Monday, May 30, 2011

Animation, Legacy Code, and Javascript Challenges

Getting turned down for a job stinks because rejection stinks. Then again, fertilizer also stinks but it helps things grow. In that sense, rejection is a character builder. Besides, if better web developers than me weren't getting hired to work at some of these companies, there would be no CSS or Javascript examples to "view source" on. Patience may be a virtue but it sure is nice having projects to make that virtue attainable. So let's talk projects.

The Mesh Mangler script roughs up 3D meshes by moving the vertices in random directions to one extreme or another. Animangler is basically the same script but with an animaion focus. By creating shape keys and mangling those, it makes it easy to animate weird floating blobs that morph in interesting ways. It's a pretty simple script thanks to the hard work that Blender developers do to make these APIs available for people like me to play with.

Legacy Blend
Getting boring chores out of the way is liberating once done. That's the best way to describe the process of updating tutorial files and making blend files for the old Blender 2.49 tutorials. Occasionally, people do still make inquiries in the Blender Artist forums about that API which makes it worth keeping those old tutorials around awhile longer.

A Cleaner Uncle Squirrely Front End
The Uncle Squirrely project would be better if it's front end code was free of server side PHP logic. It's a very doable task given the right mix of Ajax, JQuery, and JSON. However, it's also a challenging project that pushes my own limits. This limit pushing is a good thing for me as a developer.

The Coming Week
The coming week's challenges will be a continuation of Javascript research, getting hands on with practical Internet marketing and more Python work. Since I'm still in the running for a Django position at a startup, it works out to be one of those good investments that I'd have ended up doing anyways. Will talk later. Cheers all!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

C#, MySQL, and Inteview Fun

This was a crazy week. Two job interviews and tech projects kept me going quite a bit. Here's the story.

Reacquainting with .NET.
Since one of the jobs was for C# and ASP.NET, a refresh was in order. The first C# program took half an hour and covered features taught in an Intro to programming course. The ease of refresh was thanks to the fact that Python and Java has many of the same features C# has.

ASP.NET required setting up an XSP development server and writing some quick “code behind”. It was like writing VB form code but with C#. That much was easy. Figuring out how to deploy was harder. Getting C# talking to MySQL was hardest of all.  Finishing that one can wait.

End of the MySQL Stored Procedure Experiment
Speaking of MySQL, the stored procedure experiment came to a successful conclusion. I buried both SQL code and logic that was in PHP in the database. While burying a single query in a stored procedure offers no performance gains, there are other benefits for the Uncle Squirrelly project. The PHP code is cleaner and the overall application is more secure. Despite these gains, However, I still have no intentions of merging that git branch. If it ever went back in production, MySQL permissions for stored procedures could become an issue.

Better CSS Menus
Studying the source of other web sites brought to my attention a better way of handling menus in Blender Python Tutorials. Combining unordered lists and CSS makes for a nicer menu setup with consistent control of margins and padding. Another site had a CSS text rollover effect that also got implemented.

So that was my week. It was job interviews and tech work and I had fun. I look forward to more interesting things in the coming week.