettings.h. [sourcecode language=”objc” title=”DeviceSettings.h”] #import <UIKit/UIDevice.h> /* DETERMINE THE DEVICE USED */ #ifdef UI_USER_INTERFACE_IDIOM() #define IS_IPAD() (UI_USER_INTERFACE_IDIOM() == UIUserInterfaceIdiomPad) #else #define IS_IPAD() (NO) #endif /* NORMAL DETAILS */ #define kScreenHeight 480 #define kScreenWidth 320 /* OFFSETS TO ACCOMMODATE IPAD */ #define kXoffsetiPad 64 #define kYoffsetiPad 32 #define SD_PNG @".png" #define HD_PNG @"-hd.png" #define ADJUST_CCP(__p__) \ (IS_IPAD() == YES ? \ ccp( ( __p__.x * 2 ) + kXoffsetiPad, ( __p__.y * 2 ) + kYoffsetiPad ) : \ __p__) #define REVERSE_CCP(__p__) \ (IS_IPAD() == YES ? \ ccp( ( __p__.x – kXoffsetiPad ) / 2, ( __p__.y – kYoffsetiPad ) / 2 ) : \ __p__) #define ADJUST_XY(__x__, __y__) \ (IS_IPAD() == YES ? \ ccp( ( __x__ * 2 ) + kXoffsetiPad, ( __y__ * 2 ) + kYoffsetiPad ) : \ ccp(__x__, __y__)) #define ADJUST_X(__x__) \ (IS_IPAD() == YES ? \ ( __x__ * 2 ) + kXoffsetiPad : \ __x__) #define ADJUST_Y(__y__) \ (IS_IPAD() == YES ? \ ( __y__ * 2 ) + kYoffsetiPad : \ __y__) #define HD_PIXELS(__pixels__) \ (IS_IPAD() == YES ? \ ( __pixels__ * 2 ) : \ __pixels__) #define HD_TEXT(__size__) \ (IS_IPAD() == YES ? \ ( __size__ * 1.5 ) : \ __size__) #define SD_OR_HD(__filename__) \ (IS_IPAD() == YES ? \ [__filename__ stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:SD_PNG withString:HD_PNG] : \ __filename__) [/sourcecode] The idea is to have a set of macros that handle the checking for iPad and substitute the correct filename and coordinates (points/pixels) on the screen. Here is the constants file: [sourcecode language=”objc” title=”Constants.h”] /* TEXTURE FILES */ #define kSpriteTexture1 SD_OR_HD(@"GoodGuy.png") #define kSpriteTexture2 SD_OR_HD(@"StageBoss.png") /* FIXED POSITIONS */ #define kSomePosition ADJUST_CCP( ccp(200, 100) ) [/sourcecode]

Textures

So, from looking at the Constant.h file, you can see that we just need to define the texture in the SD_OR_HD() macro, and if it is the iPad, you will have GoodGuy-hd.png. If it is the iPhone/iPod touch, Cocos2d will load GoodGuy.png, and if it is iPhone4 Retina Display or iPad, Cocos2D will load GoodGuy-hd.png. [sourcecode language=”objc” title=”SomeCodeFile.m”] CCSprite *goodGuy = [CCSprite spriteWithTexture:[[CCTextureCache sharedTextureCache] addImage:kSpriteTexture1]]; goodGuy.position = kSomePosition; [self addChild:goodGuy]; CCSprite *stageBoss = [CCSprite spriteWithTexture:[[CCTextureCache sharedTextureCache] addImage:kSpriteTexture2]]; [stageBoss setPosition: ccp(0, ADJUST_Y( kScreenHeight*0.45 ))]; [self addChild:stageBoss]; [/sourcecode] For the positioning on the goodGuy sprite, you will have the following result coming from using:
  • iPhone/iPod touch: ccp (200, 100)
  • iPhone4 Retina Display: ccp(400, 200)
  • iPad: ccp(464, 232)
The way that I compensate for the iPad is to add 64 to the width and 32 to the height. This is because with the iPad, I gain 128 extra pixels in width and 64 extra pixels in height, if in Portrait orientation. So, I adjust everything half of the extra pixels, since Cocos2D takes the origin from the bottom left hand side of the screen.

Labels

Now, in the DeviceSettings.h file, I also have HD_PIXELS and HD_TEXT. I use these to adjust changes to coordinate and to the size of text used in Cocos2D, such as labels and menu items. So, for example, to move a sprite down by 60 pixels on iPhone and (the equivalent) 120 pixels on the iPad and Retina Display, I would type: [sourcecode language=”objc” title=”Example 1=using 2=code 3=in 4=a 5=class”] id action = [CCMoveBy actionWithDuration:1.0f position:ccp(0, HD_PIXELS( -60.0f ))]; [goodGuy runAction:action]; [/sourcecode] As for the font sizes, you can use HD_PIXELS, which is the most accurate method, but I often find the text to seem too big, so I use HD_TEXT instead, which multiplies the font size by 1.5, instead of 2.0, as with HD_PIXELS.

Spritesheets and BMFonts

This concept can also be applied to loading Spritesheets and BMFonts. You can make Spritesheets with Texture Packer, and you can make BMFonts with Glyph Designer. Basically, add the following to the DeviceSettings.h file: [sourcecode language=”objc” title=”DeviceSettings.h”] /* SD/HD Font file */ #define SD_FNT @".fnt" #define HD_FNT @"-hd.fnt" /* SD/HD Spritesheet plist */ #define SD_PLIST @".plist" #define HD_PLIST @"-hd.plist" #define SD_HD_FONT(__filename__) \ (IS_IPAD() == YES ? \ [__filename__ stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:SD_FNT withString:HD_FNT] : \ __filename__) #define SD_HD_PLIST(__filename__) \ (IS_IPAD() == YES ? \ [__filename__ stringByReplacingOccurrencesOfString:SD_PLIST withString:HD_PLIST] : \ __filename__) [/sourcecode] Using this code is simple. Here’s the code: [sourcecode] /* BMFont example */ NSString *string1 = NSLocalizedString(@"This works!", @""); CCLabelBMFont *notice1 = [CCLabelBMFont labelWithString:string1 fntFile:SD_HD_FONT(@"myFontFile.fnt")]; notice1.position = ADJUST_XY( kScreenWidth*0.7f , kScreenHeight*0.4f ); /* Spritesheet example */ //1. (Pre)Load spritesheet [[CCSpriteFrameCache sharedSpriteFrameCache] addSpriteFramesWithFile:SD_HD_PLIST(@"mySpritesheet.plist")]; //2. Get the image inside the spritesheet as a CCSprite // Note: mySpriteImage.png is in mySpritesheet.plist and mySpritesheet.png CCSprite *mySprite = [CCSprite spriteWithSpriteFrameName:@"mySpriteImage.png"]; [/sourcecode] This ends the tutorial. I hope my code is self explanatory.

Watson? Intelligent?! Yeah… right!

Hi Everyone, I have been reading through a few articles about the Watson supercomputer, and how it beat the human competitors at Jeopardy. It really is a great feat of engineering and computer science. But, as I was reading through the various articles, at the back of my mind, I was thinking… “Why is everyone going on about how intelligent this computer is?”. For me, Watson represents a breakthrough in hardware design, computational algorithms, parallel computing, and speed. I was really impressed with it’s ability to process natural language, and interpret speech data correlating it to data that it has stored in its database. However, despite how impressed I was, I still think that computers have a long way to go before we can truly consider them to be intelligent. My critique of supercomputers like Watson, in terms of whether they should be considered as being ‘intelligent’, is based on the following observations:
  1. Compared to humans, the data that supercomputers have access to was all given to them. It was not learned by them through any form of sensory input. The data that they have was provided to them probably through searching and indexing terabytes of factual data, and storing it in a fault-tolerant database system. To me, that is like competing against a textbook. The human mind is multi-dimensional, from the point of view that all the data and information we learn and store in out minds/brains was as a result of taking in every sound, every visual image, and making sense out of it, and then remembering that association in the brain. To me, that is not the same as searching through a database of organized information that was basically sorted and given to you, and specifically designed to work in a game called Jeopardy. I mean, any human that will ever go against a supercomputer like Watson was processing every visual, auditory, and tactile input at the same time as trying to understand, process, and answer a question in Jeopardy. The processing power of our brains are always divided. The brain is processing bodily functions (like controlling hormones) and input (like deciding to scratch an itch in your sleeve, or wishing the air conditioning wasn’t so cold in the Jeopardy studio). The human mind may be wondering any moment whether the stove was left on, or if your wife is watching you on TV, or something, and still focuses on answering Jeopardy questions. Supercomputers have no idle thought, and no processing of physical functions. All they do is process that data they are designed to process. For me, the day that I admit to a supercomputer being intelligent is the day that the supercomputer can learn and process data the same way I can, which involves visual and audible input of your surroundings.
  2. Secondly, what I find intelligent are the people who write and develop the custom algorithms that process the speech input and the data that Watson has stored. Did Watson create or develop any of those algorithms for itself? Did it figure out how to learn a language? Or what words mean in different language constructs by itself, or intuitively? Someone, or rather teams of persons, had to figure out how to write the instructions to make Watson do it. So, in actual fact, the intelligent ones are the people who created all these algorithms, and figured out how to get it all to work together. Watson is the culmination of all of their intelligence. Personally, I think that it doesn’t do them justice to call the supercomputer intelligent and not recognize the intelligence of these individuals. I mean, from the time we are born, it takes us years before we fully understand the complexes and nuances of a language, and no one puts instructions into us as to how to do it. We, starting from nothing but being able to take in audible data, learn to understand language and the meaning of the sounds we hear. As of yet, I don’t know of any supercomputer that can do that. For me, I was more interested in who were the people who made Watson possible. They are pretty darn awesome!
For me, in general, until a computer does more that process instructions that were coded into it, I will never feel comfortable with the idea of comparing them to humans, and concluding that they are intelligent. I would really be interested on what others thought of computer intelligence.

The truth or a kiss? Who is your friend?

Hi Everyone, I just wanted to share this thought from the scriptures that I was meditating on recently. It is the verse, Proverbs 27:6
Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. (NLT) Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (KJV)
I personally prefer the wording of the King James Version (KJV). Anyways, the thought expressed in this verse is so critical to our development as responsible adults. I find that may young people today have a very hard time facing the truth about themselves and/or their situations. They run from the truth, because Read More

I love jQuery!!!

Hi everyone!

I just wanted to share my experience with jQuery, and also give you a little sneak peek into the new Joomla extensions that I am working on. I am working on a new extension, and I hope to have it out by the end of the month. Well, anyways, as you know, Joomla 1.5 supports Mootools 1.1 out-of-the-box, and I tried to implement the Fx.Slide feature. To my dismay, it didn’t work. It just made the layer invisible and then visible again, and on top of that it had some quirks when the layers are cascaded within each other. I did a little research about it, but then I didn’t find much. However, I think maybe I need to download some kind of Mootools plugin, Mootools More, I think, to get it to work. When I tried to look for that download at the Mootools website, I couldn’t find it. I just got fed up. Then, I went to check out jQuery! Read More

To blog? or not to blog?

Hi everyone,

I haven’t been really blogging in a while. I think I have been caught between two opinions as of late.There has been a lot on my mind, especially when it comes to politics, and social science. However, I digress… mainly because I don’t want to share everything that is in my mind to share. I have been thinking about the idea of privacy, and the right to privacy, and how that impacts the web. One of the issues on my mind is that whatever I blog on will be available as public knowledge, and may be used in the future to judge who I am, especially since there is a growing trend to jump to conclusions based on non-contextual rhetoric, and twisting the semantics of an individuals statements. Anyways, I am sure I will find some sort of common ground soon, so that I can blog happily and freely again. Read More

I like CodeIgniter!

Well, it is 11pm, and I really MUST go to sleep in a few minutes. However, I want to share my recent interests with everyone. I really like CodeIgniter! It’s a PHP Framework. And for those of you who don’t know what that is, it is a system of reusable, often object-oriented, PHP components that provide a streamlined way to rapidly develop PHP web applications without the developer having to ‘re-invent the wheel’ and write all the code from scratch. It is just plain awesome! Read More

To blog or not to blog… hmm…

Another month has passed, and I am yet to put a decent post. Man, I feel partly ashamed. But, the truth is that sometimes, I think of things I want to blog, and I question whether I should blog about it or not. For example, many things have come into my mind about politics, and religion, and I want to put in my two cents, but I end up holding it all back. I think that it reveals a little too much, but at the same time, I do want to blog my thoughts. Anyways… I’m still pondering how I should express my thoughts. However, apart from my indecision when it comes to blogging for the past month, I have been pretty busy on some projects on my MacBook Pro. I have been learning Objective-C and writing quite a bit of code. I really has been a lot of fun. Most of my evenings for the past month has been spent doing that.

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