brandontreb.com Tips And Resources For Software Consultants

iPhoneLB.com gets a much needed update

screenshot_04

So, I started this site called iphonelb.com a few months back and left out a very important feature. The ability to edit your applications!?! What this means is, users have been testing their apps and putting in “test data” and when it comes time for release, the can’t modify it.

Another feature missing, was the ability to clean out all of your test scores.

Well, thanks to about 8 minutes of my time, this has been resolved and the feature has been added. I am really excited about iphonelb and have some big things planned for it in the future. Write me on Twitter or on my blog if you have any feature requests for it.

Parks & Recreation is to The Office as American Dad is to Family Guy

pandr

After seeing the show Parks and Recreation last night, I have come to the conclusion that the show is doomed to fail. Not only is it not funny, it’s jokes try to mimic the dry awkward humor of The Office. Parks and Recreation Fail!

Increasing Your Blog Traffic Using Twitter Trends

twitter_trends

Twitter Trends are a very interesting part of Twitter. They are basically the most typed keywords or hashtags on twitter for a given day. Some examples might be #musicmonday or macHeist. These are fun and all but how can you use them to get traffic to my website/blog…

Well, often times trends refer to words associated with website articles, videos, images, etc… For example, the other day, the word mashable was trending on Twitter. This was because Mashable.com had just put out an article on twitter trends. Since people were talking about and more importantly linking to this article, the word mashtable was trending…Naturally, this article got quite a bit of traffic.

Post a Comment On The Article

So, I commented on the article leaving a link to my blog. That day, I got ~50 extra uniques to my blog! You can do the same by closely following the trends. Make sure you read the article and are not just spamming the comments section. Many articles use blog systems (such as WordPress) that allow you to link to your website/blog in your commentsl. Post a comment that contributes to the discussion and I guaruntee it will generate more traffic to your website/blog. Again, don’t be a spammer, contribute something to the discussion…

Be Prompt (comment early)

The sooner you comment on the article, the more traffic it will generate to your site. In the above example, I was like the 15th or 16th to commenter. Imagine if I had been the first…

Although this method isn’t perfect, it’s a sure fire way to generate some quick traffic for your blog/website. Do this every day, and you could be huge!

I freakin hate this page…

over

Seems to show up way too much.

Alexa Gets a Much Needed Update

alexa

If you have a blog/website then you probably have heard of Alexa. If not, you should search your blog in it to find out some interesting stats. Being a stat junkie, I check services like this frequently.

It appears that Alexa has recently updated their interface from their old jenk web .05 hideousness. While it’s not quite web 2.0, I’d say it has a good start as web 1.6 (maybe 1.7 because of the shine on the logo).

On a side note, icodeblog seems to be huge in Canada 😉

WordPress Plugin To Increase Twitter Popularity

twitterpluswordpress

If there are two things I love on the intenets, they are WordPress and Twitter. Recently there have been many plugins developed to integrate the two. Mainly, updating your Twitter from your blog or vice-versa. But the question is, do these benefit one another?

Does your Twitter send traffic to your WordPress blog or your WordPress blog get you more followers? Maybe if you are @kevinrose but in my opinion, not really…

I’m currently developing a plugin that will incredibly benenfit your Twitter following using your WordPress blog. It’s called TwitPop and should be available shortly for download. So be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed and check back soon.

Twouble With Twitter Video

Ok, so I am sure you have seen this video by now, but I just had to post it because it’s flippin hilarious.

This perfectly describes mine (and others) Twitter obsession. Kinda sad actually.


"Twouble with Twitter" sous-titré
Uploaded by LePostfr

Google In Real Life Using Google Classic

google

Image Source: http://www.boomerang.nl

I depend on Google way too much for spell checking, simple math, and looking up things I don’t know off the top of my head.

It’s sad because often my first instinct when handwriting something or even looking for a lost object in my house is to “Google it”.

WordPress For iPhone Gets A Much Needed Update

wordpress-icon-512
A few days ago, the popular blogging tool WordPress released a much needed update to their iPhone application. The main features included in the update were:

  • Landscape mode for writing posts – This is a huge one. It was a total pain in the butt writing blog posts with the vertical keyboard
  • Page Editing/Creation – Meh… How often do you do this?
  • Comment Moderation – Very excited about this feature. I love being able to check out comments quickly without loading my entire blog.
  • Photo resizing – Very cool option. Makes photo uploads go much quicker.

If you have both an iPhone AND a WordPress blog (your own host or WordPress.com), I would highly suggest downloading the WordPress iPhone app for blogging on the go.

Hopefully, having the landscape keyboard mode will motivate me to blog more often.

Click here to download the WordPress application for the iPhone

Top Dugg Story of Today – I hate Dane Cook

LOL, SlightyOverDressed.com had a post that made it to the top of DIGG today simply titled “I Hate Dane Cook”. That’s freakin hilarious.

Here’s the link. http://slightlyoverdressed.com/i-hate-dane-cook/

Free Leaderboard Solution for iPhone Game Developers

What makes most multiplayer games more exciting that single player games? It’s competition! People love to compete with eachother.

And how can competition be achieved in single player games? Leaderboards.

A leaderboard is basically a table ranking players based on their scores in the game. This allows players to see how they stack up against other players.

The Problem

Many programmers either know how to do web development or system development. They don’t know both and certainly don’t know how to integrate the two. This is why I believe there are not more single player games with leaderboards in the App Store.

The Solution

This is where iPhone Leaderboards comes in. It’s an online hosted leaderboard that is incredibly easy to integrate with any iPhone game. The code to integrate with iPhoneLB is given to you to paste directly into your own. It couldn’t be easier.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Part 3 of iPhone Game Programming Tutorial Posted On iCodeBlog

It’s been a while, but I finally posted part 3 of the iPhone Game Programming tutorial series on iCodeblog.com. The focus of this tutorial was to create a splash page for your game that fades into your game’s main view.

I chose to create this tutorial after seeing many games that just jump right in to the main game play. A splash page makes the game feel more “professional” as well as gives the developer a chance to brand the app by displaying a company logo or something to that extent.

Hopefully, I will be able to get part 4 up in a timely fashion to teach developers how to incorporate sounds into their games.

So, go ahead and check out part 3 of the iPhone Game Programming Tutorial Series.

New Web Application That Will Be Useful For iPhone Games Developers

So, after downloading many iPhone games and talking with a ton of iphone developers, I have a found a huge need in the community. Over the next week I will be developing a killer web application with a web service API that will be free to iPhone developers to use.

I am not going to give out any details at the moment, but be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed as I will be blogging about it through out next week (Spring Break = Time to develop). It should be completed by late next week.

I guarantee, if you are an iPhone game developer, you will benefit tremendously from what I am about to release.

Excited? So am I…

The Only Twitter API PHP Class You Will Ever Need

twit

Note Twitter has switchted their entire interface to use OAUTH and this class no longer works (I should probably change the title hahaha). I will post an oauth connection tutorial in the near future, so make sure to ****subscribe to my RSS feed** for all of the sweet sweets updates!**

Cheers!

So, I started writing a Twitter API Programming series last week… Here is part 1. I have found that there is not much else to teach when it comes to interfacing with Twitter. Basically, we just need to implement all of the Twitter functions.

I have taken it upon myself to create a fully functional Twitter API PHP class. It has every Twitter function you will ever need (less the direct messages). I have also fully documented it with comments directly from the Twitter API so that the functions are easy to understand. Here is how you would use the class. The first parameter of every function is the return type. For Twitter it can be either xml, json, or rss for some functions.

<code class=’php’>include("Twitter.class.php");
    $twitter = new Twitter();
    $twitter->username = "twitteruser";
    $twitter->password = "twitterpass";
    // Show public timeline
    echo $twitter->public_timeline();
    // Update your status
    echo $twitter->update(‘xml’,’This PHP class is flippin sweet!’);
    // Start following a user
    echo $twitter->create(‘xml’,’brandontreb’);</code>

These are just 3 of the functions implemented in this class. The full function list includes:

  • public_timeline
  • friends_timeline
  • user_timeline
  • update
  • replies
  • friends
  • followers
  • show
  • create
  • destroy
  • exists

All of these functions are fully documented and simple to use. You can also check out Twitter’s API here (but you shouldn’t need to).

So, now you can fully **integrate Twitter into any PHP application you create! **

Download The PHP Twitter Class here Twitter.class.php

Also, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed. More great programming tutorial to come.

Why Many iPhone Apps Suck

I have been downloading many different iPhone apps lately and have noticed that many of them suck.

When I say they suck, I’m not necesarily referring to the content of the app. What I am talking about is the programming of the app. But Brandon, how do you know the programming sucks. Well, frequent crashing is an obvious indicator. Also, taking too long to do various computations as well as overall awkwardness.

This is because many non-programmers or hobby programmers decide they want to make an iPhone app without first learning the objective-c language. People just use jank copy and pasted code frankensteined from different examples, close their eyes and pray. This is the architecture of many iPhone apps.

So, who’s fault is this? Well, at first I wanted to say Apple for their lack of tutorials/explanations. After thinking about it, I feel it’s simply lazy programmers driven by trying to make money rather than the desire create a solid and useful applications. It’s quite sad actually.

One challenge here is the iPhone is a terrible platform to learn programming with. The forced program design assumes you have a solid understaning of object oriented programming design patterns as well as many other advanced programming topics. Many CS students don’t even get this until their second year in college! So how can a novice programmer jump right in and make an iPhone app? They code a pile of crap.

So what’s the solution to this? Well I’ll tell you. Teaching people objective-c from the ground up (that, and Apple being more selective when approving apps). I intend to write a whole series of beginner objective-c tutorials (using the mac as a platform rather than the iPhone). I’m not sure yet if these will be posted here or on icodeblog.com. I have yet to decide.

So stay tuned for the first Mac Application Development tutorials.

Buzzword Is Now In The App Store

Well, after anxiously waiting for the past 6 days (feels like forever) I have finally gotten that magical email from Apple stating that my “application is ready for sale”. The application of course referring to a game I created called Buzzword.

Buzzword is essentially a clone of the popular party game CatchPhrase ported on to the iPhone. Click Here for all the details on Buzzword.

I am asking a huge favor to anyone that wants to participate. I will give you a free copy of Buzzword (wow saves you a whole buck) if you would kindly write a review of it on your blog or website. If you are interested, either post a comment in this post, contact me, or hit me up on Twitter.

Click on the image below to download Buzzword now.

Download Buzzword In The App Store

Twitter API Programming Tutorial With PHP – Intro

<img src="http://brandontreb.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/picture-15.png" alt="picture-15" title=&uuot;picture-15" width="400" height="125" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-85" />

I have recently started using Twitter and completely fell in love with it. Being a programming, this naturally made me want to develop applications for interfacing with it. So, I scoured the internet (checking Twitter’s website as well) to find good *simple tutorials for doing this. After searching for a while, I couldn’t really find any. Ok, I lied, I found a few but they were terrible. I hate tutorials that assume the reader knows more than they actually do.

So, I am taking it upon myself to write a series of comprehensive tutorials for interfacing with Twitter. I will first do them all in PHP and then maybe in some other languages. I may even do some in Objective-C to be implemented on the iPhone. These would be written of course at iCodeBlog.com 😉 .

Let’s just jump right in. Twitter offers a few ways to interface with their web services, which are all documented on their API Wiki. The documentation is great, assuming you know the code to get connected and make the calls. So, let’s skip all of the nerdy low level stuff and write an application.

Today, I will be teaching you how to simply connect to Twitter and update your status. This will be pretty straight forward and require very little PHP code. So, grab some coffee, open up your favorite PHP editor (notepad?).

Ok, so let’s start by wrapping our code into an easy to call function. We don’t want to have to copy and paste our Twitter interface code every time we need it in a project. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just call it like this

<code class=’php’>updateTwitter("Just Rockin Out")</code>

So let’s begin by declaring a function called updateTwitter. Type the following code</p>

<code class=’php’>function updateTwitter($status){ 
    // Twitter login information 
    $username = "TwitterUsername"; 
    $password = "TwitterPassword";</code>

Our function begins with a declaration of a username and password. This will be your Twitter login information. Every Twitter API call requires that you authenticate yourself. Make sure you update the code to include your username and password/

Next, we will add the following code to initialize the variables needed to make our Twitter API call. Continue by adding the following code.

<code class=’php’>// The url of the update function 
    $url = ‘http://twitter.com/statuses/update.xml’; 
    // Arguments we are posting to Twitter 
    $postargs = ‘status=’.urlencode($status); 
    // Will store the response we get from Twitter 
    $responseInfo=array(); 
    // Initialize CURL 
    $ch = curl_init($url);</code>

One thing I want to point out is the URL. Notice the update.xml at the end of it. This is telling the Twitter API we want to call the update function and we expect to receive xml back. You could also change it to be update.json if you want to receive json data back.

The next variable postargs is simply the arguments we will pass to the update function. Since these arguments get appended to the URL, they need to be urlencoded. The responseInfo array will contain the return data from the cURL request to Twitter. Finally, we just initialize a new cURL session. cURL is just a protocol for transferring data. You can read up on it on Wikipedia if you feel so inclined.

Next, we need to tell cURL to do a POST rather than a GET and pass it our argument string

<code class=’php’>// Tell CURL we are doing a POST 
    curl_setopt ($ch, CURLOPT_POST, true); 
    // Give CURL the arguments in the POST 
    curl_setopt ($ch, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, $postargs);</code>

The next part is where the magic happens. Here is the next bit of code (I’ll explain it below)…

<code class=’php’>// Set the username and password in the CURL call 
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_USERPWD, $username.’:’.$password); 
    // Set some cur flags (not too important) 
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_VERBOSE, 1); 
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_NOBODY, 0); 
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADER, 0); 
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_FOLLOWLOCATION,1); 
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1); 
    // execute the CURL call 
    $response = curl_exec($ch); 
    // Get information about the response 
    $responseInfo=curl_getinfo($ch); 
    // Close the CURL connection curl_close($ch);</code>

Wow! that looks like a lot of nerdy code. Good thing you only have to write it once and don’t have to understand it (unless you want to). The first line sets the username and password fields in our cURL call. When we first connect with the Twitter API, it will prompt for a username and password. cURL will automatically feed the username and password to the API. The next few lines are not super important. If you one of those people that get hung up on that sort of thing, you can read about them here. We’re almost done, I promise… Finally, we make the cURL call itself by calling curl_exec. This will return a response from Twitter which will contains some XML if your call completed successfully. The next line, gets the http response (makes sure you were able to connect to Twitter). If it is anything other than 200 (HTTP OK), it means your cURL request never even reached Twitter. Here is the last bit of code

<code class=’php’>// Make sure we received a response from Twitter 
    if(intval($responseInfo[‘http_code’])==200){ 
        // Display the response from Twitter 
        echo $response; 
    }else{ 
        // Something went wrong 
        echo "Error: " . $responseInfo[‘http_code’]; 
    } 
} 
?></code>

All this code really does is makes sure we got a 200 code (successfully reached Twitter). If so, it prints out the XML that Twitter returned to us. Now you have a handy-dandy function you can call whenever we want to update your Twitter status from your website. Simply type

<code class=’php’>updateTwitter("Just finished a sweet tutorial on http://brandontreb.com")</code>

and like magic, your Twitter status will be updated. This has many different uses as you can imagine. Join me next time when I will be putting this code into a PHP class as well as implementing the rest of the Twitter API functions. We will then be able to use this Twitter class in a variety of PHP applications. So , be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed and feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section of this post. You can also download the source code of this tutorial here… (insert clever tag line here (iCodeBlog’s is happy iCoding, I need a new one)).

Binary Game – iPhone App Review

Just posted an app review of B1nary Game over at FreshApps. Check it out!

New iPhone Game Programming Tutorial Post On iCodeBlog

Well, it had taken me a while to slot in the time, but I finally finished part 2 of the iPhone Game Programming series iTennis on iCodeBlog.com . The game is shaping up to be pretty cool and I am really enjoying teaching about game programming.

I think that game programming is perfect for teaching people how to program a certain language. This is because games generally encompasses many aspects of programming (interface, logic, math, animation, AI, etc…). The only problem is, they take forever to code/teach. Here are the links for the iPhone Game Programming Tutorials Series:

Be sure to check them out. Let me know what you think. Also, hit me up if you have tutorial suggestions.

Blogging Practices – Frequency and Size of Posts

If you have ever had your own blog, you may have at one point been faced with a question. How often should I write a blog post and how long should each post be?

I have been thinking about this since I started blogging. It is a common thought that you must write a post every single day in order to increase/maintain traffic. But, is this really true? For busy people with families and lives (that aren’t blogging) might have a tough time writing a new content-rich post every single day.

So, would readers rather see less frequent but “better” blog posts or more frequent “weaker” blog posts? Or maybe even a combo of the two?

For example, what if between killer programming tutorials, I wrote short posts about my dog or response to popular articles. Would this benefit my readers or turn them off?

I don’t have a real solution to this but plan to employ some of these strategies while writing this blog. Hopefully, I will be able to draw some conclusions and share them. If you happen to stumble on this post on your journey through the interwebz, please feel free to comment and shed some light on this for me.

The Focus Of This Blog

The purpose of this blog will be primarily to share my programming knowledge through coding tutorials.

I will be writing tutorials based on the programming language that I am currently excited about. These will be anywhere from objective-c to ruby on rails to .NET. Whatever strikes my fancy.

Along the road, I will also be sharing my art (photo and drawing) as well as anything else I find interesting.

So just sit back and enjoy the magic of code!

iPhone App: Buzzword Submitted to the App Store

I have just submitted an iPhone app that I have been developing in my free time. The app is called Buzzword. It’s basically a game similar to the game catchphrase. So wherever you go, you and your friends can bust out a game of Buzzword…

Here are some screenshots:</p>

screenshot_3</p>

screenshot_2

Once approved, Buzzword will only cost a buck. I’m not kidding, it will probably be the best dollar you have spent and will spend in your entire life. Stay tuned, I’ll be giving out promo codes to people at random…

How to Connect Facebook To Twitter

With the growing popularity of both Twitter and Facebook, one could obviously see a need to link them together. Whether you primarily use Twitter or Facebook, this tutorial will show you step by step, how to update your Facebook status by posting to your Twitter account.

So, how can you update your Facebook status with a text message? Well, Twitter offers this great functionality that allows you to post a “Tweet” via text message. If you combine this with the Twitter app that Facebook offers, you can now update your Facebook and Twitter status simultaneously with one text message (no internet required).

What you will need:

  • Twitter Account
  • Facebook Account
  • Cell Phone Capable of Sending Text Messages

Signing Up For Twitter

The first step is to sign up for a Twitter account if you don’t already have one. Head on over to http://twitter.com/signup.

Twitter

Setting Up Text Message Updates On Twitter

You first need to tell Twitter that you want to post from your phone. Start by clicking on Settings in the top right corner of your Twitter page.

Settings</p>

Now, select the Devices tab

picture-13</p>

Enter in your phone number with a “+” in front of it, followed by the country code. So for US phone numbers, it’s +1… Look at the image below for an example.</p>

picture-3</p>

Twitter will then send your phone a text message containing a unique code. Once you get it, enter it in the box. Now you are able to update your Twitter status by sending a text message to 40404. Whatever you send to this number will be posted to Twitter.

Connecting Facebook to Twitter

Now, you simply need to install the Twitter application on your Facebook account. Log in to Facebook and go to Twitter’s application. You can find it by clicking here or searching for “Twitter” in the search bar. Once on Twitter’s page click “Go to Application”

picture-14

It will ask you if you want to allow access to the Twitter application on Facebook. Click “Allow”

picture-31

Now it will ask you to enter your Twitter user name and password. Enter it in and click “Log In”

picture-4

Now, click on “Allow Twitter To Update Your Facebook Status”

picture-5

The next screen will confirm. Click “Allow” and you are good to go!</p>

There you have it! It sounds a little complicated, but trust me, updating your Facebook status via text message is very handy. You don’t even have to look at your Twitter account every again (although you should because Twitter is rad). If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post.

Buzzword

buzzword_iphone</p>

The ultimate party game has arrived in the App Store! If you are a fan of the game Catch-Phrase, then you will love Buzzword.

In this fast-paced game, do whatever it takes to get your team to guess the word or phrase. Give them clues – talk, use your hands, jump around. Once they guess, pass it quick. You don’t want to be caught with the game at the buzz. </p>

Game Controls:

Start/Stop – Starts and stops the timer

**Category **– Selects a category

Team1 – Awards a point to team 1

Team 2 – Awards a point to team 2

**Next **– Selects the next word to describe</p>

Game Rules:

To play the game, players need to split up into two teams. You should sit in a circle alternating every other person as a member on your team.

First, the teams will need to decide on a category in which the words will come from. This is done by pressing the “Category” button. Next, pick a team to begin the game with the first word.

The game starts by pressing the “start/stop” button to start the timer. The player holding the iPhone/iPod will try to describe the word on the screen. They can say and do whatever they want without saying any of the words on the screen, saying “rhymes with”, or saying “starts with”. All of the members on their team will then try to guess the word or phrase the player is trying to describe.

Once the word has been guessed, the iPhone/iPod is passed to the next player on the opposite team. This player will press the “Next” button to receive a new word to describe.

The game is played until the buzzer goes off. At this point, the team NOT holding the iPhone/iPod gets a point. This is done by pressing either the “Team 1” or “Team 2” buttons. The first team to 7 wins!</p>

If you have any questions, suggestions, or bug reports, feel free to comment on this page or write me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/brandontreb)

Download Buzzword In The App Store