Chris Hannah


Automating Resources for my Project #

I just set up a nice little automation on my Mac that I just had to share with everyone, it’s quite small, but it’s a big help to me when writing my project report for university.

I’m writing it in iA Writer at the minute, and I’m certainly making full use of the content blocks for things like images, and referencing separate bits of text. But I wanted a way to take a screenshot, and then have it available to me to embed into the document. It meant I had to google a few things about AppleScript, but that seemed pretty simple.

To keep my project folder nice and tidy, I created a new folder inside it called “Resources”. At the minute it’s just for images, but who knows!

Then I created a new rule in Hazel, to detect any file in my Inbox folder[1] that has the tag “KeepTrack”[2], which then moves it into the appropriate Resources folder that I just created. It then runs a small bit of AppleScript to copy the correct text to my clipboard, that I can then paste into iA Writer.

set the clipboard to "/Resources/" & item 1 of inputAttributes

The inputAttributes is the variable Hazel provides, and I have only set one item to pass through, the full name of the file that was matched, so “Image.png” could be one.

Then I’ll get something like /Resources/Image.png in my clipboard, that iA Writer will accept as a content block and show the image!

Hazel Rule

So it’s not a grand automation workflow, but it’s something that I worked out due to the fantastic capabilities of Hazel!

I’m starting to really love the app, and it’s allowing me to automate my work on my Mac even more.

If you want to get Hazel yourself, you can find it on the Noodlesoft Store.

  1. This is a folder on my desktop, that I use to quickly throw files into. I pretty much have all of my rules in this folder. ↩︎
  2. The name of my project. ↩︎

Notebooks for iOS #

Recently, John Voorhees reviewed Notebooks for iOS on MacStories, and I decided to give it a try.

From about a week of testing it out, I can see it becoming a very helpful and fundamental app to how I study, research, and organise my third year at university. I will be doing a major project, along with some smaller modules, so the flexibility, document structure, and organisation will suit this well.

It’s way different to any other text editors, and I probably wont directly do my typing in Notebooks, but it will used for more collating. If you deal with any type of project, then I would suggest giving it a quick look.

I have only downloaded this on my iPad so far, but I’ll probably end up getting it on my Mac as well soon.

You can read John’s full review on MacStories, and download Notebooks from the App Store.

University is Boring #

I’m currently writing this post while traveling home from seeing the latest X-Men film[1]. I’ve got an exam tomorrow, at 10am to be exact. But for some reason I’m not that interested in it.

That’s what I’ll be writing about today, my current lack of interest in my university qualification. It just isn’t interesting me anymore.

It started last year in my first year of university, because the lessons were easy, but it was my first year at university. So I put this down to the fact I had experience in programming before, and maybe it would get harder. Also because it was fun getting straight A grades with very little work.

Now as I’m finishing my second year, with just tomorrow’s exam left. I’ve found it more than boring. I’ve noticed that we’ve been learning parts of Computer Science that just isn’t needed. For example for the second half of my Advanced Programming module, we had to create a website using Java Web, along with JavaDB in the backend. That’s terrible. No one uses, or should use Java Web to create websites.

There’s also the fact that we’re also being taught the stupid parts of Networking, Not networking that could be useful or interesting. But one bit of coursework was for us to use a really old bit of software to simulate a network, that uses various messages between nodes. We didn’t get taught any of the knowledge needed to do this, so I’m still unaware what any of it meant. We were just given a tutorial for the software, and we just had to follow it. Then submit it. That’s not learning.

Software Engineering is potentially important to some people, maybe for future project managers, or people who generally want to manage other people. I want to just do work. Whether it’s developing an app, or working on a website, I don’t care what methodology my project is using. It’s pure semantics.

So as you can see after my second year of university, I’m just bored.

And even though the modules aren’t interesting, the lecturers could at least try to make it so. Or maybe even challenge us in a way that wants us to do well. Rather than simply reading out a PowerPoint presentation that we can simply access ourselves.

I don’t need even think that they know what they’re teaching half the time, as many students have asked questions based on lectures. They just point them towards someone else. One example that shocked me, was when we were learning some basic UNIX commands. They use a single Linux machine that we all log on to. I decided to use the wall command[2], and some people found it a bit funny, while someone else thought their “terminal had been hacked”. The shocking bit was, when they informed the lecturer about it, they responded with “Hmm.. This seems very serious, we’re going to have to look into this”. Not once did they ask the class about it, for which I would of happily admitted it was me. And then probably laughed. Or did they notice that the message had been prepended with my University username.

It’s little things like that, that makes me less interested in getting a degree, and more on how I’m going to make a living afterwards. The degree isn’t worth anything really, apart from a massive amount of debt that I will have to pay back when I earn decent money.

But anyway, I have a lecture in about 9 hours, so I better be going to bed.

  1. It was X-Men Apocalypse, and it was pretty good! I’m not a die hard fan of X-Men, so maybe that worked in my favour. But overall it will be one of the best films that I see this year. ↩︎

  2. You use it along with a string of text, which sends that message to all logged on users. In this example it was about 15 students. ↩︎

Final Year Project #

I think I’m finally getting somewhere regarding my final year project at university.

I had a lecture yesterday which was to introduce everyone to the module that we will take next year, and also to help us understand the project selection process. You can either choose an idea yourself, which will have to be approved by someone to make sure it’s suitable for the module. Otherwise you have to select a top ten of project ideas which have been submitted from other lecturers, and then they will be allocated. I see no other option for myself but to submit my own idea.

The lecturer basically explained to us that this project is a way for us to differentiate ourselves from other students, which will help a lot when looking for a job.

So this kept ticking over in my brain, until a few hours later. I thought if I want a job as a iOS/Mac developer, then surely I should create an app! It was such a simple thing that just didn’t cross my mind, but it gives me a pretty good platform that I can now work on.

The questions I will now ask myself are:

  • What sort of programmer/developer to I want to work as?
  • What industry do I want to work in?
  • What skills would be beneficial for the particular career/industry?

So once I’ve worked them out, I should narrow down my ideas quite a lot. Although I will aim to create something innovative and useful, if I can create something which will get me a job then that’s also a massive help!

New Module #

Today I start a new module at university – Professional Issues, Ethics, and Computer Law. It sounds a bit boring to be honest, but I have seen that we’re learning about Edward Snowden which is okay I guess. I probably know most of that stuff already but it’s better than being taught something boring.

We were supposed to read around 45 pages of some random book, but I haven’t done that yet. And the class is in 4 hours. Oh well.

Lets just hope it isn’t boring.

Next Programming Coursework! #

I’ve been set some more coursework for my "Data Structures & Specialist Programming" module at Uni, and it’s good timing as I’ve been running out of things to do.

It doesn’t seem too complicated at a first glance, we have to make a web application in Java, which is what we’ve been taught for the past 2 years. The website must feature a mix of dynamic and static pages, and use Java EE server-side technology and a backend database – I’ll probably use MySQL because I’ve done a lot of that before.

There isn’t really a specification on what need to be in the website, apart from some basic database functions, some Ajax (probably a search option), and certain Java components. I’m assuming we’ll learn the detail in the lectures.

We did however have to choose a topic, and each person has to choose a unique topic. We got sent a list of topics we could choose from and my first choice was Planets, but this was already taken! So Mountains it is.

I haven’t given it too much thought yet, but I’m thinking a website containing a database of 100 or so Mountains, with the ability to search, sort, filter etc. I’ll start it soon hopefully and any decent work will be posted here!

University Project #

I’m currently studying Computer Science at London Metropolitan University, and in my final year I will have to come up with a project to do.

Although I’m only in my second year and I will start the third year in around September, we’ve been told to start thinking of ideas now. So I will start a new section on this website and hopefully start thinking of things I can do.

According to my lecturer the most popular projects seem to be websites or mobile applications. I think I’d prefer to make an app of some sort, or if I do make a website then it will be more of a service.

Once we work out a few ideas, we then have to then submit them to see if they’re good enough to warrant a grade at the end. It can’t be too simple and it can’t be too complex, therefore I better think of a few!

So that’s the introduction done, if you want to see how it’s going then you can just go to the University section. Otherwise you can follow me on Twitter @chrishannah.